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Fi mum23

Royalty, Wife, Mummy, friend, teacher, student & fitness blogger

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Family

Chicken & sweet potatoes.. my fave !!

Yes, I gotta say…. the fact that my family doesn’t complain about how much chicken & sweet potato are plated up for them each fortnight can only be a testament to my skills when it comes to variety !! (Yay Me !!)

Tonight I once again had a hankering for chicken, but my actual craving was not too healthy, so I had to come up with another plan.  As I’m sure you’re curious what my craving was….  it was chicken & mushroom Calzone.  As the bread option is not super fab to have, especially in the evening.. I thankfully managed to put my craving aside.  Good thing really, as I’m pretty sure tonight’s meal was one of my finest… and I totally just made it up as I went along (as I often do).  In the interest of utter honesty, I was also feeling extremely LAZY tonight.. I wanted a delicious meal, requiring very LITTLE effort to prepare.  Check out the method… WAY EASY !!

As I have no idea what is a suitable name for my creation tonight, let’s just call it Fi’s chicken surprise !! 

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Now, some things I want to make clear here….

  1.  this is my HUSBANDS serving size, mine was like maybe the same sweet potato fries, but about a third of the chicken.  I gotta tell you though, it was sooooo hard to not go back for seconds of the chicken.
  2. Yes, aren’t you all impressed how much effort I put into making my photo like super professional.  ha ha.
  3. Yes, I use a LOT of Turmeric in my cooking, hence the now empty bottle.. whoops.  (not to self… add Turmeric to shopping list).  PS…  Turmeric is WAY GOOD FOR YOU !!

So.. how do you make this masterpiece I hear you say….

Ingredients

  • 1kg Skinless chicken breast, cut up into small slices
  • 150g fresh spinach
  • 120g cut up mushrooms
  • small red onion finely sliced
  • Parsley, Basil & Tumeric (vary to taste)
  • 4 generous dollops of cottage cheese

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180°C
  • Place all ingredients into oven-safe pan, or foil tray.
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir up all ingredients.
  • Cover with foil and place in pre-heated oven for 1hr.

Once you have your chicken dish in the oven, start preparing your sweet potato fries.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium to large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into fries
  • Cinnamon
  • butter (not Margarine peeps.. that stuff is GROSS)

Method

  • Microwave for 16mins with a dob of butter  & some cinnamon sprinkled on top.
  • Once par-cooked in microwave, place on an oven tray and in the oven with your chicken dish.  Leave to cook/crisp for the remainder of the chicken cooking time.
  • Serve up & ENJOY !!!

This meal was so so easy to make.. and the whole family was impressed.  DH even went back for seconds.

Enjoy & be blessed peeps !!  xox

Awaken, sleeping Lionesses

“If ever there comes a time when the women of the world can come together, purely and simply for the benefit of mankind.. it will be a force such as the world has never known.”  Matthew Arnold,  British Poet & Philosopher.

(Matthew Arnold (24 December 1822 – 15 April 1888) was an English poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools. He was the son of Thomas Arnold, the famed headmaster of Rugby School, and brother to both Tom Arnold, literary professor, and William Arnold, novelist and colonial administrator. Matthew Arnold has been characterised as a sage writer, a type of writer who chastises and instructs the reader on contemporary social issues.)

I included that little bit of basic info on Matthew Arnold to make the point that I think he was in a very good position to have made the above statement.  And it quite frankly blows me away to think that he made that comment well over 150yrs ago.  I must say that I do tend to think that we’re predominantly in the mess we’re in since the 1960 or 70’s, as I use the rationale that when my parents grew up, there was far more respect shown to adults/elders/those in authority than there is now.  There was more modest dress, stronger family bonds & commitments, and just more consideration shown for others across the board.  So, with this in mind, it’s interesting to read his statement and note how long ago he would have made it.  Clearly, a very intuitive man.  G. W. E. Russell wrote of Arnold, “He is a man of the world entirely free from worldliness.”

This statement by Matthew Arnold has been quoted by Lisa Bevere at the beginning of her messages since beginning her ‘Lioness Arising’ teachings in 2009.

I went through the Lioness Arising teaching series in January 2012 with the lovely ladies from LifeHouse church.  I found it to be such an informative and enlightening teaching, but it’s very interesting to reflect on how I’ve continued to learn from it in these 4yrs between, and I imagine I will continue to learn from it going forward also.

The cover of the book says ‘Lioness Arising… Wake up and change your world”.  Well, wake up I certainly did that year and I’ve never looked back.

Chapter one of the Safari guide (the workbook that goes alongside the book & message series) begins with these words, “Welcome to the pride, my lovely Lioness sister.”  Now, this right here was an eye-opener for me in that lounge room that night in Jan 2012, surrounded by 12-14 relatively new friends as I’d only joined the church the previous October.  Those beautiful women became my pride for the next 3yrs and I learnt so much with and from them.  God had further plans for our family, leading us away from LIfeHouse and to the church family we now call HOME!  As a result, I have a different ‘pride’ now.  The eye-opening point though had little to do with the small group that is your pride, but realising that we, as women of God, are all in the one pride.   We support each other in our day to day within our smaller ‘prides’, but as a whole, we support the entire pride in prayer also.

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My pride today is stunning… stunning and dangerously wide awake !!  To say I love them and are grateful to do life with them is a huge understatement.   What’s fascinating about our pride is that all five of us have known each other for years…  approx 13yrs is the longest I’ve known one of my Lioness sisters, but some are a little longer, and some a little shorter.  We haven’t always been this pride…. it’s actually come together in solidarity just this year.  In these many years leading up, there’s been weddings (actually, just one, mine.  LOL), pregnancies, miscarriages, births, dedications, relationship tensions, job changes, many a school activity or awards night, family tragedy, mind-blowing blessings, and so so much more.  It continues to amaze me that God’s timing is ALWAYS spot on !  We’ve all known each other for a good amount of years, and have always gotten along, but God has seen fit to bring us together as a pride for THIS time in our lives.  All of us are riding through something at present, whether it be health, relationship, parenting, or something else.. and we’re all there for each other and in most cases can well relate to our Lioness sister’s struggles.

Another thing the 5 of us have in common… we all have a Lioness cub that has been entrusted to our care.

When someone has been given much, much will be required in return, and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.  Luke 12:48 NLt

Our ‘cubs’ range from 10yrs up to nearly 16 (so yes, we need prayer right now peeps.. ha ha).  There is so so much to be aware of when parenting a daughter and I know it’s been said time and time again, but seriously, the biggest keys are being in a Godly marriage (don’t worry if you’re a single Mum, or your husband isn’t walking with The Lord as in those situations, The Lord is the other parent when needed) The Word of God, and having open communication with your daughter.  The next biggest asset after those is being in a Pride of fellow Lionesses also mothering a cub.

