Here’s to 12 months in Brisbane!

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And like that it’s been a year since I moved to Brisbane. A year since I convinced some QLDers to give this New South Welshmen a job during an 8am interview after 3 days of skiing. A year since mum and I cruised up the M1 stopping in Coffs overnight to watch the ever important Bachelor finale. A year since I left all the junk of 2015 behind and arrived in Brisvegas knowing only three people.

And what a great year it’s been.

Following on from a friend who wrote a ‘You know you’ve lived in [place] for [length of time] when…’ post a few months ago, I’ve decided to celebrate the milestone with a version of my own. Sadly mine won’t start with “Eating the relatives of your first pet is no longer traumatising.” Thank goodness I moved to BNE and not Peru! Praying for you Anna 🙂

Here goes.

You know you’ve been living in Brisbane 12 months when:

  • You’re wondering when winter happened. Perhaps it was that day when I needed a coat?
  • Driving more than 20 minutes is an investment not to be undertaken without careful consideration
  • You fill your fuel tank maybe once a month
  • You’re attempting to transition to a morning person in preparation for another summer of 4am sunrises
  • It’s 9pm on a Saturday night and you start thinking about heading home #nannalyfe
  • Buying fresh produce at supermarkets seems criminal when there are farmers markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
  • The crazy special you discovered at the markets = flavour of the week. Hello 3 broccoli for $1, 1kg of strawberries for $3, massive pineapple for $2, 6 avocadoes for $1, boxes of mangoes. Ah so good.
  • A long commute is being stopped at all 3 sets of lights on the walk home!
  • You’ve stopped honking when cars are slow off the lights. They’re a little slower up here.
  • You no longer rush (except when leaving the house every morning). Again, a little more laid back.
  • Sunscreen goes with you everywhere, but you still manage to get sunburnt.
  • You switch collecting coats and scarfs for hats.
  • You start making connections between the few friends you do have #smalltown
  • Your drink of choice is becoming closer and closer to beer
  • You’re learning to drink real fast but even then your bev-ie ends up sitting in a puddle #condensation
  • Eating inside seems counterintuitive…except in February. Gimme air conditioning please.
  • Your skin glows November through March (aka sweat)
  • You moisturise once a week before #sweat everywhere.
  • Bikram Yoga isn’t something you pay for, but a free provision for all activities in summer
  • Running along a river > Running along suburban streets
  • Airport pick ups are stress-free, and, well, free
  • You start complaining about traffic when you have to wait more than 1 cycle at traffic lights #srsly
  • You develop an unhealthy affair with brownies (looking at you I heart brownies) and any hot cinnamon donuts (It’s okay, they’re usually gluten free, vegan etc so practically healthy)
  • You strike up conversation with anyone, anytime #bigcountrytown
  • The few overcast days each month send you into a depressed state (Hello 283 days annual sunshine)
  • Despite walking it everyday, the (only) hill walking home is torture every single afternoon. (You’ll know this already if I’ve ever called you walking home!)
  • The possums and brush turkeys in your backyard (3km from the CBD) are practically pets
  • You attempt to plan social gatherings and wonder why no one’s available because there’s a game on
  • A sea of maroon jerseys is now just part of furniture
  • You drive into the city and street park on weekends and Fridays after 7pm #winning
  • You drive everywhere because even if you have to pay, it’s never more than $2/hr. #cha-ching
  • You love your new church family and miss them when you’re out gallivanting around
  • You just miss the familiarity and history with old friends
  • It hurts to see friends having fun without you #fomo
  • The arrival of a text from a Sydney-friend can make a lonely night bearable.

