Thursday, November 22, 2012

Seasons of Change

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.

Seasons of Change - conjurers up leaves changing in fall in anticipation of winter. And visions of rose buds blooming in Spring - ushering us into summer. What if your seasons were totally turned around and suddenly roses in spring means that Christmas is nearly here. Our family has experienced many changes in the past 8 months. We packed up our home in Georgia, and moved around the globe to the Island Country of New Zealand. New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere where the seasons are opposite to the Northern Hemisphere. I spent 40+ years of your life thinking that fall, Thanksgiving, and pumpkins go together. However, I am writing this in November, looking out my picture window at roses blooming with warming breezes and sunny days ushering Summer our way. Summer in New Zealand means it's Christmas and New Year ... swimming at the beach and long, light, summer evenings. Gone are our visions of Christmas by an open fire or jack frost nipping at your toes.
In addition to getting used to southern hemisphere seasons -my children have adapted to different school environments, different friends, different churches, etc. They have been stretched to experience many new things, and yet they are still somewhat homesick.

So while my friends back in the states are preparing for Thanksgiving and a white Christmas, we are pruning our roses and planning summer barbeques. Seasons of change. Sometimes I get physically dizzy thinking of all the changes and stress we have been through, and there is more to come as we ponder how long we should stay at our current location. I am trying to learn that if I keep my eyes fixed on my God and savior - that I stand a little steadier and don't get quite as dizzy. My daughter recently asked me how I cope (with the homesickness and missing our dog) and I told her I often sing a song quietly in my head - or say a verse to get my eyes on my true hope - Jesus. "Turn your eyes upon Jesus and Look full in his marvelous ways and the things on earth will go strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace."

I looked up the words to the old hymn..... "O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There's light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace. Through death into life everlasting He passed, and we follow Him there; O'er us sin no more hath dominion For more than conqu'rors we are! His Word shall not fail you, He promised; Believe Him and all will be well; Then go to a world that is dying, His perfect salvation to tell!

God Bless you and Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Kids and winter sports in New Zealand

Our family moved from Georgia in February - the end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and arrived in New Zealand in March - the beginning of Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. We didn't get a summer this year and are really missing the break and the sunshine. For some reason sports like rugby, netball, and soccer (known as football here) are played in the winter - not the spring or fall as we were used to in the states. A coach noticed Luke, age 14, due to his height and build, and he was asked to play on his age grade High school Rugby team - even though he had never played rugby before. Luke has grown up hearing about when his dad played rugby growing up in New Zealand - so Luke decided to give it a try!
Winter is generally the wettest season in New Zealand, and the ground is much softer when it's wet - meaning Luke came home muddy most Saturdays (something that he seemed to enjoy as much as the toasty warm bath which followed getting home). Luke played in the position of Lock, so was in the thick of the action for much of the time ... and spent plenty of time on the ground.
I had to do some research to learn about the different positions and Luke's role. Rugby players don't wear much protection other than mouth guards and some people wear soft helmets to minimize concussions or ear damage, so I was worried that he was going to get hurt. Fortunately none of his team were hurt, and thankfully Luke came through the season unscathed. However, one thing we were unprepared for was the authority that Luke showed when he picked up the ball and ran ... and he went on many rampaging runs throughout the season, and scored about four tries over the course of the season (a lot for a Lock).
We are also thankful Luke has taken this chance to make new friends and learn the game of Rugby. Burnside High had two Rugby teams and Luke's 'B' Team had a lot of players that had never played before - so they had a lot in common. All the games were tough, although the team improved immensely over the season. They preserved for two well earned wins, 2-3 close defeats in otherwise winnable games, and a few one-sided blowouts where the boys spent most of their time conceding points. We were proud of Luke trying so hard, from mid-week practices to the final game-day whistle, whether winning or losing. His dad thinks he was one of the top players in his team, and he played every minute of every game for the whole season.
Luke celebrating the win and the last game of the season! Luke said "playing Rugby was really fun and I feel a lot fitter!"

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tea Cups and Tea time

"A Proper Tea is much nicer than a Very Nearly Tea, which is one you forget about afterwards." - A.A. Milne

My first tea cup is this lovely Shelley tea set that my mother got for me as a birthday present when I was about 17 and it is one of my favorites!

