My best friend’s wedding…

Jenna and Aaron reading their vows to each other...

This past weekend I had the honour of being a bridesmaid for Jenna and Aaron Horn’s wedding!

Jenna was one of the first friends I ever met in Nashville when I first moved here.  She reached out to me at a young adults gathering at Michael W Smith’s barn during one of the first weeks I was here and we’ve been great friends ever since!

Last year you may recall me posting updates about Jenna going in for brain surgery after she had a brain seizure in March.

Just a few weeks before that horrible day, unbeknownst to her at the time – Jenna met the love of her life!   They’d gone on just three dates before she ended up in the hospital.  Admirably, Aaron pursued Jenna even though they were still at that awkward stage of ‘just getting to know each other’ and not totally knowing where each other were at.  I remember Aaron just hanging out in the waiting room hoping to be able to deliver flowers he’d bought for Jenna… and Jenna wanting to see him but not being sure whether or not it was appropriate.  Needless to say, she allowed him in and he barely left her side – for the months of recovery.  Caring for her like a husband would and should.  It was precious to watch.

Getting ready for the big wedding!

LOVE is my God, & God is LOVE.

~Jenna

It was truly a blessing being part of this Godly couples special day.  The couple, both in their early thirties had saved themselves for each other and had faithfully waited for the Lord’s perfect timing!

My favourite line from Aaron’s vows was when he said he was making his princess his Queen on this special day… with tears in his eyes!  It was all a bit moving!  Why don’t they make movies this good!

All the best Aaron and Jenna!

 

A bitter sweet Easterfest – part three

I just had to share this incredible story a leader in Townsville (1500kms from Easterfest) Peter Thomas Hall shared with me about their experience at the festival – that ended a little different to anything we expected! (see previous posts)

Testimony of the
“One Heart, One Mind” Easterfest 2011 Tour

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“As Iron Sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens another” Pro 27:17
May you be encouraged by this.
By Peter Thomas-Hall
So where to begin, I wonder, I guess at the start. I have been going to Easterfest for quite a while, it always promises to be 4 of the funnest days of the year. There is the meeting of new friends, seeing friends again at this yearly meeting place, lots of good bands, pranks, way too little sleep, moshing and other testosterone fuelled activities that seem so prevalent at the hardcore bands. Easterfest is different from most other festivals in that it is full of Christians – so anger and aggression aren’t generally seen (which is good in a thrash pit!). The friends and the people you meet was in my opinion the greatest attraction.
​Last year (2010) was the first year that I took a group down from Townsville, and braved the 17 hr journey in our church’s 12-seater. It was as I expected a lot of fun and full of memories, and while we were there we met many others from Townsville who independently braved to journey. We concluded when we got back that we had to do it again, and try to organise to go with some of our new-found Townsvillian friends. Indeed, around October 2010 we started to pray for buses to go down to the festival in. Not much happened till February when I finally got a news item up and had an interest of about 8 people. Prophetess Faylene Sparks on a visit called me out the front and had a word for me, part of which was that ‘good things are going to come out of Easterfest, and that people would be saved from it’. I was quite shocked at the thought that this would be more than a fun time. When I was asked for the group name I had originally thought ‘The Knights of Adoni’ but 30 seconds before they asked, God put into my head ‘One Heart, One Mind’. This rang true on camp.
​As time moved on, more people joined the group and it grew from 8, to 28, to 35, to 40, to 46 with the final number being 83, from 12 different churches! I had been on the keen hunt for a free bus for several months, and all that we had was our church 12 seater. Our group grew but the means for transport didn’t, which weighed heavily on me. One day whilst sitting on the toilet, God put a verse in my mind, “be anxious for nothing, but everything through prayer and supplication”. Then I thought………….what the heck is supplication?! That evening I handed out forms for the tour at a few different churches, and even though I didn’t need to go to North Reach Baptist, I found myself there listening to a word from Pastor Christian, from Philippians 4, about prayer and supplication. In summary, it goes “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice! (That is hard to do), be anxious for nothing but everything through pray and supplication (or petition), and thanksgiving (I needed to be thankful), and God will grant you a peace that surpasses all understanding to guard your heart and your mind”. After the word I went up for prayer and cried for the first time in several years. God wanted me there that evening to be encouraged in what I was doing. I also kept receiving heartfelt, God-inspired encouragement wherever I went. God indeed wants us to be encouraged.
​One week before we were leaving to go, we still only had a 12-seater bus, but I had a peace in my heart nonetheless. Progressively over the course of the next week, transport was worked out, but we still needed more, and 5 minutes before we left we still needed seats for 6 people. 5 people it turned out had gotten lifts with friends or a flight down there and suddenly we only needed a space for 1 more! Someone who heard about the group asked if they could convoy down with us, and they happened to have ONE spare seat! We were off! Well… maybe not as soon as we planned due to the bus being 24V and the trailer being 12V. So after a few hours of soldering 12V lights in series and reinstalling them, we were off again.
Half the group as we left Townsville​​​ Me soldering lights together in the dark

