Monday, 30 December 2013

What to study next year

So you might know from a previous post that I won't be studying psychology next year.  But I've also been rethinking all of this since discovering a desire to be involved in pastoral care.

Not having gained a place in a psychology course, people expect that I will now apply for a counselling course.  This is fair enough; that's what I said I would do.  But I also started thinking about continuing at college.  And I couldn't let this idea go.

I would love to continue studying because I loved this year at college.  Just thinking about continuing made me excited.  I want to be equipped to be able to better answer people's questions about God, to teach the Bible well and to care for people in a distinctly Christian way.  I will never get a better opportunity than here and now to study theology and study it with J.

I also feel that if I studied counselling next year it would be because others want or expect me to and not because I wanted to.  I don't think this is a good way to decide what to do.

Choosing to study at college again next year is not the easy option in many ways, or at least not everything about it will be easy or enjoyable.  I will have to preach in women's chapel and I hate public speaking.  I'm sure philosophy will turn my head upside-down.  I'm not looking forward to the holiday homework or fighting the temptation to eat sweets at morning tea every day for the next two years.

When I told J that I had decided to continue at college and would email college to apply for this transfer he was really excited.  Until then he hadn't shown me exactly how he felt about me coming back to college, not wanting to sway my decision.

So that's it, I'm going back to college next year!  College has allowed me to transfer into the Bachelor of Theology which means I'll be at college for two more years.  I have to do a bridging assignment for church history, as well as the regular holiday work that everyone does.  I'll be busy doing that for the rest of my holidays, having not done any yet because I didn't have to!

I'm looking forward to what God will be teaching me while I'm at college and I hope you enjoy following my journey.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

I'll be home for Christmas

We're back home for Christmas and spending it with family.  It's lovely to be home, on familiar streets and seeing old friends.

J and I helped to decorate my parent's Christmas tree on Sunday afternoon and we listened to Christmas CDs like we always do.

This tree is taken from the bottom of my parent's block of land.  We've been using a 'home grown' Christmas tree for many years now.  Dad said that this tree was one year's worth of growth, and it still almost reaches the ceiling!

It was fun to see a lot of our old decorations, particularly the ones that my sister or I made as kids.  Here's a few:

J and I were both spoilt this Chritmas but we were reminded of the greatest gift of all and the reason that we gather and celebrate this day.  The gift of Jesus to take away our sins is the greatest gift of all.

The way God gave this gift to the world was so unexpected.  Jesus came into the world in humble and scandalous circumstances; he was born as a helpless baby to an unmarried girl in a lowly stable.  He didn't come with power and might as many would have expected.  Yet this baby would grow up to be the one who took the sins of the world upon himself so that we who trust and believe in him could be right before God.  Jesus and what he accomplished really is the greatest gift of all.  This is why we celebrate Christmas day.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Do what you love

Many have been asking, and rightly so, whether I've heard from any of the applications I sent in to study post-graduate psychology next year.  I thought I would have heard earlier than this if I had gained an interview.  Now I have heard from them all.  I didn't get in.  No interviews. 

When I told J he made to comfort me.  But I wasn't actually very upset (except perhaps my pride, but not too much).  I was just glad I finally knew actually.  I knew that entry into these courses was competitive, and I knew that my application wouldn't be very near the top.  And the fact that I realised my desire to pastorally care for people means that I don't have to limit myself to a career in psychology.  This has been a comfort.  It has been freeing actually. 

But even before this I don't think I ever had my heart totally set on psychology.  It was an idea based on my enjoyment of the things I learnt in class.  I was never certain that I could work as a psychologist. 

The truth is that I've never been a particularly "driven" person, if I can put it that way, at least in terms of a career.  I never had this one pathway, one specific career that I wanted to pursue.  I didn't know what I wanted to be like some people seemed to.  I didn't know in high school, I didn't really know when I was at uni, though I started forming the idea of pursuing psychology while in second year. 

I wanted to do something that I enjoyed, so I followed that path.  I've heard people say, do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life.  I enjoyed science at high school, so I decided to to a Bachelor of Science at uni.  I enjoyed psychology at uni so I majored in it in my degree.  I've wanted to study theology for a while (I even thought during high school I might pursue it when I finished school) and so I studied it this past year with J. 

I've realised that I want to pastorally care for people.  This could be as a psychologist, or a counsellor, or even a theologically-trained worker in a church. 

I've loved studying the Bible this year at college.  You can read about it here.  Maybe I can combine my love of theology and my desire to pastorally care for people.

I've been thinking about this for a little while, at least since I realised my desire to pastorally care for people and since God had closed at least two of the doors on my psychology applications.  I'm never going to get a better opportunity than this to study what I love, and study it with my husband.  Other study, particularly counselling, is much more flexible. 

I don't know what I will do next year, but I want to do what I love. 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

When you're not a mother but there are a lot of babies

I had a few nervous days last year when I hoped and prayed that I wasn't pregnant.  Now, just a year on, I find myself thinking sometimes that it wouldn't be so bad if God gave us a little unplanned miracle.  What has changed?

We live in a community of 20 college students with their wives, five of whom don't have children.  The children in this community range in age from newborn to nine years old.  There were ten babies born this year alone.  It's easy when surrounded by all these young children, particularly the babies, to start wishing that I was a mother too.  The support that I've seen this community show to families with newborns is beautiful and admittedly very tempting to be on the receiving end of, particularly for a first child.

But I don't want to be influenced into starting a family just because I'm jealous of the mothers around me.  I do want to be a mother one day, but I don't think we should try to become parents just yet.  Just because most of the people living around me in our community have children doesn't mean that I should have children now too.  In fact that's a pretty selfish motivation to create a new life.

I recognise that my wistful desire to have children now is selfish.  Sometimes I think it would be a great way of getting out of the hard things to come next year and beyond.  If I had a child now I wouldn't have to have a career, and that's okay with me.

J and I have been married for nearly a year and a half now.  I know people who have had children earlier than that in their marriage, but I want more time as just the two of us.  I don't want to add to our family just yet.  Because babies change things.  Once you're a parent you can't ever go back to the life you had before children.  And it would be unfair to J to have a child now for the wrong reasons because it absolutely would affect his study.  This isn't something that would affect only myself.  

