28 February, 2017

Summer Favourites and Iconic Australia

Today marks the end of our Australian summer – well, according to the calendar. The weather normally has a mind of its own, so we can only wait and see.

The photos are from our way over to Western Australia, while we were still in South Australia – about halfway across the continent. I think this is one of the places that is so Australia, and when people think of Australia they think of this – flat treeless land, dry scrub, never-ending straight roads, dilapidated roadhouses, that sign with the kangaroo, wombat, and camel on it. But really, it’s only a small part of it. The straight road didn’t last forever, there were shining new facilities right next to that old servo, we only saw about two kangaroos and nothing else, and there were surprises. Next time I’ll show you what was on the other side of the road from that last photo. 

Three months is a long time to review. I’m going to miss lots, because this was the fullest summer I’ve had. I was away for eight weeks, hanging out with wonderful people and reaching out to other wonderful people. Since getting back, it’s been full of other things, things we call normal. But it’s been full in another sense too. I’ve been reading some of Ann Voskamp’s material, and it’s reinspired me to count gifts, to look for the ways God blesses me. And that makes each moment full. So here’s a list of my favourites from this summer:

The trip – traveling with friends, getting to see more of Australia, working together, sharing about God and seeing Him work miracles daily (I shared one here), learning more about life, making new friends, inside jokes and lingo, and finding joy in God’s service

This quote which sums it up perfectly: Why do you go away? So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And, the people there see you differently too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving. Terry Pratchett

Seeing my family again after so long

Random trips with the siblings down to the river to pick blackberries and go crazy in the water

Another sibling outing involving planking for seventy-five seconds, climbing a steep hill, taking in the view and goofing around with photos, and then eating lunch by the creek in front of the waterfall, talking about life and all there is to learn

Climbing a hill with friends at dusk, watching the sun set above the green hills around, and the reflection in the creek below, and observing the blue moon

Camping in the mountains, going through the narrowest cave I’ve ever been in (literally, sliding through the mud on our stomachs), catching up with lots of friends, and extra time traveling with friends, talking about everything

Quiet days at home where I realise that each day is a gift, and full of so much potential, and it’s up to me to end it satisfied

Getting together with friends and singing and making music together

Running in the rain for the sheer joy of it (which apparently the driver of a passing car didn’t get)

Seeing God’s creation out my window every day, hearing birds sing as they sit on our veranda rail, watching the sun rise as I lay in bed

Having my first hot drink of the year

Getting back into music lessons

Seeing what I learn in studying counselling help me in my own life

Cooking a stack of biscuits for my brother’s lunches, and thinking about the fact that cooking is art

Ethan’s post which explains everything I’ve been trying to live and meaning to say

Jordy’s post which turned around my definition of a step of faith, and hit me right where I needed it

Reading familiar blogs and being blessed, finding new blogs and being surprised, receiving comments on this blog and being amazed and humbled and grateful to God for you all

This illusion which made me wonder what else I’m missing (seriously, try it, and let me know how you went!)

The fact the music videos from the camp we went to last year are out. You can see them over on YouTube, but here are my favourites:

I’ve also been enjoying this video (apparently the guys who sing are creepy, my sister says, so watch out for that)

Finding so many quotes that fit in perfectly with my previous thoughts on enthusiasm, such as Nothing great was ever acheived without enthusiasm. Ralph Waldo Emerson and, Catch on fire with enthusiams and people will come for miles to watch you burn. John Wesley

Memorizing Psalm 63 and Isaiah 55 with my sister – those passages are so good. It’s been encouraging those mornings where nothing is going like I meant it to, and I can’t even focus on Bible study, to just sit down and say those words, and hear my sister say them to me. O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is…


How was your summer/winter? What were some of your favourites? Do you memorize scripture? Have you been blackberrying? What did you think of the videos? How did you go with the F illusion? That’s too many questions, but hey – I want to know how you’re all going, and what you think, and what’s been happening for you. You are a fabulous lot of readers. :)

21 February, 2017

Enthusiasm and South Australian Hills

I have always felt that one of the chief reasons for success in life is enthusiasm. William Lyon Phelps

I read that quote years ago, and it lodged in my mind. I didn’t live it, but I observed it. While I was away, I learned some things about enthusiasm. Each morning before we went out on the doors to canvass and share Christ, we’d gather around and have prayer time. Anyone could pray, and invariably someone would ask for energy, cheerfulness, and enthusiasm. Then, while we were travelling to where we’d be for the day, we’d each pick a prayer partner to keep in mind throughout the day, and ask them what they wanted prayed for. Often, people requested enthusiasm.

