Tag Archives: family

Grace in the hospital

I have a friend, a faithful sister in Christ. She and her family are currently living in Australia while she studies. She has important research to do that will have a great impact on the welfare of people back home. Her highly capable husband took a job as a cleaner at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital to support the family while they are here. But he was too good at his job – he got promoted into a managerial position!

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I share this story because three weeks ago I gave birth to a daughter at his hospital, and even amid all the drama of delivering and caring for a newborn, my friend’s family stayed at the top of my mind. The thing is that our stay in hospital had a few unexpected twists and turns. I spent nearly a week there, I slept in three different wards, and I was cared for by countless midwives as my health – and Sophia’s health – jumped up and down over the course of a week. I spent time in all sorts of unhygienic places. On the floor. In the bathroom. Soaked in blood. Sometimes completely on my own.

It made a big difference to me to know that, behind the scenes, a team of cleaning staff were being managed by a kind and capable brother in Christ. God was keeping me safe in the hospital through the work of my friend’s husband. I prayed so many prayers of thanks for him!

The week I spent in RPA played out like an extended meditation on grace.

I spent days floored by God’s common grace. Hour after hour I saw God intervene and provide for us, not just through this unseen brother in Christ but through every midwife, consultant, doctor, cleaner and caterer that we met. I was tended to with care, I was encouraged and supported, I was nourished and kept clean. In the night my midwives checked in to make sure I was recovering. In the morning we awoke to glorious sunrises over Sydney. God is at work in his world, not just through his church, but through skylines, through hospital systems, even through people who deny his name. I left hospital praising God for the beautiful gifts he gives. What grace! To think he has given such wonderful things, even to a city where many people ridicule the name of his Son.

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But the week also played out as a meditation on saving grace. We have welcomed a new child into the world, an immortal soul. “You have to be born again,” I heard Matt whisper the words of John’s gospel to her in the hours after her birth. True life, life to the full, comes through Jesus alone! And this truth was made abundantly clear in the hospital too, on day six. A midwife came to check on me. As she took my blood pressure, she turned and asked me about what I did for work. When I told her I was a pastor at a church, her face lit up! She sat down on the bed and excitedly told me about how she and her husband had been baptised three months ago. She loves Jesus so much! She loves being part of his family! What a wonderful glimpse of joy and new life in the hospital. How wonderful of God to give such a gift to this woman!

I pray that our daughter finds this life and joy too. I pray that she grows up to call these people brothers and sisters. I pray that she becomes a person thankful for beautiful sunrises and good healthcare and the kindness of strangers. I pray that whether she works as an academic, a midwife, a manager or a cleaner, that her work will honour a beloved Father in heaven.

He is incredibly kind to us.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. 

James 1:17-18

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Advice from Yiayia

Last week my Yiayia gave me some advice – and it was advice that her Yiayia had given to her when she was a little girl!

“Remember: poor people buy expensive things and rich people buy cheap things.”

Yiayia was explaining why, one time when she needed to replace the lock on her gate, she used her savings to buy a high quality one so she wouldn’t have to replace it for a long time. I liked receiving this advice. It was a good reminder to use money wisely. But also it was pretty cool to get a piece of relevant advice second-hand from a great-great-yiayia who I’m guessing would be more than 120 years old if she was alive today. I felt like I had travelled in time.

Mothers Day

A couple of years ago my Aunty Alma took Grandma and Great Aunty Alma out to see one of the big cruise ships that had docked in Sydney Harbour. They had a great day and she took some of my favourite pictures of of these sisters together. So much joy! So much hand waving!

Grandma has beautiful hands. Both of these women were wonderful people, but I especially miss Grandma, and I wish I could hold her hands again.

Order of Australia

This Australia Day, my Dad won an award! Even more – he was accepted as a member of the Order of Australia, which as far as I can make out is like Australia’s chillaxed version of the British knighthood.

“Sir Frederick and Lady Wentworth! It would be but a new creation, however, and I never think much of your new creations.”
– Mary Musgrove, Persuasion, Chapter 9

Haha! I had that quote in my head all day after I found out!