But you know you’ll always be a Sydney-sider when:

  • You had to unfollow Gelato Messina on Instagram because the cravings were too much to handle. (But #providence, they’re moving in South Bank next month)
  • You roll your eyes every time someone complains about traffic in Brisbane. #nothingonSydney
  • The Story Bridge remains a laughing stock
  • You can actually merge lanes, parallel park and just drive in general like a normal human who knows where they’re going
  • You chuckle when people complain and/or nervous about visiting Sydney #sobusy
  • You’re astounded by supermarkets closing at 5.30pm on weekends
  • Your heart breaks at the sight of Brisbane salaries
  • You get places fast because #assertiveness
  • You really just don’t get what’s so great about maroon. Blue is so more aesthetically pleasing.
  • You still follow NSW politics because Mike Baird
  • SMH remains a daily news haunt
  • Cyclists on the road really are super annoying
  • You see any photo of Sydney Harbour and you stop everything you’re doing and just take it all in. That’s my hometown.
  • You still refer to it as ‘home’ or visiting as ‘going home’

It’s gone quickly, but then reflecting on all that the 12 months has held, it doesn’t feel so quick at all.
But as for another 12 months in BNE? We’ll see. #jks. I’m not going anywhere… for now at least.

This is Queensland #2 (+fun facts)

Chatting to people week-to-week I have to remind myself to be thankful for an awesome job that allows me to get out and appreciate our creator God. I’ve been fortunate to cover a fair of Queensland’s ground in my nine months, learning more and more about this northern land.  And slowly i’m building my fun facts collection, so the longer you wait to visit me, the better your personalised tour will be.

Scenic Rim
  • Mount Tamborine, is not famous for tamborines but rather being Queensland’s first national park declared in 1908.
IMG_6047 IMG_6052 IMG_6111 IMG_6087 Brisbane
  • Brisbane came about after needing more space for felons in the Sydney Colony. It was original named Edenglassie but renamed Brisbane after a governor of New South Wales Sir Thomas Brisbane.
  • Brisbane received the first contingent of US soldiers in WW2 14 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Within 12 months, sleepy Brisbane’s population of 300 000 had become 600 000. The well-paid soldiers made themselves at home in Fortitude Valley and with the Australian women. It didn’t go down so well and the little-known  Battle of Brisbane broke out among 5000 soldiers on Thanksgiving in 1942.
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Lady Musgrave Island

  • The tiny coral cay is literally made of bird poo and crushed coral. It’s a stopping ground for thousands of migrant birds.
  • Thankfully it was pretty from the air, its neighbouring Fairfax Islands were almost obliterated during WW2 target practice.
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Bundaberg
  • Famous for rum, sugar and ginger beer.
  • Also, the home of my own family heritage.
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Town of 1770
  • Considered the birthplace of Queensland after Lieutenant Cook made his second landing in later known Australia, the first in Queensland.
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IMG_6319 Rockhampton, Great Keppel Island
  • Rocky is the beef capital of Australia with the ratio of people to cattle 1:4.
IMG_6326IMG_6342 Magnetic Island
  • Affectionately called Maggie, it was named after Lieutenant Cook’s compass apparently went haywire while passing by. Substantial research has been undertaken to counter his claims.
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IMG_6859 IMG_6878Townsville
  • It’s 2 most notable landmarks are quite unfortunate. Firstly, Castle Hill that stands out from the rest of the geography is only a few metres short of mountain status. And second, the tallest building in town is the hideous but much loved sugar shaker building, currently the Holiday Inn.
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Children of the light // Hiking Wollumbin

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For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. Ephesians 5:8

I’m a pretty intentional person. I generally know what I’m doing, where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. But for a long time I didn’t leave enough space in my life for spontaneity. I missed out on things because I scheduled life so tightly – also a challenge for someone who likes to say “yes” to everything. Moving to Queensland has been great for creating space. I don’t have that many friends here so there are less social engagements and I also have fewer weekly commitments.

Further, moving to Queensland has opened up a new patch of Australia to explore. And I’ve been waiting months for the weather to cool down enough to start hiking the hinterland areas. Yesterday morning I looked at the forecast and saw it was going to be sunny for the next 2 days. And coming off a 3 day work trip I had intentionally not made plans on Friday night to recover from the tiredness. (I know, who have I become?!) So a few quick texts to my friends and we made plans to hike to Mt Warning or Wollumbin just over the border in NSW on Saturday morning.

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Wollumbin meaning patriarch of mountains, or later named Mount Warning by Lieutenant Cook on his first sail past in May 1770, is an 1157m ancient volcanic plug. It’s also the first place on the Australian mainland to be touched by sunlight, a popular sunrise hike.

