It’s been a long time to Christmas


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It’s Christmas.

It’s an exciting time of year. My little boys have been admiring the decorations put up in the shops and helped pick out decorations for our own tree. The older kids got  excited about their end of year concert. Christmas shopping is upon us. I bought a food magazine full of delicious food options to search for some inspiration before Christmas day. My husband has big plans for a week off over the holiday period. I’ve been thinking about starting an “annual new year email” to all my friends who I can’t be with this year.

And all of us searched for and gave the perfect gifts that would give joy to those we love this Christmas.

Life was very busy and exciting all in preparation for a hopefully wonderful, relaxing, happy, love giving, Joy filled holiday spent with family and friends around delicious food in beautiful weather.

But during these preparations and celebrations my mind has been distracted. My heart has been aching. Because … more than Christmas is happening right now.

This month friends have once again had their homes under threat by fire. Others have lost everything they had. Some have lost their lives.

My friends in France are dealing with the shockwaves pulsing through their country after hundreds died in the Paris bombings. Others, thousands upon thousands, throughout all the world are suffering through wars, attacks and bombings. Some have left their homes with their families on the dangerous and uncertain journey across the world in search of peace.

The news last month was full of articles and information on domestic violence and abuse, for white ribbon day, because this issue is too close for all of us.

My neighbours son has just been diagnosed with leukemia and his family prepared for and celebrated Christmas away from their home in what they hope and pray won’t be their last with him.

My friend’s mother was fighting death in hospital and then the family spent the week before Christmas organizing her funeral and preparing themselves for a Christmas without her.

And aside from that there are hundreds of little stresses. Busy shops, problems at work, colds, tantrums, broken cars, bad sleeps, failed recipes, damaged toys, little hurts.

The truth is all of us live this life with the aches of pain, loss, fear and evilness. And all of us crave the peace, hope, love and Joy advertised at Christmas.



How can this Christmas, among all the pain of life, be Joy filled?

Good food, chocolate and nice gifts might be able to bring a little joy among the small trials of life for a short while. But why should it? When I know there is no gift, No gift, I can give that can in anyway bring joy to those burdened by great pains. I am hopeless within my own pain, and hopeless in the pain of my friends. And my heart aches.

Until I remember. There is one gift.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given

A gift. Given. To us. Jesus.

and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.


And at that time that he was born an angel appeared to the shepherds in the fields, just people living their life, like you and me like my friends. And the angel said.

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.

Joy! This gift brings Joy- GREAT joy. Among the troubles of life and amongst the normalness of life we are given Joy. For all the people. For ALL people. For me, for you, for all those people suffering.

So the angel gave the shepherds that good news that would bring Joy.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you

A Saviour- for them. For us. A Saviour. And the angel explained further to make it clear to them, and to us.

He is the Messiah, the Lord.

Jesus, is the Lord, God, who made all the world. Who made you and me. And he’s the Messiah- our Saviour.



And only Jesus, Our Wonderful Counselor can comfort us and bring us Joy among the fires of this life.

And only Jesus, Our Mighty God, can overcome the overwhelming powers of evil in our life and bring us Joy in the face of destruction.

And only Jesus, Everlasting Father, can hold us close through the immeasurable pains of loosing our family and bring us Joy among the heartache.

And only Jesus, Prince of peace, can guide us as we travel on the uncertain walk of life and bring us peace and Joy instead of fear.

Only Jesus, our Saviour, can overcome the pain, loss, evilness and death in this world and give us Life.  A forever life. A Life that nothing can take away.

And Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.

And while the shepherds stood there with their sheep, their fear turned to joy as they listened to the angel explaining the gift of Jesus to them. Then all the angels sang Glory to God and the shepherds went to find Jesus, the baby, wrapped up and laying in a manger with Mary and Joseph. And the shepherds praised God and rejoiced in this gift that had been given to them and to all people.

And so this is the gift I share with you this Christmas. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord.

Accept Him as a gift for you. Make him and keep making him your Wonderful Counselor, your Mighty God, your Everlasting Father, your Prince of Peace, your Saviour and have Life and great Joy.





