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It’s Not What You Think it is?

Maybe you have pain in your body, you feel unusually tired and worn out?

This was my experience a few years ago; I would drag myself through each day and felt extremely tired and on top of that had a thumping earache.  So I rang the Dr and booked an appointment.  The Dr looked in my ear and then said these fatal words… “Sharon you don’t have an infected ear! It’s not what you think it is!!!”

I glared back at him and said “Come on Dr, last night my ear throbbed so much I took 5 panadol just in one night, it was so bad….” He grunted and decided on some tests, to find out what the real root problem was.

He suggested we start with a pregnancy test. I laughed!  And reminded the Dr that I was in my late 40’s, had an adult son who was married and couldn’t even remember such things…

The test was taken, and he looked at me in SURPRISE…. I held my tummy and just glared back at him, my mouth was open yet no words came out, so we just glared at one another.

The Dr and I continued to stare at each other and then finally he said “Well this explains all your symptoms…. Sharon you are pregnant!”

Imagine the shock I felt!  I held my tummy and asked for just one more test, just in-case that test was faulty….and sure enough it wasn’t.  The test confirmed the truth and the fact was I was carrying life and there was a little person growing within me!  My whole world suddenly changed because, life is not always what you think it is.

Instead of needing medication for an earache I needed a dentist because the baby was drawing calcium from my teeth!  As a happily married women and a Mother with 5 children already and the eldest was married and the second eldest was working away from home…. I had no idea I was actually carrying life!

Because of my age I decided to queen my pregnancy and relaxed, ate and exercised whenever I felt like it.  Also we trusted God to bless us with a healthy child with soundness of mind.  Other than scans, I refused all the tests, mature women should have.  Our son Ezra was born healthy, alive and kicking in a small country hospital with no emergency equipment in a place in the Far North of New Zealand.  

Then more amazing news came!  We would also be Grandparents as well as parents!   When our youngest was 3 months of age he became an Uncle and we proud Grandparents of our first Grandchild, a beautiful girl named Summer.  What a great delight to Mother alongside our daughter-in-law and together have the joy of our son growing up with his niece only 3 months of age apart.  Life happens and it’s not always what you think.

The symptoms you may be struggling with could be frustration, unfulfillment, depression… these are just symptoms of greater possibilities….because ultimately God wants to bring LIFE, PEACE and JOY out of your pain.

Now 13 years later we are blessed with a handsome, healthy, wholesome, sound mind boy who is forever keeping us young and vibrant.   

We are blessed with six legacy living children ranging in age from 36 years to 13 years plus 5 lively grandchildren.

And I’m so thankful to have heard those words in my late 40’s “Sharon you are Pregnant!”


Humble Beginnings

A wife, a mother, a missionary and an international speaker are all epithets Karla May loves and wears proudly.  She lives an excitingly full life of travel, adventure, rich relationships and clear purpose.   

Together with her family this Sunny Coast girl calls Thailand home.  Each day is spent living in tropical Asian heat, without many of our western world comforts.   Her satisfaction comes from pouring herself into her family and working toward the epic mission of ending child-slavery.  

Karla ministers to young girls who have been rescued from the sex-trade industry and others who have been prevented from its harm.   Her story is inspiring and her laugh is contagious.  
At 39 she lives a life of great satisfaction and significant influence around the world.  But not all inspiring stories have great beginnings and Karla’s story is no exception.

Left behind at the hospital by her teenage mother, Karla spent the first two weeks of her life in the care of nurses and hospital staff.   She didn’t have a bonding moment with her birth mother; in fact later she found out that her mother looked away as she gave birth.  She never laid eyes on the baby she delivered. 

“Strong feelings of abandonment and rejection plagued my life as a result of knowing I’d been an unwanted baby.  My self-confidence was bankrupt and I remember always feeling like I didn’t fit and nobody really wanted me around.”

