Wednesday, June 19, 2019

I Have a Teenager

Blog, that is. It's still another six and a half years until I have a teenage child.

I have been blogging since the 19th June 2006!

I know I never seem to post anything except book reviews these days, but I'll be back. One day. Maybe next year when Flynn starts kindy (can you believe it?) and I have some time to breathe and process.

Does anyone still read this?

Saturday, June 08, 2019

The Happiness Effect

If you see that I’m reviewing a fair few books on social media usage it’s because it’s my pet topic at the moment.

The Happiness Effect is a study of the attitudes of American college students towards social media. While some of it was extremely interesting, I found some was not relevant to me. Unfortunately I’m not in that young twenty-something demographic anymore, and chapters on sexting, selfies and nude photos are not really my thing. I don’t need to worry about what my future boss might think of my posts and photos as my profile is set to private and there is nothing incriminating there anyway. There was also discussion of apps that I have no idea about; I’m really only familiar with Facebook and blogging.

The main point of the book is that there seems to be no place on social media for sadness or overt seriousness, and there is great pressure to only post happy, positive things. Whether it’s pressure that friends will cut you off, or that a post will affect your future employment, people of all ages feel they must edit their lives. I’ve found this to be very true. There is pressure to post things for ‘likes’ and the thrill of acceptance and validation that gives. There is no place for vulnerability, hence some insensitive twit will use it against you. Yet, if you’re too positive, you get accused of being fake. You can’t win.

These are some of the points which really stood out to me:
  • There is a real love-hate relationship between young people and their smart phones. They long to be free of them, but feel disconnected to their peers and the world without them. Nowadays, smart phone users are expected to be on-call like they were doctors or other emergency workers. There is a fear of being out of phone range if there is an emergency and they need to be reached. Yet, previous generations survived without this technology. Those who have deactivated their social media accounts have noticed they tend to get less invitations to things and it’s the fear of being left out that often makes people reactivate.
  •  In the past, you’d hear about a party you weren’t invited to via overhearing conversations. Now the photos are plastered all over social media to rub it in your face (often deliberately).
  • Being on platforms which allow you to post or comment anonymously is freeing because you can be your authentic self. I’ve found this with blogging; I can be much more honest than I can on Facebook. However, this has led to the rise of trolling, and people showing their nasty sides.
The book didn’t address all of the areas I wished it had and I suspect that is mostly because it’s not aimed at my demographic. What I want to read is a book about social media usage by women around my age – the subtle nastiness women often display, such as tagging all of your mutual friends but you in a ‘best friend meme’, posting photos or ‘checking in’ at an event you were excluded from, liking everyone else’s posts but yours. But you can’t pull them up on this behaviour as they’ll just deny it and you’ll look like a crazy person.

My hunt continues….

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Living Free

Another book that resides in my in-laws' Perth holiday house....

This is actually two books together in one volume - Walking in the Light and Living Free in Christ. Neil T. Anderson is an American Christian counsellor, who specialises in helping people in spiritual bondage. He writes that sometimes these people are Christians who KNOW the gospel in their heads, but are having trouble living out the freedom Christ brings due to lies they've believed in the past. Sometimes they are non-Christians who have dabbled in the occult, or are demon-possessed.

The books themselves are actually a really sound overview of living the Christian life. The volume is quite exhaustive as it covers everything from our acceptance, security and significance in Christ, to spiritual discernment (especially as it easy to become influenced by New Age practices) and walking in the Spirit. They would be great to give to a new Christian, or someone struggling in their faith. You'd think such a book would be captivating for all Christians, but I really struggled to get through it. It actually took me a few attempts of reading a bit, then switching to a novel, then picking it back up again. I think this is more of my issue, rather than an issue with the book itself. Perhaps it was Satan trying to thwart me in reading biblical truths? Perhaps it was my own laziness? Or a combination of the two?

The most helpful bit for me were the 'Steps to Freedom' bit at the back which covers all sorts of areas which Christians might be struggling, everything from unforgiveness to bitterness, to addiction and self-righteousness. The sample prayers he included were really good to be able to get that help to pray what I was feeling. Often I know how I feel, but I don't actually spill it out verbally to God.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Welcome Lindsay

Meet the newest addition to our feathered family.....Lindsay Lohen!

Like her namesake, she needs rehab.

Lindsay is an ex-battery hen who was donated to Flynn's daycare. She was getting badly pecked by the other chooks (including other ex-battery hens), so she ended up here with us. Her rehab is in a separate area to the other chooks where she can put on some weight and hopefully grow some feathers. I ended up putting Sheba in with her as Sheba has a sore leg and has been limping, and the other chooks kept pecking her to the point where they drew blood. They look like an odd duo - scrawny little Lindsay in with busty, 'comfortable' Sheba - but they seem to be getting on quite well.

