Sunday, May 20, 2018

For the Love of Discipline Book Review

I recently had the great privilege of being a part of the launch team for the new book called "For the Love of Discipline" by Sara Wallace. I was so excited when I got the opportunity to read it before it launched and then had the opportunity to share with others what I learned from it/why you should read it too! I learned about the book because I follow her facebook page, The Gospel Centered Mom. Her page has always been such an encouragement to me as she has shared practical examples of how she is sharing Jesus with her kiddos on a daily basis. So much of what she shares resonates with me as I sometimes struggle to focus on the gospel in my parenting and to find practical ways to share with them. Some of my favourite blogposts of hers that have encouraged me were Why I'm Glad My Kids Disobey and one on teaching our kids to be Peacemakers vs. Peacebreakers.

Just as her blog posts have encouraged me, her book did not disappoint. It was a breath of fresh air for me! It’s so easy to get caught up in the actions of our kids and to forget about the gospel being placed on their hearts. Many Christian parenting books are lacking on the day to day examples of sharing the gospel with your kids and what it looks like practically, but Sara beautifully invites you into her home and shares what this has looked like in her family. This book has richly pointed me to the gospel and how to share it with my kids intentionally and practically in my home. It is filled with ideas of how to do this as well as why we do this. While it is filled with great ideas and charts to use for brainstorming, I really appreciated how much she emphasises how each child is different and that our focus should always be on shepherding their hearts, not just their actions. We get this little window of time to discipline our children and share Jesus, grace, and the character of God with them. She beautifully unpacks a bit of what this has looked like in her home. I also loved that at the end of each chapter, she gives some helpful questions for reflection and application in your own home.

So, what was my biggest take-away from the book?

The major chapter that hit home for me, mostly because of the age of my kids and the stages we are all in, was her chapter on WORDS. Do our words build up or cause frustration? I tend to be someone that overstates everything in five different ways and still don't feel like I got my point across. This seems to be accentuated in parenting. It takes me a LOOONNGG time to get to the point with them and by the time I finally get to what I wanted to talk to them about, I've totally lost their attention. It also means that I can tend toward over-communicating in a way that could wear away at their sweet spirits. This is the last thing I desire to be as a mom. The chapter talked about "word bundling" or finding a way that you say what you want to say in five words or less. She suggests thinking through the things you tend to be training your kids on the most and how to get your point across in fewer words. So, the idea is to come up with your "word bundles," unpack what they mean with the kids and practice using them. Then, when you are in the middle of the situation, you can say these few words and they should know what you mean by them (without talking forever and losing their attention!). This seems so simple, but it was just what I needed to be thinking through for how to be teaching and training our kids towards Christ without overdoing it or discouraging them with my constant words. I've started developing a bit of a Bible study that I'm going to use to explain the different topics or word bundles which will include the word bundle itself, a Bible verse, and a Bible story relating to the topic. My prayer is that this will help us all build one another up towards Christ and towards loving one another as well. Maybe when I finish putting the study together, I'll have to share it with you all!

All in all, the book was so encouraging and spurred me on to be diligently discipling, shepherding, and pouring the gospel into my kids hearts. It was practical and centred on pointing us all to our need for Jesus and His strength each day. You can find her book on amazon HERE!! Check it out and be encouraged! :) You can also find more from Sara on her website: The Gospel Centered Mom.

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Monday, April 30, 2018

Term 1 Update!

The first nearly half of the year has been a whirlwind! I can't believe it's May tomorrow! Term 1 of this year has been filled with transitions once again, but this time mainly just for Addie and me. At the end of January, Addie went off to Kindy (Kindergarten) which meant for the first time in 8 years, I was not a full-time stay at home mom with kiddos running around me all day. It's been a huge blessing to be able to be on campus more this year, but definitely a transition for sure. I now feel like a working mom juggling roles and running all over the place throughout the week. All of you full-time working moms who told me how hard it was to get housework done and have energy for your kiddos- I get it now :)

But...all to really has been a great transition for us all. Addie absolutely LOVES school and I am loving getting time to meet with ladies throughout the week and share Jesus with them. It makes it so wonderful knowing both kids are happy and that I am doing something I love and am passionate about. I have the most lovely group of ladies I am meeting with this semester and it has been a joy to walk alongside them so far. I can't wait to see what God has in store for the rest of this year!

