for those who don't want to just wait it out

like the song says this is a blog for someone who wants to say something (anything) and who's happy to wait and see what time will bring...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Up in the air

I haven’t seen the new George Clooney movie yet, but I’m beginning to think I might be able to identify with a couple of the themes. You know you’re spending a bit of time on the move when the airline attendants can greet you by name before they look at your boarding card (to be fair, there is a set crew that’s on the run that I do and I am one of the few blonde passengers) and the staff at the place I get my coffee at in Dubai airport smile with the familiarity of my predictable order of a latte and fruit salad… I’m finding myself in an unusual category that I never expected to be in, that’s for sure…

I knew being on this side of the world would mean a fair bit of travel to meet with and learn from different people but I don’t think I realised just how much! And it’s funny how there’s actually always more that you could do… more people to meet, more to see, more to ask questions of, more to learn, more… more… more…. The trick is learning when to say “no, thankyou”.

One thing that I haven’t said no to, which is what finds me back at the airport this morning, is a trip to Jordan and Syria to meet with some co-workers who might end up being my trainers in the latter half of the year. I was able to have a too quick breakfast with them in Melbourne a month ago and was struck by their joy, humility, generosity and passion. So when they invited me to come and join them for a few days to see first hand some of the work that they do (they’ve worked in the ME for the last 10-15 years), and to meet with some of their friends I jumped at the chance.

They are back here to finish up some things, take a team of aussies on a month long teaching trip (which is who I will be joining and spending some time with over the next week) and ship back the rest of their things to Melbourne.

I’ll be honest, I can’t decide if I’m more excited to see Petra (among other things, land of Indiana Jones) or Damascus (among other things, the setting of some of Paul’s escapades) … or just what will be unveiled in late night conversations (tomorrow we’re staying in a Bedouin tent in the Jordan desert) but I’m thankful that I get to have both.

The thing about travel and a life on the move is that it can be incredibly superficial – whether it’s the relationships or the experiences. While I have this time over here, while I see new things and meet with incredible people, I want to pray against just being a sponge that absorbs everything for myself, or like the sliding door that let’s you look in or out as you go through customs… If I’m up in the air, I want to engage with the one who keeps me there and those He puts me in contact with.

Their calling my flight – Amman here I come…

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

All in good time

When it comes round to the week before Christmas, and presents start to pile up under the tree, something snaps inside of me and I revert to a 5 year old. This Christmas just gone I almost had a tanty when I realised that mum had sealed up my stocking with some really strong wirey stuff that I would either have to cut of (and then figure out how to replace it) or spend an hour or so wiggling it off and then attempting to get it back on if I wanted to find out what was inside before Christmas morning.

There is something in me that can’t let presents sit there, with my name on the tag and not try to figure them out. I press, I squeeze, I shake… I close my eyes to try and make my fingers some how more sensitive and analytical in an attempt to figure out exactly what it is that lies beneath the shiny wrapping, because waiting two more days just seems too much for me…. I know, it’s more than a little pathetic but I just can’t seem to help myself. I want to know what good things are in store for me before it’s time to open them.

Or at least that’s the conclusion that I’ve come to since a friend gently chided me the other day on treating life like the presents under the tree. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that sometimes the good things in life are like the presents and some presents are more fragile than others. We run the risk of crushing, damaging or breaking the fragility of them by all of the shaking that we do in trying to figure them out ahead of time. That sometimes, horror of horrors, there is joy in waiting until the right moment and being pleasantly surprised to find out what is hiding beneath the paper and the bows.

Which, if I’m being perfectly honest, sounds just lovely and all gooey when you put it like that (lofty ideals are nice after all) but is just flipping hard to put into practice! That bright shiny thing with my name on it potentially holds the promise of something really good, which is intended for me!!! And you’re telling me I need to wait? I need to be patient? I need to hold back and have someone else tell me “ok, now it’s time to go for it”?

Ugh, shoot me now or put some restraints on me… or just don’t show me that the presents are there and within my reach…

But maybe, just maybe, there is a little sense in what my friend challenged me on too.

This morning I picked up the second in a series of sermons on Ecclesiastes (pop over to itunes and download smbc’s podcasts) which focused on 3:1-14:

1There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: 2a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 6a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

9What does the worker gain from his toil?

10I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. 14I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.

