Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Oak inside the Acorn

Ever see something that took you back to a moment in childhood? 

The other day I was walking along a little street in Battery Point, 
and I saw this grand old oak tree with piles of little acorns at its feet.   

I had to stop.


As I knelt down, collecting a handful of the little treasures, 
I had an instant flashback to a distant memory...

My school bus would stop each day outside an old nursing home, 
and I would come to spend time there almost every day of my childhood.

There was a lovely older girl who used to wait with me,
and together we would explore the seasons, 
as we waited together under the giant oak tree.

I remember the feeling of excitement as I gathered 
as many acorns as could fit in my little hands.  

Just to feel, and to look at.  
(Maybe pop a couple in my pocket for my mother to find when she did the washing!)

These days I suspect my adult hands could hold a few more.

It's amazing how things in life change, and some things stay the same. 

My hands are bigger, and I now have my own children; 
(and there are frequently random 'treasures' in their pockets 
to be retrieved before putting that load of washing on!) 

Yet seasons are constant, and Autumn leaves fall at the same time every year, 
decorating the ground in their glorious reds and browns -
as majestic and vivid as ever... 

...and this particular Autumn day, 
they brought back my childhood in the same way.

Not sure what it is about Acorns that thrills and fascinates me so!?

In recent years, I've grown to love this beautiful story,  
The Oak inside the Acorn
by Max Lucado, (illustrated by George Angelini).   
I love reading it to my chidlren...

It's about growing up, from childhood to adulthood, 
and eventually finding and taking your place in the world.  

"The world looks so big," the little acorn said to his mother. 
"I'm just glad to be right here with you." 
His mother was a tall, beautiful oak tree.

"I'm glad, too, my little acorn. It's good for you to be here with me now. 
But when your time comes to go into the world, you'll be fine."

 "I'll be afraid." 

Mother Oak hugged little Acorn in her strong branches.

"Within you is a great oak, Little Acorn.  
Just be the tree God made you to be."

 * * *

Ahhh... the comfort in your mother's hug! 
(No expiry date... Mum-hugs are still as nourishing to me now as ever!)
And what a beautiful sentiment in just being the tree God made me to be.
No point envying the apple tree, or wanting oranges to grow like the tree next to you.
Just be you.  Glorious you. 
Find your place, and stand strong.
Be the tree you were meant to be!

...with a bit of child-like wonder thrown in for good measure!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ode to my Polkadot Mug.

Original Artwork Entitled: "Ode to my Polkadot Mug".         Medium: iphone and pointer finger.

Years ago, Chris and I used to have matching 'his and hers' "Daddy Cool" and "Yummy Mummy" mugs.  

A darling friend bought them for us as a gift, and in that season of having my 3 babes in 3.5 years - when life seemed to roll from nappy change to breast feed (!) - the reminder that someone thought I was a "Yummy Mummy" was often just the pick-me-up my day needed!  

I once heard another mum affectionately talking about her "Happy Mug", that she would treat herself with if her day needed a lift and the phrase stuck.   
I too came to think of my mug as my "Happy Mug" for use in emergencies, 
i.e., at 'that' time of the day...
...and certainly for more frequent use when it approached 'that' time of the year!  
 Need I mention the therapeutic benefits of said "Happy Cup" use... 'that' time of the month?!

(Hmmm.  I think my readership just became 100% female...?!  For those few "Daddy Cools" out there who have hung in there through this random blog - it IS in your best interest as well to learn WHEN to pull out the Happy Mug and OFFER the much-needed sanity-saver! Can work as a 'white flag' occasionally too!)

Anyway, back to the story of the Yummy Mummy mug...   (CUE: Sad music) 

One tragic day... 

My Yummy Mummy mug smashed!  
Close to tears, and resolved to find another, my search was in vain - for the matching Yummy Mummy Mug was now out of print.  Alas, a few years came and went, using our boring white mugs... 
It wasn't until this year - for my 30th birthday - that my mum gave me...
 A Red Polkadot Mug. 


That special glimmer in my eye, reserved only for the Mug of my Life returned - and I discovered again the benefits and many joys of a "Happy Mug"!   We're inseparable - and we have so much in common.  Well, we share my 5 cup-a-day love of yummy tea and good coffee...

(Favourite Teas of the moment... From Jefferson's Tea Shop in Liverpool Street: Strawberry Cream or Caramel Tea - or from The Art of TeaFrench Earl Grey or Tasmanian Lavender!)

But I digress...   
(from my extremely purpose-filled and life-changing post about my mug)

Chris and I no longer have matching mugs.  But...  That's ok.  :-)

These days I look at Chris' understated, reliable, long-term mug -  next to my slightly whimsical and quirky one, and it somehow manages to crack me up.   Like THESE were the 'mugs' that were meant for eachother!  ;-b  These are two "Happy Mugs" and never happier than when being used concurrently on the couch at the end of a long day.


