We Walk to Remember.

We did something simple last Sunday. Simple, but significant.

We took a family walk. It wasn’t a big deal. We probably would’ve done it anyway. But we wouldn’t have worn matching tshirts… that part was to remind us of the significance.

All dressed for our walk.

Across a little ocean called the Pacific, on the shores of California, my family all got together to take a walk too… for a special lady we call Ado.

Team Adorama

I have fond memories of visiting Ado in Newport Beach and later in Hawaii as a child. I suppose in some ways you could say she gave us a pretty great excuse to take a family vacation at an awesome tropical destination.

Since I’ve grown, she is one of the greatest champions of us nieces and nephews as we have our babies. She keeps current pictures of them rotating on the infamous Marble Top Table and frames their watercolours for her wall. She is arguably their greatest fan.

A few of Ados favourite walking babies and their moms (my cousins!)

And that’s why we wanted to take the day to cheer her on.

Ado has had arthritis since I can remember. It has been incredibly physically dehabilitating, and even though you don’t hear her complain, I can only imagine the quiet sorrow and sacrifice it has caused through the years. Oh, she makes the most of it, let me tell you… but we all know that you can only make the most of it after counting the cost in your heart… and there is cost. Much cost.

So we walked in hope of a cure. We walked to bond. We walked to remember the hard part of Ado’s life, not just the sweet aunty who teaches the babies to paint. We walked for relief… for hope… for a cure.

Donations were collected for this event and I’m amazed to say that over $5000 was raised by Team Adorama. I’m sure the National Arthritis Society would not say no to more! 🙂 Click here to give.

I Love Our Town.

I’m mildly obsessed with Townsville this time of year. Its “winter” which means its 70 degrees all day every day and if it happen to get down to the 50s well then call that a freeze and break out the portable heaters you got on sale for $10 at the grocery store last year.

It also means that its dry season and hence the time for annual outdoor festivals to be planned. I tell you, Townsville has one almost every weekend from here until August.

I’m a sucker for a good, family event… especially a free one and especially especially one with free prizes. I love prizes. Its ridiculous, truly.

Max’s favourite part of the day. He is still talking about it.

This weekend we went to Heritage Days. It is what our family refers to as the kickoff of festival season and it totally delivered this year. We took a bus ride through the old cemetery and found out there is quite a unique history; we tasted Aboriginal bush tucker and found out Max has quite a taste for crocodile; we took full advantage of the kids activities, got our cyclone tracker map, and enjoyed the company of good friends.

crocodile, emu, kangaroo and damper. it was tasty. #godblessourindigenous

It reminded me how much I really, really do love our town. I suppose that if you’re going to head all the way around the world you might as well live somewhere you like.

It also reminded me the choices we make are what shape this little community. Its a regional city with a small town feel, despite the fact that the CBD is booming a bit with high rise apartments and there are more suits and ties and “tropical Friday” seems to be more and more rare. I love that we’re growing. We need to grow.

But I love that we can keep the small town feel while we do… the feeling that you know your neighbours, that you can head to the beach and see heaps of families and dogs and frisbees and kites, that if you forgot a nappy there is a sweet mama happy to lend one to you (happened once… massive parenting mishap… it was awesome)… the festivals that draw a crowd and bring us together and the feeling of running into someone you know and enjoying that smile of recognition that lights up their face and your heart.

It truly is delightful.

I’m so challenged to consider how we both give and take in our community. How we receive experience and joy and create those experiences and opportunity for others. We have to actually turn up at the events… the beach… the park. And we have to do our part to help make them happen… we volunteer… we donate toys and clothes to the family down the way who lost them in a house fire… we encourage… we give feedback (and not just the critical kind.)

our good friend lindsey enjoying the day with us

I love that our little town has a heart. And I love that its the collective of 170,000 individuals that makes up that heart. And I love that our four hearts play a part in making it what it is today and what it will be tomorrow.

We Fail and We Succeed

I totally failed yesterday. I missed it big time. I could’ve made a new friend and instead I introduced myself to a stranger and left her stranded.

We were at story time at the library and El was hungry, but I couldn’t resist smiling at a gorgeous young mum with a rounded belly and a little boy at her heels as we walked out the door.

“When are you due?” I asked and she glowed as she responded saying that she was 38 weeks, scheduled for a c-section in two weeks, but was feeling like it might need to be sooner, maybe even later that day!

My hands were full with library books, a chubby hand, and a hungry baby but I smiled in excitement and said, “OH! Congratulations! I hope it all goes well.”

Even though I was stepping toward the car, she wanted to know where my accent was from and tell me that she was Malaysian and had family in America and had only moved here two weeks ago but she’d be back at story time next week and would we be too?

I smiled and said I only knew one Malaysian in America and best wishes again with the baby and we have something next week but maybe the week after? We’d look forward to seeing her new little one.