As a child Karla was a good girl.  Wanting to be loved she didn’t dare think of doing things wrong.  Karla was a perfectionist, hated getting into trouble and did everything she could to please people and have them think well of her.  Living in the here and now, Karla didn’t think of her future instead adapting a “Survival” mode.   As a teenager this nasty concoction of emotions and unhealthy habits thrust her into making many poor choices.    

After falling for the first guy who winked at her Karla fell pregnant in high school.  Karla was given the choice to abort her baby and continue at school or keep her baby and leave home.  When her classmates were preparing to graduate, Karla was preparing to give birth. 

Unfortunately it was an abusive relationship, both physically and emotionally.  Karla’s self-confidence took yet another beating and shortly after giving birth she found herself alone.  With the future looking bleak, her heart was shattered and Karla felt overwhelmed with her new responsibilities of raising a child on her own at 17.    

At 22 Karla married her best friend from high school, Damien.  He was the only one who was really there for her throughout the whole ordeal.  They both became Christians, giving their lives to God and welcoming His plan for their broken, messed up lives.

“For the first time in my life I remember having hope.  I realized that God of the universe was real and He loved me.   ME!  A little abandoned baby rejected and unwanted. “

Karla and her husband Damien have been working with the kids the world treats like trash and consider it a great privilege.

“Knowing firsthand what it feels like to be a young girl full of rejection and feelings of no self-worth, it was only natural for me to gravitate toward others in the same situation.  The girls we work with are no different to me all those years ago.  Abandoned and rejected by their families but very, very loved by God.  What God did in my life is what He wants to do in theirs.   Seeing their little hearts begin to heal and their eyes light up with hope is all the reward I need.”

Karla’s story is one of rescue and redemption.  She has a heart for thrown away children.  The ones no one else wants, the ones treated like trash.  

Karla and Damien are currently full-time volunteer staff with Destiny Rescue.


A Woman with Two Hats

It’s easy to make claims about being able to help businesses. But who can you trust to help you when you need it? How can you be sure the person you are working with has the experience, knowledge, perception and connections to know what is needed and when?

Celena Ross is that person and her extensive knowledge is now available as she has recently launched My Business Doctor. Her slogan of “all business questions answered” is a confident declaration backed up by her years assisting businesses through a broad range of business cycle issues. Hundreds of businesses have already benefited from Celena’s knowledge and passion for small businesses, particularly women in business.

The initiator of the successful Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network Celena is highly regarded by both businesswomen and men for her extensive knowledge and her commitment to assist and connect businesses. A truly unique business catalyst, Celena doesn’t fit neatly into a description of a business advisor or coaching consultant. “One of the greatest benefits I can bring to your business is my insights from assisting literally hundreds of businesses and also community associations to achieve their goals.”

Whilst renowned for her ability to quickly assess business issues and provide information that can be acted upon immediately, Celena changes ‘hats’ on the weekend as a wedding celebrant. At the first meeting, she soon puts the bridal couple at ease with her sense of humour and describes herself as a supportive quirky aunt, sister, RU friend (depending on the age group). “I am just as excited and looking forward to the day as they are, and love to ask about the colours, the flowers, what the mum’s are wearing – as I don’t want to clash!”, she says with her trademark bubbly enthusiasm.

“I studied under the one of the leading Speech and Drama teachers from 13 years of age as I wanted to be a theatrical actress and that training as well as a background in journalism and event management means I can create just the right touch of humour and drama for a wedding, naming , vow renewal or funeral ceremony.”

Celena says “I know how hard and lonely it can be running your own business – you have the passion and the will, but at times you need some direction, someone to bounce ideas off or provide direction and supportive information”, she says. “I am passionate about empowering and inspiring businesses to develop goals and priorities in business and life…and working out which of those goals will have the biggest impact on your quest for success to achieve your dreams.”

