Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas - Decorations and Traditions

So, having been absent again for a little while I thought I would put up some pictures of our Christmas decorations for this year, since it is Christmas and everything that goes along with it, that has kept me from this blog!

The tree. (Ignore the laundry basket underneath!)

My mantle

Again, ignore the big bare space in the middle. I do have plans, well did have plans to put a big white frame with white ornaments hanging from it up there, but it just hasn’t happened! The frame is over near the tree waiting to be painted, and the decorations are in my spare room waiting to be hung! By the time I get to it I’ll have one day to enjoy how it looks and then it will be time to put all the decorations away! On the bright side, next year it will be like I have “new” decorations for the mantle…haha!

I just went to a cheapo shop for the baubles in the glass jars on the mantle. I have more tiny ones in a vase elsewhere around the house. I think they look really cute, and no one would know that they cost like 3 bucks for 20! Who doesn’t love a bargain?

I feel like this year I have been so much more flat out getting organised than last year. The days are just flying past and I have been packing so much into each day preparing for Christmas day.

Despite all the busyness of this season, I have found myself to be more contemplative than last year. I don’t know if it’s because I have been thinking more and more about having children, or if I’m just at a different place in my walk with the Lord, but I have been trying to centre my thoughts on what this season is really all about.

I have struggled this year with the idea of receiving and giving lots of things that I don’t really need, that others don’t really need. Christmas for the masses has become about stuff, not about the Saviour.

Do children who last year screamed “where’s my next present” really need more toys, toys that will simply be thrown onto the pile in the playroom? Do adults with houses full of things they never use really need to have loads of money spent on them? Do I really need to receive new things when I have so much already?

And if I don’t change this year, how will I teach my own children, when we have them, what this season is really all about?

So this year, a step in the right direction, the start of some new family traditions. I don’t how they will look in the years to come, how we will mould them, and shape them and add to them, but here they are for this year.

Reading the Christmas story together from the Bible, first thing Christmas morning. What better way to start the day of Christmas than by reading about why we celebrate.

Gifts of Compassion. Want to give a gift that will be used and really appreciated? Well you can, and make a difference in someone’s life at the same time! Best bit (I mean a part from the fact that you are being God’s hands and feet!) you don’t have to face the crazy Christmas crowds to do your shopping, it can all be done online here. Why not really bless someone this year?!

In the past I have been involved in Operation Christmas Child which is all about giving gifts to children who would otherwise not have anything. This is a lot of fun!

Something I want to do next year (I was too late getting onto it for this year) is a fabulous appeal in our town called Adopt a Family. Through the local newspaper, people can register to adopt a family for Christmas, who might otherwise go without. Once you have registered you are then paired up with a family (not in person, just by being given ages, gender, and some other basic details). You are then asked to purchase a gift for each family member, as well as make up a food hamper.

I have also been starting to think about how we can really incorporate Jesus in to the lead up to Christmas. I downloaded from Ann Voskamp her Jesse Tree Devotional for Advent. She writes so beautifully, and I just loved this idea.

The other thing that I am thinking of doing is the Elf on the Shelf! I think it is a really fun way to add some whimsy to the Christmas season. Yes, I want to keep Christ at the centre (like always!), but I think there is room to allow some fantasy to be a part of the celebrations, it’s all about finding the right balance for you. I think the Elf of the Shelf is a cute way to do it!

So there it is, some of my thoughts on Christmas and traditions, and my half-finished Christmas decorations!

Have a lovely evening!


Monday, December 13, 2010

2 Years

Two years ago today I walked with my dad down a very long aisle to a beautiful song by Lifehouse. Waiting for me at the end was the man of my dreams.

I can't believe how quickly two years has gone by. Before we know it we will have reached five years, and then ten! Time moves on so quickly.

I can honestly say that these last two years have been the most fun, and most wonderful years of my life.

That Saturday afternoon two years ago I though I couldn't love Dave anymore than I did right at that moment, but I was wrong. Two years of married life has made me love him even more, despite disagreements, and toilet seats being left up! (just kidding, he actually never leaves it up...what a man!)

I am blessed beyond words to have a husband that will do the cooking when I can't be bothered, will do the dishes when they pile up, who will rummage through both our recycling and garbage bins when I think I have thrown out an envelope full of cash (turned out I hadn't!) and I am in such a panic I can't think straight.

I am blessed beyond words to have a husband who constantly encourages me, who makes me laugh, who I know is by my side always and who always has the sweetest things to say to me and about me.

Happy anniversary Dave! I am thankful everyday that God would bless me with you.

I love you!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Man Rules

These rules made the rounds via email this morning at work. I just had to post'll see why!

The Man Rules

At last a guy has taken the time to write this all down.
Finally , the guys' side of the story. ( I must admit, it's pretty good.)
We always hear " the rules" from the female side....Now here are the rules from the male side.

These are our rules!

Please note.. these are all numbered "1 "


1. Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat.
You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down.
We need it up, you need it down.
You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports, It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides.
Let it be.

1.. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want.
Let us be clear on this one:
Subtle hints do not work!
Strong hints do not work!
Obvious hints do not work!

Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do.
Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.
In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are.
Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one

1. You can either ask us to do something Or tell us how you want it done.
Not both.
If you already know best how to do it , just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials..

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings.
Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched.
We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's wrong.
We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine... Really .

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as Footy or Fishing.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

1. Thank you for reading this.
Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight;
But did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping!

So hilarious!! I was practically rolling on the floor...which always looks a little odd at work.

It's so funny because it's true...I just hope no feminists read this! ;)

Have a great day!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

U2 360 Concert and Bendigo Weekend

I will start with the most exciting part of this blog post.

Friday night Dave & I went to the U2 360 concert in Melbourne!! Oh my....possibly the best $40 we have each spent this year!!