Must be time for another cuppa!
Get your favourite mug and have one with me!?

Cheers, Love, and happy days!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lambs, Bunnies & Eggs!

Yummy buttery hot cross buns...
...chocolate (bien sur!) & fresh coffee... MMMMmmm....
... damp grass, smoke from a few chimneys...
 ...and that crisp air that stings your lungs, 
as the biting sun warms you through.  
It's Good Friday, and I'm snuggled in with my family doing cosy Eastery things!

Beth's gifts...
Bethany has made lots of cute little cardboard baskets that we filled with mini eggs to give to her friends.

Hot on MY to-do list today however is to make Marshmallow Bunnies! I tried to make them yesterday, but got distracted and overwhipped the marshmallow! The kids had fun eating the blobby white mass, but I shall "Take #2" today - trying to get mine as cute as the ones on Brisbane Baker's blog!

This afternoon, we'll eat the Osterlamm Cake given to us by a beautiful German friend, Martina. Hacking into this gorgeous Easter Lamb feels so barbaric (!!!) *cringe* -but I'm guessing it's meant to be as a symbol of Jesus' innocent death on my behalf...? That I partake in for the joy of that TASTY TASTY butter cake goodness!!  Mmmm.... Martina's an AMAZING cook!

Joely my little 'Artiste'!
OOh! I have to tell you... We had a super-fun day yesterday with my gorgeous American sister-in-law-to-be, Liz. She suggested we dye eggs for fun (the kids were home from school!). So our adventure began as we set about trying to buy "white eggs" like they have in America!?  Needless to say... After much shopping and googling, we learnt that the type of chicken determines the egg colour - alas the pretty-white-egg-laying types are all far away from us, and we Australians are stuck with the not-so-cute brown kind!! 

(I must add that Beth's hands still look like they've been 70's tie-dyed!! Hilarious!)

NEVER FEAR - we discovered if you hard-boil them in vinegar water, you can then wipe them over with paper towel and more vinegar, and most of the brown comes off, making the eggs more receptive to pretty dye colours!  The kids drew on them with coloured crayons, and then we held them in food-coloured vinegar water, dried them off and wiped them over with oil to make them shiny! The kids had a creative blast, and the Easter Bunny Liz, plans to hide them in the garden tomorrow for the kids to find! 

Chris and the kids excitedly gave me my Easter Eggs early - last Sunday! (Not sure what the "Easter Police" would have to say about that! ;-b Hehe!! ...but I'm one happy accomplice to said rule-bending!!)

For years I’ve been collecting these gorgeous hand-painted eggs from here and there. My loved ones find them for me for special occasions, of which Easter is one... They’re such cheery looking things! And I love them so much, they stay on the table year-round!

I do love the sentiment behind the giving of  eggs! Fertile with possibilities, and a symbol of new life about to begin.  
To quote from one of Paul's letters to the church of Corinth ...

“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

Soooooo beautiful and breathtakingly simple.

Life’s good, and God’s provision for our humanity is incredible!   
Love beyond love, and Life beyond life.   

Happy Easter to you... And Happy Life too!
So much love, 
Amy x

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Love: The Sacred Kiss.

It's been eleven years since the,  
"Would you ever consider us being more than friends?" 

Eleven years since he accidentally blurted out...
I LOVE you!!!
That's not how I planned to say it!"
And eleven years since my first kiss was preceded by a gentlemanly...
I kiss you?" his red Datsun 120y. 

I can't believe it's been TEN years today, since those I do's in the garden of Runnymede House.     Just kids ourselves, we put rings on our fingers, kissed each other and our adventure began.

He wrote a song and sat at a grand piano and sang of his love and commitment to me... a cruel thing to do! Make-up was no more!  And although I couldn't possibly have sung it on the day for choking up with tears, I wrote a song for Chris as well.  The words summed up my hopes at the time for what our world and life together might look like...

...How nice it is to dream 
Of sunny days and lots of graces
A little house and childrens' faces
...A walk along the beach wrapped in eachother's arms...

I was thinking about this recently while taking a stroll along Blackmans' Bay beach - a couple of hundred metres from our little house! Chris had his arms around me and the children were running ahead... The song came to mind, and it dawned on me that I have been blessed with every dream that was in my heart the day we married.  

I am so truly and deeply thankful.

It's an overwhelming thought and gratitude wells in my heart; To God for bringing this man into my life; to Chris for holding my hand on this crazy and action-packed adventure; to our family and friends who have cheered us on; and to our children who have made our days so joyous.

Chris Richardson, 
I'd pick you again a million times over.