Without the right motivation (or God's influence), having a child now is selfish.  For now I know I will enjoy living in this community of many children, playing with them, baby-sitting them, and learning about parenting from their parents.  As a non-parent I know that I don't see all the sides of parenting.  I don't have to clean up vomit, change dirty nappies or discipline a stubborn child.  I am glad that when the baby start crying I can hand him back to his mother!  

Saturday, 14 December 2013

The husband and wife team at a uni conference

This week J and I got back from National Training Event (NTE) in Canberra, which is a conference for uni students from all over Australia (and some from overseas too).  It is the major conference of the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (AFES) and all its affiliated uni clubs around Australia.  J and I were both part of one of these clubs while at uni, and while J did his ministry apprenticeship in 2011 and 2012.

I've been to NTE once before as a student and it was very different this year going as a Bible College student leading a Strand Group.   For one thing we had so much more free time because we weren't preparing to go on mission after the conference.  We used most of this free time to catch up with friends from Adelaide whom we hadn't seen in a long time, as well as spending some time with college friends (also attending as Strand Group leaders) whom we hadn't seen in a few weeks.  We were also glad for the chance to spend some time with J's sister who is currently living in Canberra. 

I really enjoyed leading the group with J, though at times I felt nervous about what I was saying knowing that he could pick me up on it!  He's also had more experience with our subject matter (Biblical Theology) because he ran a seminar on Biblical Theology when he was a ministry apprentice.  But I enjoyed being able to explain this to the students in our group, and see them grasp for the first time some things about how the story of the Bible fits together. 

We also heard some great talks, three of which were given by one of our New Testament Lecturer's from this year, who has now moved to the United States to work in a Theological College there.  But one of the big things that I learnt (or realised) while at NTE was something about myself.  I realised that what I want to do with my life is this: I want to pastorally care for people.  I'm not sure how else to put it.  I want to be able to walk with people as they go through life, help them in their struggles, listen to them and love them.  This is the desire that underlies my ideas about becoming a psychologist or a counsellor. 

I don't know where that leaves me or what kind of 'job' that might lead to.  A psychologist?  A women's worker in a church?  A school counsellor?  A chaplain?  A mother?  In any case, it's nice to have figured this out. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Why I enjoyed studying (at Bible college)

I've already talked a little bit about some of the perks of studying at my particular Bible college.  But those aren't really the reasons why I loved studying here.  In fact it has little to do with the college itself at all (though it is a great institution).  I loved studying at Bible college because of what I learnt, and am still learning (and who says I can’t vicariously learn more through J next year!).  It is the content that made it so enjoyable. 
Of course I also enjoyed studying with a fantastic group of people.  Studying at Bible college was so different to school and uni.  People looked out for each other, shared notes and study tips, prayed for each other.  It is easy to think, after a year of it, that all of this is normal, but it really isn’t.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be in such a supportive learning environment ever again. 

But it was what I learnt that made this year so valuable to me.  I learnt about the most important person in my life by studying the most important book in the world.  I've staked my life on what the Bible says, and I want to know more about it.  If I could study only one thing in my life it wouldn’t be the human body or brain, it wouldn’t be our planet or any of the things on it, it wouldn’t even be my husband or the streets of this new-to-me city.  It would be the Bible, because by it I can know God. 
This year at college I learnt how to understand the Bible better, not only by learning some of the ancient Greek language, but also by learning about different styles of writing, some historical background to both the Old and the New Testaments, and how Christians of the past have understood the Bible. 
I will be a student of the Bible for the rest of my life.  I will always be seeking to understand it and by this draw closer to God.  This year was a wonderful chance to do this in a more “full time” way.  Thank you God. 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The finish, the fun and the farewells

College is finished for the year.  The exams are over, the parties have happened and we're now on holidays!  Here's a bit of an update about what's been happening these last few days. 

This semester seemed to be much more intense than first semester.  We had what seemed to be a number of 'big' subjects this semester, with lots to remember for the exams.  I'll write soon about some of the things I've learnt this semester at college. 

Our last exam was Old Testament on Thursday morning.  It was a relief to be finished after that.  The exam was much better than I thought it was going to be which was a nice way to end the exam period.  Then the parties began.

On Thursday night we went to the Graduation dinner at college because I'm a graduating student.  We hung out with the other graduating diploma students who were similarly dressed and not quite as formal as the fourth years (no one told us there was a dress code...). 

Friday was 'Final Friday' at college.  We had a community chapel that spouses and children were invited to and then shared a lunch afterwards.  Someone from each year level spoke briefly about their year level and the things we were thankful for. 

In the afternoon and evening we had a party with the other first years who live around us.  We had a dance party with the kids (well the women danced and the men sat in the other room drinking and talking).  We ordered take-away and then after dinner we played a game called 'Times Up'.  Most people know it here as 'The Hat Game'.  You play in pairs with a stack of cards that have book titles, TV shows, songs and other things written on them and you have to get your partner to guess what is on the card.  In the first round you can describe it like in 'Articulate'.  In the second round you can use only one word, and in the third round you act it out like Charades.  You play until the stack of cards is exhausted and each round uses the same cards so part of the trick is remembering what's there. 

image from

On Saturday we had the end of year party with all the college students in our community.  There are twenty families living here so it is a decent number when we all get together.  I was making macaroons for the party.  My first batch which I made on Friday afternoon didn't go so well.  The mixture was too runny so it came out of the piping bag too fast, spread too much on the tray, and didn't rise properly.  I was a bit disappointed in them. So on Saturday morning I made some more, making sure that I added a bit more of the dry ingredients so the mixture wouldn't be a runny.  This batch thankfully worked much better (but I still served both at the party).  Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of them but you all know what macaroons are supposed to look like, imagine them like that!

I spend some of the afternoon looking after two children of one of the other students.  Apparently the younger one and I bonded because even when dad had come back at dinner time (community dinner as part of the party) she came to sit with me as we ate.  It has been lovely to be able to look after kids in this community and be helpful to their parents.  They love that those of us without children are free to do things such as baby sit and we (well at least me, I don't presume to speak for anyone else), I love doing it: helping them and spending time with their kids.  So BHG, if you need a baby-sitter I love doing it. 