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It’s so important to instil into our girls that while they have no choice but to be IN the world, they most certainly don’t need to be OF the world.  This can be crazy hard with the influence of tv, movies, magazines, books, music lyrics & videos etc etc.  To give an example, my daughter is 15, is homeschooled, goes to dance once a week, attends a life-group with girls her age at our church, and attends youth group and church on the weekends.  She also works part-time at a coffee shop twice a week.  Now, while she is free from a huge amount of negative influences that she used to be greatly effected by when she was in mainstream school, she still comes in contact with those of different beliefs, moral standards etc etc and needs to know how to respond in those situations.  Recently there was a situation at her workplace where someone was upset and resigned.  What followed was very adult conversation topics, bad language and a lack of consideration shown by some in the situation.  I need to know that I am doing the absolute best job to equip Miss 15 to best handle herself in these situations.  I’m pleased to say that she did very well, recognising where it would have been easy to slip into the gossiping with others, but refrained from it.  #proudmummamoment .  We can tend to think that if we just have our girls in youth group/life group at our church, all will be fine, or at least better than ‘out there in the world’.  This quite often isn’t the place.  Probably better, yes, but not smooth sailing by any stretch of the imagination.  Youth group and life group usually involves community kids, so therefore worldly issues, swearing, lower moral standards etc etc.  While we would love to just keep our daughters from these, they need to experience them in these years in order to learn and effectively navigate the big world when they in fact delve into it themselves, whether that be via University, the workplace, or social settings.  Not to mention… how are we to save the lost if we don’t interact with those not walking with The Lord.

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You know another important thing to do with your Lioness sisters….. LAUGH…. Laugh until your stomach and sides ache !!  I’m pleased to say that we satisfy this unwritten pride prerequisite quite well….  especially with this one here….  Oh my goodness we laugh a LOT !!  If I’m a little down, my DH will say to me.. “You need a get together with your bestie… go belly laugh together like you always do.” :0)

Through not only the benefit of laughter, but also friendship and prayer support, we are able to journey together in our walk with The Lord, becoming best equipped to help others.  As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  Proverbs 27:17

In her book ‘Lioness Arising’, Lisa Bevere writes..  We live in a world filled with ever-increasing opportunities.  We are not limited like our sisters in the 1800s.  We have the ability to stretch forth and reach out to others to do this well.  We must look back and ahead.

 

In Luke 4:18-19 we read God’s Spirit is on me, he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”   In my humble opinion, to most effectively do this, we women NEED to be in a fully awakened and dangerous pride.

To be able to confidently know not only that I would state the following, but my fellow Lionesses would too…  So now I will attack you like a lion, like a leopard that lurks along the road.  Like a bear whose cubs have been taken away.  I will tear out your heart.  I will devour you like a hungry lioness and mangle you like a wild animal.  Hosea 13:7-8 NLT.  So, who didn’t know that stuff like that was in the bible??  ha ha !!

There is so much we need to shield and protect our daughters from in this current day, but at the same time, prepare them for when they go out into the world and encounter those same things.  Matthew 10:16 says Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you.  You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves.  Be as cunning as a snake, un-offensive as a dove.  

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Take this beauty on the right here….  Doesn’t she look all gorgeous, sweet and lovely??  well, she totally is :0)… but she’s also one of the fiercest prayer warriors I know, and she can be counted on to go to war for one of her Lioness Sisters at a moments notice if needed.

There is so so much more I could include in this blog, but the best I can do is suggest that if you haven’t read Lioness arising, or done the study within a group, GET ONTO IT GIRLFRIEND !!!  There’s simply too much at stake in our world right now, far too many sleeping Lionesses who need to be awakened.  We need to be Proverbs 31:10-31 women, standing by our men, honouring them so they in turn can be equiped to do their part in The Kingdom.  But as we all know, marriage is tough…  so we need our Pride in order to stay strong, weather storms, and not buy into the ways of the world.   I can personally testify to the fact that if you are surrounded by like minded, Godly women as your close friends and support system, your marriage is 1000% better.

I’ll finish with a list of Prayers Roars from the Lioness Arising Safari Guide.  Why not make it a new nightly routine to declare one of these.  I’ll include 7 so that you have one for each day of the week.  These really will set you on a fantastic path to discovering what you actually have in your hand, and how effective you can be in & for the Kingdom.

  1.  I realise I have the potential to be a living, breathing solution to human problems.  Lord, lead me as I embark on this journey !!
  2. I am ready to give expression to lovely, virtuous, capable, inoffensive, cunning, harmless, shrewd, trustworthy, faithful lioness daughters who enrich the lives of those around me and gather to strategise how to ‘do good’.  I am willing to take on this challenge !!
  3. This day, regardless of how I look or feel, I choose to echo the declaration “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”God’s work in me is marvellous.  I am stunning; but more than just looking good, I choose to develop the strength to do good, I am ready to bear some weight and carry my load, because rather than being busy, I will build, I will shift my focus to gain strength and allow hardship to re-make me invincible in Him.  I embrace my strength and choose to run to win, train hard, give it my all, stay alert and not get sloppy with the Word of God, or the seasons of my life.
  4. I present my strength for you service.  God, I refuse to allow anyone to put me in a position of status.  I choose to serve and lift others by asking “How can I help?”.  I will change the way I look at my life of worship.  It is a banquet of refreshing and strength, not a draining burden.  Show me how to be a lioness among Lions and in the process, raise up others in their strength and encourage them to dream again.  I know acts of honour are never lost in translation, so I look to my future with hope because talking less now doesn’t mean having less in my future.  I am a guide, not a guard.  I live to bring people in, not to keep them out, and enlarge my life.
  5. I pray my release means release for others.  Male and female, help me to always remember that marriage is a union, not a battle.  Let me recognise the gender difference as the affirmation of our need for each other.  I need the men in my world to be all that you created them to be.  God bless the dwellings of unity in my life.  We all need redemption and you alone are worthy of my worship. I will stop being contentious and reading too much into gender differences, because you have ultimate preeminence, may you have your say in my life.
  6. Jesus, we are ready to do something impressive and significant. For your body, show me who I am so I know how to both greet and groom my sisters and brothers.  I want to refresh and restore others.
  7. I am ready to be excellently formed and marvellously functioning.  Teach me to hunt, I am ready to grow up, give me the energy and insight of heaven.  Restore all of my healthy maternal affection that fear has twisted.  I am ready to hunt with my sisters.

Many blessings my Lioness Sisters (& any dedicated blog loving Lions still reading)

Let’s stand together and be POWERFUL !!   (Note I haven’t said anything today about who we’re standing against …. coz I refuse to give him more credit than is due.  It’s like a mozzie to a T-Rex….  We are fully armed peeps with the Word of God.)

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xox

 

 

 

 

Let your character speak above lies

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I’m baaaaaaack….  Yes, I know, it’s been 6wks since blogging.  It’s not that I haven’t thought of it.  I’ve actually thought of it nearly every day, but I think the copious amounts of notes being taken in my Bible College studies, as well as the copious amounts of info being taken in, effects the clarity of what to blog about.

