Boyd Boys

Stumbled upon old photos from my time being a nanny in Australia. I miss these boys and family so much. I remember spending weekends with them. Their mom would make us breakfast in the morning, and we’d talk about God and life. We’d set clothes out to dry on the clothesline in the springtime while the smell of Jasmine sifted through the Aussie air. The floorboards would creek with charm and so much love from all the love it experienced within its four walls. The sun would stream in through the kitchen windows basking the house in a warm afternoon glow. We would make Earl Grey tea with milk and it was serenity, love in its purest form, and goodness of people that are now oceans and memories away. I will never forget them, and will carry them in my heart ever so fondly. Miss you Boyd family. Sending you love. Wherever you may be now.

-Diana

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The Blue House on Bourke Street

I would  sit in front of the big blue house, sometimes with the occasional bag of M&M’s or a steamy flat white. The afternoons were colored dark grey by the stormy clouds of Sydney winters the only vibrant color coming from the pale blue house. I’d sit and look at its mosaic stained glass thinking about life and retrospection, counting the days for the plane ride back to the familiar place.

I don’t know what it was about that blue house. Maybe it was the bohemian interior of colorful throw pillows on the couch, the wooden floor boards or the grand piano. But all I knew is that every time I felt homesick or melancholy I’d wonder to the familiar bench and stare at the big blue house. So much so, that its residents took notice of me and accepted me as part of the interior.

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I left many things on that bench. Mostly the load of an unwounded mind for the next traveler, and an indention of myself now just a memory to that street.

I’d sit beneath the cascade or barren leafs of the massive tree reading Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, with my bright pink Leuchtturm and pen at the ready marinating in the little pleasantries of everyday life; counting every falling leaf as a small guarded blessing, and finding inspiration all around me.

I watched strangers pass by, each absorbed in their own world, fighting their own battles, and having people to love, and dogs to walk. It wasn’t a lonely street, but it was quiet and charming and aligned with town houses I could never afford.

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In the winter the leaves from Autumn were illuminated by the rain, the blue house more vibrant than all the rest, the barbershop humming peacefully, a circadian rhythm of familiarity. In the spring this street was breathtaking. The purple Jacaranda trees in full bloom, the house also blooming with delicate and fragrant Jasmine-everyone strolling cheerfully in bright colors.

I miss the big blue house. Maybe because those were my fondest memories of self, of observation and reflection. A repose in hues of blue and a reminder that home is where the heart is. It would be mistake to think that this place wasn’t my home, for there is where I felt more at home.

That old squeaky bench, the patch of grass, the European architecture, each an uncovered secret I made my own. In this place it always felt like something grand was around the corner, a new discovery to be made a new café to try, and a life to celebrate.

Yes, I miss the big blue house. With each coming of seasons there it stood the same as ever-grand and beautiful.

-Diana

Swallowing Grace

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Someone once told me that grace is a lot like an awkward hug. It comes at you and catches you off guard, and once it embraces you, you don’t know quite how to respond… do you high five it? stand there awkwardly? Or swallow it down cordially?

I often times think grace is kind of like a good song, or an unsuspecting moment. Moments that seem to cause a lump to form in our throats and manifests tears from a reservoir within ourselves that says, “Why me? I certainly do not deserve it.”

Grace has given me an awkward hug lately, and I have just stood there motionless with a lump in my throat and tears pouring down my cheeks. My lovely parents recently decided to buy me tickets to go to New Zealand before my return to the U.S. and you see I thought it wouldn’t be possible, and to put it bluntly I felt that it was truly unearned, unmerited. This hasn’t been the easiest season for me and I have been waging my shortcomings like a greedy accountant.

New Zealand

And it is as though God himself is using New Zealand as to say, I am not interested in works I am interested in the state of your heart. I know in my mind and from what I’ve read that “works” are an outwork of our obedience and love for God, but once I start attending church and doing “things” in a “have to” mindset I have lost my heart and love for God.