And to do it properly, we set out from Brisbane at 2am (!) arriving at 4am (!) to start the 4.5km, +650m gain climb to the top for first light and sunrise. It’s been years since I’ve done a hike by torchlight and it was fun to charge up the mountain only ever seeing 2 steps ahead.

We overtook a number of people and made it to the top in 1hr30m only to be greeted by 2.5 degree temps and 30km/hr gusts. It was the Catch 22 of the clear sky and close to full moon. And there we stood for an hour waiting for sunrise on a platform wedged at the top of the mountain.

And slowly the light appeared, the distant lights of Surfers Paradise, Tweed Heads and down to Cabarita fading as the largest light crept up and poked its head over the Pacific Ocean horizon. And suddenly the faces of those around us were clear and vastness of our surroundings made known. 

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Unfortunately there were 50 or so others, many much taller than me, so although I wasn’t the first to see sunrise… (#dadjoke) it was pretty amazing to take in the 360 views. And within an hour or so after sunrise, the visibility became more than 100km with the Brisbane CBD visible in the distance.

And then finally the wind and cold became unbearable to we headed back, to discover all that we’d passed in the darkness.

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Why isn’t the church celebrating women?


Hamish Blake made a little Flipagram of his wife Zoe Foster Blake and the literal+figurative hats she regularly wears. Spotify suggested some female artist playlists I may be interested in. Virgin Australia ‘grammed an all women crew who recently flew Sydney-Adelaide. David Jones launched a new ‘At the DJ table’ video content series “featuring an incredible group of Australian women.” The NSW Police Force posted a ‘shout out’ with a photo of women officers marching. My old boss and dear friend posted a pic of the old office crew decked in purple attire. Mike Baird announced the NSW Public Service was now 100% flexible for all senior staff.

My commute and lunchtime social media scroll sessions today were filled with articles, photos, quotes and statements of support for International Women’s Day.

And so it should. Today is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women – locally, nationally and globally. It’s been celebrated in varying degrees for more than a century and remains an opportunity to demonstrate how we value 49.6% of our world population, the same proportion who continue to struggle with structural and cultural inequality. It’s also a platform to bring pertinent gender issues to the forefront.

Brands, corporations, government and media agencies all celebrated differently. This weekend there were women’s fun runs and triathlons, today there were breakfasts, policy announcements, advertisements, social media posts and editorials. Their support of women was unquestionable.

However, there was one key institution absent from the celebrations. The church.

I used my lunch break to extensively search the internet – in hope. I trawled through the Facebook and Twitter channels of notable pastors, large churches and Christian organisations. I looked on key websites for opinion editorials or blog articles. I looked for anything or anyone recognising today, even just a humble #internationalwomensday.

Here’s what I found:

–          Michael Jensen shared this post on the value and role of men and women.

‘For Christians, woman aren’t property or baby makers. We’re witness to the life of Jesus Christ in our bodies….

Posted by Michael Jensen on Monday, March 7, 2016

 

–          John Dickson took the opportunity to share and challenge the doctrinal position held by the Sydney Anglican Diocese on women preaching.

This International Women’s Day might be a good moment to revisit what was once (up until about 1990) the standard…

Posted by John Dickson on Monday, March 7, 2016

 

–          Eternity magazine online re-posted an Open Doors article on women in Iraqi refugee camps.

 

Nothing from Australia’s largest church Hillsong. (Although it is their second of three women’s conferences today, so I’d be surprised if they didn’t do something with the 5000+ in attendance.)
Nothing from some of Sydney’s largest churches.
Nothing from my new church in Brisbane.
Nothing from the leaders of Australia’s churches.

It makes me wonder, why is the church not joining the rest of society in celebrating women?

We live in a day that equality is high on the agenda: be it gender, marriage or economic. Further, we live in a day that society is very critical of the church. And for good reason, the church, as an institution, does not have such a great track record with inclusion and transparency. The same sex marriage conversation is evidence enough. The inclusion of ‘to submit’ in marriage vows brought the biblical role of women in marriage into the spotlight a few years ago. And even in February, ABC deemed it newsworthy to publish an article on the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney’s response to a question on gender equality at the annual prefect ceremony. The students were torn in how to reconcile his comments and the empowering words of their teachers, and society. I can understand why.

