Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Lari!

Happy birthday to my little sister Larissa (Lari)!

She turned a big 22 yesterday. We had dinner for her at my parents house, just a BBQ and salads.

In typical 22 year old girl fashion she chose a train cake. All I can say is that it was good to get this out of my system before I have kids, because this cake was really not worth the effort for the end result - not really happy with how it looks. It did taste pretty good though!

MMM, red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting - so good, but so wrong for what I wanted to achieve with the cake!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Good Friday Appeal

For the last few years on Good Friday, Dave, Larissa and I, and whoever else we take along with us, drive around looking for can shakers at the traffic lights. It has become a tradition for us to donate to the Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal.

The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne does an amazing job of taking care of children - not only children from Victoria and Australia, but around the world.

My parents put change in a tin can throughout the year, and Dave and I contribute also, we count it up - see if we can beat the previous years total - and then drive around looking for people to hand it over to.

Last year we came across a lovely young woman who we spent a little time chatting with as we loaded the collection tins with all the change. She was so excited about all the change we were handing over!

This year we headed to the same traffic lights we saw her at, knowing that there would be collectors there again, and who should be the person that approached the car? Our lovely friend from last year!! She remembered us before we recognised her!

So we handed over a fair bit of our tinful of change to her, then we went off to find some other people to give to.

We took Huxley along with us, and man does that dog malt! The car was full of his fur! We went back to our new friend Victoria to give her the last of our change in the tin, and we stopped past the house to get some Easter eggs to take to her.

We love to do this each year - the hospital does an incredible job every day of the year for children and their families, it really seems the least we can do to donate a little change for a truly worthy cause.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter and ANZAC Day

This upcoming weekend is a time of remembrance and celebration for us in Australia. Not only is it Easter weekend but we will have ANZAC Day held on Tuesday this year.

Easter is the time set specifically aside for Christians to remember Jesus death and resurrection.

ANZAC Day is the day that Australians remember those who have fought on our behalf in a number of wars.

Basically this weekend is all about one word: sacrifice.

On ANZAC Day we celebrate our freedom that came at a cost. That cost was tens of thousands of (mostly) young men’s lives. Their sacrifice means we live in a free country, a country not run by a dictator, a country not constantly torn apart by civil wars, a country where education and healthcare and financial assistance is available to everyone regardless of race, gender or religion.

When we celebrate Easter, we are also celebrating a freedom that came at a cost. That cost was Jesus Christs death on a cross. God sacrificed His one and only Son so that we could have freedom of life too.

Sacrifice always costs.

Of course we know that Jesus rose from the dead and returned to His disciples for a time, then returned to His Father in heaven. For so many of the soldiers that have fought over time, they didn’t return to their loved ones. Their sacrifice was not theirs alone – their families and loved ones gave up fathers, husbands, brothers and sons. God asks us the same.

Jesus sacrifice is no longer His alone. He asks us to join Him. Perhaps not in the same way, although His disciples all lost their lives here for His cause.

Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, he must daily take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

Sacrifice might not mean that we lose our life in death, but we are called to give our lives for others. That sacrifice might mean your money, time or talents. It might mean forgiving someone who has hurt you. It might mean going out of your way to love a difficult person. For some people it means moving countries to share God’s love with others who have never heard the Gospel.

There is no one right way to do sacrifice for the Kingdom of God, but if you are truly sacrificing yourself for it, it will cost you something, even just your comfort.

That’s how I judge my own sacrifice. Am I uncomfortable? If I’m honest, at the moment the answer is ‘no’.

How about you? As we remember Christs sacrifice this weekend, let’s all take some time to think about our own sacrifices. Like me, are you too comfortable?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Comforted by His Presence

I was reading Kelle Hampton’s blog this morning and she had written this:

“Nella's teething is far more challenging than Lainey's was, and my contented girl has lately been slung to my hip, biting her fingers and clearly upset. The night routine's been a beast--up three to four times--and I am consequently exhausted. But it's a rite of passage, eh? At times it is, yes, frustrating; but still amazing that I have what she needs--that my child's greatest distress is comforted simply by my presence.”

My immediate thought was that this is what God thinks towards us. He has everything we need and He is always ready to comfort us.

I so want my heart to be in a place where my distress is comforted simply by God’s presence. Not by chocolate, or other people, or shopping. Just by Him alone.

And not just in my distress. I want to feel whole, beautiful, at peace, joyful, alive, simply because of His presence.

His presence is all we need. It is what we will have for eternity. We will be in His presence and I want to live my life in that place here and now. I don’t want to wait until I can see Him face to face, and I don’t have to.

He has graciously given us His Spirit, His Presence to dwell within us. My greatest distress can be comforted by His presence, but my greatest joys can be even more alive in His presence. I become more beautiful in His presence. I can find rest and peace in His presence.

We are just two weeks away from the day that commemorates Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, from the day that where He sacrificed all so we could be restored to God’s presence.

He has what we need, and so much more. He longs for us to want His presence. He is ready to comfort us with His presence. As a parent longs to be a source of comfort to their distressed child, so too does God long to be the source of comfort to his children.

Monday, April 4, 2011

USA Travel Update

During last week we were fortunate enough to be able to extend our USA trip by 10 days!! We realised that we were trying to cram way too much into the first half of the trip and were going to spend all our time driving and no time meandering, sightseeing or relaxing!

We have now freed ourselves up to spend more time with the O'Kelly's in Houston (yay!), some more time making our way to Nashville and more time once we get there, we can then take our time getting to NYC and have lots of time for exploring the city.

This change has really made me feel more relaxed about the first half of the trip. I was starting to get concerned as to how we would fit everything in and be able to take it easy and just mosey along, stopping when we felt like it, pulling over to take photos, leaving the main road for a small town whenever we want.

I have discovered some drives that are supposed to be spectacular. The Natchez Trace Parkway looks like it will be the perfect way to get from New Orleans to Nashville. The Blue Ridge Parkway sounds like it is beautiful and might make up part of the drive to NYC. We want to see some of the Atlantic coast, so this might be a part of the trip that we just wing depending how we feel at the time.

I also spent some time on Sunday afternoon having a look at hotels near Disneyland!! So fun! There are a few that I have come across that look pretty nice and are within a short walking distance to the main gate. We will probably book something there soon.

We also need to book a hotel in Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400 so that is high on the list of things to do, as well as book our flight from LA to Houston.

The other exciting thing is that we will be able to experience 4th of July! We are so excited, and really feel blessed that God has just worked out our change of flights, and Dave's time off in this way.

If anyone has any advice or travel tips, feel free to leave me a comment!