Saturday, 14 January 2012


Here it is... The good news that we have been waiting for.

We are going to be payed out for our car. It has been assessed as a write off, and finally we can seriously start planning to buy a car.

To fill in, on the 22nd of Dec, our car died, after driving through about 20cm of water and flooding the engine... It broke a conrod in the engine, which for those who don't follow, means the engine is not worth repairing, and needs to be replaced. Additionally, we had about 2 inches of water inside the car... I put in a claim to my insurance company, and promptly we began the long wait, what with the madness of Christmas holidays being what they are.

A week later the car was towed away to the nearest repairer, who told us it was certain to be a write off, as it would not be worth replacing the engine, given what the car was valued. The insurance had other ideas.

The insurance assessor for the area rang Cherith, and proceeded to explain to her that they do not cover mechanical failure, and that we would be liable to pay 75% of a new engine (which would come to about $2000, on top of the fairly hefty claim excess), or we could opt to put a second hand engine, which would cost me about $1000, and would be payable by me entirely, or, option number three, which was to accept a payout of what they estimated the car was worth without an engine, which would leave me seriously out of pocket as a result. We prayed. All of those options would really leave us stuck. Especially as me live 70km from the nearest town... We needed a car. It had been 2 weeks since we had been able to go shopping. Thankfully, we had done a hefty shopping trip just before the car died, but we still relied on a little 'top-up' shopping by Cherith's dad, who worked in town.

So I rang the insurance assessor. I rangled with him for half an hour, and seemed to get nowhere. Until I mentioned the water inside the car. His smooth talking stalled. Apparently no one had told him about that (He hadn't been to see the car in person yet), and he said he would have to check it out and would get back to us.

Then on Friday, we got the call. The insurance company said that the car had been assessed as a write off,  because the inside had gone mouldy. Hardly surprising considering the amount of water that had been locked in there for two weeks! But praise God!

Don't get me wrong. I am very sorry to see the car go. It has been a faithful little car since I bought it, and well worth the money I paid for it. But it was in need of some repairs already, which I couldn't afford, and the car was highly impractical for us in our situation here (Living and working on a dirt road, a small front wheel drive vehicle is not the best option... It's not the worst either, it had worked through some awful weather for 8 months, but it was time for change).

So God has answered our prayers. And he used a hefty dose of humble mold to do it! He has a thousand ways to provide the answers to our prayers, and sometimes it is astonishing how He does it.

New year's resolutions, late....

Ok, so I know it is rather late, but better late than never... And I think I have some really good ones. New year's resolutions that is.

Without further ado, here they are... Oh, and because the Bible says it best, I'll quote it! Yep, they aren't even originally mine, lol... I'm just borrowing these, but I know a good thing when I see it...

Resolution Number 1. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:8

This one has always been a favorite of mine, because this has been the point that so many Christians seem to miss, especially conservative Christians... This one actually contains three things.
"Do justly"   Do the right thing. Act justly and fairly towards your fellow men (and women :D).
"Love mercy"   Be merciful to those around you. Know why these two are in the same verse? When people start to focus on "Doing justly", they start to get the idea that they need to "help/coerce" everyone else to do as they are doing. But that isn't the idea. It says "love mercy". Be kind to those around you, even if they don't live according to what you believe to be right. Don't judge their motives, don't jump to conclusions about their actions. Just live and let live. Encourage those around you. Try to be a little ray of sunshine, instead of being a little thundercloud!
 "Walk humbly with your God"  Be humble. Even if you are doing justly and loving mercy, being humble isn't always the easiest thing. It is easy to look down on others. STOP! That isn't Christianity. That is hypocrisy. But this isn't a sermon. These are my resolutions. And this text has been a favorite of mine for 6 or 7 years.

Resolution Number 2  "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." Ecclesiastes 12:13

Another big favorite text. This one goes with the previous one. After all, what does it mean to "do justly"? This text has the answer. And what is more, it is the whole duty of man. Our duty is to keep God's commandments. Period.

And then, the biggest, and best one of all.

Resolution Number 3. "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him..." Job 13:15

God has been good to us. Life hasn't always been smooth and easy, but that would be boring anyway. But I really need to trust God more. Regardless of what happens. Because He knows best. And He promises that everything works out for the good of those that love and trust him. So I'm going to trust Him, no matter what circumstance we face.

So those are my new year's resolutions, albeit two weeks late. But better late than never.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Tranquil... Peaceful... Relaxing...

Strangely enough, in spite of all the things that have happened in our life since getting married, our life has been rather tranquil...

Setting up our own little home, in the country, away from the hustle and bustle of towns and cities, it is easy to forget that crowds and noise exist, except at night, when the crickets, frogs, and other creepy crawleys voice their serenade to the moon.

But the quiet, calm, where we have the freedom to live life as we choose, without neighbors in sight, is worth almost anything.

Yesterday, as the thermometer climbed to the hotter side of 35 degrees, we decided it was time to see if we could find a nice spot for swimming. Good thing we have a creek nearby, one that has been recently cleaned out by rain and flooding. We discovered that a few sheltered waterholes had the most beautiful cooling water, though by no means was the water cold.