When I was younger, I remember wanting to collect something that was both pretty and practical and I have been collecting tea cups ever since! I have a beautiful china hutch that holds most of my tea cups! I haven't unpacked all my tea cups yet -and I have been missing them. My love for tea cups and tea parties has been re-kindled since moving back to New Zealand - where we drink hot tea all the time - well, most days! Tea time in New Zealand is a lovely carryover from colonial days!
Just this week I stopped by a thrift store in Riccarton, here in Christchurch, and i was so delighted to find several trio sets to choose from! I selected a lovely light blue Queen Anne trio for my self and I decided to get my 10 year old daughter, Anna-Kate, a lovely lilac trio set of her own. Anna-Kate is also collecting tea cups and we are planning to have a tea party soon!

I also have a lovely trio that my step-mother bought back for me on a trip to Europe. Warren's grandmother also collected tea cups and we inherited several of hers, including a lovely and popular Old English Rose set. And just last year my friend Nedia gave me a tea cup that reminds me of our friendship!

I hope to write more about tea time and our upcoming tea parties. I have had fun pinning lots of tea party ideas, tea cups and tea pots on my Pinterest board! You can follow me there at: Colette's Cottage

Mom's recommendation - make time for tea - with friends and family! Have tea parties with your children! Come and have a cup of tea and follow me!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Bouncing Bunny

We recently moved overseas and had to leave our much loved dog, Bernie behind. Bernie is a soft coated wheaten terrier and had been our constant companion for the past 6+ years. Time, customs, quarantines and expense were not on our side. Our move was quick and Warren is helping with Earthquake reconstruction in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a pet and move overseas - be sure to check on the pet policies for your new country. New Zealand happens to be one of the strictest. And to make matters worse, we are currently renting a house and most rentals don't allow pets. We feel lost with out Bernie, especially in this walker friendly town. Our owner did say it was okay to get an outside bunny. I had several bunnies growing up and always loved bunnies! We decided to try a Flemish giant as they are supposed to be the friendliest. Our bunny is black with white paws, so we named her boots -our "all blacks bunny"! Boots is so sweet and has been easy to train. We keep her outside during the day - but let her come inside for short - supervised visits! She loves our family and is already trained to a litter pan! She gives us cuddles and is a great pet!

Recently Anna-Kate had to write a poem for school.....
"With a thud of her feet hopping around
all over the garden that’s where she is found
But when she gets tired she lays in the shade
With her chin on her paws then the day fades away
She sleeps there for a while, until she wakes up
There’s no pound on the ground,
there’s no munch and crunch to be heard
But when she wakes up it starts all over again
With a thud of her feet hopping around"
Anna-Kate is 10 and loves Boots too! We will always miss Bernie, but we know he is in good hands.

Mom's recommendation - Bunnies make great pets and are easy to train!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Two weeks in the country

My last post was about our upcoming major move from Alpharetta, Georgia, to Christchurch, New Zealand. We arrived in New Zealand with our 15 pieces of luggage and nothing else. Warren's new company arranged a furnished home for us in Ilam for our first two weeks here. Thankfully we had a long term rental to move into - but we had an 18 day gap between when we had to leave the first place, and the earliest we could get into the long term place. Unfortunately, housing is currently in great demand since there have been several major earthquakes over the past 18 months - and many of the displaced residents and all the new workers are looking for temporary housing in the areas that came through the earthquakes undamaged. I searched the internet for hours and sent out over 100 enquiries. We even considered hotel, motels and campgrounds - but everything was expensive, had limited availability, and was going to be very cramped for a family of five. After all my searching - I finally decided to call the church we had started attending (Life Church). We were very surprised to get a call within one day to let us know there was a family that lived 'out in the country' who would love to host us - if we didn't mind the drive. Whew - what a relief and what a pleasant surprise to find out that this family, Fenton and Barbara Woods, lives in Ladbrooks, a lifestyle farming community just outside of Christchurch - and is the area where Warren's ancestors settled in 1857, after first arriving in Wellington, New Zealand in 1842.
Fenton and Barbara were a lovely host family, patient, kind and helpful! Their home was big, lovely and set on 25 beautiful acres. There was a pond with ducks and geese, sheep for neighbors, a horse paddock, and amazing sunrises! The boys also enjoyed the wide open green paddocks and ample space to fly kites! Staying with the Woods was a huge blessing for our family and we hope to keep in touch with them! I am so thankful that we contacted the church for help and that God provided such a lovely place for us to stay. Even though I thought I was running out of options - the Lord had an even greater blessing in store for us! The photo below shows Anna-Kate enjoying some time by the lake, but she wasn't the only one. It was so peaceful and relaxing ... just what I needed after the hustle and bustle of an international move.
Fenton and Barbara woods also have a Wasabi farm and produce some of the only 100% pure Wasabi paste in the world. Check out their site If you order some -please let them know you heard about it from me! Mom's Recommendation - if you are planning a trip to New Zealand -make sure you make time to stop in Christchurch! And if you are looking for a home stay - I highly recommend you contact the Woods and inquire about availability!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bloom where you are planted

