Humble Home, Shining Palace

18 08 2013

I just finished reading the C.S. Lewis classic “Mere Christianity”. A fantastic book for those of you who haven’t read it. Answers a lot of questions about the Christian faith. I know, you’re probably thinking, you went to Calvin College and you’re just now reading that classic? Well, what can I say? It got tucked away on my shelf and now I have the time to read!

Near the end of the book, he writes about the transformation of a person when they give God ALL. We can’t just give Him a little bit – that’s harder in the long run anyway. But if we let Him, He will begin to change us, rebuild us, transform us. And we may think its like a renovation project, if we were a living house. (An image Lewis got from George MacDonald) He’ll fix the leaky pipes, fill the holes in the wall, put in a few new windows. That sort of thing. But when He starts to work in us, and He begins to tear down walls, gut the basement, replace the flooring, adding wings and courtyards etc, we may get a little nervous or be a bit surprised. It may hurt. But the reality is, when we thought he was just renovating us into a new home, He’s actually building a palace. Why? Because He wants to dwell there. He wants to live in us. And He is King, after all.

All this I’m thinking about while settling in to my new, humble home here in Surrey, B.C. I have the blessing of renting a basement suite in the home of a delightful, wonderful family from my new church. They are probably the friendliest landlords a person could ask for, so much that they don’t even feel like landlords. And the gardens. Look and smell amazing! I get to walk through the backyard every day to get to my door, and it is just lovely. The morning sun streams in my windows each day…yes, SUN. In Vancouver. I know! I’m soaking it in as much as I can:)

And my job. My reason for moving here…you’re probably wondering what it is or how it’s going. Just two short weeks ago I began working at Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church as their Youth Pastor. It was a wobbly start when I first arrived, due to jet lag, traveling tiredness, and the overwhelming realization that this would now be my home. But it took only a few days (the long weekend definitely helped!) before this began to feel like home, I found some kind of routine in my work & life, and I can now safely say that I am content, and right where God wants me to be. Which is saying something, being that I’ve moved or traveled every four to six months for the last five years! The work is going well. I’m meeting the teens. Getting to know their families. Enjoying being in a fun office environment. Making plans for the coming year. Seeking God’s direction for the youth ministry at this church!

A humble home and beginning here in Surrey. And through it all He’s growing me into more of who He created me to be, building me step by step into a shining palace where He may dwell. How is your palace looking like these days?





A Favourite Place on Earth?

16 05 2013

Some people have a favourite place on earth. Maybe it’s their childhood home, a popular resort vacation spot, or a bustling European city. I don’t have one favourite place…I have like, ten 🙂 I was asked recently what my favourite place in Australia has been. That is an incredible difficult question! I answered with my top three, and even that was difficult, but here goes. In no particular order, my favourite places are: the top of Cradle Mountain, Federation Square in Melbourne, and the coastal trail in Noosa National Park. Each of these places are quite unique. From rocky wilderness to a bustling city square to sparkling ocean views, this is an incredible country! I have been incredibly blessed to be able to explore this place for the last four months. It has been a slow whirlwind trip, an experience I will never forget. It has been one which has taught me much about myself, this world, other people, and the God who made us. I feel different from the person who arrived here four months ago. Not that I’ve changed incredibly much; I still am who I am. Because even though I do think people change, the core of our being — who we are– doesn’t ever change because we’re meant to be who God made us to be. It’s interesting to think about birth and growth as humans. I don’t mean physical growth, but it’s like God makes us each as individuals, yet it is clear that we are not intended to remain just as we are. We are created with potential; each of us has room, so to speak, for growth in our lives. And this is not to say that we were created imperfectly, just potentially, I guess. And that growing never stops, not until we are united with our Maker and spending eternity with our Lord. Wow. Life is a journey, they say, and I would agree. It’s exciting to think that it is a journey toward perfection and eternity.

 
How is that for the rambling thoughts of an ever-growing traveller?
 
Let the journey continue. 
 
Even though I have left Australia today, I’m not coming home just yet. I have the opportunity to do a bit of a tour through a few states first to visit some lovely people, first in California, followed by Ohio and then Michigan. After travelling for four months and always being on the go, I wasn’t looking forward to settling somewhere quite yet so I’m delaying that for another month:) I think after five months though, the sound of home will be very sweet.
 
p.s. I’ve included some photos below of the highlights and favourite spots along the east coast.




Sydney Opera House

16 05 2013

Sydney Opera House

Here again. The view from the Harbour Bridge.





The Lighthouse

16 05 2013

The Lighthouse

This 1901 lighthouse in Byron Bay is a popular spot for evening hikers who are rewarded with an incredible view of the sunset at the top!





Noosa

16 05 2013

Noosa

This was one of my favourite stops along the east coast. Noosa was a holiday town with beautiful beaches and an incredible national park.





