Saturday, June 30, 2012

What comes next:

My imagination has decided that the end of one thing definitely means the beginning of several others. Quite suddenly I am buzzing with project ideas. I want to spring clean. I want to clear out my walk-in-wardrobe and convert part of it into a linen shelf so that my little pantry cupboard can actually house food rather than towels and tablecloths. I want to set up a shop on ebay and sell the clothes I love but haven't worn in a while. I want to pack up bundles of my favourite books and leave them hidden in public places with a note telling some stranger to enjoy the stories. I want to finish all the half-read books on my bookshelf. I want to get back into art lessons with my little brother. I want to get the Pentax fixed and go on a film-shooting spree. I want to start new journals and new writing projects. I want to open a cafe that's open till late at night and people can bring their homework or their girlfriends or their grandpa or their guitars and sit, surrounded by books and freshly-baked muffins. I'd like to do all of the above -- tomorrow, if possible.

Most of this list -- leaving aside the glorious book cafe -- might actually happen someday, but none of those things are likely to happen tomorrow. Because life quickly establishes its own full-to-the-brim rhythm. Before a gap opens up, something else comes to fill the not-yet-empty place. I often bemoan this fact, the sense that there is never time to stop and breathe after one thing before the next race begins. Really though, I'm thankful for it. It's healthy and life-giving to have a sense of purpose, even a small purpose that's only a part of the jigsaw puzzle that is the greater, overarching purpose.

I floundered for a while wondering what would happen post-degree. What about continuing study? What about money? I think I gave myself extra grey hairs overthinking everything. And then of course, things happened in such a landslide that I was left looking sheepish over my own doubt. Within the space of two weeks, I got accepted into the Master's program I'd been hoping to study, I was offered a challenging but right-down-my-alley part time job, and I sold a story! I could almost see God with hands on hips (suddenly it seems irreverent to imagine God standing there hands on hips; does He even have hips?), saying, "Seriously, you assumed I'd forgotten about you?"

So that's what comes next for me. I've got two weeks of work -- teaching English and history privately to two teens and two pre-teens -- under my belt, and I'm one week into an MA in writing. I'm enrolled in some great classes and I have masses of amazing related reading to dive into. In other words I'm blessed, even though I'm a wimp and oh so good at freaking out.

What comes next for you?

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The lovely folk at PocketChange included the old blog in their Best of the Web roundup, which is pretty sweet of them! Be sure to check it out; I've been lurking the Best of the Web posts and found some lovely new blogs to explore and enjoy.

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Rebecca Simon -- thanks, sweet lady!

Caitlin - Crafty Crackpot -- thank you, Caitlin! And I totally agree: my family is definitely so cool. And please don't consider yourself slack in the letter-writing department. Your supposed slackness doesn't even appear on the graph when contrasted with my intense slackness!

Katie -- those little white paws are surprisingly good at shoulder massages. :D

Andrea -- I still wish you could've been there, too :). [And glad you like the slightly tweaked layout]

Domesticwarriorgoddess -- thank you, lovely Charis.

Cara -- I think unpacking is sometimes more overwhelming than packing! Good luck with it. I look forward to hearing more when you have a chance... and I need to update you with lots of things!

Rach -- thanks for the tag! <3

Amanda -- yes indeed you MUST have a little party.

Meaghan -- love you. xx

HarrietCoombe -- thank you, lovely. I love you. x

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Project 52: fifty-one

It's an internet cliche, but I can't help it: here, have a picture of a kitten.

PS. Next week is the last of the Project 52 pictures! I'm already cooking up my next weekly (or thereabouts) project. This time it'll be more to do with words than photos, but you know I can't blog without pictures, so there'll still be plenty of those around. Oh, and speaking of pictures, some happy snaps from the lovely end-of-uni party my family threw are over at my tumblr.

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Carla & Alastair -- "thefeeling'smutual,darling,thefeeling'smutual."

Lauren -- it's easy when I'm writing about a cool thing :).

Laura Elizabeth -- We missed your lovely presence but there will be other times! <3 

Abbie -- thank you so much, lovely friend!

