Settling in to Melbourne

These two are settling in… I am very thankful that this girl loves her new school. It is so much easier in her own language. She enjoys bringing books home to read every day. And we are all grateful that there is no other compulsory homework, and a uniform to wear! She is rapidly growing in confidence in this environment.

This little boy recently turned four… his first birthday in Australia! They are both loving spending time with cousins and getting to know other friends, and playing together in our big backyard with lots of trees and bushes to explore.

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Very grateful the kids slept quite well on our 20 hours of flights. Relieved to be back in this familiar country. Loving the big blue sky and bright sun, hearing wattlebirds ‘chu-chuck’ and currawongs make their sound (not sure how to describe it!). And enjoying that I can hang the washing outside to dry, even though it’s winter! Thank you friends for your thoughts of us this last week. These photos are of boarding our first of three flights; from Manchester to Copenhagen. The kids love flying!

We bought a new car…

We bought a new car… (although not this one!)… one hour before we had to return the old one! This was due to various details. E.g. In order to buy the car, we needed a bank account, and for that we needed official letters to verify our new address. Thankfully we had found a very suitable car for sale here in Northwich. So after much waiting for everything to fall into place, we picked up the car one hour before Matt left on his journey to take the car back to Belgium! (As we hired the left-hand drive car in Belgium, it had to be returned there). Matt stayed with friends in England en route to Brussels, and then flew back to England (Manchester airport) once he had returned the car. Very thankful to Jesus for how he worked all this out, including the financial gifts which paid for it all. This is an old story… a month ago now, but I hope worth telling.

Mothering as ministry

   

  

When people ask me what is your ministry in Belgium, I reply that my main ministry is my my family; loving my children and husband. 

I have to constantly remind myself of this fact, since ministry to others sometimes seems more talked about and more valued. I have felt encouraged lately in this. A colleague at OM said that my family are my mission field, which I alone have most influence in. No-one else has the opportunity to care for them like I do, especially when they are pre-school age. She also told a story of a pastor’s son who committed suicide, leaving a note to say that ‘my father had time for everyone else’s children, but not me’. Quite a sobering extreme story, but a reminder of my sphere of greatest influence; my own family.

Recently, I stopped by lake Genval with Alec. I was commenting to him that it is frozen over and said “Amazing”. For the first time he said “mazing”. So cute!! I am trying to live slowly, to delight in these special moments; not to be too busy moving on to something else. I appreciated reading a quote on a poster at the church where I have recently been attending a bible study group. It is from C.S. Lewis who wrote “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”

One day as we walked to school Belle asked “Did God make himself?” She also recently asked “Did Jesus lose his power when he died on the cross?”, and how to tell her friends in French that they can be friends with Jesus. I have enjoyed hearing these questions, and been reminded of God’s bigness as I tried to answer them! I am also seeing some of the rewards of being there for the more mundane hours to help my children learn patience, sharing and manners. And when it has seemed to be going badly, I have been praying lots to this end.

I have been trying to be gentle and patient with myself; not putting too many expectations on myself, because then I find I am better at being gentle and patient with myself. And I have been so much more quickly able to forgive and love when I regularly think (and sing!) about how God forgives and delights in me.

I am encouraged by the Steven Curtis Chapman song ‘Do Everything’. I think it reflects the thoughts of Romans 12:1-2 well… “offer your bodies as living sacrifices… This is your act of worship.” I delight in the fact that reading stories, making food, giving cuddles and hanging out washing are pleasing act of worship to God, as much as singing songs at church on Sunday or visiting a friend. I also delight that I can often sing songs and pray for friends as I do the mundane things! 

Thanks for reading; I have been encouraged in the process of writing and thinking about these things. Please pray for me as I live with the tension of ministries to my children, husband and others; because I need God’s help! Please also pray for relationships with peers in this role. God bless you in whatever you are doing in worship to Him, especially you, my friends with young children. And may God bless your precious children!

  

   
 

Anniversaires

I have recently missed two good excuses (in facebook tradition) to say how grateful I am for Matthew. He is generous, fun, a great listener, gentle, handsome… I could go on. And the thing that gives me great peace and cause for admiration when I sit still to consider him, is that he doesn’t depend on his own strength, but on his Father above. I love him!!  We celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary (anniversaire de mariage) in January by going out to Cafe du Sablon in Brussels, which is across the road from this beautiful 15th-century Catholic church (Eglise Notre Dame du Sablon).  Afterwards we attended a student concert at the Conservatorium of Music. I really enjoyed listening to some Schubert music for guitar and violin. Then in early February we celebrated Matt’s birthday (anniversaire)! Birthdays are always a cause for excitement in our house. Belle and I enjoyed making some lamingtons for a cake; something Australian that is unavailable here. 

   

Pilates & Language Bloopers

I had a laugh to myself in French class recently… I have been having friends over each Tuesday night to do pilates. I lead the sessions in French. When sitting in French class the other day we came across the word ‘souffler’. I have been telling my friends ‘toujours soufflez’, intending to say ‘keep on breathing’. It dawned on me that it actually means ‘always blow’!! I am very grateful for my gracious friends who come!

Il a deux ans!

This boy is now two!! That means he has lived more than half his life in Belgium. He loves trucks, dogs, horses and donkeys. There are plenty of horses and dogs in Belgium. He amuses us, especially the way he uses ‘oops’; he will throw his quilt out of his cot on to the floor, then say ‘oops’ repeatedly until we come and look!