Thursday, September 15, 2011

He Leadeth Me


The LORD is my shepherd; 
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down 
In green pastures:
He leadeth me 
Beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: 
He leadeth me 
In the paths of righteousness 
For His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk 
Through the valley 
Of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil: 
For Thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff 
They comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me
In the presence of mine enemies
Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy
Shall follow me
All the days of my life:
And I will dwell
In the house of the LORD
For ever.

Psalm 23

Reflections on my seven months in this beautiful land of the long white cloud...

How little I knew, when He led me here, that it would be out of the valley, and into the green pastures...

How that in a land of earthquakes and constant shaking, I would be led beside the still waters...

How He truly has used this time to restore my soul and my broken spirit...

And now my heart is so full, my cup really is running over, and I'm drinking from my saucer!

Thank you, Lord, that I can dwell with You... for ever.

Photos: sheep in green pastures, still waters and valleys of shadows in New Zealand. Thank you to Marie, for the use of her snow-capped mountain photo.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Snow!!! {Multitude Monday V}

This was intended for last week... but I didn't get it up in time. There's so much happening :)

For some, it might seem like an ordinary occurrence, but for this Aussie girl, snow is anything but ordinary. While I have seen snow numerous times, having it fall at one's house is hugely exciting.

There's so many little testimonies that go with this mini snow storm, that I just had to share :)

When I moved to Christchurch in February, it was the middle of summer. And I learnt that Christchurch gets snow about every 10 - 20 years. The last decent snow was in 1992. I said, "I want it to snow when I'm here!!"

The locals didn't look too hopeful, but that didn't deter my faith.

The week before, the forecast was "Snow to 300 metres" and then "Snow to 200 metres" and then "Snow to sea level" for Sunday!!

I was very excited, and commented that I hoped that it didn't affect people travelling to church. The response was, "Oh, it won't be that bad. It probably won't even stick. It never does!"

Sunday afternoon, it started snowing. Nice fluffy puffs of snow.

When we emerged from the restaurant after dinner on Sunday night, my car was coated in a fine layer of snow. We took pictures, just like tourists. Driving home in it was amazing, as it continued to fall.

At midnight, the landscape had a glowing white hue.

We awoke on Monday morning to an amazing carpet of white... it was stunning!

The snow was still falling, lovely big puffs of snow.

The dear elderly lady that I board with, who I call Nanna, commented, "In the 30 years I've lived here, I've never seen it like this!!"

Usually it rains for a few days, and then when the snow finally falls, it melts, and turns slushy or to ice almost instantly. This was delicious... fluffy, light, dry snow. So so beautiful!

The city shut down on Monday. No school, university, or shops open. It doesn't snow often in Christchurch enough to invest in snow clearing machinery.

If this had been the day before, there would have been no church. The Lord was so good to us!!

He answered so many prayers, in a single snow fall :)

Even better, that night we were going to visit our pastor for an evening of fellowship. I didn't think we would be able to go, due the snow. It cleared just enough so we could go.

My car remained buried, so that I didn't make it out to go to university the next day. I shovelled the driveway, for the first, and perhaps last, time in my life. Friends came over, and we threw snow and built a 1o-story high snow man. And the snow is still on the ground, a full 8 days later.

To just think... every single snow flake that fell was unique. What an amazing, loving Creator we serve!

* snow!

* that it snowed, here in Canterbury, the most in 19 years... while I was here!

* that it didn't snow too much on Sunday... mostly on Monday

* a 10-story high snow man

* friends to throw snow at

* freshly fallen snow, with no footprints in it yet

* being the first to step in the whiteness

* knowing that it is so clean that it is safe to eat

* snow angels

* snow on top of fences and clotheslines and flowers and leaves

* shovelling driveways

* sunshine on snow

* taking 100s of pictures of white!

* plans to go tobogganing on Saturday

Pics: my snow images, and a very geeky video, with someone who may or may not be me in it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

3275 Earthquakes {Multitude Monday IV}

It's been a while since I blogged. As in, properly blogged.

Mainly, it's been a lack of time. I've been feeling very time-poor, especially for spending time on the internet. Time spent with precious friends is so much more rewarding.

But mostly, for the first time in my life, I haven't known what to say.

Profound insights seem to have left me. Or at least the ability to articulate them.

How many times can I blog earthquake pictures? Surely people get tired of it. People that aren't in Christchurch, that is. Christchurch people are tired anyway. Not sleeping has a way of doing that to you.

It's been almost five months since I arrived in this beautiful country.

I came with peace and assurance that this is where I am supposed to be. At least for a season.

Then the ground shook. It has hardly stopped shaking. There have been 3275 earthquakes in the five months I've been here. For those that have lived here longer, the number is over double that. I always thought an earthquake was just that. A single earthquake. Aftershocks were not part of my vocabulary until February.

