My life is not my own, for I belong to Christ.
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Some Fabulous People
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Josh Glover had his second piano lesson this week. He's five and has the adorable habit of counting with 'frees'. "One, two, free; free, two, one." When we got to the last few minutes of the lesson, I decided we had time for one more page. He looked up at me with his big, brown eyes, lip trembling, and said, "Well...sometimes...I, um, if I just do this too long...um, well, it just makes me real...hot." I quickly assured him we didn't have to do anymore.
Last Friday, we girls went to the city with our good friends Matt, Justine, Jono, and Louise for a belated birthday celebration for Maria. We had a nice long stroll down the city streets and a couple rides up the city trams before we found the Chinese place where we wanted to eat. After ordering all our meals, the waiter came back and told me my meal came with a drink. Thinking of a drink as something alcoholic, I hesitantly asked, "Do you have, like, Coke or something?" Everyone at the table laughed at me, saying, "He's going to go bring you back an 'or something'!" He did bring me my Coke, only to come back and take it away after we clarified that the meal I had actually ordered didn't include a drink. The waiter then went on to drink the Coke that had almost been mine. Huh.
After eating tea, we walked to Southbank (overlooking the Yarra River), took some pictures, and got some yummy ice cream. We girls rode back to Frankston with Matt and Justine. Matt stopped to buy us coffee at Macca's on the way. He asked the drive-thru guy for a "flat white". The guy asked him if he wanted it from the McCafe or just the regular MacDonalds. "I don't care where it's from," Matt replied, "I just want a flat white!" Now, we girls were in the back seat, thinking the guy had said, "Sorry, we don't have any coffee," and wondering why Matt was yelling at the guy to get him some anyway! So when the guy told us to pull up because it'd be a few minutes for our drinks, we girls scolded Matt, saying, "Hey! The poor guy is probably running to the nearest Safeway to grab some coffee for this grumpy costumer!" We all had a good laugh over it. The rest of the drive consisted of comments about "the lights of encouragement, the horn of enthusiasm, and the brakes of soverignty" and other such slap-happy comments, as well as random spurts of Brave Saint Saturn songs.
I just read "The Last Battle" for the first time in my life. I've read all the other Narnia books multiple times, but somehow I had never finished the last one! I've been reading bits of the other Narnia books out loud to Benji at night. We are looking forward to the new "Prince Caspian" movie, which, sadly, doesn't come out in Australia until June 5th!
Tamara and Benjamin have been dancing to ringtones from Maria's mobile phone for the past 15 minutes. It's somewhat disturbing, but mostly hilarious.
Maria and I are finishing highschool!!! No, we're not twins, but we are under 13 months apart. We've done most of our school together, and we're carrying on the tradition of two Blackwoods graduating at once. We don't have an official graduation ceremony, but we're hoping to have open houses both here in Frankston and in the States.
Last night at Bible study, we watched a DVD of a sermon by a Scottish pastor on Luke 14:23 -- "Go out into the highways and byways and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." We were challenged to tell others, with a sense of urgancy, of the Kingdom, for ourside the Kingdom is great danger, great temptation, and no experience of the hope and love in the Kingdom. We were encouraged by the reminder that our salvation is a wonderful gift of our great God, by which we have every sense of hope and peace and joy that we need in all aspects of life. The preacher told a story of the response of two men to some preaching by Charles Spurgeon. "Oh, Mr. Spurgeon!" exclaimed the first. "What a sermon! What a sermon!" The second came up to him and declared, "Oh, Mr. Spurgeon! What a Saviour!"
[L to R: Maria, Matt, Justine, Louise, Jono, Tamara, Charity]
Charity | 10:35 pmComments-[ comments.]
Monday, May 12, 2008
Piano lessons. I've been giving piano lessons for the past 8 months or so. I currently have 7 students, 6 of which are kids from church. Most of them are new beginners, though a couple of them had taken lessons previously. I really love teaching all of them. It's nice to earn the money, but mostly I just like getting kids excited about something that I find really wonderful.
I love playing the little duets with them. I love giving them pieces that I used to play. I love being able to be their friend and their teacher. I'm hoping to have a piano recital at the end of this month, to let my students show what they've been learning and also as sort of a closing to my time with them. My mom has offered to take over the lessons after I leave. I'm really thankful I've had this opportunity. I'm going to miss it a lot while I'm in the States, but, Lord willing, I will be able to come back to it someday.
Keep practicing, my little students! You won't regret it when you're older, I promise.
Charity | 10:58 pmComments-[ comments.]
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Growing up seems to be such a long process. It seems we are always waiting for the next stage in life, the next step which will surely be more exciting than the last. There is the constant temptation to be looking ahead instead of enjoying today for what it is. And then it is too late; the present has slipped into the past, leaving the future just as unreachable as always.
All of the sudden, the future seems only too close. The slow-motion process of growing up has suddenly shifted into fast mode.
Then comes the inevitable start to that unavoidable task, the sure sign that "grown up life" is beginning -- the never-ending cycle of Decision Making. Never before has such a daunting task been issued. Deadlines are presented, along with the ever-helpful reminders of calendar pages and ticking clocks.