The evening's activities were the highlight.  Some of the wives had organised a sort of trivia night and we played in teams based on our year at college.  Needless to say it was hilarious.  It was also a time to farewell the students who had finished college and were leaving the community.  We heard about where they were going, what they would miss about our community, and what they were looking forward to in their new job and community.  It will be sad to see them leave because they have all been so welcoming of us, so helpful and most of all such great examples of godliness. 

After all of this we had an open mic time for anyone to come up and share something.  People talked about what they loved about our community, gave advice about getting involved and what to expect next year when new people move in, the ways they have been loved, and reflections on their time here.  I didn’t get up to speak (still being a bit too shy and disliking public speaking), but I heartily agreed with what everyone said.  I feel truly blessed to live in such a community. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

No longer empty

I didn't feel quite right announcing that one of our neighbours had moved out.  If I had it would have felt like I was celebrating.  Because I'm talking about the noisy neighbour I've previously written about. 

Truthfully, I did feel relieved to hear that he was moving out and it has been very nice having a bit more peace around here.  It really has been quieter, even though there are still lots of kids of college students running around and making noise.  That's a different kind of noise to yelling and heavy foot-falls up and down the stairs.  I feel safer walking out our front door knowing that he's not there because, to be honest, I was a little scared of him.  He's been gone for a few months now so the place next to us has been empty and very quiet. 

But for the last few weeks we've been wondering if someone has moved in.  It may sound a bit odd that we didn't know if we had new neighbours or not, but it has been hard to tell.  We definitely know it if someone walks up or down the stairs, but sometimes we would hear people there one day and then nothing for a few days.  And this happened for a few weeks.  It seemed like perhaps these might have been inspections by prospective renters. 

But if we knew what moving in sounded like we never would have wondered.  We definitely have new neighbours now.  We've seen people moving furniture in and heard the kind of walking around the house (and up the stairs!) that only comes from moving heavy furniture and boxes.  We're not sure yet if it is a couple living there, or a single man (or a man setting up and then partner to follow).  We haven't met them yet but I think one of the other college students around us has, and so far they've been very quiet.  I look forward to meeting him/them and I'm hopefully that we can have a better relationship than the one we had with our previous neighbour. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Update on next year

This year of studying at Bible college is almost over.  We have finished classes and are now in a week of study before exams start.  I plan to write soon about why I enjoyed studying at Bible college, but I thought this would be a good time to update you on what my plans are for next year since lots of people have been asking me. 

I’ve applied for four  post-graduate psychology courses, two masters and two graduate diplomas in Professional Psychology, at three different institutions.  Unfortunately none of them are at the uni closest to Bible college because they didn’t offer either of these courses.  The applications closed at the end of October.

In late November or early December I will find out if I’ve scored an interview, which is based on my grades.  At the interview (assuming I get one) grades don’t play a part in whether or not I am offered a place.  I won’t find out about this until January next year. 

I plan on applying for a masters or graduate diploma of counselling to study next year in case I don’t get into any of the psychology courses.  I’m currently tossing up between two different institutions, one offering a masters and one offering a graduate diploma (both two years in duration). 

I hope that answers any questions you might have about what I’m doing next year.  J will start second year at Bible college and we’ll stay in the same house and same church.  J is actually starting a student minister internship there for two years.  Even though I don’t know what I’m doing, where I’ll be travelling to each day and what my timetable will look like, I trust that God has plans for me and that is enough right now.

Friday, 18 October 2013

The day the sun turned red

I just thought I’d share some photos of what the sky looked like yesterday. 
Everything had an almost sepia haze.  It felt like something was wrong with the world.  There have been some serious fires happening here and the smoke haze turned the sun red. 
I took these pictures at college yesterday afternoon. 

It looks like a sunset sky, but this was 4:30 in the afternoon.

Look at that bank of smoke!  It was starting to clear a bit by this time.

That little light grey dot in the sky is the sun, believe it or not.  It was red a little earlier until even more smoke blew over it. 

This is what the sun looked like:

Image from:

I am praying for those affected by the bush fires, the emergency services, and praying it would be contained soon. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

I’m not a runner…

I hate running, it is probably my least favourite form of exercise.  It’s monotonous, it hurts, it’s not very social, and I have no stamina.  I’d much prefer to exercise with other people by playing a team sport, being in a ballet class, or even an exercise class.  I can almost trick myself into thinking it’s fun if I’m doing it with other people. 

Image from:

But I’ve started running.

I’ve heard of the Couch to 5k (C25k) a few times since last year but never had any desire to find out more.  A couple of months ago a neighbour, Bible study group member and friend, Liz, told me that she and a friend had started the C25k.  I don’t know what it was, but just by talking to her about their running she inspired me to give it a try. 

So I downloaded an app on my phone (there are so many out there, I downloaded the one pictured here because it was free) and I went for my first run. 

Down the bottom of our street there is a walking/cycling track that runs along a river.  This is where I ran.  During the first week you run for 60 seconds then walk for 90 seconds for eight sets.  Parts of it was a struggle, there were moments when I thought “I’ll just walk the next one”, but I got through it without giving up. 

Later on when I got home I had trouble flexing my feet and had some pain in my shins for the next few days.  This scared me off running.  I didn’t want to hurt myself again. 

Last weekend I was talking to my mum about running as she recently did the City to Bay.  I told her about the C25k and we decided to do it together, though separated in different cities.  So we tell each other when we’ve completed a day’s run to encourage and motivate each other.  We’ve now both completed week one, and I did the first run of week two this afternoon.  I now run around the park (on the grass) at the end of the street and I haven’t had any problems with my shins. 

I still have no love for running, but this program and doing it with mum have motivated me to keep going.  I even don’t mind doing it by myself, I can run at my own pace and I can do it whenever works for me (though I admit that sometimes scheduled running might be a better motivation).  I’m not sure what will come from this, but I’m exercising and that’s good enough for me. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Reasons to Exercise

I'm not very good at exercising, I just can't often seem to motivate myself to do it.  I'm much better if I'm with other people.  So doing ballet with other students at college is great, and I also exercise with a neighbour on Sunday mornings.  But I'm hopeless when it comes to doing something by myself.  But I goaded myself and actually did something this afternoon.  So I thought I'd write down a list of some of the things I can motivate myself with.

