A Love Story Lead By God Part 3

I ended part 2 in a bit of a mess. What happened next?
Months passed and I continued to avoid Stephen. Looking back it did seem kind of childish but I really didn't want to feel any sort of attraction to him. I would attend church and instead of hanging around at his place with my other friends for lunch I would drive home most, Sundays I would cry all the way home. I was confused. I threw myself into my course which required much of my time anyway.
Towards the end of the year I was working on a video project for my course and I needed some expertise to help finish it. Stephen and his family were experienced in video production so I turned to them. I asked his four other brothers desperately hoping that they would help me as I didn't want to be stuck in a small editing room with someone I was trying to avoid. Each brother referred me to Stephen...ARGHHHHH!
I couldn't finish my project without expert help as my teacher only had limited time and I was producing something more complex for our end of year production. I wasn't allowed to use the equipment by myself. Only God could create a situation like this.
Reluctantly I asked Stephen. He happily agreed to help. Little did I know at the time how eager he was to spend time with me.
So we embarked on this journey of rebuilding our friendship. We spent many hours together filming, editing and chatting. I remember he asked me where I saw myself in ten years time. I said probably still single and running my own Christian theatre Co. He shook his head and with a knowing smile said 'I think you'll be married and running your theatre co.'. He pointed out friends of ours who had 7 kids and running a theatre co. and the wife was actively involved.
I think he said something about being married with kids and running a successful film co..
Well, he was half right. God had other plans as far as his occupation was concerned but that's another story;)
We finished the video and he flew off to New Zealand the next day. He told me he wouldn't get back in time to make it to the production. I was disappointed but realised I couldn't expect him to change his plans for me.
The night before the production I prayed and asked God that if Stephen was the guy I was to marry he would be there at the production. All of a sudden I felt guilty that I was somehow not having faith so I retracted my statement and asked God for forgiveness.
The next day I was dressed up as an angel standing outside welcoming people. Stephen's brother and my friend turned up. It was like a scene from a romantic comedy. Cue slow motion movement and mushy music.
Out of the car stepped Stephen, I was standing on top of a lush green grassy hill. He was walking up towards me, in my excitement I began to run down the hill my retracted prayer had been answered and then I realised, when I reached him, I couldn't throw my arms around him, I stopped - cue that funny distorted sound as music abruptly stops - I hugged my friend instead and pretended that I was happy to see ALL of them.
I returned to the dressing room breathless and excited beyond belief but trying hard not to show it. I didn't hide it very well.
The next day it was my turn to head off overseas with my dad to Indonesia. I wanted to know why Stephen had come back early and I was disappointed that I had to leave for 6 weeks. I was concerned that my friend who also liked Stephen very much would try to take his affections. What little faith I had. It was hard not to tell my friends in Indonesia that he was the guy I was going to marry. they all thought he was pretty cute. There were a few guys over there who tried to take my affections. I was so glad that I knew that God had planned for me to marry Stephen so I could tell them I wasn't interested. I wrote letters to the church but really my letters were for Stephen. I wrote a journal the whole time I was over there and that was for Stephen too.
When I returned I was in this bizarre vacuum of time where everyone had moved on in their relationships without me.
I remember coming to church the first Sunday after getting back. I had all my photos to show but noone was particularly interested not even my two closest friends. Stephen on the other hand showed heaps of interest.
A couple of weeks later Stephen's brother got engaged which we were all excited about. We were at my friends house playing games and my friend was being rather flirtatious with Stephen. I found it rather painful to watch so I left. Was I wrong? Was it all going to happen all over again. 'God What's going on?' I asked.
I found from then on anytime I was talking to Stephen and my friend was around she would come along and take over the conversation and I would leave feeling rather frustrated.
At this time I was also struggling with if I should finish the theatre course or spend more time with the Christian theatre co. our friends were running. I was stage managing a production they were running and I was enjoying being in a Christian environment. There were a lot of New Age elements in my course that I struggled with. Stephen encouraged me strongly to finish. He helped me to realise that I quit things too easily so I took up the challenge.
Okay so a few months passed since I had returned from my trip and I got back into my course. I was also finishing up with the production I was Stage Managing. The final night the cast and crew went out for a celebratory drink - non-alcholic. Several things had happened that arvo and I was feeling down. As I drove home at midnight I prayed and cried and prayed some more, I handed over my singleness to God genuinely, I told him that if I couldn't marry Stephen then I would be happy to be single and serve him for the rest of my life, then God did something beautiful, he brought to mind a scripture song we had sung at church that morning it was - 'Behold I will do something new among you and now it shall spring forth. Will you not be aware of it.' Is 43:19. I had peace in my heart. I felt great joy and assurance that God had it all in his hands.
I tiptoed into the house trying not to wake my parents who were in the room next to the front door. To my surprise my mother, who never stayed up longer than 8pm was wide awake and sitting up in bed. She called me over.
'Guess who came today?' She asked. She looked so excited.
I thought for a while, they were talking to a missions organisation about getting back into missions so I mentioned that person.
'No' Mum said
I thought Stephen but I said No to myself.
'Who?' I asked
'Stephen,' She replied excitedly. 'He asked us for permission to court you.'
'We said we would have to ask you first.'
'Is that what you want?' My Dad asked in his usual gruff unemotional way.
I sat on the end of my parents bed stunned, speechless.
'Are you Serious!' I finally managed to get out trying hard to contain myself from squealing with excitement.
'Of course,' I exclaimed. God had answered my prayers.
Two weeks later Stephen asked me to marry him and 10 months later, after I had finished my course, we got married and shared our first kiss.
Now 10 and a half years later we have been blessed with 6 beautiful children.
God is good!