Carlo Sandblow

16 05 2013

Carlo Sandblow

This is me standing out on a wide expanse of sand known as Carlo Sandblow, in the town of Rainbow Beach, Queensland. I loved this town, and the sandblow was amazing! Watched the sunset from here one night. Incredible.





A time for everything

5 05 2013
With only ten days left in this land of sunshine and beauty, I figured it was time I wrote an update for those of you who may have been wondering what I’ve been up to these last few weeks. Sorry it’s been so long.
 
Apple season in Tasmania came to a sudden halt mid-April when we showed up for work one day and they told us that the next day would be our last day since there were no apples left to pick. So I then had to scramble to put together a plan for what would be next. I booked a flight back to the mainland, to Melbourne, where I had been living previously, and decided to say hello and reconnect with a few friends there. But before I left Devonport, some friends and I made a day trip to Cradle Mountain where we did a 13 km, 6 hour hike to the summit. The view was breath-taking. An awesome way to say goodbye to Tasmania, now one of my favourite places on earth. I spent one last weekend in Devonport cherishing each moment with the dear friends I made there, going to church one last time, having a few dinners with the families that loved and gave so much to me in my 4 1/2 weeks in Devonport, and praising God for all His incredible blessings. 
 
Goodbyes are never easy but they are made easier when you get to say hello to lovely people on the other end of your journey.  So, Melbourne. It was great to be back! It felt like coming home thanks to the generous hospitality of my host family there. In my few days there I made some plans. I toyed with the idea of finding work for my last few weeks since money was running low but realized that wouldn’t work in such a short time. After a small series of unfortunate events involving a 40 minute delayed train, my plans to travel the Great Ocean Road –one of the highlights of Victoria–got turned upside down and I had to stay an extra night in Melbourne before catching a direct train on to Adelaide in South Australia. So I missed the Great Ocean Road altogether which was a bit sad. However, on the eleven hour train ride I sat next to a lovely Dutch lady and we quickly became friends despite our twenty year age difference.
 
When I arrived in Adelaide on a Thursday evening, I stayed for one night with a nice Christian couple that I had met previously in Hobart, and they introduced me to Adelaide. I spent the weekend in a hostel and got to explore the city, meet up with some nice friends, and went on a thirty kilometre bike ride to the beach. It was also in Adelaide that I made the rest of my plans for my last three weeks in Australia. Actually, I had the help of a popular backpackers travel company called PeterPans travel where a friendly guy named Alex made all kinds of suggestions for a speedy two week trip down the east coast of Australia. He made me realize that it is possible to travel 3000 kilometres in two weeks, and on a tight budget, too! So with bus, accommodation, and tours booked, I hopped on a flight to Cairns in northern Queensland, the sunshine state. Sunshine state indeed! 
 
Cairns was hot, hot, hot! There I made a day trip to the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation and spent a day on the beach with some people from the hostel. By the way, I forgot to mention that for the first week of my trip I travelled with a girl I met in Adelaide who also wanted to see the east coast. After Cairns we visited Mission Beach where we stayed at this awesome hostel in the rainforest. We did a bit of beach bumming and some hiking as well. Then we hopped on the bus to Airlie Beach, the gateway to the famous Whitsundays Islands. I had the most amazing plate of fish and chips that I’ve ever had in Airlie Beach. The next morning we began our Whitsundays adventure on a two day, two night catamaran trip where we snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef, explored Whitehaven Beach, and socialized with the other travellers on board. The coral and fish were incredible to see. Seeing “Rainbow fish” (from one of my favourite kids books) in real life was an experience I’m not soon to forget.
 
I said goodbye to my travel companion in Airlie Beach (but I still had one other companion that we picked up along the way for a few more days) and continued on to spend two days in Rainbow Beach which is famous for its coloured sandy cliffs and Carlo Sandblow which is just a massive amount of sand..it’s so hard to describe, but trust me, your jaw will drop. After Rainbow, back on my own again, I spent two days in Noosa, a popular holiday town with lots of opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and hiking through Noosa National Park. I took the free option and did some hiking along the coast to Sunshine Beach and took in two very beautiful sunsets in the evening.
 
And now I’m back on a bus, on my way to Brisbane. After so many days of nature, beaches, and national parks, I’m looking forward to exploring a bigger city! Two days in Brisbane will be followed by two days in Byron Bay for some more hiking and beach bumming before catching an overnight, 14 hour bus trip back to Sydney where I started four months ago!
 
I will leave it at that for now for the sake of those of you with short attention spans:)  Perhaps I will write a more reflective post in a few days, because I have definitely been doing lots of reflecting these last few days with the end in sight. There is a time for everything, isn’t there?
 
Be blessed, friends. Sending you my love from sunny Australia.