Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Year of Never Been Done Before

There's only hours left of 2006 and 2007 is nearly upon us. So how will I remember 2006?

Early in the year, I decided that this year I wanted to try things that I had never done. Too often in the past I had missed out because I was too scared to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. The aim was not merely personal fulfillment but I wanted to serve God and live for him and not let fear hold me back. God is so big and would surely be with me all the way, even though the things that were new and scary to me might not seem like a big deal for other people. And so 2006 became 'The Year of Never Been Done Before'.

I've looked back over my year and made a list of things that I did for the very first time in 2006.

* I went on a plane for the first time (in July to Melbourne)
* I went out of WA for the first time.
* I started helping out in English as a Second Language (ESL) ministry, meeting for bible study with Chinese people investigating Christianity.
* I went on the ESL camp (in October).
* I was asked to be a bridesmaid (for my housemate Emma who's getting married in May 2007).
* I went into a bridal shop.
* I made new friends (although that seems to happen every year).
* I was part of a women's bible study group (having previously been in mixed groups).
* I went to an Eskimo Joe concert.
* I started helping out with Sunday School at my church.
* I went to Cornerstone for the whole camp (having previously been a day visitor).
* I went camping in Margaret River (although that was a disaster because I ended up with gastro).
* I went to the State Youth Games (playing for South Perth CofC).
* I started a blog (and a Flickr site).

Not all of these things are ministry-related and not all of them are scary (in fact most of them were just plain fun!). People who were previously acquaintances became good friends. I strived to maintain existing relationships with friends and family. Friends moved house. Relationships began and ended. There were many engagements. My church grew. Babies were born and more are due next year. Sadly there were also deaths. The Eagles won their third premiership. I went through a very difficult time from early to mid September (although it felt like months) where I seriously doubted God's goodness and called him a stinge. God responded in a way that really threw me - he started giving me what I had been praying for. I had doubted him and turned away from him but he was faithful. I repented and turned back to him and it truly felt like God was with me in the darkness. May 2007 be spent walking with him.

I've also realised that every year is a 'Year of Never Been Done Before'. 2007 will surely bring new and exciting things.

I have lots to look forward to and be thankful for in 2007. Leave a comment and say what 2006 meant to you.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

I'm Back!!!

My holiday in Albany ended yesterday and I headed back to Perth on the bus. It was a very relaxing trip - I caught up with my family, my animals, friends from Albany, friends from Perth who used to live in Albany and Perth friends who came down to visit. I went to different beaches many times, went on long walks, saw Casino Royale at the cinema, did last minute Christmas shopping, had to have massage/physio appointments, Carols by Candlelight, the Christmas pageant and went to church. Christmas was quiet with just my immediate family and my nan. Although I'm definitely glad I don't live at home anymore (I moved out in Feb 2001 when I moved to Perth for uni). I've got my own routine now and my family can be extremely noisy and nosey. Sometimes I feel like yelling "SILENCE!".

Now I'm back in the city andI think the trip reminded me of why I want to return to the country one day (just not to anywhere hot). I'm housesitting my cousin Huw's place and looking after their cat, Fizz, in Inglewood until Wednesday. So I won't have slept in my own bed for quite a few weeks.

I'm definitely looking forward to New Year's - am going to church and then we're having some sort of gathering afterwards. What are you all doing for New Year's (if anything)?

Happy New Year and resolution making everyone!!!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Year of Failing Technology

As 2006 draws to a close, I've decided to review the big things that happened to me this year. Ok, maybe this is not major but have you ever had all of your technical devices die or just need upgrading in ONE YEAR?!? This year it felt like all of my technical stuff has been replaced and not cos I wanted the latest gadgets. The list includes:

* TV
* DVD/VCR player
* Computer
* Camera
* Washing machine (the house I rent is furnished so the owner replaced this luckily!)
* Fan

I think that was it. So it's been a pretty expensive year. It's like they all plotted together that this is the year they would cark it. Maybe I don't really need all of this fact I'm sure I don't.....but I do appreciate it's usefulness when it all works.

Rule number 1 - never rely on technology.

Here's to a less expensive 2007 as far as technology is concerned.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Post Christmas Joke

For those still high on Christmas, here's a bit of belated humour for ya...

When four of Santa's elves got sick and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones, Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule.

Then Mrs Claus told Santa that her Mother was coming to visit. This stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knew where!! More stress...

Then when he began to load the sleigh one of the boards cracked, and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys.

So, frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard he discovered that the elves had hidden the alcohol and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration he accidentally dropped the cider pot, and it broke into a hundred of little pieces all over the kitchen floor.