KP raised a number of great points in terms of how we approach time and waiting (especially in western culture), weighing up the fact that most of us will approach time as a quantity and not a quality. That we too easily forget that the other dimension to a great BBQ with friends, is the measured moments of buying the food, chopping the salads and washing the dishes. We will enjoy one moment in time and yet begrudge the other that enables us to enjoy all sorts of experiences.

If it’s the first eight verses of chapter three that show us the multiple dimensions to time and human experience, then it is the following six that help us understand the tension of why we find it so hard to wait in between those moments of quality.
As we keep asking what to do with the moments of time that we’re in (laughing, weeping, mourning, dancing, life, death) we face the desire to predict the future for the comfort that it will give us today because:

He has set eternity in the hearts of men
Talk about your killer lines!

To quote KP’s sermon:
We have a human capacity to imagine the future and be aware of more than just the moment but He doesn’t tell us what we’re going to need to do from beginning to end but that instead we live in His creation with it’s properties of time and space, and that isn’t always easy to do….

Nope, I think we can all agree that isn’t easy to do – but taking a step closer to look again at verse 14 we can see the motivation behind the wisdom, for He is the one who works in, through and above time and has it all in His hands. That the goodness of His plans will last… forever… beyond that glorious moment of freeing the present from under the pesky sticky tape. Verse 14 also hints at something bigger as well because it seems to be that it’s in the practice of waiting and patiently enjoying the moments of uncertainty in those dual dimensions of time, that we are also bringing Glory to Him as He glorifies Himself in having it all in His hands.

There’s no doubt in my mind that 48 weeks from now I will be back to crawling around under the Christmas tree trying to figure out which gifts are for me and carefully examining the shape of them to try and imagine what’s in store. In these next 48 weeks I want to put into practice the joy and delight of being thankful for each aspect of the dimension of time that I’m in (the good, the bad, the ugly and the sublimely beautiful) because He gives us the freedom to do so.

I want to keep remembering that what’s in store is precious and can be damaged when I try and rush into figuring it out – when I get so caught up in the future that I forget to handle with care in the moment…

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Picture this… you’re driving down the main road (having just managed to swerve the donkey that pulled out in front of you) with the windows down, cool wind blowing, blue sky glowing and sister hazel (or whatever you’re equally sentimental musical pick may be) is coming through your ipod… A pretty good afternoon…

I’m back on the island and it’s safe to say that this afternoon served as a sweet taste reminding me of some of the reasons why I like it here.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great being back in Australia (let’s face it, who wouldn’t love being in Sydney over a summery Christmas? Check out some pictures on the flickr if you need the proof!) But there are things that I’ve missed being away from here too. The sweet smell of Arabic perfume wafting through the small wooden incense burners, desert sunsets, hommos, feasting your eyes on the rainbow of spices for sale at the markets, the elegance of women walking in their abayas… the list could go on.

But most especially, the people and the relationships that we have started to cultivate. It was great walking into church the other morning to be welcomed by big hugs and go out to lunch with 20 people from 7 different cultures – you haven’t seen cross cultural stuff until you’ve watched some Africans jumping and dancing with Philippinos’ to worship music followed by a German teaching an American and an Indian French greetings over a Thai lunch… trippy but true…

Tonight I’m going go-carting with some friends and the F1 track with three aims; fun, pictures and coming back with nothing broken or too badly scratched up!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Where is your FOCUS?

My parents have a boat. It’s a nice boat that’s harboured in a really pretty part of Sydney’s waterways. The few times that I’ve been out on it I’ve noticed one thing. It’s really easy to just sit there and drift. I’m not a nautical kinda gal but even I can notice that you can be anchored somewhere and still get swung around so that you have all sorts of views and get turned around from the place where you got started.

If you think a metaphor for life is coming – bingo, you get a gold star…

Over the last couple of months as I’ve been wandering around, going to conferences and meeting new people and teams I’ve often wondered about the direction that I’ve come from and where I’m heading to. To be honest, I think I started to loose my focus and so in the last few days I’ve found myself asking, “What exactly am I doing again? What and who am I doing it for?” etc..

Last week I was heading back from a campus and a new friend that I was driving with reminded me that we need to keep speaking the gospel together. It’s one thing to talk about, or rather around, the gospel but it’s another thing all together to keep speaking the message of the Cross to each other. A seemingly off handed verse reference from someone is sharpening me and reminding me that I’m not the only one. Hebrews 12:2 is a slap in the face sometimes for those of us who can drift a little. It’s about Jesus. It is only ever, past, present and future, about Jesus.