A Love story lead by God Part 2

Let's see, where was I. 
Oh Yes, we had become aware of God calling us together but not actually knowing that the other knew. You'd think it would be easy to move on from there to courtship. But nothing can be so straight forward when humans are involved. The following year was a tough one and designed I believe to strengthen our friendship.

We were chugging along in our friendship. Stephen became a close friend and I tried not to get too emotionally involved in him. It didn't make it easy when he would talk to me about marriage and children. I had confided in my friends that I thought he was the one and they told me that he treats every girl like that. One of my friends had a crush on him too and so I hung back not sure if I had really heard God because she seemed pretty convinced too. 
It all came to a head in April of '97. Wow, that was a long time ago...
I cringe in pain to this day recalling the events.
Stephen was going away for 3 months overseas to work with delinquent youth. He needed to buy some clothes for himself so, he hatched a plot to get me alone and go on a quasi date without actually being on a date. He asked me to come with him to help him pick out clothes. Being by now a close friend and feeling comfortable in his company and secretly wanting to spend some time alone with him too. I said yes. Our first date... or was it??
Well, my friend found out about our little outing and insisted that she come along too as it wouldn't be appropriate for a young single girl to go out clothes shopping with a single guy. I was so disappointed, she always managed to take over our conversations, she was closer to Stephen's age and so I often felt quite young around her. So I really wasn't looking forward to this little outing anymore, but thought it was still a good way to spend some time with Stephen before he left for 3 months. This is not what causes me to cringe in pain, it's what happened next that I am still praying through 11 years later.
A week before the outing my friend contacted me and told me that Stephen had been wrong to invite us out and that he was causing us to have feelings for him that we shouldn't have and leading us on, defiling us so to speak. She said that we should call him and ask forgiveness for having such feelings for him and explain to him what he had done to us. She told me she would go first and then I was to call him after and that we were to cancel the outing. I'm not one for confrontation and I could sort of see her point plus she had a very strong personality and I was a bit of a pushover so I reluctantly agreed. So several days later after much prayer, with a heavy heart I reluctantly rang Stephen to tell him that I couldn't go and why. He was very gracious and sensitive. I cried and cried and cried. I was half tempted to secretly go now my friend was out of the picture but I felt that would betray her and I couldn't do that. 
When I saw Stephen on Sunday, I found out that my friend had gone that day with him on the shopping trip, when we went back to his parents house, he showed me what he got and my friend gave a commentary of how these things were picked. I was floored, completely and utterly devastated. When I confronted my friend later, she said that all had been forgiven and somehow that made it okay for her a single woman to go out clothes shopping by herself with a single guy. 
At this time I lived about an hour away where I was attending college and boarding. I cried and prayed and cried and prayed all the way home. It was at that time I made the decision that I would take the next 3 months to forget Stephen and move on with my life. My friend could have him, I didn't want to have to compete and if God really intended for us to be together He would be able to do it. I had been such an idiot thinking I was in any way good enough for him or so I thought.
Three months passed and I had gotten used to not having Stephen around to talk to. But it still hurt. While my other friends were getting excited about Stephen's return I plotted how I was going to avoid him.  His first Sunday back I said a quick hello and moved on to talk to others. Instead of spending the afternoon at his parents house I went straight home. I threw myself into my course. I didn't speak to him much over the next couple of months.  I watched my friend weave her way with him and it broke my heart completely.
Well now this wasn't supposed to happen was it?? We were now further apart then we had been the day I was painting the ceiling.
Well, God had a big mess to clean up. Arghh humans, he must have been thinking. But he is a gracious God and what he did next was beautiful.
Stay tuned:)


