Thursday, June 30, 2011

Take Heart- Hillsong

Joe, Marvie, Pua, Dave, Mary
So, my family came. They came to New Zealand. and I got to see familiar faces and hear familiar laughs and hug familiar frames for 10 days. Is there anything better than being with people who know you and love you exactly as you are?
     The days leading up to their arrival were splattered with my tears of joyful anticipation at the thought of greeting them at the airport. Who would walk through the archway first? Who should I hug first? And once I started hugging them, would I be able to let go?
     They arrived on May 30th at 9:35 AM. My brother Joe walked through the doors, and I ran towards him. Then came Marvie, his beautiful pregnant wife with her beautiful baby bump. Mary came next, and I must have held onto her the longest. I started crying as I held her. I can’t even begin to describe the way anxiety/stress/homesickness/sadness fell off my shoulders as I clutched my sister. And finally I made my way to Dave, the best brother-in-law in the world.
    All day I just kept tearing up and looking at heaven and saying thank you, thank you, thank you God for your goodness. Their first day in New Zealand was SO full: Breakfast at a local bakery, a quick shower and clean-up, lunch at a New Zealand Brewery, an afternoon spent at New Zealand’s national museum in downtown Wellington (Te Papa), a walk along the Wellington harbor, a quick introduction to my soccer team as we made our way back to the house, a hotel check-in, and then dinner at the Pa’u residence with almost all of the Pa’u family. My two families, sharing a meal together. My four sisters, laughing and passing each other roasted vegetables. Could this be real? I just couldn’t believe that I could receive such blessing, such abundant blessing.
     The next morning we flew to Christchurch, a city on New Zealand’s southern island. We spent three days at the most wonderful bed & breakfast, Tangley on Clyde, and toured nature centers, the Antarctic Center, Akaroa, and the southern island’s eastern coast. We drank New Zealand wine and ate delicious food. After our time down south, we took the Ferry from Picton to Wellington, and enjoyed a delicious meal at BurgerFuel for dinner. The next day we took a Lord of the Rings Tour, shopped at the market downtown, and then we went to a rugby game to support the Wellington Hurricanes!
     Our time together was life-giving. We laughed. We talked. We planked. We walked a LOT. We cried. We were honest. In short, we were delighting in being real with one another. And (I’m always amazed by this) the more time I spend with my family, the more I love them. I don’t understand it, because I’m sure that I love my family as much as I possibly can, and then we spend more time together, and my love for them multiplies.
     I understand that my experience with my family is a rare and precious gift, and I thank God for that gift. As I said goodbye to Mary and Dave, and then Joe and Marvie a few days later, it was really difficult to convey how much their visit comforted and encouraged my heart. I know that my family is not perfect, but I thank God that He sees our imperfections as a family and works among us to bring about friendship, to bring about love, and to bring about grace. God used my family to care for my heart in a very tangible way, and I’m in tears writing about our time together. Thank you God for my family!
Joe, Marvie, Mary, Dave- I love you. I can’t wait to hug you again.
Mom and Dad- thanks for having me so I can be part of this family : ) Please come to New Zealand so I can share this place with you.
I’m praying for the families of every person who reads this! May you grow in intimacy and truth and light and love. May the God of peace bless you with rest, reconciliation, and renewal, and may you grow in your relationship with God as you grow in your relationships with each other.
Love to you all,
This is Dave and I "planking" in Christchurch 
Me, Mary, and Marvie on a boat in Akaroa, the first and only French settlement in New Zealand. We saw dolphins while on the boat!

New Zealand Coastline = always beautiful 
Lord of the Rings Tour

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Unwritten (Live) - Natasha Bedingfield

Did you know that Natasha Bedingfield is from New Zealand? I did not know that until I came here. Some of you will have no idea who natasha bedingfield is, and that's ok.
Anyway, I wanted to share some glimpses of my recent life through some videos.

