February 10, 2014

Thrill of a Lifetime

Roller Coaster

I remember the first time I went on a roller coaster.  It was at a theme park in Western Sydney back in the late 1980’s.  It was fast, scary and thrilling and when it came to an end I just wanted to do it again.  The one thing that sticks in my mind the most is that first hill. You slowly clack up the steep climb and seem to hang for an eternity at the top until whoosh you’re accelerating down the drop.  Your stomach is still somewhere at the top of the coaster. The rest of the ride is good too no other part of the ride can compare with that first hill.

This time next week Catherine and I are launching a new church.  We feel like we are on the crest of that first hill.  We are about to go over.  Between the two of us we have contrasting emotions.  I have my hands in the air and a big grin on my face.  Catherine is not grinning and her hands are gripping the bar very tightly.  But regardless of how we feel about February 16 there’s no stopping this ride.

What is certain is that there are many twists and turns to come, we can’t see them now but it will be an exhilarating ride.  We can’t wait.

As far as we can tell we are well placed to spend our first year growing and developing as a healthy church.  We have prepared the path to  launch by holding three monthly services, which have let some people come across us and work out that they want to be involved.  I don’t think that this would have happened if we had gone straight into weekly services.

So we can count on a core of people who will attend on the 16th and likely be there the week after as well.  We can even put a number of them on various rosters and rely on them to do various roles around the place.  This makes things a whole lot easier, especially granted that we have arrived in this town not knowing anyone, and with no “core team” working under us.

Most of all we have the deepest of convictions that we were put on the planet to do this work.  The sense of God’s calling is so strong that we would walk over broken glass to make it work.  There is no turning back for us.

In ancient times and in the Middle Ages if an invading army arrived by sea the generals would sometimes make a statement to their soldiers to burn the boats after they had landed.  It made the point in a dramatic way that there was no going back.  That they’d better win their battles, because retreat was not an option.  I can’t think of anything I could do to symbolically burn the boats, but mentally I feel that we have done that.  In my mind NorthernLightsChurch and the ministries that will flow from it will be our life’s work.  There is no going back.  If it’s tough then we press on and persevere.  It was tough for the apostles, for Paul and for many of the early Christians.  They persevered, and they prevailed.

We won’t face the obstacles that our spiritual ancestors faced in the first century but we carry the same message, and we will persevere in spreading it, just like they did.

So in just 7 days we launch.  By God’s grace we will hold thousands of services over the years that come, but only ever one launch.  If you are in Halifax don’t miss it!

John and Catherine xoxo

January 12, 2014

No Room at the Inn

untitled
NLC has experienced a massive breakthrough this week. Since arriving in Halifax, West Yorkshire, UK just 5 months ago finding a venue in which to hold services has been challenging. Our needs as a church have been monthly up until now but after February 16 we go to weekly services. We have had no idea where they were going to be held. Venues that have sufficed for the monthly services have other commitments already booked in and are just not available week to week. On 29 August John and I wrote a list of 13 things we wanted in a venue. They were:
 * Monday to Sunday Access
* Chairs
* Sound System
* Extra Room for Kids Ministry
* Toilets
* Stage
* Car Park
* Street Access and Visibility
* Regular booking – no exceptions
* Good Price
* Kitchen Area
* Atmosphere
* Projector
On November 29th I attended a prophetic night at New Beginnings Christian Centre which has itself received an amazing breakthrough for a venue and the main speaker said that God ‘had made room for them’ in Halifax. This phrase caught my attention and I felt the same was going to be true for Northern Lights Church. I came home and John and I prayed/declared together that ‘God would make room for us’ in Halifax just as He did for the birth of the Lord Jesus.
Just this week a Local Charity phoned us. Their building is another part of a building we have hired twice for monthly services. They were wondering if we would be interested in hiring their venue every week for our church. John met with them and it is a perfect fit for NLC. Of the 13 things we prayed for their facility fulfils 12 of them. The only thing they were unable to provide off the list was a projector but New Beginnings Christian Centre had already lent us one a number of weeks prior. We have been very grateful for the support and generosity that Pastor Stephen Greening of NBCC has been to Northern Lights Church.
Northern Lights Church thanks God for his provision of a venue. We thank Him and give Him all the Glory for ‘making room for us in Halifax’.
Over and Out,
Catherine xoxox
December 20, 2013

Second Service!