I know that deep down the fire is still there and it needs to be rekindled, but it is incredible to see God’s charater remain as it always has even when I have lost my heart beat.

New Zealand now stands as a reminder of God’s love towards me. Not based on what I do or don’t do, but based simply as his unfailing love.

I hope I dwell in the grace caught in throat moments… in moments that hit me with so much of God’s goodness that I can’t help but let the tears fall and fists raised high in victory!

I hope to God that grace catches is us off guard more often, with the weight of its freedom, restoration and abundant joy.

**Only a couple more hours until I awaken in the land of Lord of the Rings… Bilbo… I understand your journey now.

Colors of Winter

Sometimes it just hits me… I live here. In this wonderful city where the lights dance on the water, where  ferries move in and out ceaselessly from the harbour, where the coffee is good and where the winter is deep in your bones cold…

Well here you have it friends a glimpse of Sydney during the Vivid light festival in the heart of Winter… it almost, almost feels like Christmas.

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100: The Honey Years

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Today we  had the privilege to celebrate one of our beloved nursing homes residents. He turned the ripe old age of 100! TEN decades of life! I cannot begin to imagine the many things he has seen come and go in life. This man is nothing short of extraordinary having served in WW2 and having loved his wife until the very end of their many years together.

But what resonates with me is how grateful he was to simply receive a birthday card from us. We have gone in and out of that specific nursing home over this past year and all we have brought is simple silly board games and our presence. And every single time without fail they were beyond happy and grateful always leaving us feeling like super heroes. I wish I could give them the whole wide world, but sadly I cannot. Yet even if I could I know that they wouldn’t want it anyway.

They have reached a stage in their lives that has made them sweet and slow like honey witnessing life in bursts of simplicity and color. They have shared stories so deep about themselves that have left me impacted, and made me feel mellifluous (if I can even use the word) like I have become so much more of a person simply by hearing small pockets of who they are.

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They are like hidden treasures each with a facet of life that I have been oblivious to. They have revealed to me that there are parts of the human experience I cannot even begin to understand:like being half of a whole, the hurt and pain that comes from being a parent, and what it means to forget the things that have meant so much. They wear their stories on their skin and love on their sleeves and pure simplicity on their tongues.

I’m done with over complication. Done with believing that life is a competition.

I will begin to embrace today in hope and love.

And I pray that I celebrate more than I over-complicate.

So to my beloved residents that I love oh so much… thank you for making me feel as though anything is possible, for complimenting me and loving me as your own, for inviting me into you and reminding me of what it means to simply love and the sweetness of simplicity.

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The Sweet Disposition of Life

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Disposition:
1.
One’s usual mood; temperament: a sweet disposition. b : temperamental makeup; c : the tendency of something to act in a certain manner under given circumstances via: Merriam-Webster & The Free Dictionary.

I watched him as I drank my flat white and munched away at my strawberry tart. He was rushing no where and the busyness of the café and the flurry of people seemed to have no impact on him. He looked to be in his fifties and he was as peaceful as a lily sifting on a pond on a breezy summer day. He gently poured the milk into his tea and once he was finished he took out the paper and began to read; but what shook me was he did it all with a smile.

As I kept looking throughout the room I realized that he was the happiest of all the people there, including me. There could’ve been millionaires in the room but I guarantee you there was no one in that café richer than this elderly man. As I continued to watch him, I tried to understand what he could possibly have or contain that made him so happy, and then it came to me: this man was delicately wrapped around contentment. (A place I hope to one day live in).

He had a sweet disposition towards life that seemed as steady as an anchor at the bottom of the ocean floor.

I want contentment like this.