Something I've been really challenged on during this phase of transition has been 1 Thessalonians 2:8: "Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well." With all that is going on, all the time traveling around the city getting places, and with how far people live from one another, what does this look like to share our lives with those we are investing in? I so desire to be sharing the love of Christ by sharing my life and all that God is doing in my heart. I want to be a woman that welcomes people into my home and opens my life to those around me. Lord willing, they might see the greatness of God magnified through me. But what does this look like in the craziness of all of our lives? I'm learning that this looks different with each different relationship and that to truly care for each individual, I have to find out what it looks like to love them well.  I also am realising that my capacity is only so big, so to invest deeply in a few, just as Jesus did. But mostly, I've been reminded to be looking for ways to serve others, show intentionality in thinking of them, and to be inviting them along into the things going on in our lives. Lastly, and most importantly, I have been challenged to PRAY constantly, that He might show His love all around the world.

So, here are some pictures of what the last few months have looked like for our family and some fun adventures we have gone on around the city! I apologise in advance...there's a lot of pictures, but these are mostly to keep family and friends up to date with us :)

In the summertime, it's acceptable to go to the shops without any shoes here they are trying it out for the first time :)

One day, this not so tiny guy welcomed me when I closed my car door. Yikes! This is a huntsman spider, which is actually a good spider that eats all the bad'm supposed to like him...or something. He did decide to hang out on our car the entire day and then greeted Hunter inside the door when he got in after school. That was quite a shock for the little man! 

The Navs crew at O Week ready to meet some new students! 

 One Saturday we took a day trip up to the mountains and did some bushwalking. We got to see the Three Sisters and some waterfalls! 

Hunter's first day of Year 3 and Addie's first day of Kindy! Aren't they the cutest?

Two firsts for Hunter: he started playing the trumpet this year and is getting pretty good! He also got to participate in his first swimming carnival with school. It has been so fun to watch him try so many new things.

 Here's a random assortment of pictures from our Beach Camping Weekend with students a few weeks into the term. It was so fun to get away and get some more time getting to know everyone. 

Easter celebrations!

Hunter finished his baseball season with the Pirates. They had a great season! 

Enjoying the beautiful colours of Autumn around our house one day- I'm in awe!

Enjoying the school holidays with the kids!

 A day of adventures together as a family around the city.

 And to start off Term 2, the kids had their first day of their new swim lessons classes. They did great last term and have grow so much in their swimming abilities. 

Bring on Term 2!! 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Shop Ethically! +My Ethical Shopping Guide Reference List!

I am so so excited to share with you all what I've been learning about shopping ethically and making the way we spend our money give back to those around the world impacted by each purchase. This all started when I had the opportunity to co-lead a Bible study on "God Centred Social Justice." As we read and prepared for the study, the Lord was convicting me in many areas on this topic. It was a blessing to be able to facilitate a conversation with students about justice vs. injustice, God's heart for the oppressed and vulnerable, and how to take action steps towards loving people here and around the world in the way God does. One of the most practical applications we talked about was looking into where our clothes, coffee, toiletries, etc. are coming from. So much of what we spend money on is actually harming people all over the world because of who is making it, the conditions in which they are making it, and the way they are being treated as they make it (among many other issues!). There are clearly so so many ways we can be a voice and love the vulnerable, but this specific area was one that had been on my heart for a good while and it was about time I took the leap into the researching of how to slowly work towards this.

So, after the week of the study, researching is just what I did. Probably too many hours researching, but once I get started on something I get a bit obsessed and usually overdo the amount of time I spend researching. :) I set out to be well informed in many different areas: ethically made items, companies that were giving back, companies I could actually buy here in Australia, and items that I could actually afford. Many of the prices overwhelmed me at first and just made me want to give up. But then I got determined to find affordable options. I also wanted to make sure we were wise in the way we spend our money and to keep to our current budget so that we still had the ability to live and give generously. I obviously didn't make the criteria simple, but I did some hard work and here are my best findings :) I'm learning through the process that minimal is best, sale pages are the place to visit, and most of all, that it is so fun to know where and who your money is going to!

The following list is a VERY small percentage of the places out there that are affordable, but they were my favourite styles, prices, and the companies that's mission got me excited as well! Click on the name of the company to go to their website and check them out! The * tells you a little about the way they are giving back or how your purchase is with a purpose. The region it is sold in doesn't necessarily mean you can't buy from there! Many do international shipping at great rates! (Which may make my list a little biased as there were SO many companies I loved in the US and UK, but they didn't ship internationally or if they did, it was pricey! So I encourage you to keep doing your research on the many awesome brands out there!)