The trip down was interesting. We lost the convoy, sent cars ahead, caught up with them twice, got diverted to a different route due to unexpected flooding, and half-way there we had a major trailer tyre blowout. The tyre was ripped to shreds and the rim completely stuffed. We had no wheel brace to undo the nuts to put on the spare. Luckily however, the add-in to the convoy had a wheel brace the right size, praise God! We ended up getting to Toowoomba 6 hours later than we hoped, but by the grace of God we were there!
The very shredded tyre

After setting up tents and eating dinner, we had an evening meeting in our big 7m x 7m marquee given to us by Easterfest. We invited many random people from the surrounds to join us. We sang songs, and as we did the Easterfest co-ordinators came up and filmed us doing so. I then invited a good friend, Laura White, up to speak and give her testimony. She gave a very powerful testimony of how she was going to commit suicide and had an encounter with God. God progressively led her to the mission field in India and she saw many miracles. On her last trip she got typhoid, then gastroenteritis, then tonsillitis, and ended up being in hospital for nearly a year in India. Even though she was in a horrible state, doctors, nurses and other patients kept asking her why she was so happy when she should be miserable. Through this she could give her testimony and many people came to know God through it. The testimony was very powerful and one lady from a different group came to me saying that God wanted her to share her testimony. This was very powerful also, about how God had healed her. Over 100 people were there from many different churches, but there was an incredible sense of unity, “We are the church” was said many times during the camp.