The shaking cannot shake the peace within. There is uncertainty, and there is adrenaline, all of which only drive me closer to the One that is unmovable and unchangeable. The One who gives peace that cannot be found anywhere else. Peace beyond understanding.

And above the fear rises courage. Be strong and of good courage, He whispers. The Maori's say, kia kaha, but that is only part of it. This strength and courage isn't for ourselves. It is for others. It is through Him.

While driving the streets after yet another significant aftershock, I see flooding and silt and more broken fences and chimneys and homes.

I weep.

I weep not for Christchurch. I weep for the people. People that are not coping. People who are so stressed they want to leave. People who are angry. Angry at the quakes, angry at the government, angry at everyone.

People who have no hope and no peace. People who need God, so very badly.

I ask what can I do, when those I try to talk with are uninterested, yet I know, this is where I need to be right now. Not back home in my comfort. But here. Where I can attempt to make a difference. Through Him. Because I'm a hopeless help without Him.

There has been so much I have learnt through all of this. In the natural, in the spiritual, in terms of revelations and the Word being made more real, and in realising my own weaknesses and faults and being blessed by the fellowship of others. So much.

Most of it hasn't been blog material, as it is best and hidden in the heart, or shared with dear friends.

That is why I haven't blogged. I feel I have little to share, other than things really are no better here in Christchurch, and to share something lighthearted feels trite when so many around me are struggling. I'm not sure if I'll continue to blog, unless it be to just post pictures. Or perhaps I'll relax my expectations and keep my posts much more simple.

And, I can always, always give thanks.

* For every one of the 3275 earthquakes that have rocked Christchurch since I arrived

* For all He has taught me in the experience

* Learning to exist on minimum pay, and realising... He really does supply my needs. All the rest were just unneeded wants.

* Frosty nights and sunshiney days

* The amazing people I have the privilege of boarding with

* Late night fellowship

* Skype talks

* Unexpected blessings

* After church dinner and silly conversation and laughing so hard

* The opportunity to volunteer

* Birthday parties

* Good food

* The way He saw me through my marathon cramming for final exams... so that I didn't have to flunk

* Electric blankets

* A safe and secure and warm house

* For bumps in the road

* Shovelling liquefaction with good friends

* Hiking, walking, talking, photo-taking

* New Zealand scenery

* Himself... His presence, His reality, His revelation. The awe of the Gospel story, that I could be united with the King of Heaven. Such love... such grace.

Photos: Quake Damage, Liquefaction, Lake Taylor in North Canterbury - young people's hike

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Month in New Zealand

The earth quakes.

This earth, the dust that I am, quakes also.

Earthquakes have a way of producing fear. Fear I knew I oughtn't have. Fear that I tried to fight, tried to reason with, tried to push away.

It took honesty. Admitting my struggles. Asking myself why, what was it that caused me to be so shaken?

This power. Earth moving and shuddering. Ground that had always been solid, sure, wasn't supposed to rock this way.

Could my God, who was always so loving and kind, really be this powerful? So strong? Was this a glimpse of the wrath He could inflict? Try as I might, I couldn't reconcile it in my mind. How could a God so powerful as to shake the ground beneath my feet, ever love me?

Calvary. It all came back to Calvary. His wrath was satisfied there, and I being in Him and He in me, He only has love towards me. The sheer weight of that revelation brought tears to my eyes. Such power was only out-weighed by such amazing, divine, relentless, powerful, intense and beautiful love.

He loves me. And that is enough.

Peace prevails. Peace, not as the world gives. Peace that the world cannot understand or take away. Peace that passeth understanding. In the midst of the storm. In the midst of the hundreds of aftershocks that followed, peace was, and still is, my portion.

It has now been a month, or more accurately, five weeks, since I arrived in Aotearoa, the beautiful land of the long white cloud.

If the absence of my posts is any indication, it has been one of the most exciting, eventful and challenging months of my life. Picked up and transported to a city that was only just recovering from the effects of two major earthquakes the year before, I too faced the challenges of rebuilding after leaving all that was familiar behind.

And yet, even though far from home, I have never felt more at home, more at peace, and more content. The Lord has confirmed over and over this is where He would have me be for this season, and I rejoice in His provision.

The first ground tremor came within hours of landing. New address and drivers licence and revenue number and bank accounts were all sorted in the first week. Just six days after landing, I attended orientation day at the beautiful university campus. I found my way around, met people and made friends.

Five days later, I attended my first lectures. I completed a full day and a half of uni.

Then the earthquake struck. I can't deny that I am one of the lucky ones. Or perhaps blessed would be a better word. I was at uni, and I was outside. It impacted me so little, I thought it was perhaps another tremor, and life would carry on as usual. Sheltered from reality, I had no idea of the terror that was unfolding just down the road. Indeed, I was amazed by the reaction of family and friends, phone calls from Australia, emails from the United States, asking if I was ok, begging me to come home.