Andrea -- yes, it really was :D

Meaghan -- the feeling sunk in and then fled! But I'm looking forward to tidying my papers and packing some of my stuff away.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Over at twitter, I may or may not have promised that, upon handing in the last assignment of my degree, I would breathe out a sigh of relief so hearty that gale force winds would happen somewhere. Now, today, Friday-the day-of-the-handing-in-of-final-assignments feels so long ago that I can't remember whether I sighed or not. Tell me if there was a cyclone near you and maybe that'll jog my memory. But just sitting down right now to write, here in this very moment, well... there was definitely some relieved lung work happening. I've finished my degree. I've finished my degree! And while I know there is nothing extraordinary in this, that many many people have done and will do this very thing, it's a nice feeling to finish something, especially a something that's taken three and a half years. There's always going to be emotion at the end of a good journey. After all, I'm a girl. Permit me this.

I'd like to wax lyrical about all that I've learnt during this time, what studying has taught me, how it's changed the way I approach my writing life, whether the debt I currently owe the Australian government is worth it or not, and other similar lines of thought. And maybe I will write that post soon. Instead, though, I'm feeling emotional and gratitudey* about the way that my family (and especially my mum) actually care about this small destination reached -- how they've never laughed at me for caring more about words than about a "normal" career -- how they've accomodated the self-centred aspects of student life that call for bouts of anti-social hermiting and a strong focus on due dates -- how they've read my work and encouraged me and waited for grades almost as eagerly as I have.

I'm very conscious that this kind of support is no small thing. Some families laugh at their creative offspring. Some judge and criticise and tease. Some just don't care all that much. And certainly some would never decide to randomly throw together a practically-spur-of-the-moment outdoor uni-finishing party, complete with homemade chicken satay kebabs, paper lanterns, and cheesecake. Most mums and sisters wouldn't plot a little guest list and menu without informing the student sister so as not to add anything else to her plate. Most brothers wouldn't fly themselves and their lovely lady friend up from New South Wales to surprise the sister for said spur-of-the-moment party. Most dads wouldn't stand barbecuing for hours for a bunch of his daughter's friends, many of whom he's never met.

So thank you, family. I love you.

PS. The flowers are from my grandparents.<3

*grateful would've made more sense. Creative writing degree, you say? Grasp on the English language, you say? Poohoo!

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Abbie -- you're the encouragement! Thank you.

Andrea -- do you feel like, by doing the photo challenge, you've also learnt more about your camera? It's a pretty cool way to be thrown in at the deep end.

Carla and Alastair -- yep, that was me! May not have a green thumb, but I occasionally have green fingernails :). PS. Thank you for your prayers! Sometimes it's hard being a human, isn't it?

Hannah -- goodness, yes. Let's be kids foreverrrr! Your day-to-day approach is so wise. Thank you for sharing that. xx

Lauren -- this is definitely related to our chat. Brain-twins -- even when we don't particularly want to be.

Rebecca Simon -- aw, hugs! Prayers right back at you!

Meaghan -- Dory's advice always rings true. xx

Joy -- absolutely! And His feet is the place where our burdens need to go.

Samantha R -- yes yes yes!

Laura Elizabeth -- I'm sad you've been in an anxious place, too, but loving what you've learnt while you're there. That's awesome -- and I loved that link :D. xx

Monday, June 18, 2012

Inhale, exhale.

I used to think I was made for intense seasons. For the five years my family ran a quilt store and cafe, I revelled in a packed schedule. Even when it freaked me out, I kind of relished the challenge of adding 'just one more thing' when it seemed there wasn't room for even half of one more thing. That was me, back then. So the question I'm asking now is: where on earth did that person go?

The last month has been a steady trickle of just-one-more things. Uni things. Finance things. Health things. Brain things. Heart things. Daily life things. Future things. Wondering things. And I've turned into one big Anxious Thing. I should probably mention here that before I was the girl who revelled in the packed schedule, I was the girl who lived in the terror zone. I guess you could call it my special gift -- an unwanted gift, but one in which I particularly excelled. My special skill peaked in my teen years, during which time I really hit the fear zone. It was a time I don't look back on with fondness -- it was pretty crippling, actually -- but it taught me some good things, mostly about how it's not who I am, but who I am in Christ that matters. And that sounds like a pat phrase, but it's really not.

I thought all that stuff was in my backstory, though. Then KABOOM, it suddenly catapulted itself into my present. Whew. Just as ugly and paralysing as it was back when I was seventeen only, like, now. Yuck. Yuck and yuck. And it seems petty and weak because there are people with infinitely huger things going on in their worlds, as well as some very good things going on in my own world (and I promise to tell you about those things), but of course none of that makes sense to a brain when it's on the fritz. Logic puts on its cloak of invisibility.