Au Revoir


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We’ve left.

We’ve arrived.

It feels very strange and sometimes at odd times of the day and night I realise I miss France an awful lot already.

We are so thankful for the 2 wonderful years we spent in France. We’re thankful for the opportunities that arose from living there. We’re thankful for the things- the many things we learnt. We’re thankful for the way France changed us and we’re especially thankful for the wonderful friends we made there.

And we remember, as I’ve said before, the thousands, tens of thousands of reasons to bless our Lord who sent us there and who brought us safety away.

Good bye. Au revoir la France belle. Hugs and Bises. Somehow, someday, somewhere we’ll see you again.


Christmas Day

Nathan and I have this song we like. We call it “The Happy Song”. Every now and then we put it on repeat and “sing along”. It’s in Hindi and originally we had no idea what the words meant. We laugh at our attempts to sing along then we laugh at our individual anglicized versions of what we hear then we make up more. It’s fun. It’s relaxing and it’s happy.


It’s a song we often listen to on holidays.
It’s Christmas Day; we had croissants, pain au chocolat and pain aux raisins for breakfast before opening just a few “travel” gifts. After a week of rain, the sun came out for a little while today and the kids and I flew the kite in the back yard while Nathan made us lunch but it was short, the sun went again, the big clouds looked beautiful but it wasn’t sunny. Kody took his new pens and notebook to his room to draw for a while. Ezra and I played with Duplo. Nathan, Miles and Antigone sat down in the fading light to a game of chess- with our new real chess board not just Lego pieces and checked paper. I finally admitted it was too dark, flicked the light on and played our happy song.


The kids dance. We sing. The Happy Song.

We’re leaving France in a few weeks. We’ve been really busy. School and work finished a week ago. We’ve visited friends. The kids have been sick on and off for several months. Everything is exciting and sad and a little confusing.

But today is Christmas, we’re tired and we just want to rest.

It’s the thing we weren’t really expecting. We love it here- really. It’s not that we want to leave or even that we want to go “home” – because really we don’t. It’s just that we’re exhausted. When we left New Zealand, we felt rejuvenated and refreshed in every way. And now we’re so thankful that God in His wisdom sent us there before we came here. Because living here has been a lot of wonderful, amazing, beautiful, insightful and inspirational really, really, REALLY hard work and we just need a rest. We don’t want to analyse it all, we just want to rest- just for a short while. And that’s what we’re looking forward to.

It’s Christmas and amongst the mess of packing, sorting and confusion the focus has been off us, off our lives. A time to not think a time to just be happy. A little gift of rest.

Merry Christmas Everyone and we’ll see you in the New Year!

thank you for feather pens


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It was late evening. Nathan and I were just starting to relax after finally putting the kids in bed.

“muuuum, mum.” Miles called out and I thank God that I was in a patient mood that night. “Mum, I accidentally tore the tag off my feather pen that I got at musee marmonette monet. It’s not a souvenir anymore. I won’t remember. Mum, I won’t be able to remember”














My memory flicks back a good 20 years or so. I was sitting on my mum and dad’s bed having a conversation with my Dad. He told me that he remembered one time when he was a boy, there was nothing special about the moment but he’d wondered if he would ever remember that time in the future or if it would be lost forever and he’d decided to try and remember, as we sat there we talked about memories, time and purpose and I promised myself I would remember it always.

“It’s ok Miles. You probably will remember it because now we’ve talked about it and you’ll try to remember it always. but you know, you don’t have to remember everything. We take photos, and all of us are here, Ezra and Kody probably won’t remember much but Tiggy and Dad and you and I will all remember different things and we can remind each other.”


He was quiet for a bit longer then I hear him again, “Muuum, mum. I have to remember the cardboard cubby house we had in Dunedin and I won’t because you deleted the photos, mum, I HAVE to remember but I won’t.”

