Director Profile: Catherine Spence

In 2016 I became one of the first directors and an original member of God’s Way organisation.

Despite having lived 72 years and having had many experiences and a range of occupations, I honestly feel that nothing in my previous life prepared me to be a director.

When God’s Way Ltd was founded I thought that our main mission would be to establish an Environmental Learning Centre focused on conservation and restoration of the natural environment. I really didn’t know much about how to run an organisation in harmony with God’s Principles, or what being a Director would entail. Even after reading the beautiful Constitution of God’s Way I still didn’t even fully realise what it was all about.

The reason I wanted to be involved in God’s Way was that I believed, with a passion, in what Jesus (Alan John Miller) and Mary Luck were teaching about and I wanted to be part of the organisation and to help out in whatever I could with the small amount of abilities I have. I also thought that by being involved I could learn more about God and more about myself.

Over the past 3 years I certainly have learnt a lot more about myself and have been encouraged by Jesus and Mary. I want Divine Truth, the teachings of Jesus and Mary, to be known throughout the whole world and being a director of God’s Way I can help the knowledge be spread to many places, including even in the spirit world.

There were many things that have happened in my life that significantly influenced the way I feel now and why I believe the way I do. I can see that many of these things led me to where I am today – involved in God’s Way Ltd and doing my best to follow Divine Truth teachings.

My Early Experiences

As a child I would escape from the house, or rather from my mother, and go exploring. This took me many places but my favourite was by a small creek. Along the banks were tee tree and wattles that kept the water cool and shaded. It was here I learnt about insects, tadpoles turning into frogs and heard the water rippling over rocks. I drank it and paddled in it. I used to lie under some willow trees and watch the rosellas and mountain lowries winging and quarrelling their way in the branches. At night I dreamt I was flying with them.

Catherine as a baby

Catherine as a baby

I never walked alone in these places, I always felt loved and cared for. I didn’t know it at the time but it was the first knowledge I had of a Greater Being.
Going to boarding school at age 13 was probably the best thing that happened to me in childhood. I found fairness and respect for the first time in my life at Loreto. Religious studies were our first lessons each morning for 40 minutes and were my favourite lessons. I made friends and never wanted to leave.

Catherine as a child

Catherine as a child

Early Career & My Beliefs

When I was 17 years of age I was accepted to commence my nursing training at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney for the following year. To be accepted you had to be in your 18th year.

At that time things were very different in hospitals than they are now. Patients remained in hospital for longer lengths of time. The nursing course was called general nursing care. And that was exactly what it was. We were trained in the full physical care of patients, including their feeding and bathing, along with assisting in or administering various medical procedures. The method of training reinforced what my mother had instilled in me from a baby; do not show any emotion, do not cry, do not be angry and do not question authority.

In nurses uniform

In nurses uniform

At this stage I gave up my Catholic religion. I didn’t believe in confession because I couldn’t believe that Jesus had died for my sins. I believed if I sinned I would have to pay for my sins. I also could not believe in a virgin birth. However, while I may have given up my religion, I never gave up God.

For some reason, when I was at boarding school, I had been told I would be on earth when Jesus returned. I had not thought about this for many years but when a friend asked me, towards the end of 2010, if I would like to see a DVD that said Jesus had returned, I wanted to watch it. When in the Secrets of the Universe, Jesus sat on the armchair of the couch, and said he was Jesus, I believed he was.

Around the time of my nursing career I began reading books. The authors I enjoyed the most were Lloyd C Douglas and Taylor Caldwell, some of them first published even before I was born. The stories, about one person or a particular family dealt with the interplay between people. While most were fictional, I felt that the characters could have been real people. When reading them I learnt much about the character, their ambitions, desires, what drove them to do what they did and what happened when they changed their lives in a better or worse direction. I began to observe the people I met and also myself. I gained more from these books than I did later reading self-help books.

Headshot at 21

Catherine at 21

Significant Events

There were three things that occurred in my life to change the way I felt about myself. These three things showed me that I was a capable person, that I could not be as bad as my mother or husband told me and that I did have some worth. For the first time in my life I was not so afraid, I was more confident in the decisions I made and although I still didn’t like myself very much, I no longer hated who I was. These are those three things:

Firstly, I did my midwifery training in Newcastle, NSW. At the end of the training in 1968 I received the award from the hospital as the most outstanding midwifery nurse for that year.

