Brooke's Adventures

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Brooke's Australia Adventure Update - Winter 2015

Brooke’s Australia Adventure Update – Winter 2015, August 16, 2015

Greetings friends,
Well… if you are connected with me on social media, this probably won’t be a surprise, but we were very excited to welcome our third child into the world on Monday, the 3rd of August at 9:27 AM – Esther Eleora Filipovski. She, like her sister before her, decided not to wait for the due date, but to make her entrance a few weeks early, with her water breaking the morning of 36 weeks and 5 days (CC’s had broken at 36 weeks and 4 days). Thankfully this time I was at home rather than in Melbourne like I was last time making it much easier for Brendan to join me on the roller coaster ride of birthThis birth was very similar to Christabelle’s becasue while my waters broke naturally, I didn’t have any labour pains.  The hospital put me on antibiotics intravenously and since it was a Friday and they wanted to make sure she was 37 weeks before arriving (for her to be full-term), they waited until the Monday to do the c-section. This meant a weekend in hospital of waiting… But oh, is she ever worth waiting to meet! The night before we had our 20 week ultrasound scan that would tell us the gender, Brendan and I were at Connect group praying and Brendan felt that we were going to have a daughter and needed to choose a name with the meaning 'star'. Brendan also felt that our daughter would be like a light in the darkness.  After much research and mulling we decided on 'Esther' – which means 'stars in Persian and 'Eleora' – which means “The LORD is my light” in Hebrew. The morning her waters broke, we still had a few names in the running for her middle name, including Eleora, but my devotion that morning guided us to Eleora:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
“Light rises in the dark places when they are opened to My presence. Light dispels the negative and gloomy thoughts and feelings, and scatters the shadows of night. I am the Daystar, the Light-giver who brings hope and gladness to your soul. Welcome Me, My child, with a wide open door – for I come bearing precious gifts. You are not called to dwell in sadness or to pine for those things that cannot be. Let their absences free you to see their wonders I have to unfold before you, and be fully present to them. Trust Me to guide your way, to guard what you have entrusted to Me, to keep you and your loved ones safe from harm – and let My joy be your strength.”
Esther has been a beautiful delight so far. To be honest, her pregnancy was the most complicated of the three children and I was often saying how glad I’d be if she chose to come early. Apart from carpal tunnel and hypothyroidism, I also developed gestational diabetes in the latter part of her pregnancy and a liver issue at the very end which left me feeling very itchy at nights, often unbearable. Now that she is on the outside these side effects are gone or on the way out the door! Jeremiah and Christabelle have been enjoying being older siblings, as well as learning what it means that mummy has a new priority and the pecking order has shifted. Brendan has been able to be home with us since my waters broke (on paternity leave), so it has been great for the whole family to be together. Brendan and I celebrated 6 years of marriage on Saturday the 15th – 6 years and 3 children – it has certainly been a fruitful and blessed season of togetherness. God has been so faithful and has given us above and beyond what we could have asked or thought! This season of consolidating has given me pause to reflect as I have reviewed old cards and letters and momentos of days gone by. I found a letter I wrote to myself at the end of my year of study for my Masters and it had in it – goals for the next few months, 1 year from that date and 5 years from that date and it is amazing how much has been accomplished. I am so grateful for all God has done. The season I’ve had in Australia this past eight and a half years and even this past six plus at Young Life Australia, even this past year and a half at C3 Silverwater and all that we were able to contribute there with helping start crèche and being on the team with the playgroup and weekly connecting with mums and their children, it has all been so fruitful. 

1 Corinthians 2:9
"However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—"

This has been an especially busy season for us as we continue to prepare for our upcoming move to Macedonia. We have our plane tickets and plan on getting on a plane on the 15th of November bound for Macedonia. As we've been praying and preparing, we decided that we would sell our unit rather than rent it out. So, we listed it in the past week and had our first open house on the 15th. It is a property launch campaign that will culminate on the 22nd of August with contracts all needing to be submitted that day (like a silent auction). It has been a serious time of de-cluttering and selling of items in our house, in addition to giving things away and packing up what we might store and of course cleaning and preparing our home. Thankfully it culminated with Brendan being on paternity leave (thanks to Esther's early arrival - her due date originally was the 23rd of August and even had been booked in for a planned c-section on the 17th), and it has been so great to have him help so faithfully around the house and help with the children in this busy time. We've both been seeking to end other parts of our life well also, particularly me as I was preparing for the birth of Esther. One massive finish was going on maternity leave with Young Life and officially finishing up my position as Area Manager for Ryde. Before I finished, we weren't able to hire someone in the position, but we did hire Becki, that great female leader I mentioned in my last update who has been so wonderful on the team, in a Field Staff position. She has been doing brilliantly in that role, helping manage the team of volunteer leaders helping club to happen each week and making sure contact work at our different high schools is happening. The wonderful news is a new Area Manager has now also been appointed since I've been on leave and she is a dear friend of mine, Bek Donders. She's such a remarkable woman with great experience working with young people in a dynamic role at Rising Generations for many years. She has incredible skills with people and I know her heart is in the right place for this role. I'm excited for her to make this position her own and would ask you to pray for her as she transitions and begins to meet everyone and learns the different balls that are juggled in the position. 

Psalm 139:13-18 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand - when I awake, I am still with you." 

We've had an Open House goodbye here in Sydney in July and it was wonderful to see so many people from different spheres of our lives gather together in our home for the last time. Our plan is once our house moves, to have some time living in Newcastle with our family and enjoy that proximity and relationship until we head to Skopje. Brendan will continue to work and commute in this season and I will continue to be with the children in this season, relishing maternity leave, and continue to consolidate our possessions. I'll also be working on the necessary fundraising for the role I'll begin next year part-time: Skopje Area Manager in Macedonia. Young Life Ryde is hosting an Afternoon Tea Goodbye for our family on Saturday the 29th of August for those of you in Sydney that would like to say goodbye and want to hear about what exciting opportunity awaits us in Macedonia. It will be held at Llew Morris' home at: 12 Ryedale Rd, Denistone and if you are able to make it, please RSVP to Ryde Committee Chair, Michelle Loxton at: for catering purposes. If you are unable to make it, but would like to be added to our prayer support list, please e-mail me back, as you can imagine, any and all support is so valued. 

Proverbs 4:18 "The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day." 

