The Importance of Strengths

Ellie got her report today (from term 1) and immediately noticed where she hadn’t

done well. She cracked the sads and let us know she was dumb.

She actually got the equivalent of 2 cs and 2 bs which won’t make her a rocket scientist but neither is it reason to slit your wrists. However in the attitude and effort column she scored top marks in all 15 categories where questions were asked about perseverance, cooperation, respect for others and willingness to get involved.

The problem was she couldn’t read or comprehend the descriptors because they were written for parents, so it didn’t mean anything to her. I took some time before bed to explain them to her in kidspeak and what a difference. She didn’t realise that column mattered either, but as anyone whose been around knows very well ‘attitude is everything’.

When we got back to academia we began to talk about where she could get an ‘A’. I am a firm believer in the importance of developing strengths as a priority rather than bolstering weaknesses. So my offer to her tonight is ‘tell me what subject you love and where you want to get an A and I’ll work with you to see if we can pull it off’.

She has the right spirit so I reckon we’ll get there!

Transience Gives Me The Shifts

Some days suburban transience really does give me the irrits.

We have been gone 6 months and on Saturday we arrived back in our street and caught up with friends and neighbours and the church community we will be leading. It was beautiful to see those people again and yet what strikes me this morning is just how much has changed in just 6 months.

While we were gone a family who were amongst our closest friends and who lived nearby left – for Spain – not to return. We didn’t know they were going when we left, but we discovered it on the trip. That made us sad, the girls especially who were very close. Good friends would not be there when we got home. While we didn’t feel their loss so much on holidays, I imagine we will now that we are home.

Two other close friends from Upstream have also decided to move on – interstate – not to return – friends we love dearly and will miss greatly from our lives and our Christian community. They won’t be replaced overnight and we feel that too. We have been friends for 25 years and those relationships are like gold.

And then there’s our street… Since we’ve been gone 4 houses have sold and yesterday we discovered that the last of our original neighbours is selling and leaving. In a street of 12 houses we have now seen over 30 families come and go in the 6 years we have been here. We have some great neighbours and we all get on well, but I sometimes wonder how long they

will be around… and I suspect they may wonder the same about us.

As we wandered into church yesterday and sat quietly towards the back, we recognised many familiar faces, but were also curious to see plenty of new faces. I imagine there will be many more new faces in the year ahead as people move house and go church shopping (blech).

I don’t have any great insights on this, except to say that at times it erodes my own sense of permanence and commitment to the area, as the hope of longer term significant relationships seems quite remote – but maybe I was foolish to ever imagine that as a possibility?

And then at other times it strengthens my resolve to hang in and be some semblance of permanence and dependability in a shifting world.

Some days it just gives me the shifts…

69 Erections and Other Trivia From 6 Months on The Road


In the last 6 months we have put the camper up exactly 69 times, and we’re pretty damn good at it now! What began as a fumbling laborious process has now become a second nature type of routine, however I won’t miss it when we head home tomorrow. Life as a snail has its limitations!

As we head home tomorrow I thought I’d throw up some trivia from the last 6 months of traveling:

Travelled – 24985km from Perth clockwise back to Perth

Total Cost – $19849.00

Weekly Cost – $763.00 We were on $720.00 average for a long time, until we hit WA and had to stay in expensive caravan parks and do car repairs! Blech…

Total Fuel Cost – $4832.00

Photos Taken – 4653

Best Item Brought – coffee machine – apart from saving a small fortune we had great coffee all around Oz (as did plenty of people who bumped into us!)

Best Caravan Park – Pambula Beach was sensational, but close runners up would be Middleton Beach in Albany and Beachlands in Busso.


Palm Springs

Best Free Camp Site – Its a dead heat between Longreach Water in NT, a little place just 12km west of Elliot, and Palm Springs, 45km out of Halls Creek. I reckon a lot depends on the mood you are in when you visit a place and in both of these places we were feeling good. I reckon Johanna in Vic would be a great camp, but for us it was cold, wet and wild the day we were there.

