Author: Claire van Ryn

The #caravanryns experience in three words

We’re nine weeks in. Gulp. Where did that time go? It means we’re just a bit over the two-thirds mark. Four weeks to go. If we’re counting down. Which I really would prefer not to do, but I just can’t help it. The clock keeps ticking. LESS IS MORE. These are the three words I’d use to describe the mysterious beauty of stuffing our lives into a van and taking it on tour for three months along with our two, mostly adorable but sometimes excruciatingly frustrating children. Less space = More outdoors. Our van is on the small end of the scale at 16-foot. It’s about the size of my son’s bedroom at home. And rather than housing a single bed and a built-in robe, it fits a kitchen, dining table, lounge, a queen bed and a double bed, a wardrobe, overhead cupboards and room for a pony. Jk. No pony. Unless it was tied up under the awning. That would be achievable. But the point is, my upbringing (and perhaps yours too) has taught …

Oprah would’ve been proud! FLaM advanced release.

FLaM is in print! And some of you are like, DUH! I have been busting to give you un update on the progress of FLaM, and now, finally, I can. Because on Saturday, after a full day of stuffy airports making the trip home to Launceston from sunny Cairns, I did a sneaky advanced and exclusive book launch to all the 400 women who attended Flourish 2018. At the Flourish women’s conference held at Door of Hope Christian Church I had the privilege of sharing the stage with media and singing personality Emma Mullings, and two-times olympian Elka Whalan. Flourish director Amanda Towns interviewed me on my 2017 no-new-clothes-for-a-year challenge, and how it related to the day’s theme of seeking out contentment in our lives. And then… (drumroll please!)… And then we did an Oprah! Or an Ellen. As a surprise gift, Amanda announced that Flourish had bought copies of my yet-to-be released book FLaM for EVERY WOMAN IN THE ROOM. And the servers flooded the aisles, bringing copies of the book-cum-magazine to everyone. Perhaps you …

We lost our youngest in a caravan park

He comes sprinting back from the jumping pillow, white stackhat still strapped beneath his chin, eyes blue puddles of alarm. “I can’t find Adelaide!” Ok, calm down, I say to our seven-year-old trooper. What happened? And he motors through a reply that comes out as a paragraph of words mashed into one breathless line. They were jumping. They stopped. They decided to come back to the caravan. He wanted to go one way. She wanted to go the other. Before he knew it, she was gone. I instruct him to stay at the caravan and wait until Daddy returns from the shower. Tell him I have my phone, I say as I begin jogging away. Away through the village of vans stacked side by side like bags of flour on a supermarket shelf. Why didn’t I get one of those identification wristbands for strong-willed children like most thinking mothers do? Why didn’t I simply write my phone number on her arm? Or tattoo it. Joke. Why did I trust her in the care of her …

Why we will never forget the first night of our caravan holiday

We never start holidays well. On Monday July 9 we embarked on a three-month caravanning adventure from our home in Launceston, Tasmania, to Cairns and possibly beyond. By “we” I mean myself, hubby Phill, and our kiddos Roman (7) and Adelaide (4). The first night was spent in the NSW country town of Yass. We’d been ejected from the big Bass Strait ferry bleary eyed and sea legged, done our time navigating as hapless Tassie tourists out of Australia’s second-largest city, and journeyed 650+ kilometres – all before 4pm. The kids were extremely good. Some credit to the built-in DVD player in the new truck . . . er . . . four-wheel-drive. Drives like a truck in my opinion, compared with our usual wheels. So there we were: tired, hungry, ready to settle down for our first night. The plan was to hit the road early the next day for another big highway day munching up the distance between us and the warmer weather. Let’s stay somewhere cheap, he said. There’s this place at …

We’re going on a three-month holiday

If God had sat me down a year ago and told me all that 2018 would bring, I think I would’ve done a Jonah. Made a run for it. Or perhaps just fainted. Or climbed into bed and pulled the covers up over my face. What. A. Year. And it’s only half-done! In two weeks, we’re going on a three-month holiday. It’s true! I’ve barely had space to let that reality sink in myself! Hubby has long-service leave and we’ve bought a caravan and are heading North where the sun shines warmer. We have no itinerary. The kids are sharing a bed. I have about three small shelves of space for clothing. We have no oven for baking cookies or sourdough. And we can’t wait! I won’t lie. The leadup has been a marathon. We have been pedalling hard and fast for a long time so that we have this luxury of time together. So many things to do. You know. Publishing a book. MC-ing at two fundraising dinners. Event managing at another. Day surgery …

