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Life of an Ordinary Aussie Woman

Friday, 31 January 2014

Turkey 2 - Gallipoli

So I’m sitting here somewhat exhausted, yet also feeling very blessed.

I have had a massive few days since returning from overseas, because as you know life does not stop…which is also a good thing.

I have not only had to readjust to a different time zone; I have needed to get my children back into school, nurse my eldest son from an accident he had while I was away and take him to his hospital appointment, churn through a massive amount of washing, cook, food shop, catch up with friends and family and adjust to our high summer temperatures…

However although I am tired, I am sitting here feeling blessed…I have just finished today’s chores (got them done early due to the heat) and my eldest son is finishing mowing the long lawns.  He has not yet returned to school from our summer break due to his accident. 

While I was away he went swimming with his cousin in a local irrigation channel and smashed his two front adult teeth on a submerged rock…his mouth was a horrific sight and he has been in a lot of pain.  Yesterday’s appointment saw the hospital’s dentist secure his teeth from moving with a temporary plaster like glue.  Although I did burst into tears when I found out about his accident, I am so grateful to God that my son is alive and did not hit his head.  I am also extremely thankful that his teethes nerves are still alive and that he is now feeling much better with his teeth firmly secured.

Being at home safe with my three boys takes my mind back to Gallipoli…while in Turkey we had an amazing visit there and reflective service.  I’m not going to try and say too much about my disgust of the politics involved in Gallipoli because I don’t want to argue with people over it.  As always I am writing from my experience...

A beautiful commemorative monument in Turkey visible from the ferry we took! 

But what I will say is that being at the beach front of Gallipoli as a mother of three beautiful sons, my heart broke.  My heart ached for all the mothers of both sides…I could imagine their heartbreak losing their beautiful sons and young husbands.

When I was a teenager I can remember racial discrimination against Turkish kids at school.  I can even recall the discrimination against Turkish people from the older generations…which is obviously where the kids got it from.  Australians are not always the most informed people.  There are many people who gain their opinions and perspectives from the uneducated racial slurs of others…and to be totally frank the humanities education I received in the state secondary school was not very broad.

Being in Turkey was a life-changing experience for me.  I was able to experience God’s love for this place and its people.  I looked into the faces of beautiful human beings made in God’s image, and experience their gracious hospitality and warmth.  I was blessed to see strong family and friendship bonds, and learn that the Turkish men’s humour is so crazily similar to us Aussies!  I was able to see that these beautiful people looked on us Aussies as brothers and sisters, and it humbled my heart!

The landscape at Gallipoli and along the west coast was absolutely stunning and I was so saddened by the thought that the young men sent there did not get to experience Turkey the way I was.  They call Gallipoli a gentlemen’s war, and it’s true that on both sides beautiful gentlemen were forced to endure…again I feel so blessed that I am not forced to lose my sons.

If I can leave you with one thought…it would be don’t listen to the racial slurs of others, or take flippant remarks as facts…seek wisdom yourself.  Don’t let fear enter your heart when it comes to people of other race or religion…ALL PEOPLE ARE MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE…yes all! 

The world needs more humanitarians to proclaim the Gospel…and we need to remember that WE ALL have sinned and fallen short of God’s holy requirements…WE ALL NEED THE GOSPEL AND ARE NOT ABOVE OTHERS!

In love, Melanie. 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


When travelling in Greece everything was so immense….so much so that at first I was overwhelmed…and could not help but think that Paul was indeed empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel here.

Part of the acropolis @ Athens!

First there were the mountains surrounding the cities which were like those I had only seen in pictures…yet they were so close by!  Sometimes I felt like an impostor…where were my flat farming plains and mountains of regular size?
Me with the view @ Delphi!

Yet that wasn’t all, because then there were the huge ancient pillars, structures and monuments everywhere, not forgetting to mention the acropolis’ containing ancient temples of massive proportion! At first I found myself looking up and feeling very insignificant…yet I was soon to learn that this was exactly what the ancient Greeks would have wanted as a part of their political agenda.

Corinth I must say was an amazing place – to stand in the area where St. Paul would have worked and preached was amazing!  Yet to imagine the temple prostitutes serving Aphrodite on top of the acropolis, I must admit did make me feel somewhat sick – I did gain a better appreciation of why ancient Corinth is sometimes called ancient Las Vegas…

Temple of Apollo @Corinth
The ancient stoa in Corinth where St. Paul may have been working as a tent maker. 

However Delphi was the place in which God revealed His heart to me and held up a mirror to my heart.