501px-Berchem,_Nicolaes_Pietersz__-_Paul_and_Barnabas_at_Lystra_-_1650“God sends to gather and he gathers to send.” Gerard Kelly

This month Northern Lights Church held its second “monthly service” in the lead up to our launch on February 16 next year.  It was a great time with lots of new people.  We get people to fill in a “welcome card” to give us there details, and on it we ask for people’s first impressions of the church.  The word that appears most often in that section is the word “friendly”.  I am so pleased about that – because we are building a community of people who love God and share in life with each other.  Our name comes from our location in the north of England, but also from 1 John 1:7 which says, “But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other.”  If we are sharing in life with each other then we will create a friendly atmosphere.  It won’t have to be forced or demanded, it will just naturally flow.  That’s already starting to happen, and it is fantastic to see and feel.

What God is doing at our church is gathering a congregation together.  We will reach out to our community and share the love of God with them.  God will call people to himself and build the church.  This is happening because God has sent Catherine and I out from Australia to do the work that he has called us to.

This is God’s pattern.  He sends to gather and he gathers to send.  I like the verse in Ecclesiastes where Solomon says there is a time for everything, for gathering and scattering.  In the early church they gathered in Jerusalem.  Then they were sent out because of persecution.  They gathered in Antioch and built a great church.  Then they sent Paul and Barnabas out on a missions trip as the Holy Spirit directed.  The process goes on and on throughout church history – God gathers to send and then sends to gather.

God has given me a picture of this church as being like a bowl tipped slightly on its side.  A tap is feeding a stream of water into the bowl.  The bowl is overflowing and a stream of water is spilling over the side and leaving the bowl.  That’s how I want the church to be – a bowl with a stream flowing in and a stream flowing out.  The stream flowing in represents new people who are finding faith in Jesus.  The stream flowing out represents people who we are able to send out to spread the word further and start new works, new churches, and do great things for God wherever they go.

My focus is not on the size of the bowl, it is on the size of the streams.  May God give us a continual stream of people finding out about Jesus for the first time.  And may he give us the grace to train and develop them as disciples so that they can accomplish great things when they are sent out, as the Holy Spirit leads.

If you want to pray for the work that God is doing here in Halifax then pray that people would hear and respond to Jesus, and commit their lives to him.  And then pray that God would help us train the leaders that we need to send out to further his kingdom.  Because that’s really all that we are trying to do.  I expect that it will take us the rest of our lives to do it!  What a wonderful calling – I am loving it.

John

P.S. The picture is Paul and Barnabas preaching on their travels in Lystra (Nicolae Berchem, 1650)

November 19, 2013

Kick off for Northern Lights Church!

Blog logo bit bigger

We have started!!  What a thrill it was to hold the first ever church service for Northern Lights Church on Sunday morning just gone.

We had 23 people present, and there was a great atmosphere.

What was the most encouraging to me was when we had a time in the middle of the service for people to say hi to one another, so they did.  That doesn’t sound too remarkable, but seeing it happen it occurred to me that all these people had a connection to us, but they really didn’t know each other.  But as they spent those few minutes saying hello I realised, “this is the start of a new community.”  That’s central to our whole vision, even to our church name.  The bible says, “If we are in the light, as he is in the light, then we share in life together.”  Those few moments were the very start of that happening.  Still more encouraging was that half an hour after the service had ended almost no one had left.  People were still talking and enjoying each other’s company.  And enjoying their cup of tea, of course.

The people who came had a mixed background, some Catholic, some with no real church history to speak of.  But what was very encouraging was that I think only 4 of them apart from our selves were in church last week.  So that’s plenty of people who were not connected with any local church that are open to making Northern Lights Church their home.  Not all will, but some will, so that is great.