In all seriousness I am very proud of my Dad. I think I had the most memorable Australia Day celebrating with him, both at the local council ceremony where he was given his award for local citizenship, and at the big party my mum threw for him afterwards. My Dad works really hard, it was very special to see him recognised. He is going to have a great time when the Governor (General?) gives him whatever he gets to acknowledge his Order of Australia membership later in the year!

 photo Dadaward_zpsf40c9ecc.jpgThat’s my Dad, getting an award 🙂

The day was also memorable for opening up two new experiences for me:
1. My first ever citizenship ceremony.
2. My first party almost exclusively attended by agnostic and atheist 50+ year olds since I starting working in Christian ministry.

So, along with overwhelming feelings of pride in my Dad and sharing his joy, my head was also abuzz with 500 other thoughts:
– What does it mean to Australian when everyone is disagreeing over indigenous history and migration policy?
– How do Liberal party members manage to sing the second verse of the national anthem with any integrity?
– If I was making a bingo sheet to take to a future citizenship ceremonies and awards ceremonies, what politically contested buzz words would I include?
(my list so far includes: ‘contribution’, ‘celebration’, ‘invasion’, ‘survival’, ‘migrant’, ‘heritage’, ‘volunteer’, ‘founded in 1788′, ’50 000 years’.)
– What on earth is the deal with Baby Boomer spirituality? They all seem to be believe in some kind of weak-but-still-spiritual pluralism that I have never encountered in anyone outside of their age cohort. They also all seem to assume that everyone else thinks the same way they do.
– Will Baby Boomers ever understand that Gen Y and those coming after them will never be able to purchase homes close to the Sydney CBD?

Lots of things to chew over, lots of difficult questions. Maybe I’ll tackle the easy one first and work on my bingo list for next year.

Family Christmas

My little brother is flying to America this week to follow his new girlfriend home and spend Christmas with her. We had a partial family Christmas celebration to make up for missing Christmas Day with him.

I really love my family. I know that all families have their difficulties but, amazingly, Christmas is always a really wonderful and positive time with my family. It’s a huge blessing, which I am increasingly thankful for with each passing year. This year’s partial family Christmas was no exception. We ate so much food, we played Ticket to Ride for the first time as a family, PK joked until my eyes watered with laughter and we wore ridiculous Christmas hats. As per normal we waited for about fifteen minutes for Mum and Dad to potter around before we could give PK and Maddie their presents.

The whole evening was a beautiful foretaste of the weeks to come, although of course PK will be sorely missed, especially the way he makes us laugh! I’ll have to imagine him making snow angels somewhere in Illinois and entertaining another family on Christmas Day.

Five great things about the weekend that was

One
Our friends Iain and Sylvia got married on Friday afternoon. It was a beautiful wedding and I got to see some very old familiar faces – Matt’s old EU cohort, some of my EU cohort, some of the PLC girls I used to go to church with (I forgot Sylvia went to school there!), and even one old Livejournal/CC.net friend looking very spiffy as a groomsman! It was a wonderful evening.

Two
The morning and afternoon of Saturday were blocked out for working on my essay. It was surprisingly productive and fun. I was able to actually make use of our extensive library (“Matt, where are our books on culture and mission?”), standing in front of our many book cases and browsing, just as though I was at Fisher. Except I didn’t need a library card!

Three
Catching the Sydney’s first football (soccer) home game with Matt’s Dad and littlest brother. It was a loss, but in the end we won because we somehow beat all the traffic home and also had late night pizza run. Family win!

Four
Headed off early on Sunday morning to pick up my fruit box and ended up having an impromptu breakfast with more lovely friends – Blake, Sarah and Herbie. A wonderful start to the day.

Five
A new bible study series at our fellowship group on the Sermon on the Mount began with some discussions about our own cultural values and attitudes. At the moment our group has people from four different countries (China, Colombia, Iran and Australia); often there were more than four different takes on the topics we covered – things like revenge, symbolism, criminal activity, promise-making and what it means to be fortunate. It’ll be really interesting to read this part of the bible together!

Five great pictures of the weekend that was