The second was my role teaching the nursing assistants at the local hospital. All of these students passed their exams. This may seem a peculiar thing to affect me but, under the teachers before me, no previous students had passed their exams.

The third thing was, later in my life, in 1980, I was selected from the Yarrowitch Tia Branch of the Wonthella Group of CWA to represent them at State as the Country Woman of the Year.

Accepting the Country Woman of the Year award

Country Woman of the Year representative for Wonthella

Marriage

I married in 1969 but after the “honeymoon” couple of years, there was not much love or respect left. We did stay together until 1992 but the marriage was well and truly over well before that time. It was interesting, Cec, my husband, was very much like my mother. He never took the blame for anything and after his father died in 1972 he blamed me for anything that went wrong, not his father. It was not easy being married to someone who was arrogant and controlling. He began putting me down. One thing he said each wedding anniversary was “we have been married for (say) 3 years, it seems like 3 days, 3 days of sheer bloody hell.” When he told this story he always expected people to laugh, this made him feel better and gave him some sort of power at my humiliation.

A Life of Work, Service & Business

During this time from 1969 to 1980 I did some work at the local hospital, took control of and managed 2,500 acres of land that was left to me in my fathers will, helped Cec on the family property, had lots of poddy lambs and took in any other stray animal that needed a home. We had already built a house on the property and begun a garden. I was a member of CWA, other local organisations and in many respects led a bit of a social life.

I did have a great desire to have children and after a year of not becoming pregnant, I visited the local doctor. He said on examination there was no reason I could not have children and that Cec should provide a sample of his sperm. When I told this to Cec he just said “it is not my fault”. So no further investigation was carried out.

Also, during this time I sold the property I owned, bought and sold a Unit in Port Macquarie, bought and sold shares on the stock market and bought another grazing property in 1979. All this was done in conjunction with Cec.

When my mother developed cancer, I took care of her for 6 months until her death in 1979.

In 1980 Cec and I bought a Combi Van and travelled over some of Australia. When we arrived home Cec did not want to run the property and thought we could put a manager on to manage the place. Instead I said I would like to manage the property, and so I began managing the 6,000 acres we owned between us and Cec’s mother.

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Water on Tia River

After that Cec had little imprint on what I did on the property except for some of the pasture work. However due to his “need” to control the finances, I was prevented from doing many things I wished to do to improve the stock and the land. I loved working on the land and planning how I would improve the health and welfare of the stock and planting some trees.

Some years later I became a member of Citizens Wildlife Corridors and began, with one neighbour, planting corridors of trees to try and link up the Forestry and Wild Rivers National Park. This was done mainly so that birds could travel from one area to another. In retrospect, I now realize that these corridors should have been four times wider. I also see that we learn all the time, we never stop taking in more information. During this time managing the property I learned a lot and gained a lot of new capabilities. There really was not any job I didn’t do on the property. There was animal husbandry, fencing and other physical work.

Once a year we had an on-property sheep auction. This entailed sorting the sheep by age, looking at the crimp and feeling the softness of the wool. The structure or composition of the sheep was also taken into consideration when deciding what sheep to sell and what sheep to keep.

I made sure the yards were ready and selected which sheep were to be sold first, which yards to put them in and made sure the buyers would have enough parking spots for their cars. With a group of 30 to 40 people all looking and bidding for the sheep it was a nightmare just making sure the sheep were not crushed to death. There were also many questions asked by the buyers that had to be answered. Loading the sheep after the sale could take a number of days and food was needed to be found in close paddocks for each flock of sheep.

Reflections on Farming Practices

There were many things I did on the property that were against God’s Laws, killing animals, eating meat, exploiting animals and the land for my own gain and comfort. It was not till later and when I had full control of the whole operation of managing the property that I realised a little of the harm I was causing.

Having been brought up on the land, with former generations of my family also making their livings off the land, going to the small local school and boarding school with children all coming from the same background, and after marrying and my friends all working on the land, it was difficult for me to notice that anything was wrong. It took many years to even start to think that I may be causing harm in everything I was doing and it is really only in the last couple of years that I have realised just how much damage I did to the animals, the land and to myself. It is amazing how long I was able to still deceive myself and try to minimise the sins I committed.