We only got our tickets at the last minute because I thought that they had sold out. Turned out I was looking at the wrong ticket agents website!

So Thursday morning I was online trying to get a hold of tickets. As it worked out we got pretty good seats!
That shot isn't even zoomed in!

I will admit that this was my first ever concert! Yep, never been before, and I have to say you can't get much better that U2 for your first concert!

Great night! Except for the usual hour drive home becoming a three hour drive home with all the concert traffic!! But who cares....U2!

Last weekend we went away for a much needed break for the weekend. We hired a house in Bendigo and just got away for the weekend. We left our messy house behind and our regular busy lives and just went somewhere else.

The house we stayed at is owned by a missionary couple who work with an Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. They are only home for two months of the year and so for the rest of the year they rent out their home for others to use. They charge hardly anything to stay there and they do it to bless others!

The kitchen and living area

Outside BBQ area...that didn't get used!

It rained the whole weekend, but we went out around town and shopped a little and had a meal, and then spent the rest of the time doing nothing. It was bliss!

The town has heaps of beautiful old buildings like this one

Where we had lunch

And I just had to throw these pictures in. Victoria has been in drought for a long time now, but this last month we have had an unusual amount of rain. These are some of the former dried creek beds we passed on the way home!

Crazy huh!!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chicken, Ginger and Sweet Soy Stir-fry

So I am linking up again with Lyndsie at A Love Worth Waiting For with Monday’s Meals!

So this is my favourite new chicken stir-fry recipe. Just so you know, with my stir-fry’s I don’t measure anything, but I will try to give approximate measurements – but you can always add more or less of anything you like or don’t like! You can always double the recipe too if you have kids!

You will need :

Chicken 500gr – I used thigh fillets, but chicken breast works too.
2 Carrots
1 Red bell pepper
Buk Choy (an Asian green – you don’t need to have it)
Garlic – I used pre minced
Coriander - I used pre minced
Ginger – I used pre minced
Soy sauce
Kecap Manis (A sweet soy sauce)
Peanut oil
Sesame oil – you can leave out these oils if you like or if you have a nut allergy. Just substitute a little vegetable or canola oil instead!

Marinade the chicken first. I cut mine into pieces the placed them in a bowl with a teaspoon each of ginger and garlic. Add to that a ¼ cup each of the soy sauce and kecap manis. Stir in a good tablespoon of honey. (if you put the honey in the microwave for about 10 seconds it mixes into the other sauces much easier!) I let the chicken marinade in the fridge for about 30minutes, but the longer you let it sit the better the flavour!

While that’s happening start chopping up all your vegies. I did little sticks of carrot and little pieces of the pepper. The smaller you cut them the quicker they cook! I also tore the buk choy into small squares.

Once the chicken is done marinading, turn on your fry pan. To the pan add another good teaspoon each of ginger and garlic, a little of each of the oils (just a note, don’t add too much sesame oil – it’s really strong!). Add the chicken and stir it around until cooked through. Toss in the carrots and I like to add a little more of soy sauce, kecap manis and honey at this stage, enough to keep everything a little saucy!

Once the carrots have had a good stir, add the pepper bits. Keep stirring until the vegies are just cooked then add the buk choy. At the very last minute stir in some coriander – don’t forget the coriander, it really makes this dish!

Serve it up with some rice and it’s soooo good.

Let me know if you tried it!

Monday, November 22, 2010


Well I am very excited - I just made my first order on Book Depository!! Yay, books for Christmas!
My lovely husband let me just keep adding to the list, but I think I did very well, I didn't go too crazy!

Anyway, we had a fabulous weekend. The weather couldn't have been more perfect! Sunshine on both Saturday and Sunday! Oh finally some warmth in the air - goodbye winter, hello summer!!

We spent Saturday morning doing some Christmas shopping, because this year I'm hoping to have it all done before the shops get crazy in a few weeks.

After shopping we decided to hit up the beach for lunch. So we went to Subway and then headed to the sand with a couple of beach towels.

This was our view as we ate....bliss

I can't wait for summer to really kick in with some consistently hot weather, I didn't realise how much I missed the beach this winter, but I cannot wait until we start going every weekend!!!

Sunday we had the dedication and first birthday of my littlest cousin. We made the trip to Melbourne to join the family for church in the morning, and then a picnic lunch followed at a nearby lake.

Again the weather was beautiful, and the grounds around the lake were beautiful.

So gorgeous!

I hope everyone else had a lovely weekend too!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Strong Women Soft Hearts Chapter 6

Trust: The Art of Falling Backward
This post has been a little while in writing. I have been letting it simmer for a few weeks now.

If I’m completely honest, it has actually been boiling away in my heart, and my mind and life.

I’ve been trying to decide just how candid I will be here, here on the world wide web where bits of information can be stored forever, where anyone can see and read what I write.

My decision is to be open and honest, and my prayer as I type is that the words that form in my mind and get transferred to the page will be used by God to touch others. Others who also find trust a scary, blind place to be in. Women for whom the word “trust” makes them catch their breath as they fight the urge to let panic over take them.

I don’t know who might read this, if anyone. I don’t know your faces, your stories, your fears, or your dreams to overcome them.

I do know this: God knows.

He knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7).

He knew you even before you were born (Psalm 139:16).

He holds onto you and won’t let go (Psalm 73:23).

And He loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

Know this too: as I’m writing, I’m praying for you.

I want to share something; I have the team building activity where people stand in a tight circle with someone in the middle. Then the person in the middle is blindfolded and had to allow themselves to fall backwards, trusting that they would be caught before they hit the ground by the people standing in the circle.

I hate this activity. Those few milliseconds where you fall backwards always felt like an eternity to me, and I’m sure my heart has almost stopped a number of times with relief once my turn was complete and I realised that I hadn’t ended up injured on the ground.

