Happy New Year Everybody! This was my last big challenge of the year 2009....getting a chocolate mud cake covered in white chocolate and surrounded by lollies/sweeties to our church in one piece before anyone ate it or demolished it.
A time of looking back and pausing to see God's hand upon us! A time of looking forward to an eternity of exuberant joy of living with God!
I can honestly say I have had hard years before but this year has been my hardest. And yet I have known God's presence as never before and my growing with him was as never before too.
I have felt pressed to urgently strive forward in my service for God.... for life is a mere 'mist', here today, gone tomorrow. True enjoyment of life, true worship is to live passionately for God and enjoying the life He has given us to it's fullest capacity! How frustrated I get for under achieving in this area! And most often I find myself underachieving when life is easy and comfortable. When the pressure is on, I cling to God and know His joy in a special way indeed, how silly this seems in retrospect.
Here is a run down of our 2009:
It started out to be a very normal year. Everything seemed to be running along smoothly...we were happy at church and with homeschooling, with our friends etc. I remember saying to a couple of friends at the time that I could not be happier... my life was just so perfect. Then the World Economic Crisis happened and as Douglas was working with a struggling contracting company he lost his job a few days after his birthday along with millions of others around the world and hundreds within his company. Our particular problem was that living here in Australia as New Zealand citizens is that in the the worst case scenario we would have to go back to New Zealand for any government help. Of course we would have hated to have to relied on this but the doom and gloom of that time did make one think of the worst possible outcomes. Our children are firmly established here and it would be a huge upheaval for them and in reality a temporary stepping stone, before we came back here again.
We have for years now also considered moving back to South Africa to work with AIDS orphans. So Douglas was applying for work there too. In fact he was applying all over the world. But the doors did not open for overseas ....which left us happy and sad at the same time. I remember saying to someone before Douglas lost his work....I have never been happier in all my life here in Brisbane, everything is so perfect here and still is really- we are indeed very happy and blessed to live here!
Doug as was able to secure a very good job within three months of losing his job. QER is an American funded company here in Brisbane. They are planning to turn some of Gladston's shale into oil, and as it is near the Great Barrier Reef it has got to be a very clean and green project. Douglas is using both his Chemical Engineering qualification and his Business analysist/ Operations Research modeling for his work at present....how blessed we are that he is qualified in a rather unusual way and it paved the way for work and for provision for our lovely family. His company is helping us to get a permanent residence here in Australia on the grounds of Doug's qualifications as we do not pass the age test..giggle! Please pray that will go smoothly!
A few days after Douglas had started his new job our house flooded in Ipswich. It was the second flood we had experienced in under six months. We were in the process of trying to buy a house from someone in our church and as the house was vacant we were thankfully able to move into that house straight away. I cannot imagine how we could have recovered from the flood without the opportunity to get out. I packed, with my parents and children's help, in 3 days ( and nights as we got very little sleep!) Doug had to continue work, although they allowed him time off to actually move us)
8 children and a school ( we home school and have 40 bookcases) is no tiny job, actually it is a nightmare deluxe! The new house is lovely but in reality 6 months later we still have a smaller living area than the Ipswich house as we still need to build on a garage and convert the present garage into a school room/ rumpus. So we have not yet fully unpacked over six months later...patience! Our new house is opposite a park though and the yard is bigger, giving the children a chance to run and play as they could never do in the Ipswich house garden. God has been very good to us!
Selling the Ipswich House:
Part of the reason we have taken so long to make changes with this house is that we had to sell the Ipswich house first. This took a huge amount of cleaning up and tidying up on my part. It takes 40 minutes to get from one house to the other. It took the insurance company forever to get their act together, and then tradesmen forever to get their jobs done. Once it was finally on the market it did not take toooo long to sell. And by then the market was more buoyant....God had his plan and we got our asking price which we did not really expect to get.
The loss of a child through miscarriage always takes it's toll on us both emotionally but also on me physically. We became aware that I was very low on iron and struggled for months to feel vaguely normal. Jessica had stopped studying for a while to take a gap half year. In the providence of God we were able to employ her as a 'nanny/teacher' for a number of weeks when I was at my worst. Jessica is looking forward to her new line of studies in Child Care next year, oops... this year! I have also had a recent knee operation which has freed me from years of pain and inconvenience....yippee! And although recovery has been excellent, I am still slow and clumsy and tire easily at present.
Marriage and family:
Before our huge upheaval we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary! Then the stress hit full force! And stress certainly highlights the weaknesses and strengths of any marriage. It has been a time of figuring each other out better, and gaining a much deeper understanding of how we work together as a team and how we want to spend our next 20 years together! I am so grateful for a husband who is fully committed to marriage forever....this kind of commitment on it's own has brought us through a hair raising year together with the grace of God. I think we will always learn a better way of being kind and loving to one another. As a family we have had days of struggling with the pressure on but also very happy days too. We miss our pool at the Ipswich house...swimming is a wonderful way to relax together, and the bank has promised us a loan extension to get a pool in in order to get those big lads exercising enough!
I think the loss of a dear and precious friend at church was the hardest on us all as a family group. Our friends always play an important role in our lives. The death of a spouse, marital separation and divorce, the near death of children, extreme illness, mental breakdowns, hospitalizations, suicide attempts and extreme physical pain, operations has been the lot of our dear and precious friends this year.
They have stood faithful in their love for God and have been a great encouragement and blessing to us as we have watched them cope and still praise God - despite their circumstances! As a friend I have felt stretched beyond my abilities in terms of counselling and encouraging them. I have felt a bit like Job's friends at times giving counsel and have wondered if I should spend time upgrading social work degree by brushing up on my counselling skills. But the reality is I have not the time to do serious studies at this stage. I look forward to getting some Christan counselling DVD's though to enjoy at leisure this year! I don't think anything though can replace love, time and friendship. I am so grateful for my friends giving freely of these through this past year.
My parents have visited from NZ and have emigrated to Australia this year. They are staying with us at present and are looking to buy a house. Not easy with limited fiances in a termite ridden country, but we pray for guidance as they have an offer in subject to pest and valuation etc.
Doug's Mom hopes to visit this year, although with the World Cup Soccer in South Africa inflated prices of air fares might necessitate her to come next year.
I have said before on my blog...I have not reached the point where I can ask God for trails, but I have certainly reached the point where I can see purpose in trails and feel a joy in being close to God through trials. I have grieved many things this year, I think it has not only been my hardest year but my saddest. Best friends from NZ have just recently been told that his cancer is aggressive and there is nothing more they can do to help him...
yet there is plenty for us all to look forward to...
an eternity of being blessedly face to face with our creator, happier than we can ever imagine here on earth. If you do not know God I urge you...life is but a mist. Choose life in all it fullness, a life of festive celebration of our Creators kindness and goodness and over flowing love for ever and eternity....in a sense the phrase 'let's party' only belong to Christians as the only way to party and celebrate a gloriously happy and fulfilled life is to be close to Christ! All my comments are moderated so if you have private questions you would like to ask about God, mark them as do not publish, I would love to help you find the wonderful gift of life; life at it's best, real life, rich life, fulfilled and meaningful life.
May God bless you all, Joy