Nina Joan

Category: Story

‘never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful’


It is breathtaking how much the soul can be filled by the beauty of a simple rose. I happened upon this pale, yellow rose in my Mother’s rose garden. The simple surprise of finding this beautiful flower filled my soul with such beauty and it eased the heaviness I felt about life. Life often brings some ugly moments when your mind and soul are weighed down by the burdens of life. A simple rose became a reminder to pause and reflect on my perspective toward life’s circumstances and rather than being weighed down by life, endeavour to find the beauty in the simple things, the everyday happenings of life.

~Nina Joan

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful;

for beauty is God’s handwriting – a wayside sacrament.

Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower,

and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

the missing key


“Behold and see, we are beautiful”


What do you see in three yellow roses? I asked myself as I photographed my younger sister holding these flowers. We picked the flowers together from our Mother’s rose garden and then sought a suitable place and background to take a photograph. I was delighted with the way the photograph turned out. And in that moment and often in times gone by, there is another feeling I have felt when I capture of glimpse of nature. I am simply in awe of beauty. When I see these roses I see something more than the array of colours, the variety of shapes and sizes or the sweet smelling fragrance. I see beauty. And that beauty gives life to my soul. These roses do not have some mysterious power in their possession. What they do have is a reflection, a reflection of the one who created them.

The great theologian Jonathan Edwards once said, “For as God is infinitely the greatest Being, so he is allowed to be infinitely the most beautiful and excellent; and all the beauty to be found throughout the whole creation, is but the reflection of the diffused beams of that Being who hath an infinite fullness of brightness and glory.” Wherever we see creation we see the beauty of God. This is why I love photography. A photograph is a moment of God’s beauty captured. The beauty that we behold points to Him. In the prayer of St Augustine, ‘’The Beauty of Creation Bears Witness to God’, eloquently describes beauty and its relation to God:


Question the beauty of the earth,
the beauty of the sea,
the beauty of the wide air around you,
the beauty of the sky;
question the order of the stars,
the sun whose brightness lights the days,
the moon whose splendour softens the gloom of night;
question the living creatures that move in the waters,
that roam upon the earth,
that fly through the air;
the spirit that lies hidden,
the matter that is manifest;
the visible things that are ruled,
the invisible things that rule them;
question all these.

They will answer you: “Behold and see, we are beautiful.”

Their beauty is their confession to God.

Who made these beautiful changing things,

if not one who is beautiful and changeth not?

These three yellow roses say (to paraphrase St Augustine), “Behold and see, we are beautiful. Our beauty is our confession to God, our Creator”. All of creation displays a reflection of God’s beauty. If what we see on earth is only a reflection of His beauty. His beauty is beyond comprehension! What do you see in three yellow roses? I see beauty and a reflection of the Creator.

By Nina Joan



Shining Nature

‘Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better’ Albert Einstein

Under the Jacaranda Trees


Adventures in Cambodia

Here are some of my adventures in Cambodia (for this post…just getting to Singapore)

The journey began one very early morning at Brisbane International airport and patiently waiting in great anticipation to board the plane and start the adventure. Walking though the airport I unexpectedly met a woman who I had studied with at college, while we studied different courses in the same college we graduated in the same year together. I had not seen her since then and it had been over a year and a half. She is a social worker going to India for three months to work with the poor in the slums and she hoped to move permanently in the future.


View from the plane.

We embarked on the first leg of our journey to Singapore and flew west across Australia. If you have never seen Australia it is a vast country and seeing the Australian landscape from above gives you are great perspective. It took a few hours to fly over Australia and the sights were a hot, barren land. There were some beautiful sights coming over the north-western parts of Western Australia with islands and inlets carving the beautiful edge of the Australian coast. Past the coast we flew passed Indonesia and saw mountain tops reaching through the clouds and billowing smoke erupting from a volcano. After seven hours I was finally tired of being on the plane and could not wait to get off, for it was only a short flight from Singapore to Phnom Penh and the anticipation of arriving was getting quite exciting.


The Storm we were about to fly into ..

Looking out of my window on the plane as we approached Singapore I noticed a large gathering of clouds and it looked like we were heading straight into the storm. The bright sunshine we had been enjoying on our trip began to darken as we flew straight into the middle of the clouds. Lightning flashed in the dark and rain began to hit plane as we began our descent. As we braced  for a rather turbulent landing and just seconds away from landing the plane accelerated abruptly, aborted the landing and took off. Aborted landing! That was certainly something I was not expecting. We circled around Singapore for another 45 minutes before landing safely. It was quite a scary experience but I was happy to land safely and be late than not land safely at all. As a result of the plan being late we were forced to miss our connecting flight to Phnom Penh and stayed the night in Singapore. My Cambodian adventures would have to start tomorrow….

Carpets of Purple



New Farm Park, Brisbane

In October every year, New Farm Park in Brisbane comes alive in a glorious display of purple. The avenue through the park is aligned with a canopy of Jacarandas on either side. The leaves fall to the ground and creates a carpet of purple flowers. The jacarandas only blossom for a short time and invades the beautiful park with the powerful purple. I have  always loved the display of colour in October, the sometimes dull and dreary streets come alive in with the colours of springtime and you can’t help but feel alive too. If you are ever in Brisbane make sure you visit New Farm Park, located only a few minutes away from the CBD and the Brisbane River.It is truly one of the icons of Brisbane.