This is the analogy that Paula Rinehart uses in this chapter to describe what trust on God should be like. Only she took it one step further and suggested going up a ladder and falling backwards from a height, and trusting strangers that you would be caught! No thank you, I like terra firma.

Paula says that trust is allowing yourself to fall backward into the goodness of God. I guess though to do this you have to believe that God is good, and I have no doubt that there are people out there who struggle with this truth.

But He is good and I wish that I had a good explanation for why bad things happen, for why God allows terrible things to occur. I wish I had a non cliched reason for why, but I don’t. I just know that despite all the tragedy that we go though in this life God is good, and His plans for our lives are for good and not evil. (Jeremiah 29:11) “Accepting the mystery of what we cannot know will lead us to the heart of God where we trade our craving for explanation for a simple willingness to trust”.(page 81)

This is the place I have found myself in over the last few weeks.

I have spent weeks, if not months, battling against God’s timing on a number of areas of my life. And they have all boiled to the surface this last two weeks and exploded, leaving exposed some ugly truths about the state of my heart.

Ugly truths, like jealousy, greed, and my insatiable need to control everything about my life, that all but filled my heart and desires and left no room for God.

I have been so driven about making things happen the way I want them to happen and when I want them to happen that I had closed my ears off to God’s voice, and my heart to His promptings.

My plans to travel have been my own. My plans for when we buy a house have been mine. I haven’t asked God when He thinks it might be a good idea for us to start a family.

I had even decided how my tithes should be used. This one shames me the most. For most of my adult life I have tithed faithfully, even when I had nothing to really give, I always gave something. Yet this year I decided that I didn’t like how my church’s leaders were spending money and so I decided not to tithe into our church anymore.

I kept praying that God would show me where He wanted me to tithe instead. It took me until last Sunday to realise that He has been telling me to tithe into my church, His church. It is His money, not mine, and He alone has the right to decide how it should be spent. I very clearly heard Him tell me to stop controlling this area of my life, and to trust Him.

“The need to trust is our invitation, over and over, to the place where we look into his face – and no one else’s – and let ourselves be loved by him...our hands release their grip on the reins of our lives and we stop trying so hard.” (page 79)

Have you ever felt like you are just trying way too hard for things to happen in life? I think one of the things that God is trying to teach me through this little journey he has me on at the moment is that if I’m trying too hard, maybe I should just take a moment to reflect on why I’m trying so hard. Is it something I want or something God wants for me? Am I trying so hard because I’m fighting what I should really be doing? Am I trying to make something happen that God doesn’t want to happen, or it’s not in His time?

I found beauty and a real sense of peace in an image that Paula wrote. “Trust lies in the willingness to accept the particulars of how and when and where God chooses to intervene. It waits in the cool shade of surrender.”

I picture in my own imagination a beautiful big, full leafed tree, growing near a river bank with lots of lush green grass underneath, perfectly made for resting under on a hot summers day.

I love summer and the hot weather, but even I get tired and feel drained after a number of really hot days in the middle of summer, the kind of days where the has been no respite from the heat, even at night. After days of no or little sleep, everything can become a burden, weighing me down.

The moment the cool change is ushered in is sweet relief! That’s how I picture this idea of trust that Paula painted in her words, the moment of refreshing, of reinvigorating, the moment of release.

This is how it can be when we stop trying so hard to make everything happen, and just rest in God, in the knowledge that He is in control. He is. It often can seem like everything is out of control, but I choose to trust that despite appearances, He holds us all in His gentle hands and is in control.

So much is unknown in this life, and so far I have found that trying to control everything doesn’t make me happy or trouble free. It mostly makes me crabby and stressed out

So I want to leave you with one final quote from this chapter;

“What you don’t how and when and in what manner you will experience his mercy. You are simply and mightily assured that you will.”

Thank you Jesus!

xxx Sharen

P.S. If you would like me to pray for you, please feel free to leave a comment, or contact me!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Life lately

I can't believe it's been nearly 10 days since I last wrote a post. It's not that I haven't had a lot to write about, I just haven't had the energy to.

I am feeling quite overwhelmed by a number of things at the moment, and so my internal processing hasn't been it's usual self, but now as I start to write I wish I had done this sooner, as I always find my way through the maze of my thoughts when I start to write.

If anyone happens to read my blog, you will notice that I have been writing about the book "Strong Women, Soft Hearts." and that Chapter 6 is where I am up to. This chapter has really challenged me and brought a lot of things to the surface that I believe God wants me to deal with and look closely at in my life. (more on that when I write that post)

My job is causing me some grief at the moment and I can't really figure out what it is specifically that has me so upset about work, I think it's one of those times where there are so many little things that bother me that I feel like I'm drowning in frustration.

I work in a local school, in the department that assists children with special needs. We are not a special needs school, but the department is quite large and we have students from a wide range of ages, with a wide range of needs.

I currentlyy have 6 students I work with from pre-school through to year 9. I did have a seventh student, but she was in year 12 and has now finished school. I work with the largest number of individual students of all the classroom aides in our department.

I also have two of the highest needs and most challenging children. Both these little boys have Autism, and they are not high functioning. One of them is even violent frequently - towards both staff and his peers.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the job is when all the adults that are involved with a particular child are not on the same page. I quite often get emails from a particular students teacher about how he is disruptive in class and she has to spend extra time one on one with him otherwise he doesn't work up to the level of the other students! Of course he doesn't! That's why he has special assistance, because he can't. Think about what you're typing for two seconds! This same teacher, of course, does not actually let me know what work he is doing so that I can assist him with it, she just expects that somehow it will magically be done! Arrgh

The other thing that I really struggle with is how much gossip and backstabbing goes on amongst the staff in my department. There are 22 women and there are a couple of people who are constantly saying nasty things about other staff behind their backs. There's even one lady who made really horrible comments about my husband and his job to my face one day, and then wondered why I was upset with her!