I want to have a steadiness in me that allows me to marinate in life. To marinate in what I do have at the moment and not “wish” it away. Because maybe, just maybe what I have been dealt holds a treasure deep down somewhere. I know God wants me to slow down, and soak in all his goodness, to have the patience that love demands, the courage in daily afflictions yet also to pour the milk in my coffee nice and slow and to simply remember that past all the ruble life is beautiful…That the act of breathing in itself demands a smile. The fact that our family members are still so close as to hear their heartbeat should demand praise. We seem to look at the world as though it is half empty-and there is truth for that, but there is also truth for hope, richness (not always in money), and life being born over and over again.

Maybe our aim should be to have this sweet disposition towards life,  a makeup consisting of our creator and whom he says we are, and for our earth clay bodies to be wrapped around gratitude and set firmly upon His immortal hand.

I want to be like the sunrise and the sunset. Rising gently, quietly illuminating and giving life, and I want to set ever so genteel and leave brushstrokes of colour in my wake. I want to be like the old man not rushing throughout life, but above all I want to be like Jesus loving fearlessly and relentlessly.

I want a sweet disposition type of life… a content life, and a life wrapped around eternal hope.

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Picture via: Mathijs Delva 

Crisp Autumn Reflections

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Its another beautiful crisp Autumn day, yet somewhere inside myself I find this desire to escape it all yet preserve it all. A part of me knows that I’ll be saying goodbye soon and it makes my heart go numb. I’ll miss the smell of jasmine in the spring and the smell of freshly brewed coffee from all these coffee shops, and I know I’ll miss the hustle and bustle of the CBD district, the sail boats amidst the harbor, the salty ocean and the culture. Today as I wondered through the breathtaking Surry Hills I held the urge to cry. I do not want to leave, yet as I gazed at the families and the couples walking to and fro and sipping their delicious concoctions I just knew I wouldn’t find that here. A part of me is more afraid of leaving instead of staying… and who would’ve thought staying a hundred miles from home would be the easiest thing instead of returning.

I guess this is all part of growing up. Letting places grow in you, yet still have that space in your heart that is willing to let go. I guess its all held in its own tension. The tension between growing and letting go, and still remaining in the rhythm of the universe. Its hard to believe that it can get better than this. I’ve tasted milk and honey, bitter and sweet but above it all I have tasted a bit of life and God. I’ve grown here and I just hope that through the erosion of time, that I manage to remember more than I manage to forget. I hope I remember all the good things and hold on to them more than I hold on to the bad.

Time is a beautiful paradox. It has the power to heal and keep memories frozen in a moment, yet it also has the power to steal and wither. I just want so badly to believe that what lies over the Pacific is worth it, that it brings with it a new dawn, a new beginning, a new chapter and a new adventure. But above all I hope to preserve these memories like gold coins yet not suffocate from them (in a sense of wishing for what was) but instead hold onto them like a small firefly that illuminates the beautiful yet is ever so free.

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.
-Anatole France-

 

We Owned the Night

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We felt a hundred miles away, more giddy than school kids in the queue next to us, and we felt more alive than a newborn. It had been a rough season but we needed to escape it all even if for just one night. So the crisp afternoon day in April found us at Luna Park at the north end of Sydney, across the majestic Harbour Bridge.

Luna Park welcomed us with a big smile (literally) and with the gleaming lights strung across the rooftops, its Ferris Wheel rising from the harbour, the carnival music and the loud squeals. I wondered where everyone came from, and I smiled at the families on an outing, enjoying themselves.

We rode the bumper cars and crashed and raced in the night, and it didn’t matter if we were 20 or 20-something. Everyone there had let their guard down, people did silly dance moves and stood in front of fun house mirrors making silly faces and licking fairy floss because they could. And I wondered at how different life would be if we approached it with no reserves and we were just simply free. Free and willing to sing that song at the top of our longs or wear the shiny blazer…

I did feel a million miles away that night. I felt like a swimmer catching a gulp of breath after a long and tiring swim… and as the Ferris Wheel rose high above the theme park and overlooked the Sydney Opera House, and the bridge complimenting her like a glove, I couldn’t help but to exhale and breathe a sigh of relief. This moment was ours and no one could take it away. The Ferris Wheel moved nice and slow, and allowed us to ponder and say a small thank you to our God over the carnival music, as we took in the sight before us: the lights of the harbour, the ships moving silently in the night, to people celebrating inside them and raising their wine glasses in a small celebration of life-or something like it.

