Inconsequential Differences Between Australia and the USA #1

While I’m recovering from surgery I figured I would set an entry to post that I’ve been thinking about for awhile.  Australia and the US have a lot in common and many more similarities than differences.  However, there are differences.  There are some big differences, like driving on the other side of the road that cause us to have to think more intentionally each time we get in the car or cross the street.  But many of the differences are pretty inconsequential.  They don’t really change things for us, they are just different.Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 9.56.16 AM.pngInconsequential difference #1 is the way hanger necks are shaped.  Can you tell which ones are US hangers and which ones are Australian hangers?  The ones with long necks are hangers we brought with us in our shipment.  The short necked ones were bought here in Australia.  This really makes no difference to our lives except that Australian hangers are too short to allow for things to be hung to dry on a doorframe.  Maybe no one else does this (I get it from my mother:-) but sometimes we hang our wet shirts on a doorframe if they don’t go in the dryer.  Maybe this isn’t a thing here because almost everyone has a clotheslines.  Houses in Australia don’t have dryers or don’t use their dryers as much as typical Americans.

So there you have it.  Entry #1 in the newest series of Inconsequential Differences Between Australia and the USA.  I’m sure you are all so fascinated that you will never look at hangers the same way again.

Who Needs a Gallbladder Anyway?

Living overseas means always looking for cultural experiences.  And spending the night in the hospital is one of those that you don’t look forward to checking off the list but it definitely counts as a cultural experience.  Up until tomorrow (when I will be having my gallbladder out and be spending the night at Hollywood Hospital here in Perth), I’ve only ever spent the night in one other hospital as an adult.  And it was indeed a cultural experience because I was in Ghana.Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 12.52.10 PMI was hospitalized for malaria and can’t remember now if it was one night or two or three but I recovered well enough and went on to hike, find rainbows, chase waterfalls and generally enjoy myself for the rest of my semester abroad (although this picture I think was taken in Togo).  I don’t have too many memories of the hospital other than they left the lights on all night, everyone else in my shared room had family coming in to visit and take care of them, the hospital provided beans and cooked plantains for my meals and when I left, I paid for the whole bill with just what cash I had in my wallet (which wasn’t much).Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 12.54.26 PMAnd now we’re in Australia, we’re still finding rainbows and tomorrow I will be comparing my hospital experience to the one I had a little over 10 years ago in Ghana.  I’ll let you know about the lights and the shared room.  But I’m pretty certain I won’t be fed beans and plantains.  And I’m 100% sure that I won’t be able to pay for the bill with the cash I have on hand.  I’m thankful for credit cards and insurance.

Even though this is a pretty routine surgery, I still appreciate your prayers.  Please pray for no complications and a quick and easy recovery.

Permission for Rest

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again.  I’m not good at resting.  My mind prefers to work and ticking off the boxes on my to-do list can seem to be the ultimate satisfying goal.  But my to-do list easily becomes my idol and expectations (usually self imposed) become more important than walking daily with Jesus.  Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 9.08.06 AM.pngI’m still trying to figure out what this means practically for me.  Finding that balance between productivity and trusting in the ultimate care of my gracious savior.  Struggling against the lie in my head that tells me I’m lazy or unworthy, when I know that I am a beloved child of God.  Coming to a place where rest is not guilt inducing but instead sweet and rejuvenating.

Please pray with me and know you’re not alone if you also struggle to find peace and rest.  Know that you’re not alone if a call to create margin in your life induces anxiety and worry.  Know that we were not created to bear the burden and weight of the world on our own shoulders.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Walking Together- Reconciliation Week

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If I learned one thing from attending Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week events, it is that in order to really move forward with Reconciliation in Australia, we all need to learn how to walk together.  It’s more than legislation.  It’s more than mere acknowledgment.  It is about being willing to have the hard discussions and taking the challenging yet necessary steps together.

Reconciliation is a wonderful, hopeful word but it stops meaning something when one or both parties won’t put in the effort it takes to make reconciliation, even the idea possible. I still have a lot to learn about the history of Australia but I’m thankful for events like this where I can keep learning side by side with others who want to walk together.