So after working for 7 hours a day in this environment, I'm just exhausted and physically and mentally drained by the time I get home from work.

Which is why my house is a complete disaster right now - it's a direct reflection on how the inside of my head feels!

So if you do happen upon my blog, and are the praying type, I would appreciate some prayers as to what I should do. Because of financial reasons I can't just quit, so I really need some wisdom and guidance on this matter. And also on being patient and waiting on God's timing for a few other areas I haven't mentioned.

Thanks! xx

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Random thoughts

I'm sitting in my newly designated "Sharen space" in one of our spare bedrooms. On Saturday I had the urge to reorganise our spare rooms, mostly so I could make space for my craft stuff to be set up on a table not in a room that our guests see, and not in a room where my mess will drive my husband crazy!

I have a candle burning next to me - Christmas tree scent. I actually had to blow it out before because I have never trimmed the wick on it and black smoke was billowing up from the flame. It now actually smells like it should.

I have had a huge cup of tea (which was so large I have had to pee several times in the last 2 hours! Sorry for those who felt that too much information), and have been reading some new blogs I have come across in the last week.

They are encouraging blogs, blogs by women who have strong faith, but are real. I like that.

I had a phone call from my husband earlier where he suggested we go out for dinner. I not so kindly said I was too tired. Even though a week ago I told him I wanted us to have more "dates" together.

I have been so tired lately that the only time I actually feel like I'm awake and functioning as normal is from about 11:30am-2:30pm during the day.

I have been getting short with my students at work and frustrated with co-workers.

My house is in a constant state of mess and disorganisation, with dirty dishes left lying in a number of rooms.

As I have been sitting in my craft room, I can't help but think that this is not how God would have me be.

So now I'm thinking about how I got so tired. If I'm honest it's because I feel like I'm doing it all alone.

Which is a scary revelation because it means I'm leaving God out. And I don't mean to, I didn't plan to carry it all alone. I didn't plan on spending my spare time watching TV and on the computer, I just sort of did, because it's easy, I don't have to think too much or make an effort.

And sometimes having a rerelationship with God is and effort. But aren't all relationships, including the one with my husband?

Yep! So starting right now, I'm going to call Dave and tell him were going out for dinner.

And while I wait for him to get home I'm going to close my computer and open my Bible.


p.s. If anyone reads this post, it would be really cool  - if you want to - if you let me know your favourite Bible verse!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Strong Women, Soft Hearts: Chapter 5

I am here with my thoughts on chapter 5 of Paula Rinehart's book! I'm getting there!!

Control: Releasing Our Sticky Fingers

Um... I just ate a brownie so that’s how my fingers got sticky.

It’s got nothing to do with my control issues. (cough)

Actually, I don’t think I have a control issue at all, as long as everything is going the way I want it to there’s no problem.

(oh...wait...there’s now a little voice in my head telling me that is my control issue...huh...who knew?!)

My need to control is fundamentally a lack of trust in God. Really, it is. It’s about me thinking that I know what’s best for my life, and not trusting that God knows what’s best for me and has my best interests in mind at all times.

I want things, my way, in my time, how I planned them, and heck nobody is going to stop that from happening, and God’s just supposed to come to the party and make it all happen.

You know, because once I became a Christian everything was just supposed to work out, right? Nothing is supposed to go wrong, bad things aren’t supposed to happen, all my prayers should be answered how I want them and when I want them to be, right?


Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

So as it turns out I didn’t sign up for a magic genie when I gave my life to Christ, I actually signed up to be transformed into Christ’s likeness and that is going to hurt. God never promised it wouldn’t, but He did promise to never leave or forsake us.

It’s interesting how often we (by “we” I really mean “I”) forget that exactly what we are doing when we make a commitment of faith is that we are giving our lives to Christ. That’s right, handing our plans, dreams, our ideas on how our lives are meant to look over to the One who loves us, and sacrificed everything for us, and already has plans for us.

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

For crazy reasons however, I find myself regularly taking my life back into my own hands.

In this chapter Paula beautifully quotes one of her friends. “You have to realise..that your dreams aren’t going to materialise in the way you have hoped – even ones you thought God gave you. Some will turn out better than you could ever imagine. Some will go belly up. And hardly any will match the picture in your mind.” (pg 70)

I think as soon as we (again, I really mean “I”) can realise this, the much more sane we will feel, the less brownie crumbs we will have on our fingers.

The more I think about my life the more I realise that for the most part, things have not gone according to my own plans. Why on earth would I think the next 25 years will all go according to the script that I have so carefully written in my mind, work out anymore than the last 25 years?

It’s totally OK to dream and plan, but I believe that a holy flexibility is the key. A willingness to bend and mould, and even completely throw out our plans as God leads is essential to living with much less stress in life.

I sure know that my stress levels climb up and up the more controlling I become. And the controlling can happen so subtly, I don’t even notice it at first. It’s not until I start to notice my stress levels elevated that I realise my sticky little fingers have been at it again, snatching my life back from God’s very capable hands.

As Paula stated letting go means freedom from the everlasting burden of always having to get our own way.

And honestly, all the striving and planning and worrying about how everything will turn out is exhausting! I know I would like to be rid of those unnecessary burdens.

I think it’s about time that I made like Carrie Underwood and started singing “Jesus take the wheel.”


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Strong Women, Soft hearts Chapter 4: Losing Heart

I am finally back with the fourth instalment of my thoughts on Paula Rinehart’s book “Strong Women Soft Hearts, and I have to say that I am loving this book, but I am really loving how much more I’m getting from it by writing about it! Even in no one else reads these posts, I know I have really grown in my discoveries as I’m writing down my thoughts and feelings – things just keep tumbling out! So here are my thoughts on chapter four.