Bloom where you are planted - that was the title of today's sermon. How amazing for me - that God would send a guest speaker to our church - to preach on Bloom where you are planted. The praise and worship time was also awesome - and I was reminded that worship realigns my heart to focus back to God - on what's really important.
The guest speaker today started out planting a church in Denton, Texas. Wow - Denton, Texas is a small little city that we lived in from August 2000, to July of 2002. The whole sermon was great - and I will post a link at the bottom. He challenged us that God's will for our lives is not always the path of least resistance. How God had called him back to the city. How we should take the attention off ourselves and put it on Christ. How we should be content in our circumstances - where ever we are.
So here I am again - at another crossroads in my life - should I stay or should I move. I feel God is asking us to move - and this time I hope I can keep my focus on God and not my circumstances. I have moved more times than I can count. I mean - when you have only renewed your drivers license ONCE in your entire life - you know you have moved a lot. I won't go into all the details, but I was born in Florida, lived in North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, New Zealand, and been nicely settled here in Alpharetta, Georgia, for SIX YEARS!!

This is a photo of our home in Alpharetta, Georgia! It has been our warm and toasty home with central heat and air - for six years! I will never take central heat for granted again!

My husband, Warren, is an Engineer and he has been working overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan for five years - home less than 50% of the time. While we visited his homeland of New Zealand last summer for a family vacation - Warren gave a talk to the professionals Engineer societies - on Engineering around the world. To make a long story short....he was offered a job as Technical Director for rebuilding the infrastructure of a city - a beautiful city called Christchurch. Christchurch was struck with several major earthquakes over the past 18 months plus hundreds and thousands of aftershocks (some big, many too small to feel). So in about four weeks - our family will be heading on another journey - all the way to the bottom of the earth - to a little but beautiful Country called New Zealand.

While contemplating this huge endeavor - and all the comforts of home that I would have to give up - the scripture that brings me comfort is....
Proverbs 3:5-6...."Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in ALL your ways acknowledge him and HE will direct your path."

My trust is in the Lord - my goal is to keep my eyes on HIM and not my changing circumstances. Please keep me in your prayers and I will keep you posted on our journey!

Below is a photo of my children and I - taken at a beautiful field of Sunflowers- the Sunflower grows tall and reaches for the sun!


the link to our church - where you can listen to today's sermon - January 22, 2012

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy NEW Year

One of my favorite cards this year said....."Christmas fills our homes with blessings ....because Jesus fills our hearts with Love!....."...I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." Luke 2:10

I wish you joy! I hope you have had time to reflect on the blessings of 2010! I am thankful for a warm house and loving friends and family!

I am thankful for a creative mom - especially at this time of year when we are decorating our house with so many Christmas ornaments and one of a kind decorations. She made two of the six stockings that are hanging on the mantel with care. She made Peters, with a cute gingerbread man and Anna-Kate's. I'm not quite sure why Luke didn't get one - but we bought him one that he has grown accustomed to. An antique nativity scene also adorns our Christmas Mantel. It's a nativity that used to be my grandmother, Meme's. I love it because it was hers and because it is house in such a natural stable, reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas. My mom started making homemade ornaments for me the year I was born. And ever since I can remember -I have asked for another ornament for my Christmas gift from her. My favorite is a sequin bell that we made together. My kids have already started their collection of homemade ornaments. This year I gave them each a sturdy shoe box and they had fun decorating them for holding their own ornaments.

You can find some of her One of a King (Oak) ornaments and crafts on her Etsy shops. She has three shops! Her links are listed the right!

My NEW Year's resolution is to blog more, drink LESS Diet coke and count my blessings! I also hope to move my blog to a new site - so be on the look out for my new....ColettesCottage blog! Let me know what you would like to see on my new blog!

Happy New Year!