Celena’s background working and supporting businesses encompasses the past 15 years working for State and Local Government in business development roles as well as extensive experience with regional and community economic development. Celena has a reputation for providing ideas, direction, motivation and actions that you can immediately put into practice  – not to mention the network contacts that she may strategically introduce you to. In her meetings with clients, Celena plays a role between Devil’s Advocate and a supportive and encouraging mentor. Understanding that there is no one blueprint plan that suits every business, Celena draws on her vast knowledge and is laser quick to identify critical issues and provide you with real and practical advice to build or grow a profitable business.

Edited by Louise Hickey

Finding Motivation Through All Things

My earliest memories are having a carefree life of mulberry tree climbing and billy cart racing.  Riding such a long way to school, which actually turned out to be only three blocks, and taking a penny to the corner shop for a bag full of lollies. Mum stayed home, and Dad worked long hours in his engineering business.

Life changed when I was nine due to the death of my eldest brother from a car accident, sadly the day after his baby daughter was born.  This devastated my parents, who decided for a tree change to work full time on their cattle property, which had to that point been their weekend hobby.  This meant a total change of life for me, being sent to Boarding School at the Rockhampton Girls Grammar School.

I began my working life at Telecom as a telephonist, manually putting through calls  – hard to believe just how much technology has progressed since then! While back in Rockhampton I met the love of my life, Jack, and within nine months we had married.  I soon became a housewife and eventually mother of  three beautiful children.

After a short lived award winning fashion career, I joined AMP as a ‘Financial Needs Analyst’.  This was the beginning of the new era of Financial Advice.  In 2000, I retired.  Hmmm, that lasted 6 weeks.  After the house was clean, the freezer full and my patchwork group was ready to kick me out for trying to organize them to death, it was decided that I really wasn’t ready to retire.

While trying to decide what to do, I opened a marketing company, and commenced marketing for Financial Planners and Mortgage Brokers.  I soon worked out mortgage broking was my next passion.  Over the next 3 years I opened 3 mortgage broking companies and loved the industry.

My mortgage broking clients, having been diligently learning my debt reduction strategies, wanted to learn more about how we were accumulating properties. So I began to teach some of my clients what to do, and more importantly what NOT to do.  As you can see from my 6 week retirement experience I get bored easily, so I began to find repeating myself time and time again with the steps of building a property portfolio boring.  Which saw the birth of Think Money Wealth Through Property, which meant I was able to develop a complete system of videos, software, interactive web sites and a success team of professionals to assist clients to achieve their goals, while avoiding the pitfalls most of us suffer when we begin the journey with little knowledge and experience.

Relocating to the Sunshine coast in 2007 was our next big change.  We had been regular ‘Christmas tourists’ for many years.  Should have done it earlier! The Sunshine Coast is such an awesome place to live, and the weather is superb! … We love it!

In 2011 our world was turned upside down when we lost our beautiful son to suicide. I wouldn’t have to tell any parent that losing a child is probably the hardest thing anyone could ever face.  Losing a child to suicide is certainly the most difficult thing our family has had to deal with.  It was certainly unexpected, there were no warning signs and he seemed happy and settled.  David, as a child suffered from being ‘different’ although undiagnosed with any of the names associated with children who don’t fit the norm today. David struggled with school throughout his childhood. However, as he matured, he found success in many fields and became an accomplished musician and rapper, creating his own record label.  David enjoyed sports like snowboarding, skateboarding and motorbikes, and was a Scuba Diving instructor.

While he had so many plans and so much to live for, he found life difficult at times, and chose to leave us much earlier than he should have.  He was much loved and sorely missed.  This tragic event has made the whole family take stock of what is truly important in life, and Jack and I and our three beautiful daughters certainly make sure we focus on those things. The pain is still new and raw, however they say over time it diminishes. I look forward to that.

In searching for a way to move forward, and having always been a highly motivated person, I have discovered excellent tools to help give me guidance and focus both in my personal life as well as my business life.  Having taken stock of my life, my family and my business, I believe 2012 will prove to be my next milestone! I am focusing on a very exciting year of growth and improvements for my clients, my business and my family life alike.  Having survived the global crisis, the Australian property market is poised for a strong recovery and the general fear factor is certainly lessening.