He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw end of the broom.

Just then the doorbell rang, and irritable Santa trudged to the door. He opened the door and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't it a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?"

And so began the tradition of the angel on top of the Christmas tree...

Hehehe. I hope you all had a great Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Who's Jesus?

Christmas is only one sleep away and as everyone frantically finishes their shopping, I wonder if they really know what they're doing? By that I mean, has anyone actually paused to consider why they celebrate Christmas each year?

To some it is about family. To others it's getting smashed and having a good time. To others it's like an all you can eat buffet. And to still others it's about getting the ipod they wanted.

To me it's about the birth of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour. Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to keep Christmas, it's more a pagan holiday really. But it is a good time to reach out to people with the good news of Christmas - that God came to earth as a man and about 33 years later he died on a cross in order to reconcile people to God and to take the punishment we deserved for not living God's way. THAT'S good news.

But I too get distracted by what Christmas has become today. I wake up and look forward to receiving gifts (although not like I did when I was a kid), eating good food and having a relaxing holiday with family. These are all blessings but tomorrow I just hope I pause for a second to remember the greatest gift that God has given to all of us and thank him for it.

I was in Woolies in Albany the other day with my mum. It was pretty busy - stressed mums pushing trolleys full of food, kids whining about what THEY wanted. Carols were playing merrily in the background but I doubt anyone paid much attention.

Last night I went to Carols by Candlelight and I found myself looking out at the crowds singing such well known songs. Did anyone really know what they were singing? Or was it all just too familiar? Did the thousands know they were singing the gospel across the beach, that they were praising the Lord of heaven and earth?

May all Christians show love to others this Christmas so that they may know we are Jesus' disciples.

Lord, please have mercy on many people this Christmas - on the thousands in Albany who do not yet know you and everywhere.

Merry Christmas all :D

Monday, December 18, 2006

Calling all Theoblogians #1

I've only been a Christian for five years (and boy has it gone quick!) so I decided it's about time to get those pressing theological questions answered. What better place to do it than the blogosphere! My intention is not to offend but to get others' opinions and of course voice my own as well. I want to venture beyond tradition and see what the Bible has to say...easier said than done perhaps but I pray we can all (myself included) look at this with open minds.

The first issue is........the gift of tongues. Does this get your tongues wagging? :)

For the first couple of years I hadn't thought much about it. I go to a fairly conservative church and we have discussed tongues in certain sermons (1 Corinthians 14 for example) but I wouldn't have a clue if anyone I know speaks in tongues. I know of one person who thinks it's all dodgy because they went to a church where the pastor said, "Right now everyone start speaking in tongues" and the whole congregation started babbling non stop and stumbling around everywhere. There was such pressure to speak in tongues that this person's friend felt quite ashamed that she didn't and kept trying and trying until she spoke in tongues. Which raises the point - do some people fake speaking in tongues because of pressure from other Christians or to get acceptance by their church?

Another person I know asked a very good question - what is 'speaking in tongues'? Is it an unknown language that the person themselves doesn't know but can speak (like Harry Potter being able to speak in Parseltongue) or is it the gift of suddenly being able to speak to others in another language eg. French? I decided to have a look through the Bible and find out.

In Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost, what seemed to be tongues of fire descended upon the apostles and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Jews from many nations had come to Jerusalem and each of them heard the apostles speaking in their native language. Therefore, it appears the gift of tongues enabled the apostles to speak the gospel in other languages so that others could hear it in their native tongue.

1 Corinthians 14 goes more into the gifts of tongues and prophecy and their use in the church. Verse 2 says that those who speak in tongues, speak to God and not to men because no-one else understands them. Paul goes on to say that the gift of prophecy is better because it edifies the church but tongues edifies only the individual. Verse 14 says "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful." Does this mean that the person who speaks in tongues has no idea what they are saying? Paul says in verse 13 that the tongue-speaker should pray that they will be able to interpret what they're saying. Chapter 12 lists different spiritual gifts, one being speaking in different kinds of tongues and another being the intrepretation of tongues. I was always under the impression that if someone were to speak in tongues in church then there must be someone present who can interpret but some of these passages indicate that the speaker can also interpret what they say.

Another thing I heard was that the gift of tongues is spontaneous ie. the individual will suddenly just start doing it at any moment and cannot stop themselves. After reading 1 Corinthians, I disagree with this. Paul seems to be advocating orderly worship - 1 Cor 14:28 says "If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God." Which begs the question - how do you know whether an interpretator is present or not?

