Wednesday, April 25, 2012


This will be my last post about Australia, and it's about the reason we went. 

Hillsong Colour Conference, Sydney, 2012

Some sisters we met at our hotel in the Sydney suburbs.

Mom being a goose. 

I LOVE this picture.

Donna (from Hillsong Sydney), Vera (from Hillsong Kiev), and Mom. Incredible ladies. 

Three cheers for Brooke Fraser! Beautiful inside and out. 

Pastor Bobbie introducing her granddaughter. The whole Houston family is heavily involved in the church, which was very cool to see. 

Mom and me with JD from the worship team. He is such a neat guy who loves Jesus. He's the one who jumps around and dances a lot, in case you've ever been to a Hillsong Live/United concert.

Pastor Bobbie facilitating discussion. She is wonderful! I loved her.

Chris Caine bringing it. 

This was like Day 13 in Australia and the Texans were really hurting for some Mexican food. We were introduced to Mad Mex and it effectively held us over until we could get some cheese enchiladas at home.  It was very similar to Chipotle. 

A view of the community around the Hillsong main campus (Hills Campus). 

Mom speaking for the last time.

Mom and Priscilla at the after party. It was bittersweet! There was so much to thank God for, but we fell in love with the people of Hillsong and hated to say goodbye to them. 

Mom with our host, Tom Bachtle, who is a great man of God, a humble servant, and a skilled leader. 

There's no way I can describe what it meant to me to have two weeks with my mom. I had the best time with her. We loved, loved, loved getting to hang out with Priscilla, Christine, and Pastor Bobbie. I can't even count the number of meals we got to share. One thing I regret is not taking notes during all of our conversations! Ha! I tried really hard to soak in all the wise (and crazy and hilarious) things they all said.  Each one of those women took time to speak into my life and encourage me. One thing God showed me in Sydney is that I was trying to give Him parameters for what I was okay with Him doing with our lives and in our church. (It doesn't work that way, does it?) I was also carrying a large burden of fear that was hindering my faith and stealing my joy.

Lastly, Christine and her husband lead an incredible organization called A21 Campaign. They are rescuing and providing aftercare for victims of human trafficking and also seeing traffickers prosecuted. Frankly, they are kicking butt. I was literally sitting next to Christine at dinner one night when she got news that more traffickers had been sentenced. I will never forget her visible reaction of gratitude to God and relief for the women who had been hurt by them.

God is doing all kinds of things all over the world with all kinds of people. Aren't we glad the picture is a lot bigger than what we can see around us?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bondi Beach

One of the most memorable days of our trip was the day we did the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. I had to Google that to know what it was called. Bondi Beach, according to every Aussie who talked to me about it, is the iconic beach of Australia. They likened it to Venice Beach in California. There is a six kilometer path from Bondi to Coogee beach and the views are incredible. 

Chris, Priscilla, me and Mom as we began our trek. I think Chris wanted to run the whole thing but some of us might have told her she was crazy. 

Get in shape, girl!

We stopped at a little cafe along the way. 

This is Priscilla's veggie sandwich. It looked hilarious and very un-Texan. I think she liked it though.

Australia has some very intense spiders. And snakes, but thank God we didn't see any of those. 

I had to get my feet in the water at the end. It wouldn't have been right not to. 

The water was cold, y'all. COLD. Chris said they can tell who the tourists are because they're the only ones in it. Ha! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mom's Bridge

My mother has been known to fall in love with things in nature and adopt them as her very own. For example, in Wyoming she has "her mountains." In her yard she has "her tree," which is a towering pine that bows oddly to one side at the top. And come to think of it, she has really grown because she shares it with my dad, so it's really "their tree." As long as I'm telling on her, I guess I should admit that I have "my lizards" (green anoles) that live on our front porch. Totally normal, right?

I wasn't shocked when my mom developed a deep, undying love for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But I do think it's the first marvel of human engineering that has ever captured her heart this way. It was truly magnificent and we spent hours of our trip walking across it, under it, beside it, and gawking at it.

We were one with the bridge. 

The pictures you are about to see are from one day's jaunt across.

This is Mom on her way to her bridge. She left me in her dust every time I stopped to take a picture. I had to run to catch up with her, which was very aerobic considering my camera weighs as much as a brick. 

We saw this each time we crossed: One Way! Jesus! (This apartment building really needed to be power washed.)

Behold, the path!

The big Australian flags flying over the bridge were pretty awe inspiring. Am I allowed to say that?

A look back at downtown. Our hotel was the brown high rise 2/3 of the way to the right.

The community across the harbour.

The Opera House showing off again. She's so vain.

A plaque with some info.

This was a cute little church on the other side of the bridge. It reminded me of England.

The green space underneath is called Bradfield Park, after the man who designed the bridge.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge celebrated its 80th birthday while we were there. Unfortunately, it was raining that day and we didn't get to celebrate with it in person. 

We were forced to become acquainted with these automatic restrooms. You had 10 minutes in there and then the doors automatically opened up. That would just be super! 

This is the dude who greets you at Luna Park.

He has nice lashes. Scary smile though.

A lesser bridge. It's still up for grabs if you want to claim it. 

Ferris wheel! (Eek! Not a fan of those.)

Those folks in blue suits were on a guided tour of the top of the bridge. Uh, maybe next time. 

A look back at part of Sydney we got to know very well. 

Mom, I hope when you read this your heart will be filled again with the joy of our trip. 

Mom + Bridge = Happiness