I have always believed that we receive messages throughout our lives. These can come from people, films, events that occur at times, reading books, spirits and even God. What we do with these messages is up to us. I tried to dismiss the messages I did receive about the way I managed the property, as I did not believe I was causing harm in what I was doing. I believed I was doing all the right things.

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Sheep on Tia River

For example, if there was a drought and money was scarce I would go without. Nothing was bought that was not necessary and work was curtailed on the property so that the animals always had plenty to eat. This policy always paid me back; the sheep were healthy needing less input with drenches and healthcare, the wool grew well with lots of nourishment and a good price was paid for the wool as the mills wanted it.

Just an example of one of the messages I received was when selling steers (castrated male animals). The carrier arrived, walked around them and said, “These are the best steers I have ever taken off ‘Tia River’” (the property). I felt pride and took all credit for the way they looked. As the loaded truck turned right onto the highway heading for the abattoirs my tears began to fall. I went back to 16 months earlier when they were just small calves and I saw them playing, jumping and racing with one another. For a split second I was racing with them and felt their sheer joy and exhilaration in the life that God had given them. I was overwhelmed suddenly with the fact that I had just taken that life away from them. A few years later I sold all the cattle because I could no longer kill them.

Family

In 1984 my brother died leaving two sons, aged 2 and 3-years old. The boys spent a lot of time with me on the farm and have, over the years, given me great joy. They spent many school holidays with me and we have always had a way of communicating that is very open and respectful. Although we now live in different states and seldom see each other, we do keep in touch. My love for them has not diminished.

I was with my mother in-law when she died in 1986. I have always found it is a great gift of the person to allow you to be there when they die. I cannot explain it properly but you are there at a very special and holy time in their life. Cec had tried to keep his alcoholic condition from his mother and I made excuses for why he didn’t see her more frequently when she was dying.

Cec by this stage was not just a problem drinker but had been an alcoholic for some time and things became much worse; he could no longer hide it from the world. He would usually leave the house before mid-day, come home around 9pm (just as I was going to bed) start drinking wine until he passed out in the chair, then wake up briefly as I was going to work in order to go to bed.

There are many things I could write about living with an alcoholic. All I will say is that it is impossible to have any relationship with them. I had long before this time tried to talk about the farm or talk about our relationship. But talking to someone when they are drunk is impossible, even though words were spoken we didn’t really talk about anything at all.

In 1992 we separated and had a property settlement. Cec wanted a lot more then half and half and I was happy to give him what he wanted. I ended up with just about the same amount of assets as I had taken into the marriage in 1969.

During this time, I was not only feeling very hurt but had become very bitter, blaming and very angry. I did not look at how by being resentful and blaming Cec for everything, I had contributed to the problem. There is still much repentance and forgiveness for me to do. I filed for divorce a few years after the separation.

New Directions

From 1992 I was able to relax more. I had complete control of where I spent money, what improvements I wanted to do and the ability to change the studs from where I purchased the rams (male sheep). I was no longer controlled. The relief I felt was unbelievable. Why didn’t I leave the marriage earlier? Why didn’t I end the marriage sooner?

A picnic on my 50th birthday

A picnic on my 50th birthday

In 1992, along with a group of other graziers, I went on an elite wool tour to Asia, Europe and England. When I arrived home, I became gravely ill and was not expected to live. I was placed on a drug that while it did improve my health it did not cure my illness. I remained unable to do any work for about a year. Even when I was classed as cured I tired very easily. I never regained the strength, the stamina or the energy that I had before.

I was still on high dosage of the drug and not improving when I saw an ad for a programme called Vision Quest (a self-help course that ran for 10 days). Why I purchased the magazine or why it appealed to me I did not know. I travelled to Victoria and took part in the programme. Part of the programme took us back to an earlier part of our lives. I went back to when I was 3 ½ years of age, at the time when my father died. I began crying (at the time I rarely cried). I cried and cried.

It was after that incident that I came down very slowly off the drug I was on. My kidneys may still be damaged as they were by the disease, but I am cured of the condition. It wasn’t until years later, when I found Divine Truth that I came to realize just what stored emotions could cause. Because I never regained the energy or stamina I had before the illness, it probably means that I still have some of the emotions that caused the autoimmune disease in the first place.