In the Purpose Driven Church Rick Warren makes the point that the modern trend of starting a church plant with a team of 30 odd means that the leader can get too busy looking after the needs of those 30 people, so they focus less on the community they are trying to reach out to.  Rick started with himself and his wife, so there was no other option.

Having now had our first service I can see what he is saying.  We do have a team to some extent in that we have borrowed 4 people from other churches – a keyboardist / worship leader and his friend, and a young couple who helped with numerous smaller jobs.  They were all fabulous.  We had so many people attend who had made a connection with us at some point over the last 3 months that we have been living here in Halifax.  In fact there was no one present who had not!

For the next service we will definitely do a better job of letting the community at large know about our meeting, and we will start to get more people attending who don’t have that connection with us.  When that is combined with those who do have that connection then we will be well placed.

I cannot express strongly enough that Catherine and I are so committed to this church.  We are in this for the long haul and by God’s grace we will build a church that will stand the test of time.  The Halifax Minster, the oldest church in town has been holding services on the same location for over 900 years.  My dream is that in a further 900 years the Minster will be celebrating its 1,800 year anniversary while Northern Lights Church celebrates 900 years of its own.  I love one of the prophetic words that we have been given which was that what we will build will be “like an oak tree, and an oak tree is something that stands for generations.”  I believe that, and I look forward to our second monthly service which will be on December 15.  I can’t believe that I have to wait 27 days to go again – I wish it was tomorrow!

John

November 10, 2013

Countdown to the First Service

Bigger NLC FLYER

We are exactly one week away from our first service at Northern Lights Church.

The venue has been booked. The flyers have been designed. The website has gone live. The Halifax Courier is coming this week to do a story on us. The 10,000 flyers have been printed and will be delivered to 10,000 homes reaching possibly 25,000 people this week. The Sermon is being written, prayers have and will be prayed, fasting will probably occur and the launch team will be briefed and released.

There is only one thing that we really care about when it comes to this first service – that God comes! If we are without His presence then we have nothing. We would be like a McDonalds without hamburgers. A KFC without chicken. A pub without beer. God loves the church – it’s his chosen vehicle to move around in. The Church needs lots of different things to grow and be successful but it only needs to lack the presence of God to become a clubhouse of well meaning. We are desperate for the real deal. The holy and tangible presence of God. What does that mean? Isn’t God meant to be everywhere all the time? Yes he is. To be blunt when you are on the toilet he is there with you. The difference is that he doesn’t reveal his presence to you in that moment.

God is with us always but He doesn’t always reveal His presence to us so we must be ruthless in going after him with a hunger that will not be satisfied with anything less than the real deal.

An Open Letter to God

Dearest God,

We invite you to come to not only our first service on November 17th, 2013 but to every service, every meeting, every retreat, every home group, every baptism every kids group and every conference that Northern Lights Church ever holds or opens its doors to. We acknowledge that this is your house and we are your people. We promise to make you welcome and to let you interrupt any and all of our plans. We want you to be free to move upon the hearts and minds of all present and change the lives of anyone including us. We acknowledge that without you we are nothing.

Will you please come God?

An Open Letter to Halifax, West Yorkshire

Halifax, we have fallen in love with your stone buildings and lush green trees. We love that mail comes on a Saturday and that you don’t have mosquitoes. We love your radiator heating and the awesomeness of your insulation. Most of all we love your people. We have been inspired, encouraged and enriched by every person that has come into our home for a meal or a cup of tea. We love the people that employment has bought into our lives and we love our neighbours who don’t have a choice. We love the friends from school that our daughter has made and we love the people that we have met from Churches all across Halifax. You are all doing an amazing job for the Kingdom of God. In return Halifax, we have give you our big Australian hearts and lives. We put it all on the line and hold nothing back from you.

Finally an invitation for you to become a part of the Northern Lights Family.  If you are not already part of a church family then we invite you to come to Northern Lights Church on November 17, 10:30am at the Southwood Club on Birdcage Lane. Come and hear what God has done for you and respond to Him. It will change your life. We expect God to do great things in every service. Don’t miss out. See you then.

