Friday, 29 January 2016

May this home be firmly built upon faith

We have spent these past summer holidays in some beautiful parts of Australia with people that we love dearly.  Now we are firmly deposited back home in Roma and I must admit I sometimes ponder why we love living here so much, and a lot of people ask us often 'Gawd ... why on earth do you live in Roma' {grimmace face}?  

It is remote for us (I don't think we have another blood relative within about 800kms and it is hot a lot of the time, really hot and dry.  Our garden has a lot of fleabane weed which is proving near impossible to kill, we have planted hundreds of trees which take ages to grow, if they survive,  because it is so hot and dry and freezing cold in winter, and we still have so much work to do on our little property to bring our dreams to fruition. The vision is GRAND!!  

I admit to dreaming about living in a cute cottage in the breathtakingly beautiful hills of Bellingen, or just somewhere that is a wee bit cooler and greener and within maybe 200kms of the beach.  Why do we feel most complete and happy living at Herbgully in Roma? 

There are so many reason we continue to happily live here, the gorgeous country school our girls go to, the passionate, kind and very proactive teachers and parents, oh and the girls dance teacher and singing teacher are both overflowing with kindness and talent and give of their time so generously and the volunteers who teach them touch football and netball are the best.  They have so many opportunities to learn and grow and express themselves freely and they are loved.  Our Church, oh my goodness our Church is beautiful and the Church family that exists within its walls we love with all our heart. We have celebrated numerous baptisms, Christmas and Easter Services and birthdays together.  We have been through pain and disappointments and frustrations and grief but we keep doing life together, it is real and hard and teaches us about faithfulness. 

The people we have met during our time in Roma are some of the most inspiring, kind, loving and funny friends we have ever met and just this week I have met two more beautiful souls who are sharing their knowledge and wisdom with me.   People come and go from Roma all the time, which has caused us much heartbreak because we have loved many of them deeply (you know who you are) but we will be friends for life and we look forward to meeting those who we will cross paths with this year. 

The beauty of Roma is not instantly apparent, you need to look for it, you need to slow down and feel it, you need to take the time to love the people, you need to choose to see the good and the positive. This tough climate breeds tough people so it can seem harsh and off putting to begin with but the strength of spirit is second to none. The circumstances that bought us to Roma twelve years ago are funny and very hard to explain and I believe it was deeply spiritual.  
I don't know much about the ancestors of this great land but I think they were probably very happy, strong, healthy, wise and content here before the invasion, and I think they may have lived good lives and their energy remains in the earth.  

Then there is the town name itself, Roma.  Roma was named after Lady Diamantina Bowen (Contessa Diamantina di Roma), what a magnificent name that has great and powerful energy. Diamantina was described as "pretty" but tempered perhaps by the remark "her beauty being in her expression rather than her features", just like Roma the town.  She was described as slender but graceful and coming from an aristocratic family she had a privileged well-educated upbringing.  She could play the piano and sing well.  Diamantina spoke English well but with a slight accent and it is claimed she spoke with her husband at home in her native Italian. All these wonderful qualities have been bestowed on our town because of the name.

Considering only about 8000 people live in Roma obviously a vast majority of people do not feel the same as us, we love doing life in Roma and feel incredibly blessed.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

All my possessions for a moment of time

"Enough is enough" I declared as I looked around the house at the end of school holidays, "We simply can not fit anymore stuff in our house and we are drowning in books, DVDs, clothes, craft supplies, pens, pencils, hair ties, necklaces, shoes and loads of little tiny things and it is painful.  I am throwing it all out".  My family just stood by in stunned silence wondering if they too may get thrown out.

Our pantry is full, our closets are full, the toy boxes are full, the bookshelves are full, the jewellery boxes are full.  Every conceivable cupboard, drawer, shelf and bench space in our home is full.  It burdens all of us with a huge responsibility to look after, pack away, maintain, use and appreciate all of these things which is increasingly more difficult.  Each birthday, Christmas, Easter, trip to town we get more and it is unsustainable.

In my infinite wisdom I was going to introduce a moratorium on all presents whether it be clothes, books, craft supplies, ornaments, decorations, cards anything at all, it was all going to be prohibited from Herbgully. Our new family motto was going to be 'Stop buying stuff and start doing things' and our hashtag was going to be #stopthestuff.  It was all perfectly planned.