Best Value Caravan Park – Mission Beach Council park where we stayed on a powered site for $18.00/night or Seaforth Campground where it was $15.00/night or $77.00/week. They were both in Qld and we have found that the banana benders are great on cheap places to stay.

Worst Caravan Parks – Minnipin and Eucla. We stayed at Eucla, but just laughed at Minnipin. Be sure to avoid when you travel.The other surprise in this category was Lighthouse Caravan Park in Exmouth.


Michael at Kuranda Coffee Republic

Best Coffee Kuranda Coffee Republic wins by a country mile. Brilliant! (To be fair I refuse to have coffee in cafes these days unless I know it gonna be good so there wasn’t much competition)

Best Book Read – The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus followed by The Life of Michael Petersen, were both brilliant reads.

Weirdest Moment – Meeting Jackson at Palm Springs


Barry helps Ellie feed the birds

Coolest People We Met – now this is really hard because we met so many brilliant people, but we both found ourselves really impressed by the little community of grey nomads who have made Seaforth their annual pilgrimage. They welcomed us and our kids with open arms and were a fantastic bunch of people.

Best Buy – Its a big toss up between the $1.00 trackies I got from the Warilla op shop, (I think I have wore them for about the next two months non stop) and the portaloo we picked up in Mission Beach. I will confess to being wrong on the need for this item. As much as the girls needed it more than the boys, on cold wet nights it is nice not to have to walk outside to find a tree!

Best surf – This is a tough one as the best waves were undoubtedly at Lennox Head, but Pambula beach was the most fun. Great waves, no crowds and I was in better shape by then too. The pic on the header is from the day we left. Magic!

Saddest Place– Nimbin – I wrote about our afternoon in Nimbin and the pain we saw in what is apparently utopia


Ellie Gets Her Prize

Biggest Buzz – When Ellie won her prize from Bindi Irwin – a very happy little girl!

Wildest Weather – Our night in Poochera was pretty full on with wind and rain and we baled on windy Cape le Grand, but otherwise we did pretty well.

Ongoing Frustration – kids needing to wee while driving… we need a better system…

Funniest moment – You might have to ask me… but lets just say it involves Enid Blyton and some of her character’s names…

Favourite State – NSW (yep – surprised me too!)

Favourite Place – Pambula ticked all the boxes in the ‘could we live here?’ test, even down to the ‘too small for a McDonalds’ requirement. We hope to do a country stint one day so who knows…

Dumbest Mistake – thinking a week in an apartment in Surfers Paradise would be an enjoyable break… It felt more like we were trapped 18 floors up in a noisy cell with a dodgy bed and nowhere for the kids to play.

Van for Next Time – We might just go again in the Eagle as there isn’t much we could fault about it, but we are attracted to the Jayco Expandas, with bunks for the kids and a shower onboard to make free camping a little easier. Its also 3 times the price…

Car For Next Time – not sure, but one with rear air con, better rear seat leg room and better economy. I’m thinking maybe a Prado turbo diesel.

Biggest Learning – it doesn’t cost as much as you think. We will be looking to do it again in a few years time.

Worst Drivers – Qld… sorry 🙂

Best Memory – so many, but the early part of the trip where we were leaving Perth behind and driving into the Pilbara was definitely up there.

Worst Roads – Qld! We renamed the Barclay Highway, the Barclay Track because it was so bumpy and crazy.

Thanks to those who have shared the road both physically and virtually. We have enjoyed the company of many good friends both on the blog and in person.

Now its back to real life…


Not any more!



Winding Down Winding Up

We left Busselton on Saturday, the first really hot day of spring, and headed up to Moore River to spend the last week or so of our holiday with the in-laws. All went well until we hit Perth and the air condecided to do its thing again. I still think its a really dumb idea to have an air con that cuts out when it gets too hot! I mean when you do you really need it?…

We spent the weekend with the Herdo family, some very good friends from LBC and Upstream days and we enjoyed catching up after the time away. It was good to see my folks on the way thru and Danelle’s folks, whose place we are staying at now.