Clothing Websites:

In Australia:

--> Fairtees - Great for your basic tees and everyday wear. Has both mens and womens clothes, is fair-trade, and organic cotton.

--> Boden - Has everything for everyone! Men, women, and kids! This excited me as there is not a lot out there for kids that I've found yet. Also, has a wide selection of items, patterns, and types of clothing. (They are a company in the UK, so have a website there too, as well as in the US).
*Works HUGELY with their employees, factories, and suppliers. They are intentional to build relationships, to train and educate them, and has various initiatives to improve the lives of employees both at work and outside of work. They are passionate about helping women, give to No Child Hungry in the US, as well as to Kids Company in the UK. 

--> Thread Harvest - This is a great website that features ethical brands and companies. I LOVE this site! You can search for items depending on the cause you get most behind and each item says whether it is fair-trade, employs the marginalised, empowers women, is organic, eco-friendly, up cycled, cause supporting, or supports a living wage. It was also a great way to find all sorts of other companies by clicking on their links to the companies represented there. They have stuff for anyone in the family, even socks, shoes, handbags, and accessories.
*Many of the companies on here are giving back in awesome ways, you'll just have to click the link to find out how! 

--> Etiko - Shirts, underwear, shoes, and kids items. Basic plain t-shirts are their thing. Everything is fair-trade, organic, and is ethically sourced.

--> Make An Impact - Basic tees and long sleeves. Great prices for both men and women.
*10% of the profit of sales goes to a charity focused on supporting the most disadvantaged around the world!

--> Ethi Collective - Another great site featuring ethical brands. I haven't looked into this one quite as much yet, but there are a lot of great brands on there to check out too. The style is a bit more dressy than my style, but would be a great place to get work clothes for those of you who need to dress up for work! It also tends to be a bit more expensive, but there are some great discounts on sale items. You can also shop by your values, similar to Thread Harvest.
*$1 from every sale goes to a good cause and you get to decide which cause you want to donate to: South Sudan School Project, The Social Studio, or Trees for the Future. 

--> Conscious Step - Socks!! I love these fun patterned socks for both men and women! (US and Australia based company)
*For every sock sold, you are supporting a partnering organisation that is carrying out world change in various areas: treat malaria, treat HIV, provide water, protect oceans, plant trees, fight hunger, end poverty, educate kids, disaster relief, or saving rainforests. Each sock supports a different cause and you can choose your sock depending on what cause you want to support! 

In the U.S.:

--> Elegantees - This is one of my favourites and the first one I ordered from! Colourful tees, tops, dresses, cardigans, and toddler clothes. Reasonably priced and my style with all it's colours! It's "a tee that looks like more than a tee" as their website says. Yep, that's my style.
*Each garment is sewn by women rescued from sex trafficking in Nepal. Their partner organisation rescues over 20,000 women and children each year at the border of Nepal and India. They offer employment for these women and impact families hugely. These jobs offer hope, restoration, dignity, and an ability to take care of their family. I just LOVE this company so much! 

--> Prana - Originally an outdoor clothing company, it's passion is for stylish, sustainable, and versatile clothes for every adventure. They have all sorts of cute fabrics and designs!
*At Christmastime, they give a portion of their sales to Outdoor Outreach, an organisation working with underprivileged youth. 

--> Everlane - Good for all your basic clothing needs for both men and women. Very affordably priced. Ethical approach, very transparent, and supposed to be made to last!

--> Tea Collection - The cutest kids clothes! They unfortunately don't ship internationally, but I had to include them as there aren't a lot of kids options out there. Fair-trade clothes for children inspired by cultures all around the world and with a hope to inspire children to be connected all over the world.
*Every purchase gives back to the Global Fund for Children, helping young people all around the world. Also, each Spring and Fall, you can give 15% of your purchase to your own school. 

--> Ash & Rose - Another great website featuring different ethical brands! This one has a lot of great selection. All of their products have been made sustainably, with fair labour, and with a focus on empowering women.