A love story lead by God Part 1

At times when I am feeling mad or upset with my husband I often like to think back to when we first met and what drew us together. 

In January we will be married 10 years. We have been friends for 13 as long as his baby sister has been alive although she is no longer a baby.

It was July 1995, we were sitting in a large circle, in a house on the Wycliffe base for a read through of a play that would celebrate the 400th translation of the bible and be used to challenge people to become missionaries.

It wasn't love at first sight, he didn't even notice me, I was 17 he was about to turn 21. I noticed him as he sung his brother's songs in a very loud melodic baritone voice. *Sigh* However at that time I was more impressed by his brother who wrote the songs and at break time decided to strike up a conversation with him instead, by the end of which I concluded that this song writer was completely self obsessed. My mother, on the other hand who had brought me to the rehearsal had taken an interest in Stephen and, being a lot braver then I (Stephen is quite tall), had struck up a conversation with him. Secretly I was pleased.

It was our second meeting that left a greater impression on my mind and heart but still not on his. Believe me it was a real act of God to get him to notice me, in fact it was a whole year later. 

But this is my story not his. So, our second meeting:
I was running late for rehearsal. I had misread the time and was 1/2 an hour late. I ran towards the rehearsal rooms expecting to have to beg forgiveness from the director. Is I dashed down the steps I tripped on the last one and sprained my ankle. Limping toward the room I noticed that instead of the director taking the scene it was Stephen. He sat in a commanding position with this thick creamy wool jumper on. He looked like a big cuddly teddy bear. In pain and upset that I was running late and relieved I didn't have to face the Director, all I wanted to do was to wrap my arms around that cuddly jumper. As I opened the door my heart melted, I think I fell in love with that jumper. I won't let him chuck it out.

Did I mention that at this time I was pretty messed up. Life for me was not good. I was struggling with depression, anxiety and had problems with my dad. I had dropped out of school and felt like life was leading me nowhere. God was the only thing I was holding fast to. I also found I would have a crush on a guy if he was remotely nice to me. I was desperate for love and attention. Looking back on my life now I am so very grateful that God did not allow me to fall into impurity although I have had to ask forgiveness for impure thoughts God kept me physically pure.

Back to my story:
As the rehearsals progressed I discovered that I was not the only one that thought Stephen was a hunk so to speak. Almost every girl in the group had a crush on him. I found this rather disheartening. I have very clear memories of trying to attract his attention. Stephen was an honourable man and unlike most guys I knew didn't treat girls as potential dates. Finally at the last performance I found myself alone with him so I decided to try speaking to him. That's right, after three months I'd barely said boo to him. Oh, there was one time earlier on when I tried to give him some singing advice as I thought he was straining his voice.
Anyway, I thought I'd ask him what he does as you do when you get to know someone. He rattled off a long list of things that he did including preaching and helping his Dad in his church which impressed me greatly. By the time he was finished we were back to setting up for our performance and that was it. Slightly disappointing but oh well...

