Today I am 35 weeks pregnant. I had my baby shower on Saturday. My amazing sister-in-law Rachel hosted it in her lovely home with a delicious high tea. Not all of my dear friends and family could make it of course, but I was able to share in the afternoon with 19 of the most loving, inspiring and encouraging women I have ever known. As my treasured friends started arriving and embraced me with hugs, I was reminded of a message that Cam sent me many years ago about the friendships that God would give me here in Perth.
Rachel had a wonderful idea as an activity for us to sit together in a circle and each friend to share how they know me and to share a word of wisdom or encouragement for me as I embark on the motherhood journey. What an incredibly thoughtful and empowering activity! My self-talk has been very harsh and negative for many years, but as Rachel began to share first, I decided that I would accept all the loving and positive words of truth and let them settle deep in my heart. It was a blessing that will live in me for a lifetime. It reaffirmed for me that I have some incredibly beautiful and blessed friendships.
I went back through my messages later to find the exact words of Cam’s text, which was from 23rd March 2011:
At the time I would have thought, “oh that’s a nice thing to say” but I would not have taken it seriously, nor have I really thought about since then. I now realise it was a prophetic message; a promise from God. A promise He has fulfilled in a way I could never have imagined possible, just as the message describes, as I learn more and more how God sees me, and sharing that journey intimately with friends who I call family.
It is a reminder that He is good and faithful and I just wanted to write a short post to share it.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT) – Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) – Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
It is my desire for every woman, and man, to have intimate and connected friendships, to have people come alongside you, and for you to come alongside friends, in all times of life. If you are without this, I pray you will find it.
We are excited to announce that our family will be growing by one in 2016. Due on 5th July. Can’t believe how blessed we are!
Today marks seven weeks since Kieran and I got married. It might not seem like a particularly special anniversary to celebrate, but it’s a significant milestone because it is the longest amount of time I’ve ever been married. Cam and I had only 6 weeks and 6 days of marriage.
I shared with Kieran a few weeks ago that subconsciously I feared that our marriage would also ‘disappear’, because this is what past experience has taught me. It hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind, but it has been a lingering and strange feeling, to expect, and anticipate, without any valid reason, that Kieran wouldn’t be with me and I would suddenly be alone, no longer married again. It perplexes me that even though we are in the middle of completely different circumstances, with no illness staring us in the face every day, with no matter-of-weeks prognosis looming over us like dark clouds, with no conversations of death and funeral plans being had, that my mind has still played tricks on me so far as to ‘expect’ something similar to happen.
This phase after my wedding in 2011, I was shattered, lost in concealed tears, traumatised and alone. Today, seven weeks into my new marriage, I am so deeply thankful to have my health, to have a step-daughter and step-son to call my family, and to have a loving, funny, kind, empathetic, compassionate husband, who adores me and supports me and encourages me to be who God shapes me to be. Stepping into a step-family has not been easy. I have frequent days where fear makes me want to run away because I don’t feel like I am capable of being what this family needs. It’s hard to admit that this family is in fact exactly what I need and God knows it. As I slowly work through the fears and the false doubts of my capabilities, Kieran is right there with me, and I know that God is creating a new thing, and just as He promised that He would return to me what I have lost (see post from Jan 2014) He has and is continuing to restore what I have lost.
“…He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.” ~ Isaiah 61:3
So, to my husband, happy seven week anniversary, my love. We made it. Here’s to the next seven decades together.
Last Saturday I visited some friends in the Perth hills who sadly lost their house in the Stoneville fires on 12th January 2014. They shared with me their story and we went to see the ruins of their family home that they shared with their three boys.
At 11am on Sunday the 12th, the fire began, unbeknownst to Nicki and Campbell. By 11.30am they could smell smoke and hear helicopters close by. At 12.00pm the helicopters were flying directly overhead. They had not received any official communication to evacuate but Nicki sensed it was time to take the boys and leave. Campbell stayed to pack a few things. By 12.45pm Campbell was driving away from their house up their driveway that was lined by flames. By 1.30pm, their house was burnt to the ground. Two hundred metres away, you couldn’t even tell there were fires. Fifty-six houses were tragically lost that day. The lives of 56 families turned upside down in two hours. Fortunately and miraculously, there were no lives lost.
We went to see the ruins of their house. I’ve never stepped close to a home destroyed by fire, I’ve only ever seen it on TV. I found it to be fascinatingly tragic. Seeing the tragedy of every item you held dear due to a memorable moment in time. Lost. The things that are irreplaceable. Photos, letters, cards and love notes, a special gift from a loved one lost, an original painting, a piece of art you created, a favourite dress, a family heirloom. At the end of the day, Nicki and Campbell, along with their family and friends, are grateful that they are alive. That’s the healthiest perspective you could have in a difficult situation like this. But this doesn’t change the fact that it’s simply crappy that this happened to them and that they have lost so much. They will rebuild and they will be able to buy new things to fill their new house. But two things that will stay with them for a long time to come that will appear at unexpected times – the memories of the things lost and the fear of losing to a fire again.
My heart broke for them but yet they didn’t assume a position in need of sorrow or pity. They want to get on with life, start anew with the opportunity given to them to rebuild a home of their own design. They have moved into a rental house close to their home which means they are still close to work and school. The next 12 months will have difficulties of course. As if building a home isn’t stressful enough but to have to continue to maintain routine for their children, in a home that isn’t theirs, with a collection of things in it, which have graciously been donated by locals, but also aren’t their own. Although the ‘stuff’ is insignificant in the grand scheme of life, but we get attached to our comforts and it would be difficult to start all over again.
Nicki and Campbell kindly allowed me to post these photos of the remains of their house. While we were there, I observed a special moment that I tried to capture on the trusty iPhone camera. Standing in her driveway, looking at the ruins of her house, I watched Nicki delighting in dozens of black cockatoos flying over us, nesting in the blackened trees high above us, amazed at their presence in charcoal trees. Earlier she told me that she went shopping to buy a new dress that morning as she wanted to have something nice to wear to go out to dinner that night with me and some other close friends. She struggled with this as she didn’t want to buy another dress. Minutes before she evacuated her house three weeks earlier, she put her hands on her favourite dress. A dress she has had for 15 years. A dress that always made her feel good when she wore it. She physically had her hands on it to take with her but decided against it as she thought to herself “I don’t need to take that.” In the moment I observed Nicki smiling at the black cockatoos, standing in the dust of her lost possessions, glowing in her brightly mesmerising new dress that she didn’t want to buy, I saw her beauty in the tragedy of loss and the new beginnings to come. I saw the colour of new life.