Cooking with Vegemite

If you don’t know what Vegemite is, you’re missing out.  Yes, it is a yeast paste.  Yes, that probably does not sound appetizing to most Americans.  And yes, I do personally like it.  I’m personally a big fan of Vegemite on toast with avocado.  Ryan does not eat it on toast or in any other form as a spread but he does enjoy it as a strategic ingredient in recipes.  Vegemite works in these recipes because it’s very salty, so as a salt replacer and flavor builder it’s delicious.  Up until now, this recipe list only included meat pies; a meaty filling of ground beef and other ingredients (including Vegemite!) to form a thick sauce wrapped in flaky pastry crust and baked to perfection.Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 3.46.06 PM.pngBut now this list includes stir fry where the Vegemite takes the place of soy sauce in the marinade.  We were hesitant at first because of the strong flavor but this broccoli and chicken stir fry was rather enjoyable.  We definitely like sweet chili sauce so the combination with Vegemite, garlic and lime worked nicely.  The sauce marinated the chicken and then we tossed in the broccoli and steamed everything together.  And the rice noodles got their own dip in lime and sweet chili sauce because they can be pretty plain.  Not bad for a quick weeknight meal.  What other Vegemite recipes will we discover?

Periods and Thinx

Warning:  This post is geared towards women.  If you are a male reader, please feel free to keep reading because you most likely will learn something.  But consider this your warning that the information may be a little (or a lot) out of your comfort zone.

In 2012 I posted about Periods and Papua New Guinea, although it’s an uncomfortable topic for some, I think it’s important to at least start a discussion.  And I do have to say, that because of that post, conversations have been opened with multiple people.  Admittedly, with some hesitation and caveats but the conversations still happened.  Now, 5 years later I figured it was time to post a little update.

When I first started using a menstrual cup, I was using it because it was practical.  I’ve tried both the Moon Cup and the Diva Cup, although there are other brands out there.  The shape and flexibility of the cup seem to be the main differences so it’s just a matter of preference.  In Papua New Guinea the cup helped because it was expensive to import other products and carrying one item only for an entire period is just easier.  But now after using these products for a longer time it’s become about something more.  Not only do I appreciate the practicality of a menstrual cup but I love that I don’t have to go out and buy more products every month.  I don’t have used products filling up my trash can.  And I can feel good about not adding more waste to a world filled with too many disposable items.  Why not use something that makes your life easier instead of more complicated?Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 12.18.58 PM.pngMy one complaint about the menstrual cup is that it sometimes leaks.  Not all the time, not even a lot of the time but sometimes.  After all these years I don’t know how to prevent it completely although I’ve learned some tricks that I think do help.  But on really heavy days, overnight or in certain situations it’s sometimes nice to have a little backup.  Pads were not an option for me or even panty liners.  Nope.  So when I saw an ad on Facebook for Thinx and heard a couple of friends tout their praises, I decided to give them a try.

I do not think I will ever use these as advertised for complete period protection, the menstrual cup is just too easy, less messy and practical for me.  However, as backup, as caution pre-period or in that post-period transition, I think they are great.  And although I have not yet been pregnant, I have heard that these are also great for post birth.  If anyone wants to try them out for complete period protection, feel free to report back.  I’d love to hear from someone I know instead of just the testimonials (which in general are pretty positive).

I love that there are all different styles of Thinx and they are also pretty.  So anyone, regardless of your taste in underwear can find a pair that works.  I also like that they are easy to clean and feel like normal underwear.  Note: there is a slight thickness to them, there has to be for any protection but way less thickness than even the thinest panty liner.  I’ve only tried one style but I’d definitely try others in the future and I’m very happy with how they work for me.

Thinx are not inexpensive but they do offer great deals and in comparison to what you would pay for typical period products or regular underwear, they really aren’t too extremely expensive either.  If you would like to try them out and use this link: Buy Thinx, you can get $10 of Thinx credit.  This also gives me $10 credit so it’s a win win for everyone.  I typically wouldn’t include a link like this but you benefit from it too and it might be the incentive you need to give them a try.

Menstrual cups, Thinx and period talk may not be a glamorous conversation but periods are a monthly reality for most women and anything that can help make that time of the month easier is a positive thing for me.

University Bible Study

It’s the end of the semester and our final official day of class, so today was the last UWA Bible study I will be attending for awhile.  This Bible study met every Tuesday and started working through 1 Peter.  Cultural Note: Australian’s say One Peter and Two Peter.  This has taken some getting use to for me but everyone still understands when I say 1st Peter or 2nd Peter.
Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 3.36.00 PMI loved connecting once a week with a different group of students, especially since they are mainly undergrad and in a different university world.  It was nice to have a break in between the craziness of classes to pray, read the Bible and have some fellowship time together.  I hope my schedule next semester also allows for another Bible study time and this group could potentially stay together.  I’m thankful for the opportunity and the privilege that it is to meet with other Christians on a regular basis at a public university.