There is so many topics near and/or dear to me in these last weeks but I’ve decided to focus on the above title as it really does cover many areas of struggle in our lives.

One of my lecturers a few weeks back said “You’ll have people that think the world of you, have total confidence in you as a leader and steadfastly encourage you along the way.   Sadly though, you’ll also have people that despise you.  Be prepared for the reality that the closer you walk with The Lord, and the deeper you delve into the things of HIM, the longer that second list of people will grow.”

It’s extremely sad, and extremely difficult to accept, but all I can lean on is the absolute knowledge that we can simple SOAK in God’s word at all times. (& yes, I’ve mentioned this several times in my blogs over the last few years). When we are treated badly, spoken badly of, had lies spread of us, experienced deceit and harsh words towards us, we are in very good company.

2 Timothy 3:12 tells us..  Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 

Persecution is one of the last things a Christian would consider a spiritual blessing. Like suffering, no one needs to seek it out. Jesus did not avoid this subject, but spoke boldly that those who choose to live uprightly and stand for God and speak the truth will be persecuted. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.(Matthew 5:10-12)

The word persecution literally means to pursue. However, it includes malicious intent. It can vary in severity from just speaking nasty words to inflicting brutal violence. Jesus said to be happy about it because “great is your reward in heaven.” Most of the prophets were treated harshly, because they confronted God’s people with truth and reproved their godless behavior and their hard-hearted unbelief.

David was persecuted by King Saul, among others. The motivation was jealousy and envy. Saul was tormented by an evil spirit. David knew it was a spiritual conflict and refused to “stretch out [his]hand against the Lord’s anointed.” He said in Psalm 69:4: “Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; They are mighty who would destroy me, being my enemies wrongfully.”.

How do we practically deal with this in everyday life though?  It’s all well & good to have these and other scriptures on hand to draw on when these situations arise, but in reality, it can be hard.  Feelings are real and it hurts when someone you care about believes lies, or is even the one spreading lies about you.  It always reminds me of that quote “Let your character be such that no-one would believe lies about you.”  I bring this to mind in these situations as, for me personally, I know I have such dear friends who fall into that first category above, have my back, encourage me, push me when needed, call me on things when I slip etc etc.

My biggest ‘take home’ on this issue though is 2 things….. the first is the obvious, lean on Scriptures, memorising them so that they’re easy to pull into your thoughts when needed… and two, ALWAYS try and see people as God sees them, no matter how hard that is, no matter how much the enemy tries to tell you they don’t deserve it.   You can usually find this an easy thing to do if you’ve had a falling out with a friend or family member, as you’re bound to have good, even fantastic, memories with these people, so simply draw on  THOSE memories and not the negative.  That’s what I choose to do everyday.  It’s not always easy… there are days that the enemy feeds rubbish into my head and it can get me ‘thinking’ instead of praying, but I just need to remember who has the victory and who is defeated and I’m able to re-boot my thinking.

Another aspect to this is that if you choose to dwell on something someone did or said to you, you’re actually not allowing the possibility that they have changed.  I have two people in my life that are very dear to me but have turned away from me.  Both of these women have amazeballs qualities, so I CHOOSE to think on that, pile blessings on them on a daily basis, and leave it in God’s hands to ‘do what He does best’.   I declare that even if these relationships aren’t restored one day, God will use even that for good.

Isn’t God just awesome !!!  Just being able to have that confidence that He loves to so much and wants the absolute best for us.

Ok peeps… Nighty night.  It’s to bed for me.

Blessings.  xox

The HS Bus is starting up !!

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So, we’re really on the countdown now to the first day of school for 2016.  Australia Day next Tuesday, and then into the thick of things on Wednesday…. our 3rd year as a Homeschool family.  Woo Hoo !!!  Praise The Lord !!

This year is shaping up to be very different, very exciting, very eye opening… and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us !!

Miss 14 & Master 13 are starting on online DE this year, which is very exciting for them.  Master 10 will continue with ACE for another year before going onto online also for Grade 7 in 2017.

If anyone of you are wondering, Yes, we are going to be continuing our Character Traits training. We’ll assign one in the second week of school, so I’ll keep you posted on that.

But…. and here’s the super exciting news that I am soooooooooooooo excited to share with you all…  I am officially enrolled in Bible College as a full time student this year !!  I’m doing a Cert IV in Christian Leadership, and I simply cannot even express how exciting and expectant I am about doing these studies.

I developed a crazy love of Bible Study about 4yrs ago when I decided to do Beth Moore’s Esther study.  I loved how it pulled the verses apart and delved into the original translations in order to fully explain a passage.  It was at that time that I began to ‘word study’ also, which is always blows me away.. just how much the Bible can be explored and expanded.

So, ever since then, I’ve done study after study, covering different books of the bible, or particular topics.  When I haven’t been engrossed in a planned out study, I’ll search Youtube for fantastic speakers, covering relevant topics that I felt lead to address at that particular time.  I particular love Francis Chan, Louie Giglio, Jefferson & Alyssa Bethke, and many others.

With all this in mind, I do understand why when I told DH that I wanted to do Bible College this year, his reaction was “Don’t you basically do that constantly anyway… for free?”  (LOL).  Yes, I guess I could continue along with how I’ve been doing things, and I’m sure I’d continue to learn and grow in The Lord, but I really wanted to sink my teeth into something thick and juicy !!

After doing my research, I have enrolled with a Bible College that is based interstate, but runs through our church.  While, I’m not able to physically go along to the groups at church, I will at least have others to be able to bounce things off, knowing that they are studying similar topics etc.  Doing the study online really does suit me so well too because of everything being digital, it means I can enlarge print etc to what I need.  I would certainly struggle with textbooks etc, as they are notoriously small.

In a couple of weeks, Miss 14s dance schedule will start up again, along with Soccer for the boys.  Life groups & Youth group will start up, and the wheels of the school term will start turning at a mind boggling speed.  It’s great to sit back in the assurance that God totally has this !!  He knows what the year contains, and is currently preparing & equipping us for it.

I feel blessed beyond measure for so many reasons.  The main ones being married to my DH, watching him grow into everything God has for him, being able to homeschool my children and have every day with them, having a great family, and the most amazingly faithful and true friends a girl could ever ask for.  There are so many other blessings I could list, but you get my drift.  This year is looking crazy awesome and it’s only Jan 20.

Disclaimer – Sadly, when you make the decision to live out Micah 6:8 and other similar passages, the enemy gets a tad upset and throws everything he can at you.  I’ve been attacked in ways these past few days that I never even saw coming.  So, remember peeps, SHIELDS UP !!!!!  1 John 4:4 – Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Micah 6:8 – He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Positioned like a see-saw

I remember sitting under a teaching a few years back about how our posture as a disciple of Jesus Christ should be with one hand stretched upwards to someone in a mentoring capacity.. to someone who is further along in their walk with The Lord than us. Meanwhile, the other arm reaches down, ‘pulling up’, encouraging & discipling someone coming along behind us.  Someone that is a little further back in their walk with The Lord than where we are.