I reassure him that I didn’t delete the photos and talk a bit more about good times, fun things and memories. I tell him that God gave moments to him at the time they happen and that’s when they’re important for us, I tell him that even if he doesn’t remember everything, he’ll still have learnt from it and God will still use it to shape him into who he will be. I believe it, but even in my ears, my reassurances sound inadequate and I know why. Miles isn’t the only one who’s lost sleep because of a fear of loosing memories in this household. I struggle with how to deal with it also. I always have.

In frustration and without conviction, I suggest he think about something else and try to sleep while I put some music on. I sit on the lounge, while he lies in bed, thinking and listening.


The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

For all your goodness I will keep on singing,
10,000 reasons for my heart to find.
(Matt Redman)


That’s it Miles, I remember now! for you and for me. Don’t worry about forgetting, Don’t stay awake struggling to do the impossible and remember it all. And don’t, in frustration, try not to think about it, or wish you could just forget it all (because if he’s as much like me as I think he is, he’s tried this coping mechanism also). Instead, Every time a memory comes to mind Bless the Lord for times gone by. Just smile and worship His Holy name. Every memory is a beautiful reason to thank God. I go in to see if he’s settled and find him sound asleep.

It’s ok, I’m sure both of us will have many more sleepless nights for our hearts to find 10000 reasons to Praise our God.

Oh God, thank you for cardboard cubbies, thank you for conversations with family, thank you for times together, thank you for Orleans and Dunedin and Adelaide, thank you for friends we might never see again, thank you for visits to castles, thank you for picnics, thank you for art, thank you for train trips, thank you for history, thank you for cameras, thank you for French school, thank you for language, thank you for beautiful songs and thank you for feather pens.


starting the game


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Take a good look at it now. Walk around, pick it up, and check it out.

We were wandering around an old château for the afternoon. As we walked into the games room, 3 pairs of eyes scanned the room and settled on the chess set.


“What’s this game dad?”

“Can we play it?”

“Look, there’s a horse”

“That’s chess, it’s a pretty difficult game, I don’t know about playing it. It’s hard. And it’s long, It’ll take ages and we want to see some other things”

“But you can show us dad”


“Well… I don’t know…oh ok, we’ll show you how it works but we can’t play a proper game because we want to go to the madeleine making demonstration in the dungeon kitchen right?”

The kids and Nathan sit opposite. It’s them against me, just for a demonstration. And as Nathan starts pointing and describing the pieces to the children I watch Antigone’s face, defiantly, cautiously looking away. I see her internally analysing the situation, not as to how to play, but rather if it’s even worth starting.


I do that with life. I do that often. It’s too hard, I don’t know how, I’ll probably fail, someone else can do it better than me, it’s too much work, I won’t do a good job.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid;do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

But more often I wonder why I chose to start in the first place. From taking 4 grumpy kids to the playground or trying to make a family day-trip to a nearby town, to trying to organize French government forms, or moving countries a few times over. Why? It’d be so much easier and safer to have just not started in the first place.


Sometimes the game is just a lot harder than I thought it would be, I make mistakes, I can’t see what my options are, I don’t know it well enough to be able to plan ahead and even when I do my plans usually get stopped in their tracks and then it’s too late to change. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Kody’s gone off to play on the piano but the older two are focused. I watch as Tiggy looks at Nathan, “You’re on my team right, Dad?” and with a smile on her face she picks up the piece he pointed to, moves it where he shows her and starts out on a seemingly impossible task with confidence.


Thankfully, in the game of life, I have someone on my team too.

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

another little house



We were walking down the street, late on a quiet Sunday afternoon. The older kids were far ahead on their scooters. Nathan was carrying Kody whose sore toe was hurting again and Ezra was happily kicking in his stroller. And, as we like to do on many of our walks we were looking at houses, analyzing their character, their features and their style.