However, in the life of a Christian, before all the stress and anxiety and uncertainty kicks in, there is hope. "The heart of a man plans his way," Proverbs tells us, "but the Lord directs his steps." And, as Psalm 18 so beautifully points out, God's ways are perfect. Another promise we can hold to is that of Romans 8:28 -- "And we know that God works all things together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." So, even faced with major decisions which hold lasting effects, we can be certain that there is no way in which we can "mess up" God's plan for our lives.
The great decision weighing on my mind and heart over the last year has been "Where will I go to university? America or Australia?" It is without question the hardest decision I have ever had to make. Well, I suppose it is the only real decision I have ever had to make.
"But how am I to ever decide? How can I possibly know?" The answer to these questions has come, only after a very long, and sometimes painful, journey. And here at the end of it, I am so very thankful for this burden the Lord gave me. All the anguish and turmoil spent does not compare to the joy and treasure in the lessons I have learned.
Ever since my two older brothers moved to Lafayette, Indiana to attend Purdue University, I have had an interest in going there, as well. My plans were, in my mind, "interrupted" by our move to Australia to minister in a church. The original two-year assignment to my dad was extended during out first year here, making the length of our stay indefinite.
I still had the desire to go to Purdue, and my dad said we would keep praying about it and take one step at a time. Mom encouraged me to keep in mind the promise of Psalm 37:4 -- "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desire of your heart."
The necessary steps were taken -- taking the SAT, applying for Purdue, making sure I was taking the right subjects for my Indiana high school diploma, and much, much more prayer. In a conversation with my brother, Zachary, several months ago, he encouraged me to apply some Biblical principles all through my decision-making process. I wrote down his helpful list and stuck it in my Bible.
"Ask him, seek wise counsel, consider what you desire, seek first His Kingdom, act in faith, make wise plans, but don't fear about tomorrow, trust that He is working all things for your good, believe that you won't 'mess up' God's plan for your life, but that He loves you, and He will guide and direct your steps."
I sought and received much wise counsel, from my parents, from pastors and elders, from spiritual mentors and older friends, from both those who would be greatly affected by my decision and those who could give more of an "outside view". The Lord blessed me greatly with counsellors.
And the Lord began a great work in my heart, a changing of it and of my whole perspective. He helped me find fuller joy and purpose in my ministry here. He gave me a greater vision of His Kingdom and my place in it. Through His grace, I became ready and willing to stay here in Australia, if that was to be His will. I was especially encouraged and challenged by Matthew 6:33 and Acts 20:35.
Along with giving me that new mindset and heart attitude, He started opening doors to the path leading to Purdue. He was pleased to grant success through my SAT scores, my acceptance to Purdue, and provision of finances, beyond what I would have imagined.
There was still a great struggle in my mind and heart. Those who are closest to me, who observed the battle first-hand, will tell you of my inconsistency, my constant "changing my mind." (Thank you for loving me anyway!)
Here are some excerpts from my journal:
11 January -- I'm frustrated with not knowing where God wants me. I still have a great desire to go to Purdue. Should I just wait for Him to take that away?
30 January -- I'm wrestling with God in prayer, asking His wisdom and guidance in the college situation.
22 February -- I've thought of it from 20 different perspectives. Probably more. All I can really do is pray for God's leading. And...be still and know that He is God...and remember, "In darkness, God's truth shines most clear." Above all, I need to keep reminding myself, "God is calling you to serve Him. Location is secondary."
25 March -- It seems an impossible decision...I'm so tired of my lame reasoning and re-reasoning. I'm so tired of being so unsure. I'm so tired of trying to talk about it. But how can I be tired of praying? How can I be tired of waiting on the Lord? How can I be tired of looking for the answer of the One who knows all? I just DON'T know. But God knows.
26 April -- If there is one thing this decision-making process has taught me, it is that I have much to learn.
30 April -- The decision has been made... I've been allowed the privilege to live and love in two countries, to experience the joy and pain of having two homes and living somewhere in the middle. I would never really wish that away, tragic as it may seem at times.
So, after careful prayerful evaluation and encouragement from elders and parents, I have made a decision. If the Lord is willing, I will go to Purdue this coming school year. I have a great desire to be in Australia and continue in the ministry, but I think God is giving me this opportunity to go to the States, and this seems to be the best time to do it. I hope to return to Australia next June, at least for a visit, and probably for the rest of university.
Thank you so very much for your prayers. To know that so many people interceding for me was a huge comfort and joy help to me. Please keep praying with and for me. This will be my first time living away from home, with no opportunity to return for several months. Pray that God would teach me much. Pray that He would fill my loneliness. Pray that I would adjust well and that God would continue to be at work in all the details. Pray for my family here and for God's continued blessing on the ministry here.
I think I feel a little like Hudson Taylor did when he made his decision to go to China. In a letter to his mother, he said, "If I do not know the intensity of a mother's love, I feel so much the strength of a son's love, a brother's love, of love to friends and brethren in the Lord, that the thought of leaving all seems like tearing away a part of one's very self. But, praise God, I know something of a Saviour's love, though but a little as yet."
Charity | 11:34 pmComments-[ comments.]