I wanted nothing more than to store all this memories in the recesses of my mind so that I could access them again. Access them when I feel like everything is falling apart, or when I just feel dead and empty like a sad empty shell. I want to remember how I felt on the roller coaster, when I spun around and around gently on the carrousel on my giant rooster, and when I ate a “corn dog” for the first time in ages.

That night was ours, no one could take it away, time and space could not touch us.

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Good Friday Reflections

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Sometimes I truly can’t believe how beautiful life can be when I stop and smell the ocean, when I drink delicious cups of coffee at cute cafes, and when I share full bellied laughter with my dearest friends. I know that life isn’t always roses and butterflies, and that there is hurt in life, but sometimes I feel like its these “little things” that help remind us that life is so much more exquisite and these moments more precious because we do not know what lies in tomorrow.

I was at Bondi Beach a couple weeks ago on what was a very beautiful postcard sunny type of day, and as I went and had some frozen yogurt with my dear friend I “people watched,” and my heart nearly exploded with great delight. People were so happy in each others company just eating some frozen yogurt, and that was it. I’m sure most of them were just everyday ordinary people just spending time with their loved ones, but I realized that God (even though they may not know) was smiling down on their moment. Simply because there wasn’t an over complication of life, just people enjoying and marinating in that moment.

And in essence this is what Christ died for. He not only died for our sins, but to bring forth life and let us marinate in it. For he said, “I have come to give them life and life in abundance…(John 10:10)” and maybe this “life abundant” does not look completely like heaven (because its still human and broken because of our choices, and marred by the sad effects of disease), but sometimes it just simply  looks like watching your favorite movie, gathering around the dinner table with family, passing that exam, being in good health, driving through the coast, even folding fresh laundry.

Yet our hearts can have hope and look forward to his coming, look forward to the day when it all comes to a full completion. Yet, in this moment right now, in our ordinary lies great potential for the extraordinary, potential, in just enjoying and choosing to delight, because when we choose delight it becomes a sweet moment of worship to our God, what else can we do to thank God for the cross? Delighting, enjoying, basking in what He has given us because “every good gift comes from above… (James 1:17)”

We are free friends. We are not stuck in sex trafficking, we are not Syrian refugees in the desert, and we do not need to worry of explosions on our way to school. We must not undermine these drastic situations, on the contrary we must step in to fight the cause for those whom can’t fight for themselves, and we must pray for these drastic situations. But we must also remember to worship, and thank Him for the life of freedom He has given us in his grace and mercy.

So drink that cup of coffee nice and slow, love like there is no tomorrow, and when you fall short give yourself grace, and keep hope when all else fails for this is our temporary home.

So on this Easter Friday;

Cheers to life, God & His love.

And remember friends in your circumstance that a brighter dawn is coming…. we might not understand the full mystery but take heart… He is Risen.

 

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*Picture courtesy Pinterest.

When you can invest yourself deeply and unremittingly in the life that surrounds you instead of declaring yourself out of the game once and for all, because what’s happened to you is too bad, too deep, too ugly for anyone to expect you to move on from, that’s that good, rich place. That’s the place where the things that looked for all intents and purposes like curses start to stand up and shimmer and dance, and you realize with a gasp that they may have been blessings all along. Or maybe not. Maybe they were curses, in fact, but the force of your belief and your hope and your desperate love for life as it is actually unfolding, has brought a blessing from a curse, like water from a stone, like life from a tomb. like the actual story of God over and over.

Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines.

God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the Kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.

-The Message Bible; Colossians 1:13-28