Visiting the ancient site of Delphi which the ancient Greek pilgrims visited to seek revelation from the female Oracles did open me up to a fresh revelation of God’s immense love and grace…You see to be totally honest I found myself once again sickened by the thought of the ancient Greeks using this place like a theme park for revenue and occult practices.  A thought came to my mind, something like, “if I was god I would have just wiped this place out!”
Delphi with the oracle temple @ the top left
And it was then that God held the mirror up to my heart and showed me that I was not that dissimilar to Jonah…I mean I had been a devoted Christian serving the Lord for quite a few years and was passionate about the truth being told, and sickened by this place!

But God reminded me gently that He still loved these people and that His ways are higher than mine!  We know that God wants to save all people…yet do we really grasp it after we’ve been saved for a while?  Do we remember that ‘nothing is impossible for God’?  For as we know Greece is still a Christian country today!

Amazing Delphi

I recognised that there was some of Jonah’s attitude hiding in me…Yes Jonah, the prophet I had taught children about and wondered about in relation to why he was so hard-hearted against the people of Nineveh…yet here I was in Delphi connecting with him.

But God did not leave me in that state and encouraged me by His example of true love and grace to not harbour resentment towards others, and to hold on to the fact that NOTHING is impossible for God!

Thank God we have such a patient and gracious God who shows us what real love and commitment looks like – I am so glad we are not left to our own devices to spread the Gospel.

Melanie J

Monday, 27 January 2014

Turkey 1 - Associations

Me @ Hierapolis...yes that's a tomb in the background!
Association…you know, the thing that happens inside you when you’re triggered by a special word, smell, sound, place or person…

I think associations are an inward sign that lets us know we have had a significant experience.

To say that I have returned unchanged from my New Testament study tour would be a lie. Indeed this trip has truly been a life changing event and one that I am pleased to say has filled me with many new positive associations.

I know for sure that if someone mentions the word turkey from now on, I will not instantly think of a tasty sandwich J

So many awesome things have happened on my trip that one blog will not suffice, so this is just the first, of how many I do not know…

St. John's basilica "Church of the cross" - Ephesus

Corinthians, Philadelphia, Greece, Turkey…these are just some of the words which now have awesome new associations for me!

Me @ the site of the church of Philadelphia!
There are some things in life which change you forever; like becoming a parent, reuniting with family, meeting Jesus…and I know this trip has been a new life event for me.

Usually when I return home from a trip I am excited and comforted by my familiar home sights.  At heart I am simply an Ordinary Aussie Woman…When I was driving home last night I was comforted to see my familiar home turf of flat, dry, farm acres and gum trees…yet I also had some emptiness inside, and I am aware that some of heart has remained in Turkey along with my footprints imprinted in the land.

Around three quarters of our New Testament is set in what’s now Turkey; so I suppose it’s not a surprise to some that Turkey has become a special place for me…however I am surprised because it’s not just a simple connection that has been made.  The connection is a deeply permeating one – a heart connection. 

The connection is actually a God one!

I believe this because there were actually many challenging aspects for me personally while travelling…Turkey being a Muslim country more so than Greece.  Yet I was surrounded by God’s love on this trip and in this land…I could feel His love for this place and people, and He connected my heart for the places and people with His…

So some of this Aussie woman’s heart remains with Turkey and its people, and although this realisation has come as a surprise it is welcomed, along with all my new positive associations…God is Good, love Melanie J

On a beach not far from Gallipoli!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Travel: From Kyabram to Turkey...

So God has made it possible for this Ordinary Aussie Woman to travel once again…

Very soon, God willing I will be embarking on a New Testament Study Tour with my college to Greece and then Turkey.

To say that I have endured emotional abuse during various periods previously in my life, I believe, would be a fair statement.  It’s not something that I deliberately blog about because God has done so much healing in me, and I also don’t usually blog about stuff unless it’s necessary.

However it’s interesting that since I became single, God has allowed for many opportunities for travel to occur…are these opportunities simply blessing, or does He have a greater purpose?

Only with more time will I fully know…indeed travel is only one such way God has been growing and blessing me during this period of my life…but it has been a huge one, so much so that I’ve known for quite some time that I’d blog about it to praise God!

Before my marriage ended I was quite emotionally damaged and I had lost a lot of my individual identity.  It’s interesting because although I was restricted emotionally and financially to what I could do I was still ‘carrying’ the family spiritually and emotionally.  I was the ‘mature’ one and backbone of our family…the pressure was at times intense.  This is not to say my ex did not try, or an attempt to put him down…he was literally absent a lot, working away from home.  He was unable to emotionally support us or lead us and when it got too tough he left.

