Community garden

Thursday, 20 April 2017

School holidays and ordinary days.

Holidays, Im so glad they are here, though disapointed the first week is nearly over already! 

The boys have "soul fever".  Tired from a long first term at school, a little run down, disconnected, out of sorts.  This week has been a combination of a couple of trips out and about and lots of time spent at home.  Resting, watching movies, eating nourishing food and simply spending much needed time togeather. 

They set up their tent in the backyard and have loved sleeping in that!  Mostly, though have snuck into their own beds a couple of times, teddies and precious softies in arms when the wind has picked up and shaken their tent!  Ha, my sweet boys.  Such a desire to be big, but the reality is they are still little at heart.   

Excuse the bad photo, but you see that?  It's a roof!  And the frame for the walls of the extension. 

The boys are in love with marbles at the moment, here they are making marble runs with their Grimms rainbow. 

Chatting, chilling out....I't turning a blind eye to the mess, because play and creativity is messy right? 

We enjoyed a morning out at the Tanunda vintage festival.  Gosh I love the Barossa!

Bringing in rhythem, and hot nourishing lunches togeather.  A treat in the school holidays. 

My beautiful hand made mug from a local business Ottimade I got from the markets.  So beautiful, a special treat.  I have long admired her beautiful, simple, earthy work, but finally I have a piece!

The reality of renovating on a tight budget.  We did a big push to get the roof on.  Now we are skimp for a few weeks.  There is lots of pasta, soups and slow cooked roasts on the menu!  I have HUGE bag of lentils a local farmer kindly gave me from their crop - time to work out what to actually DO with them.  Im thinking a curry?  I did not grow up eating lentils and legumes, I quite enjoy them though I'm not very good at preparing them. 
I have promised the boys pom  pom making, and I have sourdough to prepare so I best be off. 
Blessings,
Emma

Monday, 10 April 2017

Discernment and a call.

Today I thought I would do something different, I umm-ed and ahh-ed a little about sharing as it's a little different from my usual posts, but this my space, a space to share my families story.  A space to look back on.  I have not been here much lately, and this is why.  Over the past couple of years I have been doing something called a "Period of Discernment" or POD in short.  Esentially it is a mentoring program designed to give insight into ministry within the church.  I have mentioned it here and there I think on the blog.  It is also the first step to ordination, though it doesn't have to be if you discern otherwise.  This is why I have been a bit quiet lately.  Work, study and tidying up my POD paperwork, which has come to an end.  One of the things I needed to do was a reflection.  So I thought I would share it here, as part of our story, my story.  I'n not sure where it will end up, but thats the good part about journey's isn't it?



I’m not really sure when I first felt called to ministry.  A couple of ministers in my life hinted they felt I should consider exploring it a number of years ago.  But to me it seemed like an absurd idea.  Ministers were wise and gentle.  Always kind, and patient.  They were all kinds of things I wasn’t.  I was sarcastic, a little cynical, opinionated, feisty…..I was a good nurse, who adored my patients.  I was their advocate, their carer.  I intended on becoming a midwife.

But over time, this idea of ministry continued to niggle at me and stir me.  I came to a point in time where it was necessary for me to go back to work to keep my Nursing Registration.  But in my heart of hearts I had come to know God was calling me elsewhere.  I wasn’t sure exactly what it would look like, or perhaps I wasn’t ready to acknowledge it out of the fear of how utterly ridiculous the prospect of me going into ministry was.  But I did know this; that in my heart of hearts that God was telling me to walk away from my nursing and to trust in him.  Every time I pondered not leaving nursing because the alternative seemed ridiculous, a feeling of utter shame and disobedience would wash over me.  I could feel God say firmly say “NO”.  I still felt called to help people heal, but the avenue had changed.  I knew God was calling me to help people heal through helping them know Him, his grace and the forgiveness of Jesus.  So, I made the difficult decision to leave my nursing behind me.  I knew if I didn’t make a clear cut from it, I would never walk into the unknown. 

A while later I entered my POD.  I was given an amazing mentor.  I knew as after our first meeting that this was right for me.  She was wise, gentle, encouraging and didn’t miss a thing.   

My POD has been an interesting period.  One full of change I wasn’t expecting when I embarked upon it.  I decided early on to use this experience to say “yes” to as much as I possibly could in ministry, even the things that terrified me.   