So I started to read through Hebrews and this morning have been pondering on chapters 3 and 4 in particular. I’m thankful for them and for the reminder that I am not alone, that others drift (hence the anchor analogy with the author reminding the first audience not to drift away) and that we need to keep reminding each other of the Gospel that we first heard, the message of the Grace of God that He would send His one and only Son to die an ugly brutal death on a Cross in my place for my sins and yours, and that He conquered death and my sins as proven by His resurrection three days later. The simple beauty of Grace should make us want to weep in thankfulness and joy. And yet why do we forget it? Why do we get our focus clouded? Why do we forget the joy and focus on the burdens?

Are you drifting? Are you forgetting? Are you questioning? Take it a step back to a bigger question… Are you a Christian? For anyone one of those answers I’d give you the same answer:

Go back to the Cross.

Right now.

Examine it.

Question it.
Be eternally thankful for it.

Sit down with a friend, ask your questions (for that matter send me a message or email and we can look for the answers together) but, for Gods sake (well, maybe more so for yours) go back to the Cross. Can I be any clearer?

In addition to reading the Bible (why not start with Marks gospel or join me in Hebrews – read a chunk and we can be at the same place within the next… oh… 20 mins or so?) I’d like to recommend a book that I’ve been reading this week by CJ Mahanney The Cross Centred Life. It’s a tiny book (when you’ll see it you’ll know that I could have finished it in a couple of hours) but I’m only a few chapters in because I think it’s the type of book that is good to mull over and prompts you to ask some tough questions (and some of you will know more than others what a fan I am of those!).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What happens when you learn a part of your own story?

I’m one of those confused people. I call myself an only child (which is pretty much how I was raised) and yet I also talk about a much loved sister and brother, their spouses and nieces and nephew (I don’t do ‘halves’). There have been times when I’ve felt a little out of step – not only with my society but also with my family. I write this full well knowing that one day they may see of read this and so I write hoping not to cause offence but to say things as I see them, hopefully as accurately as possible.

My family wouldn’t exactly class themselves as a religious family. In the past we have gone to Easter and Christmas services together, but I’m the only one who would go to church regularly and would want to talk about, or raise, matters of ‘faith’ and ‘religion’. And so, I think it would be fair to say that there have been times when not only have I felt a little out of step with my family ‘norm’ but also been encouraged to not raise certain issues, to not take faith “so seriously” and to think about careers choices that don’t involve ministry. I always know that I'm loved, accepted and valued but never quite understood in terms of how and why I think so much about Jesus and have Him influence my life so much.

Until today.

As you’ll know, I’m in Scotland – thinking about the future and how it’s shaped by people of the past. Today we took a drive through the highlands (I was just keen to see Hamish) to get to what is probably one of the oldest churches in Scotland that had it's foundation in Druid worship (oh yeah, and it's also famous because of some other character, Rob Roy, being buried there).

You can read about the history of Balquhidder here, but the most important thing that came out of my time there today (other than just being at a cool site!) was that this place is literally the birth place of my family - both in name and generational span. Not many families throughout history can trace their lineage to an exact place and year, but I learnt that I can.

More than that though, I was able to learn about the ways in which the family was born - and what was their basis of daily life. It was their faith. It was Who the stood for (and who they stood in opposition too) that gave them the name.

Standing in the cemetery, looking at the gravestones and thinking of ancestors who had stood for something in the name of Jesus I felt…. Relief. Joy. Hope. A longing to get to heaven and meet my family not only in the Spirit but also in blood. I felt a kinship to this land that I have felt before, but never breathed. Does that make any sense or does it just sound nutty? Standing in the glen, the foothills of mountains, running water and stories from generations gone by, I felt like I could breath the air of McLarens before me. This was their land. They stood for something. They stood for Jesus. I wont know anything really about them while on earth, but I will be able to meet them in heaven and hear their stories... and that will be awesome.

I was able to spend some time with some closer McLaren relations too. My Pop's brother and sister and their families. It was special to be with them at the one year anniversary of the death of a man that we all loved greatly and made it easier being away from home. One of the things I remember about my Pop is his hugs. No one, and I mean no one, could hug me the way he did. There was just something unique about it - until his younger brother John managed to do it in the same way... Must've been something in the way their parents raised them!