Brewster the Rooster has been stalking Lindsay, marching up and down outside her enclosure and crowing repeatedly. I have issued him with several move-on notices.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Chasing the Dragon

I was very sceptical when I first picked up this book (it was one that was at my in-laws' Perth house) and I thought it would be sure to end up in my recycling bin.

I ate my words!  Wow, what a book!

Chasing the Dragon (an expression which means smoking heroin) is the story of Jackie Pullinger, but really it is God's story of how He transformed the lives of people far from Him, using Jackie in the process. Jackie, a British missionary, arrived in Hong Kong in 1966 and ministered among drug addicts, gang members, and prostitutes in the Walled City. It what seemed like an overwhelmingly hopeless place, God used Jackie to spread the gospel. Many believed and lives were transformed.

I think the way Jackie arrived in Hong Kong was a bit unwise - she arrived by herself. With the recent death of John Allen Chau - killed on North Sentinel Island by an unreached people group - it shows the danger of lone missions. Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs to show we NEED each other. We aren't meant to go alone. Jackie said God led her there, and while there's no doubt He used her tremendously, and later she teamed up with other Christians, it doesn't mean she did the right thing by going alone; it means God brings good out of foolish decisions.

Being from a conservative, evangelical background since becoming a Christian, I'd often been influenced to think critically about speaking in tongues. It generally gets dismissed a lot, or explained away among Christians I rub shoulders with. I still don't agree with hardline Pentecostals, who insist a Christian MUST speak in tongues, otherwise they don't have the Holy Spirit. That is a dangerous false teaching. Rather, I was challenged by how God works in the world, among people who have never heard of Jesus, have no Bibles and are illiterate. In some ways, it mirrors The Heavenly Man and shows nothing is impossible for God. In our suspicious, Western mindset, we too often forget our God is an awesome God of miracles.

Friday, January 04, 2019

I Nearly Forgot....

One of my favourite 2018 moments.....12 years in the making.

Photo from here

They defied the odds all year, which made victory oh so very sweet.

I hope Robert Walls enjoys his humble pie.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Fast Away 2018 Passes

I've revived the blog...for now.

I thought it fitting to end 2018 with a post.

This year has simply flown by. I know that is a cliche, but it's true. I'm struggling to rank 2018. Has it been good or bad...or just ordinary? I think all of the above.

2018 was the year I returned to the stage after a four year absence. We rehearsed from mid June until the first show in late October. At first, it was one rehearsal per week, then two as things cranked up. My initial disappointment and hurt over getting a small role turned out to be a great blessing. Even though I had a smallish part, I got on famously with the other cast members I had my scenes with, and I was relieved to have NOT got the part I'd so desperately wanted at the beginning. God really does know what is best for us.

My other highlights were doing Zumba each week while Flynn was at daycare, AND...drum roll.....getting to finally meet Meredith and Wendy. We had a lovely lunch together at Kings Park in Perth in November. I really miss the old days of blogging, when we all blogged regularly and had a really encouraging little community.

Another triumph was finally progressing with our garden. We've had no water supply to the garden since we moved here in December 2010, but FINALLY we have lawn, reticulation, some vegies in the garden...and a HOSE!

Rory has finished Pre-Primary - his first year of full-time school - and did tremendously. He is growing in confidence, loves school work, and can read simple sentences.

There were lows. One was our failed adoption (and therefore rehoming) of Shadow. Another was my diagnosis of PMDD. It all started in March and resulted in serious mood swings (white hot anger or floods of tears) and searing headaches which left me bedridden. The doctor has tried to help me, but there seems to be little to be done. 2019 will be a year of further investigation as I can't go on like this each month.

Another bitter disappointment was that I seem to be getting nowhere in my writing career. I've wanted to be a writer since I was seven years old, and now I'm seriously questioning if I have what it takes. My novel has been knocked back repeatedly and I haven't done any good in the short story competitions I've entered. The only option left seems to be self-publishing, but that will cost me and I'm not gifted at marketing my own work. The whole saga has left me quite depressed at times.

I've had several dear friends move further away from me this year. One from Perth to Broome, one from Perth to Victoria, one from the farm here to travelling around Australia, one from Albany to Alice Springs, and another is leaving Perth to move to Sydney in January. Even though I don't get to see them all the time, it's harder when they're even further away. Happy for them, sad for me.

There have also been some strained local relationships. I won't go into it, but Duncan has been having similar difficulties with the same people. It just shows that some people have issues and won't like you whatever you do.

As far as 2019 goes, our weekly routine looks like it will remain much the same - one child at full-time school, one child at home, husband working full-time and me doing a little bit of casual admin work from home. Flynn will go to daycare on Tuesdays and I'll have six precious hours to myself. It's nice to have a bit of stability.

To be honest, I haven't missed blogging. I really needed and enjoyed the break. I'll pop in from time to time, with a book review here or an opinion there. Now that Flynn is going to sleep by himself in the evenings, I may have a bit more time to write...maybe.

May 2019 be great, and may you know the one who loves us all, despite who we are, and died for you and rose again....Jesus.