Tuesday, August 30, 2011

USA Trip Stats!

I just thought I would get on here and share a few statistics from our USA trip!

51 the number of days we were in the USA
25 the number of states we travelled through
22 the number of hotels we stayed in
we travelled a little under 8000 miles in a car. That equals a little under 13,000 kilometers!
About 35 hours on aeroplanes.
3 the number of Oceans we went in (Pacific, Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico)
42 the number of days weather was over 30 degrees Celsius (over 86 degrees Fahrenheit)
New York City had the longest number of nights at the one hotel: 5 nights

At one point I tried to keep track of the fast food places we ate at and how many times we ate at each, but I got a little bored with that and gave up!

We loved our trip, and I'm still a little sad that it's over. It feels like so long ago that we were in the planning, dreaming and being excited to get on that plane stage, and now we've been back at work for over a week now.

I guess I'll have to start planning our next trip.
Hmm, so many places, so little time (and funds!). Where to begin....

Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekends are for...

1. Not cleaning your house even though it really, really, really needs it!
2. Having friends over even though your house is really, really, really messy!
3. Being grateful that your friends still like you after they see your house!
4. Watching movies with good friends, on both Saturday and Sunday night.
5. Getting a new phone (I finally jumped on the iPhone bandwagon)
6. Eating sushi after church on Sunday (which we weirdly seem to do a lot)
7. Finally finding some winter boots that you like!
8. Having those boots be only $40! Yep, so you then buy another pair that are on sale too (hey, the second pair were only $20! What's a girl to do?)

Have a great week!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Culture Shock

They say when you go on a missions trip that often coming home is challenging. After seeing extreme poverty and suffering face to face it is difficult to reconcile that with how your every day life looks. Culture shock.

I think I have a little bit of culture shock.

I know it sounds a little ridiculous, but I have found it very hard to settle back into routine, to find my normal again. While I didn't see extreme poverty while in the USA (not like I have on a missions trip) I am definitely struggling to enjoy my everyday life in the same way I did before the trip.

Without a doubt I have left a big piece of my heart in America. Most of all with a family that inspire me with they way they are living out their faith in Memphis, Tennessee. (I know I keep talking about them but I'm not a creepy stalker. Promise.)

I prayed before we left that this trip would be more than just a whole lot of sightseeing, and I truly believe that God used all that free time to speak to me. He's still speaking to me about a whole lot of things, but that time away created space in my head and heart for him to fill with His desires.

Figuring out just how God wants me to live out some of the things He has been revealing to me is the challenging part of returning to Australia, especially when I so want to be a part of what He is doing, and I know of a new church in Memphis who are doing some good things. I find my thoughts drifting there frequently throughout the day.

So I guess, just like after returning from a mission trip, I just need to take time to figure out what God wants me to do next, and how to use the people and places from the trip to inspire what I do in my everyday.

Has anyone, or does anyone else often find it challenging to figure out the next step? Anyone have any great stories of how they have been changed as a result of their travels?

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Last night we had our life group and it was so nice to be back amongst some of our closest friends again.

However we were a little naughty. Most of the life groups in our church do the same study each week and they usually centre around the message that was given on the Sunday. We skipped it this week!

But we did something I think is even better. We each took turns sharing what God has been doing in us recently. I love it when we do this open up, share honestly. It creates a closer bond in the group and that in turns means more honest discussions when we do, do the study.

I shared about the journey that Dave and I have been on with regards to God starting to shift our thinking from what "normal," (like making sure we own a house, having the nice car, being dressed in the right clothes, being a part of the "right" ministries) to slowing bring us around (probably mostly slowly due to our own resistance!) to what I believe to be a more Biblical way of thinking.

I also shared last night about some friends of ours and their journey of stepping out of the comfort of what "church" is and making the bold choice to follow God's plan when it doesn't make sense, especially by the world's standards but even by the church's standard. (You can read some of their story here)

This was one of the responses I got:
"That's great, but not everyone is called to sell everything and go and live with the poor."

At the time I smiled and nodded. Then I thought about it a little more. (And I apologise if that person happens to come and read this because what I'm about to say they possibly won't like!)

And the more I thought about this response, the more I realised that it was a complete cop out.
And I too am guilty of these kinds of responses.

This kind of response is normal, and that is the frightening thing. It frightens me that this is my response all too often, that I would actually believe that my comfort, here in my nice first world life, is of more value than the life of a person in a third world country. That my comforts at home are worth more to me than another human being - created in God's image the same as I am - more important than them having food, and clean water, and a safe place to live.

It is frightening that this is the church's normal reaction. Not overtly, and we certainly don't mean for this to be our reaction, but simply by omission, by not doing more (and lets be honest, most of us certainly can do more) we are saying these very things.