God set to work to heal me…and during the first year I began to re-find who I was in Christ.  A part of this journey was some travel…now some of this which follows may actually sound fictional, however it’s not J

Previously to the separation I had been searching for my ex’s biological dad…I had messaged many men with the appropriate name via Facebook…months later (and when I was single) the right man messaged me because he had finally ‘found’ the in-boxed message which had went to the ‘other’ folder. This contact resulted in my first family holiday as a single-parent, with my three sons to a most beautiful part of Australia that I had never been to, or could have afforded to travel to…let alone with three sons!  I even hired a car and made a new Christian friend on the plane trip there.  Emotionally it was a difficult trip…it did grow me in many ways.

Last Easter again I took my boys away on a short family vacation, this time by car, to another place in Australia that we had not been to…then last school break we went camping for the first time with another new friend I made on a short get-a-way to visit my older brother, and her boys. 

This Ordinary Aussie gal, believe it or not, at 36yrs of age had not even seen our own Sydney Harbour…yet due to my study I was blessed to travel there for a course and be accommodated at my college at a very low cost…and yes, I made another Christian friend who so graciously showed me the harbour.  It was amazing!

Somewhere I always have wanted to travel to, yet have been unable to, is Tasmania.  My ex actually worked there for quite some time, yet the boys and I were unable to go.  Well last year on an ordinary Sunday, a family from Tasmania who were travelling around Aus rocked up to our service.  It was a total God encounter, because stuff like this doesn’t happen very often to me!! The woman and I began talking, and she just felt in her heart that we HAD to become friends.  She decided that my boys and I MUST visit them in Tassie and stay with them, sometime after their journey and whenever I was ready.  We have not travelled to Tassie as yet, but the woman still texts me, and God willing I hope to travel there with my boys sometime this year.

But as for now, the opportunity to travel to Greece and Turkey as part of my university degree has arisen…what an amazing opportunity to walk where Paul and many early church martyrs have proclaimed the gospel.  If not for this tour being a subject, I could not have this experience or pay for it!  Honestly, I have been a bit anxious as it is a big journey, and I don’t know what to expect in many ways.  Growing can indeed stretch one, yet God is always right there and carries me through.

I think I will miss my boys while I am gone, but I feel sure that this trip is in God’s plan for me as it has been confirmed in many ways.  So I will not be blogging for most of January, but of course I will write a post when I am home and tell you about the trip.

God is good and His steadfast love endures forever!  There is nowhere in our world that His love cannot reach…so this Ordinary Aussie Woman will travel!

God bless, Melanie J


Saturday, 4 January 2014

Joy In Purpose!

I have just finished watching ‘Verve’ part 1 with my three sons, it’s a DVD produced by Nick Vujicic.
 (Life Without Limbs) 
If you haven’t seen this DVD or heard of Nick (Another Aussie on fire for God – but now based in the US) then you really ought to check out this genuine man of God!

Nick’s Gospel presentation is truly ordained by God.  It has so much love and Biblical foundational truth in it, that I am not going to unpack it here…just check it out if you can.  One point however spoke very loudly to me…because life events (as you know if you’re familiar with my blog) did not go quite the way I imagined, when my ex-husband left our marriage almost 2 years ago.

With God’s help I was living my life the best I could…I wasn’t perfect, but who is…and I was trying to be faithful to God and my family.  Then very un-expectantly…BAM…I was knocked flat!

My life literally changed in a week.  I went from being a married mother able to care for her children, volunteering my time to great causes…To a single parent, forced to turn to the government for assistance.

I lost a husband, my parenting partner, my role as a wife, my status, my future dreams and some of my identity.

Nick said something in his presentation like this; “You may not be happy with your circumstances, but you can have JOY in your God-Given Purpose!”

And this is what stood out to me…because I can tell you, honestly sometimes I am not the most happiest woman around…sometimes I am actually tired, grumpy and even angry…sometimes I feel worn-out and at the end of my tether.   There still are plenty of happy times.

But, if you had of asked me before my ex left would I choose to be a single mother, I can tell you for sure that I would have probably laughed and said, “NO WAY!”

When I became single God gave me this verse more than once:

          ‘For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.’ Jer29:11 NRSV

It’s interesting because this verse was mentioned by more than one person on Verve.

You see, honestly my circumstances do not always make me happy…but I do have real JOY…it’s a JOY in knowing that although my circumstances are not always easy, I still am FORGIVEN & LOVED by God and HE has an amazing plan for my life…a truly good one and will use my experiences to help others.

I am NOT trying to talk myself up here…rather just be honest and truthful…you see life’s not all about me…it’s not about this Ordinary Aussie Woman.

Life is about God, for He is the source of life…He is the creator…The beginning and the end…There is no life without HIM!

Do you struggle with your life?  Can you imagine God has a purpose for you?