We walked past the tiny house on the corner and watched the lady who lives in it working in her lovingly planted garden. Her house is tiny, which is certainly not unusual in France, but this one draws our attention. White rendered, simple rectangular shape with just one shuttered window and a few steps up to a wooden door on the front, a couple of windows and a door at the back and one tiny window on one side, The roof is steep enough to very probably have loft or an attic but there are no windows for it. On the side are a few narrow steps down to a cellar, probably so she can store her surplus preserved fruits and vegetables from her garden. The block the house is on is quite large and the garden has been lovingly planned around it. A row of fruit trees along the front boarder, lawn paths winding between patches of this vegetable and that, plants requiring stakes at the back of the block. The garden is big and I’m sure it is quite productive. Or rather it will be, because you see, this house and garden are brand new.



And we wonder at that. We remember that as the building was being constructed we’d noticed how small it was and wondered what the building would be. As it became more obvious that it was a house we wondered if perhaps this was just the first stage, maybe it’s just a granny flat and they’ll build a bigger one to go along side, there was certainly room for one. But before the house was even finished the garden was beginning to be planted and it became obvious that there wouldn’t be a bigger one and we wondered why they had built it so small. There are many small houses around Orleans but they are almost all very old or built to fit into tiny spaces. Why, if they had the opportunity to build a new house on a large block, didn’t they build it bigger?

But yesterday as we walked past and saw her working in her garden, we realised. You know, maybe she chose to make her house small simply because she didn’t need it bigger. And we marvel that we wondered at it.

exhale: five minute friday


I haven’t blogged in ages so here’s a quick catch up to get me back into the swing of it… Breathe in.

Life is full on. All the usual- pretty much.

Several weeks of sickness. Several kids in our bed night after night coughing and crying alternately.

My birthday. 30th!! Cake, the crazy fun of magic candles, failed day-trip to Paris, train strike, beautiful day wandering Orléans centre with the family and my camera.


Kid’s last week of school. Teacher’s gifts (they did Aboriginal-style dot paintings of Australia with the “more places you’ll go” Dr Seuss quote) Tears, goodbyes.

Broken apartment lift. Work seminars. Job applications. Lost toys. Birthday parties. Church picnics.

End of school fair. Guess what? French bureaucracy starts at school. Line up at gate to buy tickets- 2 types, one for food and face painting etc., one for games, line up for games, win and earn different type of ticket, loose and probably get a ticket anyway, sometimes win a lolly also. Line up for food, pay with different amounts of one of the ticket types, try to figure out which ticket is for which. End the night with a handful of winning tickets and suddenly realize they are redeemable at the prize stand, rush to line up so the children can redeem a toy. A friend asks me, “Do you understand how it works?”

2 year old two-ishness. (I think I just found inspiration for another post, watch this spot)

Crazy weather, storms, rain, sunshine, sunburn, iceblocks, rain, storms, hail, lightning, sunburn.

But now: It’s the holidays!
Exhale …


(part of the five minute friday challenge run by one of my favorite bloggers over here)


incorruptible beauty



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANathan pointed the camera at me. Usually I’m behind the camera, I like it that way, I like trying to capture stories, moments in time, beautiful moments to remember in future years.  But sometimes I wish I could see me in the story of our life. And so I ask Nathan to take the camera.

I took a step back. I’m not very good at being on this side of the camera. I’m too self conscious, my expectations are too high. My imagination of what I want reality to be isn’t capturable with a camera. And I know it.

I sigh in frustration. I know I should keep quiet but why does he have to take a photo of me so close, step back and the imperfections will blur, why can’t he realize that I look better from the other angle, that a different view would highlight my better parts and hide some of my flaws.

“Well, what do you think the best parts of me are?” I ask a little annoyed.

The tiniest moment of tense quiet and then a little voice speaks up clearly and confidently from between us.


let it be
the hidden person of the
with the incorruptible beauty
of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is very precious
in the sight of God


And I realise that a message I’ve been so careful to send to my beauty conscious little girl over her 5 years, I may well have undone in an instant. But I didn’t because her beautiful strong heart knows better than to just listen to the complaining of her mum.

“Well that’s what God says mummy”

“oh… I’m sorry Tiggy, Thankyou for reminding me.” and I reach for her hand and continue our walk.

Take the camera. Use it to capture the beauty of our hearts.