The cold foggy campsite one morning
The Friday was full of fun and bands and socialising. My favourite part was the 8 o’clock morning praise and worship session, it truly was powerful. Around 10:30 that night a friend rushed down to me exclaiming “Pete, there are people getting healed up there in the campsite”, and truly there was! A lady who was in crutches with a severely dislocated knee was talking to a bunch of randoms, and they decided to pray for her. In front of their eyes and a video camera the knee cap moved around from the side of her knee to where it should be! The injury happened 3 weeks prior and could not be put back in place. After this people in wheel chairs were healed! I ran up to my campsite to tell our group. “People are getting healed and there are amazing miracles happening down there” I exclaimed to everyone present. I was keen to get people down there when someone had a bright idea of us praying for Ryan. He had just suffered a broken finger from a wall of death at the O’Sleeper concert (a wall of death is when the crowd separates into two parts and when they say “GO” they charge each other. Very stupid and dangerous, and I wish I could have been in it). Ryan had already been to the First Aid and they said “Yeah, it’s broken, you can’t do anything about it, try not to be stupid in future”.
So it was decided that we should pray for Ryan’s broken finger. There were 20 or so of us there and we all started to pray. After a couple minutes of prayer we asked how it was. It had a little bit more movement and a little less sore. “Let’s keep praying” was the general consensus, so we did. After 3 minutes of prayer, there was more movement, less pain. After 5 minutes, there was almost complete movement and very little pain! “Let’s finish this!” people said. After the next little prayer, Ryan had complete movement and no pain. It is a cool story to say that you broke your finger at an O’Sleeper concert, but way cooler to say that God then healed it!
Immediately after this miracle a 15-year-old girl, Caitlin, stood up and asked if we could pray for her next. She had been in a car accident 2 years ago and had 4 smashed vertebrate. She was not going to come to Easterfest due to the intense pain that she was still in, but at the last minute she joined the group. The farthest she had been able to bend for the past 2 years was to her knees. She sat down and we all started to pray for her. After a few minutes I felt her back suddenly straighten up and her shoulders move back, and shaking and crying she got to her feet. She then touched her toes for the first time in over 2 years! SHE TOUCHED HER TOES! God did an amazing miracle in her life and we all praised God for it.
Next to stand was my fiery friend, Roxanne. She had a lumbar puncture when she was 12 and it left her with back pain since; she described it like a constant fist in her back. I asked Caitlin to pray for Roxy, and my goodness her faith was increased! This small 15-year-old who is still very young in her walk with God, prayed with such fervour, passion, conviction and power that it was truly amazing. God instantly healed Roxanne! Even though Roxy had been prayed for many times in the church by different people with healing ministries, that night was Roxanne’s night to be healed. Roxy then prayed for the next person who needed to be healed, and even though I have seen Roxy pray many times before, I have never seen her like this! God gave her a new measure of faith and she was on FIRE!
That evening, 8+ people were healed from physical and mental problems. We had random groups come in and join with us in the prayer. We had 8 girls that were 15-16 years old, and you will probably know that it is extremely hard to get adolescents to do anything for any period of time. They and the others were praying from 11pm till 2:15am, over 3 hours! You cannot get youth to do that, only God can. They could not stop thanking God for all He had done and what He was doing in them.
Next morning, I went to the 8am service early and told the pastor in brief what had happened the night before. He asked if I would get up and tell everyone, so I agreed. I prayed to God that He work though me when I tell of the events, and He did. I was motioned to get up, and still praying to God, I delivered what happened. The place was packed, people spilling out of the test – at a guess around 500 people were there. As I spoke the response was deafening, and with each new miracle told, the chorus of praise grew. After this, I asked Ben Kurylowicz (my brother in war) if I was legible, “Very much so” was the reassuring reply. After the meeting, lots of people came and our group prayed for more people.
My good friend Ben then rang every tyre store in the city, and all were shut for the Easter holidays. But eventually someone answered a phone. A student, studying, who works there answered and he agreed to change our shredded tyre. Ben took the trailer in and the fellow was horrified to see the condition of the other wheel that hadn’t popped. “I can’t believe that hasn’t blown” he said, “That tyre would not get another 50km”. So by the grace of God we had not gotten two blown tyres on the 1700km journey, and by God’s grace we could get two new tyres put on the trailer.
Throughout the day it was fantastic to share the testimony of what God had done. That evening around 6:30pm, I looked into the sky and started to see some BIG drops of rain fall. “Hmmm, hope this doesn’t continue”. It did. I ducked for cover in a Christian motorcycle tent, hoping the rain would ease up. It didn’t. I shared my testimony with everyone in there and many people were encouraged, and I was shouted dinner and drinks during the rain. The water level rose… and rose, and many youth were running around and sliding down the hill. Though the water was ankle deep we saw people backstroking down the river. There were many items floating downstream, mostly thongs. The roof of the main tent, right above where the artists were congregated, developed a little pool of water… which rapidly became a lake. People started to notice and they all ran out seconds before the roof came down. No one was injured. We had over 50mm of water in half an hour. On my evacuation from the park, I saw Joy Argow, the Easterfest co-ordinator, directing people. “I don’t know how” I said, “but God IS going to bring to good out of this”. Up at the campsite people were in tatters. There was water though all the tents and mud everywhere. Peoples asthma was playing up, which made them freak out, which made the asthma worse. Lots of people were freaking out and going into shock from the cold. “This place is full of Christians who love God” I yelled, “So God WILL bring the good out of this”.
We had many calls from friends of friends offering our wet and cold campers a warm place to sleep. We shipped out the priority people first, and then most others followed. There were a dozen of us left who didn’t want to go to bed, so we sang praises to God for 3 hours into the night. For many people, this was the defining point of the festival. The rain on the radar only pelted a small area of Toowoomba, a concentrated dot pretty much right over the Queens park area. The next day was nice and sunny (thank God!); but most of the main events were cancelled, so we left a day earlier than planned. On the way back home I prayed and asked my beautiful wife Sarah to pray that we all have one last God moment on the way back home. We did.
Wet but happy “One Heart, One Mind” Easterfest group
I received a text from a newly-made friend saying that Easterfest was on the news and they saw me and my group praising God (from the Thursday night) on it! I learned that Easterfest has never before had real media coverage. Even though it is the biggest Christian festival in the southern hemisphere, and over 40, 000 people rocked up, it has never been on TV! But this year, due to the flash flooding, the cameras came in and instead of just the 40, 000 people being impacted by Easterfest, 20 million AUSTRALIANS saw what was happening. God indeed brings the good out of everything for those who love him.
On the way back home, we had one more healing and God increased the faith of us all, even though it happened at 4am. The other vehicles had their God moment as well. Aiden Frewen-Lord’s vehicle had a 5-hour impromptu church service, singing and reading the Bible. When it got dark and before the moon came out, they noticed how amazing the stars were in that part of the land. They pulled over and gazed to the heavens praising God for the wonder of his creation. Lorne’s crew travelled south to experience a death-defying swing built by my brother James, and very much enjoyed the farm life and my parents’ excellent hospitality as well. Most of them want to go live with my parents now!
The crew that did the farm swing
God taught me a lot through all the events and planning of the Easterfest tour. Most of which can be summed up into Philippians Chapter 4. It is so important to rejoice in the hard times, for that is when we truly grow, and pray with thankfulness to God. God for the third time in my life, gave me a peace that surpassed all understanding, which DID guard my heart and mind for this endeavour. That peace and Gods provision and grace made all that has been said possible. His grace is indeed sufficient for me.
May God bless you.
Peter Thomas-Hall.