Have you given your life over to Jesus Christ 100%?  You know what I mean…like really 100%...

I have a purpose…a God-ordained one…and it’s NOT because I’m special…I am just an Ordinary Aussie Woman who was re-birthed by God when I called upon His name.  And He will do the same for you…just don’t expect to remain the same, for a life with purpose from Jesus Christ is truly exceptional.

As always, in love, Melanie.


Friday, 3 January 2014

Enemy Attack..

God has given me a heart for families and children and in some way or another, this is mostly how you’ll find me connecting with people and sharing the gospel…it may be in words or by actions.

This isn’t to boast, but just to give you an idea about who God has made me to be.

I am not the best Christian in the World or anything like that…indeed one of my ‘pressure points’ can be when I feel a child or mother is being taken advantage of!  Only yesterday I lost my temper with someone who was out of line with my children…I am not proud of this!

This is just one incident that has happened recently, that I feel was a part of the enemy’s attack.

We have been settling into our new home town and making efforts to show God’s love to others.  A part of this has taken me out of my comfort zone (though not out of my area of ministry) as I have actively been making new connections.  You see, for me it’s easier to show God’s love to people I am already connected to.  I actually need to extend myself to make new connections, because as we all know this takes time, patience and a lot of mental energy…and with 3 boys of my own sometimes I don’t feel like extending myself!

Even though I haven’t always felt like reaching out of late, because honestly I have been tired with all expended energy spent on Christmas and the New Year, I decided to try and be obedient to what God was putting on my heart…….


Here are some things that have happened…misunderstandings and hurt feelings, abusive unwarranted phone calls with family members, heightened anxiety, the altercation with the person out of line with my kids, rampant hormones, a new financial stress, a migraine and petty pressure from my landlord…

However through it all God has supported me and kept me strong when I have continually called upon Him. 

I have needed to ask Him to forgive me when I lost my temper and to make a way for peace.  I also have asked Him to help me forgive those who hurt me.  I know I need to remain humble, let go of the stress and resolve to not quit loving God and expressing my love in serving and reaching out. I also needed to reach out to God’s people during the most stressful times – downloading onto a trusted Christian has helped me to let go…to get the rubbish stress out of my head and resolve to not give up!

With all the talk of New Year Resolutions there may be many of you who are trying to make changes for the better…just don’t be surprised if all of a sudden there are unwarranted pressures that spring up because the enemy is evil and doesn’t want good things for you or others, he will bombard you where he knows you are most vulnerable.

However God is faithfully always at work and willing to support you…you just need to call upon Him…Why?  Because God is all about relationship and as you know relationships take two.  God is not some impersonal, puppet master…He is our creator who wants to connect with us through Jesus!


In love, Melanie J


Wednesday, 1 January 2014


A letter to my family and friends,
Happy New Year to you all! 
May you experience God’s peace this year of 2014.
I am sitting here in my home, satisfied and feeling very blessed.
My boys have just finished eating some homemade pumpkin soup and ice-cream for dessert…I know pumpkin soup is not the most summery dish, but you see the pumpkins were given to me and I don’t like to waste food when possible.  But I truly love to see my kids eating and enjoying healthy food that I have prepared for them, it makes me feel so good inside…and I have been thinking about my other friends who work so hard to show love and care for the children in their lives and the excitement of a brand new year.
Honestly I do not know what 2014 will hold for us, but what I am thinking about, rather than making resolutions, is fixing our attentions on continuing to love and serve the young people in our lives.
There always seems to be such a push for ‘new’ goals, ‘new’ plans, ‘new’ ideas and basically just new commitments due to the fact it’s a ‘new’ year…but what about a resolution to remain committed, rather than another self-orientated goal?
I understand this is counter-cultural and perhaps will be scoffed at by some who don’t really know me, thinking that I don’t really understand New Year resolutions at all!
But seriously we know that not many New Year resolutions are stuck to…
So today here I sit, thinking about all my wonderful friends and family members I know, who selflessly are so committed to the young people in their lives…I am truly blessed to know so many.
There are single-parents, married couples, aunts, uncles, grandparents and so on…
I see their heart and commitment when they sacrifice their time, money, energy and love in serving the young people in their lives.
So I decided to write a letter to you all to say, that I notice your efforts, either in person or via FB or Google+ and really want to encourage us all to stay committed to the young people in our lives!
There once was a time when I thought investing in young people was a waste of my time that I could be spending on myself - yes, admittedly this is sadly true!
But now I understand that every self-sacrificing act is a wonderful seed that gets planted into that young person’s life which will later bloom into something so beautiful…so let’s keep investing those seeds of love.
Love to you all, Melanie J