Monday, November 30, 2009

Remember To Look Down Too

remember to look down too

1000 gratitudes...

143. Waking up to Good Mornings from loved ones across the ocean.
144. Generally good health (especially when I fixate on wanting clearer skin and a smaller butt).
145. Knowing I have Someone to trust with the unknown.
146. The excitement of approaching time with my sister and mum.
147. Lotion for dry hands.
148. Music for a restless soul.
149. An ocean out my window.
150. Seaside stepping stones.
151. A latte at a cloudy beach.
152. Calming waves.
153. The many places where my feet have sunk into sand.
154. Raindrops on bare skin.
155. The need to know we're not alone...and the relationships which that leads us to.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Clothes Lines: Still Well-Loved in New Zealand

prettier than a dryer too.

1000 gratitudes...

132. The closest thing to a sunrise I've witnessed in a long time (light at 5:45am).
133. Realizing something once found uncomfortable has grown familiar and cozy.
134. Morning tea time.
135. Fish and chips, friends, and Pinot Noir at a bay-side park on Sunday afternoon.
136. Catching up with States-side friends.
137. Happy songs to counter the depressing ones.
138. Intentional beauty-seeking time with a camera lens.
139. Walking back into a home I've known before.
140. Another walk down to Rothesay Bay with a certain Jack Russell Terrier.
141. Funny French films.
142. Quiet ending to the day with Sandra (and a bit of Derek).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gentle Murmurs from Sea

1000 gratitudes...

120. Takapuna Beach.
121. Sand in my shoes.
122. Cozy clouds.
123. Sun breaks.
124. Getting to see deeper into friends.
125. Laughing off potential frustration.
126. Sharing things we love.
127. Community at mealtime (even when the meal isn't my preferred foods).
128. Artistic aesthetic (richly found in a new shop: The Department Store).
129. Composting.
130. The feel of the air right before a rain shower.
131. Dusk's stillness.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Orange Spiced Goodness

pumpkin pie

1000 gratitudes...

109. Pumpkin pie.
110. Another Thanksgiving meal.
111. A park to read in.
112. Making a lull in the day for stillness, Word, and journal.
113. Babies' new teeth.
114. Four-year-old innocence and joy.
115. Never being too old for swinging.
116. Climbing and spinning.
117. The imagination.
118. Story-filled scarves.
119. A beautiful looking tomorrow.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

1000 gratitudes...

98. The kids in my Bible in Schools classes.
99. Meeting new people.
100. Getting to know "old" ones better.
101. This beautiful country.
102. Shelter from the wind.
103. Rest.
104. A little boy's babbling.
105. A phone line to the U.S.
106. The repairer of my laptop screen.
107. Thanksgiving gratitude shared aloud.
108. An abundantly laid table at which to celebrate the holiday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Redeemed and Treasured

discarded. waiting.

1000 gratitudes...

84. Late Tuesday (they still hit the spot).
85. Summer sun.
86. Dreams.
87. Little ones' hugs and smiles.
88. Summer weather for strolls with ice cream cones.
89. Humour that brightens moods and teases with love.
90. A turquoise, white-capped bay.
91. Windsurfers.
92. Seeing Auckland's skyline with grown eyes.
93. Always finding more bits of heart to give (and leave).
94. A bus ride on my own. Independence.
95. Fond holiday memories to remember as new ones are formed this season.
96. Girls' giggles.
97. The generous gift of this laptop, which does so many of the things I need it to (even if not all the things I want it to).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Sojourner's Heart

1000 gratitudes...

75. A wake-up hour of the morning at Massimo in Takapuna.
76. Tropical New Zealand foliage.
77. The smell of coffee.
78. Art within the written word. (I'm reading The God of Small Things.)
79. Movember. (Awkward new moustaches make me smile.)
80. Beach (esp. Takapuna).
81. Studio space.
82. Back to bikram.
83. The beautiful people of NSCOC.

A Favorite View

1000 gratitudes...

63. Warm morning sun.
64. Getting familiar with Auckland's bus system.
65. Andrea.
66. Learning from others.
67. Friends far and wide.
68. Memorization method.
69. The Shaws.
70. A walking companion.
71. Getting to see ol' Rangitoto almost daily.
72. Sand and saltwater.
73. Ice cream.
74. The way He satisfies.

[This is yesterday's gathered Thank Yous, as I did not have internet access last night.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Beyond My Bedroom Window

1000 gratitudes...

54. An uninterrupted night of sleep.
55. February Birds.
56. The homeyness of rain.
57. Black pepper gouda (to remind me of Stephen).
58. Promises of provision.
59. Being in a country that eats "pikelets".
60. Webcams (other people's, that is).
61. Radish season twice in one year!
62. This earth was never meant to be home anyway (grateful thought after seeing 2012).