But life has many dimensions and things are not always smooth sailing.  We own a country General Store and Post Office, and the winter after I started my POD business was rough.  It had dropped significantly, finances were too tight for comfort.  My husband was incredibly stressed, which is unlike him.  After much prayer, we decided to sell our home in town and move out to the country and buy a little old rundown cottage to renovate near our business.  This decision allowed us to buy in cash, reducing debit and financial pressure substantially.  We were trying to batten down the hatches for what could possibly be a difficult economic time. 

My mentor and I talked extensively about what God was calling us to do in our new town.  I talked about wanting to build families and community, perhaps start a play group or something for mothers.  I wanted to help care for them, to encourage the women, to walk with them in the often difficult and lonely time of early childhood.  As a mother of three little boys, supporting other mothers is a passion of mine.  We live in a time where mothers today often feel socially isolated, families live apart, PND is on the rise.  When we support a mother in a strong, caring community, we help an entire family.  I had also started helping my mentor with a program run for youth on the edge, which I love.  We even brought a coffee machine into our shop with a table and chairs, and a couch and a basket of toys as to encourage families to sit and rest so I could build relationships and hopefully build some kind of families ministry from there if there was intrest.  I knew there would never be a chance of paid ministry in the town, as our local minister only works one day a week between three congregations, but that was fine.   

Not even two weeks after moving into the little old cottage the devastating Pinery Bushfires came through.  My husband was in an accident and got caught in the fire front as it swung around.  By the grace of God the only thing we lost was the 4WD which was a write off.  After the event the stages of recovery were a surreal experience.  In 2010 we went through the Stockport floods.  I remember I was 34 weeks pregnant with our second child.  We lost nearly everything we owned and were displaced from our home.  I knew God was preparing me for something through these events.  I was being stripped back, exposed, bare.  But each time I was reminded of the verse “I will not leave you nor forsake you”. He was teaching me to trust in him.  Wholly and fully.  Each time he brought amazing people who could help shape me, guide me, pick me up and dust me off, who would help lighten the load so I could do what I needed to do for my family. 

As time passed, our 3 boys settled in.  We found our feet among the move, the fire and renovations.  Our business improved and grew and has remained strong ever since.  The local Rev and I got in contact and we talked about the local church.  The church had essentially closed down its Sunday service a year or two prior.  Instead they now met once a month in people’s homes for a simple service/fellowship style night over dinner.  We met up and discussed the potential for a families ministry in town.  My old Rev was very supportive throughout this period of transition in guiding me, in giving advice, in mentoring me.  My new Rev gave me the encouragement, support and green light to see if I could start a families ministry.  I got in contact with a couple of local families and not long later we met up over a shared dinner.  We decided to meet monthly, on the opposite fortnight of the other homegroup.  I also started attending their homegroup to get to know the oldies better, which I greatly enjoyed. 

Sometime in amongst this I officially left my old church with their blessings.  I knew God was calling me elsewhere, but it had been a formative place for me in my christian walk and they were like my family.  They had stood by me while I took my first wobbly ministry steps and gave me opportunities to try different things, they were there as I unpacked my old hurts, learned about this sometimes messy and complex thing called “church”, sat with me as I began to heal, forgave me as I made mistakes and loved me unconditionally.

About 6 months after the Pinery Fire I was surprised to get invited to apply for a job to help in the Pinery Fire Recovery effort.  To help women and children come together in community to help them recover.  My role is technically “Pinery Fire Recovery Project Officer”, but I simply call myself a Chaplain who works with women and children.  This came as a huge affirmation to me, and I felt incredibly humbled and blessed to be able to work within this role.  Suddenly I could clearly see the path that God had been laying for me, what he had been shaping me for.  Since this point my certainty about my call has depend and clarified immensely.  I love my work, and the people it allows me to work with. 

Back in our new town, our little families group was going well.  Over time we decided to combine both the “old” and the “new” groups.  Which worked beautifully under the Rev's gentle guidance.  We now all meet fortnightly, in the church hall as we outgrew meeting in the home.  We usually get around 25-30 people who attend, our biggest night we had 40 just a couple of weeks ago which was a delightful blessing!  Our group ranges in age from 1-90.  We have a healthy childrens ministry usually between 9-14 kids and we meet over a shared meal, scripture, prayer and children activities.  We try to include something for all ages, and it is a wonderful time of togetherness, sharing of faith and worship.  It’s sometimes messy and chaotic, but there is a deep sense of love, acceptance, realness and community.   