The person you’re reaching up to has a little more life experience than you, so is able to teach and help you through similar situations.  In turn, you can teach & help the one you are encouraging, because of the trials, struggles and victories you have walked through.

I also remember receiving an image about this, back when sitting under that teaching, of one long road with people littered all along it, all at different stages.  I probably should have drawn in it seeing as I wasn’t able to find something that I felt represented it, but this gives you an idea.

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When I had this come to mind last night, the Holy Spirit gave me an image of a seesaw, but it wasn’t like one end was completely up and the other completely down…. it’s not normally positioned in that way, and I don’t believe it would be nearly as effective either.  I think the image of a set of scales where one end has a slightly heavier weight onboard than the other shows a more accurate picture of the common situation, but as the ‘weight’ part of the image makes no sense, I think the seesaw is better.

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This one is more like it.

The person reaching down needs to have the HUMILITY required to fulfil this role in another’s life, while also having the WISDOM to take on this responsibility.

Something that simple cannot be in the equation is pridefulness !!!

Just because I like definitions, let’s look at some now…

First, a ‘secular’ definition of Humility –the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance.  While in essence, this is true, I don’t like it one bit as it doesn’t sit well with me when you consider that we are a temple of The Holy Spirit.  We have the power of Christ within us, so when I consider our ROLE in God’s Kingdom, we certainly do not have a low level of importance.  I guess what it comes down to though is the importance of that role, as opposed to the importance of us as a person.  That’s where the pridefulness can come into it.  If we are prideful about our own importance & think that that importance is  seperate to God, that’s when we will run into trouble.

A biblical definition of Humility  –God says when you are humble, you are free from pride and arrogance. You know that in your flesh you are inadequate, yet you also know who you are in Christ.  I LOVE this !!!  So so true !! Free from pride & arrogance !!

Now for Wisdom… the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement; the quality of being wise.

Not bad…. let’s look at it from a biblical point of view though.

Wisdom begins and ends with the fear of the Lord. It isn’t a fear of being struck by lightning or fear of being struck dead but it’s a deep, abiding, holy reverence and respect for the Lord and for His Word, the Bible. The Book of Proverbs has more to say about wisdom than any other book in the Bible. For example in Proverbs 9:10 Solomon, who was the wisest man on earth, at least until Christ came, said that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Where there is fear, there tends to be obedience and God has said He prefers obedience over sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22; Hosea 6:6). Sometimes obedience comes before understanding and when someone obeys what they know to be true, understanding usually follows. Wisdom begins with reverence for God and a fear for Him and His Word. That’s where wisdom begins. Where there is no fear of the Lord, there can never be any true wisdom. It’s just not possible.

Now, both these two traits can be tricky, and not always easy to uphold, especially in weakness during struggle.  It takes real DISCIPLINE to be HUMBLE & use WISDOM  to take the right path when in a struggle or under attack.

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Two other words that I really think needs to come into the scenario is COMMITMENT & RESPONSIBILITY !!  We need to be there for our ‘person’ at all times, even at times of our own struggles.  The only way we can do that is by walking closely with The Lord, digging into The Word & being accountable.

As a mentor, your role is to teach and inspire by words and example, so you can come alongside someone in their personal development and learning development using your life, Christian experiences, and education as tools.. You are a role model to someone. This is a precious responsibility that is to be taken seriously, but also enjoyed. You need to be one who is growing in the Lord, and who takes His Word and precepts to heart and to life. Because someone is placing his or her trust as a counselor and teacher in you, you need to be real and growing to do this right. Therefore, you are the one the Lord will use to provide opportunities for spiritual learning, development, and growth.

Matthew 12:36 & 37 tell us … I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,  for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Words hold power peeps.. in so many ways, so be careful with your words !!!

If The Lord entrusts you with a ‘mentee’  (that’s probs not actually a word, but you know what I mean) then see it as the privilege that it is, and ENJOY it, but never ignore the commitment and the responsibility that goes along with it.

Oh.. and one last thing…. DO NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS RESPONSIBILITY !!  Treat it as the GIFT that it is.  You will grow through every moment as a mentor too… it’s not a one-way deal.  Another thing that has been evident in my walk and I believe I can pass onto others and it be of help, is this…  When God leads you in a different direction… be it towards a different person, or away from a person…. LISTEN TO HIM & ACT ON IT !!

Maybe you will be in a mentor type relationship with someone for a very long time, but often you will not.  People with this need or gifting come in & out of our lives at GOD’S will, not ours !!!  We may be of help, or receive help from someone for a season and that be all God intended for each of our journeys.  When that happens…  seek confirmation from Him.. and then accept & move on, being ever watchful for new doors being opened.

Isn’t it FUN being a child of God !!!!!  Seriously, I LOVE IT !!!!  So much to learn, grow in and become !!!!

Blessings peeps !!!  xox

 

 

What colour is your lifejacket?

Quite often, the Holy Spirit will prompt me on a future blog entry.  This happened to me on the very first day of our cruise, so I did what I always do in these situations, got out my phone and typed it into a note ‘for a time such as this’ (ha ha), when I’d find the time to sit at my Mac and blog about it.

As a little side-note, but still very pertinent to this blog, I am simply LOVING  (& very appreciative) how I have such a great ‘open phone line’ with my Heavenly Father, and in turn am often very aware of Holy Spirit prompting.  Now, I’m in no way saying that I always get it right, coz I so do not !!  There are times when I ignore that still small voice, or buy into the lie that it was ‘just my own thoughts’.  I always know this has happened as a turn of events play out and I’m able to see plain as day where I should have listened to the still small voice, and I didn’t.  Most of the time, it’s very small things.. nothing life changing by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m sure it’s exactly those times when The Lord is teaching me to lean on Him in EVERY situation.  It always prompts me to be constantly aware that if I don’t continue to work on and foster that relationship with The Lord, one of those times won’t be about a small, non-life-changing issue, but something much bigger.

John 14:26 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom The Father will send you in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

So, with all this in mind, when I am confident The Holy Spirit has given me a message, I get it written down so that I can explore it later.

Because it’s always interesting to start off a ‘story’ or message with a ‘sizzling start’ (that’s grade 3 curriculum coming back to me right there), here we go…

It was a gorgeous sunny Friday, standing on Riviera Deck of the Sea Princess.  My family & I were standing with lifejackets in hand while waving off dear friends that had come to farewell us.

As you can imagine, it’s kinda awkward walking around carrying lifejackets.  They’re not the modern type you’d use when going on a speedboat etc, but the very ‘boxy’ type that I imagine are made that way for easy mass production, as well as efficient storage in small spaces.

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After waving off our friends, we headed to our super exciting safety Muster.  As we were walking to our muster station, carrying my boxy lifejacket, I really felt, within my spirit, that I was being told the following very clear line.

JESUS IS YOUR LIFEJACKET !!