We've also been able to have some goodbyes to some different communities here that have meant so much in our lives including an incredible gathering that happens every month that we originally met at. We don't make it to it monthly, but the folks that are a part of this gathering really do mean so much in our lives and it was very special to share with the group where we are headed and to be prayed for by these folks. I've also wrapped up my time serving with C3 Silverwater and felt so much love as I was sent off by the leaders and fellow servants on both the creche team and with children's ministry and those incredible mum's from the playgroup. We feel so incredibly blessed that we were a part of such a great church family in our early marriage years with C3 City and in this past year and a half at C3 Silverwater. It has meant so much to live close to Silverwater and to be able to be a part of more in the weekly life of the church. One incredible way to be involved this year was to help with the Everywomen day and night events our church has been holding. It has been wonderful to share in the life of the church through praying and planning and serving to see women come together around the theme of "Dream Again" this year. 

 Matthew 5:16 "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." 

Thank you for journeying with us and for your prayers for us in this season. 
 Blessings and love, Brooke

Monday, May 04, 2015

Brooke's Australia Adventure Update - Autumn 2015, May 4, 2015

Brooke’s Australia Adventure Update – Autumn 2015, May 4, 2015

Greetings friends,

Well the summer is finally over here and autumn has officially come, complete with lots of rain and storms (even some flooding), cooler temperatures (finally) and the changing colours of leaves. Looking around the world news of late with earthquakes in various locations (particularly in Nepal) and other natural disasters, we realise how blessed we are to have weathered our storms here unscathed. It has been a good few months having Brendan around more, as this is the first time in four years he isn’t out a night studying, but he’s switched that for joining a local soccer club in Parramatta, something he has wanted to do for many years. Life has seen a good rhythm of work and preparation for what is to come and time seems to be flying. I’ve become a bit obsessed in the past month with trying to cull/downsize our possessions and have become something of an e-Bay entrepreneur (according to Brendan).
Luke 10:1-7
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.  He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.  Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’  If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.  Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.”
The pregnancy continues to progress well as I am 24 weeks today, so 16 weeks give or take to go until we meet the newest Filipovski (due on the 23rd of August). Unfortunately I have gotten carpal tunnel syndrome again (as I suffered with Jeremiah’s pregnancy) and at only week 16 – so I’m back to wearing my Robo-Cop style wrist guards to bed and shaking my hands at to relieve the pain when typing or even cutting up the kids food becomes too painful. But on the whole, all is good and I am so grateful the baby and I are healthy. God is so good!
Young Life in Ryde has had a good start to the year with a steady stream of teenagers attending club and a few new regulars coming along. I’m very pleased to announce we have a new female leader, Becki, who is a real answer to prayer in her maturity and love of Christ and desire to serve. We’ve not been able to find a replacement for my position yet, but have launched a second round of advertising that will close on the 12th of May and we pray will have the right applicant beginning to work alongside me by the beginning of June. I’d love for you to be praying for the leader God would have next for Young Life Ryde.
Young Life Sydney joined with other Young Life areas in Bathurst, Canberra and Dubbo to go on a waterskiing camping trip with Ski Mission in March which, although very wet and cold, offered up some great bonding opportunities with teens and leaders alike. There were over 50 of us gathered and truly huddling together, and laughing at crazy games and antics of silly leaders. Choosing to remain in the mud all together creates memories that a gorgeous weather weekend might not have had. I always love looking at the stars when you leave the city light pollution behind and having the chance to have meaningful Jesus conversations with young people when their mobile phones have lost reception and there’s no way to charge their batteries any way.
At club this year we’ve also launched the Alpha Film Series ( to help share the gospel fortnightly during the talk portion of club. These videos are specifically aimed at teenagers and are created by the same Alpha Christian course that over 24 million people have taken worldwide to explore Christianity. The film series runs for approximately 18 minutes and has a few portions of the video where questions are asked and answered first in voxpop style where many different people in different cities around the world answer the question and then we pause the video so the young people can discuss in our group. There are 12 films in all and so far we’ve seen 5 of them and they’ve allowed for some great thoughts and beliefs to come forward in the group, as well as good teaching to happen.
Jeremiah 20:9
But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”
Recently I have also been working on our plans to help start Young Life in the Former Yugolsav Republic of Macedonia. My plan is to start as the Area Manager in the capital of Macedonia, which is called Skopje. The aim is to develop a local and sustainable ministry in Skopje and then to hopefully expand outwards as God leads and opportunities open up. I will remain employed by Young Life Australia but will also come under the authority of Young Life International (Mid-Europe Region).I My direct bosses will be in the Czech Republic and Germany, so not quite as direct as sharing an office with the CEO of Young Life Australia, but the great thing is the closest new Young Life office has been established in Sofia, Bulgaria – so only a two and half hour drive from Skopje. It has been really amazing to see how the Lord has gone before us into this region of the world and prepared hearts too. It is so exciting to be continuing to mentor and serve young people and prayerfully lead them to Jesus. This groundbreaking and forerunning role is one that really gets me feeling the passion of the Lord in my heart, but I’d be lying to say I’m not also a bit daunted by what we are stepping into. I had a dream the other night that I was in Europe speaking with another ex-pat missionary about their experience of leaving everything behind to follow the call of the Lord. Their comment to me was an old expression, “How do you eat an elephant?” My response came, “One bite at a time.” When I feel overwhelmed, all I have to remember is that I have one day at a time to make decisions about what next to sell, give away, or prepare my heart for and as long as I am faithful to make those choices as they come, God will not overwhelm me. It is a huge task, but He has promised that He will not give us more than we can handle.