Losing Heart: How it Happens

“Hope that is pinned to God, rather than to people, has a buoyancy to it because it is grounded not in our own illusion of how our story should read, but in the character of God.”

Isn’t that really the basis for how most of us would be likely to lose heart – we get disappointed because something we hoped for, even when we didn’t realise we were hoping for it, doesn’t happen how we thought it would.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I definitely have a tendency to get lost and caught up in my own illusion of how my life’s story should read. Then I lose heart. And it can take me a while to find it again.

On page 48 Paula makes this statement. “If you want to know real joy in life, then be willing to let pain tutor your soul.”

I like to run away from pain, I usually don’t enjoy experiencing it, but recently I have been letting God break my heart a little. And when I do, my eyes are opened.

What I’m starting to realise is that when I allow God to use the pain, I become more of who He wants me to be.

Dave’s boss is currently battling cancer, and that got me thinking about the kinds of people who get cancer. It seems like it’s always the cheerful people, the people who are tough enough to find beauty in life and enjoyment, despite their suffering.

But then I felt like God said to me that I had it backwards.

In the moments of suffering and pain, they allow themselves to be transformed. They realise what is truly important in life. They let pain tutor their souls.

I’m sure that cancer, and any other loss or serious illness isn’t part of anyone’s imagined story, I know it’s not part of mine, but its how we choose to respond that makes all the difference in our hearts.

Will we choose to lose heart or to live a passionate life?

In the book Paula Rinehart tells us that the root of the word “passion” means to suffer. So in other words, in order to truly live a passionate life we need to experience suffering.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

God didn’t ever promise us that we wouldn’t have any trouble, hurt or suffering, and I sometimes forget that. But He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5)

I think I’m tired of trying to play it safe, and trying to avoid anything that might hurt me or cause any sort of pain. Besides it hasn’t stopped pain anyway, so I might as well embrace it and live a passionate life that has some trials and suffering, instead of losing heart and living a mediocre life!


Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Leftovers Dinner: Sausage & Baby Tomato Penne

I decided to link up with Daniel and Lyndsie over at A Love Worth Waiting For, with their "Monday's Meals"

Yes I know that it's Tuesday when I posted but that's just because it's Tuesday where I live by the time they posted Monday's meals!

So here is my "Leftovers Dinner"

So what do you do when your refrigerator is full of food items that need to be used up before they expire in the next few days?

Get creative in the kitchen that’s what!

Over the weekend we had a massive garden overhaul, and we thought we would be nice and feed our lovely parents since they had given up their Saturday to come and help us.

Well Monday night rolled around and we had a heap of food left over that needed to be used up, so I decided to come up with my own little pasta dish, and I have to say it turned out really good!

So here is the list of leftovers that I started with:
Baby tomatoes
Gluten free sausages
Red onion

To that I added:
Ridiculous amounts of garlic
Tinned tomatoes
Tomato paste (with garlic, onion and herbs)

I started by halving the baby tomatoes and sprinkling (read dousing) them with garlic. I then slowly roasted them in the oven until they were bubbling and juicy.

While they were baking away, I took the outer skin, thing off the sausages and then broke them into little bite size pieces.

I added them to sliced red onion and even more garlic in my big fry pan and cooked it all up good until the sausage bits had browned slightly.

Note: I found that if I stirred to vigorously the sausage got a little mushy so I did a lot of pan shaking to stir them all around. Once they go brown it’s easier to stir!

Then add to the sausage mix a tin of chopped tomatoes and a good dollop of tomato paste.

Let this all bubble away on the stove top for as long as you like. I left it there for about a half hour or maybe even more. But you can make it as quickly as you want to really!

Cook up your favourite pasta (we used penne, but I think anything a bit chunky would work – probably not spaghetti or fettuccini, but spirals would be great!), and when it’s how you like it, drain and add to your sausage sauce. Give it a good stir and then don’t forget to add the gorgeous roasted baby tomatoes!

We had our pasta with salad, which I think it totally needed – the sauce was sooo rich! Unfortunately we ate the last of our garlic bread over the weekend, but that would have just rocked our dinner even more!

Yum!!! Enjoy!


P.S. If you don’t like garlic quite as much as we do, you could roast the tomatoes without it!

Friday, October 15, 2010

What a weekend!

This week has been an interesting one! We had a great weekend which started with Dave and I going on a road trip in the Corvette to Melbourne. Our first stop was USA foods to see what kind of American food goodies they had. We were not disappointed! There was heaps of American candy, sauces, seasonings and meal bases that we had to make ourselves leave before we spent a fortune! From there we drove to Ikea, just to see what they had. We always love Ikea, and we came away with a big list of things to save up for!

While we were driving home I got a phone call from the daughter of the lady we rent our house from. She had a phone call completely out of the blue from the guy that is supposed to be taking care of the gardens, asking if they just wanted him to mow over one of the garden beds in the back yard. They had no idea what he meant, so they wanted to come around and see what the guy was talking about. We know our landlords through our church, so even though we weren’t home I didn’t care about them stopping over.

I didn’t really expect to hear anything more about it, but when we arrived home, they were just leaving so stopped to let us know they had fired the gardener! The dodgy guy had been charging them regularly for gardening, when all he had been doing was occasionally mowing the lawn and trimming some bushes! Dave and I felt so bad, because we had just assumed that all the gardener was supposed to be doing was mowing the lawn, otherwise we would have let them know sooner that he wasn’t doing the gardens properly.

We said that we would be happy to take over the care of the garden as we hope to buy the house off them in the next few years. They were happy with that so Dave and I got really excited about what we could do with the yard – like plant a vegetable garden!