A bitter sweet Easterfest – part two

Photo by Craig Paulsen (www.craigpaulsenphoto.com)

You can catch up with Part one of the crazy saga that unfolded at Easterfest in my earlier post – A bitter sweet Easterfest.

“What are we going to do to make sure we don’t get a repeat of Saturday nights flash flooding at Easterfest next year.  I really want to come again but I don’t want to waste my money if it’s cancelled again!” was the phone call complaint of the year for me.  Hmmm… “God, can you please help with that one?”

I know during my broken attempts to sleep that Saturday night after eventually crawling into my dry warm bed, I too was having my own question time with God whilst fighting back tears of disappointment…  Wondering why in the world he’d allow an event we had worked on all year to be prematurely ended by such a downpour!   An event that was supposedly meant to bring life and economic relief back into the city after Toowoomba’s devastating floods in January.

Questions upon questions flooded my mind… had we done something wrong to warrant it?  Was Satan throwing his weight around?  Was some kind of battle happening over the grounds of Easterfest that us mere mortals couldn’t even begin to fathom?  Was this a “Job” moment?  What would be our fate?  Questions no one could answer on this side of eternity.  Many of us have probably asked similar questions of late as we’ve been brought to sheer disbelief watching disaster upon disaster unfold around the world – some in our very own neighbourhoods.

Maybe George Bernard Shaw’s quote, “Life wasn’t meant to be easy, my child, but take courage: it can be delightful!” is true.  God hasn’t promised life would be easy.  In actual fact, have you read Christ’s life story?  He sure didn’t get it easy.  His death was sort before he even walked!!!

His promise to us though, is - “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb 13:5)  So we can be assured, as Christians, amidst the trials life throws us, he’s in the thick of it with us.

To quote an anonymous person’s observation of Easterfest “God pulled the carpet out from underneath us and then caught us in the palm of his hand”.  So whatever the case… the reasons… the criticisms… God may have used some extreme measures to bring our attention to something…  or Satan could have been allowed to mess with us (like in the case of Job)… whatever unfounded reason we could possible conjure up… God has and will provided for all our needs.

He allowed the disturbance to be dramatic enough to give nationwide coverage on every news channel (sample here).  The tent that collapse was safely evacuated and no one was seriously injured.  Much of the Sunday’s park schedule was able to be reconvened to the city (thus pouring even more economic resources back into the businesses of Toowoomba then otherwise would have been possible!) and the vibe was absolutely electric.  For the thousands that stuck around, the night before became the catalyst for a ‘delightful’ day after – that many have reflected on as their best Easterfest ever!

So although things didn’t pan out as WE planned, I have a peace that through this ‘disturbance’ to our human plans greater victories were won then could possibly have been otherwise!

…in saying that… I do hope we can have a ‘no rain’ Easterfest in 2012!

An eye test for a good employee?

The other day I had the most interesting conversation with my optometrist about how to find good employees.  A bit of our history… I was friends with his sister during high school and he somehow convinced us to let him and his now wife go on their first date riding my horses!  Evidently it worked… they’ve been happily married for like 15 years so far!