As I enjoyed the water and cooled off, I thought about how important it was at times to simply forget about everything and simply kick back and relax. Life usually hands us enough worries to send us to an early grave if we let it, but taking time to relax is incredibly important. Laughing, swimming, letting everything else pass by unnoticed for a while, I simply enjoyed the water, and in all honesty, I felt so much better by the time I climbed out of the water. It was just so relaxing, so blissfully enjoyable.

So if you feel like life is just getting a bit tense for you, maybe it's time to let your hair down and take some time away from the stress of life. Enjoy a good laugh, indulge in a tickle fight with a sibling or friend, go swimming, read a book, and don't stop till you get to the end, go for a walk, or relax with a bowl of popcorn and watch a video, but whatever you do, take a moment to enjoy the fun that can be a part of life if you take time for it sometimes. It may not be often, life is hectic sometimes, but you still need it. Everyone needs a break from time to time...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

THE cars

I'm not the sort who buys and sells more cars than most car dealerships... In almost 9 years of driving (and 9 years of car ownership), I have owned 2 cars. And yes, I owned both of them for 4 and a half years...

The '76 Corolla.
 The first, I bought with money I earned during school holidays working on a local farm, along with some help from my mum. The second, I bought from money I earned at that same farm, though by then I was working there full time.

It was a 1976 Toyota Corolla. Reliable, gutsy for it's age, and black. The sunroof was great, though I had to be careful to shut it just right or it would leak.

My older brother Toby had owned it before me, and he had, among other things, put a new engine in it, repainted it, lowered the front suspension, and put the mag wheels on it. I had bought it off him, 6 months before I was legally able to drive it, so for 6 months it sat under our house, waiting for the moment I got my learner license. Then when I got my provisional license, it carried me to TAFE and back almost every day for 6 months, as I did my certificate in IT. Then, after I had finished school, it took me to work and back, faithfully, even though I didn't exactly drive it gently. It broke down exactly twice in the four and a half years that I owned it. Once, when the fuel pump died, and the second time when it needed a new ignition coil. Oh, I had a flat battery a few times from leaving the headlights on accidentally, but I could hardly blame the car for that! It was a reliable, tough little car, with not too much power, or I probably would have killed myself before I settled down a little in my driving habits.

By the time I was 20, I was looking for another car. My little Corolla was getting old. It's heartbeat was still nice and steady, but I was just wanting to upgrade to something a little newer. My brother had bought and owned a pulsar, and from driving his, I quite liked them, so I started looking for one, just casually to begin with. Then, one morning on the way to work....

It was a damp morning, and coming around a bend not far from our house, I make a mistake. I downshifted in the corner. Now in some cars this might not be a problem. But this was a rear wheel drive, little four cylinder, with absolutely no weight on the back wheels. they locked up, and I slammed into the curb. It buckled the front wheel back until it was almost scraping. I drove it to work that day, and took the next two days off work to buy a car.

The wheels I added myself, about a year after I bought the car
My brother Markus, who is a mechanic, and I, drove around to a lot of car dealerships the first day, but couldn't seem to find anything that looked good. That evening I went looking online at car advertisements, and found two that looked promising. The next morning my Dad drove me to see one of them, about two hours drive from our home. We had arranged with the owner of the car where to meet her, and when. We arrived a little early, and she wasn't there yet, so we waited. Suddenly I saw the car driving around the corner, "My car" I thought. I looked the car over. It looked very neat, and well looked after. Half an hour later, after a quick test drive, I had decided to buy it. Driving it home the next day felt great! I had a car again, and it was exactly what I had wanted. It was a 1997 Nissan Pulsar. Almost exactly 10 years old at the time when I bought it. Not only economical, but the sort of car that is fun to drive. I enjoyed driving it for over four years. And again, it broke down exactly twice. But then again, I look after my cars, and God blessed me with a car that had been looked after before I got it.

And that brings me to now. My car served me faithfully til the 23rd of December. Then, being coaxed through some floodwater that was just a little too deep, it finally gave up. Actually, I think I did the damage a week or so before, again, driving through water. It got water into the engine, weakened something, and on that day, it finally gave way, snapping one or more of the conrods. A loud knocking noise, followed by an even louder crack, and my faithful car was no more. I placed the insurance claim, and yesterday the car was towed away and assessed. The tow truck driver said that it was guaranteed to be a write off, and for the first time in my life, I am glad to lose my car. Driving it on the rough dirt roads around here had destroyed the suspension, and the registration had run out, which meant that I would have had to fix the car up properly before I could re-register it. Then I would have to sell it anyway to buy a vehicle that is more suited to our needs. If the insurance does indeed pay us the value of the car, then we have to go shopping for another one, and hopefully one that will last us at least 4 years, :D.

But it was still a little sad to lose this car. This was the car I drove to Lismore to visit Cherith in (and which seemed to impress her so much). This was the car the two of us travelled around in so much at the end of 2010, and the start of 2011. This was the car we drove off to honeymoon in. A lot of memories, and yet, it is still only a car. But it was, for four years, one of the few things I could count on. I knew, that when I walked out in the morning to go to work, that it would start, first try, every time. No if's, no but's, no maybe's. It just did.