From reading these passages, I'm convinced that tongues is a good gift from God and one of the many gifts of the Spirit that God gives us for the building up of his church. What I don't like is when some Christians go about saying that you can't be a Christian unless you speak in tongues because tongues is a sign of having the Holy Spirit - if you don't speak in tongues, you don't have the Spirit. It's black and white to them. I had a tradesman come to my house about six months ago and I soon found out he was also a Christian. He was a very friendly guy and we were soon having a good chat but then the conversation became all about tongues and I could not shift it from there. This guy went to a church where to become a Christian, you had to have spoke in tongues at the point of conversion and he used Acts as an example saying that everyone who became a Christian in Acts spoke in tongues. He asked me how I knew I had the Spirit if I didn't speak in tongues. I mentioned 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 27-30 which shows we each have the same Spirit but different manifestations of the Spirit such as gifts of healing, wisdom, prophecy, tongues, faith etc. In 1 Corinthians 14:5, Paul says to the Corinthian Christians, "I would like every one of you to speak in tongues but I would rather have you prophesy." This implies that not all of them speak in tongues. I also had a look through Acts and not all converts speak in tongues or at least it is not mentioned whether they did or not. Acts 2:40-41, 4:4, 5:14, 8:36-40 (Philip's conversion), 16:14-15 (Lydia's conversion) and there are probably heaps more which I can't be bothered listing. Most of all, Ephesians 1:13-14 says that those included in Christ when they believed the gospel were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit which is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. Emma and Peter arrived a bit later and continued to discuss these things with him.

This guy wasn't convinced by any of these verses. His mind was already made up and I can't be bothered arguing with people for the sake of arguing. We parted on good terms and I could tell he still wasn't convinced I was a real Christian. But I'm convinced. Later on I looked at the website of one church which has their statement of beliefs. In the 'How to become a Christian' section, it says that people should pray for Jesus to fill them with the Spirit and they should start speaking in tongues. In brackets it says (not in English).

The point of this post is to hear from other people in the blogosphere. I'm not convinced that all Christians need to speak in tongues but I do wonder why in some churches, everyone speaks in tongues and in other churches, nobody does. Is it a case of 'birds of a feather flock together' or something else? I want to get beyond what our churches/denominations teach and see what the Bible says. Do YOU speak in tongues? If so, perhaps you can answer the 'what is it' question? Should we all WANT to speak in tongues? I know of some people who pray very earnestly for the gift of tongues. I'm not sure what their motivation is but is it a gift all Christians should want?


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Holidays at Last!!!

Yay! I'm on holidays and I'm typing this blog post down in my hometown of beautiful Albany while all the Perthites suffer in the heat. A friend smsed me and told me it was over 40 up there today. It was only 29 down here. Perfect for someone who can't stand hot weather. Now I'm on holidays for next two weeks and go back to Perth on the 29th, just in time for New Year's.

Thursday was my last day at work and my department had our Christmas lunch at the Mt Henry Tavern in Manning where we got our Secret Santa presents. Thanks Santa for the weighted bookmark with frogs on it. We're not meant to say whose Secret Santa we were but mine accidentally let it slip - not-so-Secret Santa hehe ;)

Yesterday I headed down to Albany on the bus and before I left, my friend Rachel who lives down here sent me an sms saying she hoped I wouldn't get stuck next to a talkative old lady. Well I didn't - I got stuck next to a talkative old man! Normally I'm so tired when I go on the bus and I can't be bothered talking to people; I just listen to my discman or sleep or watch the movie if it's decent. But before I could put on my earphones, the old man started talking to me and he was such a nice chap really, I decided I would make an effort despite the fact I was insanely tired. He talked about how he was in World War 2 and that he'd played tennis in Japan and was going to have a holiday at the Kalgan River near Albany with his daughter and her family. Perhaps he was just lonely and he seemed delighted to talk. I don't have any grandpas but he seemed like a nice grandfatherly type fellow.

I was meant to go on a yacht around the harbour last night with my mum and some people from her work but I was so tired I decided not to go and all I did was sleep. Today I caught up with Rachel (we've known each other since kindergarten) and we went out for lunch, then I saw her place. This evening we went to the annual Albany Christmas pageant. Now I'm veging at home, watching Rachel's DVD of Little Britain and blogging. Yes I'm at home on a Saturday night and the olds are out having dinner with friends - sad I know, but I'm catching up on rest :)

P.S. My conversation with my friend on Wednesday night was all good (big enthusiastic two thumbs up)! We talked for well over an hour and man was I tired the next day.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Prayer Request

Well, now my technical problems are over, I want to bother you all with problems of a different kind.

