Tag Archives: friends

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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Endings

In 2008, Matthew, myself and our friend Yi started a Sunday afternoon international bible study at our church. Yesterday our group met for the last time. We finished reading Acts, we celebrated Tao’s recent engagement, we prayed for each other and sent each other off to our new ministries.

After 5 years, almost 50 different people from at least 10 different countries and many, many books of the bible, our group finally reached the stage where it was time to shut down. There are now enough Mandarin speakers in the church to sustain two Chinese bible study groups (praise God!), and at present no-one else needing an ESL group (please, God, help us to welcome more people from other language communities!).

Finishing up was the right thing to do; it feels appropriate to free up our friends to lead others in their mother-tongue. But I also feel very sad. Sure, it was hard work. It was difficult to have people constantly coming and going, and the weeks that no-one turned up were the hardest of all. But even as people came and went I always enjoyed gathering around God’s word with people from around the world. I learned new and surprising things I had never considered before. I got to read the bible with people who had never opened it before. How devastating to think that it’s over now!

I praise God for all the people who helped us to get the group off the ground, supported us and helped us to lead it over the years: for Yi, Katrina, Toby, Brice, Jason, Dan, Leo, Ryan, Tao and Jan. And for all the others who came through and blessed us with their insights, company and friendship: for Juan, Sunny, Pablo, Jian, Michelle, Allen, Alice, Lulu, Lin, Forest, Irina, Jin, Emily, Andy, Deepak, Fifi, Adrian, Sashi, Benny, Cam, Jonathan, Julia, Ivy, Jennifer, Myung Sook, Vanessa, Oscar, Heyley, and many other friends of friends who dropped in for a week or two.

Nostalgia in picture form, under the cut

This weekend:

Thanks to my boss for a generous half-day off this weekend started on Friday. It’s been a wonderfully relaxing weekend, filled with just the right blend of alone/people time, indoors/outdoors time and productive/lazy time:

Sitting on the floor of Saz’s living room rocking her beautiful daughter to sleep after her first fever.
Meandering about the backstreets of Newtown and eating gelato with Matt.
Trying out new recipes, relearning to knit, catching up on Arrested Development and dancing to Relient K with Fiona.
Impromptu trip to the Eveleigh markets with the Dunks.
Book club with the book-clubbing crew complete with delicious lunch, new insights into J.D. Salinger and Luci and Dave skyping in from their new home in Texas.
Following up high brow conversations about J.D. Salinger with sneaky readings of Jane Austen fan fiction when I get home a couple of hours later.
Cleaning up the garden in anticipation of spring.
Unpacking our fruit and veg box and cooking zucchini yemistes for dinner.
Two bottles of cider.
All Sunday morning to myself to clean, chill and dance around the house to my favourite songs.

Now to see how the rest of Sunday pans out. I am looking forward to next week after such a lovely weekend!

Cranford Day

Matt was a groomsmen at the wedding of two wonderful friends today. I spent the morning on my own as Matt got ready, watching the end of the Cranford miniseries to while away the time. I teared up a little as the story drew to a close. It’s such a beautiful story. I love the way it ends with such a tight knit community coming together to celebrate weddings and betrothals and the return of friends from distant countries.

As I got ready for today’s wedding I realized that today was my own little version of Cranford. I’ve been looking forward to June 29 for a long time. Admittedly, two friends were moving to America which was not really a cause for celebration, but there were two weddings planned. Two pairs of great friends I’ve known for a long time, including two people I’ve known since I was thirteen, were getting married (they weren’t marrying each other, though). To add to the joy, my wonderful and beloved friend Fiona was coming home after being in Cambodia for half a year. It was my friend Richard’s birthday. And, to add even more joy, I found out yesterday that two other great friends had just got engaged. So many things to celebrate on just one day!

The two weddings were amazing collections of nearly all the little communities I belong to, outside of my family. I wish I could have cloned myself so that I could have been at both. At Dan and Mel’s wedding, where I couldn’t be, my church family were joined by some old uni friends from the evangelical union and friends from high school. At Mick and Kat’s wedding I got to watch Matt as a groomsman escorting one of my best friends as a bridesmaid. I celebrated with other evangelical union friends, as well as newer friends from college, and all the old friendly faces from Narwee Baptist Church – those girls who loved me and included me when I turned up to their youth group sporadically all those years ago. To think that so many of my dear friends from so many places were gathering to celebrate these weddings across Sydney filled my heart with so much joy! And then to think that Fiona was home, being reunited with her family! It really was just like the end of Cranford. I praise God for all these friends, many of them brothers and sisters in Christ. I love that we don’t only get these moments now, we’ll get to keep celebrating into all of eternity with the Lord, the true bridegroom.

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the LORD has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the LORD; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Isaiah 25:6-9

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Ninety Nine

We’ve been living in Newtown for nearly three weeks now and it’s starting to feel like home.

There are so many nice things about living here. I love that we have a garden, which I’m hoping to get in order before the end of the summer. I love that our hot water works all the time. I love that the kitchen is big enough to fit multiple people at once. I love that I can walk to work. I love the smell of Thai food wafting over our fence every afternoon.

 photo Untitled-11_zps2bbd888d.jpgWaving at my front door. Carms took this one after visiting me last weekend

Even more than all those things I love that we live near so many wonderful friends. So many people are living near by to be close to their studies or to have a little taste of the Newtown lifestyle. Saz is living around the corner and my first ever college friend, Caz (yes, that is a funny coincidence that their nicknames rhyme) is living next door to her. Richard and Ali live a few blocks away; Luci and Dave live in the next suburb (very close to Celia and James). Yi and Brice, Jamie and Steph, Caitlin and her fun-time housemates are in the other next suburb. The Moore College single men’s and women’s residences, just a hundred metres away, are filled with tonnes of old friends from uni days and new friends from college. Matt regularly brings friends back after class to study and chill. It’s almost impossible to go the day without spontaneously visiting someone or receiving a surprise visit. It’s not awesome for efficiency, but it’s pretty wonderful for community.

I think I’m really going to like living here!

Pictures of Ninety Nine under the cut

Endings and beginnings

At 5:30pm on Friday I rolled out of the Anglicare driveway for the last time, with my car full of flowers, canisters of tea and the contents of my desk. John, the best supervisor in the universe, was waving me goodbye and I had all the saddest songs I know playing in my head.

Finishing up at Anglicare was a bizarre feeling. I am excited about starting my new job in January, but it’s also really sad to leave Anglicare behind. I will miss the people, the work and the place. And on top of all that was the week-long adrenaline rush in the five days leading up to that moment. As the week rolled on it became increasingly apparent that I wasn’t going to wrap up all my projects as neatly as I thought. In between all the farewell conversations, coffee breaks and afternoon teas the work was so frantic it was difficult to process that it really was the end.

But it was the end. Friday came and went and suddenly there were too many emotions to process (“so many feels!”). I will miss being at Anglicare! Thanks to everyone there for making the last four years so rich and wonderful. Thanks for my wonderful Friday afternoon send off! Thanks for modelling Christ in manifold ways, in all your work!

Pictures from the final weeks