We’ve been renting from them for the last two years and have always planned on buying the house eventually from them, but in our minds that plan was another 12 months away, especially as we want to go to America next year. When we first started renting, the landlords (Mark and Cathy) mentioned that they would probably sell in a few years, and the time frame was perfect for us. It’s a 1950’s house with the original bathroom and kitchen, so it’s in need of a little love and care, but Dave and I have been really excited about the prospect of renovating it as much ourselves as possible, so we were really excited at the prospect of getting started on the yard.

Sunday at church started normally enough, but then following the service, Cathy came up to me with tears streaming down her face. She told me that her mother’s health had gone downhill rapidly over the last few weeks and that she and her sister were in the process of deciding what to for her. Poor Cathy even said that her mother was so unwell that she had prayed that God would take her home and spare her any more suffering.

She asked if we were still interested in buying and what kind of time frame we had on doing that (another 12 months was what we had been thinking) because they might need to put her into care which would mean that they would need to sell the house soon in order to afford the costs of assisted care.

This sent us into a little bit of a panic over if we are going to be able to afford to buy a house where we are financially at the moment. We really love our little house, and right from the very first moment we set foot inside it felt like “home.” We have all sorts of ideas about what we would like to do to the place over the years to make it more liveable and more us. It’s in a great area, quite street with a fantastic sized back yard for extending and making additions to the house. We love it here, but it was quite a shock to both of us to think we might have to push all of our plans forward.

So our first step was to find out how much we had in our savings account to put towards a deposit, and incredibly we had way more than I thought we were going to. Praise God!

We then had a real estate agent come over to give us a quote on how much they think the house is worth – way more than I think it really should be – the Australian house market it out of control!

Our next step is to go and get a loan pre-approved at the bank, and then see how much they want for the house. I feel like such a grown-up, I don’t know if I like it!! :)

On a completely different note, it was my Dad’s birthday yesterday, so we had dinner over at my parent’s house last night.

Happy Birthday Dad, I love you lots! xxx

Friday, October 8, 2010

Strong Woman, Soft Hearts: Chapter 3

Pain: The Crossroads of the Heart

“Pain is experienced as a wave, and the question is: how will we ride it out so that we emerge in a stronger place, more grounded in God, more open to life, more wise?”

I don’t know about others out there, but more often than not (and more often than I care to admit too) my first instinct is to withdraw, protect my heart, keep whatever caused the pain at a distance.

And if I’m completely honest, too often I withdraw from God too.

I only wish that I was already strong enough to emerge from pain stronger, more grounded in God, more wise.

I think the biggest struggle in this area of overcoming pain for me is that I’m not really sure how to experience pain in such a way that I grow from it. Mostly I would rather just avoid it.

As I got thinking about all of this a woman came to mind, a woman who has walked a path of pain of the worst kind – the loss of a child.

I have never met her, may never meet her this side of heaven (even though I will admit to having prayed about meeting her! ;) )

Angie Smith – she chose to embrace the pain, to fully experience it, to be free in her expression of it. She allowed herself to feel pain fully. But she also chose to look past the pain, to see a bigger picture, to find moments of solace in God’s arms.

During a routine ultrasound for her fourth child, Angie and her husband Todd were told that their unborn daughter had too many complications with her little body that she would not live and the best course of action for them would be termination.

Devastated, but strong in the conviction that God is the only one who has the right to make the choice of life and death, Angie and Todd made the decision to carry little Audrey for as long as God would allow them to have her.

On her blog and in her book, Angie shares her deep struggle through this journey. She boldly bares her pain and shares how she at times she ranted at God, at times was so devastated she couldn’t get out of bed and how many times she prayed for a different outcome.

Yet throughout her blog posts, there is a resounding hope that lingers in her words. The hope of a woman who is aware that God is weaving a tapestry of her life, and that even in those moments of inexplicable pain He holds her world in the palm of His hands.

Despite her pain, Angie allowed God to use her to reach countless women. She allowed her heart to remain open, she didn’t withdraw and try to hide, and as such she has been able to be a tool in the Masters hands.

“ happens. And none of it catches God by surprise.”

Nothing about the Smith’s journey caught God by surprise, and nothing that happens in my own life catches Him by surprise either.

This is a truth that I know in my head, but sometimes my heart can be a little slow to follow, a little slower to trust completely, even in my heavenly Father.

My prayer is that I might be a little more like Angie Smith. And of course more like my Saviour.

There is so much more in this chapter that I could write about, but this post would be incredibly long if I kept typing! So I will leave this post with a couple more thoughts.

“God often allows us to be wounded in the same location of an old wound. The pain – in his hands – has an antiseptic quality, with the potential to cleanse and make new.”

This little quote/idea of Paula’s really opened my eyes to some areas that I know I need some healing in, to allow God to cleanse and make new. And then hopefully, to use that pain for good.

On page 43 Paula makes this comment. “I had this mental image of how my life should be, a painting on the wall of my life. And try as I might, I could not get the reality to match the dream.”


That is a huge struggle that I have over and over again in my own life. I battle the mental images that I have carried about how my life will look at all these different ages and stages, every time these hoped for milestones pass without my expectations being met. Another area that I can feel God starting to work on in my heart – like I have previously said lining up my desires with His, with His will for my life.

There is so much good stuff in each of these chapters so far, I could just keep writing and writing about them! But I won’t, I’ll stop here!

Have a great day!


P.S. Angie Smith’s full story can be found on her blog at

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Well, I’ve been sick for the last few days, so I only really felt like posting Chapter 2, yesterday, which I had already written last week. I haven’t updated on what we have been up to for a while, so let’s see what I can remember!

Geelong was inundated with cyclists over the weekend (and in the weeks leading up to last weekend). The UCI racing championships were held here, which at first I, like many others, thought would just be a major traffic issue! During the 5 days of racing a huge number of Geelong streets were closed off to traffic during the day, meaning that getting around was a challenge and required quite a bit of planning. However as the week progressed and I watched the coverage on TV and found out more about the UCI race, I discovered that it was actually quite an honour to have the race in our own town.