I've said goodbye to the rest of the group that I spent the week in 'conversations' with. It was a great week and great friendships have begun, been renewed, re-strengthen and re-understood because of these last few days. More and more I'm feeling the absence and difficulty that comes with different time zones - but I'm thankful for each glimmer of times I get to spend with special friends. Hopefully you've been able to check out some of the stuff on you-tube - more snippets of the group will be coming up when I get the chance to edit stuff and hopefully it will make you smile as you get a glimpse into what was a great week.

So I'll be saying goodbye to Scotland in a couple of days time. It's been fun - but I'm definitely looking forward to heading down to London and the next part of this coming 'journey'. It's going to be interesting to see what He has in store.

x j

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Have you met Miss Jones?

I’ve had a soft spot for Ms Jones ever since I read her diaries while living in London in 2000. I empathised with her highs and lows and just loved the ways in which the character expressed herself so fully through the words she placed in her diary.

There’s another Miss Jones who bounced into my life in 2005 on the concourse at UTS. Which is where I expected her to be the other day; in Sydney and most definitely not in Scotland.

Imagine this for a scenario. You’re a bit tired, cold and damp, you have thongs on and have just been informed you’re walking up the 287 steps of a Scottish monument just to ‘check it out’ to see if others in the group would want to go later. You probably are acting a little like a petulant child (ok, let’s face it I could have been on the verge of a tanty) as you stomp up the narrow (one way up, same way down, let’s get really close to a bunch of strangers on the way) staircase to get to the fourth level.

So you can imagine that I was somewhat distracted when I did eventually get to the top and realise that it was a pretty good view and worth taking photos of. I’d managed to snap off one or two of Edinburgh castle when a fellow tourist said “Nice view isn’t it?” I abstractly agreed before turning to face the chatty tourist…. Here’s a rough transcript of what went through my head in the next few milliseconds:

“She looks like Alex”

“She looks a LOT like Alex”

“That’s Alex”

“That’s not Alex, I’m in SCOTLAND”

“Alex is in Sydney and NOT in Scotland”


“What is Alex doing in Scotland???”

“Shut up voices and give her a hug!!!”

Hugs, and the inevitable tears, ensued as both Alex and Nigel kept congratulating each other on doing so well in giving me what has to be the biggest surprise of my life. Turns out, Alex was indeed here for the week to join in the conversations that 14 or so of us from around the globe have come together to have. Conversations about the bible, about how the bible shapes and informs what we seek to do, and how what we seek to do is actually be people who will stand up, show up, and influence those around us for the Glory of Christ.

I like that Alex is here, of course I do, I like it a lot! But aside from liking it because this is a young women that I mentored for 5 years, cherish and laughed with, what I like about it the most is that is shows the passing on of things. Alex is here not for me but for her, to see how God will guide her, and how she will respond… Any number of people from Credo could have come because through the ministry at UTS they have grown and matured to be the new generation of those who will stand, lead and serve in all sorts of different ways. It’s not about me, it’s not about the other staff, it’s about the way that Jesus has been working in their lives and how He will continue to use them to speak into the lives of others.

More reflections from our time together will come a bit later – but in the meantime you can check out some of what we’re thinking through here

The day I meet the IRA

You see movies of the IRA (Brad Pitt comes to mind in one of them) and I’ve always had the image of them being hardened snarly criminal looking types… not nice older men who offer you a cuppa, tell you your ‘grand’ and want to have a wee chat in the early morning light.

I don’t know what I was expecting last week when I got up early to wander around L’Derry/Free Derry (or just plain old Derry). I wasn’t expecting to feel like a fraud and I wasn’t expecting to want to weep with a stranger. I got up early on a day when I needed to drive for ages to get down to Galway. And so before the rest of the town and the tourist were up and about, I headed over to some well-known artwork that display and describe some of the pain that this town has seen over the years. I felt like a fraud as I walked around and took photos, somehow turning someone’s tragedy into a tourist happy snap…

As I kept walking though, I came across a man hoisting up a republic of Ireland flag. Now, if you’re slower on your Irish political history (like I am) then what you need to know is that, as far as I can tell, this is an illegal act because Derry/Nrth Ireland is a part of the UK and so shouldn’t be flying another countries flag. So I walked up to the man and politely asked him to fill me in – “was the flag actually raised each morning and night, or…?”.

I saw him take in the innocent confusion on my face as well as the camera and backpack and watched him decide whether or not to talk to me. He decided to share and informed me that no, the flag wasn’t supposed to be up, but there was a small group of people that would raise it on the anniversary of “one of the death’s” as he nodded to the moment with the names of, I think, 12 people. These were the people who, as political prisoners along with Bobby Sands died as a result of refusing to eat whilst in jail as a protest to British occupation of Nth Ireland.