My POD journey has been rich, diverse and full of change, it has taken me the best part of two years.  I have explored so much.  Preaching, worship leading, going back to study at college, working with youth, families, children, community work.  I have been blessed to be a part of a Church that has come back to life.  To see the healing hand of God, to see Him work and be present in the seemingly impossible.  It has been challenging, it has shaped me, it has brought me to tears, it has filled me to the brim with joy and wonder.  It has helped me to trust in God so deeply, to feel his peace and presence even among the chaos.  This journey has shown me Gods call on my life, in every possible way.  He has taken me on a path I never intended to go.  A path that uses every piece of me.  I often feel inadequate at the task at hand, like what I have is simply no where near enough.  But God has shown me time and time again, that HE is enough.  And through Him all things are possible, if only we can first trust in Him.        

If your still reading after all that I'm impressed!  A long post today, as it was part of a report, but you know what they say, reuse/recycle - ha!  ;)
Much love,
Emma
xx

Sunday, 26 March 2017

A new slab!

We have a new slab poured!  This will be the extension of our little old cottage.  It will contain a lounge, master bedrrom and a small ensuite.  Which will be a girl only bathroom, what a luxury! 

The cost of the slab came in well under what we were expecting and the fellow did a very thorough job of it all.  Working nearly, carefully, quickly and happily around our family situation of children and pets.  He was wonderful to work with, and he was so thorough and particular at every stage. 

Where the old timberframe, lean-to was.

Prepping for the new slab..

And its in!  No more dirt at the back door! 

Much love,
Emma

Friday, 24 March 2017

ponderings and a cement truck.

Here I sit, listening to the rumble of the cement truck outside.  Pondering about life.  The next stage of renovations.  The new slab gets poured today.  The beginning of a new stage for the little old cottage. 
I have learnt alot living in this little cottage of ours.  First when we lived in the outside room, all five of us sharing a tiny room.  Then into the main cottage, all five of us sharing a room again, but a bigger room.  Then the boys shifted into their own little room, once that was fixed up.
It feels like we have been here longer than a year or so.  A lot longer. 
So much has happened.  You know the best part? 
Realizing how little we all need.  Joyfully appreciating the simple things in life, like running hot water, a celling, working lights and heating/cooling.  When you renovate on this scale with a young family, you spend a lot of time essentially camping. 
I have learned to let go even more, to go with the flow.  (There may have been the odd period where I let go of my sanity temporarily also, but let’s not go there....kidding!) To work within the periods of work and rest with the house.  I LOVE clean floors.  Love them.  I’m a shoes off in the house kind of girl.  Renovating does not lend to clean floors.  At all. 
So, we have a deal.  On a Sunday, after a weekend of dusty dirty work, we stop, take the time to tidy our space and vacuum and mop.  Because it keeps me sane.  I appreciate it while it lasts.  We do it at night, when the kids are in bed so I can savour it for a few hours before the chaos starts again.  It might sound strange, but I appreciate that window of time.  Where I can relax, forget about the chaos and things are relatively calm and clean.
It is easy to look at those around us who look to have everything.  But do they?  No one really knows another’s story.  The feeling that person has deep in their heart of hearts. 
There is something that happens when we are challenged.  Like when a fruit tree is pruned.  It sometimes hurts, it sometimes seems rough and brutal.  Sometimes we are left feeling bare and exposed.  But then something changes within the very core of who we are.  It triggers a new growth.  A more resilient growth.  The old and restrictive is stripped away, the light and air is allowed into our hearts and then that....that is when the best fruit appears.
We are entering a new season of renovating here at the little old cottage.  A new extension, a new kind of building.  The demolition is finally finished.  Now we get to the good bit.       
But throughout it all we give thanks.  For the good, for the lessons we have learnt through the challenges.  For the surprising closeness and thankfulness, we have found as a family by choosing less.   
Aggie is growing, so much love for this wee girl.....she looks like she is guilty in this prcture.  She probrbaly was.....little terror!

Giant Jenga we made for church.  $40 of  2"x4", cutting and sanding and we have an awesome game with so many open ended play possibilities.  Grant is going to make Henry a set with ramps for his cars for his 4th birthday next month. 

Puzzles, I love puzzles.  So does Gus in particular.  They suit his need for order.

Henry continues to kick Grant out of bed on a semi-regular basis.  Grant continues to good naturedly tolerate it. 

Still studying.  Always studying.  With a sleeping cat to keep me company usually.  Or two.  Thank goodness for cats!

Much love,
Emma
xx 


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Simple waste reduction.