Women make up half the population and close to 60% of the Australian church. Be it conscious or unconscious, the decision for the church to neglect the largest international day celebrating women adds propensity to the argument that the church doesn’t value women equally.

See in the church failing to recognise the importance of day, it fails in joining the rest of our society is demonstrating we value and celebrate women and their role in our communities. And while men largely lead the church, a theological conversation I’m not having here, today was an opportunity for men and women. An opportunity for brothers and sisters alike to rally around their sisters past, present and future.

Celebrating International Women’s Day is about saying to women “we love, care, appreciate, support and need you”. It’s saying it to every woman as she seeks equality in her life as a daughter, sister, mother, wife, worker, volunteer, teacher, nurse, truck driver, policewoman, children’s worker, pastor, student minister or corporate executive.

At a personal level, I know my church values women. When a sister and I raised our frustrations that the past 4 video testimonies at church had been men, my campus pastor said he shared them and knew the next 4 would be women. If only they could be more equally distributed. And again, when deciding on making it my new home church, I shared the lack of women involved in the services bothered me. It concerned him also. He shared the problem was often having enough women willing to be involved.

Taking time to celebrate women encourages women to continue on as they are, to look and push for opportunities, to enable (with words of affirmation and training) our sisters to be bold and serve, but also shows young girls to aspire to take active roles in their church. It also encourages our brothers to look to publicly and privately encourage, acknowledge and support women in the church. I hope the church values women, and I mourn the decision of friends to leave the church and the faith because they don’t believe so. But we need to hear it and see it to believe it.

Women have played a huge role in the history of the church. Women continue to play a critical role in the church. Literally. Without women the church would more than halve. Celebrating women today shows the future generations that the church does indeed recognise equality of men and women, irrespective of how scripture is interpreted and played out in denominations and individual churches. We need today to remind us we need to pray, encourage, train and nurture women to continue to be active in the church, for Christ’s glory.

When I ask the question, ‘why isn’t the church celebrating women?’ I am being deliberately provocative. But we need to be provoked.

 


 

As a post-script here are some Christian women I think are worth celebrating today:

–          Florence Young, my great great aunt who led evangelistic outreaches to the Polynesian workers at her brothers’ sugar mills, served with China Inland Mission and established the South Sea Evangelical Mission

–         Bobbie Houston, Hillsong cofounder who spearhead the Sisterhood ministries changing the way women meet together around the gospel

–          Raechel Myers, co founder of She Reads Truth, a daily devotional website used by millions of women (and now men ‘hereadstruth.com’) regularly

–      My dear friends A, H, E all currently understand ministry traineeships of various forms

 

Holyhuddle.com: A church review website

I don’t drink coffee. In fact I don’t drink any hot drinks. (I like to think of it as a financial saving rather than social faux pas.) But what I do enjoy is breakfast. I like it a lot. But I don’t just go wandering around the streets of Brisbane looking for a new café to try out. I wouldn’t want to waste my Saturday/Sunday morning and my coin on some soggy French toast, or sub-par poached eggs. Further, as a non-coffee drinker, it infuriates me that some cafes can proceed without offering any non-caffeinated beverage alternatives. It’s a highly researched activity.

How do I do my research? Lifestyle and review sites and blogs: Urban List, Weekend Edition, Zomato and smaller foodie blogs. And then of course there are personal recommendations.

Before I arrive somewhere I know from the hungry souls gone before me whether the service is a strength or downfall, the vibe casual hipster or all hail organic free range cold press organic hemp wearing hipster, or perhaps just whether the French toast is even worth trying at all.

I know this from the star rating, or equivalent, and the comments left behind.

Review sites have changed the way I choose my breakfast cafes, my post-work watering holes and even which food processor I should buy. I could continue with another example from my day job about TripAdvisor and how it’s instrumental in consumers planning their holidays…but I’m hoping you’re with me in understanding the validity and necessity of review sites in ensuring I only experience the best.

However, there is one huge gaping hole: Church reviewing websites.

After moving to Brisbane a few months ago I shared my experience visiting churches. They are two of the most read pieces on this sporadic little corner of the interweb. I did a lot of research but still it took me visiting 8 churches to decide to go back to the fourth one I visited.