Morning at the Market

42. Marmite on toast.
43. A new friend.
44. Finally getting to the farmer's market.
45. Kumara chips.
46. Good weather for a walk.
47. Having my basic needs provided, with room to splurge (on things like a boule!).
48. Time for a nap.
49. The smell of washed socks.
50. A sunny day for using the clothesline.
51. A child on my knee.
52. An international dinner: New Zealand, China, Brazil, (and USA) present.
53. Good conversation over dish-washing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Summer on my Windowsill

summer on my sill

34. Romans 8. (The Message)
35. A crumpet.
36. Waking before my noisy alarm.
37. Barefoot at Takapuna Beach.
38. Smiles of recognition with Massimo staff.
39. Green smoothie!
40. Good ol' sweat glands.
41. I.E. Produce (a taste of home).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Counting and Savoring

I've made some decisions. There are some things I want to do.

First of all, I want to savor my (potentially-)last month in this internship. And I want to incorporate a gratitude journal into my New Normal. I used to be in the habit of writing down ten things I was thankful for at the end of each day (my mom inspired this by sending me a journal for that specific purpose during my first year of university, when I was struggling to find joy in Texas).

I have been enjoying the blog Holy Experience for several months and been fed and inspired spiritually by the author's thoughts and observations. Especially concerning gratitude.

So, this blog is going to become a little more active. I aim to write up a brief post each night that includes a list of gratitudes I have gathered throughout the day and a photo from the day as well. Perhaps something with the theme of redemptive beauty. Anything, really, that catches my eye.

Let's begin with today:

i like red

23*. A better night's sleep.
24. Last day of Bible in Schools (not that I don't like it, but it's a milestone).
25. Time for this.
26. Breakfast provided from another's cupboards/fridge.
27. Getting to connect with kids today (thru Bible in Schools).
28. Holy Experience.
29. Good walking shoes.
30. Email from my brother - highlight of my day.
31. Music that connects.
32. Holding a paintbrush.
33. Such fond memories of San Francisco.

*This list starts at twenty-three because I started it two days ago. Planning to go to a thousand (and beyond).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Weekend Away

You know those times when you suddenly realize you've stopped breathing? Or, how 'bout, that your breath has been going at a quick, shallow pace for so long that the neglected crevices of your lungs are officially starving for air? Well, knock the drama down a couple notches and you'll find me early last week.

I caught on to my spirit's impatient fluttering on Wednesday afternoon and was able to duck away for the evening to my silent bedroom and a cozy, relaxed "home". It's not that my days are crazy-busy, but they do tend to be long, beginning at 6:30 or 7am with people interaction to some level throughout the day, and a constant pressure (entirely self-inflicted) to be a useful and productive intern (and most of the time feeling like I'm not). These things, mixed with a general lack of energy (I'm still waiting for those ninety minutes of yoga in 104 degrees Fahrenheit to deliver their promised energy boost!), caught me in need of refreshment.

That's why this weekend became so perfect. I had already purchased a bus ticket to Cambridge to visit my sister, Elise, Saturday through Monday. She met me at the bus stop, and we headed straight to Hamilton for the afternoon. We were able to connect with a friend of mine, who was also in town for the day. It was fun to have Elise finally meet her and for us to all be able to talk about her pregnancy (something she wasn't able to broadcast yet when we were in Raglan).

Sunday morning we went to a church in Cambridge with students from Capernwray Bible School, where Elise is living and working as a volunteer through December 18th. That night we had a worship/devotional time on the campus, and I must admit that hearing songs I know well, accompanied by instruments that help drown out my voice a bit, helped me enter into worship more quickly and comfortably than I have in a while. It was soul-feeding.

Oh, and by the way, Capernwray is just plain gorgeous. It includes a beautiful old house with a wrap-around porch and gardens all around, bursting with blooms. My camera was completely enamored.

Between the long walks Elise and I enjoyed together, the fresh countryside air, and silence among birdsong and beebuzz, I was able to slow my subconscious breaths down to an at-peace pace once again.

Now that I'm back in Auckland, life is looking different with a new bedroom in a new household in a new neighborhood. A new normal. That's my goal, to embrace and settle into this particular rhythm as quickly and casually as possible, and establish a new normal.

Unfortunately, my plans were a bit derailed today. I was up most of the night with a tissue box, and my congested head has continued to nag my sleep-deprived body all day, but that's okay. I'm sure I'll be back on my feet and into my (new) regular routine tomorrow.

I would greatly appreciate prayer for my health, as I have been feeling more tired than is reasonable lately, and this congestion stems from a cold that has become an unwelcome companion ever since arriving in NZ.