That afternoon, I visited friends. We sat and shared testimonies and fellowshipped around the Word. The atmosphere was intensely loving and peaceful even in the midst of powerful aftershocks. By the time I left, I felt as though I had been in the presence of God for four hours, not in an earthquake zone.

I spent eleven days in the North Island, attending a youth camp, visiting friends and sightseeing. All the time I felt homesick, not for Melbourne, but for Christchurch, ground tremors and all. I wanted to be at home. I wanted to do something to help.

Once I arrived back, I assisted the Student Volunteer Army. For a day and a half. And gained a lovely blister on my hand from shovelling silt. I wanted to do more, but it was all I was able to do. Operations have now wound up. We're back at uni. In tents. With porta-loos. Lectures are much more interesting that way.

Even with its destruction, Christchurch is still one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. The atmosphere is perhaps more sombre than usual, and yet still has the relaxed and easy going Cantabrian feel that first drew me here.

Yes, I'm staying :)

Yesterday was memorial day. We watched the presentation online. Very moving, particularly as it is so close to home and affected so many people, and the assistance efforts were just amazing. Kia kaha Chirstchurch. Stay strong.

Guilt surrounds. Why am I safe, warm, dry and comfortable? I am healthy and well. I have electricty and running water. Why wasn't I able to do more to help? 

Then comes the news of the destruction in Japan. War in the Ivory Coast. Unrest in Liberia. 

And I am sheltered. I have seen little of the damage in Christchurch. I don't have a heroic story to tell. I don't have photos to share. Photos such as these, that make it more real. I look back on the pictures I took during my last visit to Christchurch, and am again overwhelmed by the beauty and grandeur of this city. The city that is no longer.

Today I drove past St Peters, the church pictured at the beginning of this post. 

Even though the ground shakes, and buildings crumble, I am safe in His everlasting arms. The only safe place is under the shadow of His wings. And that is enough. I am content and at peace.

He is so wonderful. He is all that is true and dependable. And I have learnt to lean on Him.

For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. Hebrews 13:14

More photos from my time in New Zealand

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In Which I Move to New Zealand

Exciting times :)

Longer, more contemplative post coming soon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My time in Queensland

After our epic road trip, I had the privledge of housesitting for a dear couple just north of Brisbane. It was so lovely! It was so lovely and peaceful, and I spent much time fellowshipping with dear friends.

For the first three nights, some girls from Melbourne stayed with me. On Sunday, we went out to visit some friends, and I got bogged in their driveway, before even attempting to cross the river running through it. The mud on my arm is the result of getting un-bogged.

The home we were staying in is something of a tropical oasis, and many little animals make their home there, such as this frog, and the lizard I found in the kitchen one day. The birds come in each day to be fed, and were so beautiful (although noisy at 5:30am!)

On the Monday, we took a drive down to Redcliff, to view the muddy waters of the bay. There was a storm brewing, and very windy. The water was brown, as a result of the flooding.

On Tuesday, we were all cooped up inside the house as a result of the raging storm outside. The rain was absolutely torrential, and the lightning sounded like it was striking right next door. 

Eventually we ventured outside, and discovered that our whole street had became a raging river, and there was no way any of us were going anywhere! Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos as it was still raining and I didn't want the camera to get wet. And, I thought it would stay that way for days, at least.

We started praying. The girls were due to fly out the next morning, and I was only a little bit worried at what might happen if we were stranded at the house for another week. Would we have enough food?

Their parents were calling me, asking me how bad the situation was, and what I was going to do about it. All I could do was pray!

Dear friends of ours heard of our predicament and staged a rescue mission in their four-wheel-drive. The water had gone done somewhat by the afternoon, but as other roads flooded over, it was perfect timing.

So that was my flood story. Other friends have more dramatic tales, and pictures to show for it.

A few days later, Rocky & I went for a walk, and found that there was still a bit of damage in the nearby area.

See the log lodged in the tree near the top of the photo? That was the height of the water when it came gushing through. 

Yes, there's a road under there. 

This road used to be sealed bitumen. The flood washed it away, back to dirt again. The debris in the trees shows  the height of the flood water.

The sunsets were spectacular :)

Visiting friends, and talking for hours.

I spent much time with these dear people. Here they are cutting out a shirt for me, which I learnt how to sew :)

On one of my last days there, I drove up to the Sunshine Coast to meet some friends. The beach there is absolutely beautiful!

It was a fantastic trip, and I still don't think I took enough photos to justly show it all! The Lord blessed me so much, and spoke to me, and drew me nearer to Himself. I can't exaggerate how good the fellowship was, just spending time talking about the Lord and His Word. I was very tempted to accept the numerous invitations to live up there!

Thank you Lord, for such a blessed, beautiful holiday.