I was thinking about this my last day canvassing with the team. I was tired and sad that it was the last day, when the thought came that I should rather be making the most of it. I prayed and asked for enthusiasm. I remembered one day a couple of weeks before when a few in our team decided to see how many copies of The Path to Peace – our smallest book – they could get out in one day. They each got out over three times what I normally would. I was thinking about what made the difference: purpose and enthusiasm. So I decided to put everything into it for the last few hours. And God gave me the enthusiasm. Literally, my attitude totally reversed, and I was so excited and full-on at every door, whether they accepted me or not. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Since coming home, I keep slipping into this dull attitude: life’s a drag, I’m bored, why does everything have to involve decisions and be so stressful. Just last week I was praying and asking God why I felt so tired and lifeless. I hadn’t been doing near as much as while I was away, but I felt dead. God gave me this strong impression that what I was missing was enthusiasm. When I stopped to think about it, life was great, God was doing awesome things, exciting opportunities were in front of me. There was plenty to be enthusiastic about. And then He gave me enthusiasm, and I no longer felt tired and bored. Nothing in my situation changed. It was purely my attitude.

These experiences have two lessons that I’ve noticed. The first is: ask God for enthusiasm. For whatever reason, it never occurred to me to pray for enthusiasm before. But God can do everything, and He most definitely can give enthusiasm, even when it’s the last thing we feel.

The second point is: why not live life enthusiastically? We can be enthusiastic about something in every situation. Sure, some times are hard, but there are always small blessings and gifts from God we overlook – breath, life, health, sunshine, the view, honey and peanut butter. Why not be enthusiastic? It makes life much more exciting, and enjoyable. It turns mundane tasks and everyday experiences into fun. Life is short, and we can only live each day once. Why not dive into it headfirst, be thrilled at every blessing God sends us, and have an attitude of enthusiasm? That’s what I’ve been asking myself.

And then, in the middle of writing this, I remembered my post last year, about finding God in the original meanings of words. “Enthusiasm comes from the Greek word entheos. En means in, and theos refers to God – literally possessed by God, or God is in them.” So of course, enthusiasm comes from God; it comes from God living and working through us. No wonder He can give it, and no wonder it makes life so much better. It’s how He made us to be.

Enthusiasm is more than I thought.


What are your thoughts on enthusiasm? How do you think we can live enthusiastically? Have you ever had an experience where enthusiasm made all the difference?

And does anyone else see beauty in these dry hills? Have you ever been to South Australia?

09 February, 2017

Purpose and the Pink Salt Lake

So much has happened since I appeared here last. It’s been two months, but it feels like another life. And to be honest, I like it that way. It’s been good to come back with fresh eyes, new purpose, and greater motivation.

While I was away (traveling to the other side of the country, and taking part in a canvassing program) we had some adventures, we saw some sights – such as the incredible pink salt lake in the middle of farmland next to the highway, – but we had a purpose. We had a mission, and that made all the difference. It wasn’t a holiday to relax and catch up on sleep. It wasn’t a lark to live it up while the teenage years last. We had an eternal goal, mission, purpose, aim, intention. Extra sleep lasts days; memories last years, maybe a lifetime; but reaching out to others, sharing hope, and pointing to Christ, lasts for eternity. That’s forever.

I’ve been reading a book called The Great Controversy, and talks about the lives of some of the reformers of the middle ages. It’s been inspiring reading of their dedication, and absolute adherence to what they believed was right. They wouldn’t even let death stop them. But here’s the thing: they had purpose. No sane man would be burned alive for the fun of it. They had their focus on something more lasting – eternal truth and salvation.

Purpose is something I’ve been thinking a lot about since returning home and falling into my previous way of living. Things that I used to spend a lot of time doing seem meaningless. What am I really gaining from reading that novel? What is the purpose of the hours I spend online? How does doing what I feel like benefit anything or anyone? What am I doing for God? When I was part of a group of young people who had a definite purpose, those questions were easily answered. I didn’t have time for reading anything less than the Bible. I was only online for necessary communication. Even domestic activities like cooking furthered the goal of spending time encouraging others. And while of myself I was inadequate, I felt like I was doing something for God. 

Having purpose changes things. Life is so much more fulfilling living with eternity in mind, seeing everyday tasks from the perspective of furthering God’s work, and basing decisions on the impact of forever. I want to live like that all the time.

So there’s some of my perspective on purpose and life, and an insight into one of the ways being part of the canvassing program has shaped my thinking. What's your take on purpose? What do you think should be our purpose and motivation? What have you been pondering lately?

And I just have to say: I’m glad to be back! I’ve missed reading everyone’s blogs regularly, and seeing your view of things through your comments. So tell me what I’ve missed! What’s been happening in your lives? How was your end of year/new year break? And have you ever seen a pink lake?