Knowing when to send your cardboard castle to recycling

“Don’t come in, Mum!” “We’re making a surprise!” The door to my seven-year-old son’s room is closed and I’m leaning in, ear to wood panels, to hear muffled exchanges between him and his three-year-old sister. There’s the occasional screech of sticky-tape being pulled from a dispenser, the snip of scissor blades and rustling of paper, plastic and who knows what else. I smile and leave them to it. How I love it when they do this! When they talk in excited whispers, constructing Otherworlds, their imaginations swinging each other joyfully around. What I’m saying is, I love it when they play nicely without needing a screen of some description sucking energy out their eye sockets! Eventually, the door swings open and the two of them walk, slow as a bridal march, down the hall to find me in the kitchen. I drop the spoon of the pasta sauce I’m cooking and marvel at the castle they have created. The main fortress is made from the plastic package our new letterbox came in, with a central …

Help! I’ve written a book!

Hi lovely Faith Like a Mushroom followers. Eeeek! Exciting news ahead! And I want you to be the first to know! The news is this: I have written a book and it’s going to be published this year – with your help! FLaM is a compilation of my writings, artwork and photography, laid out like a magazine, and with lots of spacious pages so you can use it like a journal. But you know what? For once, I’m going to stop tapping on this keyboard and actually talk to you about it. Can’t tell you how nervous I am about this! Deep breath. Enjoy.   Find out more Has this piqued your interest? Even a little bit? Hop onto my campaign page: https://pozible.com/project/flam-magazine

“I am the bread of life,” he said as I pulled a loaf from the oven.

I reach to the top shelf of the fridge and grasp the jar, carry it to the bench and twist open the lid. There it is. Barely half a cup of viscous, off-white matter. I heave the flour bag to the benchtop and open its mouth, loosely fastened with a wooden clothes peg, to measure an equal amount into the jar. White particles fly around in the bands of morning light that spill between the slats of sleepy blinds. They settle into the folds of my fluffy white dressing gown, on eyelashes and in the wispy blonde hair of a certain three-year-old who is chasing cuddles. Water next. The same amount again measured carefully into the jar, splashing up the sides and swallowed into the parched flour. Then I stir, round and round, round and round, until it clings together. Making sourdough has become a part of my week’s rhythm. Usually we have two loaves freshly baked for the weekend, and I love nothing more than cutting off a generous slice, still just a little …

God a faithful father when parents gave terror, torture, neglect

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Here, Chaya Rainbird shares a snippet of her story. Grief and faith have both featured in many seasons of my life. Sometimes it feels like a tug-of-war, other times like I’m walking many steps of grief to get to a new “faith landing” where I can look out the windows and see how far I’ve come. I don’t think I’ll ever stop looking at where I’ve come from. It certainly has shaped me and I’ve seen great healing. But I still carry a lot of grief from it, especially since becoming a parent. I’m not really sure what to call myself… a child abuse survivor? Abuse doesn’t really describe the pain and grief. Terror, torture and neglect might be more accurate. To have my own parents hurt my body and my mind so greatly, I don’t know if there are even words to describe that. To watch my siblings beaten and starved was another type of torture; my mind screaming that this was wrong, but feeling utterly powerless to help. I’m …

Bullied and teased to the point of despair

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Here, Aaron Summers shares a snippet of his story. Throughout my school years, life was tough. I was teased and called many names; ugly, freak, you get the picture. I was a bully myself at times too. At the root of it was a constant struggle with self image. I didn’t feel I was good enough for anything or anyone. I felt that no one wanted to hang out with me, and that I was always on the outer. I remember tearing up my leavers dinner photos because I felt so ugly and down on myself. Depression got a hold of me and I was in a very dark place, in and out of church at Summerhill Baptist and Door of Hope. My mum encouraged me to keep coming along to church. It was a hard time for her, seeing me go through this, but she kept spurring me on. I was going home most days from school turning the lights off and going to bed. I’d just basically given up. …