It’s lovely to meet other blogging mothers, and yet our time with the Austin family in the Blue Mountains was much more than this. We share similar spiritual and parenting journeys but this bond is transcended by three special coincidences that unite us.

Austin family, October 2011
We feel a very special connection with Brett and Lusi Austin and their children.

Hearing we were in the area, Lusi and Brett invited us to their home and immediately made us feel most welcome. After being so inspired by Jess’ story, I desired to hear the details of Lusi’s homebirth to Ezekiel who is now six weeks old.

Lusi Austin and Ezekiel, October 2011
Lusi is often to be found wearing baby Ezekiel in the sling.

The Austin children immediately made our own daughters feel very welcome. They are chatty, inviting, sharing and exceptionally nice. Aisha particularly liked the boys Ethan and Elijah (who are not twins — they informed me as soon as I crossed the threshold). 10yo Stassi is mature and thoughtful. I saw her clean the kitchen from top to bottom for her mother after we shared a meal together. 2yo Zipporah likes to talk a lot, and eagerly participates in family events.

Aisha and Brioni doing craft, October 2011
Our girls *loved* being offered access to a wide range of craft items — especially stickers — and spent hours working on their pictures.

Zippy, Calista and Delaney, October 2011
We explored the variety of toys on offer. Lusi has everything very well organised (and labelled) so it is easy to pack away.

Elijah Austin, October 2011
Elijah was the first to introduce us to the electric pencil sharpener.

Ethan Austin, October 2011
Then Ethan showed us how it worked — it's one of the Blue Mountains' hidden tourist attractions.

Stassi Austin, October 2011
Stassi shares a birthday with Aisha — but she was born three years before Aisha.

Stassi Austin, October 2011
There are several birds that regularly visit the Austin home for free food, including this very-bedraggled-looking magpie.

Stassi, Ethan and Zippy Austin, October 2011
In the morning, the Austin kids eagerly explored our truck and trailer.

Lusi has decorated her home beautifully. I enjoy entering so many people’s houses and seeing how they personalise their space. It reveals much of the character of the homemaker, and Lusi’s heart is clearly bound up by her family — photos are everywhere!

Lusi Austin's home, October 2011
Lusi has a wonderful sense of style and decorates her home with colour and many images.

Lusi Austin's home, October 2011
Lit candles add to the beautiful ambience of the dining room.

One good idea that I can take away from Lusi is her photo-boards displaying all the possible activities that a child can do. She’s taken photos of the puzzles and games and collated them into laminated pages presenting the options. I saw 2yo Zipporah examine the sheets which are on clear display and choose a game, which could be taken from the cupboard without pulling everything else out.

We spent so long talking with Brett and Lusi that we almost neglected our children, but they looked after themselves. It is especially relaxing to be in a home where children are trusted to do the right thing.

Brioni playing with toys at the Austins', October 2011
These Party Animals are new toys to our girls. Although we don't personally provide our daughters with a full range of toys, they never miss out.

Aisha playing at the Austins', October 2011
In this clever activity, shapes are pinned onto a cork board. 2yo Zipporah first pulled it out to play "Tap Tap", and then Aisha became interested in creating panoramas.

Calista sleeping and Aisha reading, October 2011
While Brett, Lusi, David and I talked, the children also stayed up late, and Calista fell asleep on her chair in the living room.

I think our original invitation was for morning tea, but we ended up staying for lunch, dinner and breakfast the next day. We’re thankful that we were able to keep talking about oh-so-many-subjects and the meals were delicious!

Lusi and Brett Austin, October 2011
Lusi and Brett served up a dozen plates like professionals. I can tell they've hosted many, many gatherings in their home.

Lusi and I felt that there were three special things that bind us together — apart from our similar journeys in spiritual and parenting matters. The first is the birthdate of our firstborns: 7 February. Stassi and Aisha share the same birthday, although it is three years apart.

The second item is one of taste. I would love to boast that I share the same excellent decorating taste as Lusi, but in truth, it is David who picked out the exact same pictures for our travelling home in New Zealand as Lusi has chosen for her ensuite!

Three rose pictures
I am amazed to see these exact three rose pictures in Lusi's home! We have duplicates mounted on the wall of our horse truck in New Zealand.

The third, extra-special divine synchronism is our scarves. Across the miles, through different circumstances, Lusi and I have the exact same scarf. Hers was hand-knitted for her by a friend, and mine was bought second-hand after I lost one on the streets of Auckland on a chilly day.

Lauren and Lusi Austin, October 2011
Lusi and I each have a scarf knitted from the exact same wool. Mine was bought from an op shop in Auckland, and Lusi's was knitted for her by a friend.

Together, we agreed with the Austins that leaving institutional church was the best thing for our own spiritual journeys and for our family life. Looking back, it is extraordinary how we thought life would be lacking in fellowship if we didn’t deliberately gather with other like-minded people on a Sunday. Now, we see how the Divine brings us encouraging encounters — like this one with the Austin family — everywhere!