Because it wasn’t a particular ‘must be dealt with now’ type of prompting, I didn’t think on it too much at that time (too busy listening to the fascinatingly interesting safety talk of course), but it was the following day when sitting quietly on Promenade deck with nothing but my husband’s silent company, a great book and a drink (non-alcoholic of course, as I assume some of you may not like me BUI.. Blogging Under the influence …Bahahahahahaha ), that my mind went back to that still small voice and it’s message to me the previous day.

What kept coming back to me was this notion of carrying that awkward lifejacket around with me the entire cruise.  I remember thinking to myself (which, yes, I know is kinda silly) “I wonder if our friends saw us with the lifejackets and thought we had to have them with us at all times on the cruise?.”  Yes, feel free to laugh, as it is a funny picture, as I know they’re clever enough to have not thought that.  When asking for clarification it was made clear to me that the idea shows me that we have Jesus with us AT ALL TIMES and he IS our lifejacket.  He protects us and gives us that amazing sense of security.  He keeps our head above the water, even when the ‘seas’ get rough and the ‘waves’ are high.  (Is anyone  else singing ‘Oceans’ by Hillsong in their heads right now?)

The biggest illustration though was that while the boxy lifejacket is cumbersome to carry around (& worse to wear), and we all couldn’t wait to put it back on the top shelf of the cupboard in our stateroom, to hopefully stay there for the remainder of our cruise.. the lifejacket that we have in Jesus is a pleasure and a gift to ‘wear’.

Another element to the illustration was about the colour.  The boxy lifejackets on the ship are bright orange.  Most lifejackets are bright aren’t they as one of their features needs to be high visability etc.  The question we need to ask ourselves is …  When our friends, family, circle of influence etc see us ‘wearing our Jesus lifejacket’, do they see a bright orange, highly visable ‘lifejacket’ or do they see a faded, shabby one?  I wonder if some people even like their Jesus lifejacket to come in a Camo design at times… like those times that we want to ‘fly under the radar’ and slip into sin areas we know we shouldn’t.

This illustration says to me that yes, we can choose Jesus as our lifejacket but do we wear it at all times, care for it, keep it in tip-top shape?  highly visible & effective, or do we wear it only when it suits us, throw in the cupboard for weeks or months at a time, change the design of it at times so that it’s ‘easier’ (less cumbersome) to wear etc. When we do that, we are actually hurting not only ourselves, but those around us.  Those people that are possibly put across our path in order for us to witness to them.  We are called to be light in the darkness.

Personally, while working with this illustration, I want my ‘lifejacket’ to be a BRIGHT FLURO orange.. I want people to see Jesus within me from far off… & not just in appearance, but in action & deed.

I have found from personal experience over the years that when the lifejacket seems burdensome and weary to wear, it’s at those times that I have let me relationship with The Lord wane.  I’ve not given him my best, my first, my time.  Praise The Lord, I’ve never wanted to take the lifejacket off, never even come close to thinking it, but I am honest enough to know that at times my lifejacket has appeared dull and barely visible.  It always continued to have it’s practical elements of protection, but was I wearing it with the straps undone… living on the edge so to speak. I’m extremely grateful for the influences I’ve had in my life, in particular within the last 5ish years, that have brought me to a place of doing up the clips, tightening the straps, cleaning off the ‘dust’ and bringing it back to HIGH VISIBILITY.

So, to wrap up what I’ve taken from this particular message from The Holy Spirit, I want to keep my lifejacket BRIGHT and VISIBLE !!! How am I going to do that?  No matter how much time, big or small, I already devote in quietness to The Lord, I’m going to work at increasing those times.  I’m going to increase the times that I read from my ACTUAL bible, as opposed to using the app on my phone.  It’s convenient, I know (believe me, I know.. because I can make the font nice and BIG), but it’s also easy to have a txt message or a phone call come in and then poof…  quiet time disturbed.. even if you ignore the call/message.

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Also, I’m going to increase my journalling.  I really enjoy it so it’s certainly not a chore, and much is learnt from each journalling entry.

Praise & worship is also a big part of my walk with The Lord.  So many modern worship songs are full of great teachable content, but you really can’t beat the old hymns.  They are so rich in God’s word…  with so many of them copied straight off the pages.  So, increased time listening to God’s word in song is in order too.

With all this in mind, I’d say 2016 is looking pretty darn exciting !!

Blessings Peeps  xox

 

 

 

Cruising to New Zealand Day 11 -15

At 0906 Sea Princess entered Dusky Sound the first of the Fiord transits of the day.  Sea Princess exited Dusky Sound at 1023 and proceeded around the coast towards Thompsons Sound entering at 1150.  After winding through the narrow Fiord Sea Princess was clear of Thompson Sound at 1300.  At 1622 Sea Princess entered into Milford Sound the last of the Fiord passages of the day.  Once at the end of Milford Sound Sea Princess started her thrusters and swung around and proceeded back out towards the Tasman Sea exiting Milford Sound and disembarking the Fiordland Pilot at 1752. 

We tried to set ourselves an alarm so we wouldn’t miss any of the Fiordland National Park but we kinda either set it wrong or slept thru it, I can’t remember.  Either way, Dusky Sound and Thompson Sound was pretty boring really compared to the grandeur of Milford Sound at the end of the day.  The weather was rainy, cold & dreary, but it was still lovely.

After nearly 2wks of seeing nothing but sky and ocean when going out on the open decks, it was kinda surreal to walk out and see these towering majestic mountain surrounding the ship.  We are 14 floors above the water level as it is, so it was amazing to feel dwarfed besides these mountains.  Seeing snow atop them was pretty darn cool also !!!

When it came time for lunch, we were torn what to do as we wanted something more than the outdoor grill but didn’t want to head indoors and miss anything, so we went to the dining room and talked the waiter into giving us a window table and opening the curtains up as WIDE as they would go.

The chicken was to die for… and having the view we had out the window beside us….  perfection !!

The kids were all busy at the youth centres and were missing everything, so I went in search of them and dragged their butts out into the open to enjoy this most likely once in a lifetime experience.

Room on the front open deck was at a premium while in Milford Sound.  It really was breathtaking and everyone wanted to experience it to the full.  It was quite cold to be out there, but well worth it.

It was really interesting to be told that the Fiords are far deeper than they are wide, so this answers the obvious question of how such a big vessel can get in there.

The wildlife consists of dolphins, seals and birds.  Introduced species include mice, rats, hare and deer.  Among the birds are the Kakapo, the only flightless parrot in the world.  Also, of course, there is the Kiwi.

Access into the park is limited, with the drive in being a 9hr journey from Christchurch.  Helicopters and scenic flights run and we did see a helicopter during our day there.  We did also see some kayakers which was pretty cool as they seemed like little dots down there in the water.