I think its safe to say we are ready to re-enter normal life and even a little bit eager. So while we hang out in Moore River until this coming Saturday I know I will be gearing up for the next few months of church and retic work. Thankfully the phone is ringing with customers and the ideas have been flowing for church.

So, 5 days to go before its all over… and real life begins again…

Its been a hoot and its pencilled in the diary for 5 years time to do it again, but for now we leave the idyllic and unreal world of travel and re-enter the every day with some sadness, but mostly a sense of anticipation.

What Will It Be Like at 65?


I woke at 5.45 this morning and decided to do an early run to the beach and try to beat the crowds. I knew the surf was on the rise, the offshores were blowing and by 10.00am it would be crowded.

I went to Indijup Carpark first up, the place I had been the last two days and had some good waves, but there were already 8 blokes in the water by 6.30 and it wasn’t firing all that well. So I decided to head down to one of my other old favourites – Moses Rock – a bit of a swell magnet and one of the waves I used to surf regularly 10 years ago.

It had obviously been a while since I’d been there, as the road was now sealed and the carpark was neat and tidy. The swell lines were visible from a long way back and it looked like a good day out there. MR is a solid left hander that gives a big long wall and goes for ages, but its also peaky and unpredictable with waves often rearing up out of the blue, so it easy to get caught inside, get hammered and then face a hard paddle to get back out.

As I arrived in the carpark a set was rolling thru and looked magnificent. The wind was feathering the lip and while it wasn’t lining up perfectly it looked pretty damn good. There was no one out… and it was at this moment that I realised I wasn’t prepared to jump in the water as I always had…

I often used to surf this place on my own and sometimes it was a pretty challenging experience, but today I had that ‘don’t be an idiot’ voice in my head. Danelle was still in bed so it wasn’t her! It wasn’t huge – probably 4 or 5 ft, (but you can always guarantee a few bigger ones and you can count on getting caught inside for a bit too) however these days the ‘what ifs’ go thru my head a lot more than they used to. If there is no one else there then if anything happens I’m pretty stuffed.

I remember surfing here a lot pre-kids and that issue didn’t occur to me. I was 10 years younger, a bit fitter and had a few less people to worry about.

I imagine if there was another bloke there today we would have had a ball, but I just wasn’t up for it on my own. So I cruised back up to Smiths and had some very good waves with 3 or 4 blokes before the crowds started to appear about 9.00.

I noticed a difference in my willingness to take risks between 25 and 35. Now between 35 and 45 I observe it again. I’m scared to think what things will be like at 65. I might need to start intentionally working against it!



Does it ever strike you as odd that while many churches appoint ‘pastors’ and may even call them ‘Pastor X’, they don’t do the same with apostles?…

In my own tribe we don’t have much problem with the role of pastor, teacher or even evangelist, but when it comes to prophets and apostles we seem a little less interested, maybe even averse. I can tell you many churches that have appointed ‘pastors’, but none that I know of that have intentionally appointed an apostle or a prophet.

Why would that be?..

Doesn’t it seem odd that of the 5 broad areas of gifting described in Ephesians the role of apostle and prophet are most often left out of the 21st c church?

I was discussing this with a mate recently who has gone to the dark side and joined the AOG (humour… in case you are getting offended…) where there is a very strong emphasis on the importance of the apostle in church leadership, even to the point of people calling themselves ‘apostle X’. Leaders are intentionally appointed as apostles and their role is developed to reflect that kind of gifting.

I imagine we will have a tough time really developing apostolic leaders while we continue to refer to those in church leadership as ‘pastors’. If you’re actually gifted and wired as a pastor, then the role description of ‘pastor’ fits perfectly, but if people were to call me ‘pastor’ they would inevitably end up disappointed.