The first time the illness occurred, because, when I cried so deeply the illness resolved itself, I believed that it must have been my suppressed grief that had created the condition.

Some years later when I sold my property and moved to coastal NSW, the disease reoccurred. At that time, I had sold Tia River but a large part of me believed I should have stayed on looking after and running the property. I was plagued by guilt and shame about the matter. By looking at some of those issues, though I didn’t cry as much as I had during the previous occurrence, the illness seemed to resolve again. It was not nearly as severe or lasted as long.

I now think, that in order to fully heal physically, I have to look at the grief and anger that I have around the death of my father. I have anger because my mother blamed me for his death. One day I will write properly about my childhood.

In 2004 I sold the property and made a move to the coast with my old yard-working dog called Wags (she had a very long tail and never stopped wagging it) and with a cat that was just called Cat. He had joined me as a half grown wild kitten. Cat walked in the back door as Cec walked out the front one. So instead of feeling my emotions, I got comfort, as in all prior periods of my life, from animals. Cat died while I lived down the coast and Wags died in the first year I moved back to the New England area. All the animals I have owned during my life would be classed as rescue animals. Many that I took in were abandoned, stray, or had been mistreated. I had my working dogs and lambs and calves that had lost their mothers that I raised. But I call them rescue animals, not just because they were in need when they came to live with me, but also because they all seemed to give me the love that I craved.

There were many reasons why I sold Tia River when I did and not one reason was more important than the other. But if I had not sold the property when I did I doubt that I would ever have sold it. I would still be there. Here are some but not all the reasons I sold the property:
• I could no longer do the amount of work I did before so that meant I would need to employ someone else
• The person who had worked for me for 24 years was almost at retirement age
• There was much more volatility in the wool market which made it impossible to budget wisely
• The weather patterns were changing, rainfall was becoming less reliable, we could no longer rely on rain at certain times in the year. Now dry times were becoming longer in duration and droughts could occur. The rain when it fell was heavier and didn’t last as long. The soft, gentle misty rain that used to fall was now almost non-existent.
• Technology was becoming necessary, buyers would no longer rely on visual appearance of the sheep and wool; buyers wanted more data. This would have meant me employing more people.

All of the above meant that more money was needed to run the property and although I had off-farm income, much more was needed to keep the property viable. To me it looked like the farm would become more of a hobby than remain an income producing proposition. Although I loved what I was doing (I will still at times call Tia River home) I believed at 60 years of age I could still have an interesting life away from there.

My Faith & Life These Days

I wonder at times why I have been shown the things I have been, or why I have been led in certain directions all my life. I do believe whenever I have been in emotional trouble and have asked God for help I have been helped. I know it is difficult to want to remember the events that have occurred in our childhood and to know who the people were that caused them, but I have found it very rewarding to emotionally feel them. I still have much work to do on all aspects of my life and courage is needed. There are still some personal injuries I do not know about (I feel their effects but don’t know the cause) so those would be the hardest to get rid of. But I know if I include God I will receive a lot of help.

I moved back to the New England area of NSW in 2012, Jesus and Mary were then travelling down to that area, so I was able to learn more about Divine Truth and what they were teaching by attending their public seminars. Moving to Queensland in 2016 meant I left behind my two nephews, the people I had known all my life and the area I was familiar with. Here however I have gained more knowledge, more understanding of God and developed more faith in the truth I have been told. It has been a good move.

I do not know what the rest of my life has install for me, but I trust God will help me in all things. There are a few things (not necessarily in this order) that I would like to do; to become closer to God; to learn more about myself, this includes to be willing to know and love my soulmate; become more loving to others; to help to restore nature so it can return to the way God created it; to help spread the Word of God; to process all my emotional injuries and become a loving and truthful person.

Working with friends

Working with friends

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Catherine at the Volunteer Selection Project

Catherine Spence
Catherine Spence
Director

Title: Director Profile: Catherine Spence
Author: Catherine Spence
Date of Submission: 27 August 2018
Date of Event: Life story
Branch: Governance
Location: Wilkesdale, Queensland, Australia

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