Sadly, the day did need to come to an end and we began our journey home. There were mixed emotions that evening as we realised we’d hit our home stretch, as we were keen to get home and see loved ones, but also, life on the ship is just so relaxing and we knew that we just wouldn’t relax to that degree once at home.  Surprisingly, the last 3 days at sea really dragged.  Our first sea day heading home was also our second formal night of the cruise.

It was on this formal night that we had the Princess cruises 50th birthday dinner.  They’ve been having lots of different celebrations all through 2015.  This is the menu from the evening.

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Also, just to show how much I fully immerse myself in a cruise, one of my favourite parts of the day was straight after dinner when the following days ‘Princess Patter’ would be waiting for us outside our stateroom.  It told of the following days events, weather, destinations etc.  Each day also gave you a rundown on a particular senior crew member.

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In the last few days, I headed out with my camera to hopefully get some good shots of the ship etc.

The second last night of the cruise was hands down my MOST favourite part of the cruise.  Christmas Carols in the Atrium with the senior officers & crew !!  As the average age of passengers on the ship was about 65, the crowd was full of ‘older folk’ who REALLY enjoy their traditional carols.. and man did they all get into it.  You haven’t been apart of Carols until you’ve done it with 4 packed levels of robustly singing cruise passengers.  Jordan Peterson was on the piano and leading the singing but really didn’t need to do much leading.  Jordan was one of the cruise entertainers who we had come to love listening to most nights after dinner.  He really is very talented and would have a go at anything requested of him …. and basically do a great job every time.

The last sea day of the cruise involved a lot of packing & organising etc as everyone needs to have their luggage outside their stateroom before going to dinner that night.  This is so the cabin stewards can collect them while everyone is at dinner, rather than possibly disturbing people by doing it later in the evening.

Enjoying the last few days of the cruise….  favourite spots on the ship, favourite food, favourite times of day (Movies Under the Stars), seeing the last few sunsets over the ocean.

Sadly, the day of disembarkation had to come around eventually, and on Friday 18th Dec, it was upon us.  We had chosen the latest disembarkation timeslot of 9.45am thinking we may as well not have to rush off the ship, but something more like 8.30 would’ve been better as nothing is really open & available anyway as the crew is busy preparing for the next influx of passengers arriving that afternoon.

Top things I’ll miss about the cruise & therefore the biggest blessings of going on a cruise –

  • Endless hours with my husband
  • no cooking & cleaning
  • staring out into the stunningly blue ocean with no land in site
  • Talking to my Heavenly Father on Promenade deck looking out to sea.
  • the cruise atmosphere.
  • Yeah ok…. THE FOOD !!  (However, I do only put on 200g, so I think that’s pretty darn good… the secret is to always take the stairs.)

So that’s it peeps…  Cruise done & dusted !!  I really want to shout out right now to my DH who, without his years of hard work and dedication to providing for our family, this cruise would not have come about.

The ships final log read…

At 0200 the Brisbane local pilot boarded us as we commenced our alteration to port to enter into Moreton Bay to assist us with our transit up to the Portside passenger terminal.  The passage itself took around 5 hours, with us approaching the berth to be all fast starboard side alongside by 0700.  

& finally, all I can say is… if you’ve ever dreamed of cruising.. you should so do it !!!!!!

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Blessings Peeps !!!  xox

Cruising to New Zealand – Days 9 & 10

Sea Princess log Saturday 12th December 2015.

In the early hours Sea Princess made her approaches to Akaroa Heads.  From there Sea Princess proceeded toward her anchor position in Akaroa Bay.  When in position Sea Princess let go her Port Anchor at 0644.  Shortly after, the first passenger tenders proceeded ashore.

Akaroa was our only port that required use of the tender boats.  We were going on another booked tour today..  Scenic Akaroa by Double decker bus.  This was a great sightseeing tour around Akaroa and the spectacular Banks Peninsula area while riding on board a beautifully restored 1960s London Routemaster Double Decker Bus. ( of course we sat on the top level.. why go on a double decker bus and sit on the bottom level?  I mean, seriously)  We headed all the way up into the hills and made a stop at the Hilltop Cafe (aptly named right) We had a great morning tea there as well as had pictures with a particularly friendly sheep.

While on the tenderboat heading ashore , we were chatting with the gentleman I was sitting next to.  He asked where we were from etc, all the normal question guests ask each other when chatting, but while talking to him, I really seemed to recognise his voice. Anyway, he went on to ask us if we ever attend the EKKA and as soon as he said that, I knew where I knew his voice from.  He’s an announcer at the EKKA, and has been for as long as I can remember.  It was really fascinating hearing some of his stories.  He actually does announcing work all over Australia, including all of the other ‘EKKA type’ shows in other states.

We sat with him & his wife up at the cafe and continued to chat while having a very nice coffee/hot chocolate.

The town of Akaroa was originally founded by the French, and it has certainly retained a lot of that heritage throughout.  Jaz unknowingly dressed to fit in beautifully.  LOL.

After being dropped off in the town centre by the DD bus, we leisurely made our way through the town and back towards the ship.  There was a lighthouse we’d been told was worth seeing up past where we would re-board the tenderboat.

The sights, mainly the gardens, in the town centre really reminded us of having been in NZ back in 2008.  The soil must be fantastic over there as the gardens are always stunning, as well as the general countryside being so green & lush.

This stop in Akaroa was the closest to anything we saw last time we did NZ.  We didn’t go to the North Island at all last time, so each stop there was completely new, and we also never got to the very bottom of the South Island, so the next stop of Dunedin was much anticipated.  One of the tours available from Akaroa was a bus trip into Christchurch,  which was one of the places we based ourselves in 2008.  You could also do the Tranz Alpine  train journey over Arthur’s Pass from this destination also. We did this last time and it was AMAZING !!  I would highly recommend it to anyone going to NZ.

After exploring the lighthouse and surrounds, DH & Master 13 headed off up a bush track in search of further adventure while Miss 14, Master 10 & I headed back to jump on a tender boat back to the Sea Princess.

Being out on Promenade deck was interesting to watch the passing scenery as we made our way out of Akaroa Harbour.  The ships log read as follows.

With all passengers back on board and all tenders recovered at 1735 Sea Princess commenced heaving her port anchor.  The port anchor was ‘aweigh’ from the sea bed at 1755 and brought home at 1810.

Hearing the anchor come up was fascinating too as it was a full 15mins of very loud ‘clunk clunk clunk’.  You couldn’t hear it from inside but as we were out on deck, we could hear it very clearly.

Sunday Dec 13th brought us to dock in stunning, but bitingly COLD Port Chalmers. The ships log read..

At 0537 Sea Princess embarked the local pilot and made her approach into the channel.  Swinging the vessel in front of the berth arriving all fast at 0722.

(I’m thinking whichever Officer did that log wasn’t in the mood for chit-chat.. LOL)

We had been warned by the Captain the previous night that the temperature in Port Chalmers/Dunedin was to be a chilly 11 degrees.  I promptly went to the store onboard and purchased an additional jumper, as well as a scarf.  As we were lining up to disembark, you could feel the cool air coming in through the open door at the gangway and many of us were commenting that it didn’t seem too bad and we’d probably find it quite pleasant.  Well, the very instant that you stepped out of the ship, the cold wind hit you.. and I’d say the wind chill factor was -50… ok, it probs wasn’t that cold in reality, but it sure felt like it.