Here they are, my reasons to exercise:

     1. Have more energy

     2. Concentrate better in class

     3. Feel better about your body

     4. Boost your metabolism and immune system

     5. Tone your muscles and increase your strength

     6. Muscles burn more energy than fat

     7. You'll be less tempted to eat sweet things because you don't want to undo the work you've done

     8. You won't feel as guilty if you do eat something sweet

     9. Have clearer skin

     10. Be less stressed, anxious or down

     11. Life is just better when you exercise regularly

I'm going to put this list up somewhere that I'll see it often and use it as motivation.  What are your reasons to exercise?

Monday, 30 September 2013

Procrasti-crafting: Earring holder

This afternoon when I got home from college I was very distracted.  Instead of working on my Old Testament essay which is due at the end of next week, I decided to do some craft. 

I’d been wanting to make an earring holder from a photo frame for a while but hadn’t really looked into how to do it.  Perhaps when I looked into it today was the beginning of my distraction. 

One that I looked at suggested using a staple gun to fix some burlap onto the back of a frame.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a staple gun lying around.  But I had some cheap IKEA frames that I got from a quiz night and thought I could at least try using a normal stapler.  The worst that could happen would be breaking the stapler. 

Some other earring holders I’d looked at used lace strung across the frame.  I had some lace left over from the wrapping from our wedding presents (I kept all the ribbons) that I thought would be perfect for this project.  Here’s what I used to make my earring holder:

I took out the back of the frame and the plastic photo protector in front so I had just the frame.  I stapled the lace to the back of the frame, doing the high sides first and then the inner edge so that the lace would be tight across the frame. 

Here it is up close:

The wood was surprisingly and pleasantly easy to staple into.  Well, on one side.  This was the nice side.  The other side wouldn’t let the staples go in straight and I think I wasted a whole unit of staples trying to do that side.  They weren’t all pretty in the end, but I added some glue over the staples for good measure.  I can’t guarantee that all IKEA photo frames will work for this project, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

Here’s the finished product.  I’m very happy with it. 

I made this one for my studs so I used a lot of lace and stapled the strands close together.  I’m thinking of making another one with bigger gaps between the lace for some of my dangly earrings.  You could also paint the frame if you wanted to. 

Now that’s done, I should get back to work!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Growing plants and friendships in Spring

I wasn't sure about posting about what we did during Spring Break (yes that's really what they call it, sounds so American).  I know one purpose of this blog is to let you know what we're doing, but I felt like I would be writing a diary entry and I didn't want to do that.  But this week, now that we're back at college, I've been reflecting on our break and thought I would share what we did and my thoughts about Spring Break.  

There were a few things that I wanted to get done during the break, and not all of them happened, but I'm still pretty happy with the way I spent my time.  It was only one week, apparently typical of most tertiary institutes here, but it felt odd (and insufficient!) to us who are used to two weeks break between terms or mid-semester (but perhaps we were spoilt).
For the first few days we pottered around, went to the shops a couple of times, slept in and generally did whatever we wanted to do.  I started a new project that I'm pretty excited about.  We bought some potting mix and I used some pots I'd gotten from one of our neighbours who was giving them away, and I planted some herbs (parsley and coriander, and we already had some basil growing on the windowsill).  

I've been wanting to grow our own herbs for a while now because I'm sick of buying a bunch from the supermarket and watching most of it go limp because we don't use it all fast enough.  I also planted the end from a leek we had eaten and a small spring onion in the hope that they would grow.  The herbs haven't started growing yet, but we can see a new leek starting!

The best thing about the holidays though was that we went away with some friends from college.  We went to the south coast and stayed in the parent's holiday house of the friend who organised the holiday.  

I was really touched to be invited.  I wasn't sure that we were good enough friends with anyone at college to be invited to come on holidays with them, except perhaps our college neighbours in first year with us.  So it was really nice to be thought of and invited.

We had a lovely time away.  J went sea-kayaking with the other guy who came down while most of the rest of us went for a cold walk along the beach.  We had a surprise early birthday dinner, took silly photos on the beach, played games of Bible Taboo (the clues have to relate to the Bible), played a Greek vocab 'game' (which was just taking turns to give the English translation), drank lots of tea, and went for a bush walk that ended in a tunnel crawl to cliffs overlooking the ocean.  It was lovely to see friends outside of college, to relax together and get to know some people a bit better.  

I've noticed that since getting back to college this week, even though it was only two days that we spend away with this group of people, it has made me feel like we're better friends already.  I don't know what it is about going away together that does this, but I'm really glad it happened.  I was unsure about if I would be able to make deep friendships here, but I've discovered that I've needed friends here.  To my delight I think this has been happening, slowly but surely.  

Monday, 9 September 2013

A lesson in humility

I've often felt like humility is the opposite of boasting: being quiet about success, or even attributing it to God for extra spiritual points.  But I learnt tonight that it's much more than that. 

Tonight we had an encounter with our neighbour, the noisy one next door.  We were on our way out when he asked to speak with us. 

We stood there, unable to get a word in as he accused us of a lot of things that weren't true and lectured us about being respectful neighbours by being quiet on our stairs.  I got slowly angrier at his hypocrisy, arrogance and lies but didn't want to show anything.  It was a lesson in humility to listen to him and not defend ourselves and to apologise for not being quiet.  I shed my anger once we got into the car by telling J all the reasons our neighbour was out of line and pointing out his hypocrisy and lies. 

As I reflected later on I knew that there was nothing else we could have done.  Part of me wanted to argue back and tell him about all the noise that he makes and his disrespect of his neighbours, but I knew that wouldn't be helpful in any way and would just put him off side even more.  We took his accusations and apologised.  This is how I felt I should respond as a Christian. 

After all, we have the ultimate example of humility in Jesus.  Though he was mocked and scorned, Jesus never said word against the accusations thrown at him (Mark 14:55-61).  He humbled himself even to death on a cross.  And that is what saved people from sin and death, not a verbal defence against his accusers. 