--> Fair Indigo - Sustainable materials, enduring quality and fashion, and fair trade are the values of this company. I love their clothes so much, but the thing that impressed me the most about this one was the transparency on the website. You can see in detail each step of the process of how the materials and clothing is made. You get to see the faces that make it, hear a bit of their story, and how this company is helping their communities and families. Plus you see in pictures exactly how it's all made! Note: This one does not ship internationally, but I loved them so much and found out that you can order from them on amazon and have it shipped internationally! Hooray!
*Along with all they are doing for the people who are a part of making the materials and clothing, they also have started a foundation to support schools in the community as well. At each checkout of your order, you get the chance to give extra for the foundation. You can read the stories of all that has happened to contribute to these schools as they've been able to work alongside them to help them flourish. 

--> Mata Traders - Oh another one I love! Fun, colourful patterns made from women in India and Nepal. They have women's tops, skirts, dresses, and accessories that are celebrating the art form that these artisans love using. They are beautiful and fun!
*They have a passion to help with global poverty and with every purchase, you are giving to help end poverty in Indian and Nepal! Check out their site for some awesome stories of the families that have been impacted and brought out of poverty through their role with Mata Traders. 

--> Threads for Thought - Simple men's and women's clothing for a great price. All fair trade, organic, and ethically sourced materials. Also has a line of active wear.

--> The Root Collective - Great shoes for women!
*Employing artisans to make a difference in their lives by giving them well paying, fair work. 

--> Oliberte - A great shoe brand for men and women that supports workers in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Fair trade, sustainably and ethically made, and built to last.
*Work to create fair jobs and lead the people to support their own people. Every bit of material is made from African natural resources. Plus, 1% of every purchase is given to support the planet. 

--> TOMS - A lot of people have heard of TOMS and just adore their shoes and their desire to give back to those in need. They have shoes of various styles for men, women, and children. Did you know they also have sunglasses, bags, shirts, and socks?
*With every purchase of a pair of shoes, TOMS gives a pair of shoes to a child in need. With every pair of sunglasses sold, you are helping restore sight to someone in need. With every bag you buy, TOMS helps provide a safe birth for a mom and her baby. And with every package of socks sold, TOMS helps provide a week of safe water for those in need. 

Clothing Stores in Australia:

These stores are not necessarily organic or fair trade, but they are rated highly for their treatment of their employees as well as for where they get their materials from. It is just nice to have some good options to actually buy in a store or be able to try things on! There are a few resources that I get stores'/brands' ratings from which all do a great job at explaining why they are rated how they are and what they do great/need to work on:

Good on You App (Rates clothing and accessory brands)
Shop Ethical! App (Rates pretty much everything! I love this one for toiletries, toys, office supplies, etc. It also has a barcode scanner which is super helpful when out shopping!)
Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Guide (Rates clothing brands) are the stores I've found so far!
--> Bonds
--> Katmandu
--> Patagonia
--> Country Road
--> David Jones (the store brand)
--> Levis (can buy at Just Jeans)
--> Adidas
--> Jeanswest
--> Cotton On, Cotton On Kids, Cotton On Body, Factorie (And the various Cotton On stores)- I was pleasantly surprised by the ways Cotton On is giving back and it's commitment to sustainability and ethical practices.
--> Industrie and Indie Kids
--> G- Store Raw

Toiletries/ Household Items in Australia: 
I stuck to the ones you can find in stores such as Woolies or Coles or at your local chemist. Those places always have such great sales as well, which make the brands much more affordable!

--> Thank You - Body care items such as soap and lotion, a few food items, and some baby care items. They give 100% of their profits to fund safe water, food, hygiene, sanitation, health care, and safe births for those in need. You can also use the tracking number on the item you buy to search online for the exact project and place you are helping to fund!!

--> Eco Store - Laundry, body, dish, hair, and baby products.

--> Nature's Organics (this includes Earth Choice, Organic Care, Australian Pure, Fruits, Blast, Turning Point, Spa, and Funtime) - Between their different brand names, they have body, laundry, hair, face, kids, household cleaners, etc. So many options here! And they are doing heaps to give to good causes for children, schools, villages, student sponsorship, job training, empowerment initiatives, etc.

--> Who Gives a Crap - A toilet paper, tissue, and paper towel company that gives 50% of all profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation around the world- literally saving lives through toilet paper! Love it! It is also 100% made with recycled products. This is an online only company, but I had to include it!

And last but not least...
Gifts that Purchase with a Purpose! (and to get for yourself!)