So anyway, every two years or so, whilst doing my eye test we catch up on what’s been happening over the years.  This visit he began sharing about frustrations he’s been having with finding good, reliable staff.  How disappointed he is in the current employable generations ability to show any attention to detail or even care.  And their inability to give a dam whether or not their mistake could actually cost someone else money!

He told me he wished he could do an eye test with a potential employee rather then a traditional interview because it would be easier to discern actually employable qualities then from reading a tarted up resume and asking a few questions.  He said from an eye test, he could even tell whether or not someone was an eldest child and what their attention to detail was like.  I questioned him on this and he used me as an example… He said that when he was testing my eyes he would change the lenses to be only the slightest bit off (either side of the lens that I had first said was most accurate) and I would somehow manage to choose the same one.  He said he’d had some customers choose lenses that where clearly NOT clear… because he’d throw them a curb ball to see if they could actually make a decision!  So watch out… there could be people out there wearing glasses that still can’t see!!!

From his experience most times and oldest child would make a more accurate judgement and generally had a quirky appreciation for details.  He was right… I am an oldest child and I would say I have some attention to detail.  (However, I wouldn’t say any better then my siblings… we’d need to do an eye test to sus that one out!  Lol!)  I certainly get frustrated when I make mistakes that could have been prevented had I noticed… I think I’m either slightly ADD or my ‘people skills’ probably distract me from being as proficient (or as anal) as I could be.

It’s interesting hey… How would you fair if given an eye test to determine your prospect as a future employee? It is sad to think that our generations aperture to work today is far from desirable.  My optometrist has resorted to importing employees from the UK!  Are we being detrimental to ourselves?  We seem to be taking for granted employment as if were ‘owed’ to us.  I’d say I have some US friends who may have thought the same thing once… who are now wishing they had work after months and months of unemployment since their countries relatively unexpected economic crisis.

Think about how you could value your employer today.  And what you could do to be more grateful for your job.  No one is irreplaceable.

Social Media’s impact on Floods

Water inundated this house half way up the roof. See the debris line.

Yesterday was a bit of an emotionally daunting day… (thus the failure to blog!) We came over to my bros house for power and brekky… The floods waters had begun to subside and I got really restless and hated the thought of sitting around and doing nothing.  The night before I had posted a blog including this video of a house completely under water in Karalee.  Through twitter and facebook, two different strangers – Adrian and Carly from Karalee found the youtube video and asked if I could go and shoot some footage and take photos of their homes to prepare them for how bad their situation was because they were unable to get close enough to asses themselves…  And to see if I could see any stray chooks wandering around the neighbourhood.  I found one person who had spotted them… but they are yet to be found… hopefully they found a good home!

Wandering around neighbourhoods I met more people in MY community then I ever have and heard story after story of hardship and loss.  I met ‘Pete’ and ‘Andy’ in the shop carpark up the road.  They had made their way out of their isolated quarters on dirt bikes… I broke the news to them that the grocery store was out of power… thus out of food, KFC and smokes.  We ended up having a great chat.  Andy’s house was completely under water and Pete was housing them.  Funny story – I spoke to Pete tonight and he’s now wired his house to run off a generator!  Must look pretty funny being the only house in a neighbourhood with power!

Today, around lunch time I visited ‘Adrian’s’ house.  The site was repulsive…

Personal belongings turned to landfill. Onya Mark!

overwhelming and seemly impossible to clean up.  I offered to take some clothes to wash and my parents and a good friend Mark stayed to clean up.  By the time I got back you could see the floor boards.  People from all over the place (maybe 20 people), unaffected by floods had turned up and just kept knocking on doors till they could find someone to help.  It was truly amazing.

As I said in early blogs, my brother in North Ipswich had power the whole time.  So we hit up his neighbours to help wash people’s clothes.  This morning Tim and I return a basket of clothes to an elderly lady he had met the day earlier.  She just held the clean clothes up to her face and shed tears of thankfulness.  It was tear jerking for sure… somehow something so taken for granted every other day mean so much today!  It was inspiring!  I just want to thank the ‘mums’ in North Ipswich who chipped in (and still are) washing horrible, muddy clothes… I’m sure you never want to see another load again… and you may never know how  much your help is immensely appreciated.  One teenager was grateful she didn’t have to wear the same t-shirt for a forth day!

Imagine returning to your office and seeing it in this state...