Cheers,

John and Catherine

September 26, 2013

Attracting People, Keeping People

gestureAs a church planter I’m very interested in getting people to come to church. Every pastor is interested in getting people to come to church. But many of them have an existing congregation and can simply rely on a steady stream of new people who have connections with existing congregation members. They possibly don’t have to do anything deliberate in this area at all. In contrast, Catherine and I have no congregation at all (except for our daughter!) So we are 100% reliant on attracting new people. So how do you go about that?

In my experience of church life one thing that rings true is whatever you do to attract people is what you will have to do to keep them. So if we attract people by having the world’s loudest rock band, or the world’s greatest dance troupe, or the world’s greatest singer (and yes, that would attract people) then to keep them we will have to keep putting on those kind of shows. What you end up with is people who like the band / dancers / singer but are not the least bit interested in the Christian message. You have attracted people, but not the kind of people that care at all about what you have to say. We have both seen churches do this, and it is painful to see them then assess, why is no one responding? They don’t respond because they were never remotely interested. They succeeded in attracting non-Christian people, but not non-Christians who were open to the gospel.

I learnt this lesson from Tim Hawkins who trained me in youth ministry. Tim oversaw a youth ministry of 300 high schoolers – one of the biggest in Australia. Every Friday night the 300 kids would attend various groups according to their age. They would play games, have fun, enjoy each other’s company, hear a little bit from the bible and go home. The games were front and centre. If you liked the games you would like the youth group. The problem was not many of those kids cared about the bible bit at the end. So the whole approach was changed. The decision was made to put the bible message front and centre. If you didn’t care for what the bible said then you would not enjoy the youth group. A year or two later Tim was in charge of a youth group of 150 kids who loved God and wanted to hear from his word. It’s not easy to take one of the nations biggest youth groups and halve it. That requires quite some courage. To say in the midst of the decline, “No, this new strategy is right, we are sticking to it” was very bold. However after a few more years again the commitment that those kids had to the gospel meant that they brought their friends, and it was back to 300. However this time it was 300 disciples, not just 300 kids who liked youth group games. Of course making disciples is what it’s all about.

So Catherine and I are working out exactly what advertising we will do to attract people. But you can be sure that we will be putting the gospel front and centre. Not in “Christianese” that unchurched people can’t understand, of course. But we will be making it clear that we have a message that will turn your life around if you will pay the price.

What we need to do is attract people who are open to spiritual things, who are looking for new direction in life, and who are not put off by the thought that a church is a place that might have answers.

We would much rather 20 interested people than 120 uninterested people. Because from 20 interested people you are going to get many people committing their lives to Christ. You will get the start of a great church, a church full of people who love God and want to grow in Him.

The other argument is that if you attract 120 people then it could well be that some of them will happen to respond even though they began to attend because there were things on that have nothing to do with the church’s message. But here’s my view after seeing a number of churches do this over the years – it just doesn’t work. It’s a failing strategy, and yet it remains very popular. It is a huge amount of time and energy for a minuscule reward.

Jesus, meanwhile, simply went to synagogues or wherever people assembled and preached. People were taken by his message. His healings and miracles were the “show”, not a musical performance. Changing the lives of the people who do attend is going to do more to grow the church than anything else.

John

September 19, 2013

The Trip to Wetherby

wetherby

Catherine and I continue to have a strong sense that God has and is going before us here in England. This post is about one of many things that has happened to give us that impression.

We have been making use of Ebay to buy some of the furniture that we need.  Catherine bid on and won some bedside tables, which we then had to pick up.  The seller lived in a town called Wetherby which is a full hour or so from where we are. We possibly ended up spending more on petrol getting to and from Wetherby than we did on the tables themselves, but anyway, we got some bedside tables which are doing a fine job.