I’ve begun to work on the budget and the next several months will begin to fundraise to help raise that with the expectation that when I finish maternity leave at the end of this year, I will begin that work in January 2016. If you are interested in hearing more about this role, or would be interested to be a part of the team of prayer supporters and/or financial investors in this Kingdom work for Macedonia, please write to me and I’ll add you to our list when I begin this next phase.
Echoes of Eternity devotion for May 1st
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getting understanding. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Proverbs 3:13,17
“Walk in My ways today, My child. My ways are ways of blessedness and peace. Mine is a safe way-surrounded by all the protection you need from the enemy.
Leave to me the concerns about the future – your future and that of those you love. The future is in My hands, and you can safely entrust it to Me.
Redeem the time. The days are short and much has been wasted in your past years. But it is enough – and I will be with you to claim the present for My purposes. Be of good cheer!”
These past few months have also meant a few wonderful family celebrations. Jeremiah and Christabelle were christened on the 15th February in the Macedonian Orthodox Church, St Mary’s in Broadmeadow, where Brendan and I were married. It was a lovely celebration of faith and a time for the family to gather and enjoy fellowship, dancing and the culture of the Macedonian side of the family. We held a reception in the Macedonian cultural hall and it was great to meet the sweet people who helped put on the day for us and see many extended family we haven’t seen for quite a while. Brendan found himself feeling very proud on the day and overwhelmed and God was present in all of the festivities. We also celebrated Brendan’s father’s 60th birthday with a special trip with the family up to Queensland on a surprise family holiday. It was his wish for everyone to have some time together and it was wonderful for our children to get to play with their cousins. The food was lovely and it was a meaningful time to celebrate both Zivko and Brendan’s sister, Angela’s, birthdays. It’s so important to make memories like this as we know leaving Australia we aren’t sure how long we’ll be gone or how often we’ll be back. We also were able to spend the Easter long-weekend with the family and enjoyed a relaxing time of board games and reading. We also got to splash around in a kayak. Although there were days of solid rain we also got a few last glimpses of summer.
Our little family of 4 (plus baby bump) was also able to get away for my birthday weekend in February with our last camping trip of the season to a gorgeous beach-side spot in Jervis Bay called Green Patch. This is an amazing spot where kangaroos jump past your tent site, the sand is powder-white and the water crystal clear water. I got to try paddle-boarding for the first time discovered a new found fun hobby I hope to indulge in, in years to come.
A last great family time in the past few months was getting to see some of my side of the family, the first family we’ve seen for almost two years. My dear Aunt Donna (my mom’s sister) and Uncle Bill flew all the way Down Under to say hello and take a tour of Australia and New Zealand. We enjoyed a full and fun two days with them showing them our favourite spots in the Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley wineries. It was a real treat to have them here and made distance from my family that little bit easier.
The last great event of our past few months has been C3 Presence Conference for our church movement. Again, this event was held in the Darling Harbour area of Sydney at the QANTAS Credit Union Arena (formerly the Entertainment Centre) and for the first time, I was able to attend every session. Jeremiah was old enough to enter the pre-school room which meant I was able to be more present during the sessions. Sometimes Christabelle would sleep during worship or have a nap in the afternoon session, but when she was active, we would head to the parent’s room, and the great thing was there were 6-8 other families from our church there with kids CC could play with and I could sit and enjoy the live feed of the sermons with. Presence Conference is always a great time to soak in worship and lay down your cares at the feet of Jesus. It was also great hearing from world-class speakers. This year the line-up included Steven Furtick, Steven Rodriguez and Daniel Kolenda, as well as Phil and Chris Pringle and worship by Darlene Zchech and Israel Houghton. One of the best times was hanging out with another family from C3 Silverwater, the Evans’ – their two girls are almost the same age as our kiddos – and we shared almost every break and dinner together. I’ve so appreciated the way God gave us a local church home this past year and the way we’ve been able to connect so deeply in such a short time. It was wonderful that Brendan was able to come a few nights of the conference as well.
“The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized within the lifetime of the opportunity.”
– Daniel Kolenda quoting evangelist Leonard Ravenhill
So, as I close, I’m reminded just to share how much we are enjoying this season with Jeremiah and Christabelle. They really are the best of friends and have so much fun playing together. They’ve started kindergym this term, which is like gymnastics for toddlers. They both love the trampolines and the free play trying all the equipment. CC loves to dance around the house saying she is a dancing fairy and JJ has discovered the joy of his soft toys, taking his monkey Sam Sam with him almost everywhere. It has been fun to see the way CC has become so mothering of her dolls and other babies we see, she especially is excited about the new baby on the way.