Christine Childs

Edited by Louise Hickey

Families Come in All Shapes & Sizes

Stepmothers are not wicked or evil, as the fairytales would have you believe.  How do I know this, because I am a Step-mum and live with the daily challenges of a step-family life.

I was born in Toowoomba and spent most of my life there raising my three children from my first marriage.  Five years ago I met and fell in love with my wonderful husband, who had four children from his first marriage.

When we were married and moved to the coast, my two adult children and my husband’s three adult children were living independently, so our family unit was made up of my husband’s youngest son and my youngest daughter.

Becoming a stepfamily was at times difficult, as all members needed time to make adjustments with being in a new home and living with step-siblings and stepparents.

My role as a Stepmum and mum is to support my husband in raising his son and to help my stepson and daughter adjust to their new life, without replacing their other parents.

A lot of people who are not part of a step-family don’t realise, the dynamics that come with being in a step-family.   I felt there was not much support and information available for step-mums and so I decided to form a step-mums group.

My vision is:
To provide information on support services, (Counsellors, Legal services, books and internet forums’) and for Step-mums to meet other step-mums where they can learn and support each other without judgement.

Sherrinne MacDonald


Sunshine Coast Stepmum’s Group

  • Meets once a month across the coast for coffee and a chat
  • For more information and locations  phone/text 0419 279 864

Against All Odds

One Man’s fascinating story from Gang to God.

I’ll never forget the day when I “accidentally” found out that the couple I had called “mum” and “dad” for twelve years weren’t my real parents at all. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I was absolutely shattered.

To make matters worse, “dad” didn’t give me any explanations. I was just given the bare facts and I didn’t dare ask questions. I was brought up only to speak when I was spoken to. Life in Malaysia in the 60s was very different.

I was naturally very hurt and confused: What happened? Why didn’t my parents keep me? Was there something wrong with me? How could I be of any value if they didn’t want me?

From that awful day on, I struggled with deep feelings of rejection and insecurity. Feeling unloved and unwanted, I began a life of rebellion and self-destruction. On the outside I appeared to be a nice, quiet little boy who always did as I was told. I had to because otherwise dad would beat me up. But deep down on the inside I was a raging volcano and a walking time-bomb ticking away and ready to explode.

When I got into my teenage years my life began spiraling out-of-control. Instead of going to school, I roamed the streets of Kuala Lumpur. I joined gangs and terrorized innocent people. We stole from shops and extorted protection money from businesses. We gate-crashed parties and got into countless fights. We robbed and assaulted people. I was constantly told I was the “black sheep of the family” and that I brought nothing, but shame and disgrace to them.

I’ll never forget the day I got arrested and locked up in a police cell. Dad had to come to the station to bail me out. I wished he hadn’t because, frankly, I was safer in that cell!

He never said a word to me in the car all the way home. The moment we got into the house, he exploded like a suppressed volcano. He dragged me to the kitchen, held me down to the floor as he took out his leather belt. And then the non-stop beating began. Lash after lash, belting after belting, he whipped me with all his might. I felt every ounce of his fury, frustration, humiliation, disappointment and anger. As he belted me, I cried, screamed and begged for mercy, but it was useless. I had definitely crossed the line this time. To him I had gone well beyond the point of no return and he had had enough. And the only way he knew how to deal with his frustrations and feelings was to lash out at me with his leather belt. After what felt like an eternity dad stopped and left me whimpering in a corner of the kitchen-floor. No one in the family came to my rescue. They didn’t dare. It’d be stupid to interfere.

The way I was going, everyone said there were only two options left for me: I’d either be killed in a gang fight on the streets of Kuala Lumpur or I’d be locked away in jail for a very long time. No one gave me any hope and no one gave me a prayer.