I’m not going to get into politics, into the rights and wrongs, but what I will say is that I felt like weeping with this man who has seen, and struggled, more than most – and almost certainly more than you and I combined. I found him on a morning where he was remembering those who he had played with as a child, had grown through puberty and first loves with and watched as they slowly and painfully died for their cause.

It was a sharp reminder that we go to places, we see their beauty (and Ireland is certainly a beautiful country) but we can’t forget to scratch below the surface and see what makes up the blood as well as the beauty of the place we find our selves in.

My time in Ireland was wonderful. It was full of beauty and discovery and I’m thankful that I got to share some of it with a wonderful friend from Sydney… But I also can’t help wishing I could go back to that morning, stay on the bench a little longer and hear more of the stories of what makes Ireland as unique as it is.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


After finishing debrief with the team, they headed back to the land of Oz while I hopped on a plane to London to spend 36 hours. It was great to go back to friends that I lived with there years ago, and it was as if the 9 years had never been - just sitting up all night talking, enjoying good food and wine and catching up on life. Having lived in London for a while I never actually did many of the touristy things so I decided to use my day there trying to take in all the sites. But the queues (and the fact that Buckingham Palace was closed) got the better of me so I just walked as much as possible around the centre and going back to some favourite places when I worked in Nottinghill... It was nice to walk down memory lane... as well as a packed Portobello Rd.

And now, welcome to Prague. Home to cobbled pathways, winding streets, castles galore, classical music and ice-creams on every corner. The Gulf seems very far away s I'm surrounded by greenery and water! I have 5 nights here in total which has been ample time to take in all of the sites. Probably too much time but it's been a great excuse to have long lunches in cafes and watch everyone else race by, to walk along the river or enjoy reading in one of the many parks in the afternoon sun. I can see why so many people rave about this city. Not only has it been able to keep it's old world charm but there is so much history here in terms of music, architecture and religion and I would definitely tell friends to come here.

After having spent a month, 24/7, with people it's a little strange being on my own but I'm taking it as a good chance to rest up and enjoy it while I can!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A slightly better update

So, for those who haven't been able to read more elsewhere, I thought it was about time I give out a few more details about some of the things we've been doing for our month in the Gulf.

For the most part we've been spending time in one main village, B, teaching English and building relationships with a lot of the locals. It's been an amazing time with them and we've found that we've been able to have relationships that are much deeper because we were there last year too. While locals were always friendly and happy to have us there last year, this time it's gone way beyond that as we've gone into at least 5 homes, shared meals, heard stories... it's been above and beyond what we expected.

Some things have changed here (mostly the landscape with heaps of cranes and construction happening around the clock) but others, the heat, the generosity of the church here, the great food... they're all as good (well, maybe not so much the heat - but you get used to it) as I remember and I'm happy to be back.

The team has been going well and have been throwing themselves in to all aspects of life here. It's hard to believe that we only have a few more days here before heading to D for the debrief time. And then holidays for me!!!

I can't wait. Almost 3 weeks of alone time and exploration, first Prague and then Ireland before some time in Scotland for some ministry conferences. I'm looking forward to all of it!

Monday, July 06, 2009

repenting in dust and ashes... well... mostly dust...

I'm sorry. Bad Bad BAD Blogger... been a crazy month but I'm now safe and sound on the other side of the world. It's great to be back in the Gulf and I'm loving spending time with new friends and old and being able to go back to one of the villages in particular that we were at last year.

For those who want something to look at, head over to my you tube channel to start getting some visual updates.

More later
x j

Monday, May 25, 2009

and for some of the other women in my life...

Last Saturday (23rd) was a great day. I admit it, in the past I have had a, shall we say... sceptical? view of women's events. All to often I find that they are some what on the fluffy side - that they've talked about how be a 'nice godly gal' rather than reaching into the robustness of scripture and grappling with God; who He is and who we are to be as His daughters in light of His sovereignty and our redemption.

And so it was with a little dubiousness that I went along with some of the female leaders of Credo to the eQuip conference but I loved it! Somewhat providentially I decided to go through the book of Esther with these girls in January and so it was great that this was the book that the speakers were working through this year. I was impressed by how much content of the book they were able to include in two talks as well as the creativity that was used in the reading of the text and setting the context of the book in light of Israel waiting for a deliverer. Visually, the organisers set the platform up as a larger than life chess board - reminding us as we were listening that the book of Esther has players in the game, and the one Sovereign hand that is controlling the action throughout.

