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week twenty three – ‘Christmas’

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Another Christmas has come and gone in a flurry of tinsel, lights, good food, family and friends; and already the New Year looms on the horizon. This was my second Christmas as a Mrs. which meant double the family get-togethers, double the amount of food and most of the time – double the fun!! My hubby’s side of the family celebrate on Christmas Eve with a party, games, performances and food at midnight and this year was Disney themed. Everyone came dressed as a Disney character and there were three family groups who performed short productions. We were in Goldilocks and the Three Bears which we actually changed to Emperor Kuzco and the Three Animals in order to fit with people’s costumes. I’m not a big one for rehearsing and being in productions…but it was quite fun on the night and all the groups did a great job!

On Christmas Day it was lunch at my Mum & Dad’s place with my Mum’s side of the family. This year, we’d also invited a couple from our church who don’t have family in our city and it was quite fun and refreshing to have new faces on Christmas Day. We ate food food, shared in a Kris Kringle, sat in the sun, took family photos and played games…until I got sick. 😦 starting to wonder whether I’m intolerant to something – quite possibly dairy- and this was yet another day that I felt knocked out by whatever my body doesn’t like. I also had to work a dinner shift too so by 9pm that night, I was knackered. But a good day overall.

Even though I was sick the following day too, it still consisted of good family and friend catch ups and it made me really think about all those people around the world who don’t get to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a similar way. It makes me sad. It really does. But I suppose that’s not what Christmas is all about at the end of the day…it’s God. His Son coming to earth as a crying, dirty, hungry baby; born to a teenager who wasn’t even married yet in the back of a pub at night. Sounds like the start of a crappy story really…but it’s these humble beginnings that make me stop and think about the humble, simpleness that is Christmas each and every year. We make a huge deal out of this holiday, but mostly in ways that I’m sure God never intended. Did anyone see this sign in their shopping centres over this period?

#happygiving

Every time I saw it I wanted to sigh really loudly and for a long time!! Happy giving? Seriously? I’m sure that’s a typo…you mean #consumerism right?? You want me to get tipsy-excited about buying a bunch of stuff from your store thinking that I’m getting right into the Christmas spirit?? Don’t get me wrong – I bought stuff to give as gifts and I also got gifts too…but it’s not the centre of Christmas like the world is trying to push for. The centre of Christmas is Jesus coming into a broken world to teach us how to love and be loved. Simple as that. God gifted us with His only holy and perfect Son…and that’s something to be truly excited over if you ask me! Is this too uncool…?

#christmasisaboutjesusyo!

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Week twenty two – ‘blast from the past’

So I have to be honest – I have been itching to write this blog post all week and I’m not even really sure why! It’s not as if I have anything overly exciting or out-of-the-blue to report on, but there were a few things that really touched me and made smile and think this week that I’d love to share if you’ve got a spare moment.

On Thursday, our city experienced yet another day of searing hot weather so hubby and I decided we’d get some of our last Christmas shopping done and take advantage of the free air conditioning too! While we were there we saw a couple of young guys raising money for an organisation that supports vision impaired people and I recognised one of the guys as a friend I went to Uni with. I remember meeting him through the Evangelical Students group and getting to know him through various events. He was an amazing guy! Even though he couldn’t see, he would always know who he was talking to by just touching your hand and hearing your voice. He was such a genuine guy – friendly, outgoing and he loved Jesus.

So when I saw him collecting money for an organisation that obviously has helped him during his life, it touched my heart. We dropped some money into his tin and I told him we’d gone to Uni together and it was nice to see him again. He took my hand and instantly remembered me…even though the last time we’d been at Uni together was 2008! He even remembered what church I was going to! It was such a blessing to run into him again – he always brightened my day when I was doing my Undergrad studies and he brightened it again this last week. He made doing the rest of my Christmas shopping in a busy shopping centre so much more bearable!

Running into him – as well as catching up with a friend who lives interstate while she’s back for Christmas, our small group Christmas dinner and Kris Kringle and wrapping the last of our Christmas pressies – really made this past week one to remember. God was present in all of those things, even if it was just wrapping gifts. It was a blessed week, despite some illness, and I’m thankful for all that God has done and will do to draw me back to Him. 🙂

In light of running into an old friend, have you ever run into someone from the past who just makes you smile again like old times?