I know there are plenty of ‘apostles’ in pastor’s clothing in the churches I mix amongst, but I wonder what that does to their sense of identity and to the expectations of the people they lead?

Could it be that in a consumer driven world we like to hire pastor/teachers because they care for us and look after us and teach us , while the apostle’s primary focus is on new work and beyond the congregation which doesn’t represent good value for money to the average paying customer?

I would actually find it very wanky to be called ‘Apostle Andrew’ and I am not at all arguing for the use of titles (I neither want to be called ‘rev’, ‘pastor’ etc for similar reasons) but I am concerned that in a missionary context we recognise the unique gift of the apostle and prophet to the church every bit as much as the other three.

God Still Loves You

I picked this quote up the other day but can’t remember where, so sorry if I pinched it off you unacknowledged! It spoke to an issue I have been pondering so you might find it helpful too.

Nouwen: … Let me paint a picture. You’re in a big room with a six-inch balance beam in the center. The balance beam is only twelve inches off the fully carpeted floor. Most of us act as if we were blindfolded and trying to walk on that balance beam; we’re afraid we’ll fall off. But we don’t realize we’re only twelve inches off the floor. The spiritual director is someone who can push you off that balance beam and say, “See? It’s okay. God still loves you. Take that nervousness about whether you’re going to succeed and whether you have enough money — take the whole thing up on that narrow beam and just fall off.”

Foster: That’s one of the great values of reading the saints. They had this utter vulnerability to fail by human standards.

Moving Right Along – Albany – Denmark – Busso

After the dash from Esperance in the wild winds we finished up at Albany and the Big 4 caravan park right on Middleton Beach.


Pic: Middleton Beach

This is a brilliant location and a great park with heaps of facilities, but it was also the most expensive park we have stayed in over the trip at $51.00/night. We have discovered now that after some very good deals in Qld and NSW we tend to think that anything over $30.00 is a ‘bit steep’! It’s probably not, but we tend to be hunting out the bargains rather than just accepting that ‘its just what it costs’.

I love Albany. Its a beautiful place and the whole environment is sensational, but the weather… well, lets just say that in my last few holidays to this area (in December) we have had to start wood fires to keep warm. I am starting to lose a bit of faith…

While there we enjoyed lunch with the Vanderwals, dinner with the Sephto’s – hard to believe they were our old ‘youth group kids’, a morning surf at Nannarup Point and the obligatory visit to Toyworld. (Danelle and kids spent an hour in there while I read the paper.) Sadly my memory of my only surf in Albany was of uglylocals who felt it necessary to point out that I was a visitor and that they had lived there for 40 years… what the?…


Pic: camped at Ray’s place

We stayed 2 nights here before we observed the weather turning really ugly again. High winds and heavy rain were on their way… again… We had hoped to duck across to Cosy Corner, just 25 kms away, where there is a great free campsite, but given we would simply be stuck indoors waiting for rain to ease, we rang my friend Ray and teed up to stay at his place over in Denmark. He has a fantastic property sheltered well away from the wind and we had access to the house if the storms did become unmanageable. In the end we stayed in the camper both nights and although there was plenty of rain we stayed pretty snug.


Pic: Crazy country folks!

By contrast Ray and friends Paul and Abigail decided to use the first night as preparation for their Holland Track adventure and slept outdoors in their swags. I thought we were pushing it to be out in the camper, but these guys simply parked on the ground and stayed outside for the night in these tiny canvas coccoons.

We had a great time with these guys and were intending to head on from Denmark to Parry Beach. At $14.00 / night for the family and with a great surf beach right there I was getting excited. But the weather prognosis just kept on getting worse, so on Monday morning we said ‘stuff it’ and hopped in the car and drove to Busso where there at least looked to be some chance of seeing the sun.