If you are reading this, can you please start praying...right now...thanks. If you're thinking this is a totally bizarre request and have no idea what to pray for, keep in mind that God knows EXACTLY what I need you to pray for right now... and pray anyway.

Now I'm going to stop being so cryptic and give you a bit of a clue of why I need your prayers. First of all, I'm not in trouble or don't worry. A friend of mine just texted me and asked to call me tonight. It sounds important and I have a feeling that I know what I'm going to be asked. It's an important decision and one that cannot be taken lightly. I want to do God's will in this situation and make the right decision. I've been praying to God about it but I can't hear his answer. I was whispering "God please show me what I should do". I kind of have peace within about this but I want to make sure I have God's peace about it. And to make it clear, I'm not disobeying God's word either way, it's more of a wisdom issue. By the way, my friend is not in trouble either (at least not that I know of).

So please pray that I make a good decision about this. Of course, my suspicions about why my friend is calling could be totally wrong and therefore, all's good.

Cheers mateys :)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Technical Help Needed!

Yes, something weird is happening to my blog again....maybe it's happening to yours too and you might be able to help me...

I've noticed that strange things are happening to some of the comments people have left on various posts. Fellow bloggers who use their Blogger/Google IDs to post comments are now showing up as anonymous. I know who they are because the comment originally came up with their ID but now suddenly it has been switched to anonymous. This hasn't happened on all posts, only some. Also the blogger ID photos aren't showing up on the comments either.

Please help o technical gurus!


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Lesson 3 from Sarah's School of Dating

It's baaaaaaaaaaack! The dating school that answers all your burning questions about one of the most talked about topics in Christian circles (well kind of).

I must confess, I again struggled with my motives for reviving the dating school. Now suppose, just suppose that all of my 'graduates' go on to become happily married one day partly because of advice they heard on this blog (God would also have a big hand in them getting married of course). Maybe they'll all be married and I'll be a shrivelled old spinster lady watching from afar. Hmmmmm, maybe that's just selfish and if people enjoy this dating school then I'll keep it going. Besides, I've looked at my previous couple of posts which all have 0 comments. I got 18 on the last dating post (even though many of them were me responding). Time to bump up my number of comments people!!!

As I promised in the comments section of Lesson 2, this lesson is going to be all about whether girls should ask guys out, initiate romantic relationships/courtships - however you want to put it. There is so much debate on this topic amongst Christians. On one side we have the 'Men should do it' group and on the other side we have the 'It doesn't matter' group. I'm going to explore the arguments of both and then offer my opinion. Then I'd like you to leave a comment and let me know yours.

This group firmly believes that men should initiate romantic relationships with women as this is a fulfilment of their God-given role to lead. To support their arguments, they often quote Ephesians 5:22-33 about the husband being the head of the wife and argue that if a man is to lead a relationship, that should include starting it in the first place. If the woman initiates it then that will set a bad pattern if the couple marry with the wife leading her husband.
Here are some sites/blogs I've found which believe that men should be initiators. (read the first two posts).
Last year I received the following forwarded email:
"Women are like apples on trees. The best ones are at the top of the tree. Most men don't want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they sometimes take the apples from the ground that aren't as good, but easy. The apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality, they're amazing. They just have to wait for the right man to come along, the one who is brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree. Share this with women who are good apples, even those who have already been picked!"
Basically, the argument is that men are built to pursue and when they want a relationship, no amount of shyness or fear of rejection is going to stop them. The woman's role is to wait for the right man to come along, although this doesn't mean women have to be passive and can't develop friendships with men. Men learn to trust God by asking, despite fear of rejection. Women learn to trust God by waiting and resisting temptation to 'make something happen'.

As you may have guessed (well duh)...this group believe it doesn't matter whether the man or the woman initiates the relationship. There is no scripture that says the man must do it, only that the husband should lead in marriage. Many guys echo this statement by saying they like it when a woman approaches them because it takes the pressure off.

There are the arguments. Where do I stand? Personally, I prefer to be asked by the guy and I believe women can make it easier for guys by being gracious and truthful, even if they want to decline his offer (see Lesson 1). I'd rather be chased than have to drop hints. I really don't think it's my role as a woman. However, that doesn't mean I look down on women who ask men out.

What do you think? Guys, are you pursuers or are you quite happy for women to ask you out? Girls, are you waiters or do you like making the first move? Do you have a set opinion or really don't care?