The second home I visited was Karlie’s.  Her two story house went under up to the eaves.  She was devastated to say the least.  Thinking the water couldn’t possibly get to the second floor she left all her precious officework and business papers behind (and everything else) and escaped with her animals… only to come home today to find them not only saturated with mud and water but also covered with dirty, soaking insulation that had fallen everywhere when the ceiling collapsed.  It was ghastly.  Anyone that goes through this deserves a medal I reckon.  I can’t comprehend it.  Seeing all worldly possessions ending up over the balcony railing in a pile of rubble!

Carlie put it right though when she said, ‘It’s just stuff’ as we were looking down at the growing pile of rubble.  It really is.  We have our lives… and the stuff we’re blessed with along the way is just with us for a season.  At some point we’ll all leave it behind.  These guys have just all had an early ‘spring cleaning’.  Makes you refocus on what truly matters.  People. Humanity.  Love. Sharing.  Serving.

In some ironic way this flood has been a blessing.  I’ve watched introverted people who dont like hanging out with people be forced to reach out or allow people to love on them.  No human should have to deal with a crisis like this alone.  And I don’t think we were made for that.  Community.  Sometimes I think the third world countries have this worked out better then us.  They might not have much… but they live together, eat together, farm together… they KNOW each other.  It takes us a natural disaster for us to realise we even have neighbours!  I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the statement – “We’re gonna have to have a street party after this to celebrate!”  And that’s what will happen. Queenslander’s are resilient!  We will fight for each other.  We will survive… and we will know how to LOVE better and SERVE better.   I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many ‘troopers’ in Karalee.  I hope and pray God blesses you in your loss and provides in ways you could never think possible.

Love how twitter, facebook and youtube actually connected me to stranger who are now ‘real people’ who are becoming friends!

On a POSITIVE note…  today I got to visit my new beautiful niece!  She was born last night in Ipswich hospital.  Thankfully the waters had subsided enough for them to get to the hospital safely.  Congratulations Cherie and Matt.

Ipswich flood Peaks 2011

Talking to locals on the Warrego Highway between Dinmore and Mt Crosby exit. Spoke to at least 5 people who'd lost their homes. Some had to be boated out!

It’s so surreal saying things like “The flood peak is expected 5 hours from now in the Brisbane river” and “now is the time to evacuate” … Scott McDonald

Last night, Ipswich was inundated with the murky, brown sea of water.  At 2am, the two guys stranded at my house (DaveEasterfest work colleague and Andrew his friend from Melbourne, here for a few weeks holiday/Easterfest prepping) and I decided to go for a walk around our house.  It was a dark, dark eerie night.  Power off…  very few cars around and the sound of water and boats in the distance.  The grocery store up the road had about 20 or 30 people sleeping (stranded from their homes) in the carpark.  We then wandered down the Warrego Highway to follow the sound of the water… till I got a bit too creeped out and suggested we go home!

At first light this morning (or should I say… when we awoke!) we ventured down the Warrego Highway towards Brisbane to see the massive body of water that had engulfing the Warrego highway and all the land surrounding it.  Within ten minutes of being there we spoke to probably five different families who’d lost their entire homes.  Women were in tears… men just stood in shock looking across the sea of water they’d been rescued from trying to stay strong for their families.  It was surreal.

We then headed down another nearby street (Junction Road in Karalee) and found more water.  Only the antenna of a home sticking out of the water.  The water stealthily crept into the city of Ipswich and invaded 1/3 of the city.  (Land value of these homes are 350K to probably around 650K so enormous loss)

This is footage I shot of a local explaining where houses where… here.

I’ve posted more pics on my facebook page here of my ventures around Ipswich the City I live in.

Raw footage here of Ipswich as the sun arose.  Despite the beautiful sunny day… devastation everywhere to be found.

Tonight Brisbane City is bracing for their worst flood possibly in history.  1000′s of people have been evacuated… the city is being flooded.  So sad to think just a week ago my brother and I road along the awesome River front bike paths around the city.  All completely under now… the floatable bikeway floated off into the bay tonight joining the rest of the debris (including many expensive boats!)…. thankfully it missed bridges as it escaped.  Here are some aerial views of Brisbane as of this afternoon here.  It will get much worse then this by morning.

Horror stories are now coming out of the town of Grantham as the waters subside and attempts are made to find all the missing people from that community.  This video is a graphic representation of what that community is going though.  Here.