It’d take a miracle to turn my life around. And sure enough, mine came in the most unexpected way in 1968 …

(Be sure to get Benny’s autobiography “Against All Odds” coming out soon.  You will laugh and you will cry, but you won’t be able to put it down)

Fighting Spirit

Kelly Pendlebury has certainly packed a lot of life’s experience in to her 28 years. Born in Tasmania with a hole in her heart and a life expectancy of only hours, Kelly has had a fighting spirit from day dot.

After attending a personal development seminar called ‘Success & You’, Kelly realised her journey on the road to personal growth had started. She says “the seminar reinforced many personal beliefs, and I had found a group of people that I felt thought like me, looking beyond boundaries, I knew instantly that I wanted to be immersed in the culture of that weekend for longer”. Kelly decided to be bold and sold everything she owned to move to Sydney a week later and study to be a life coach.

With an interim period before her course dates, Kelly joined the company running the courses and quickly caught the attention of management in her telemarketing role after selling 20 courses on her first day. The KPI was 2. Within three months she was promoted to Business Development Manager and
began flying around the major cities in Australia, setting up and running courses building the company profile through strategic marketing.

Her role saw her working side by side her Director’s publicist Matt Dillon. She became passionate about PR and media and after 18 months left Success & You to run Matt’s Sydney based Public Relations firm with him. “Matt had been travelling between LA and Sydney, so with me on board he was able to focus
on the US side and I oversaw the Australian clients”.

After three years working together, Matt relocated to New York. An opportunity presented itself to Kelly through Troy Thompson. Troy had been a client of Kelly and Matt’s. He is a Sydney-based celebrity hair dresser who featured on Channel Seven’s ‘Ten Years Younger in Ten Days’.  We worked hard to diversify his brand away from just hairdressing after the show and when everything with Matt dissolved I called Troy and told him that we were going to write a book!

Over the next 6 months Kelly and Troy developed the first edition of Troy Thompson’s guide to the Younger You, raising $110,000 in sponsorship before writing a single word, pre-selling 10,000 copies and self-publishing in Singapore. “We started by getting L’Oreal Australia on board and Jenny Craig and then it snow-balled from there. We did in 6 months what takes publishers more than a year, so at the end of it we were both tired and elated.”

The book was a success and is currently in it’s second print run through New Holland Media. Kelly in turn, assisted Troy in securing a network radio program concepted from the book, which was aired Sunday mornings across Australia for over a year with what is now, Southern Cross Austereo and continues to work with Troy still today.

Kelly is now back on the Sunshine Coast pursuing her passion for creative writing at USC. “It has taken me along time to realise what it is I want to do, my true passion is combining what I know from my studies in human behaviour with my passion for stories and film. Narratives are the greatest way to teach and connect with others. And it is a whole lot of fun!”

Kelly continues to indulge her business and marketing interests as a Marketing Strategist for Campaign Group as she studies and develops her Kid’s Brand “Kid Confident”. She is also a working life coach and about to complete writing her first feature film screenplay. In her spare time which is sparse she is addicted to trashy American TV, walking on the beach, writing in cafes and playing indoor netball.

Creative Lifestyle for Women

Cheryl Turnbull says “My background has been very female dominated.  From my love of playing netball to hairdressing, I have always been surrounded by women and for almost ten years I was a single mum with two beautiful daughters living on the Gold Coast.

Throughout that period of time I met an amazing bunch of women.  Each year on the 19th September we get together and have done, for almost twenty years.  We write in a journal about the things that have happened in our lives over that past year, it makes very interesting reading when you look back over the entries. Some of us have married, some of us have separated and all of us grown, especially my daughters.

Fourteen years ago I met my husband.  Three weeks after he asked me to marry him he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and my life changed again right then.  Luckily I have very healthy and helpful parents who helped look after the girls. It took almost six months for Shaun to get back on his feet and
now we have a ten year old son!  Who would have thought I would have a baby at the age of 43 or that he could become a Dad after all the radium treatment!  So now I have the perfect Family……including two beautiful grandsons & a great son in law!