Read the articles/blogs I linked to and comment away.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Those Crazy Maggies

I have no interest in birdwatching but I did just witness some very strange behaviour from some magpies. I was on my lunchbreak and found a bench in the sun where I could sit down and read. My attention was drawn to a pair of magpies on the grass nearby. One appeared to youngish and was quite grey and other was an adult. The young one stood next to the adult and started cheeping, then all of a sudden it was on it's back, it's feet thrashing in the air and the adult leaning over it. At first I thought they were fighting. Then it appeared that their beaks were locked in some kind of embrace.

Before I had a chance to fully comprehend what was going on, a third magpie (an adult) joined them and started attacking the young one, which was on its feet by then. A interested mudlark saw what was going on and began hovering over the squabbling magpies. They pecked at it and it soon got the hint and left. The third magpie then chased the young one behind a tree and they kept peeping around the trunk at each other before continuing the chase up the hill. Then the original adult also turned on the young one and started chasing it until they disappeared out of sight.

Was this some kind of bird discipline, a mating ritual or was it just a game? I don't think I would have liked to have been the young magpie. Those beaks look sharp!

Friday, December 01, 2006


I just thought I'd take the opportunity to introduce you to one of my favourite pets. I'm a big animal lover and over the next few months I'll introduce you to my great (and some sadly late) pets. Lily was great but now sadly fits into the late category - she died on 3rd November 1999, aged seven and a half (which apparently is the average life for chooks).

I may be biased but I reckon Lily is one of the most beautiful and unusual looking hens I've ever seen. I've looked at bantam books and tried to classify her and can't, so if anyone knows what kind of breed she is, let me know. I think she may be a mixture with her white crest, brown neck, white body, black tail and feathery feet. When I was growing up she was a great friend.

I first got Lily and Cuckoo on the 9th February 1992. They were both scrawny, unattractive pullets but they soon started to cluck, fattened up and began to lay (albeit spasmodically). Sadly Cuckoo was only two and a half when she met her fate at the hands of a dog which jumped our fence. I think she suffered a heart attack before the dog got to her. The hens had a fenced in yard and they were let out of their cage every morning so they were susceptible to predators but they enjoyed being free range. I was so sad when Cuckoo died. Lily managed to escape by hiding in the garden next door. That was the first of her many lives.

Lily and Cuckoo in their cage. 1992

Over the next couple of years, Lily continued to cheat death. She took an immense dislike to Cuckoo's replacement - a black Pekin hen called Speckles and made it clear that she did not want other hens for company. She loved people, was tame enough to pat and my nan, who loves chooks, used to pick her up and tuck her under her arm. When Speckles mysteriously disappeared in June 1996, leaving behind only a pile of black feathers, Lily again was unharmed. This time we decided to let her live alone as a spinster hen :).

Among the clover. 1996.

I have my neighbour across the road to thank for saving Lily's life again in 1996. A cat from across the road cornered her in our yard but luckily our neighbour saw what has happening and chased the cat away with a kettle of water. Lily was so petrified, we picked her up and shut her in her cage for a while. When a hawk started flying around our street, Lily again was shut in her cage.

To her, being free range meant being able to go wherever she liked. Despite having her wing clipped, she continued to fly lopsided and enjoyed many dust baths in our neighbours' rose garden. When we got our cats, Ellie and Marmalade, I was initially afraid they would kill her. But I needent have worried. They were absolutely terrified of Lily although she just wanted to be friends. She took a particular like to Ellie and followed her everywhere. When we moved to our new house, Lily started thinking she was also a cat and was annoyed that did not enjoy the same privileges such as coming into the house. She hung around the patio, leaving her calling cards and quills everywhere and sat outside on the mat. My dad was most annoyed when he had to step over her to get into the house.

Lily and Ellie in 1998. Isn't this just the cutest pic ever?

Lily's diet and sitting posture also became more cat-like. She started sunbaking on the driveway. She came through the cat-door, chased the cats away from their meal and started enjoying some cat biscuits and roo meat. Her favourite food was grapes but her diet consisted of all kinds of scraps which included chips, hard-boiled eggs and ....wait for it....CHICKEN! Yes, she even started eating her own kind. She continued to lay once in a blue moon and made such a racket when she laid an egg. But she knew she wasn't going to get her head chopped off.

Lily didn't completely forget she was a hen. When we looked after another hen for a few days, she didn't give it a moment's peace, despite the fact it was twice her size. She made it quite clear it was not welcome in her house. Then when a handsome young rooster made his way into our yard, she was smitten. But by that stage I think she was a bit too old ;).

Lily died suddenly in her cage on the 3rd November 1999 after appearing to be not quite herself for the couple of days prior. Maybe she had some kind of bird disease but I'll never know. My brainy old bird was greatly missed. I'll never have another hen like her!