Pic: view from Parrys campsite

We will keep Cosy Corner and Parrys as places to venture back to. Parrys especially looked nice with sheltered campsites and good facilities right on the beach. I understand it gets really busy in holidays, but maybe we will be able to hit it outside of them.

So I’m a tad disappointed…

I had hoped to invest a couple of weeks in seeing the great south – Bremer, Albany, Denmark, Walpole and surfing myself silly, but the ugly WA weather simply got the better of us.

We had considered packing up the whole show and heading for Kalbarri, but given that wind is our greatest enemy we decided that it wouldn’t be that smart to head for one of the windiest parts of the whole WA coast.

It looks like we will be home in around 12 days now and the adventure is coming to an end. I think we are all pretty much ready and yet at the same time a bit frustrated that we haven’t been able to enjoy some warmth. But then I’ve heard that this has been typ[ical of WA for the last 6 months and this is possibly the best 6 months we could have chosen to get out of there!

Blurring the Lines – Love or Abuse?

At what point should a government be able to over-ride parental rights and concern for children?

This was an underlying question to emerge from a story we watched on TV recently and that has been making news in Perth.

Last Sunday night we watched the ‘Sunday Night’ show as it told of a father and mother who have taken their 10 year old daughter out of Australia and back to her mothers home country to receive natural treatment for her liver cancer.

The story in brief is that during consultation with Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth the parents had been told that the best option for their daughter was chemotherapy, which gave her a 30% chance of life. (On the TV interview they increased this to a 50-60% chance…) However as parents they decided this was not a great option and wished to treat their daughter with natural remedies from El Salvador.

In response the hospital actually took legal action to force the family to have the daughter treated with chemo. If I remember the story correctly, it was on the night before the court verdict was due to be handed down that the mother and daughter fled the country and headed overseas to try and implement their own treatment methods.

A ‘complicating’ factor is that the family are Christians and see that God plays a part in whatever outcome occurs. Some would see this as another example of faith gone mad and put them in the wacko category. Phrases like ‘God gives and God takes away’ are true, but need to be used cautiously and with some caveats on television, especially when the intention of the story is to make you look foolish.

What made this story more interesting personally was that I watched it with the brother of the man involved – uncle to the little girl – and was privy to some inside information that was not shown on TV. The Sunday Night show chose a very definite ‘angle’ – that of parental neglect/stupidity and went after this man hard. (I am not mentioning the names of those concerned here to try and dodge the google searches). .

Perhaps the most serious issue arising from the story is that of ‘who decides what is best for my child?’

In this case the ‘state’ was almost certainly going to subject a young girl to a treatment of chemotherapy despite it having a very poor chance of success and despite it being against the express wishes of the parents and the girl herself. While it may be the best we have on offer, a 30% chance of success would probably see me asking ‘what else is out there?’ and should I pursue it.

But I may not have permission to do that.

The story showed the parents shunting their daughter off to a dangerous ‘third world country’ and using mud and herbal tea as remedies. It did everything it could to portray them as gullible, faith blinded people who were both naive and fatalistic. It was convincing and I’d have to say that agreeing to go on TV certainly did them no favours.

Regardless of the methods used and the failure or success of them, the question that stuck with me was ‘where does my parental authority cease to exist?’

I know we have child protection workers in our country who look out for children who are in genuine danger and being abused, but what about when the waters become murky and it is not abuse that drives parents to non conformist practices, but love?

I can’t say I was inspired by watching them administer the natural remedies, but then I have lived my whole life in a scientifically focused western world that has little time for alternative medicines. It’s a perspective that is strong and hard to sway away from, but what if this is actually the answer, or what if God chooses to heal?

As we finished watching the segment you literally had to scrape back the legal debates and questions over medical expediency and see a 10 year old girl who is sick and who needs help.

We prayed for her.

It might be simplistic too, but I happen to believe it is probably her best shot.

Did you see the show? If so what are your thoughts?