I don't think I'm very good at it, I didn't like doing it, but God is teaching me humility. 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Saturdays are for craft: Material Flowers

Saturdays are great.  We take Saturdays off from everything; college work, other work...  Actually that's not strictly true.  I have done some house work on a number of Saturdays.  Often Saturdays are washing day, and sometimes I clean the house on Saturdays too because I often don't want to use study-time as cleaning-time. 

This Saturday we did do a bit of work.  We had a working bee with the other college students who live around us.  We do odd jobs around our houses and in the gardens and common spaces.  J did a lot of mulch moving and I was involved with fixing up the sandpit.  After shovelling out all the sand we fixed up the lining on the bottom and then sifted all the sand back into the sandpit.  That’s right, sifted.  We strung up the sandpit cover (made of shade cloth material) using the poles of the shade cloth that covers the sandpit and filtered sand through it by swinging the cover back and forth. 

After the morning I didn't really feel like doing any other 'work' like hemming some pants or filling out psych application forms.  So I did some craft. 

I've been wanting to try out these flowers for a while, that I found on Pinterest.  I've now made two, and I decided to document the second one I made.  This was fun and satisfying.  I haven't done anything crafty in a while and It makes me think I really should do it more often. 

The details of how to make these flowers are here, but I did a few things differently so I thought I'd share how I did it.  The main difference was that I sewed mine, and while the tutorial does suggest this as an option, she used glue so I thought it would be worth showing how I made these flowers by sewing.  Glue is obviously faster than sewing, but I don't have a hot glue gun and I didn't want to have to hold and wait for runny glue to dry.  Plus, I find sewing relaxing in some way and I feel like I would have more control than with glue. 

You start with cutting out nine flower shapes from some t-shirt material.

Cut out a circle of felt in a similar colour (I didn’t have orange so I had to go with yellow).  Because it will be on the back it doesn’t really matter because it won’t show. 

Then you have to fold the flowers to make a ruffled or layer petal look.  Fold a flower in half, and then in half again. 

Then you attached the folded flower to the circle of felt.  I just stitched along the edges of the fold so that the petals could lift a bit (more on this later).

As I added folded flowers I continued with the same bit of thread, working along the folds. 

After this you add a second layer of folder flowers, but off-set from the first later by a 45 degree turn.  The picture should explain it. 

Here I've now completed two layers (though you can't really tell).  Sewing the second layer was tricky.  I didn't want to sew all the way through the bottom layer of petals (that's a lot of material to go through) so I tried to sew it onto the top flap of the petal.  This is a bit tricky but manageable.  The whole thing isn't as rigid as you might think so you can do a bit of bending to get the needle in underneath the petals you're sewing on. 

Now you make the central petals.  This bud is made by folding a flower in half (once, not twice this time) and rolling it up along the fold.  I rolled it so it was a bit of a cone shape, the pointy end being where the fold is. 

This bud then gets put into the middle of the petals you've sewed on so far.  I'll admit that at this stage, glue would have been far easier.  But soldier on! 

I didn't do this, but in hindsight it might be best to sew through the bottom of the bud to hold the whole thing together before sewing it onto the other petals.  Mine kept unrolling (a problem I didn't have with the first one, go figure) as I was trying to sew it in. 

Once you have it attached then comes the final stages in making this pile of petals look like an actual flower!

Sew the top layer of petals up onto the bud, as pictured below.  How much of this attaching you do is really up to you and your flower.  If it looks like there are gaps, or the petals need some fluffing up then attach some petals with a little stitch.  Glue might also be easier here, but I felt like I had more control with the stitches.

I also sewed the edges of the petals together from the back because I found that they were a bit flappy and left obvious gaps between them.  This isn't a necessary step, you decide what to do based on how yours turns out. 

There it is, the finished product!  I sewed a little loop on the back to put a bobby pin through so I could wear it in my hair.  You could also glue it onto a headband, hang it from a necklace or glue a brooch pin on the back. 

If you do make one, let me know how it goes!

Monday, 2 September 2013

College Antics

Tonight we had the College Revue, a night of hilarity and fun.  My thoughts before the revue was that it would be like a camp concert or talent night, but for college students, thus hopefully raising the general standards of the acts. 

It did not disappoint.

We had songs with re-written lyrics, infomercials, an acapella fugue, a drum battle, even a musical number. All involved comedy, with a nostalgic note at the end. 

It was so funny and full of in-jokes that make you feel part of the community (if you get them...).  It was the kind of thing that you didn't want to end (except that you're getting tired and it's almost your bed time).

A thoroughly enjoyable night with a community I love being part of.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Dear old friend

Dear old friend,

I miss you.  I miss the friendship we used to share.  We were comfortable together.  You made me laugh, I encouraged you, and we enjoyed spending time together.  I'm feeling nostalgic and because I miss you I wanted to write you a letter.

Do you remember the times we spent together?  It makes me sad to think of how time has changed our friendship, but I want to let you know I still think about you, and I care about you even though there is distance and time between us. 

I remember the time that you slept over at my house for a week and we loved every minute of it.  I remember books that you introduced to me, and the art you opened my eyes to.  I remember camps together and learning about our faith together.  I remember spending time writing stories together, imagining ourselves in magical lands, or thinking about the future and planning to be friends forever. 

I remember when we recited a whole movie together and that made us instant friends.  I remember classes together, singing together and reading together.  Your first sleep over was at my house and I was so glad.  I loved that when we talked to each other we understood each other. 

I remember the time that we decided to become friends and that was that.  I remember the first time I came to your youth group and realised how small Christian circles are.  I chose one of my subjects one year just to be in a class with you.  I remember long drives and long conversations with you.  It was so easy to talk to you, you were never judgemental and always had some helpful advice. 

I remember when you hugged me when I was crying over a guy, and when you let me lay my head in your lap even though it made your legs go numb.  I remember when you avoided me at school, and the time you followed me home.  I remember laughing at you, and many conversations, but the honest ones were the best.  I loved seeing your heart, thank you for showing it to me. 

I remember writing a song together and laughing with each other.  I remember your positive outlook on life and your constant encouragement.  I remember music at school and music at church with you.  I loved listening to you sing, I hope you still do it. 