--> Noonday Collection - They sell a collection of beautiful creations by artisans across the globe. Their work is giving dignified jobs to so many and supporting entire villages by the jobs created and families being supported. They have jewellery and other accessories that are just stunning. I have a few friends who work for them and I would love to connect you with them and with the stories of the people impacted by your purchases!

--> Better Life Bags - I love my bag from Better Life Bags! Their mission is to employ women in Detroit, Michigan who have various barriers to employment and gives them an opportunity they wouldn't have had otherwise. You even get a card with your bag that says the women's name who made it and a little about her. This is a design-your-own bag, custom order. This includes picking the fabric, the design, the clasp, etc. SO much fun! And such incredible work they are doing to transform families in the Detroit area!

--> Mango and Main - They sell products made by artisans in Rwanda and Haiti, and are similarly working to give dignified work and transformation to these communities. They have items for your home, clothing, accessories, kids items, and jewellery. Their stuff is so fun and bright!

--> Globe In - Monthly subscriptions to boxes of artisan made items from around the world!! Oh, I think this would be so fun to do and a great gift to give! All items are fair trade, artisan made, and are prividing for families and communities around the world. You can also buy items individually on their site.

--> Global Girlfriend - Similar to the last few, they are empowering women as they sell their fair-trade products and work with them to build sustainable businesses for their families and communities. With every purchase, they also give to help support girls' education globally through the GROW program.

Ok, we've made it to the end of my list for now! This is just a list that is getting me started with all of this. Hopefully it will continually be refined and added to. I'm excited to try out many of these brands and products, and to be more conscious of where our money is going. Praying that God would use our impact hugely for the sake of the nations and His glory among them. I hope this is also helpful to you to challenge your thinking, your spending, and your heart on this issue, as well as to provide a list of good options to get you started! And of course, if you know of any that I would love, please send them my way!

"It is not enough to deliver the gospel to the nations, we are called to advance the gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom into the nations, where most people live in poverty and endure the effects of corruption and injustice...Responding to poverty, corruption, and injustice is central to being a good citizen in God's Kingdom and living out His righteousness." from Responding Biblically to Poverty, Corruption, and Injustice- Highly recommend this study from NavPress!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and a Happy Happy New Year from the Coulson's! Looking back over the past year, there has been so much going on for our family. We have lived in 6 different houses, in 3 different cities/towns, and 2 different countries. Countless friends and family members have loved, supported, cared for, and helped our family in all these transitions. We have said "see you later" to many amazing friends and family members and said "hello" to many new friends. Half of the year was spent in waiting: waiting on visas, waiting to move, waiting on God's timing and plan. During those months, we got to do some traveling as a family and get rich time with friends and family that we wouldn't trade for anything. The second half of the year was spent in transition mode: new country, new home, new friends, new school, new language, new church, new everything.

As you can see, this year has been a big one for our family and for those we are close to. It has been filled with so many ups and downs. There have been some really hard days and some really good days. There has been some excitement for a new adventure and some longing for a usual, ordinary, and familiar routine. We have learned so much throughout all of this and the one thing that remains constant through it all is the faithful, loving, nearness of God.

He has been with us.
He has been fighting for us.
He has been providing richly for us.
He has been teaching us and challenging us.
He has allowed us to go through some really hard things.
He has been drawing us near to Him each step of the way.
He has drawn people to know Him for the first time and allowed us to be a part of His rejoicing!
He has blessed us in ways I could've never imagined or even ever chosen for myself.
He has manifested His glory, goodness, and grace to us in deeper ways than we've known previously.

The list goes on and on. He has been good and faithful and loving when we have not been. He has cared endlessly, while our hearts have been distant. He has been sovereignly at work when I have doubted and trusted in my own strength. As always, the grace upon grace that God pours out to us is so evident as I look back over the past year. The gospel is so clear as I see my struggles with sin, but God drawing near to me anyways because of His great love and grace. I am more and more thankful for Christ with each passing year. "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:8-9

My word for 2017 was "look." I wanted to have eyes to SEE what God was doing, to be LOOKING for ways to serve and care for those around me, and to be overwhelmed with thankfulness. I didn't want to get bogged down in the circumstances of life that we found ourselves in, but to have the eyes of Jesus to LOOK to Him and to the needs of others around me. It is always a joy at the end of the year to LOOK back and see what He has done. There have been times I have done well at this and there are times I've completely failed to have a good perspective on all that was happening this year. All the praise to Him for His mighty work and constant faithfulness throughout it all. I think Lamentations 3:22-23 sums up my thoughts on this year well:

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness."