I decided to help in my husband’s mortgage finance business specializing in property investment. I have always been interested in property buying my first house at age 22, and if only I knew then what I know now!  As my daughters grew older I was determined they would not go through the property investing process as I did and I am very proud to say they have achieved so much.

I noticed while working that young women aged 25 to 45 were very interested in wanting to know more about investing in property. I found them very inspiring to talk to and this is why I set up Creative Lifestyle for Women, to share the knowledge of what I have learnt over the years.  Getting a few girls together for a chat about how to invest in property the Easy Way over a coffee or wine, in a friend’s home is a great informal way to understand just what you can achieve and how easy it can be.  This is what I do now full time and I love it”.

Edited by Louise Hickey

From Rebellious Teen to Creative Business Owner

From an early age, Traci Castle always knew she wanted to be a photographer. She laughs “Mum has home video footage of me from a Sydney family holiday and I’m telling her off about the light being no good for taking photos – I was just six years of age!”

Growing up in Wanganui, New Zealand, there weren’t many opportunities for a creative teenager to express herself and she found herself down a road of rebellion at a very young age. Drinking, smoking and hanging out with an older crowd, she soon found herself at a crossroads in her life where she knew that she had to make a choice to consciously change her focus in life or life was going to change for her. “I needed to channel my creative energy into something more constructive”.

Leaving school in Year Eleven to study Visual Arts, Traci was finally in a creative environment and she embraced the challenge of learning more about photography, as well as expressing her creativity through painting and drawing. She went on to complete a Diploma in Photography and graduated as one of the youngest in her class at the age of 19.

“I was ecstatic!” she grins when she recalls hearing she had secured an interview with an established portrait photography studio in Sydney. “I thought this was my chance to really grow”. Traci settled in to the fast paced lifestyle of Sydney but always missed her family and friends on the Coast. She missed the relaxed beach lifestyle and the lush subtropical rainforests of home. One day, reading a national recruitment website, she came across a job opportunity on the Sunshine Coast in a leading portrait studio. She quickly filled out the application and after an initial telephone conversation with the owner, was soon flying up from Sydney for an interview. Easily securing the job, Traci moved back to the Coast and started working within the studio.

It was at this point, she met Simon Ives. Simon was a digital enhancer, editing and enhancing images that were photographed by Traci in the studio. They shared the same work ethics and love of photography. In 2008, Studio Republic, the creative concept of Traci and Simon was born. An innovation in portrait photography using virtual backgrounds, the studio was the first of its kind on the Coast “There is nothing else like this that we know of in Australia that is available to the general public, so we really are pioneering a new approach to studio portrait photography in this country”.

Traci launched “Republic Youth Mentoring Program”, a work experience placement program that offers mentoring to young, passionate and dynamic photographers. “I just remembered how hard it was for me to get experience when I was starting out in my studies. I felt that as a business owner, I was in a position to help”.

She regularly donates photo shoots and products for fundraisers and is a regular sponsor of events. Traci explains “what we do is emotive. We help lift people’s spirits and capture special moments in time they’ll treasure forever – everyone deserves to have a beautiful legacy of memories. We are in a fortunate position where we can gift our services to help raise much needed funds and generate ‘feel good’ feelings all round”.

Her philanthropy carries through to one of her biggest passions in life – animal rights. She is a volunteer at the Sunshine Coast animal refuge. She is a member of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (W.S.P.A.) and a regular supporter of the PAWS and the R.S.P.C.A. Her American Cocker Spaniel, Ziggy, is a rescue dog who was badly abused by its previous owners.

When she’s not busy working at the studio, Traci enjoys spending time with her artist husband Berni and ‘fur baby’ Ziggy in the beautiful Coast’s hinterlands and coastlines.

Interview & Article by Louise Hickey