I remember when we used to email all the time.  I remember games nights at your house and late night conversations.  I remember laughing at your jokes and admiring your relationship with your siblings. 

Do you remember these things?  Where is our friendship now?  I'm sorry that things have changed and that I'm so far away.

I miss you.  I miss our friendship.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Where's your career plan?

Sometimes I feel like I've mucked up my life.*  Well to be honest that's a bit dramatic.  If I think about it for more than a second I realise that what I really mean is that I feel like I've mucked up my career path.  I love everything else about my life.  I do not regret at all getting married to J at the time we did, or coming to college with him to study the Bible for a year.  

I feel like I haven't planned for my career or future study very well at all.  I've found myself thinking that I should have done something more productive with my year after honours and I berate myself that I didn't.  Then I remember that I did try to.  I tried to find work that was related to psychology and would give me some exposure or experience to help me on my way to studying masters.  But I was never hired for those jobs that I applied for.  Instead I got a job somewhere else.  Perhaps God used that job to teach me something, or develop my character or godliness.  But even if he didn't do any of this and my job last year was of no benefit to me whatsoever (which I don't think is true), it's not about me anyway!

I've realised that ultimately my career or job doesn't really matter at all.  What's more important, what God is concerned about, is that I glorify him.  There is no instruction in the Bible about what career I should have.  God knows what I will do, but he hasn't got one specific door for me to walk through and if I don't I fail at life.  I don't believe that there is one thing that God wants me to do and I have to ask him to reveal it to me. 

Maybe I haven't organised my life well enough to get into a psychology master program next year and follow the plans I had made for my life.  But what if this has given me the opportunity to reassess those plans?  What do you do when your dream changes?

I planned to continue study to become a psychologist some time during my second year of uni when I decided that I enjoyed learning about these theories of human behaviour and I didn't want to become a scientist (the other subjects I was studying at uni).  I was attracted to psychology because I found the subject fascinating and I want to be able to help people by talking through problems and listening to them.  

I feel like I can't change my dream of becoming a psychologist, like I'm betraying myself and the plans that I've tried to make.  Changing things now makes me feel like I'm drowning in the unknown next year.  But I shouldn't let the fact that I've been heading in this direction stop me from changing my mind or taking a detour.  Maybe I'll discover that the detour was the better way to go after all. 

I don't know if I'll get into a psychology course or not.  I don't know if I'm suited to the job anyway.  Maybe I'll try counselling first, or instead.  I just want to know how to listen well and have the skills to be able to help people with emotional problems.  But above all of this, I want to be glorifying God and serving him wherever I am.  That's what I want to focus my life on. 

*Note: I'm taking a leaf out of a college friend's book: because this post is a bit depressive it was not written on the day that I was feeling like this. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Joy in the Lord

I was reading Habakkuk this morning and was struck by a few verses at the end of the book. 

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Saviour.               (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV)

Despite so many things seeming to go wrong, Habakkuk can say that he finds joy in the Lord. 
This passage comes at the end of Habakkuk’s prayer. God has been telling Habakkuk that the Babylonians will oppress the nation of Judah, just after they’ve already been oppressed by the Assyrians.  Habakkuk doesn’t think this is very fair.  But God says that the Babylonians will be judged just like the Assyrians and Judah must be patient.
Habakkuk says that he will rejoice in God, even though God doesn’t appear to be blessing his people.  This got me thinking about how I react when things don’t seem to be going well, when my plans don’t work out, when things don’t go my way.  The times when life piles up like loads of washing, when nothing on my list gets done and I break my resolutions.  The moments when I want to give up and just sleep my life away. 
I don’t often feel like rejoicing in God at these times.  I want to ignore him, tell him that loving him is too hard and I don’t know how to talk to him anymore. 
But Habakkuk has reminded me that even in these times I can find joy in God.  It is because he is my saviour.  God has rescued me, and this is the greatest reason to rejoice. 

Friday, 2 August 2013

A trip to the hospital

On Monday night I drove J to the hospital. 

Before anyone starts freaking out, don’t!  Don’t worry, he’s fine, and healing up well. 

We had both just submitted our Doctrine assignments, due at 11:55pm.  I had finished a little before J, but because it was already waaay past my bedtime I went to bed and didn’t wait for him. 

Image from he got home at about midnight I was still awake but in bed with the lights off.  As he started getting ready for bed and went to untie his shoelaces…


I was impressed that he didn’t swear, or even use any form of exclamation really.  Though, I’d probably be more surprised if he had sworn.  Maybe his silence was the shock from the pain and the sight of his own blood (who ever likes the sight of their own blood?). 

We had just bought a new wooden dresser from the student op-shop at college, but we haven’t integrated it into the room yet so it’s still standing at the end of our bed.  J had bent down to untie his shoelaces and forgotten it was there (not seeing it in the dark), smashing his head into the edge of it.  He chipped a tooth and cut into his lower lip.  And wow, do head-wounds bleed a lot!

How can something so pretty be so mean? Once we got the bleeding stopped I thought the cut looked deep enough to warrant some immediate attention, though it was now getting close to 1:00 AM.  So we bustled into the car and I drove (I drove!!) us to the nearest hospital, a couple of suburbs over from us. 

The result was about two hours waiting in emergency, two stiches, a tetanus shot and an iceblock (to ease the swelling).  We got back into bed at 4:00 AM and skipped college that day. 

As much as it would have been great that this never happened in the first place there are a number of things we are thankful for that we realised in the process.

We are thankful that I can now drive J’s manual car.  I’m much more confident than I was (I even drove to college on Wednesday when we didn’t have anyone else in the car with us!).  I wanted to learn so that I could drive in an emergency and not freak out.  And that’s what happened, my learning was put to good use.

We’re thankful for the love of others where we live.  We’re rostered on to drive to and from college every day in the car pool, but we clearly weren’t going to be driving on Tuesday morning.  Someone else offered to drive and everything was sorted out fine without us. 

We’re also thankful for the love of our fellow students.  We missed our three Doctrine lectures and one hour of Hebrew for J.  People have given us notes and advice about those lectures and been really caring of us.  We’ve appreciated it all so much.  Thank you everyone.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

When I fail

I've been learning to drive J's manual car now that we have only one.  I was taught in an automatic.  In fact J's car is the only manual I've ever driven. 