Would a review site have saved me some time? I could have read others experiences and determined if it was worth the investment/effort.

Last weekend when I was back in Sydney-town losing my wisdom (teeth), I visited the church plant of a few of my friends. It’s in a huge new suburb in development close to Camden. It was a joy to be with them for their launch back in November and, sadly after some delays with council, Sunday was their first week back in their ‘hub’ aka industrial warehouse.

One of my friends approached me at the end and said he’d love to grab my thoughts on visiting, particularly as they’re now permanently in their building. It’s his intention to work out where the cracks are and to plug them quickly.

He was asking me to review his church!

As someone with little entrepreneurial fervour, (to the point I struggle to identify the purpose of this blog in order to grow it) I realised this could be my new thing.

I could set up a website, visit churches and review them. Church mystery shopping. Church consulting. In time, I could grow it and have other contributors and even open it up to the general public. How efficient looking for a new church could become and, as some astute business owners do, churches could identify the cracks in their church to ensure visitors have the best experience possible.

My church review star rating system? Holy hands.

My website name? Scroll up… but promise me your won’t steal it. I don’t want to be poor Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and lose my idea to a zealous Zuckerburg-type.

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But here’s the thing: while some succeed and others fail, churches aren’t a business. They’re not a service provider that is looking to ensure its attendees have the best possible experience in order to generate new and repeat visitation and loyalty. Churches are a community, a family, an eclectic community of brothers and sisters looking to share the forgiving news of Jesus Christ and emulate him to bring justice, mercy and love to those around us. But churches should be in the business of pointing people to Jesus through everything from how to get there, the people one meets, the words spoken and the coffee served. Churches should want people to have a good, culturally appropriate experience in order for people to feel like they wanted, loved and belong.

But I see a church review site similar to reviewing your Christmas day festivities. Everyone’s family has a crazy aunt/uncle who they think surpasses the craziness of all others. A cousin who somehow just doesn’t seem to fit in and an old, not-sure-how-they’re-actually-related-to-you distant relative so far off their rocker you’re just not sure what they’re doing at your gathering. It’s the talk around the office before the holidays, but it’s not the kind of thing you ever want to get back to poor aunt Gertrude. And I haven’t even started on reviewing the food! It’s potentially dangerous and relationally damaging.

The thing is there are a few church review sites already in existence (Shipoffools.com, Churchrater.com, Churchfinder.com). While I couldn’t say for certain it’s not the daggy web graphics, they don’t seem to be the next Urban List of churches. They comment on everything from the length of the talk to how the coffee was.

But don’t hear me wrong, although I’m not about to go and buy a domain and DIY a website, I do think there is merit in churches analysing their interactions with new and ongoing visitors and spurred on to consider building their community. The Apostle Paul wrote a fair few letters to the new churches of modern day Greece and Turkey commenting on their behaviour, challenging and commending them for their, for example, community outreach, or lack there of.  His words didn’t always go down well.

Late last year I emailed all the churches/pastors of the churches I visited. I thanked them for having me, let them know I had found a new church and shared my blogs with them. I was anxious. It wasn’t all good news. In some cases, I did have bad experiences. And although I was careful not to identify the churches I visited online directly, it would be possible to work it out. Each of the churches I visited were pointing people to Jesus. But some just did a better job at getting me to church and feeling part of a community. I was telling the people responsible for each of the churches what it felt like to visit!

Facilitating a means of commentary has the potential to get ugly; it’s the curse of the old school comments box. But a comment box that’s actually a public community notice board. Is broadcasting the experience of visiting a church for others to read pointing others to Jesus, pointing a society who are fairly critical of the church to the reason why we meet as a church? I’m not so sure it is.

I will share my thoughts with my friend on his church because I love him and the others involved, I want it to grow and see lives changed because of Jesus’ love in that new suburb. However it’s not something I’m going to blog about, nor advertise my reviewing services.

A church is where two or more gather (Matt 18:20) which means there are always at least 2 people who can consider what it would look like to join the gathering and make it to happen. It’s just whether those 2 people are selfishly worried about solidifying their place or outwardly focused in ensuring everyone has a place. Be one of the latter.

 

 

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