“I can see me reflected in your eyes”


a new morning


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A few of my friends have had or will have big changes or moves in their life recently. This is for them: 

Change is coming again and it’s difficult, scary and overwhelming. There is so much to do, so many people to care for, so much to think about.


But right now, bigger than the uncertainty and excitement for what is to come, is the sadness.
Sadness for those you’ll leave behind, the many people you love, who you have real relationships with.
Sadness for your children who, perhaps for the first time, perhaps again, will experience the intense pain of leaving friends.
Sadness in leaving “home”. You already begin to ache when you say “Good morning” to the barista in your café, chat with teachers, laugh with the school mums, take your afternoon walk through the park.
Sadness in leaving the work you do, the people you’ve served with cheerfulness and love, the people you want to continue to be there for.
Sadness because despite best intentions you know deep down that many of those relationships, memories and traditions will fade and end, and it hurts, it hurts so much, for you and for them.

You long to stay because His purpose for you to serve in this place has rightly became your desire and His blessings have poured into your life as you so faithfully served him. You loved where he called you to love and served where he called you to serve. Now, He calls you away from these people and this place where he previously called you to be, to serve in a new way and love new people. And as you leave them in His hands, and once again make His purpose your desire, know that He also holds you with eternal love in His hand and His unchanging goodness and blessings will be with you forever.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.


stories of history


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“Doesn’t it make you feel like you need to be wearing medieval clothes!”
“Not really. Everyone’s just wearing normal clothes”
We’ve spent the last 2 weeks enjoying festivities from the “ Fêtes de Jeanne d’Arc” including parades, medieval markets, demonstrations and re-enactments. One thing that struck Nate and I was how authentic the whole thing was. So authentic that the children just saw it as normal. This last weekend (partly to encourage some creative writing in the children) We each spent a bit of time writing about the festivities.

Through the archway (by Penelope)


Through the archway is another world. An ancient world. A word where dreams and imagination have become reality. Where colour, smells and sounds combine to bring the past into the present.


A world where children forget their countless toys at home to play with wooden balls and metal disks on the street in endless fun.


A world where women dance and laugh in genuine uninhibited joy.

Where men play lutes and sing with smiles on their faces.

Where shopkeepers sell cheese cut directly off the large cheese-wheels, handcrafted jewelry made while you wait and homemade sweets in paper bags.


Where mothers teach their babies to clap their hands in time with the street musicians

Where fathers help their children draw arrows in their bows.

Where tavern owners make potato and sausages or pig on a spit for friends gathering around the courtyard looking for a meal to eat.

Where jokers entertain the gathered crowds for hours on end with simple songs and ancient tricks.

Where despite the façade made necessary by the passing of the ages, the joy, the excitement, the friendliness, the community, the imagination and the dreams are genuine in a place, through the archway, where time stands still and people just are.


The Last Arrow (by Miles)


I won, I won I hit him with the last arrow.
We were fighting because we were in a war.
The English people were fighting the French people.
They tried to shoot us with a cannon but missed.
It was easy because I was in a really good position.




Seven Medieval Minstrels (By Nathan)


My attention was drawn to the sound of archaic instruments that was blown toward us on the wind. We followed the sound to find a band of medieval minstrels within a growing gathering of people. We found a place in the crowd where we could see them, looking as if they’d just stepped out of the Middle Ages. The instruments they were playing not only appeared foreign, but the sound we heard was as if it was being transported to us from centuries earlier in time. I became captured in that moment by the sheer authenticity of the scene before me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy now, surrounding the musicians was a big crowd, many of whom were moving to the music and it was hard not to follow along. I was giving Kody a piggy-back for a better view and we were both getting into it. It was certainly a memorable experience and made me think about the life of a travelling musician in medieval times. It also made me realize how timeless music can be. It may have been simple in structure, but it was emotionally moving, energetic and engaging and carried the sentiment of times long ago.



Fighting then Friends (by Antigone)

I was fighting and I was trying to kill someone with a sword. There was a war. I was an Australian fighting all the French. At the end I was fighting one French person. I had a sword and 3 guns. The French person only had a sword. Then I stopped fighting and became friends with all the countries.