As we start off 2018, there are a million goals running through my mind. I want to read more books, do another triathlon, start my list of sewing projects I have, read through my Bible in a year, be more intentional with my kids, my husband, my friends, and the ladies I am investing in. I tend to get myself overwhelmed with all that I want to do. This year, I want to be dwelling on this verse:

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth!" Psalm 46:10.

I long to grow in the direction my heart is pointed. I want to be still before the Lord, grow in my knowledge and adoration of Him, and I long for that to be poured out to not only those I interact with each day, but also to the nations. As I orient my heart towards Him, it is my prayer that I will love Him deeper and that through that the world would see His greatness and fall in love with Him too. Here's to 2018!! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Aussie Lingo

Today is the first of my series on Australia. So, to start us off, the kids have brought to you a description of a few Aussie words :) Enjoy! 

Monday, October 30, 2017

A long overdue blog...

Well, I said I was going to get back into blogging. Someday that will happen :) For now, life has happened and if I'm completely honest, I've been a bit unsure of what to say.  I'm just not sure how to say we are going. It really depends on the day that you're asking me. Most days, I'm enjoying life and feeling like we are settling in well. Other days, every little thing makes me cry and miss friends and family who are so far away. It has been especially hard on peoples' birthdays and other important events that we are missing out on. It has really hit home lately just how much we had to sacrifice to be here. And it is painful. It is hard. I'll save more of that for another post...but, so that this isn't SOO long, I'll give some general updates on different areas of life and then do a bit of a picture update on what we've been up to.

Josh: has been overall doing awesome since moving here. He LOVES the team of guys he's working with on campus, which makes so much of life enjoyable and encouraging. He is learning heaps from them and is thankful for their friendships. On the other hand, the past month or two haven't been so fun for him as he broke his shoulder playing baseball and had surgery to reattach his labrum a few weeks ago :( He is recovering, but it is a slow process for sure.

The Kiddos: are doing so much better than I could've ever imagined they'd do. I think a major reason for that is the school we ended up at. I can't even tell you how thankful we are for where they are at. We have felt so welcomed by so many families. The kids both have some good friendships forming and are just absolutely loving school. I make it a point to stay and chat with the other mums (yes, mums :) ) after school so that I can get to know some other families. This has been one of the most encouraging things for me in this whole transition. I'm thankful for the ladies that I am getting to know and for the friendships beginning to form there. The after school hour is definitely a highlight of life for both the kids and I as we get time engaging in these relationships.

Ministry on campus: We have been enjoying getting time with some men and women on campus this semester. We have been going through the book of John and looking at who Jesus is and what He wants from us. I have seen encouraging growth in the ladies I'm meeting with! I'm excited to continue to develop those relationships and see how God works. We've both also been reading with a few non-believers which has been both a great and challenging opportunity! It is hard to believe there are only a couple weeks left until summer holidays! We are so looking forward to next year and being able to be here for the beginning of the year instead of just jumping in where we can in the middle of the year.

Now for the picture update on what else we've been up to...

We got to take some students climbing during the last school holidays! It was so much fun and a great time getting to know some of them more!

It's starting to heat up here as we head into our summer months, so naturally I researched splash parks and we enjoyed one! 

We got to help organise a thank you dinner for all the people who support and are a part of the Navigators ministry in New South Wales. It was so encouraging to meet so many who support the ministry here, hear from many who God is working in, and to be able to serve that night. It reminded me of just how thankful I am for all the people who work together to see the gospel advance amongst the nations. 

Hunter and some of the friends that celebrated his birthday with him.

Addie and her friends decorating cupcakes at her party at our house. 

We have LOVED getting to be a part of Hunter's baseball club and are really enjoying getting to know all the families involved there. We are so looking forward to the rest of the season to continue developing those relationships and watching Hunter have fun with his team. He is really improving and being challenged! It's so fun to watch him grow!

I got the chance to play for the club's parents t-ball tournament! It was such a fun day and so great to get time getting to know all the parents better. And hey, our team even won!!! 

 A true highlight for me is getting to know my new friend, Phuong. I am loving getting time with her, learning how to cook Vietnamese food, and sharing who Jesus is with her. She is becoming a good friend of mine and I'm so thankful for her. I'm looking forward to time with her as she will be around during the uni holidays over the summer!