Also, a month from today I will be in my last weekend as an intern and will be looking to the future. I am prayerfully considering staying on as an intern but in a part-time capacity that also allows for part-time work and, thus, much needed income. Another option includes finding a flat somewhere with Elise after our mum comes to visit for three weeks in January (we've talked mostly about looking in Christchurch, as transportation is good enough there that we could do without cars). A ton of other ideas have been flying around my head, but it's most important that we're each where the Lord wants us and actively trusting His provision, so please pray for wisdom and peace in these areas.

Thank you!
[More pictures from Cambridge/Capernwray are here.]

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Let's Pick Back Up


I've learned with relationships that certain perspectives work best in long distance circumstances. One is to not assume that the absence automatically decreases the affection. Two is to do your best in keeping up, even with the simplest hellos, but not to stress when this doesn't happen as often as before; life needs to continue moving on for both people in their separate surroundings.

I'm not talking romantic relationships. I have little authority in such arenas but am picturing the faces of my family and friends spread across the United States, even the world.

The final thing I would encourage is an ease in simply picking up where things left off when a reunion finally happens. Granted, changes will have come, major and/or minor, but as long as an earnest (mutual) care for the relationship and its individuals still exists, a rhythm may be found again.

And so it may be with this blog at times. Periods of separation might continue, but the caring for its purpose and the people who read it never ceases. I care and I'm here, so let's pick up where we left off. Know that I'd like this even more if, instead of this virtual worldwide web, there were a small table between us and warm ceramic mugs for us each to cup.

My life has fallen into a rhythm of sorts in the past couple weeks, and since I can't remember the last time that existed, I'm quite loving it.


I moved into a new household with a family of four and a Jack Russell Terrier. Their welcome has been entirely warm, and through it I've learned a bit more about rugby, found a friend who shares my taste in films, gained access to peaceful beaches for walking and wondering, and been introduced to the hilarity of Top Gear.

Almost every weekday morning I am dropped off in Takapuna and spend an hour(ish) at a cafe, which tends to be Massimo. I can't wait for the weather to clear. When it does, I'll have my regular cappuccino in a take away cup down at the beach. For now the spring chill is still too heavy at 8am.

On Wednesdays I help with Toddler Rock and attend the church's Young Adults Group. Thursdays include Bible in Schools in the mornings and Walking School Bus in the afternoons. My only obligation on Fridays is Youth Group in the evenings. Brief explanations of these activities can be found here.

After a couple weeks of this schedule I recognized that I had too much downtime and restless was stirring with all the reading and lounging around the Marlars' home that was happening...a foreign experience after the last five years of university! So, I decided to sign up for some bikram yoga classes, which take up a hefty ninety minutes of my day (not including the mandatory shower afterward). And I've bought two large canvases and made a list of art projects to do around the church. All of this should keep me busy over the remainder of my internship, especially because I'm trying to be ever mindful of the girls/young women in the church that I want to get to know and schedule time with too. (One such outing is briefly featured on One Hungry Soul.)

It's been more difficult than I anticipated to build relationships with the girls in the church because of my lack of mobility. While I am provided with greatly appreciated chauffering services between church, the Marlars, and home - and necessary destinations in between - spontaneity and independence in my schedule are automatically restricted without my own vehicle and a convenient bus system...a bus system does exist, but I haven't received much encouragement to use it because of its slow pace across the sprawling area of Auckland.


That said, I'm trying to make the most of the times already built into my schedule, like Friday night youth group. Last week we joined with Glenfield Presbyterian for a "bench run." This meant we were dropped off in Centennial Park, approximately 6 km/3.7 miles from their church, and put into groups of four to carry a make-shift bench (four metal-legged/cushioned chairs zip-tied together and destined to break apart). Punishments were to be inflicted for not being seated on the bench when the cars of our leaders drove by and, yet, the incentive of being first to arrive back at the church and bearing the title of "bench run champions" for the coming year kept kids running across dark fields, through empty parking lots, and looking over their shoulders at every approaching car on the main roads, all with a chair slung over their shoulder or riding on top of their head. For the sake of camaraderie, and to encourage enthusiasm among skeptical girls, I joined in. Two and a half hours later our groups began to trickle in with steam on our breaths, aches in our arms, and plenty of good stories.

As this blog post has now been going for two days. It's high time I hit "publish," don't you think? I'll try to keep filling in the blanks of my life for you as it comes. I'd love to have a glimpse into yours from an ocean and a rock away* as well.


*I am far away from where you lay,
awake the day while you fall to sleep
an ocean and a rock away

I keep you in the pockets of my dresses
and the bristles of my brushes
spin you into my curls today

I spoon you into my coffee cup,
spin you through a delicate wash
I wear you all day

Thoughts of you warm my bones...

- An Ocean and a Rock, by Lisa Hannigan

[These photos were taken on the Marlars' back patio one day last week.]