Yours with a Sacred Kiss,

The Sacred Kiss.
There was girl with a heart unbroken
She’d built up a wall to protect it so
With a gate in the wall opened only by a certain key
The garden would wait for a love to grow

There was a man who was kind, good and charming
A smile as he spoke, made you feel so safe
She tried to be strong, but his warmth was disarming
I could give my heart to a man like this

Over the days in his gentle way,
He thawed her heart,
As she took his hand
And the love grew deeper
And like grew longer
They pledged their love with a sacred kiss

Ten years have passed since the garden blossomed
Children have joined their side-by-side
Son-kissed and windswept they shared their adventures
She cherished the day she became his bride

Over the years in life’s usual way
If the road was long
Or the season hard
The love grew deeper
They held to each other
And ended each day with a sacred kiss

Love is long, and patience longer
With forgiveness too, and a faithful song
May I turn your head, May you win me daily
We will cherish and honour our love like this

For the future ahead, I see blue skies open
Joy to be had
Still come what may
Let our love grow deeper
Let us hold to each other
May we finish our days with a sacred kiss.

Song written for our Tenth Wedding Anniversary, 14th April 2011.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Found. (My take on Faith!)

Why I’m thinking of a George Michael song as the opening line to this blog entry, goodness knows. Nonetheless, I’ve heard the phrase widely used, and in many contexts...
“You gotta have faith...”
Ok, so the need for ‘faith’ is widely acknowledged in society today. 
But where exactly are you meant to put your faith? …in yourself? …in others? …in humanity?
And what does it mean to have faith anyway?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, Faith is defined as having "complete trust or confidence in someone or something" and "strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof".

Is it even possible to have COMPLETE trust or confidence in "someone or something"?
My experiences of faith have kind of felt like “a nestling into.” 
Like being able to safely trust, let go, and in a child-like way, relax in the shelter of someone bigger;  Someone who loves me, and can lead me to safety.

In about 1000BC, the Psalmist wrote;
“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2) 
These sentiments have always resounded with me. 

Maybe you think that you don’t or can’t have faith at all.  In anyone.  Even in yourself.
Nonetheless, we as humans find ourselves hungry for a deeper spirituality... for some kind of meaning to life.  Where does that hunger come from? 

Many Australians who don’t identify themselves as being ‘religious’ still acknowledge that there MUST be something more than what we can see.  Life is too precious. Too amazing. That jaw-dropping sense of awe when something truly overwhelms you… A baby’s first cry. Mozart. Tasmania’s National Parks. Children’s laughter. Colour. Taste.  Strawberries. Good wine. Galaxies. Just a start.

Surely this is most of the hurdle to faith:
Acknowledging the possibility of something beyond what we can see, hear, taste, feel, smell is surely the hard part - after which, surely ANYTHING could be possible… right?  

Some acknowledge the universe or cosmos as holding a kind of ‘mystic’ power, but even this is pretty bold by the standards of modern science and humanist thinking.
          And yet... Life is too mind-blowingly incredible. Too wonderful.
So we open our minds to the possibility, that maybe, just maybe, there’s more than we can see or possibly understand in its entirety.  Possible then… that maybe, just maybe, there is even a God who planned it all... A God who made this INCREDIBLE universe, and planned YOU along with it, with all your hopes and dreams inside - not an accidental cluster of cells, but created by a Master Artist.  The same Artist who luxuriated in the infinitely intricate creation of this awe-inspiring universe and all the cells and microcosms there-in, with a remarkable congruency.

I've done my fair share of dabbling in existentialist and humanist philosophy; teasing out the notion of bangs, swamps and monkeys. But every sojourn into this barren wilderness has led me to faith in my (depressingly fallible) self, and into a state of blah-filled hopelessness.

It was only in the letting go of my need to get my head around the nitty-gritty of it all, that true peace washed over my soul.  Not being stupid, or assigning my brain to some IQ score 20 points lower… but a surrendering.  A hunger to preserve the spiritual Truth I have found, even to the detriment of getting my head around apparent scientific ‘truth’.

And I can say, honestly and life-changingly, I found my rock that is higher than I.

“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”  Blaise Pascal (French Mathematician & Physicist)


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ahh, January. How I love thee!

Christmas has been and gone, along with all the joyous trimmings of New Year celebrations, and we've just arrived home from camping as a family. Just the mention of the word 'January' and I feel all sunny and relaxed on the inside...
Like a big breath of fresh air has filled my lungs. ;-)

We've had a lot of fun over the past few weeks doing various 'holiday-ish' activities as a little family.

Chris baked gingerbread with the kids the other day and I have tackled various sewing and painting activities with them!  We've read both Heidi and Anne of Green Gables; watched movies; painted rocks; made ribbon hair-clips; handsewn little felt notebook covers; (Joel made a 'pirate flag' for his boat in the backyard!), and the kids have been sewing their own felt 'Owl & The Pussycat' characters.  I love having the kids home with me, and find the lack of routine in holidays so diverting.  