This first clip is viewed from the harbour in downtown Wellington. It was a beautiful day that Liz, Gabrielle, and I spent downtown. We had just enjoyed a delicious Yum-Cha meal (a chinese restaurant where the servers walk around with different platters/appetizers/entree's and you say YES or NO to whatever you want on your table. It is delicious) and we were headed to the market downtown. It was at the market that a bought a few gifts for friends back home :)

This next video is a clip from my siblings FIRST moments in New Zealand. Before they showered, changed, or did anything they wanted to eat some breakfast. We stopped at a local bakery, grabbed some pies (imagine a less healthy version of a quiche) and then headed to the Pa'u kitchen to eat our goodies. I love my family.

This final clip is a glimpse of my AWESOME soccer team. We only had 5 girls at practice on monday, so I figured we should have a little bit of fun at the end of practice. The girls, in order of appearance, are Alicia, Hicenta, Lydia, Danielle, and Jess. I love them!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It is Well - The Bridge Fellowship

     In a few short days my family will be congregating to mourn the passing of a beautiful woman. My grandmother passed away three days ago, and I’m just now allowing myself to fully grieve the death of the woman who took such delight in calling me PuaNani. I will miss helping her buckle her seat belt; I will miss seeing her bobby pins scattered along the bathroom counter; I will miss hugging her ever-diminishing frame. And I am heartbroken that distance is forcing me to miss the gift of shedding tears and grieving with my entire family.
It has been many years since my heart has been this broken. Three years ago I was trapped in the emotional brokenness of a hard break-up, and the heartache was so thick that I learned a new method to manage the pain—I went numb. For the first time in my life I had managed to turn off my emotions. My sadness was too great, and the weight upon my heart too heavy, so I learned to live detached from pain. This came at great cost. I was not simply detached from the pain, but indeed I had managed to detach myself from all of my emotions. I became superficial in most of my relationships, especially in my relationship with God.
I knew that in order for healing to take place, I would have to return to the place I last felt emotion- which was the hardest and most broken place in my heart. I couldn’t go back there. I had made an agreement in my head that if following God was going to be that painful, then I didn’t really want to keep walking with Him. I lived like this for several months until I heard a particular sentence one Sunday in church.
“Jesus understands your heartache.”
Something so simple, but so monumentally significant for my heart. How many times had I heard that sentence before? Only then, when I was in the midst of pain, did those words come alive. Jesus understood my heartache.
Jesus understands what it’s like to want to stop following God because the road ahead seems too painful. Jesus understands, because he experienced that desire too. He prayed in the Garden before he was crucified to be delivered from His cup, ie His coming crucifixion. But in the midst of that pain his prayer continued, “not my will be done, but yours.”
          I followed God to New Zealand, and I’ve cried more in the last 4 months than in the last year combined. I have come to believe that when my friends and family are hurting back home, the distance between our hearts multiplies the pain I feel for/with them. It is here, in my brokenness, that I’m re-learning truths I learned three years ago. God knew that I’d be missing weddings, pregnancies, miscarriages, and funerals when he invited me to follow him to New Zealand. And I am finding comfort in this: that as he reviewed all that I’d be missing, he still said IT IS GOOD for you to be with me in New Zealand. God thought it was better for me to come to New Zealand than for me to stay at home. Wow.
          I must confess that several times I’ve looked to the sky and questioned, “Why did you bring me here? Why am I in New Zealand? Why did you give me this invitation? Why did you give me this gift? This gift is too hard.”

Can following God lead to brokenness? Yes.
Can brokenness be a gift? Yes.

It is by the Grace of God that I am able to receive this gift of brokenness, that I am able to say, “not my will be done, but yours.” And it is by the Grace of God that we can declare:
Jesus, I will follow you into deeper waters even when I don’t know how to swim.
Why is it that we can wade into deeper waters, even when it is painful? Because Our God enables us to walk on water as He calls to us from the beautiful and terrifying unknown.
“If you do not cut the moorings, God will have to break them by a storm and send you out. Launch all on God, go out on the great swelling tide of his purpose, and you will get your eyes open. If you believe in Jesus, you are not to spend all your time in the smooth waters just inside the harbor bar, full of delight, but always moored; you have to get out through the harbor bar into the great deeps of God…Beware of harking back to what you were once when God wants you to be something you have never been.” Oswald Chambers, June 8th, My Utmost for His Highest
It is in brokenness and victory, pain and joy that I write to you,