Great explanation of how the Toowoomba Flood happened on Monday’s doom day – despite it being 700m above sea level. here.

ABC news photos here.

INSANE pics of cars been thrown around like match sticks in Toowoomba here.

I’ve been speaking to a couple of my American friends during the past couple of days.  Interesting to see they are experience crazy snow storms…   I’m glad to hear though that this ‘Australian’ news is actually making it into international news.  As I’ve shared though, it seems like it’s been minimal.  No one has really been aware of how intense the situation is over here.  I hope this post paints a more realistic picture of how catastrophic things really are here.  About 3/4 of this state have been affected by floods – an area about the size of Texas.  Drastic floods began in other parts of our state just before Christmas… so we are all overwhelmed as daily we are hearing about a new town or city being inundated – especially as it now upon us so close to home.  Thousands have lost everything.  Farmers have lost their crops… many for second and third times this year…  Fruit markets in Brisbane have been flooded making fresh produce even harder to come by.   Shopping centres are running dry… or being made impossible to get too.  Withcott has no water and other towns are being told they need to conserve or boil to kill eccoli.  The flood is now moving south into New South Wales.  When will it stop!?! Will you pray for us as a nation… that God will have mercy on us and that our people (including our atheist leaders) will turn to HIM in this tragic moment.

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  2 Chron 7:14

Think of it like this… every person has a story of how they or someone they know has personally been affected by this flood.  It is literally that wide spread.  We can only hope and pray that people we know haven’t lost their lives… and our prayers and deepest sympathies are with anybody that has lost someone in such horrific circumstances.

Hoping to get out somewhere and help tomorrow… feel so helpless watching it all on the news.  Thanks for praying and sharing your love.  If you’re an Aussie and want to volunteer click here. I you can donate PLEASE do so by clicking HERE.

Salvaging a vintage handbag

My mother was given this handmade leather handbag (we think) in 1978 as a Christmas present by my dad.  30 years later I found it and it’s now classified as vintage and has held its value!  I love it… and I love that you can mix black with brown and be fashionably acceptable – much to my sister’s disapproval!

It’s funny how something that has been hanging around the house for my whole life (literally!) suddenly has once again become fashionable and of value.  It’s interesting how our ‘perceptions’ change as we are influence externally by trends and changes in the world we live in.  Makes you think hey?

Do our perceptions of people, friends and even family change just as flippantly?

Is there someone we have been taking for granted because ‘they’ve just always been there’ or ‘they are always around’.  Maybe it’s time to get their ‘value’ reassessed.  They might be more valuable to you then you can ever dare live without and deserve a little ‘cherishing’.  Classifying someone as ‘vintage’ might sound like you’re ‘dating’ them so maybe there is a classier way to recognise a friend who’s really been their for you then that.  I’d encourage you to do that today and then think about how you can be a better friend to someone.

So thanks Mum for preserving this treasure!  What else do you have!?!

I met some heros!

Des and Jenny Oatridge missionary's to the Binumarien tribe in PNG

Today I met some real live hero’s – Des and Jenny Oatridge.  They wouldn’t agree with me and probably would be embarrassed that I’m mentioning them in my blog.  A few weeks ago I finished reading the book ‘Hidden People’ about their story with the Binumarien tribe in Papua New Guinea.  It is a remarkable and inspiring story about the impact the Scriptures had on a small, dying tribe when translated into their own language.  By 1959 the number of Binumariens had dropped from 3000 to 111.  This couple, now in their 80′s, spent years painstakingly translating the scriptures for this people group who were deeply rooted in tribal fighting and thought the scriptures they’d heard translated from another language were stories of spirits and magical rituals.

It’s a great real life adventure and totally worthwhile read!  One story that sticks in my mind was when Des translated the genealogy’s in Matthew 1. (the part I find myself skipping over!)  A very talented local guy, Sisia became Des’ regular translation helper and when the meaning of this chapter became evident he became extremely excited.  It was almost a tense moment when the reality of the revelation they had uncovered was revealed to the tribe.  If I remember correctly, Des was scared as the information was processed.  The people realised that the ‘bible people’ were indeed REAL people and not spirits… because SPIRITS don’t have genealogy’s!  It was incredible how from that point on the scriptures translated took on new authority.  For a long time the thought Des and Jenny were actually spirits!  (Check out this great blog from The Translation Beat about a return trip the Oatridge’s had to the tribe years later)

So… to meet Des and Jenny as I was walking the final one kilometer of ‘The 2000 walk’ was a real honour.  The 2000 walk was a 2000km awareness walk that three guys from Stanthorpe – Dave Carnell, Andrew Carnell and Andrew Savage organised in order to raise awareness about the great need for bible translation in the world today.  Still over 2000 languages don’t have a single scripture in their native tongue.