We had a booked tour organised for Dunedin and the train we were to board was waiting for us on arrival and sitting only 50m from the ship.  You’d have thought we would have found it ok, being such a short distance, but no, that was the longest 50m of my entire life.  Brrrrrrr.

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The train took us through the dramatic Taieri Gorge on a journey that crosses 19th century cast-iron bridges and travels through 10 mountain tunnels.  I just LOVE train journeys so I really enjoyed this trip.  The commentary was great by the volunteers in our carriage.  They told us all about the lore of the central Otago region and it’s colourful gold rush days.

Disembarking the train at the heritage listed Dunedin Railway station, we boarded a motor coach for the scenic drive to Larnach Castle.

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William James Mudie Larnach, of Scottish descent, was born in 1833 in New South Wales, Australia. His banking career began in Melbourne then followed the gold rush to the Australian goldfields where he was manager of the Bank of New South Wales at Ararat. His bank was a tent and his equipment consisted of dogs, a gun, and strong boxes.

Gold was discovered in Otago, New Zealand, in the 1860’s. Larnach was offered the position of manager of the Bank of Otago in Dunedin, which serviced the extensive goldfields. He sailed for Dunedin in 1867.

Larnach’s brillant career encompassed his merchant empire Guthrie and Larnach, banking, shipping, farming, landholding, politics and… speculation. He travelled extensively and was a cabinet minister in the New Zealand Government, holding various portfolios, over a period of twenty-five years.

Larnach was married three times and had six children. He was pre-deceased by his first two wives and his eldest daughter, Kate.

He took his own life in the New Zealand Parliament Buildings in 1898.

Building Larnach Castle
Larnach was a man of great vision and created a magnificent residence for himself and his family.

A story is told that William Larnach and one of his sons went for a horse ride along the top of the Otago Peninsula to choose the best site for their home. Today you can still see why this site was chosen as it has wonderful panoramic views of Dunedin, Otago Harbour, the Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean.

First the site was clear-felled, then the hill site was levelled by putting pegs into the volcanic rock and pouring salt water on them to split the rock. Approximately 200 men spent three years building the shell of the Castle and then gifted European craftsmen spent 12 years embellishing the interior.

Materials from all over the world were used – marble from Italy, slate from Wales, floor tiles from England, glass from Venice and France. No expense was spared in creating Larnach’s dream home! Many New Zealand native woods were also used – kauri ceilings, rimu floors and honeysuckle panelling. In 1885 a 3,000 square foot Ballroom was added.

The Larnach Family
Larnach’s first wife Eliza Guise, had six children – Donald, Douglas, Kate, Colleen, Alice and Gladys. Eliza died at the age of 38 when Gladys was still a baby. Larnach then married Eliza’s half sister Mary Alleyne. They were married for 5 years when sadly Mary also died at the age of 38. Larnach then married a much younger lady, Constance de Bathe Brandon.

Larnach was struck by tragedy when his favourite daughter Kate died in her 20s. Five of the children were sent to England for their education. This meant long sea voyages and a lot of time away from the Castle and family.

After Larnach’s suicide in 1898 the family was further torn apart by legal battles over Larnach’s property as he died intestate. The family then sold the Castle in 1906.

Going up the very narrow 27 steps to the tower was pretty cool.  You can defs see the full 360 degrees from up there.

You can see from the picture above that the castle was built was scottish ‘castle like’ features, but also the Australian ‘Queenslander’ style with the wide verandahs.  You can see they are now glassed in, but originally there were open as William Larnach was  used to in Australia, but apparently they were soon to learn that they were very unprotected high on the hill, back when there were no trees to form a wind break etc.  It was very unpleasant to be outside so the verandahs were closed in with the glass you see now.

During the drive back, we were treated to all sorts of fun info on Dunedin & surrounds.  For example, one of their streets is in the guiness book of records as being the steepest street in the world.  Some of the other passengers from the Sea Princess had a go at running down it. (the younger passengers clearly)

The buildings throughout Dunedin were really lovely.  Very obviously Scottish design etc.  Another interesting note was the Welsh Dragon over the doors of the Dunedin Fire station.  I could show you soooo many pictures, but I’d be here all day.

At 1703 all passengers were back onboard Sea Princess and at 1704 The Captain gave the order to commence singling up the morning lines.  At 1705 all mooring lines were back onboard and Sea Princess began thrusting off the berth and proceeding out through the narrow chanel before setting South Westerly courses around the southern coast of New Zealand toward the Fiordland National Park.

Ok…  that’s it for days 9 & 10.  Man this holiday is taking forever to blog post.. mainly because my internet is rubbish…  bring on NBN…  hopefully that will greatly improve things.

Blessings peeps !!!

 

 

Cruising to New Zealand – day 1-5

Once again, quite a while between blogs… sorry about that peeps, but in my defence, things have been busy, plus as you can from the title, I’ve been OS (literally.. LOL).

So, to begin covering this particular event, I’ll start back on the magical day of Friday Dec 4th when we woke to a beautiful sunny day, perfect for boarding a cruiseship and heading to New Zealand.

There was MUCH excitement that morning and it was a little torturous to have to wait until our boarding time of 1.30pm.  As it turned out though, we needed the time as we realised we needed a few things from the shops, plus we had to get to Officeworks to print out boarding passes (that I hadn’t realised I needed to print.. whoops).  Then, to keep the morning interesting, it wasn’t until we got back home again that I realised that one of the boarding passes hadn’t printed (whoops again).  So, with the only options being heading back to Officeworks, or leaving Miss 14 at home for 2wks, we went with option #1.  (lucky her right).

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Sorry for the blurriness…  Master 10 took it.

12.30pm saw us jumping in a maxi cab (with our hoards of luggage, but not as hoardish as it should have been.. more on that later) and heading to the Port of Brisbane !!  A little bit of waiting at the cruise terminal.. maybe an hourish, and then we were finally boarding the Sea Princess.  Dear friends of ours came to wave us off, so once we did a quick “Oooh, Ahhh” at the atrium of the ship and dumped our hand luggage in our stateroom, we went in search of an open deck so as to wave to said dear friends.  (It’s appropriate to mention that my wish came true and the ship was completely decked out for Christmas…  I was VERY happy about this.)

It’s funny because when you first get on a ship, even if you’ve full on studied the deck plans prior, it’s really hard to find your way around, but once you’ve been on there a few days, it’s like “Wow, how did we not know to just go to THAT obvious place to wave them off?”  So, where we waved them off was by far not the best place to do so.  We were up on deck 14, so a loooooooong way up from where they were down on the level 3 viewing platform.  Promenade deck 7 would have been sooooo much better had we realised at the time.  Oh well, must remember that for next time.