He first started teaching me while we were dating.  I wanted to learn so that if I ever had to drive a manual in an emergency I wouldn't freak out and start crying because I couldn't get the car moving.  I got to a competent level so that I could drive the car from his house to the friend's house we had Bible study at and back again.  But then we stopped and I didn't start learning again until the end of last year when we were planning to sell one car (my automatic) in preparation for moving interstate. 

It was almost speed learning then.  I had to learn so that I could share the driving on the way across the country.  Since we've been here I've hardly driven.  This city is full of hills and I hadn't learnt to do a hill start in a manual so I wasn't very keen to do any driving.  We decided that Sunday mornings would probably be pretty safe so I've been driving to or from church. 

But while we were back in our home city during our mid-year holidays I wanted to do a lot more driving to get my confidence and skills up.  This suggestion found me attempting a hill start on the steep slope of the cul-de-sac where my parents live.

"Okay, hand brake on.  Now find the friction point... good.  Accelerate a little... now bring the clutch out a little more and accelerate a little again.  (You'll probably have to do this two or three times).  Good!  Now take the hand brake off and accelerate."


"It's okay, try again."

Hand brake, clutch, accelerate... clutch, accelerate... hand brake...

Stall again.  

When I fail I just want to give up.  I didn't want to keep trying, I just wanted to give up and get J to drive.  It made me wonder if this is how I always react to failure.  Actually I think this is how many of us react to failure.  We don't want to put ourselves through continual negative feedback.  Failure is a blow to our confidence and sometimes also our self-esteem. 

Often we're told to keep trying, to not give up, to not let failure beat us.  But I'm not saying that.  I realised from this experience that I need to be realistic about what I can and can't achieve; when to give up on something that I can't do and when to keep trying. 

I knew which category driving fit into.  I had only failed at the hill start a few times.  It certainly wasn't something that was impossible for me to do.  So I tried again, and off we went. 
Now I'm driving to church and the shops like a pro... almost. 
This got me thinking.  Where else does this tendency appear in my life?  Should I have more confidence in my abilities?  How should I react when I fail?  These are some questions I'll be asking myself. 

How do you react when you fail?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Watching 'The Bible'

Last night J and I watched Channel Nine's new miniseries, 'The Bible'.  I was pretty excited that it was being shown on TV, on a major channel no less and I was really looking forward to seeing how the story of the Bible would be portrayed.  

I'm not really going to give it a review.  You can go here for that.  But I wanted to share some of my thoughts about it.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

The unknown next year

I don't really know what I'll be doing next year.  I have some plans, but there's no guarantee that they'll work out.  I have to admit that I'm a little bit jealous of my husband because he knows exactly what he'll be doing for the next three and a half years.  He'll be continuing to study at Bible college, finishing off his degree.  These remaining three and a half years while we're still in this new city that isn't home yet, I have no certainty about what I'll be doing with my days in any of that time. 

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Habit or Procrastination?

I finally had a haircut today.  I think it may have been a year since my last cut.  You just can't really tell with curls, which is a blessing and a curse.  It means that to look at my hair the split ends are hidden in all the texture.  But those same split ends cause nightmares of knots. 

I had been thinking of getting my hair cut for a while now, I just couldn't work up the energy to decide where to go.  I have to find a new hairdresser now that we've moved.  But this week J and I are back in our hometown so I booked an appointment to have my hair cut at my old hairdressers.  I never should have left it for this long.  It feels nice again, my head is lighter and the curls form better. 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Out to the Zoo

Last weekend we went to the Zoo.  Our community of college students has organised Zoo membership cards to share among the families who wanted to participate.  We signed ourselves up and finally went last weekend.  Sharing the membership passes means that we're sharing the cost, we can go any time that we want provided no one else is using the passes, and we get cheap members parking at the zoo!

We made a day of it and spent most of the day there from when they opened to when they closed.  Okay, we slept in a bit and didn't get there until 11am, but hey, it was Saturday and it's a long drive to get there!

Here are some of the things we saw:

The giraffes are my favourite

Blue steel

Spoonbills are just so odd.  This one tried to bite people's fingers...

Look Eliza! a pelican and another pelican...

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A year ago

A year ago my husband and I were in a chapel, making promises to each other that will last for the rest of our lives. A year later and we are in a very different place, but just as much in love.

Photo by Julius Zieleniecki
 Here are some of the things that have happened to us in the past year.

Monday, 17 June 2013

The perks of exams

We're in the middle of exams at college at the moment.  Well okay, it's only the start of exam week, but I've already have two exams, and have two more left, so it's the middle for me.

I've now done exams at three different institutions: my high school, my undergraduate university, and now Bible college.  The procedure has been different for each of them.  Of the three, college has been by far the best.  Let me tell you why.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Guess who's coming to dinner?

As I may have mentioned before, we are living in a community of students from Bible college, and one of the things we do is share meals together.  In summer we had weekly barbecues together at the big grassy backyard of some of the houses.  In winter we have 'Winter Dinners' which we organise with a roster to take it in turns to host or be guests, and hopefully by the end we have a chance to have dinner with each family.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Back to Ballet

Some people have hobbies when they're children and as they grow up this hobby grows with them, and in some way it might form a part of their identity.  For me it was ballet.  I'm not sure how much ballet was a part of my identity, but I started when I was only five years old, and stopped when I reached year 12 because I wanted to focus on school.  At its high point I was doing four or five hours of dancing every week. 

I haven't done ballet in six years now and some time last year I realised that I missed it.  I'm not sure what exactly it was that I missed.  I certainly didn't miss exams or concerts, painful toes from pointe shoes, or getting changed into a leotard.  I think part of it was that I missed my muscles feeling strong, that sense of posture that comes with ballet, and the friendships I shared with those in my class. 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

What I learned

Last week at college we had what is called Research Week.  We didn't have any classes, and every year level had a major assignment due at the end of the week (except 4th years, they just have lots of work all the time as far as I can tell). 