A summary of 4 things to take away from Esther that we were given at the end was:

1. We are to be humble - to accept the position that God has given us
2. We are to be excited - to expect that God will use us in His plans
3. We are to be purposeful - to be activley using our position and lives with wisdom (we're not waiting around for a script!)
4. We are to be courageous - to be willing to risk our position for His glory

The last point in particular struck a chord with me - courage is something that I have been thinking about quite a lot lately. Where it comes from and Who do I draw any I have from?

What I especially treasured about the day was that I got to spend it with 7 out of the 8 leaders that disciple and spend time with. These truly are some of the other women in my life and I treasure each and every one of them. To you girls, I want you to know how proud and delighted I am in each of you - for who you are, more than for the things that I get to see you do (although I do love seeing those things too!). I'm humbled that you let me share in your lives and I can't wait to be able to look back with you and see all the ways that God has worked in and through you over the years.

Only a slightly different note - this is going to be a good, and a big, week for me. I get to spend time with some friends (good coffee and corn fritters at Bills are on the agenda for tomorrow morning) and it's the last week of term on campus and with Credo. I'll be speaking at public meeting this week - mostly based on 1 Cor 16 hopefully mirroring some of Paul's goodbyes with a few of my own...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Women

During my enforced couch/sick time this week I had a little flick through the movies and came up with "The Women" with some of the actresses being Meg Ryan, Annette Benning, Debra Messing... it was a good cast but a pretty average movie. It covered the themes of love, betrayl, adultery, loyalty and - of course - the incredible bond that women can share. Despite it being an average movie it got me thinking - a lot actually - about the women that are in my life, and in particular some of the extraordinary friends that I have and the blessings that they are to me.

I am so thankful for each of my close girlfriends... there are about half a dozen women who I would drop anything from anywhere in the world to be with (and I know it's vice versa) and this weekend I got to spend time with two of them


and Anna

For different reasons we each shed a few tears together today - and I love that we're there to wipe them away for each other. To you girls, and the others, I love ya!!! And I'm thankful that distance doesn't lesson love and significance in each others lives.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

All good weeks involve cupcakes - and other sweet things

Do you have those places in your life, physical places that you've spent time, that you've made your home in, that have become such a part of your history that whenever you step back onto the ground that you just seem to breath a little more comfortably and freely? For me, Sydney Missionary and Bible College is one of those handful of places.

I was a student here for just two years, but they were two years that helped to shape guide and direct the person that I am and the ministry that I have today. So you can imagine that I've been looking forward to heading back there this week just gone for a week long preaching conference. The four main speakers were Jerry Bridges, Bryan Chappell, John Woodbridge and Kanishka Raffel and it's so worthwhile getting the dvd's or the mp3's so that you can listen to their collective wisdom.

Here are some of the rebukes and challenges that I felt coming out of the conference:
* I don't pray enough (or have big enough prayers) because ultimately I don't believe that God will, can or wants to answer them
* We should never try and limit what God can do
* I'm neither 'good' nor 'bad' because of my actions - grace, in all of it's sovereignty means that I am either or purely because of where I stand before the Cross

I've also just come back from the Blue Mountains with about 50 of the Credo students on the IDEAL getaway which is a combination of (mostly) the design arts and humanities students with the engineering and IT faculties. Last year we looked at relationships and this year we tackled spiritual warfare. It was just great to sit and watch some of the students sitting in the morning sun, reading their bibles, pointing out things to one another and asking each other questions. I was able to have a couple of really good conversations that I wanted to have - and each time I walk away humbled that students allow me to speak into their lives in any degree. For those who let me speak a little more strongly, who battle their way through my reflective questions (I can see them grimacing now) I thankyou the most, and I trust that they know that I do it with a whole lot of love.

Driving back down the mountains I have to say I was a little sentimental. It's now just over 6 weeks until I go and so I can't imagine that I'll get back there for a year or so. I think similar to SMBC, it's one of those places that I will always associate with good times - good conversations over hot choc's or a meal at the Carrington pub... or breakfast at ziggys's or one of cupid's cupcakes! (mmm - there is a running theme - but they usually involved at least one other person!)

It's been a pretty intense few weeks and so I'm looking forward to a bit of down time this week. I think the highlights will be seeing my Nanna tomorrow... and maybe a cupcake or two on Wednesday....