Archive for August, 2013

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.


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

August 3, 2013

Home is where the Heart Is

imagesI didn’t realise our time in Australia would run out so quickly. It was as if someone smashed the bottom of our hour glass and the sand spilled out in seconds. Time just fell out of our lives. The sadness of saying goodbye to so many friends and family personally overwhelmed me and I would ask myself  why? Why were we doing this? Quickly the face of a sex trafficked girl would come hurtling to the front of my mind. A girl kidnapped and abused who is so numb to the horror of her life that she wishes daily that her hour glass would break forever.  This is where God takes me ~ back to the first  place he called me ~ back to girls of Moldova, a cause I could lay my life down for. I deeply share the vision God  gave John for a church in the UK because it is the best vehicle for God to do the work in Moldova. When  Northern Lights Church was conceived the nation of  Moldova was being knit into its DNA.

The trip to the UK itself was mostly uneventful. With excess luggage  we required a favourable hostess at the Melbourne check in and got one. With final hugs and kisses we said goodbye to a small group of friends and entered Customs. After a 14 hour flight to Abu Dhabi we paid through the nose to spend 4 hours in a private lounge. Had a glorious shower and ate some yummy food, back on the plane again bound for Manchester only 7 hours this time. After picking up our bags we cleared customs quickly being greeted by one smiling  Stephen Wyndham – our former Senior Pastor and good friend.

John awoke the next morning excited at our arrival, me not so much. I felt flat and tired. We ticked off a multitude of necessary but mundane tasks but my mood remained under a shadow all day. We arranged to meet with a real estate agent in Halifax the following day. The next morning I awoke at 1.30 am excited and jet lagged all at the same time. Something had shifted. The only way I can describe that morning was that ´I felt destiny swirling around me´. For over 13 months this day was in the planning, The reason I hadn’t been excited was because my heart knew it was still in transit. I was not in Halifax yet.

As we drove the one and half hours from Southport to Halifax tears of joy welled up in me. How good was God to bring us safe thus far. Today was the day – there would be no more delay! We drove down into Halifax via this enormous semi circular tunnel, ait t first sight it was lush and green and reminded me of my favourite places in Melbourne – Sasafrass. Beautiful beige stone buildings were nestled in the greenery. It looked so right. So perfect.

I realised I had been holding my breath for 13 months. So often I had wondered – would I like it?  Would I arrive and think ´what have we done?. That day was here and I didn’t just like Halifax, I loved Halifax.  Somewhere along the way God had placed a love for this city deep within me and as we got closer and closer I realised how full, rich and mature that love was. I wanted to do a Julie Andrews song in the middle of the main street. I think I even skipped a little as we walked around.

Never have I felt a bond with a geographic location like I do with Halifax. I know that I am meant to be here and here I am meant to be.  My heart is home for the first time in my life.

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxox

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