For now though, we have to rely on other people to either take us shopping, or do it for us. Life is good, even if not always smooth. Because God is in control, and He doesn't take time off, or wear out after 4 and a half years like my cars seem to. He is always there for us, and that is the most comforting thought in life....

Sunday, 1 January 2012

My year, our year, our life.

There's no doubt about it. 2011 has been a year of changes for me.

The biggest and best of those was getting married :)!

I am not the sort who likes a lot of changes. I like stability in life. A steady job, a place to live, a reliable car, etc... 2011 has challenged all of those for me...

In February, my boss in QLD retired, sold his farm, and I was made redundant. I had worked for him for almost 6 years, and he had always made a definite effort to have work for me (To the point that he planted extra crops when the regular work wasn't enough). And it wasn't often that I was forced to have time off work. It had been a good job.

But 2010 brought someone into my life that made a few changes necessary, so when my work finished, I moved interstate to be nearer to her (by then she was my girlfriend, and I was already fairly certain I wanted to ask her to be my wife). So I moved, 860kms later I arrived at Cherith's sister's house, where I had been offered a place to stay until I had work and could afford a rental or whatever else I could arrange... But for three months, work in that area eluded me. I was told later that jobs are in very high demand around there, because the area is effectively overpopulated, as three universities bring a lot of people to the area.

In the meantime, Cherith was still studying primary teaching. But things weren't going very well. She had some fairly worrying health symptoms. Headaches that seem to come out of nowhere, severe, sudden, and seemingly unexplainable. They seemed to be worst after she had attended classes, but they weren't limited to that. It made studying nigh impossible. But Cherith was determined to continue. She pushed on, but it got worse. One day, two minutes after walking into a classroom that had been cleaned only half an hour earlier, she was hit by severe headaches, nausea, and dizziness. It couldn't continue. Cherith talked to one of her lecturers about it. She told Cherith that she was displaying all the symptoms of MCS, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. She asked Cherith where she was living, and after describing the place, her lecturer shook her head and said it was no wonder Cherith was having problems (the house was almost right next to the main freeway between Sydney and Brisbane, and on the corner of the main road through the town as well.) The pollution had been so bad, I had been wiping an oily residue off my windscreen every few days, the toxic fumes in the area so potent, they would settle on the car fairly quickly.

It seemed Cherith couldn't continue, and when she realised she had 2 days to make a decision due to academic cut off dates for classes, she decided to put her studies on hold and work on her health and our impending wedding. Meanwhile, I was still unemployed. Then I heard of a potential job in the country, close to where Cherith's parents live... I decided to go and see. We had been planning to visit her parents, and on the way we stopped at this place and I asked the owner of the farm if he had any work... His answer was that he didn't right then, but might have in a few weeks. Two days later he rang and asked me to come to work the next day. And so I did. Then started the busy season on this olive farm, and I had work 6 days a week, and later on even 10 or 12 hours a day. I started saving for the wedding in earnest, feeling like I had a lot of time to make up.

I'm not going to recite everything that happened. Some of those things I have written already, ad would bore you all to tears by writing it all again. But, God had looked after us, and we enjoyed an amazing honeymoon in the fantastic green hills of country NSW.

After the wedding, we had to find a place of our own to live. I asked my boss if he had any ideas, and he arranged with a friend of his for us to have a house of our own to live... It is lovely quiet country. Our nearest neighbors are not in sight, and we can't hear cars driving along the road we live on. Cherith's health has definitely been picking up since we have been living in the country. The fresh clean air has been very good for her, and being able to get out of doors more often has helped too I'm sure. Oh, her problems aren't over, because she is still very sensitive to chemicals, and most likely always will be. Some air fresheners will have her holding her head in pain, and paint fumes are unbearable for her. But we manage so much better since moving away from the F3 freeway in Cooranbong, and the toxic air that would leave partly burnt petrol residue on my car windscreen.

But life in the country has it's challenges. Losing my car to the extreme weather conditions (flooding), was definitely hard to deal with, but thankfully it was insured, so not I just have to save up for the $1200 claim excess... Having a lot of time off work because of the flooding also didn't help, at a time when we had seemingly a mountain of bills to pay off. But we aren't starving...

And it takes a lot to get used to the isolation and loneliness that can be overwhelming at times. It is 45 minutes drive to town. Some days when I am at work she struggles with the isolated feeling of the place. When I am at home however, we both revel in the fact that we have our own place, that the neighbors are not close enough to bother us, that we have enough space for a nice garden, and that we have unlimited water to use for the garden. Life is good, and not just when everything is perfect.

I wouldn't want to start 2012 any other way, than simply being thankful for where we are and what we have. There are lots of things we need, but simply can't afford at the moment (like a lawn mower and brush cutter), but God has provided so many things already, it'd be ridiculous to think He won't keep doing so. And so I am thankful for everything He has done for us the past year. It has been an amazing year. But 2012 is going to be better yet.... After all, in 2012 we are going to start the year off married, living in a home of our own, enjoying each other and the blessings God keeps giving us. Life really is great...