We headed out to Wetherby on a Sunday afternoon – the church we had visited that morning was kind of on the way.  All morning I was thinking why on earth did Catherine buy some furniture so far from home?  Why are we going all this way for just a couple of bedside tables that could surely have been gotten fairly cheaply closer to home?  Anyway, it was an interesting drive (perhaps not for our 6 year old little girl, but we enjoyed it). When we arrived in Wetherby we were struck.  It was a sunny afternoon in summer, and the place was just gorgeous.  The bridge over the river was first built in the 1200’s.  There were flower boxes everywhere in full bloom, there was a lovely relaxed feeling and the whole scene was stunning.  It’s not a big town – the population is just over 10,000 – and this is a part of the world where there is a substantial size town every 10 minutes in almost every direction.

I was thinking, wow I know we’ve been called to Halifax but wouldn’t it be great to be here?  Catherine was thinking the same thing.  In fact she was even thinking that we should be planting a church in Wetherby.

Now allow me to give some background. Part of what we want to do through the church that we will plant is plant more churches in Yorkshire.  We have a list of 6 more towns that we feel God wants us to go to eventually.  Right now we are yet to plant any church, so it might be getting a bit ahead of ourselves by planning where all our daughter churches are going to be.  However we want to dream big, and make no apology for having bold plans.

So sure enough just the day after we get home from the trip to Wetherby I find some of our church planning documents and I glance over the list of six towns and there is Wetherby.  I couldn’t believe it.  There would be at least 30 places in West Yorkshire more obvious than Wetherby, but there it was on our list.  And we were completely ignorant of the fact when we were visiting.

There’s a lot of water to flow under the bridge before we plant a church in Halifax, and then years more until we plant in Wetherby, but when things like this happen we feel so encouraged that God is with us and will empower us to do what he has called us to.

John

September 19, 2013

God’s Chicken Noodle Soup

God's Chicken Noodle Soup

I had a beautiful and humbling experience yesterday. It was an experience that had me bawling my eyes out in the stairwell of our apartment building. Poppy and I have caught some random low level English bug, nothing special – runny nose, sore throat and dry cough. I really wanted to make some of my homemade chicken noodle soup for us but I have no pots. The boxes we sent from Australia are clearing UK customs now and are due to arrive in Halifax next week. My pots are in those boxes. I am loathe to buy one given their imminent arrival. I have survived 7 weeks without my pots and I am determined to wait just a little longer. I went to the shops regardless and bought all the ingriedients for my chicken noodle soup except for the pot. When I got home I knocked on the door of several neighbors. No one was home. I was outside looking high and low for anybody – no one was around.  Out loud I sighed heavily and I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. I said out loud to God ‘I really need a pot to make soup for Poppy and I.’  There was no reply so I started to walk sadly back into the building. I then had a vivid picture/vision of a black sports car driving into one of the car parks. It was familiar to me – it is the car driven by a lady I have met once in the next building – Valerie.  As I looked back outside I noticed her car park was empty – she wasn’t home. I walked up the stairs to our apartment and as I looked out the hallway window I saw Valerie’s black sports car pulling into it’s parking spot. I ran back downstairs and hid for a minute as Valerie got out of her car. ‘Hi Valerie’ I called out. I explained my predicament and she was more than happy to lend me a pot to make my soup in. As I carried the pot back to my place I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I was so thankful to God for caring about me and the pot for my soup. I was filled with His love and I thought to myself  ‘God is my friend and I am friends with God’.

I wonder what it would be like to be God. In the movie ‘Bruce Almighty’ they try to give a human being God like qualities. The limitations of his humanity become evident quickly as the character is overwhelmed by the millions of prayer requests coming in from all over the world at once. Therein lies the problem – we always try to understand God through our own mind where our thinking is limited by our experiences, our beliefs and our predjudices. Imagine if you were to try and explain the internet to an ant. You wouldn’t succeed. I think we are an ant compared to God. He is infinite in his thinking – he has no limitations, no boundaries and endless capacity. But that is what makes the ‘soup pot’ thing he did so amazing. If God is so big – why does he care about my stupid pot,  why does he bother answering such little prayers? Because He is my friend and that is what friends do for one another.  He cares about everything that is happening to me even if it is a situation of my own doing. He’s not to big or too famous or too busy to care about the little things in my world. In fact he wants to share every moment with me. Sometimes I just forget to include Him.