It wasn’t until I was a couple of kilometeres down the road that I realised what she’d said. They only moved here two weeks ago. All her family was overseas. This was her first attempt to make friends. And she might be having her second baby… today.

All of the things I could’ve should’ve would’ve done flipped through my head. Sure, I’m busy changing the world, but I have time to make a meal or host a play date or just be the new friend on the other end of the phone!?

But I missed it. I wanted to drive back to the library and find her and tell her or do something but the moment was gone and so was she.

I’m sure I won’t be so quick to miss it next time.

And I’m glad that my good mate didn’t miss it.

Even as I was at the library, she was in a village in PNG and she too was meeting a new mum with a tiny baby. Only this mum had tuberculosis and couldn’t feed her baby. When mums in this part of the world can’t feed their babies they don’t run down to the store and pick up some formula. Either the women in the village help feed the baby… or the child dies.

The women weren’t helping. They were afraid they’d get TB. But my girl new better…

With her own gorgeous baby on board, she took time to express some of her milk to feed this tiny little one… and even helped the other women in the village learn to do it as well. So far, they are all helping to feed this tiny life.

Even as I kicked myself for my little oversight, I rejoiced in the beauty of my friend giving life in such a gorgeous way. We women can feel so stretched and pressured, or even insecure and unsure, but the reality is, we have SO much to offer one another. So glad i can share in the joy of my friend’s success and have a precious reminder to take up the opportunities as they come my way!

Newborn Baby Joel, the first patient on the YWAM ship for 2012! Photo courtesy of Anna Scott/YWAM Medical Ships

Maybe Being a Mother IS the Gift

There have been some pretty funny pictures and jokes running around in light of Mother’s Day. My favorite was this one:

There seems to be this expectation of Mother’s Day. Maybe as the matriarchs of our families we traditionally plan the surprises, shop for the gifts, prepare the special meals, take the photographs and then (if you’re more on top of it than me) arrange those photos into beautiful albums to look back on. We are the memory makers. And maybe sometimes we want someone to make that memory for us

Or remind us we are special… Or just let us sleep in for the love of all things good and right.

I must admit that I’ve been struggling with these feelings and not just in light of Mother’s Day. I’ve sometimes felt jealous that Jared can leave the house whenever he wants without worrying that the baby will wake hungry. I am often covered in spit up, my cheeks wet with slobbery kisses, runny noses, sticky jam hands and I wonder, “When do I get a break?” and “How many hours has it been since there wasn’t another body touching me?

And while having a break, getting out with friends and being refreshed are all good and important things, I’ve been a little bothered by these things floating around in my heart because they haven’t come from a pure desire to live a healthy life. Its been about comparing and jealousy, holding on to my rights and trying to get what I “deserve”.

(Oh, I am so glad I don’t get what I deserve.)

In the lead up to this Mother’s Day I’ve been considering a lot as I am confronted with images and advertisements and funny (albeit cynical) pinterest photos appealing to this selfishness in me.  What do I want? Flowers? A massage? Sleep? Time to myself? The house cleaned? That bigger car we desperately need turning up in the carport?

And I realized… what I want is my kids and their daddy.

I want to walk on the beach and stop to watch the skydivers. I want to rock my baby to sleep while I listen to my toddler giggle with his daddy. I want to remember the day each of them came into my life and celebrate their latest milestones and relish in their clever sweetness.

My Mother’s Day started early this morning when my newborn girl woke up to eat. She snuggled in close to me, and I drank the feeling of her nearness, the sound of her swallows, and the warmth of her peaceful body.

And in the stillness that can only come in those early hours of the morning I was filled with gratitude to God. “This is it,” I whispered in my heart, “Perfectly, exhaustingly it. Being a mother is the gift.”

Best presents EVER.

Best presents EVER.

PS – Please know that I am all for pampering mamas on mothers day and I hope you were sufficiently blessed in many ways! I just wanted to share a different and very personal perspective to add to the mix this Mother’s Day.

Today I Changed the World.

The office was totally abuzz today. There were at least six different events happening, requiring everyone to be dressed to the tee and doing lots of different jobs.

I love that kind of a buzz. I love the adrenaline rush of remembering millions of details and trouble-shooting last minute anomalies. I love the feeling of being so exhausted you start to lose your voice, but knowing that it really is okay because in a few days you’ll get that sleep-in and in the mean time, there’s some world changing to be doing and when you hear about the results, it. feels. awesome.

I felt the buzz today, but I felt it around me instead of in me. And I loved it and it was contagious and it inspired me to a place of hope and rallying, but at the same time I knew I couldn’t take it all on. It wasn’t my turn.

My two babies don’t know what its like to run a major event. They just know what its like to build towers and drink milk and giggle.

I’ve found motherhood to be an ongoing transition. I’m guessing it will never ever stop being that. I’ve been told this is true.

Today was another transition.