Thank you for journeying with us and for your prayers for us in this season. 

 Blessings and love, Brooke

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Brooke’s Australia Adventure Update – Summer 2015, February 1, 2015

Greetings friends,

I know this isn’t a landmark statement, but something you probably realise over and over yourselves, and something that I’ve had to re-learn again and again in my life: I AM NOT IN CONTROL. Yes, it may seem at times as if I am in control of certain aspects of my life, but really, even with discipline and determination (which I have), there are certain things I cannot control. When I became a mum, or even started on the journey to try and have children, and even the start of getting into a relationship with my beautiful husband, who I am very different from, I’ve learned much about things I can’t control. But it seems to be a lesson I just have to keep learning. Yes, I have desires, and goals that I can work hard towards, but none of us know what a day will bring. So, the latest lesson for me in this is that Brendan and I had decided after CC turned one that we would try to see if we could have one more baby in Australia before moving to Macedonia. So, we tried... for a number of months and at the end of our “trial” it hadn’t happened and decided we would stop trying and continue to focus on our move instead... Well, can you guess what happened? The month we stopped “trying” God allowed a baby to be conceived. I’m just finishing up the first trimester now and we’re excited to announce there will be a new Filipovski joining us around mid-August. So, this does mean that we learn to be flexible again and rather than fly to Macedonia and move at 6 months pregnant, we postpone our move to have one more Aussie baby and then hope to move, depending on health and logistics in the last quarter of the year.
Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”
These past few months have been filled with celebration and surrender to a loving God who knows the best plans for us and for our family. We rejoice in the opportunity to be parents again to a little child that we may love and teach about the love of their heavenly Father. JJ and CC are also very excited and when I had my booking in appointment at Westmead Hospital JJ asked when I came back from meeting with the midwife, “where is the baby?” If only it could be that simple - a 15-minute appointment and only 12 weeks down and only a few kgs gained! I am feeling well I found out I was pregnant 11 days into my 31 day Freecember Challenge, that you may have seen me mention on Facebook. Freecember was an unexpected delight to be a part of. My friend Tate in London that I met at the All European Staff Conference for Young Life in May in Spain had messaged me a few days shy of December to let me know of this idea he had to raise awareness, and hopefully some needed funds, to combat human trafficking in the world. He wanted it to be an organic beginning to what he hopes to snowball in future years where participants would sign up to walk, run, cycle, whatever self-propelled movement they choose, to go 100 miles during the month of December. As you did this mileage you would wear an upside-down purple ribbon to hopefully spark conversation with those around you about the issue of human trafficking in the world today and what some are doing to combat it. So, Tate was going to start this in London this past December and had a friend in LA that was willing to do it there, so he messaged me wondering if I’d know anyone in Oz that might be willing to do it too. I thought – how awesome but then straight away thought, I certainly can’t do it! Exercise and having young children are always hard combos... but the idea stuck with me over the weekend and as it was so close to the time of the start and I didn’t think I’d be able to ask anyone else to do it so close to the time, I thought well if Brendan’s happy for me to get up really early and help with the kids if they wake up before I get back from my efforts, I could do it... it helps that in our hemisphere December is summer and has the longest days of the year with the sun rising around 5:30 am. Brendan agreed and I started.
I worked out that 100 miles is 161 km, averaging about 5 km a day that I should attempt. So, I began and the first day walked the kids in the double pram just 3.5 km to the library and back and so it began. I found that I actually woke up before my alarm most mornings and found I had great motivation for doing this because I believed in the cause and enjoyed the time of solitude running and walking and occasional conversations with friends and neighbours along the way. It took me more motivation after I realised I was pregnant and the nausea kicked in a bit, but I was committed and am grateful to say I was able to complete 103 miles by the end of the month and raise above and beyond my original goal of $1 per km for both The A21 Campaign in Australia ( and International Justice Mission in the US ( If you are interested in learning more about Freecember or would continue signing up next year check out:
"Nothing is really lost by a life of sacrifice; everything is lost by failure to obey God's call."
- Henry Parry Linden, Nineteenth Centur
These past few months has also been filled with a few weeks out of Sydney. The first trip was 10 days away in November, the first week to attend my final residential for the Arrow 12 program and attend graduation from the program. It was a wonderful week focused on evangelism and the speakers and program continued to challenge and encourage each of us in our ministries. It was a lovely last week and they even acknowledged two other ladies and me that had given birth at some point in our 2 year Arrow journey by presenting us with miniature graduation certificates for our children, it was very special.
 Immediately from Melbourne I flew down to Hobart, Tasmania, it was my first time in the Apple Isle. How this transpired was that our houseguest Bayli was finished with her studies and waiting to begin her exams and hoping to travel to some more places in Australia. On her list was Tasmania and as I hadn’t been there either, and there are some wonderful Young Life friends there, I suggested I contact them and see if we might be able to stay with them. Well, it all turned out and Bayli ended up there a few days before I arrived and we were able to spend the weekend together there with the Jordan family. While there we had the opportunity to visit the newly started Hobart Young Life club, the famous Salamanca markets on Saturday morning, try a curry scallop pie (a local favourite), and go visit Port Arthur, the infamous penal colony about an hour and a half’s drive from Hobart. The weather was clear skies and sunshine and a lovely cool temperature that was a nice change from the heat and humidity Sydney was experiencing in the spring. There are absolutely gorgeous flowers all through Hobart and the grounds of Port Arthur were very stunning to explore. Fudge and Tania and their family live in a beautiful spot overlooking a water view and we found wherever we went in the area, it was picturesque. Bayli and I braved a climb up Mount Wellington on the Sunday after church: a 2 hour walk up to see the gorgeous view. We’d heard that the weather can change a lot on the mountain and on our climb up we were sweating a little walking up vertically at times through rocks and fern valleys. Yet, on the top the wind was icy indeed and you can see how snow can land up there.
On the Monday we visited the world famous MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), which was an interesting visit that we accessed by ferry from Hobart. I’d say it is not for children, but if you are willing to be challenged by art, it is worth a visit. Hobart was full of charm and it was lovely to have a little holiday with Bayli before she headed home in mid-December.
In December we were also able to attend a family wedding in Newcastle and bring Bayli with us to show her Brendan’s hometown and the gorgeous Nelson Bay. Over the holidays we were able to be back up there for a week with Brendan’s family and enjoyed the beaches, wonderful food and nice time of relaxing with family.
As Jeremiah grows and understands more of what is said to him, and also remembers more, it has been interesting to note what comes out of his mouth. Just before the holidays he said to me: “First we have a swimming lesson, then we go to Newcastle, then we move to Macedonia, then we die.” Which technically, in that order, everything was correct, but it is a little more involved than that! It’s beautiful watching these little children grow into more articulate little people!
Our family also had a week away in mid-January for our annual Young Life Summer Camp in Jindabyne. It was an incredible week! One of the smoothest and most peaceful I’ve ever seen – no doubt due to the increased focus on prayer the prayer team gave to it this year and all the extra recruiting that was done to bring and train a larger team of volunteers to support the cabin leaders and campers. It was a wonderful week to serve together with folks from all walks of life and all areas of Australia that love Jesus and are committed to creating a sense of heaven on earth for the young people that come, giving them the best opportunity to hear the good news, and hopefully respond to that. There were 12 young people that did make that life-changing decision to put their faith in Christ for the first time, many others that re-committed, and all the rest of the 105 teenagers and others that had seeds planted we trust Jesus will use for His glory. Brendan and I served as Head Cabin Leaders again and had the great honour of partnering with Adrian and Ansia from Bathurst in this great work of loving, serving and encouraging  the cabin leaders as they give so much to make sure these young people have the best week of their lives. Straight from camp we headed to the South Coast to Nowra where Brendan was the Best Man at his uni mate Trevor’s wedding. It was a very lovely weekend of wedding events with a BBQ to kick off on the Friday, a beautiful outdoor wedding on the Saturday in the grounds of 100 year old sandstone mansion with an amazing reception, and a brunch on the Sunday near the beach. The events really showcased the splendour of the area and gave lots of opportunities for good conversations to take place with all the other guests. JJ and CC were very well taken care of both at camp and the wedding following with an incredible crèche put on at camp this year for the 20 children of staff and volunteers aged 9 and under. At the wedding a nanny service catered for, played with, and even had mattresses set up on the floor for them to watch movies on as the night progressed. It was a very fun and action packed 10 days away as a family and since then the kids and I have enjoyed settling back into Sydney life as the school holidays finish up and get ready for our regular schedules.
 “To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, to think quietly, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open hearts; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never... To let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.”
-William Ellery Channing, Nineteenth Century
Our regular life this year consists with me continuing to serve at Young Life Australia 2 ½ days a week until I go on maternity leave in mid-July (and prayerfully we’ll hire a replacement for my position in the coming months to have some overlap). The kids will continue to go to Newcastle each week to spend time with their grandparents as I work and we’ll enjoy participating in playgroup at our church on Thursdays.
Both Jeremiah and Christabelle are a delight to parent and continue to make us laugh and at times melt our hearts. JJ especially can be very sensitive and say sweet things to me like, “you’re a good mommy” (usually after I’ve put on his favourite TV showJ). He really seems to be making sense of the fact we’ll be moving later in the year and talks about it more regularly. Christabelle is a very active 20-month old who delights in putting her toys all over the house each day and thinks packing up is fun except that she just wants to dump them all out over the floor at the end as well. She is very strong-willed and one challenge we are having lately is keeping her arms in her car seat, but we think we’ve got a strap to fix that issue.
We’d appreciate your prayers as we continue to work on the Macedonian language and make all the decisions required to effectively wrap up life here and prepare for life there. God has continued to put us in touch with strategic contacts there and we rejoice in that, we trust Him to make our way smooth and appreciate your joining with us in those prayers.