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Week twenty & twenty-one – ‘life without’

This is again, two weeks in one…because last weekend we lost contact with the virtual world. By virtual, I mean technology-related! There was a power surge in our neighbourhood and a lot of things in our house that were plugged in and switched on – phone chargers, internet, tv, microwave, DVD player…etc – went out. The tv and the play station actually went out IN A PUFF OF SMOKE! And so because of this, we were forced to go without watching tv and using the internet. Which at first felt like a massive inconvenience! That was, until we started using those times to be together. We went for walks, read books, went for bike rides and did the grocery shopping together…so at the end of that weekend, we both felt like perhaps there was some Divine Intervention in all of it! 🙂

During this time, my phone also had to have the data switched off…so I was down to reading a book, going for a walk or doing housework when I was at home alone between shifts at work. It was at first somewhat annoying DOUBLY-SO, but then it was just as good an opportunity to spend time with God. Crank some of my old Hillsong CDs and spend time with God. I started an advent devo in the lead up to my favourite part of the year and found I was spending more time SOAPing and praying about what I was learning, rather than jut reading it and forgetting it. I drank copious amounts if tea and read read read! Loved it!

So even amongst all the lack of what we used to have, God was really present – bringing us together as a couple and also speaking to us as individuals. What poignant timing too – we were about due for a spiritual shake-up! 😉 God’s timing is perfect.

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Week eighteen & nineteen – ‘feeling green’

I’m somewhat behind on the blogging front.
My apologies!
But it has been a crazy couple of weeks! Crazy good, mind you. 🙂

However, most of this post will revolve around my experiences as a part of the Green Team – the schoolies volunteers who parade around in green T-shirts and hoodies for 5 days, serving intoxicated high school students celebrating the end of an educational era. Now that sounds like a terrible experience…trust me, though, it’s not! Let me explain.

Each year, our city sees hundreds and hundreds of year 12 students sit their final exams and hand in their final assignments and kiss their secondary education careers goodbye. To celebrate, a huge number of these kids head to one of our coast towns for the Schoolies Festival where they’ll party hard and more often than not, drink even harder. The role of the Green Team volunteers is to provide this festival in a safe, fun and memorable manner.

So last weekend, I joined 600 or so other Jesus-followers, headed to the coastal town of Victor Harbour and prepared myself to work in a local caravan park, caring for the schoolies before and after they attended the actual festival events by the beach. My team were stationed in a tent in the caravan park complete with couches, a Nintendo, a tv, a sandwich maker and hot drinks all ready for any schoolies needing a place to chill out, someone to talk to or a drink without alcohol in it! I’ve volunteered with the GT before, but this was my first time working in the recovery side of things – in a caravan park with the kids before and after the attend the festival events and it can be a full-on job! Kids are often highly intoxicated for the vast majority of the weekend, there are fights and relationship issues; stuff gets stolen, people get sick and others get sad…but to be a light amongst these kids is amazing. You might not get a God-conversation, but someone will always ask you why you’re doing what you’re doing. You might be helping pitch a tent or a cooking a toasted cheese sandwich and some kid will ask you what makes you do GT and that’s when you can share what makes you tick, what has called you to this festival and why it’s a cool thing to do!

It was an eye-opening, God-inspired, challenging weekend – particularly as I went along with my team without my better half – but it was super worth it!! Loving on this kids, serving them in ways they didn’t even know they needed and seeing them enjoy themselves and expel all the pent-up high school energy is electrifyingly fun! It’s not easy and it’s not for everyone – and you know what, that’s ok. People pray for the GT and the schoolies while they’re down there – they bake food, donate money and transport people around and it’s all needed. But there really is nothing quite like being there and getting amongst it!

For me, the most stand-out moment actually occurred on the following Wednesday. I was at work and a fellow staff member arrived who had just been down to the schoolies festival following her year 12 exams. She mentioned the festival and I mentioned also being down there which got us laughing and sharing stories from our weekend. Another staff member arrived and joined the conversation, asking what it was like to be on GT and why I did it even though I graduated high school some years back…it was such a God-moment for me! I got to share some of my experiences and explain a bit of why I was involved. Very cool! 🙂

There are so many different ways to be His hands and His feet in this world and the GT is just one example of how to get involved in something that’s bigger than you are…

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