While camping, (in between beach trips), I enjoyed many cups of tea, and savoured EVERY minute I could grab in my beach chair with my journal.  :-)   I found time to write some songs, draw, journal... and I'm sooooo excited about all the adventures this coming year holds.   I have so many plans and dreams...   Where do I begin?

(Well ok, it's my ONLY step).
TAKE STOCK and attempt to bring ORDER to my (notoriously right-brained!?!) world!

In the mayhem that is 'December' in our house, I misplaced so many important notices and pieces of paper, and I concluded...
"For the coming year (with all these ideas and plans, another child starting school and my teaching even more!) - ORGANISATION IS A MUST!"

Enter - hopeful sanity-saver (and novel craft idea): The old-school Pinboard!

Work in progress
I decided to take all loose notes, bills, cheques, petrol vouchers, letters, photos, party invitations, ballet notices, paintings, drawings, postcards OFF my fridge. There's never enough room to see them all anyway - HENCE things get forgotten! I set about building on the back of my pantry door, the most GIGANTIC pinboard known to man kind (well almost!?), ready for ANYTHING the school calendar can throw at me!
Je rêve d'aller à Paris...

I went to the local hardware store and purchased a large sheet of 'softboard'. It didn't fit in the car - so I was proud that I managed to hire and DRIVE a trailer all by myself... (Girl Power!?).   I purchased some pretty fabric, and paid homage to my love of ribbons... A staple-gun here, and some screws there, et... voila! 
Recycled Moccona Jars

I even made myself a new coordinating 'plastic bag-bag', and another one for my bio-degradeable ones (useful for lining the compost bin). 
In just one day my kitchen is tidied, pantry items labelled, 'that pile' is sorted and...  I'm feeling GOOD!    Ahhhhhh.

Bring on 2011! 
My Pinboard and I are ready. ;-b

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Counting Sleeps!

Not long to go now!!  The kids (and 'big kids' alike!) are counting down to the 25th!!  I've found myself jovially crooning (to the cats, the kids and the dishes!) the old Christmas song...  

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!"

Writing cards to their friends!
To me, Christmas represents one of the greatest ‘faith, hope and love’ explosions in my calendar, where all three merge in a collision of all things soul-satisfying!

This time of year takes me back to the sweetest awakening of my own faith journey, and the telling of the most magnificent love story ever, creates an excuse to share love with all around me, in actions, time and thoughtful gifts... Moreover, with 2011 popping its little head around the corner, there’s a sense of another 'blank canvas', with hope for all the possibilities of the year to come.   No wonder we all feel like partying!?! :-)
December in the Richardson house...
...usually consists of rehearsals, The Messiah, carols, a messy house, unweeded veggie patch, concerts, baking, shopping, wrapping, more rehearsals, more shopping, school BBQ’s, end of year parties, did i mention the messy house... Ok, so it does have its frantic moments... and I think I might have mentioned that my house is messy. ;-b   Nonetheless, we always make time to do some fun things with the kids as we prepare for Christmas together. 

Our first tradition is to set the tree up in November! 
Lily, Beth & Joel
decorate the tree!
I know, it’s early, but we figure that as soon as the Pageant has been through town, it’s fair game to pop the tree up.  Handel plays in the background while the three-hours of tree-trimming begins.

Chris and I usually finish the day with a sip of port and a fruit mince pie! *BLISS!*   A sip of port and mince pies are thoughtfully left out by the kids for Santa on Christmas Eve as well! Consumed as he (SHE!!) watches the carols and wraps the last of the presents!

Joel with the beginnings of the
Gingerbread house!

This year, Bethany made paper chain decorations to hang around the house, and Chris became the engineer/architect of the family ginger bread house efforts. The kids made their own 'Advent' calendars this year with nice things they can do for others each day... We've had fun!

We’re blessed to have such a large extended family so Christmas festivities are normally spread over three days!  After which, we’ve promised the kids to go camping on the East Coast for a couple of weeks in the New Year.  The kids LOVE it, and I usually take my art supplies, and journals, and take time out for me too... to begin to create and dream of what I want my world and coming year to look like. 

I’ve so often found that dreaming fresh vision creates hope in my world... and I relish this time away to refill my 'tank'!  I encourage you to do the same over New Year... Don’t look at your world now, or count the failures of the past.  You don't have to go away, but clean-slate it.   Go somewhere quiet, grab a cuppa, get yourself a new journal, and begin to dream...
Dream for every part of your life, and what you want it to look like, without limitations. Your home, marriage, children, family, health, relationships, work, your aspirations, goals etc.  One year from now, five years, ten years...  

I'm learning not settle for life on ‘default’ settings, but to aim to live with a sense of deliberacy - to live by ‘design’.

I pray your New Year will be filled with 
peace, hope, joy and all things wonderful.
So much love to you...  
and Merry Christmas!
Amy x