Zero waste....What an inspiring movment.  One that, at times, seems miles away from where I currently am.  But whilst I may not be able to identify as zero waste, we ARE strongly on the path of waste reduction.  We are activly making more environmentally/ethically aware choices, and long term changes of our families daily habbits.  Which already has, and will continue to reduce our waste footprint.

Which is awesome.  Small changes matter.   

There are loads of DIY tutorials online about making your own beeswax cloth to replace glad wrap.  There are loads of tutorials about making your own fruit and veggie bags too. I fully intended to make them.  I'm more then capable of making them. 

But I wasn't doing it. 

My time in this season is precious.  With family, work, study and the renovations on the little old cottage continuing in full swing, my craft game is weak.  Like, non-existant weak.  Eventually I decided the financial cost of out sourcing these things was less then the environmental impact of not doing it.  So I jumped on line and poked about to find a company that could provide me with the things I wanted at a fair price.  A company that was ethical, and supported other small business. 

I came accross an Australian business by the name of spiralgarden.  I have been SO impressed by their customer service I just had to share them here.  This is not a sponsered post, I simply want to show this business some support and appreciation for their desire to go above and beyond. 

A little while ago I put in an order for some things.  Beeswax wraps, mesh bags, large and small fair trade woven baskets and a fair trade "Jenga" style building set for Angus's 6 birthday.  There was a small technical glitch, as sometimes happens and which was no ones fault.  When I emailed to enquire the it was too late for the Jenga set to arrive for Angus's birthday.  They were also a little short on supplies of the large baskets after the big christmas rush.  I completly understood, and as we are also a small, family run business.  I understand all to well how frustrating supply issues can be! 

But what most impressed me was their desire to fix it above and beyond what was necessary.  They kindly offered me a beautiful larger, more expensive basket for the price of the one I enquired about and promised to post me a set of beeswax wraps on them when they arrived.  Which was completly unnecessary.  They also increased my post to express to ensure the birthday present arrived ASAP.  When my goods arrived I was very impressed with the quality, they are just beautiful.  I LOVE my large basket and comes in handy all the time for packing drinks, snacks and bits and bobs for when we are out and about.  This kind of customer service is rare these days.  I will certainly be going back in the future, and highly recommend others checking them out too.  They have a wonderful range of Zero waste producs and information, courses, books, eco-friendly/ethically made childrens toys.  There is a beautiful simplicity in the range of products they stock, and their products are an absoloute pleasure to use. 
This was my order, just so beautiful.  The boys have already mis-placed a wooden block, but at least it is a hit right?!  Im sure it will turn up soon enough!  ;)

Another simple way we reduce waste is to use cotton tote bags as shopping bags, here are just a few of my stash.  When these are worn out, they will be composted.

When cooking alot from scratch, food storage is another simple area where waste can be reduced.  I love these pyrex containers with their plastic lids.  Dishwasher safe, able to go from the fridge to the oven for re-heating and sturdy,  They stack well in the fridge and come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.  They are also affordable and easy to source.  I have a couple of sets of these and the rest are currently in the fridge.  They are in constant use here.   





Cloth napkins is another thing I have mentioned before.  This bundle is all op-shopped.  I love them, we dont iron them of fuss with them and it takes no extra effort but saves on wipes/napkins or other things people often have on hand. 

My waste reduction journey is not contained to one glass jar of rubbish for the year.  Though that movement greatly impresses me.  But these are a few simple changes we have made which significantly reduce the amount of disposable goods that are needed in our day to day lives.  Add recycling and making conscious choices to purchase things with the least packaging.....Well these things all begin to add up to a meaningful shift. 

What simple changes have you made that help reduce your waste footprint? 

Much love,
Emma
xx

Friday, 24 February 2017

A sweet surprise....and a chase!

Just the other day we were having a family debate about who last saw the Red Hen and when.  I could not remember seeing her in a few weeks, neither could Grant.  Will insisted he saw her a few days ago, but I didn't believe him.  He has a habbit of saying the opposite to us, just because he likes to debate I think.  (He gets that from his father...) Grant and I promptly concluded she had been eaten by a fox, or escaped and thought nothing more of it.   

But the other day, when I was unwell with gastro, I found out otherwise.  I have no idea why these things always happen when you least need them....