However, I had dinner with a beautiful and wise friend who suggested maybe I was being a little too extreme, that same night another dear friend just said 'well I will still buy you stuff anyway because I love you'.  The very next day we went to Eumundi Markets and saw so many beautiful hand crafted, clever and amazing things designed and made by creative artisans and my moratorium would've meant my home and life could never be blessed by any of this gorgeousness....EVER.

Further adding to the situation is that we live a long way from all of our family so the giving of gifts is a wonderful way to show our love, our children are loved deeply by many and they are often given gifts as a sign of love.  I recognise that gift giving is a love language and it is how some people show their love, including myself.  However we have run out of room.  Short of extending the house we just do not have the necessary storage space for anymore of anything.

As I wrestled with how to move forward I turned to the Bible and in Luke 12:15 it says "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" and this brings me some comfort because my life does not consist in the abundance of my possessions, Life was not breathed into me so I could spend my days picking up, packing away, tidying up, yelling and feeling exasperated by all that we own.

However I do live in a beautiful world.  The universe was created by the word of God and just in the past six weeks I have been to some of the most gorgeous wonders, including beaches and water falls and mountain streams and it is obvious God withheld nothings from His creation.
He poured beauty into it.  When I look into the faces of my children and feel the intense love I have for my husband I know that God adores beauty and splendour and abundance.  Even strolling around Eumundi Markets admiring the works of so many talented and creative souls, God created them to bring beauty into His world.

One's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions, it has never been and will never be about the stuff but it doesn't mean having lovely things is bad, because lovely things make us smile and bring us joy.

We are going to try the process of holding everything we own near our hearts and determining if we love it, 'no love no stay'.  Once we have more space to think and breathe we can be much more conscious about all future purchases and gifts and I really do think wonderful and unique experiences will make for some beautiful presents in the future.

It is just about being thoughtful and purposeful and intentional in all that we buy so we don't accidentally end up living a less than satisfactory life but rather so we can truly enjoy this life the way God intended.

Do you have any good tips of trying to reduce clutter from your home?

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Believe and do not doubt

I have spent much of January at the beach, hanging out with some of my most favourite people in the whole wide world.  I have spent many hours writing out my dreams and hopes for the year, doing up dreamboards for 2016, selecting a word for the year and really trying to surge into the year full of hope and optimism, using the wonderfully inspiring Leonie Dawson resources.  I have no end of great ideas and dreams but since returning home and with the practicality of life becoming a bit more real I am riddled with doubt.

This isn't a mild case of doubt but kind of severe, leading to a bit of self-loathing and overwhelming feelings of uselessness, despite starting each day with a brisk walk and a positive affirmation my mind has those little niggling voices saying 'ha as if you can do all that', 'oh Justine you are so silly getting your hopes up, you can't do anything let alone that'.  Mean huh!!

The Bibles says, in James 1:5-6 "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind".

I can relate to that.  These dreams that I have written down for 2016 are not new, some of them I have been carting around for a decade, most others about three years.  Too long.  For some obscure reason I sabotage myself, I doubt that I can really do these things, I get tossed and blown moving erratically and definitely not strategically from place to place and let self-doubt win every time.

We all have these days, don't we, when we doubt ourselves and think everything we do is crap, and we feel sad but then we also have those days when we feel like Superman (these are the moments we share all over social media) and I guess it is all just supposed to balance out.

But I am tired of being tossed and blown like a wave, and I'm sick of waiting for it all to just balance out in the end, it is bullshit and 2016 is the year I draw a line in the sand and say 'no more', I sound big and tough but I'm not really, it is a much more timid murmur from the safety and security of my lovely comfy bed, but I mean it, I really do.  I get one life, that is it, and next year I turn 40 so I am kind of almost half way through this life so it is time to get going.

Quite literally the only thing standing between me and my dreams is the self talk going on in my head - which I can control!  One of my motto's for this year is 'When in doubt do it' so it is settled, I must do it!

What are your dreams and goals for 2016?  Is the talk in your head helping or hindering those dreams?