Friday, 23 December 2011

A Christmas Detour.

We decorated our tree just after Evie's birthday. The lovely Rossi took photos. And then it was an epic mission getting them off her camera. In fact, we've had a bit of a technological meltdown at our house really. Our camera, laptop and my phone have all folded under the Christmas pressure. 

I've found it so hard not have a tantrum over it. I had such high hopes for blogging and photos after the rush of the markets. I've found it hard to throw out the junk mail before I even look at it, to not google the cost of a new computer or camera, to not just click 'buy' and stick it on the credit card, to tell myself I deserve it, or that it's my right, or an important business investment. I've found it hard not to be angry at Tim and God and the world of employers out there over our financial situation.

And looking over these photos again now does make me glad for the simplicity that will mark Christmas this year. And it reminds me of the conversation I was having with a dear friend, just diagnosed with Liver disease, about the story of Christmas. She was musing about Mary, all those years ago. Maybe she had plans for her life. Did she feel like the Angel at her door was an interruption? Or maybe she just expected that God would provide something more comfortable than a shed in which to give birth? I would feel ripped off! But I've never doubted His provision for Mary. It's always just been part of the miracle of it, the humility, the God-becoming-man.

And so I wrote this poem. For me, for Sharon, for anyone who has heard horrible news, or been taken on a detour, or had their laptop die at an inopportune time. I truly hope the simplicity and hope of Christmas touches your heart this weekend and that we are reminded to let go and just be and see what happens. Love, Jodi. xxx

Did you wonder at the detour?
Me? A child? Now?
Unmarried. Inexperienced.
Unexpected. Expecting. 
An invasion, an interruption.
A thing too awful and too wonderful.
Did you have your life planned out? 
Or even just your day?

Did you wonder at His timing?
A call to be counted.
All that way?
This far along? 
(On a donkey?!)
A plan too big and adventurous.

Did you wonder at His provision?
Door after door and shaking head.
Sorry Folks, we're all full up!
Full of expectation
and hope and pain.
It's so close. Surely God..
For the King
For the Mother of the King!
A welcome so humble.

Did you wonder at His presence?
We have a shed...
a barn, a stable.
You met your King in cries of pain 
and the bleating of sheep.

Did you wonder at His leading?
First kings as guests and then a king as hunter.
Leave now, far from family
and comfort
and peace.
Did you think, 'If only!'
If only they hadn't spoken!
Did your heart long for home?

Did you wonder each day onward
at this little invasion?
A child King
befriending the lonely, forgotten
Who fled adoring crowds
told the healed to tell no one
with no sword or gallant horse
and thorns for his crown.
An invasion so daring, so unexpected.

Friday, 16 December 2011

On the 10th day of Christmas...

I have learnt my lesson! I will never again (hold me to this!) offer to make 10 make-up purses on Tuesday to be ready by Friday! As you can see, there are not 10. There are 6. One other is nearly finished but didn't fit together properly (I was not precise enough with my cutting) and the other 3 are still in pieces, abandoned when I realised I was running out of time.

I was talking to my friend Jo, who runs a playgroup with me, about good ideas for Christmas presents for the mums. What do you give to mums with young children that isn't just more candles and chocolate and hand cream? We were feeling very uninspired. So when I read this blog post by Rachel at Stitched in Color about her make-up roll pattern, I fell in love and offered to make 10 and bring them along to our Christmas party.

Rachel's pattern is easy to follow with lots of photos and clear instructions. No complaints there. But what I didn't take into account was all those pockets and tucks and gathers....

So, when on Thursday I was still a LONG way off finishing, I enlisted the help of my friend Sharon who marked out lines and sewed pockets on for me and basically kept me company.

Then, after the kids were in bed, I begged Tim to help snip threads and turn them right way round after they were sewn together. What a kind man I married! We started at 8pm and he stayed up with me till 1, when I was sewing on the last buttons.

`And then Evie, figuring that if we were still up at 1, that there must be a party on, woke up as we were locking up the house and getting ready for bed and didn't go back to sleep till 3!

But here is the fruit of our effort. Aren't they beautiful? And unique? As soon as I finished top-stitching, I was so glad I put in the effort to make something different. And the ladies really loved them. I definitely recommend them as a great handmade Christmas gift. Just maybe not 10. Not this close to Christmas!

Friday, 9 December 2011


We live in a small house with an open door. No front gate or barking dog. Our back fence has a gaping hole in it on one side, through which we chat to our neighbours, and is of the old fashioned timber height on the other, over which, friendly, old Olga throws her scraps to our chooks and we pass her our eggs. 

We have 2 bedrooms, one for us and one for the kids, who wake each other up too early in the morning and sometimes in the middle of the night. And when our many guests come to stay, we pile the kids in our room, or they sleep on the couch, or in a tent in the backyard (the guests, not the kids).

When people come for dinner, or cake, or a movie we all squash in our tiny lounge room, some in the kitchen or on the back deck. We talk late into the night, reminding ourselves occasionally not to wake the kids.
We rent from Tim's Dad and treat the yard as our own, growing trees and shrubs and chickens and the occasional vegetable that survives my neglectful gardening style. (Any plant that can survive only on rain and sun is welcome here.)

And every so often, especially at this time of year, we ask ourselves if we should move, into something bigger, closer to the Uni (where we work in a kind of volunteer chaplaincy role), something with a garage and a dining room and enough space for the kids and the guests and all my fabric.

But of all the good, rich things that we love about our home, it's this asparagus that keeps me here one more year. I planted him a couple of years ago and at the end of each summer, he dies away, last time, I assumed, forever. And each spring, he has returned, reminding me that sometimes I can't know everything that's happening just under the surface. And if I stay just another year, his sweet spears will be ready to eat.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A Little Celebration

A crazy November ended well with a spontaneous birthday party for Evie.
"Poor girl," I kept thinking to myself all day. Her birthday will forever be consumed in Christmas readiness, market craziness, the end of a Uni semester or school term. And I've discovered I'm not one of those mothers who has the date and party ideas in mind a month (or even a week) beforehand.
And so we did what no responsible mother would think of doing for a first birthday. At around 4 pm, we sent a message around to a bunch of friends, all single students, inviting them around for coffee and cake at 7 that evening.
I was expecting three or four, knowing that at this time of year, students disperse after their exams for their 3 month summer break. But then Sharon asked if her sister and a friend could come and Dane brought Kylie along, an old friend living up in Queensland and down for a visit, and soon there were 15 good friends and two excited children, enjoying being up past bedtime, squashed into our small lounge room and spilling out onto the back verandah.

Rossi brought icing sugar because I'd accidentally used mine in the cake, thinking it was castor sugar. Tully helped me decorate the cake with Smarties, starting with a Christmas tree shape and soon becoming just a mountain of colourful sweetness, to which he didn't mind helping himself now and then.

Tim manned the coffee machine and someone else asked who would like tea. We turned the fairy lights on and everyone made themselves comfortable and fed Evie chocolate and giggled at her big, hungry eyes and no one sat by themselves.
I don't think I could have planned a better celebration for the first year of a little girl's life. Through the challenges of going back to uni and finishing degrees, job hunting, renting a small house and sometimes wondering if all the decisions which had led us to this point were wise ones, it was good to see and feel that despite the costs, the choice to live simply, make time for people and open our home, has given us wealth of another kind.