After 30 minutes, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere, no houses, no signs. The track was getting thinner and less ridden, mud holes getting bigger and before we knew it we were off road, trail riding. YAY! 30 minutes turned to 40 minutes, turned to 60 minutes, turned to 90 minutes. Each time we took a new road, it ended with either a washed out, unpassable road, a creek, a fence, or a big mud hole. “Google” didn't know where it was going. We could see the campsite (across the river), it was 5 minutes away if we walked and swam across a creek, but we just couldn't get there. My feet were covered in mud, not to mention my bike. At one point I missed the small path and landed in the mud and fell off, ripped my pants and then took 5 minutes get out of the mud hole. It was all part of the fun and challenge. Needless to say we had to turn back, retrace our path back to the road and take the Coast road, as our friend had originally suggested. “Google” was still unhelpful and we had to ring our friend a couple of times to get his directions to eventually find the correct way to the property.
Monday, 25 February 2019
Monday, 18 February 2019
Why do we always want what we don't have? Why can’t we be happy with who we are?
It is a challenge to really learn the art of “contentment”. As Paul says …"Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6)
When in Cambodia the greatest joy I have is to hang out with some of the most wonderful Khmer people I feel privileged to call friends. In fact this trip we went on a little three day holiday with a Khmer family. We went to the beach each day, ate and laughed and hung out in Kep. It was always interesting in such a hot country to find that every time we went to the beach us Aussies would sit out in the sun as long as we could to get as brown as we could, because the bronzed Aussie dream is clearly still alive in our family. While the Cambodians covered themselves completely with clothes and stayed in the shade all day. When one of little ones was not allowed to play on the sand with us one day, I asked why. The mother said, “I don't want her to get any browner”, to which I replied, “but her skin is beautiful, she is such a beautiful colour”. She pointed to me and said, “No, it is your skin that is beautiful. I wish I had a white baby.” Meanwhile, my daughter continually dreams of having a “brown/black baby”. I feel like I’m saying the wrong thing even to say the word “black” baby nowadays, as it’s so politically incorrect, and yet I often look at their brown/black skin and think it is stunning. My children come to me at the end of each day and say “Do I look brown, Mum?” or “Look how brown I am” and I am jealous because my blonde haired, white skin is the way I was born and will never be called “brown”.
If I am going somewhere special I will even get a spray tan so I feel better about myself. But in Cambodia, in their rooms I am constantly finding “white” foundation, as the Khmer wear this to make them look more like us. At times they look downright pale, and I can’t work out for the life of me how they find that attractive because I wish I was as dark skinned as them.
It just goes to show “the grass is always greener’ or in this case “browner”. The reality is we are all the same, aren't we? Always wishing we had what others had in order to feel better about ourselves. Now I know I will offend many who love to say over and over again “just be yourself”, “you do you, and I’ll do me”. And while I totally agree, I am confessing that if we are honest, we are all guilty at times of looking at others and wishing we were more like them. Now for you it might not be the colour of your skin … but what is it? Your size? Your income? Your job? Your skills and gifts? Your Abilities? Your House? Other bodily features? Whatever it is, I can guarantee that while we might say and do all the politically correct things in public, in quiet places where no-one sees we all have thoughts of discontent and wishing we were someone or something else!
Sadly, our thoughts are often the most dangerous places, where so much damage is done. The self-talk, self-doubt, self-loathing, the self-denigration. The places we make agreements with our thoughts, that become truth and then become our new reality. Often they are then confirmed in our culture, and it takes being in another culture to see that what we think is truth, is relative.
One of the most powerful things about walking with God, surrendering your life to Him, is that it is in the quiet places, the places that no one else sees, my inner most thoughts, that can be easily hidden from those closest to me, God is there. I cannot escape Him. I can try to hide, try to pretend, try to say the right things, but He sees it all, knows it all and He can’t be fooled. It is in those places that He restates His truth to me, recalibrates my thinking, allows me to experience His undeserved grace and love and helps me see that “I captivate Him”. When I want to venture into the comparison game, the wish list of what I want to be like, or what I wish I had, He reminds me that I am His beloved, created child. He longs for everyone one of us to grow into a deep inner contentment, that only ever sees ourselves through His lens. Surely, then the “grass will always be green enough.”