Here’s some pics of the last 10km walk… I’m sore… I honestly don’t know how they did it.  80 days of walking… please check out the blog to become more aware of how good we have it!

The 2000 walk

The three guys were joined by nearly 100 supporters for the final 10kms.

The incredible scenery along the journey was... distracting!

The crowd... despite the rain!

Treasuring the singlehood season…

Capturing the beauty before it fades

I’ve been learning a lot lately about cherishing and treasuring the season I’m in.  God, for whatever reason, has allowed me to be still doing life single… I was going to say ‘alone’ but I don’t actually feel that is really the case for the most part.  I feel so richly blessed by the precious friends God has and is constantly putting around me… .  Yes of course, my soul craves to meet my soul partner… my other half… my life companion… the one who’s suppose to fill the man shaped void.

But the moment right now is what I’m choosing to be joyful in… I’m choosing to be content… I’m choosing life in.  (Or at least trying to!)  We can get so consumed by wanting what we don’t have – whether it be a partner… a divorce… a better job…our kids to just grow up and be gone… a better car…an iPhone 4… a holiday… a day off… a better figure…  a better this or a better that… and we forget to actually enjoy LIFE!  Those things actually come and go and we FORGET how set our heart was on actually having them in the first place!

The sunset that faithfully comes each evening to remind us of our creator… our sustainer and provider

I’m so grateful for the precious friends I’ve met or even grown up with… who are setting examples of spouses and parents who are striving and PRAYING that they leave a legacy worth living for.  They are not pretentious and are the first to admit their faults and absolute need for God in every circumstance.  A happy marriage is a choice… well behaved and disciplined children is hardwork… both are completely worth signing up for… but once it’s happening there is no stopping.  So singles… join me on the journey of contentment in singleness… yet anticipation and excitement about the future gifts of marriage… and life.  Cheers to Mr Right!  I look forward to meeting you!

‎”We must aim to put more into life than we take out.” – J. Oswald Sanders

Church Fragmentation

Sightseeing in Dunedin, NZ 2008

Today I met up with a ‘twitter’ friend from Newcastle, Rick Prosser who happened to be in meetings across the road from the Easterfest office, where I was working today.  We had a really interesting conversation.  Having just returned from a 25 day Easterfest trip I was sharing a little about the places I visited and the people I met when Rick asked a really thought provoking question – ‘So where in your opinion is the ‘church’ in Australia at?’

A really good question!  I’ve actually been thinking a lot about church, faith and evangelism lately.  I get so frustrated seeing the fragmentation of Christians through what we call denominations.  Instead of being a people  transformed by the message of Christ we are either numb, grumpy pew warmers or we are passionate advocates for the particular brand of ‘church’ we’re in – absorbed in meetings with fellow ‘members’ trying make something within four walls attractive to the thought of someone actually walking in from the real world… which so rarely ever happens!

I recently listened to the documentary made by Erwin McManus called ‘CRAVE: The Documentary’.  Such a worthwhile listen.  He talks about how Christians possibly need to learn how to listen and step into the story of others and realise that God has ALREADY been speaking to them.  Everyone is on the journey.  Everyone has Soul Cravings.  People, more then anything are craving AUTHENTIC community are actually really open to having a meaningful conversation with another human being who has met Jesus.   BUT they might not actually step through the doors of a church to find it… unfortunately the ‘c’ word has left a bad stench in many peoples mouths.

So back to the original question… I’m not sure where the different denominations are at… but I certainly have met some amazing followers of Christ in the last month who are living, sharing and breathing life and love into the communities they are in.  There is a hunger for more.

I’ve always wondered what would happen if instead of us sending a pastor to a struggling little church in the outback….what if we sent a bunch of Christians – a teacher, a doctor, a chappy, a family or three, a miner… real authentic people who have a relationship with Christ.  People who ‘reflected’ their faith… who were the ‘church’… imagine how the reputation of the Church could be transformed!

What do you think?