More fun times with the ladies! It was a delight to have these ladies over for dinner and for an evening of baking. These students and friends have been so wonderful to get to know over the past few months!

A beautiful winter day at the beach with some friends. We loved exploring the rock pools and looking for little creatures :) 

The big Year 2 excursion is to go down to the city, walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and go to the Powerhouse Museum. Hunter had a wonderful day of adventures!

Addie's chance to shine was at the Athletics (Track) Carnival at school. She ran four races and finished first in the hurdles! It was just the most adorable day of racing I've ever seen!

And one last adventure: one Saturday we got to explore the Olympic Park and then take a ferry ride down to the city. This is us about to go under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and enter the Circular Quay where the Opera House is. It was such a beautiful ride at sunset! We love exploring this city!

There is just a little snippet of some of the things we have been up to. Here's to trying to blog more often- hope to see you again soon :) 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Settling in to life

It has now been two and a half months since we moved to Australia. Crazy how time is flying by. So much has happened in just a couple of months.

We have settled into our new home....

We are loving where we are living. While it is a bit further out of the city than we expected to live, it is in a more residential and quiet neighbourhood which feels a little bit more like home to our Iowan hearts :) It is also close to a few friends which has helped with the settling in process, particularly for the kids.

...the kids have started school...

{Aren't they the cutest in their school uniforms?!}

They are just LOVING school which makes this mama heart so filled with joy! Hunter has taken off in so many ways. He has made a couple of good friends that he loves playing with and seems to get along with a lot of the kids in his class. His reading has improved so much and he confidently chooses to read on his own occasionally now (big win!). His favourite things at school are playing soccer on the oval, playing handball, and science lessons. They have been doing inventions lately which he really enjoys. Addie is also loving school when she gets to go. She loves playing in the kitchen there, jumping on the trampoline at recess, and meeting new friends. She's pretty excited to go to Kindy next year and be there everyday with her brother. We are beyond blessed and thankful for the families we have met through school and have felt so welcomed by so many of them.

...we have started working with students at the uni (university)...

{Orientation Week stall chatting with students}

It has been fun to come alongside the staff on campus and to see what God is doing here. We have been encouraged as we learn from them and see their passion for making disciples of all nations with students on campus. We have been able to begin reading the Bible with a handful of students, be a part of Nav Night on Thursday nights, and the various other things going on throughout the week. It has been so fun getting to know the students already involved and who are interested in learning more. We are so excited to see how God transforms hearts this semester on campus and draws people to Himself.
{Our first Nav Night of the semester was a great turnout!}

...we have done a bit of adventuring around the city...

...and have begun to get a little bit of a picture of what life looks like here. So how are we going? It depends on the day, really. Most days are so busy that I don't have time to think about anything. Other days that are slower tend to tug at my heart in all sorts of directions.

We are getting used to a life that involves lots of travel time to get places. It takes about 30 minutes to get to school and about 30 minutes to get to the uni. We have learned to be intentional during our drive/bus/train travel times. Although the days get long traveling around, I've learned to be thankful for that time with the kids each morning and afternoon. In the morning, we get time listening to the audio Bible and praying, and in the afternoon, the kids process their days well with me on the drive home. I'm thankful for how God has turned that time into something fruitful and encouraging.

Every day is a bit different emotionally. Some days its so exciting to be here, while others I feel the great tug on my heart for the people I miss and the activities we miss out on doing with them. Some days I feel like I know what's going on here and right at home, while other days I feel exhausted mentally because I have spent so much time confused, translating, and feeling unsure if I'm doing everyday tasks correctly. We know this is to be expected and that transition comes with its many ups and downs and phases. God is showing us that in the midst of it all, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, GREAT is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23. God is near to us, with us, and shepherding us through each and every step of each and every day. He is faithful and oh so good. We can trust Him and lean into Him. He is powerful beyond measure and delights to answer our prayers.

Please continuing praying for us:
-That God would continue to draw us near to Himself and cause our hearts to love Him fully.
-That the kids would continue to transition well and make good friends.
-For people to decide to follow Christ and be transformed by Him.
-For wisdom and comfort in navigating a life far away from home and in a new culture.
-That as we study the book of John on campus this semester, that Christ would make Himself known to many; building disciples of Him and disciple makers to passionately share Christ with those around them.

Thank you for praying alongside us!