Thank you for journeying with us and for your prayers for us in this season. 

 Blessings and love, Brooke

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Brooke's Australia Adventure Spring 2014 Update

Brooke’s Australia Adventure Update – Spring 2014, November 5, 2014

Greetings friends,

Our family has just experienced quite an unexpected week – where Brendan’s Dedo (paternal grandfather) passed away suddenly last Tuesday. Our children were already in Newcastle, so it meant that Brendan and I just headed there straight after work that day and stayed for the rest of the week. This is the third passing of a family member of Brendan’s I’ve experienced since being with him these past almost eight years, but the first since being his wife. When death happens, life comes into perspective and you have time to reflect. I’ve been privileged to witness the sobriety of the mourning tradition Brendan practiced following his Baba’s death and now I am learning to practice it in these six weeks following his Dedo’s death, including limiting entertainment and dressing in dark colours. It is hard to have the kids practice these, but I am grateful our young children were able to be a part of the ceremony too and that we were still in Australia when it happened. I appreciated the time together as a family also. It was also good to reminisce on happy memories that Brendan had of his Dedo from growing up and I feel so grateful my kids got to know him a little as he lived next door to Brendan’s parents, where they go each week. JJ will remember him as the one who would give him bikkies (cookies) and CC probably won’t remember her kisses to him, but I know they softened his heart.
Revelation 21:4
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Most of my life revolves around the other end of the spectrum, the beginning of life, not the end of it. Not just with my own home life full of nursery rhymes, singing and noisy toys, but also with the weekly playgroup I’ve been helping organise at church with my Brazilian friend Fabiana. It has been a great friendship that has blossomed while working together and I’m glad we’ve began to have some themed sessions and an excursion and even a fun mum’s night out for dinner. I’ve also gathered a team of mum’s at church (that Fabi’s a part of) to start a crèche for our one and two-year-olds to have a safe space to be lovingly looked after and have a bit of Godly input into their young lives, while allowing their parents an opportunity to be able to really experience the worship service on a Sunday morning. Prior to this, these children were in the service with their parents, or their parents would watch via live feed and be caring for their children in a shared room with toys, etc. I had experienced the beauty of a crèche and watched Jeremiah create lasting friendships with other children at church from our time at C3 God in the City and was so pleased when our leaders at C3 Silverwater were happy for us to launch one at our campus. It has been a few months of vision casting and gathering some willing volunteers, but I’m looking forward to seeing how God blesses it. In our second week, the first time it was announced, we already had 19 children – so we’ll definitely have to expand our team if that keeps up! It is such a blessing to be caring for children and to see them continue to grow and learn.
“Visions thrive in an environment of unity. They die in an environment of disunity.” – Visioneering by Andy Stanley
CC is now speaking in sentences of a few words and really understands so much including when to put her shoes on and off and where to put them, and also knows there’s milk in the fridge and how to open the fridge door, which makes life interesting. JJ continues to be boisterous and is enjoying being back to swim lessons and is solo with the instructor in the pool now. Both kids are enjoying the warmer weather (as are Brendan and I) particularly now that the City of Parramatta has put in some new splash parks right near our house. CC even knows when we get close and starts screaming: “splash park, YEAH!” We also decided to re-join Wet n’ Wild for the annual pass and went in with some friends to get a deal, which made it even more affordable, and also means I can take the kids with my friend and her kids often this summer as our play date time which will be great. We are really excited about summer coming, and the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had recently has meant we’ve had an excuse to play tourist with Bayli, our house guest, and take her to the beaches of: Bondi, Palm Beach, Curl Curl, Mona Vale and Collaroy in the past few months. Sydney is such a beautiful city and it has been wonderful being able to visit some iconic spots again.
These past few months have also brought some new found hobbies into my life, quite surprisingly. For our five year anniversary, my beloved hubby bought me a long-board skateboard, upon request. The tradition is for the five year anniversary gift to be wooden! It has been quite fun to try to learn this new sport and has leant to some fun outings as a family where JJ has his newly acquired scooter (a reward for mastering toilet training) and Brendan has his Razor scooter and CC will sit on the skateboard with me sitting behind her scooting along. For JJ’s third birthday we even threw his party at the safety bike path near our home in the Holroyd Gardens to encourage the new scootering, but it is amazing how much kids always seem to enjoy their friend’s ones more than theirs; we are all still learning J. The second new hobby is playing acoustic guitar. For years now at Ryde Young Life we haven’t had any muso’s as part of the team and have resorted to singing along to an i-Pod top 40 songs and it has become obvious that this part of our club night wasn’t working the best. With a new leader not afraid to voice his concerns, we began discussing options and I thought well, if no one else will put their hand up, I’m willing to try and learn. Since a few of the boys on the team actually had guitars but weren’t using them, I’ve borrowed one and have started teaching myself using YouTube, books from the library and any willing person I meet willing to teach me a thing or two, and getting heaps of advice. One of the really cool things with this is that there’s a year 10 girl, Skyler, that I love to catch up with regularly and within a month of my starting, she had started having lessons, so she’s been willing to “jam (very loose interpretation of the word)” with me and even accompany me on club nights. We’ve only attempted a few songs so far, but hopefully momentum, confidence and skill will grow. It is funny because skateboarding and guitar playing are skills and interests I tend to associate with teenagers (boys in particular) and not mum’s in their mid-thirties (gulp!), but I love that there are always new things to learn and it is really good to get out of my own stereotype for myself and try something new that I’m actually enjoying. A book that I read helped me immensely in even considering longboarding and thinking about other crazy acts of kindness and taking risks for God, it is called “Love Does” by Bob Goff and I’d highly recommend it.
“You know what it is about someone that makes them a friend? A friend doesn’t just say things; a friend does.” – Love Does by Bob Goff
These past few months have also been full of Brendan and I finishing up our studies and keeping the home fires burning in between the running around. I am so proud to say Brendan’s now finished all the coursework for his Master’s degree and will be graduating in the New Year. He has worked so hard and I’ve been very impressed by his devotion to his studies coupled with his full-time work load. I too will complete my Arrow Leadership course in just over a week’s time, as our final residential takes place the second week of November with our graduation included in that. It is hard to believe that these past two years are coming to an end. Although it hasn’t been a traditional study load, there has been much inventory taking of my current and future vocational goals and direction and it has been an intense time of reflection and learning. We are both excited to complete these courses as it opens up more capacity to put into practice the conversations regarding moving we’ve been having with folks on the ground in Macedonia. We still expect and are preparing to move mid-year 2015 and for my position with Young Life Australia we will begin to advertise for the role very shortly. If you know anyone in the Sydney area who might be interested, please do pass on my contact details. Having been in the role for almost six years, I have a sincere desire for it to be passed on well and to have a few months of overlap with the successful applicant to do a thorough job of transitioning them and introducing them relationally to all the relevant people. Please pray for this recruitment process and for it to be a smooth transition time. As the club year is coming to a close our focus is very much on recruiting for Summer Camp 2015, to be held once again in Jindabyne, Snowy Mountains, NSW. The camp dates are January 11-17, 2015 and we are of course actively recruiting a massive team to help put on the most excellent week of camp for young people to really experience God’s tangible love for them. If you’d like to be a part of it in any way – serving on camp as part of the team, coming to see a night or two as an adult guest, helping financially with a camper struggling to pay the full fees, please go to our website to find out more information: I’ll end this update with a fantastic scripture that was introduced to me at a Healing School I attended in the end of September with my blessings for you and your families and for God’s word to be alive and active in the communities you are a part of.
Exodus 23:26 “There shall be no barrenness or miscarriage in your land.”