In 77 years, the race has only been held outside of Europe seven times, Geelong being the seventh. It has a huge following in Europe, which meant that our small town was being telecast all over the world and being seen by millions of people worldwide!

So on Sunday after church, along with half of our church, we wandered off to watch some of the racing. Part of the racing course went right past the street our church is on so it was quite the place to be following the service – the building emptied pretty quickly! :)

It was beautiful spring weather, in fact so sunny that I got sunburnt! I know I shouldn’t be excited, but it’s my first sunburn leading up to summer, so I am a little bit excited to get the tanning started! I know, I know, bad Sharen!

It was a great afternoon, except I forgot my camera so I have no pictures! The atmosphere was so upbeat! Everyone loves a good sporting event here and the cycling was no exception. The thing I love most about Australian crowds at sporting events is the way that they always cheer for everyone. Yes, the Aussie competitors got the loudest ones, but we also love the effort that the riders put in, so the athletes that got the next biggest cheers were the ones that were coming last – way last!!

On Saturday morning I had a gorgeous brunch with a group of girls that I went to high school with! A couple of the girls I hadn’t seen for a couple of years, so it was really great to catch up with what’s been happening in their lives over the last few years. A couple of us are married, one is expecting her first baby...well babies...twins! Crazy!! We enjoyed some yummy food at a beachfront cafe, basking in the beautiful sunshine.

All in all it was a great weekend (well, until I got sick on Sunday night, but I’ll save whoever reads this from the details of that!) and a great finish to the school holidays!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Strong Women, Soft Hearts: Chapter 2

Desire: The Language of the Heart

“The language of the heart is the language of desire.”

For so long I have felt like my desires would never be met, and often like they were wrong. I’m the kind of person who always wants more, I’m always desiring more. But when Paula made this comment in the book, my eyes were opened.

“It’s as though we still have a memory of the Garden of Eden, and we are homesick for something we just can’t quite get our hands around here. These longings are the holes n our souls. They tell us something important – that we need God.”

God wants me to keep desiring, wants me to want more, be always wanting more, but He wants me to want Him above all else. My desires show who I am, they are a deep intrinsic part of who I am, and they become more alive the closer I walk with God. As C.S. Lewis said “when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.”

When we have our hearts lined up correctly with God, our desires become more like His, our hearts more in tune with what God desires for our own lives and for those He wishes us to have influence in the lives of. Our desires might change a little, some desires may disappear completely as we realise they don’t line up with God’s will. Other desires might even become intensified as we are able to more clearly see God’s plan for them. Perhaps most importantly of all, when our hearts and desires are lined up with God’s will we can be confident in our desires, hopes and dreams, because they are His.

Paula asks this question: “Where would desire take you if you didn’t douse the flame of possibility before someone else attempted to blow it out?” and I add: if we didn’t douse the flames with our own doubts?

Fear of failure, of what others will think, of where desires could take us, these all impact on how we feel about desire – I know that it has in my own life. The beauty of walking close to and setting our hearts close to God’s means that we can let go of these fears because we can trust that God is in control!

Sadly, even when our hearts are set right with God we may not see all of our desires come to fruition. But we can’t let that discourage us from having them, and even going after them in God’s will. We may never know this side of heaven what impact we have had on earth, and we may not live to see all our desires fulfilled. For some of us we are the start of something bigger, some of get to be a part of and see the fruits of what others have started and some of us fall somewhere in the middle.

Reading this chapter has helped me to reignite some of the desires that I had pushed to dark corners of my heart for fear of failure. I felt God prompting me not to give up hope, not to hide my dreams from Him but to give them over to Him for Him to use for His glory.

I don’t know yet where this journey will take me, but my heart feels alive with possibility! I’m prepared for some of my desires to be changed and moulded by God, but somehow I feel lighter for having read this part of the book!

Thanks Paula!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Strong Women, Soft Hearts Chapter 1

I have decided that I’m going to do a series of posts on Paula Rinehart’s book “Strong Women, Soft Hearts.” I find that when I make notes on what I’m reading I get way more out of it, and I thought it might be fun to put it onto my blog – not really sure why!

Because I’m doing these posts as I’m reading they may not connect in any way at all, they are just my thoughts and discoveries about what I’m reading.

So let’s dive on in!

Awakening: God Calls Our Hearts

“He pursues us past all our talent and hard work into the secret places of our hearts where sin and inadequacy and brokenness hide, and He rejoices to claim us there as His own.”


What an incredible God. This perfect, all-knowing Holy God who knows all our failings, every bad thought we have, every sinful inclination we have and yet He still desires us, still longs to have relationship with us.

Sometimes I forget I’m already living my life. I love to plan and have everything for my future worked out and I figure once I get there my life will start. But then I get there and start planning for the next thing, without really enjoying my arrival, all the time wondering when my life will really start. Once I’ve completed school, once I get married, once we buy a house, once we have children – the list is endless. I keep looking for a milestone of when my life will start, but I forget to enjoy what I’m living right now.

It makes me wonder what I’ve missed out on, what have I not fully appreciated, what little (and big) moments have I missed out on enjoying because I was so eager to get to the next thing?

Even more confronting is the question of what have I missed God saying/showing to me because I never stop and rest in where I’m at now? How often have I missed His voice speaking to me? How often have I missed His gifts to me because I barrel along onto the next thing on my agenda? How often have I missed what He is doing around me and in me, because I’ve been too focused on my own plans?

Possibly the most confronting thing I can ask myself though is why do I repeat this pattern?