Nina Joan

Coffee and a game of Chess?


Trying out a new place for coffee on the weekend my friend and I found this lovely place in Brisbane which was a cafe with a bit of fun. Playing a game of chess is a clever idea in a cafe (although I must confess we didn’t actually play). I took the photograph and realised we needed to have our morning coffee before even contemplating to play so early in the morning.

Spring is here!



Spring is the loveliest time of the year. The flowers bloom and the colour seems to burst in the landscape.

Photo taken: Mt Tambourine, Queensland

Traveller or Tourist?


The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” – G.K. Chesterton

A photo of myself looking out to the view of the ancient temple of Angkor Wat, Cambodia


State Library of Queensland


What a view! I found this quiet place of solitude in The State Library of Queensland. I think it is such a great idea and whoever was the designer what a genius. My friend and I sat in quietness of the Library and watched as the boats and ferries carried on up and down the river. It was just delightful.

Good vs Evil


“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Australia, Land of My Heart


Dorothea Mackellar, one of Australia’s most iconic poets wrote the well known poem; My Country. A homesick Mackellar wrote the words to this poem when she was in England. She longed to be back in the land that she loved and penned these words to show how much she loved Australia.

I am Australian and deeply love my country. The words of this poem have touched me since I first read it as a little girl and throughout my journeys in Australia the words are often in my heart. As I take photographs of this great, wide and beautiful land I know that I am blessed to live in the greatest country in the world.

Here is my favourite verse from the poem and I hope my photograph above, helps to illustrate the beauty of this great land.

‘I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!’
Dorothea Mackellar

Into the Fog II

On my way to school recently, there was a heavy covering of fog. It was a very peaceful sight. I walked 100 metres away from my classroom and took this photograph. The cane train tracks disappearing into the fog create a mysterious feeling but also one of awe.


Doubtful Sound


Doubtful Sound is a glorious place to visit. In the south island of New Zealand, Doubtful Sound is a silent beauty. The cruise through the sound shows the mountains towering over the water, creating an atmosphere of complete awe. It is well worth a visit, it is a place you have to feel and see with your own eyes to really appreciate its beauty.

Nina Joan

Country Life

In Bundaberg, it is sugar cane harvesting season. Most afternoons on my way home from work, smoke is often floating through the air. The air smells of burning cane…which at times can be unpleasant. It is still fascinating to watch.

After living in a country town for a few months I am not afraid to say that I am a city girl. I think the fires are fascinating and locals think I am crazy chasing fires to take photographs. I found out that sugar cane fires burn very quickly, some only burn for less than fifteen minutes. It proves that you have to be in the right place at the right time.

On my way home from work one afternoon, I drove past a fire but I didn’t have my camera. I raced home (no, I didn’t speed) to get my camera and drove back (fifteen minutes round trip) by the time I got back the fire had finished burning. I drove back home disappointed the I had not captured the fire.


The photograph above was taken from the Hummock Lookout. It is the highest point in Bundaberg and gave a good view of the fire on the horizon. I thought is was a simple snapshot do the sugar cane fire and I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Nina Joan

‘Wipe Out’

A few months ago I captured this photograph of a surfer falling off his board. During the editing process of this photo I realised there was a lesson to be learned in this photograph. This is what the photograph taught me.

A surfer waits patiently for the perfect wave to come along, they spend numerous hours in the water waiting for their moment to catch the perfect wave. So great is their anticipation that time is irrelevant. Once the surfer catches their wave the enjoyment and passion is seen on their faces during the exhilarating run. Surfers spend time practicing their technique learning how to ride the waves. During these times of learning there will always be times when the surfer crashes into the ocean and ‘wipes out’. It is inevitable fact. It is also the same in life. Life was never meant to be an easy swim in the ocean, where would the point that be? Life if full of challenges and opportunities to let us grow and learn. These times in our lives catapult us into learning new things and becoming wiser, better people.

There are always moments in our lives where we ‘wipe out’. These times are unquestionably painful not only to us but to others around us. Sometimes no matter how hard we try to avoid a ‘wipe out’  we automatically end up ‘wiping out’. Why is this so? It is one of the great questions of the universe. I’m sure God knows the reasons for our many failings and reasons which we as humans would like to know. But God in His infallible wisdom guides and leads every moment in our lives. Yes, we do fail and ‘wipe out’ (that is the problem with being mortals) yet, we have grace and the opportunity to try again. When we ‘wipe out’ on a wave we can get back on the surfboard and catch the next wave.

We have all seen waves gracefully glide past from the shore line on the beach, few have ridden waves and seen their splendor up close. They are a marvellous, natural beauty. However, waves, do not last for long, they inevitably and majestically crash into the shore. Our lives won’t always have a perfect run for years. Life is a journey of good times and times where we ‘wipe out’. What we need to understand is that God has a purpose for every moment in our lives, it is our purpose to do our best with the life He has given us.

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