Thank you for journeying with us and for your prayers for us in this season. 

 Blessings and love, Brooke

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Brooke's Australia Adventure Update, Winter 2014, August 6, 2014

Brooke’s Australia Adventure Update – Winter 2014, August 6, 2014

Greetings friends,
Romans 12:13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
This past few months for our family has been filled with seeking to practice hospitality and receiving the abundant gifts that come when you open your home and lives to others. At the same time, we have also been privileged to receive some hospitality as well. The scripture above talks about need, in our first world context we don’t often like to consider that we might be the ones in need, but indeed the way we are born as dependent little babies ensures that we are in dependent relationships from the start. I recognise that both our ability to give and our need to receive at times connects us to one another in ways much more personal than simply financial transactions and our lives are richer for these exchanges. Our first fun visitor was our new Papi – Abe from Virginia. Abe came to Sydney for the Rotary International Convention in May and he had gotten in touch through mutual friends asking for suggestions for accommodation when he was coming. We actually live not far from the Sydney Olympic site where the conference was being held, and since I was a former Rotary scholar and the recipient of so much Rotary goodwill, we offered him our guest room. After many conversations with him prior to his arrival, I picked him up at the airport early on a Tuesday morning and discovered what a gem of a brother in Christ he is. It turns out we have more than a few mutual friends from many different parts of the world and we enjoyed 10 days of fun adventures and sharing with him. Our children particularly were blessed by his generosity and kindness as he had brought them many fun books and toys from the US and loved having them perched on his knee as he read to them. I always seem to appreciate Sydney and the life we have more when we are able to share it with friends from far off. Abe’s visit also allowed me to have a little more to do with the Rotary world and I attended the Alumni gathering at the Convention and also accompanied Abe to the House of Friendship and a local Rotary meeting while he was here which helped me remember all the good times I shared during my time as a scholar and helped me consider how I might still remain involved.
Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

After such a successful time sharing life and home with Abe in May and June, I was contacted through my position at Young Life by a university student from the University of Tennessee, Bayli, who was coming to study at Macquarie University for a study abroad semester. She was interested in serving alongside our Young Life team in Ryde during her time in Sydney since she was very involved in her team in Knoxville. As we began our correspondence it became evident she had been unable to secure housing yet and asked if I knew of any families that might be able to house her and that she particularly would be willing to help with children. Brendan and I prayed about it and offered her our home for as little or as long as she chooses to share it while she is here. She has been with us now for just over two weeks and has been a great blessing to our lives and family. She truly does love children and it is wonderful to see Jeremiah so excited to say hello to Bayli in the morning and play with her American coins on her bed as she teaches him the name for quarter, nickel and dime and run around with her torch (flashlight in American terms). She also gratefully is a massive dog lover, and Kimba has certainly been blessed to have lots of cuddles from her. I feel so grateful that we have a space we could offer and I’ve reflected much in the past few weeks of having Bayli stay with us on how well I was received when I moved to Australia and how much of a blessing it was to find family on the opposite side of the globe. I love that God’s family is so big and really we are brothers and sisters and can help one another out and not only give, but receive also when we choose to open our hearts and lives to others.
1 Thessalonians 2:8 “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