After waving off our friends, we headed to the compulsory ‘Muster’ which is basically the safety talk like you’d have on an aeroplane, but obviously related to sea-type eventualities, as opposed to air ones.  As there are 1500 passengers onboard, it was held in 3 seperate locations. Pretty darn boring really, so good to get that out of the way.  Next stop for Terry was an alcoholic beverage of some sort, because on a cruiseship, alcohol can apparently be drunk at any time of day..  LOL.

That afternoon, the ships log read…

At 1535 all passengers were aboard Sea Princess and all departure checks were complete.  At 1700 The Captain gave the order to let go the morning lines as Sea Princess began to back up to the swinging position, swinging her bow to starboard and Brisbane Pilot was off the ship and and we set ESE’ly course bounded to Auckland.

The kids were keen to ‘sign in’ at the youth centres.  Master 10 reaped the most benefit from kids club while on the cruise.  He made a bunch of friends and just had the time of his life.  He even took part in a ‘Jnr chef at Sea’ day and made & decorated a cake that we had for dessert that night.

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We throughly enjoyed the 3 sea days it took us to journey to our first port of Auckland, NZ.  It was seriously amazing being out in God’s gorgeous creation.  I cannot even begin to explain the stunning colours of the ocean.  From deepest deep blues through to pale aquas.. it was just beautiful.  I really enjoyed just staring out at it for many hours over the 2wks.  There was certainly something very relaxing about being in the middle of the ocean with no signs of land anywhere you looked.  It was most definitely a very blessed experience !!

For breakfast, we always used the buffet, coz seriously, who doesn’t love a buffet brekkie!!).  Lunch was either the outside grill, hamburgers & hotdogs with salad etc, or the buffet, and on the very last day, we tried the pizzeria.  We had chosen the 7.45pm dining sitting as we figured that we might like the extra time when coming in after shore days etc.  There were a couple of times that we wished we’d chosen the 5.30pm slot, but all in all, the later one was better.  You could always go to the buffet for dinner if you couldn’t wait that long anyway, but DH & I  never did (the kids did often though).  Dinner at the dining room was just too good, plus we loved our waiter Larry, so wanted to eat there each night.  Terry got very used to being called ‘Sir Terry’ by both Larry & our cabin steward, James.  LOL.

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A little about the crew which is quite interesting.  The majority of them have families back home but are on the ship for either a contract period of 6 or 9 months.  They are predominently from areas around the Phillipines but there were also some crew from South Africa, Japan, America and other areas.  Larry has 2 kids at home, aged 14 & 20.. seriously, he doesn’t look old enough for that does he, but he did show us pictures of them.  (Yes, you do end up getting on that well with your closest crew members.)

The menu was great, with a lot of selection staying the same throughout the cruise, but each night there would be specials for that night only.  The chicken and leak pot pie was a big hit and each of us had that at one time (Master 13 & Miss 14 had it a few times).  Desserts were, of course, always dangerously delicious.  The below pic of Jordan adequately shows his reaction to seeing the buffet for the first time… let’s just say the food was what he had been most looking forward to.

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Lots of relaxing happened on those 3 sea days, lots of reading on Promenade deck (soaking up more of God’s gorgeous canvas), lots of lazing by the pool, lots of enjoying the entertainment, lots of Movies under the Stars (well, actually we did that nearly EVERY night of the cruise.).  It certainly turned out to be a good thing to have those 3 days, as once we arrived in NZ and were going ashore each day, it did become quite busy and therefore tiring.

We had booked a tour for every shore day, but once we got onboard and found out that our older 2 children were classed as adults when it came to pricing, we cancelled all but 3 of our tours.  This actually turned out to be a good thing, not just money-wise, but because we found great things to do on our own.  It is always a gamble to know which destination warrants a paid tour, or whether you can explore on your own and see just as much.  It definitely pays to research prior, including looking at maps etc to see what is near enough to the port to explore and what isn’t.

It was during those first 3 sea days that we had our first formal night.  Now, this is the story about how our luggage was ‘not as hoardish’ as it should have been.  We realised on the first day that we had left our suit bag at home.  It didn’t just hold Terry’s suit, but basically ALL of our formal wear, and all of Terry & the boys collared shirts.  There is a dress code for the dining room in the evenings, so it could have been interesting, however, we managed to get by,  helped by the fact that they never super enforced that dress code anyway.  Terry hired a tux onboard and once we got to NZ, we were able to stock up on some good wear items… at surprisingly great prices.

Getting professional pics taken is always a fun part of cruising as you can  literally have as many taken as you like with no obligation to buy.  They simply print out EVERY photo they take and then you can just purchase the ones you want.  What we did was we’d go down and make a ‘maybe’ pile and add to it each time there were new ones, and hand back the ones we defs didn’t want, and then at the end of our cruise, chose what to purchase from our ‘maybe’ pile.  It was a good strategy I think.

The ships log read..

At 0537 Sea Princess embarked the local Auckland pilot before proceeding into the approach cannel arriving starboard side to quay. Queen’s Wharf Auckland at 0655.

Our first stop in Auckland was one where we chose to cancel our booked tour and head off on our own.  The shore excursion people onboard had advised us that it was a particularly easy port to get yourself around in, with the CBD being literally a stones throw from the dock.  Miss 14 had been the most disappointed with the missing suit bag as she had used her own hard earned money to purchase a formal dress that she was REALLY looking forward to wearing.  She’d purchased it at Dotti and as we were coming into Auckland, I was joking with her that I could see a Dotti store ahead… Funny thing was, we disembarked, headed up one of the main streets, and FOUND A DOTTI STORE.  Bahahahahahaha !!!  We managed to get, not just one formal dress but 2, for a bargain price of $130 !!!  Woo Hoo !! It’s amazing how quickly a stroppy 14yr old can turn it all around with a full shopping bag in her hand.. LOL.

After our shopping, we headed off in search of.. well, whatever we could find.  First stop was the Art Gallery, then onto the War Memorial Museum via the rather large botanical gardens.

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& Yes, we did totally run around the inside of this rotunda singing “I am 16, going on 17”.  I mean, seriously, it must be done.

Note to self – do not take fluro pink & yellow running shoes on holiday as your comfortable walking shoes… it’s the first thing I notice in EVERY picture.  arggghh.

My phone told me that we did in excess of 12000 steps that day, so it was VERY suitable to get in the hot tub once we headed back onboard the Sea Princess. PS.  That pool Miss 14 is in, actually this whole area was a designated kid-free area which we didn’t realise until AFTER this day.. whoopsie.)

With all passengers and crew onboard the order was given to let go the mooring lines.  At 1753 all lines had been let go from the mooring bollards on the quay and Sea Princess commenced thrusting off the berth and moving astern.  At 1845 the local pilot disembarked the vessel and shortly after we commenced increasing speed and making our way towards Tauranga. 

Ok.. so that’s it for days 1-4…  Next instalment coming right up.  xox

 

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