Oh sure, I double-checked run sheets, and edited thank you notes, and trouble-shot printer troubles, but I did it with a baby on my chest, sitting on the ground, putting together a wooden train track.

I battled in my mind as I watched friends and coworkers I loved and admired doing a great job, but really feeling the load. Was I doing enough? Surely, surely I could take it on for them… help a little bit more.  But it wasn’t my day to carry that load.

So instead, today, I told a little boy that he was fun. Not because he needs to be affirmed but because in the bottom of my heart I think he is the most fun kid I’ve every been around and I love that he makes me laugh and I feel so special when I hear glorious giggles erupting from the bottom of his belly.

And I told him he was smart because seriously, the things he says these days absolutely blow me away and he does it with this cheeky grin because he knows he’s never said that word or sentence or even concept before and that I’m going to think he’s the bees knees when I hear it (and I do.)

And I told a little girl she was sweet because the girl will stare and stare and stare at you from across the room until you notice her and look at her and its like she was just waiting to melt you with this smile that is so deep and incredible that you think she must be more wise than any 9 week old that ever lived or maybe she just still remembers what it was like being knit together by the hands of God Himself because it feels like He’s just smiling right through her to the deep places in your soul.

And as I talked of funness and smartness and sweetness, I realised, I’m changing the world too. These little people… this is the foundation for them to become the world changers they are destined to be.

And I smiled. Because even though I adore the buzz, playing with trains and blocks is a pretty cool job to have too.

Seriously, Lest We Forget

I love Anzac Day. I really do. The sound of kids enjoying a day off as they play in their yard, the parade, the memorial service, the bikkies…mmm… the bikes.

But more than enjoying it, I think its really important.

I get sad each year at the parade. When we first moved to Townsville more than 7 years ago, we would be busily escorting hundreds of elderly diggers out of their vintage military vehicles. It was a delight and they always thanked us for being American… after all, America played a huge part in the battle of the coral sea. Australia may have looked a lot different had we not showed up, actually.

Its been sad to see fewer and fewer diggers proudly exiting their vehicles and waving to the crowd. They’re literally dying off and this year, one of the estimates I heard was 10… 10 Townsville diggers left. How many will be there next year?

I find it so sad… and yet part of life… and the reason why I think its important we don’t forget.

We must remember the battles that have been fought before we got here… the lessons that were learned, the reasons foundations were laid, the traditions that should be upheld, the relationships that were forged…

Not just when it comes to war, but in general. Any achievement we may experience is largely due to those who have been before us  either by teaching us, or preparing the way for us. Sure, it may not have been perfect, but it was a stepping stone, and we have the privilege of walking the path, extending it, building higher, carrying on the baton.

As I consider where other have been, and what steps forward I will take, I hope that I, too, can leave a legacy… another layer… something that not only my children can build on, but those I work with now and who will do what I do later… so that they can go much farther and higher than I ever well.

Lest we forget.

Because We Love Our Life

I was buying our groceries on Sunday afternoon (alone… which is another glorious story entirely, even though I only had 30-45 minutes round trip… can all the mama’s say amen!?) and the checkout girl asked me if I had any plans for the evening.

“Yes, I do, actually!” I said, “I’m going on a BBQ on a ship!”

I was surprised at her reaction, “Really!? That is SO cool! You just don’t hear about people doing THAT every day!”

And you know what!? She’s right!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what we do. (Might be in part due to the stretches of time I’m awake in the quiet of the night with a certain baby girl).

The good news is, I’ve re-decided that I really do love it.

Jared is spending early mornings down at the ship and has had some late nights and Saturdays as well. We didn’t have “a weekend” this week and that’s not uncommon for us.

But what we did get to do was take our kids to the National Youth Week event put on but our Youth Teams on Saturday night. This means that Max got to watch skateboarding teenagers doing cool tricks on a half pipe, dance to some awesome tunes, and eat pizza. Hello!?? Does he not have an awesome life!?

As for us, we got to watch some of the fruit of labour in action as we saw hundreds of young people swarming our centre finding a positive place to have fun… and maybe learn a lesson or two about life or maybe even their purpose! It was particularly amazing to see Kate Martin perform… this girl was a youth street crew herself years ago and now she’s starting to get pretty popular in the Australian music scene. Ummm… awesome?!

And for Sunday, we had a BBQ on a ship getting to know 20 new students who have just arrived for the YWAM Medical Ship DTS. What a delight to meet a heap of new passionate young people who are not only eager to learn how to serve the people of PNG, but also to hold our babies and be-friend our family. We are blessed.

Last week I was teaching on our Staff Internship and sharing with them about some of our values and culture here in YWAM – how its not just an 8-5 “job”. Its a lifestyle.

And the reality is, despite the fact that I get tired, sometimes feel like I’m not doing a great job, feel torn between family and community, or “work” and “kids”, miss home, etc… I really am grateful God gave us this lifestyle.

Because its not every day you get to go to a BBQ on a ship…