One of the ways I have received hospitality recently was on a trip to Spain I made in May. I had a very good phone conversation with the Young Life Mid-European Area Director Dave in March concerning our plans to move to Macedonia in 2015 and about what the ministry of Young Life was hoping to do in that nation. We spoke very excitedly about the whole region of the Balkans and the vision the Lord had planted on his and others’ hearts. It was indeed a very timely conversation and stirred us both up. From that conversation Brendan and I were invited to attend the Young Life All European Staff Conference held in Spain in May and meet the people in the region and see what God is doing. Unfortunately due to work commitments, Brendan was unable to go but we prayed and felt peace that I should go and see. As we’ve been following a number of confirmations this year from the Lord I decided I would get back in touch with some friends from the Balkans I had visited years ago, Dimitar and his sister Mariyana who had hosted me so well in Bulgaria in 2008. When I did this to my surprise I found Mariyana was now living in Barcelona, the very city I would fly into for the conference and she was available to meet me, host me and share her city and life with me when I came in. What a blessing! She was such a wonderful first contact when I arrived after travelling nearly 23 hours from Sydney – the first such trip of such a distance and time away from my children. I received such joy walking around the city with her and catching up on life from the past 6 years and our hopes and dreams for the future. Then, I travelled to Platja d’Oro for the Young Life conference and although I arrived not knowing anyone, by the time I left less than a week later I had enjoyed fellowship with around 250 amazing believers from over 20 nations in Europe and been able to catch a glimpse of what is happening in those nations. Some truly deep friendships began as well as some unexpected reunions of old friends from Washington, DC that happened to be there to pray and encourage people and I definitely benefited from that wisdom and prayer. This trip was a discernment trip to both allow me to experience what the mission of Young Life has been and is doing in Europe, particularly the Mid-European region of which Macedonia and the Balkan nations are included in, as well as a time for me to meet and connect and share vision and life with those serving in these nations to see if there was a synergy between us and potential to work together. I believe there is. A great outcome from the trip was for this adventure of the dream of going to Macedonia becoming a more sober reality by even taking the 21 hours of air travel and realising really what a massive move it is we are attempting to make. People often remarked on what a big move it was we were undertaking, but one question really caused me to pause... I was asked what I am most afraid about in this move. I honestly had not been considering fear, but only seeing it as a big adventure and something that had been bubbling inside Brendan and I since we met, but the question of fear caused me to pause and search my heart. Was there any fear? What came to me was the absolute joy I know my children have in their relationship with their grandparents and how much I love to see the way they are cared for by them so well each week. A move this far where it is expensive and difficult to make would mean obviously we would not be as close geographically and the relationship would be harder to maintain its intimacy. I also was sobered by the reality that potentially this move is the next season of our life, probably not just a short-term adventure, but that if we get involved in ministry especially a year will just be a chance to learn language and culture, but to really make an impact we need to be thinking longer term. This scared me too as everyone – our children, the family here in Australia, will age and again relationships will change. Upon my return this was the thought running through my head that coupled with jet lag wouldn’t allow me to sleep... so I got up and opened up the Bible, here is the passage I read:
Matthew 10:37-39 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
 This passage comes from a larger address Jesus is making to his disciples as he is preparing to send them out to do the work he prepared for them. It resonated so clearly within me that I don’t need to fear, but to trust and follow Jesus above all else and our life will be much more valuable than if we hold on to what we think holds value in our life. The amazing blessing was when I shared some of my thoughts with my mother in law, she was completely confirming of our calling to go and that she and her husband had been praying and also felt it was to be a longer assignment. She wasn’t holding us back but affirming and blessing, God is so good! There is much to prepare and still much to do here in Sydney, but it does feel as if God is clearly leading and guiding us on our path.

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
On the home front Christabelle celebrated her first birthday in May and has started walking like a pro, as well as climbing or standing on anything she can (her high chair is a particular daunting favourite). She continues to be a smile-ly delight and has began the habit of singing all the time – in her cot at night, in the car and her favourite song taught to her by her nana while I was in Spain is “Gallump Goes the Little Green Frog.” She knows the claps and actions and really loves signing it and also along to Collin Buchanan as we drive. She also keeps learning new words like ‘juice’, ‘ball’ and attempts “pwease” and mleko – the Macedonian word for milk. Jeremiah has had an eventful winter as we’ve been potty training and he really has mostly mastered this skill. He especially enjoys the chocolates and lolly incentives we’ve been giving as they are irregular treats. He also delights our visitors with his questions and declarations, Bayli thinking him to be very funny and random when he shouts, “I’m a boy!” They are both very social and we are delighted to parent them and share them with others. Brendan and I share five years of marriage coming up on the 15th of August and it is wonderful to reminisce about all that God has done in the past seven and a half years of bringing us together and the unity and fruitfulness of the five years of marriage. Of course it is a continual decision each day to work together and communicate about what is happening in our lives as well and most of all to love. I am so incredibly blessed to have him as my husband and the father to our children. He cares for us so generously and sacrificially. We’re looking forward to having a night away in the Hunter Valley to celebrate and I continually thank my in-laws for generously caring for our children.
Isaiah 64:4 “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”
There has been much else happening with Young Life: leaders coming and going; Northern Sydney area closing; Northern Leaders Retreat; new outreaches on the verge of being birthed; etc. I feel this update is already so long so if you would like to know more Young Life news, please e-mail me and I can send you our latest newsletter or prayer calendar.
Life is also full with involvement in our new C3 Silverwater Church as I’ve started helping out with a playgroup for mum’s and young children each week and continue to enjoy the fellowship of the Care Service lunch afterwards with different members of the community. Brendan and I have joined a Connect group and are excited about the friendships we’ve been building from the church. Truly, our lives are full and our cups overflow.

Thank you for journeying with us and for your prayers for us in this season. 

