Thursday, 22 December 2011


Well the wait is almost over. Christmas Day is nearly upon us. However in the Austin household we have one other important event to celebrate two days before the Big Day. Gemma was born on the 23rd December and so our Christmas time is always wrapped up around that too.
14 years ago I spent Christmas in hospital as Gems was born as an emergency cesarean. She was a week late and my blood pressure had suddenly shot up. After having a very easy pregnancy this was rather annoying but hey ho that's life I suppose.

Anyway I won't bore you with the details, suffice to say she is a joy and we love her to bits. She was definitely worth waiting for and it's a privilege to call her my daughter.

As I blogged previously I've been reading daily advent scriptures and studies to help me prepare for Christmas spiritually. It's been an interesting journey and each day I've discovered something new about God's plan and about the different people who played a part in that plan. The one character who has stood out for me this year in particular is Zechariah. I've really warmed to his plight and the part he plays in the story for more than one reason!!

He was a devout man of God, a priest. Both he and his wife Elizabeth were 'upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well on in years.' (Luke 1: 6-7).

It was while Zechariah was on duty in the temple that he was visited by the angel Gabriel who told him his prayers for a child of their own, were to be answered. Now at this point I can so sympathise with Zechariah as his initial reaction is one of doubt and mistrust. He asks Gabriel 'How can I be sure of this?' (Luke 1:18). Because of his doubts Zechariah was struck dumb.....instantly!! A little harsh I think but we see this act also plays a significant part in the story as it unfolds.

All too often I have the same reaction. When I've waited for something for so long and I just can't believe it's ever going to happen. I've questioned the answer when it's come. I wish I could be more like Mary in the story (Luke 1:38), who pretty much accepts her news of giving birth to Jesus without too much fuss!! I can only put this down to the difference between youth and someone getting on in years (!!), and having lived a long devout life trying as hard as possible to follow God in the right way, but has had to deal with disappointment and unanswered prayer. This reminded me of Jesus' words in Luke 18:17 when everyone was bringing children to Jesus and the disciples sent them away. Jesus told them off and accepted the children because, He said, 'anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it'.

However to return to Zechariah to finish, I believe he redeemed himself.
When his son was finally born, after waiting nine months living in complete silence, he did obey God and confirmed that their child should be called John. This went against all tradition and yet both he and Elizabeth knew that John was a gift from God and would become a great man of God in his own right and prepare the way for the Messiah. Because Zechariah obeyed God, his voice was returned to him. He didn't then just go about his business as if nothing had happened he used his voice immediately praising and thanking God. It is an amazing passage and well worth a read. Nine months of frustration, waiting, preparation and realisation are expressed in Luke 1:68-79.

So my challenge this Christmas is to be more like Mary, more accepting of opportunities God puts in my way, without questioning them. But also to realise that sometimes I get it wrong like Zechariah and I need to react in the way he does with thanksgiving and humility. 

Monday, 5 December 2011


Well November came and went in a bit of a blur!!
November is a special month for me as I not only celebrate my birthday but my wedding anniversary too.
Wayne and I celebrated 22 years of marriage this year and I have to say it's been a blast. Although we are very different we share many of the same values and we encourage one another in our own interests as well as enjoying the same taste in food, sport, and TV viewing (for the most part anyway!!!).

I'm of the artistic persuasion Wayne is a scientist, Wayne's more logical I'm not!! None of these opposite trends seems to matter though, as we seem to compliment one another, and it all comes in handy when helping Gemma with homework projects and encouraging her in different areas of interest!!

Both Wayne and I enjoy being hospitable and so we celebrated my birthday and the birth of the new kitchen with a celebratory weekend by filling our house with lovely people who have walked alongside us in our journey over this last few months. It was a fab weekend celebrating with family and catching up with old friends as well as establishing new friendships. It marked the start of the next chapter in our journey using our new kitchen to bless others as well as receiving the blessings ourselves.

This month we also had the privilege of staying overnight at one of my favourite venues, the Waterside Inn at Bray. Thankfully Wayne's company were paying but we enjoyed a fantastic meal and then the luxury of staying there, followed by breakfast served in the room the next morning. What an absolute treat. I've promised myself we'll save up to go back next year sometime, love the place the people, the service and of course the food. 

And so to December. We've already started Christmas preparations. Cards are sent, the house is decorated with Tree and Christmas candles, just the shopping to complete now and then the wrapping to be done.
But I've also started preparing my heart and mind for Christmas too, and am reading daily Advent scriptures and studies. All to often I find myself getting ready for Christmas by being busy, but this year I want to cherish each day in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. After all as a Christian that's what I'm really celebrating at Christmas. So this may be my last blog before the New Year in which case I would like to wish you all a very very Happy Christmas. May you know God's Peace, Love, Joy and Hope at this special time of year.