Sunday, April 26, 2015


Yesterday was ANZAC Day here in New Zealand, a day set aside on April 25th of each year to honour the fallen and returned war veterans in the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.  (Hence the acronym).

Nearly every city, town, and village in New Zealand commemorates this day with a dawn parade and public ceremony.   I had the privilege of participating in yesterday's events here in Whangarei and found myself among a crowd of thousands of proud Whangarei citizens braving the early morning darkness to come out in support of our troops.  This year marked the 100 year anniversary of the Anzacs landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in WWI.  It made me so proud to call this city home for nearly four years.

Photos are courtesy of my friend Jess.  (My photos are a bit fuzzy.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"Maurice the Great"

Maurice Desmond Moffat, my eighty-nine year old landlord and a surrogate grandfather of sorts, finished his race and went home to be with his Saviour last Thursday.  "Maurice the Great", as he is affectionately known by his great-grandchildren, will be greatly missed by many people here in New Zealand, especially in Whangarei. 

I count it a gift from God to have lived just on the other side of the wall from Maurice, blessed by his love and hospitality, for over 3.5 years.  Often we shared prayers and stories, car rides, Sunday night meals, and sermon notes.  Maurice treated me like a true grand-daughter, spoiling me with fresh goodies from the garden and words of wisdom.  I honoured his age and stage by giving him rides to doctor's visits and did some of his shopping.   It was a tender and treasured relationship.

 Maurice proudly supported my pastoral ministry, prayed for me, and invited people to our church on a regular basis, even though he himself was often not well enough to attend worship services.  I always knew that I had an advocate in Maurice.  What a gift.

Thank you, Jesus for the gift of "Maurice the Great".

I have the honour of officiating Maurice's funeral this Thursday at 1:00PM.   This will officially be my first time to officiate a funeral as a pastor.  How fitting that it is for such a great man who loved Jesus more than anything and wanted nothing more than for everyone around him to know Christ as well.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

On the Road Again. ..

On the road again. .. .Monday
On the road again. . .Tuesday
On the road again. . . Wednesday
On the road again. . . Thursday
On the road again. . . Friday

Whew!  We survived nearly 1,000 KMs of travel in a convoy of five vans, 2 trailers, 33 young people under the age of 18 and 7 adult leaders!

Despite the exhaustion we feel, we praise the Lord for another great Rock Solid "On the Road Camp", enjoying the gems of the Northland and Far North regions of New Zealand's North Island!
We were well-fed with food for our bellies and nourishment for our souls.  Thank, Renate, for feeding the army each day!  Mark, your spiritual insights got us thinking about young Bible heroes who made a difference in their world. Scottie, your relentless planning and organizing for the camp really paid off!  The rest of our leaders all worked tirelessly and sometimes sleeplessly to pull off the camp an keep the campers safe and happy.  Thank you everyone!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

On the Road Camp Begins Tomorrow, April 13

Our annual Rock Solid, "On The Road Camp" begins tomorrow!

 In just a few hours, 40 crazy teens (and even crazier leaders!) will embark on a five day journey around Northland New Zealand, hitting up some of the gems our region has to offer.  Each day will take us to a new spot, including Cape Reinga, the northern most tip of NZ, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean.  Lord willing, we will also do a bit of sand-boarding, greet dolphins, touch the ancient Tane Mahuta tree, and swim at Kai Iwi Lakes! 

We invite you to pray that each student and leader on this camp would encounter Jesus Christ in a life-changing way this week. Many of our students are unfamiliar with God and his ways, and this camp has the potential to change that!  This will be my fourth and final "On the Road Camp" with Rock Solid and I can't think of anything better than to go out with a bang, knowing the lives of youth have been forever changed!

We would also appreciate prayers for safe travels, health, and . . .sanity! :-)

I will be unreachable for five days, but will update this blog upon our return.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Extravagance of Easter- Part 2

The extravagant love of God is what defines Easter.  It always has and it always will.  It is no more and no less than  the celebration of sinless life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, so that you and I could be friends with God.

This year, a tangible and very special expression of this extravagance came to me in the form of an exquisite engagement ring, presented to me by my husband-to-be on Palm Sunday!

For the last two weeks I have been gifted with the presence of Chad Johnson, right here in living colour!  His trip has been a long time in coming, so I cannot tell you how refreshing and thrilling it was to finally have him here in New Zealand, no time zones, Skype screens, or unreliable internet connections with which to contend. To be able to introduce and expose him to my life and ministry here in Whangarei fed my soul and was such a blessing.

We enjoyed a bit of travel with friends, service in Jesus' name, good laughs, and great weather!

He fit in so well with the folks here that everyone wishes he could stay and become a resident Kiwi, as I have. But, our future plans will take us away from this land we call Aotearoa  (me in July), as we pursue marriage and a life together.  Lord willing, Chad and I will return to serve in New Zealand in the future, but the timing is uncertain.

What is certain is our love for God and our love for each other.

Stay tuned for more photos and updates on life and ministry here in Whangarei as I prepare for the transition back to the USA in three months' time.

Extravagance of Easter- Part 1

Extravagance is a word that carries with it a sense of excess and flamboyance.  To say that something is extravagant is to say that it is costly and dwells within the realm of the extreme.

Easter is most definitely a time of extravagance, not because of the dollars spent on chocolate eggs or tasty treats. Not because of the road trips and family gatherings, as memorable as they may be.

Easter is the ultimate expression of the extravagant love of God.

Easter is this: God, the uncreated One, creating all things for our good and his glory.  God, the timeless One, entering into our time-space continuum in order to identify with the confines of earthly life so that he could catapult us into the next.  God, the perfect One, rubbing shoulders with the imperfections of humanity and still remaining pure. God the Father sending Jesus Christ the Son so that his Holy Spirit could live within each believer, empowering them to live in the Resurrection now.

Does this sound a bit elusive?  Let me lay it for you straight:

"For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes him him would not die, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
- Jesus
(John 3:16-17)

Easter is the celebration of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Easter is living in the reality that that which has fallen into decay can indeed become alive once again.  Because of Easter, everyday is rich with hope, and dripping with purpose.

Easter is extravagant.

Please read the next post to see how I personally celebrated the extravagance of Easter here in New Zealand!