I don't want this to be the case. I don't want this to be my part in God's story. I don't want to get to the end of my life and say I could have done more. That I should have done more.

I love my church and the people there, and I know that the person who made the comment really meant nothing by what they said, but perhaps that is the greatest tragedy of all of this. We don't realise how offhand our comments really are, and we forget how the "poor" people we are referring to are as valued by God as we are.

I don't want those in need to simply be faceless strangers to me. It's too easy to forget their worth, their value as human beings and as God's creations.

I pray that God will continue to reveal to me how he wants me to show love to "the least of these" regardless of how uncomfortable it might make me.

Will you join me?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Returning to Regular Life

As I type I am sitting at my desk at work (sniff, sniff) alternating between going through all my emails, catching up with co-workers (friends), and hearing updates on my students.

I will admit that I wasn't really looking forward to going back to work this morning. Stinking alarm clock! But the minute I walked through the office door and was greeted by our lovely administration extraordinaire Judy I was glad to be back.

While at times my job drives me crazy and completely exhausts me, I am so very lucky to work with some lovely ladies, all who made me feel loved and missed the second I saw them. The birthday cake at morning tea helped too! Birthdays do not go unnoticed in our office - even if you are overseas for it. Cake is a given, as well as balloons that pop while you hold a cup of tea in your hand (picture a room full of women getting a fright!), and sparklers!

I have so many more photos and stories to share about our trip. It just got to overwhelming to try and keep up with it all while we were there, so I will keep posting until I run out of things to say, or people start to tell me they're bored!

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Grand Canyon

This massive canyon isn’t called Grand for no reason. It is quite possibly God’s best work. Well, right after us humans, since we are the ones made in His image, not the canyon.
But this place just blows your mind.

We opted to stay at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, a less touristy, more out of the way side of the canyon. In fact the North Rim is actually closed six months of the year – it gets snowed in!

Basically our trip had to revolve around our stay here at the canyon because it was the first thing we booked, even before our flights were booked and we had been granted our holiday leave by our employers! We booked back in December and this is a must (due to the whole only open six months thing).

We spent the night before the Grand Canyon in Sedona, Arizona (yes that rimes!) and the whole drive from there to the North Rim was indescribably, spectacularly beautiful. Most of the photos we took on the way are either through the windows of the car, or by one of us hanging the camera out of the car! If we had stopped every time we saw something stunning we would still be driving!

We arrived at the North Rim with our eyeballs seared with beauty, and then the Grand Canyon just finished the job off. Wow.

I actually got a little teary as I stood on the path outside our cabin and looked at the unobstructed view we had of the canyon.

Enjoy these photos (just a tiny sample of the 300 or so that we took!)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

New York City Day 1

Day one in NYC started with a grey sky that did absolutely nothing to dampen our spirits over being in a city that you spend your life seeing in movies and imagining what it will be like to maybe, someday get to see it in real life.

We opted to stay on Staten Island, mostly because it was way cheaper and wouldn't cost us extra to park the car at the hotel. Our hotel offered free shuttles to the ferry terminal so it seemed to us the perfect place to stay. And if it didn't work out we could always go to a hotel in Manhattan later in the week, since we only booked two nights to start off with.

Our first view of the NYC skyline came from across the bay.
It was a spectacular sight of muted greys.

We spend the day wandering around some of the sights in and around the financial district.
The Brooklyn Bridge. (I am going to embarrassingly admit that I only made it half way across the bridge before I was overcome with the fear that the whole thing would collapse underneath me and I would plunge into the murky east river below)
We took in the architecture of the city....
And familiar sights.
We ended the day on one of these with the city skyline receding in the background.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Washington DC

I am getting so behind with putting up pictures of our adventures! So this will be a lot of images and not much writing.

We spent just one full day in Washington DC (not nearly enough time!) and so naturally we used our time wisely by seeing the sights that are within the one area. Only thing is in pictures and maps the National Mall looks nice and easy to get around, and it is, it also looks like all the sights are close together.

We found out otherwise.

Yes the monuments can be found within the same area, but that area is SO spread out. We absolutely destroyed our feet walking everywhere, not to mention we did it in 104F (or 40C) temperature. There were repercussions for days after!

We loved our time in DC and only wished we could have had a few extra days. Maybe next time!

1. Chrystal City Station
2. Washington Monument
3. First squirrel sighting
4. Smithsonian
5. Exhibit on the origin of the "Star Spangled Banner"
6.The Capitol
7. Us
8. Shot of us in reflection
9. The white house
10. world War 2 memorial
11. Um...the Reflecting Pool?!
12. Lincoln Memorial
13. Abraham Lincoln