I spent the next few hours making my chicken noodle soup. I don’t know what I did different but it was the best I have ever made. It tasted amazing. I think God put himself in that pot of soup. I took the pot back with two containters of soup for my lovely neighbors. And for you dear readers my very precious recipe for God’s Chicken Noodle Soup.

God’s Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

Ingredients

Stock

1 whole chicken. Organic is preferred. (remove breasts. I am hopeless at doing this and sometimes have to buy one breast to top up)

3 Lemons

4 sticks of celery

1 whole onion

1 whole bulb of garlic

1 bay leaf

3 carrots

1 potato

Chicken Balls

2 Chicken breasts

2 Tablespoons of grated parmessan

1 Egg

Added Soup ingriedents:

2 fresh corn cobs

100g spaghetti

3-4 cubes of chicken stock or ½ litre of bought liquid chicken stock

Sea Salt

Method:

Roughly chop carrot, celery, potato and onion. Leave the skin on if not too dirty. Put all into pot.

  1. Break whole chicken apart. Cut breasts out and put aside. Discard gizzards. Put chicken legs, thighs and carcass into pot. (butchers will often sell you an extra carcass for $2 – add if you have a big enough pot)
  2. Break garlic bulb apart. Don’t skin each piece just throw into pot. Add bay leaf to pot.
  3. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over everything in the pot. Then cover generously with water.
  4. Bring pot to boil and then simmer with lid off for at least 2 hours. Stir occassionally. Top up with a little extra water or put lid on if you loose too much liquid. Strain entire pot keeping the stock you have now made – this is the base for your soup. I seperate all the vegies out and throw them away as their flavour and nutrition are gone – they are now in your stock. It’s the same deal with the chicken but I save that as it goes to making the soup look great.
  5. Pick chicken carcass clean. Chop up chicken into bite sized slivers.
  6. Return the stock you have made to the original pot. Add stock cubes or liquid stock,  juice of second lemon and a genourous pinch of salt. Add cut up chicken slivers back into stock.
  7. Take corn cobs and stand on one end. Run sharp knife down the edge removing the corn. Keep turning the cob until all sides are skinned. Put all the corn kernals into your stock. Throw cobs away
  8. Bring stock with added ingriedients back to a boil and then add spaghetti broken into 2-3cm pieces.
  9. Now make the Chicken balls. Take removed breasts and add one egg with parmessan cheese. Use food processor to finely mince ingriedients together into a fine puree. When your stock pot is boiling drop small mouth sized balls fashioned by hand into pot. They will cook quickly and rise to the surface.
  10. Stir gently and taste. Add more lemon juice if too salty or more chicken stock if too lemony. Enjoy with crusty bread!

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo

August 25, 2013

Feeling God’s Pleasure

ukHere are three early impressions of life in the UK…

Firstly, it’s the same as Australia.  I think that I had asked so many people about the differences between the two countries that I was expecting it to be radically different. Since being in England what I have noticed is that so much is the same.  People are more or less the same, life is more or less the same.  I was thinking so much about what the differences would be I really forgot to consider what the similarities would be.  The differences between England and Australia are more at the margins than I thought they would be.

Secondly, I love living in a town the size of Halifax.  Halifax has 100,000 odd people living here.  For my Aussie readers that puts it in the same league as Ballarat, Bendigo or Albury / Wodonga.  I remember going to Ballarat for work once, and walking around the place thinking how much I would love to live in a town of this size but I wrote Ballarat off because (of all things) it is so cold there!  God is showing his sense of humour in sending me to the north of England.  Here there are plenty of people who would give their right arm for a winter as mild as what the people of Ballarat enjoy.  But being free of the congestion and intensity of life in a city of 4 million is something that I am loving.  Some of you could think of nothing worse than doing that.  Some of you might be pining to leave Melbourne, Sydney, or wherever and go to New York or some mega city.  But for me the move to a town that has all the services but not the congestion has gone down a treat.  Now I’m sure that Ballarat, Bendigo etc have their charms, but Halifax – wow. It has green, hills, history, beauty and character on a scale that Australian country towns could never hope to have.  I’m so lucky to have been called to this place.