For first years it was a New Testament Essay.  In New Testament we've been studying Mark, Ephesians and 1 Peter, so the essay topics cover things from these books of the Bible.  The topic I chose comes from 1 Peter.  The question was about the resurrection and I chose it because I often forget about the resurrection when I think about an outline to the gospel, I don't really understand it's full significance and I wanted to understand the resurrection better. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Love your neighbour

This weekend just been, someone told me that she really liked the honesty in my last post, so here goes with a new one. 

In some ways, loving the physical neighbours my husband and I have is really easy and quite a joy.  We live in a community of other students from college and there’s so many ways that we love and support each other.  We share meals, pray together, drive in to college together, pick each other up from the airport (thanks so much to those who did this for us this weekend!).  It’s (mostly) easy to love Christians and I absolutely love living in our community. 

But if we love only those who love us, that doesn’t say much.  It is good for Christians to love each other, as this is an example to the world (John 13:35), but that’s not enough. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Meet a stranger

One of my subjects at college this semester is called 'Understanding Buddhism and Islam'.  As part of this subject we have to have two conversations with a Muslim or a Buddhist to talk about their beliefs.

I do not want to do this.  Meeting new people is nerve-wracking enough for me even when they're Christian.  It's not so bad when you're put in a situation together and you're forced to meet, like get-to-know-you time at church or group discussions in class.  You know that the people around you are expecting to have a conversation.  Or even when you're only semi-forced, like sitting next to someone in a lecture.  You're both already in the situation, they're right there, you just have to start talking.

But when you have to find someone to talk to; approach them when they're not looking for or asking for a conversation, that's when it's scary.

Starting this kind of conversation terrifies me.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Who do I write for?

I recently read a blog post where the author questioned who she should be writing for.  Was it her readers?  Or herself?  She didn’t want to write things that her readers would find boring, so she found herself holding back a bit from things that she really did want to write about. 

Other bloggers encouraged her to write for herself.  It’s her blog after all, and if she doesn’t write what she wants to write about it becomes impassionate and not honest. 

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Thinking about Glory

The talks at first year weekend away were on the topic of glory.  Rather than simply report on what was talked about, I’ll reflect on the things that struck me and my responses. 

Glory is a tricky word to try and pin down.  What does God’s glory look like?  What does it mean?  Before these talks I might have said something vague about God’s greatness and how I would be awestruck to see his glory.  There would also be this vague idea of shining or glowing…

Sunday, 28 April 2013

A view of a river

We just got back from first year weekend away.  It was held at a conference site just out of Nowra on the Shoalhaven river, roughly a two hour drive from Sydney (though of course Sydney is so large that it really depends on where in Sydney you're coming from).

We got there very late on Friday night so it was dark and the view was hidden from sight.  This is what I woke up to the next morning!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Angels in a chapel

Today we had women's chapel in Cash Chapel.  It’s a little chapel across the road from college, built in memorial for a young man who died in the war.

Monday, 22 April 2013

A trip to the mountains

We decided to go away for a couple of nights to the Blue Mountains during our one week of holidays.  It was a great way for us to relax and not do any work (well we only took our languages study with us), and it’s only in hindsight that I’ve realised how good it was for us go away. 

The day we arrived was cold, wet and misty; the perfect winter’s day to curl up indoors with a blanket.  We were staying near the Three Sisters (rock formation), and we wondered if we’d get a chance to see them at all through the fog that was surrounding us.  Thankfully it cleared up the next day when we went for a walk. 

We did a couple of walks to waterfalls and a lot of op-shopping.  I finally found the fourth and final book in a fantasy series I have.  I’ve been looking for it in op-shops for a few years now and I saw it in two shops there!

There’s not much more to tell so here are a few pictures instead.  There may be more to come later.  (Hover over them for descriptions)
 The cascades

Us at the top of the waterfall, obscuring the lovely view behind us      He wasn't actually bored, I promise!







Much more impressive in real life

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Getting to know friends

We had some friends, a couple from college, over for dinner last night.  We wanted to get to know them a bit better and we've found in the past that spending time together outside of your usual context can be helpful for this. 

After dinner we played some games (a card game called 'Munchkin' and a board game called 'Smallworld' if anyone is interested).  We love games so it was great to have another couple to play with.  We've got a number of friends in Adelaide who we play games with, and different games with different friends, so we were really excited to find out that these college friends were into board games (particularly the ones we would call nerdy games). 

I think there's something about playing games that helps bring people out of their shells a bit.  We express ourselves more readily because we get involved in the game, and we feel less self-conscious.  At least that's how I feel.  Certainly as one person opens up, relaxes and feels safe to express themselves, they unconsciously give others permission to do the same.  

We like playing games to get to know people.  Do you have things you like to do with guests, or things you do to get to know people better?

Friday, 19 April 2013

What's in a name?

I spent a long time trying to think of a name for this blog.  In some ways I just wanted to get to it and start writing, but I didn't feel like it was worth writing anything until I had a name to make starting at all worthwhile. 

I wanted something that either described what I would be writing about, or described me (in a non-corny way).  I knew I wouldn't be in this stage of life, being a student, forever so I didn't want the name of the blog to lock me into that, though in some ways I will be a student my whole life, as a student of God's word. 

I ended up with "Reflections of a Lamb" because I've grown up knowing that my name means 'lamb of God'.  When I looked it up on the internet I was told that Rachelle (a French name) means 'lamb'.  Rachel (the Hebrew origin of my name) actually means 'ewe', but that's close enough to 'lamb' for me.

I also want to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is my shepherd, he calls himself the Good Shepherd in John chapter 10, and I am his sheep wanting to hear his voice and follow his commands. 

My reflections will be about what I've been doing, but most importantly to me, they will be about being a lamb of the Good Shepherd, Jesus.

The Beginning of Blogging

Here I am, I've started a blog!

I've been thinking about doing this for a while now, pretty much since we decided to move interstate for Bible college.  But I've been shy of doing it because I thought I'd be too busy or wouldn't have enough to say.  I want this blog to be a way of letting friends and family know what I am doing, learning and thinking.  I also thought it might become part of my study process to summarise what we've been learning at college.  I got some encouragement that friends and family would be interested in reading this sort of thing (or at least my mum will!) so I started to get a bit more excited about the idea. 

Now, in our mid-semester break I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go.  I'd love it if you'd read and come along side me in my journey.