On page 7 Paula says this. “The effort to shield ourselves from pain also blocks our awareness of the good stuff.” Later in the chapter she also says “We allow fear to reduce the world to a couple of small rooms, where things are known and familiar and we feel in control.” These quotes revealed for me perhaps why I have this pattern of planning everything.

If I keep everything the way I want it I can be in control and everything will work out and I won’t experience pain. Right....

My mind is a curious place of I alone?!

Paula says that as women our greater capacity for relationship opens up a larger possibility for experiencing pain. I don’t know about anyone else out there but I definitely am a feeler. And an emotional one at that! I feel other pain deeply, I experience my own pain even more deeply, and I know that over the years I have use pain as an excuse to reduce my world at times, as an excuse for holding people at arm’s length, as an excuse for closing off parts of my heart so that the chances of being hurt are diminished. But I don’t really know that in shutting off certain areas I have reduced my experience of pain – I think that it might have increased it. In a strange paradox, I think that in trying to protect our own hearts we can actually make them more susceptible to pain, and pain that is self inflicted.

It takes courage to change, but I feel for me that Paula Rinehart in this book gives women some of that courage. The courage to live the life that God has planned for us – not the one that I plan for myself – it’s not like my plans ever work out that well anyway!

“Will you really grab hold of life in whatever shape God has given it and live as though you didn’t go around twice?”

I sure want to try!

Anyone with me?!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Beautiful Sunday!

I am currently lying on a banana lounge in my backyard in the fabulous Spring sunshine!!! It has been about 4 months since the weather has been this good, and as I'm lying here I can feel myself just starting to really relax! I'm not sure what it is about sunshine and the warm weather that just helps me to rest, and find peace and calm, but it really does. The sky has been cloud free and there is a gentle breeze blowing and I feel like it's blowing away my cares.

Neither Dave or I have been feeling well the last few days. I have a bad toothache and Dave has been really sick, so he took the morning off church, but I was singing on the music team so I went. I got home and he had gone out to pick something up from one of his brothers house so I have been lounging in the yard for over and hour and a half and it has been heaven.

My toothache was pretty bad before church so I downed 3 different types of over the counter painkillers - not sure how safe that was but...anyhoo! I then had to sing a solo at the start of How Great is Our God, the song by Chris Tomlin, and I was shaking so bad that I thought I was going to fall into a heap on stage!!! he he he. I'm not sure if that was purely from nerves or also from a slight overdose of asprin, panadol and ibuprofen!! :)

Tomorrow morning I'm making a call to my dentist, who I am praying has a free appointment so he can look at my teeth. If anyone happens to stumble upon this blog - please send up a prayer for me. Five years ago I had to have a root canal done, and I am petrified of the dentist, and as silly as it sounds I am praying that I don't have to have another one - or worse have a tooth removed.

On a completely different note I have started reading "Strong Women, Soft Hearts" by Paula Reinhart, and wow is this book having a great impact on me so far. I love it when God uses books to speak straight to my soul. I can't wait to get even further into it! Hopefully I'll remember to post more about it when I'm done!

Happy Sunday to all!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Spring break

Yep, it's the holidays again!!!! I do love my holidays, but once again I have been sitting down and making my list of things to do on my two weeks break. My list includes thing like cleaning, de-cluttering, going through cupboards, taking things to the repairman's.

Don't worry, I also have a list of movies I want to watch and books I want to read which would require about 3 months of holidays to get through!

I'm also hoping to get some of my Christmas shopping done, and I'm getting a massage on Tuesday because my shoulders and neck are so tight it's not funny!!

We have just had a normal week here at the Timberlake house.

Wednesday was back to being a busy night. I have my singing lesson at 6pm and then I had to rush home, make dinner, eat it and be out the door for our life group at 7:30! As per usual we were late! We had an interesting discussion on politics, and how/where Christianity fits in Australia’s parliamentary system. For the most part our group seemed to agree, which meant there were no political arguments, just some great discussion!!
We love our group. We have been meeting together once a fortnight for years now and while we have added to our group it has always remained a really safe and welcoming environment to share ideas, our personal growth, to ask for prayer. We are quite a close group of friends now, and we celebrate birthdays together, and today it was our group’s first baby dedication!!! Little Oliver is our first life group baby which is quite exciting! He is gorgeous, and it was such a beautiful little ceremony, and Penny read a gorgeous poem that she had written for her little boy, I teared up a little! I can't wait for one of my own!
Thursday we had dinner at my parents place which we try to do every second Thursday night, or at least every week that Dave and I don’t have Church music practice.

Our weekend was pretty quite, which is how we like them! Dave hasn't been feeling well so we took it pretty easy. I did have my first attempt at making taquitos and they turned out really well - not quite as good as Mexican Graffiti, but still really yum!

I think I'm going to get back to my holiday planning, and make sure I schedule in plenty of time for reading my Bible and spending time with God - I really feel that I need to just be refreshed and renewed over the next few weeks so that I can make it through the last term of the year. I found this term to be incredibly draining emotionally and I want to go into the last one for this year knowing that I am getting my strength from God and not trying to push though in my own.

Have a lovey week!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Footy Fever!!

I can't believe that I didn't go to a single football game all year, then I have been three times in the last month! We have been very blessed to have been given the use of other people's memberships and so have either had a free ticket or discounted tickets.

Last weekend I won't say much about due simply to the sensitive nature of the topic for Geelong Cats supporter. Let's just say it wasn't the result that we were looking for, nor was it the weather we hoped for!!

It poured rain for the second half of the game!

Last night was a much better night all round. Cats had a win - semi-finals here we come!!! And it didn't rain! Yay! It was a perfect night. We had great seats right near the goals, it was a little chilly, but who cares really when your team absolutely SMASHES the opposition?!

This is Half Cat - the Cats team mascot - and one of my high school teachers!!

This is the "G" - aka the MCG or The Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The boys after the massive win!! Well done fellas!