Wycliffe then sent us on a tour of South Australia and country Victoria. It was on this tour that God completely turned my life around. My parents often say I came back a completely different person. I also discovered this thing called courtship, where you waited for God to bring you your spouse and instead of dating you require the Guy to seek your parents permission to court you with the intention to marry. This completely revolutionised my idea of how to find a guy and for the first time I felt confident that God would supply my husband and I repented of all the crushes I had had.
The person God used to completely transform my life was... you guessed it, Stephen. He was our team teacher. He lead the bible studies every day and what he said and the way he said it spoke such life into my dying heart. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't Stephen doing it but God using Stephen by His Holy Spirit. I grew in such admiration for him. I no longer had a crush on him. I felt his was way to good for me, but I was content just to hear him speak.

So, where to from here? Things could only improve between us, couldn't they?

Well, the next tour was a gruelling three month rehearsal and tour. We lived at Wycliffe during the rehearsals before setting off for 6 weeks on the road. This tour in the words of many of the participants was an absolute failure. It destroyed a lot of relationships, the devil had a field day! I was not immune. I did a lot of things on that tour that I regret, but I also saw a not so honourable side of Stephen, although I have since discovered a lot of the reasons why he behaved the way he did. He became very careless and withdrawn and, I thought, neglected his role as team teacher. I really disliked him a lot during that time and avoided him like the plague. 
By the time of the Queensland tour we had begun to have some good conversations, and I enjoyed talking to him, but the type of person he became on tour was not nice and I was disappointed in him. 
Proving that God has a sense of humour, it was then that God actually hit Stephen on the head and alerted him to the fact that his future wife was standing right in front of him. So, this situation arose whereby, Stephen was trying to talk to me and I was trying to avoid him...poor guy.

Anyway, it was not long after the tour finished and I came to a better understanding of what happened to Stephen on the tour that I began to talk to him again. 
It was around this time that I was painting his parents ceiling. 
Let me explain, shortly after meeting Stephen and his 4 other brothers who were all very Godly guys, I and a few others had begun to attend his church run by his Dad. The teaching was good and so was the fellowship so I made the break from the church I had spent my whole life in and moved churches. The best move I made. I had become stagnant in my faith and through Stephen and his Dad's ministry my Faith was challenged and began to grow again, not to mention that my relationship with my Father was restored and I was no longer depressed or anxious.
So, out of wanting to serve the family that provided such wonderful teaching I found myself painting their lounge room ceiling.

As I did this Stephen had come home from work and said a quick hello and proceeded upstairs to freshen up. As I painted I felt the presence of someone and looked over to notice Stephen leaning against the doorway watching me and it was at that time that I felt God kick me in the guts and say, 'That's the guy you're going to marry'. My response was something along the lines of...'No Way!'
  1. I was still gaining respect for him after all that happened on the tour and 
  2. I thought that there was no way that he would ever consider someone like me. 
As the story goes, we conversed while I finished up and as I was packing up he did something quite chivalrous which completely changed my opinion of him. Here I was covered in paint and as I packed up the rollers and paint tray he came over in his nice fresh clean clothes and offered to clean up for me. After many protests on my part, I handed over the paint stuff and watched him clean up for me. 

Now he knows and I know so it would seem logical that it would be plain sailing from there. Just one slight problem neither knew that the other knew. We both were relying on God's leading from here. 

Stay tuned for part two.


Amoretti and The Fortnightly Purse

To anyone who may actually read this blog, Amoretti has a give away every fortnight and this time it's tea with a cute red with white polka dot canister and some yummy chocolate coated Digestive biscuits to dunk in your tea as well as her trademark skirty. 
The skirty is a wonderful invention for any little girl who loves to wear dresses and skirts and loves to hang upside down on the Monkey Bars. You can check out more info on the skirty at Amoretti Design .


When is the right time for your child to start school?

I face this question in mother's groups all over the place and I hear similar stories and scenarios and advice each time. Keep them back. They won't do well if they start too young. I knew someone who... or My child started early and they aren't coping so you should wait an extra year. Sounds like sound advice, erring on the side of caution. 6 is a much better age to start school.

Is it?

Here's my story. I find every time I tell it I get into a lot of trouble because it's contrary to popular belief.
My oldest two children are in grades 2 and 3 at school. They are both doing very well. They both read well, write well and are advanced in their math skills. Not only that, they have many good friends at school. What's so strange about this?
Both my children turned 5 the year they started school. 
Grace turned 5 at the end of February but was reading simple words before she went which is fairly normal for a girl. She has never had a problem socially or academically. She does have a lazy streak and so remains an average student when she could really do much much better. 