 Blessings and love, Brooke

Monday, April 28, 2014

Brooke’s Australia Adventure Update – Autumn 2014, April 29, 2014

Greetings friends,

We’ve just had a glorious ANZAC weekend here camping in Jervis Bay and hoping and trusting this letter finds you refreshed from your own celebration. Autumn in Sydney is glorious, albeit with the wet weather you find yourself navigating at times, but it is so nice to have a little cool change in the mornings and evenings after quite a hot summer we enjoyed. This past Lenten season has been a reflective time in our household as Brendan and I practiced the discipline of fasting more regularly during this season in accordance with the Eastern Orthodox calendar this year and read a daily Lenten devotional based on the story of the Good Samaritan by Henri Nouwen. It was truly a joy-filled celebration we shared as a family as we remembered our Saviour’s sacrifice on the cross and resurrection and really fun to see JJ’s interaction with the story as we read from his picture Bible and his picking up on emotions in the characters faces throughout the story from Palm Sunday through to the empty tomb. Practicing regular fasting again for me after not participating in it for a few years due to pregnancies was a great opportunity to really focus once again on my prayer life and dependency on Christ in a very physical way. This year is reminiscent for me in many ways on 2006, the last full year I lived in Washington, DC. That year I participated with many others around the country in a 40-day fast during the Lenten season with young people from the Justice House of Prayer praying for a modern youth revival in America and an end to abortion. That was a juice fast and took me beyond my own capacity and really stretched me ways to have a deeper understanding of the Lord. That year was a year to complete the season of working and serving in DC while at the same time preparing for what the Lord had ahead of me in Australia. As a parallel, this year for our family is a similar important season for Brendan and I to complete our studies and the vital work we are doing in our jobs with excellence, but at the same time preparing for our move in 2015 with our family to Macedonia. Since we have begun to share this vision and talk about it more concretely it has been completely amazing to see the way we have been confirmed by so many people and situations that God is indeed going before us to Macedonia and leading us there. One amazing example of this is that a couple, Jim and Becky Brown, on a recent visit to Sydney caught up with us. Jim was on the original basketball tour from the US that helped launch Young Life Australia 42 years ago. We got together because I had met their daughter Bryna in DC over 10 years ago and we had kept in touch. When we got together we had a wonderful time getting to know one another and finding out that we had many mutual friends in common. The amazing divine appointment though was finding out that they had some friends our age with young children also planning on moving to Macedonia at the same time we plan to next year! I want to encourage you that if you don’t have fasting as a part of your spiritual life, you consider incorporating it. What richness and what sweet time the Lord has provided for us and how important it feels to be doing it to really become ready for what is next.

“To the degree that fasting becomes more of a norm in our day-to-day Christian life as individuals and congregations, we will become more effectual in spiritual warfare.” – Peter Wagner

Psalm 46:10
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

Our children continue to grow and amaze us by the life they bring into our home and our lives. Jeremiah can have a conversation with you now that has complete sentences in it, although he certainly enjoys expressing his own will in saying a favourite 2-year old phrase, “No, I don’t want to.” He is learning to sing more songs like “A, B, C, D” and has quite the imagination when left to play to his own devices with pretty much any of his toys. He is full of energy and we are hoping to start him in soccer over the winter as we take a break from swim lessons. Christabelle will soon have her first birthday and while not walking yet, continues to love standing and walking along furniture and is so fast with her commando crawling that we aren’t rushing the walking phase. She is a great eater and becoming a great communicator as she is clapping and has a range of words that include the names of all of her family members and even pretending to bark like our dog Kimba. They have been going up to Newcastle for time with the extended family as I work two days a week and they love being with our family there. As a family we’ve enjoyed going on Young Life’s annual Summer camp in Jindabyne in January and for a weekend to Lake Lyell to waterski in February and the kids enjoy the time with the teenagers just as much as we do. There are more and more families with young children choosing to volunteer and engage in leadership with the mission and it is wonderful for our children to interact with them as well as the young people, it really helps our children become social and engaged.

Proverbs 27:23
Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
    give careful attention to your herds”

Young Life in Sydney continues to connect with teenagers in their world and seeks to be relevant with the gospel. I’ve returned to my role only two days a week and am focusing on the work in the Ryde area while helping supervise Ben in Northern Sydney and seeking to prayerfully develop work in the Parramatta area. There is so much potential, but for me, it is always about listening to what the Lord is saying and seeking where the doors of opportunity might open. Our staff and volunteers are so faithful in offering up free breakfasts at Chatswood High, regular lunchtime outreach at Marsden High, chaplaincy services at Ermington Public School and Marsden High School and student welfare programs at Arthur Philip High School – but the amount of need in each of these places, multiplied by the potential of all the high schools in Sydney could be overwhelming if we don’t have a focus. My focus for this year is mostly about investing as much as I can into the leaders the Lord has placed around me in this work and seeking to recruit more. I’d love the legacy that I leave the area to be a firm foundation of spiritually mature men and women who are authentically reaching and discipling young people. For me to model to others what it is to be a lover and follower of Jesus who lead others to become lovers and followers of Jesus who lead others... simple and yet profound.

 “This most educated, entertained and endowed generation have experienced so much, so young, that they aren’t amazed anymore. They live in a culture without awe and transcendence.”  - Mark McCrindle, The ABC of XYZ

I have completed my third residential for Arrow Leadership 12 in March and had an incredible week with my colleagues in Melbourne. I really enjoyed the week finding the content incredibly relevant and ranging from Conflict Resolution to Staffing and Performance Management to Soul Care, Personal Evangelism and Ministry to the Margins. It was a week with much food for thought, opportunity to reflect and pray, and work on our ministry goals. I have really been enjoying our reading list as well and have found the books to be spot on in where I am at in my leadership journey and challenging as well. One book particularly helpful in a personal, as well as ministry context, was entitled, Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. Brendan and I have used one of the conversation types she talks about, a mineral rights conversation, as a helpful tool. The idea is to drill down on “what could be the most important thing we could be talking about right now.” We practiced this while out celebrating my birthday at a rare kid-free dinner and it was great to see what came out when you gave yourself time to going down deep and learning to ask good questions to allow the person you are conversing with to really open up.

Proverbs 31:8 & 9
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

One other big change has happened in our lives these past few months, and that is choosing to go to a church more local to where we live. We’ve been attending C3 God in the City in Darlinghurst since we were first married and moved into Woolloomooloo in September 2009 and have loved it. But the commute with two children was starting to take its toll and it was challenging to attend mid-week or night services as well as knowing friends close to where we live, so we have begun to attend C3 Silverwater in the past month or so. While we’ll certainly miss our friends in the city, we’ve already received such a warm welcome at Silverwater that we feel very much at home. It is a very diverse congregation, both racially, socioeconomically and generationally and feels very much like the community we are living in and that too makes it feel right. It is a church that is very much engaged in the local community. They have a Care Service each Thursday morning that I’ve attended a few times bringing a mum of some of my Young Life kids who has been so blessed by the practical and spiritual nature of the service. Following the service each week they serve a tasty lunch and every community member that attends is able to receive needed groceries, as well as clothes from a clothes closet, including many new goods donated from companies like Big W. The presence of God on the service is just beautiful and I really feel as if this is what my heart is leaning towards becoming involved with as it just resonates with my heart. I’m so grateful to be attending a church that is closer to the community I serve with Young Life as well and look forward to being able to bring young people and their families to a local church.

Revelation 7:9-10
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

Thank you for journeying with us and for your prayers for us in this season. 
Blessings and love, Brooke