In the middle of it all, though, and just like back in my teens, this season has sent me running back to the shelter that is true. The truth doesn't take away pain, but it reminds me that it's bearable, that it's for some good reason, and that there is Someone who has promised to keep me within His love. Man, I can't express enough how good that is.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. Psalm 103:2-4

Project 52: forty-eight, forty-nine, and fifty

48: bits and pieces from the Housie; 49: argh! 50: everlasting gobstopper!

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Wow -- so many comments! Thank you for sharing in the appreciation for that amazing hero whose name we don't even know.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hero in a faded blue singlet.

When he was about three years old, my littlest brother Tain somehow got through our five-foot fence and started weaving across the New England Highway, pushing his little wooden cart between the steady stream of B-doubles and semi-trailers that came roaring down the bitumen at 110 kilometres an hour.

The first we knew of it was in the screech of swerving vehicles and the long, loud air horns of the big trucks. We raced from all the corners of our house, out of the gate and onto the highway, my mother, my sisters, my brother, and me. But Tain was away up the road and innocently unaware of the sickening danger. We knew we couldn’t get to him in time. My mother was already crying. And when she saw the next semi barrelling down the highway towards him, she couldn’t look. She turned away, covering her face with her hands.

Then a crazy thing happened. Someone ahead of the semi – a man travelling in a white ute – leapt out of the driver’s seat with the engine still running. His passenger had to lean across to take the wheel and steer the ute to the verge. Meanwhile this man, a tattooed stranger in a faded navy singlet, darted across the highway and through the traffic to my little brother. He snatched Tain up in his arms and held him there in the middle of the road while the whole cavalcade of death machines swerved and sped past. When he delivered Tain – smiling, chirping, oblivious Tain – to my near-hysterical mother, he told us he’d seen the small figure crossing the highway from way back. “I started screaming at the trucks to stop,” he said breathlessly, “only they couldn’t hear me. I knew the kid was gonna take a hit, and I thought: I can take a bigger hit than the kid. I just had to get to him.”

That was more than ten years ago, and I still haven’t found the words to accurately respond to that. In the form of a burly ute-driver with tattoos, Tain bumped up against amazing grace that day.

This Flashback Friday post is a snippet stolen from an essay I handed in for school today.

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Amanda -- birthdays are never as amazing as I want them to be for the excellent people in my life, but I hope Mum had fun :D

Brenda Wilkerson -- it's very cool to have a mum who is also my great friend. I'm aware that it's a rare blessing!

Daphne -- hear, hear!

Andrea -- :D

Mothercare -- <3

Samantha R -- yay! Great mums are just the best.

Rebecca Simon -- don't you wish it was easier to say those potentially sappy things?

Andrea again -- I UPDATE NAOW OKZ??

Friday, June 1, 2012

Everyday goodness:

Mothers and how we feel about them might just be one of the hardest things to capture in words. It's certainly so for me. I mean, I knew my mother before I knew God. That's a pretty big deal.

She's been there always. She is there, always. Mum listens to the things that I am too scared, too worried, too goofy, or too ashamed to tell other people. She says 'yes' to people who need help. She is creative, fun, intense, and has a green thumb that none of her kids seem to have inherited. She is a strong individual who nevertheless supports her husband and builds her life with his. She has lived in like a million and a half places and somehow managed to make each one into a home.

Basically, the world didn't know just how much good it was in for when a squalling little baby arrived on the second of June, 19... something or other. Happy birthday, Mum.

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Carla and Alastair -- you know me. My desk isn't complete without a dead fish hanging round somewhere...

Katie -- it is SUPER cute.

Abbie -- you're right; she is lots of fun. Today Mum got back to some of her work at the computer to find the kitten had added four whole pages of text :D.

Caitlin -- you should get one! Kittens for all the world! :D Love you. xx

Andrea -- and here's another one! Wonders will never cease.

Cara -- aw, kitten love!! Two and a half weeks? They must be teeny! (and I owe you an epic email!)

Lauren -- someday, Abby, this technology will exist.

thelittlebluefishy -- yay! I'm glad you liked the pics :D. I don't know if I'm a glutton for punishment or not but I do love studying. I do not love it when it feels like it's my whole life, though :P.

Sarah -- aw, I can imagine Gracie would love a kitten. Do you think she'll ever get one? I hope your studies are going great. Are you nearing semester's end -- and all that busy essay-writing that comes with it?

Meaghan -- ;)

Amanda -- we think so too :D
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