My son, Justus, turned 5 in April! He was 4 and 9 months when he started school. For his whole prep year he was the youngest child in the school. With Justus I was concerned that he wasn't ready, he displayed no interest in learning and at home could barely sit still for 2 seconds...in fact come to think of it he still can't. What gave me a glimmer of hope was that the only way to get him to be still was to sit him down with a puzzle. By the time he went to school he could do 100 piece puzzles. Despite his lack of concentration at home he seemed to be able to sit still at kinder and his kinder teacher was confident that he would be fine, so was my husband.
Sure enough, within a term of starting school, Justus was reading and writing confidently and his teacher was impressed by his ability to concentrate and participate in class activities. We have heard nothing but rave reviews from teachers about Justus.

When people hear this they say that my children are just bright and are an exception to the norm. But I started school the year I turned 5 and I'm pretty average -  although it was a bit of a bummer having until after all my friends to get my licence. 

Sometimes I feel like Joshua and Caleb. I get beaten down every time I try to give an alternative to what's being said. 
Children start learning from the time they are born and we as their parents should not hamper them in their learning. If they ask to learn to read we shouldn't say 'wait until you go to school.' We should research and find out the best method to teach them. We shouldn't be afraid of teachers telling us we'll do it wrong. 
These are our children and we have a God given responsibility to ensure that they are learning and growing and not being put in a box of being a child who is too young to go to school and therefore too young to learn basic skills like reading and writing. God hasn't just given us a responsibility to teach our children spiritually He has given us the responsibility to teach our children in every facet of life. Teachers haven't been given that responsibility. We use teachers to ensure our children get taught correctly but we shouldn't heap all of the responsibility for our children's education in their laps.
 We should know and be aware of where our children are academically just like we should with their spiritual life. We should be seeing areas where our children need extra help or need to be challenged further and be stepping in and doing it not sitting back hoping that the teacher pick it up. 
At the end of the day if our children can read, write, spell and do maths we should not hold the school wholly accountable we should look at ourselves and what we did as parents. We shouldn't feel like we are dumb parents. We all went to school, we all learnt to read write and do math. If you don't feel confident, brush up, do some research.
Parenting is hard work but there is such joy in the fruit that comes from seeing your child engage in learning.

When my children are home from school sick I don't let them sit in front of the TV all day. They have two options.
  1. Go to bed and read a book
  2. Do some school work
I've found a great site for worksheets and there are some great workbooks that you can buy in the bookstore.

Okay, so I'm completely off my original topic.

Here's my conclusion because it's 11pm and I still have to load the washing machine with a load for tomorrow ( I love the timer setting on my washing machine:)).

You have a God given responsibility to educate your children and see to it that your children receive the best education that they can get. High academic scores are not the aim. Good solid foundational teaching should be. 
If your child can't read, how are they to read the bible. As a reward for learning to read our children receive their very own bible which they treasure and read.
A child is ready when they are ready not at some age that the government has appointed. That is just a guide. Some say the age should be older. But children at ages 3 - 5 are at this perfect age of wanting to learn, curious about everything. They are like sponges and many times we fail to take advantage of that because we don't think they are ready, or we don't think we are good enough to teach them. 
If you do decide to keep your child back for a year, what ever your reason, don't keep them from beginning to learn to read, write, count etc. Take advantage of having your child at home for another year and develop a relationship with them so that they can trust you to teach them things outside of school. 

It's so hard to decide when they are 3 whether or not you are going to send them to school or not because they change so much between 3 and 5. That's what happened to my son.

Don't just go with the flow. Pray diligently, listen to your own maternal instinct ask your husband, talk to the Sunday School teacher, creche teacher, wise friends and family (not always helpful).  

Watch your child, observe them closely, they may show hints that they are more ready than you realise.  


A return to blogging

Well, after 5 years away from blogging I have finally returned, unable to keep away much longer. My head is bursting with ideas and thoughts and I think I may be driving my poor hubby nuts with all my talking.
I also love to cook, write poetry and take photos so I want to use this as a way to share my poetry, recipes and photography.
I'm not sure where to start but I'll figure something out in the coming days.