Thirdly, and most importantly, God has gone ahead of us.  I feel that God is delighted that we have come here because of his call.  My sense is that God can’t quite believe that we’ve done it – that he would put such a big challenge in front of us and that we would embrace it.  It says in 2 Chr 16:9 that, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”  Right now I have the sense that God sees Catherine and I and says, “Wow – I’ve got a couple here!!”  I feel that he and his angels are going before us and opening doors so that we will build a church that will love God and be used by Him.  I hope that this doesn’t come across as arrogant or proud.  I simply have a sense that that is what God is thinking.  It’s a bit like the Christian track runner Eric Liddell who said, “…when I run I feel His pleasure.”  Right now I feel God’s pleasure.  God made Eric Liddell to run fast.  God made me to plant this church.  That’s what he has called me to do and I feel his pleasure as I get ready to do it.

John

August 22, 2013

“Why would you come to live here?”

gorillaI have been asked this question many times since arriving. It is asked with an incredulous tone as if I just gave a winning lottery ticket away. People can’t fathom why an Australian would come to live in England. Australia is commonly regarded as a sunny and friendly utopia.  Why would I leave that for dreary, cold England? But leave I did. With a  pocket lined with God’s call I made the long journey to a place I have never been. To be really honest I would much rather be in the back-end of the Arctic because of God’s call than anywhere else in the world without it.

There are a number of things I love about living here:

Almost everyday we leave our windows, door and sky light open with no fly screens. I have not encountered one single mozzie to date in England. I have seen two flies – neither of them in Halifax. If summer means one thing to me in Australia it means flies, flies and more flies. I also have sweet blood and that  means mosquito bites all Summer long. I hate it when I can hear them buzzing around my ear at night. Imagine for one moment being able to leave all your doors and windows open with no screens plus the lights on inside. Might as well hang out a neon sign ‘ALL WELCOME’ in Oz. Here it means just means fresh air and clear views.

Melbourne, Australia always seemed to be in drought and on heavy water restrictions – in the height of our glorious summer everything turns brown. It looks so ugly. We are coming to the end of a unusally warm summer here and the plant life and grass is still lush and vivid green. An almost unnatural hue to the Australian pallet of flora. It’s a colour that comes from being well watered year in and year out for centuries.  It’s a bit like how you can pick out a bad fake tan by the unmistakable hue of orange. It’s a shade of green that falls outside of normal but instead of being horrid it is beautiful. I keep touching it because I think it is fake.

When we lived in Australia John used to tease me because when I drove in rush hour traffic I would stick my elbows out to the side as if I was trying to knock the other cars out-of-the-way with them as I weaved in and out of traffic. Here there is usually just one lane and nobody – not even me is in a rush. There is minimal traffic and it is so pleasant to drive anywhere. People for go the car altogether and they walk everywhere as we are starting to do. They have a great culture of walking and riding public transport in the UK. Good for them…good for us!

I am especially happy that there is a ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ in Halifax. John and I love this  American style restaurant chain. Him for the sizzling Fajita’s and me for the buffalo wings. They make the best balloon animal hats with such flair that Poppy wants to have her birthday party there too. It is truly wrong on so many levels but for the Warrens it is one very big tick!

The thing I love most about England is the people. The accent is captivating and I love overhearing two English talk in the shops. The stronger and thicker the accent the better. I find the culture a mystery to be solved.  I want to peel back the skin of the English and discover what makes them tick and tock. They are not like Australian’s even though we share so much history and DNA.

I feel like Richard Attenborough discovering a new species except I don’t want to observe them from a far for the sake of science but I want live with them and do life alongside them. I want to pay frustrating premium’s on car insurance like they do. I want to feel the whip of wind on a cold winters day like they do. I want to have them in my home for a meal or go over to there’s for an afternoon cup of tea. I want to know their lives – every joy, every struggle and every heartache. I want them to know why I have come to England, to Halifax. I want them to know I came  (and it is my privilege)  to share with them the greatest news ever – that Jesus loves them.

Give me one good reason I shouldn’t stay.

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxox

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