I haven’t got even close in the first half of my life, but now at 51, I pray that I do the second half better, always with my eyes on Him and how He sees the world and all that is in it.
Sunday, 10 February 2019
I have been privileged to grow up all my life camping on the Shoalhaven River, with my Daddy’s green speed boat, “Shadrack”. Camping, water-skiing, tubing, knee boarding with the family and close friends, has been a formative part of my life and one I hope to never lose.
“Shadrack” is now a vintage boat. My Daddy built it with some friends when he was in his twenties. It was his pride and joy and he loved to drive the boat and teach people to ski. There are many people who tell the story of being taught by Dad to ski, which involved much yelling and yet also a lot of patience.
Growing up in the boat, when I was little I would sleep under the front while Dad drove. The hum of the motor would put me to sleep. As I grew I would be in the boat whenever I could; either in it or behind it. My favourite place in the boat was in the front right bedside my Dad. He would smile and wink as he drove along, sometimes all day towing and teaching people to ski. He taught me at a young age how to observe and how to be his sidekick in the boat while he drove, and I liked that position. I took it very seriously. Being an observer means you have to watch the skiers and let the driver know when they have fallen off. It means you get to watch all the fun that is happening with the skiers and also look at what is happening on the river.
Dad only let a few others drive. He taught my brother and husband to drive, that was mainly so someone could drive while he skied. I might be biased but he was a fantastic skier and skied right up to the age of 70. I loved watching him.
When he unexpectedly passed away 14 months ago in an accident, the Shoalhaven and “Shadrack” suddenly became a place of solace for many of us to feel close to him. I had never considered learning to drive, as I’d always felt that he would always be there to drive. Being a vintage boat, it has its quirks and ways of being treated. There were certain things only Dad knew how to fix and that’s the way we all probably wanted it to always be.
When dad died, I made the decision that I would get my driver’s licence and this Christmas I would drive the boat. While I knew it would be an emotional experience on many levels, I certainly felt very close to him driving this year. And my greatest regret is that he didn’t teach me, but I was thankful that this was something I could do with my brother and husband, who taught me all that he’d taught them. It is one thing to drive and then it is another thing to tow a skier well. Dad did it well, and this is not something you learn about when you get your license.
What I didn’t expect to learn is how much the driver can’t do. The driver cannot watch the skiers. The driver cannot really watch much at all. The driver can’t have an idle chat to someone in the back of the boat while we are going along. The driver is always looking forward and watching the river, the other boats and making sure everyone is safe. The driver is in control of a fast boat and at any point if they are not watching everyone can be badly hurt.
I didn’t expect to find that driving was a completely new experience for me. For someone who had been in that boat all her life, it was like seeing the boat through my father’s eyes for the first time. I had always simply enjoyed the fun of being in the boat and never understood the seriousness of captaining the boat. I had gone for the “ride” all my life without truly understanding the requirements of taking charge, the responsibility of it all, not to mention if anything were to go wrong, what I was going to do! I had no clue.
I didn’t expect to learn that while you are driving you are completely reliant on the observer to tell you what is happening, because you have other responsibilities. I didn’t expect to learn that when everyone is laughing at what’s happening with the skiers or knee boarders, the driver largely missed out on that, because he/her eyes need to be facing forward.
I imagine after driving a boat for more than 40 years, Dad was able to do much more than I could do on my first drives, but it was a perspective I had never experienced before. It gave me a greater sense of respect for my father and the sacrifice and part he played all our lives in order for us to have fun. I learned that because of the deep trust and comfort I always had when Dad was driving, there was so much I never had to think about, while ever he was in the driver’s seat. Now, I was in the driver’s seat and I felt the weight of it.
There is something beautiful about having someone in the driver’s seat who you can trust, someone who gives their everything to lead/drive in such a way that it provides the environment for others to have fun and be free to live life to the full. I have been privileged to have people in my life that have provided that for me all of my life. I have had that in my earthly father and my heavenly father.
Lord, help me to lead/drive in such a way that allows others to feel free and able to live life to the full and thank you for the examples in my life who did it so well that I never really appreciated how much freedom and life I have been given because of their sacrifice and diligence in driving so well.