Henry rushed into my bedroom crying - "Ronnie is going to eat the baby chickens!"
Me - "Is the gate open?"
Henry - "No!  Ronnie is going to eat them!"
Me (with all my motherly wisdom) - "Well if the gates not open he can't get in there."
Henry - "They are getting through the fence, quick!! There is lots of them!!"
Me (patiently explaining) - "Henry, there is only two, they cant get though the fence they are too big."
Henry - "Quick Ronnie is going to eat them, the lots of baby chickens!!"
Me - Gives up on bed rest, haules nauseous self out of bed, cradles bucket and stumbles outside feeling like I was going to die.  (OK, I'm exaggerating a little....)

Where I find that Henry was infact, right.  Ronnie is actually about to eat some baby chickens, LOTS of baby chickens.  But not the big babies, there are a bunch of new tiny day old chicks that are running back and forth through the timber lattice.  Where Ronnies nose is pressed up ready to catch one next time it pops through onto HIS side.  Turns out Will was right, he probrably had seen her.  She had simply been hiding so well that we had failed to find her.

Me - "Oh shit, there are baby chickens.  RONNIE!!!!!"

I quickly sent Henry inside with Aggie.  I then tried to haul Ronnie by the collar away from his tasty snack....instantly realizing he had slipped his collar AGAIN and I had nothing to hold onto....The stubborn dog REFUSED to leave his post despite enthusiastic calling, then scolding.  I briefly considered dragging him away by his fur, but quickly decided that would be cruel.  So I did the only thing left.  I put down my bucket, cursing under my breath and picked him up.  All 20kg of Boarder Collie.  I lugged him to the laundry so I could keep him out of the way.  My head was pounding and my stomach churning.  The second I got him in, he made a mad dash to escape and I fell to my knees trying to force him back through the door.  With one hand pushing on him, the other trying to close the door without shutting it on his nose.  I was, at this stage swearing under my breath, feeling rather seedy. 

Next I called our old Labrador Tess who happliy trotted over and I gently closed her in the bathroom.  Tessa, the good one, is MY dog.  She actually listens.  (Fancy that...)

I returned to the chook yard where tried to capture the little chicks.  They took great delight in popping back and forth through the fence, making the job as difficult as they could.  Lucky they were cute.  Eventually I caught them and popped them in a basket.  I secured them in the chook shed so they were safe.  Then I grabbed an empty milk crate and popped it over a very cranky Mother Hen, slid some mesh under her and safely transported her to be with her babies.  Thank goodness I got them all.  I filled up the chick feeder and water feeder and closed up the shed tight. 

As I brushed myself off I wondered to myself....Why does this stuff always happen when Grant's not home?!  I mean seriously..... *rolls eyes* 

I let the dogs loose and good old Tess wandered out completly un-fussed.  Ronnie ran straight back to the fence, dissapointed his self serve snack was no where to be found. 

Some days, hey?

When I rang Grant to tell him later, he of course thought the entire situation was completly hilarious.  Which in hindsight it may have been.  Though I do wonder if the old neighbours next door were watching through their kitchen window, which has a beautifully clear and un-obstructed view into our yard now the lean-to is down.

Mother hen and her chicks.  Two red, and two yellow.  She is a hyline so the yellow chicks are roosters and the red will be hens. 

Aggie is getting big!  She stole Ronnies bone here, doesn't she look proud?

Ronnie, however looks a little puzzled as to what exaclty happened and how he got pipped from "Top Dog" by this little black bear. 

The back yeard is a mess, though we are lookfing forward to a jumbo bonfire this winter!  I look forward to the new foundation to be layed in a few weeks.

Cloth napkins, a vintage plate, handwoven basket and embroidered linen.  All op-shop finds, bought for next to nothing. 

Well the weather here is glorious, though Grant has been working on a jack hammer bringing up the last of the foundations which has had a bit of an earth shattering effect on my peace and quiet.  He seemes to have finished now and has moved onto a crow bar and shovel which is signifiacantly quieter.  I best pop the kettle on and make us a cuppa and force him to knock off. 

Much love,
Emma
xx

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Down she goes!

We are once again in demolition mode.  Our yard is a discrace.  Piles of things to be taken to the tip, burnt, or to the metal scrap yard for cash. 
The cement being pulled up....

The verandah coming down.

The back porch and 3rd bedroom gone....

And Grant kindly leaving me a tiny corner of cement until the last possible moment for a clean path to the toilet and bathroom.

Look, I finally managed to make a proper loaf of sourdough! 

So good.  Like seariously wonderful.  This weekend I hope to make anough for a few loaves to last us the week.


Aggie is our faithful little follower, full of mischeif and little nippy teeth!  But gosh she brings us lots of joy.  Look, here her ears are nearly standing uptight. 

Much love,
Emma
xx