Saturday, July 28, 2007

Two Big Shocks in One Weekend!

As you saw in my previous post, Duncan and I are engaged.

But it almost didn't happen. In fact, had God not intervened, I might not have been around for Duncan to propose to. You see, on Friday night, I was travelling to Duncan's place in Buntine with our friends Jill and Bek, when I nearly had a car accident.

We were no more than five minutes from Duncan's place when my car started swerving all over the gravel road. I struggled to regain control of the car but I knew it was best not to over correct or brake too suddenly. Somehow I managed to slow down and bring the car to a safe halt.

I was in shock that I could have killed myself and my friends and now I'm determined to do a defensive driving course and not keep putting it off. I was still in shock for the rest of Friday night and was shaking a bit.

The next day, little did I know I was in for a shock of a different kind. After driving around the farm and patting the pet lambs in the morning, we headed back to Duncan's place for lunch and to watch the Eagles game. Well, as you know that was a fiasco. They didn't even put up a fight! I was asleep by the second quarter and at half time, Duncan woke me up and suggested we go for a walk. Jill was asleep and Bek had already gone out for a walk by herself, so I agreed. It was a walk that would change my life.

So there we were, ambling along a dirt road in Buntine, me jabbering away like a monkey in a tree when Duncan suddenly turned me around and I thought he wanted to go back to the house. Then he got down on one knee and proposed!!

You're probably all going to think the worst of me when I tell you what I said. I was in shock though and so many thoughts were racing through my head that I can't properly remember everything that happened but I said the one thing I swore I'd never say should I ever receive a (serious) marriage proposal.

I don't really remember but Duncan said as soon as he started getting down on one knee, I screeched "What are you doing? What are you doing?" After he proposed, I couldn't control my big mouth and I said, "Are you serious?"

The poor guy, there he was kneeling down on a dirt road and oh so very nervous and I go and say that. Then I had so many thoughts swirling in my head like a fog, all I could think was Think carefully Sarah, this answer is one of the biggest answers you will give in your whole life. Then I said 'yes'.

I think I was so shocked because the whole thing was such a surprise. I'd told Duncan months earlier that I'm not easily surprised and can be very suspicious. I thought we'd be together for at least a year before he proposed. Duncan obviously decided I was the woman for him and that the time was right right now. I knew he was the man for me as well, but I often struggle with desires to dictate and control and had mapped out in my head exactly when we were going to get engaged. Suddenly all my well made plans were thrown off course because I was determined to do things MY way. Why wait if you know that you've met the person you know you want to marry? That was a big lesson for me. I'm not saying jump into marriage recklessly or thoughtlessly but there's no point in dating for years and years, if you know you're with THE ONE.

We didn't tell anyone at first except for family and the bridal party because we planned to announce it to all of our friends together at Duncan's birthday last Saturday. We were pretty excited about all the screams of surprise and delight we got and are now getting stuck into planning our wedding which will be held sometime in April next year.

Both sets of parents are thrilled and have now met each other last weekend in Perth. They got on really well which is a big relief. It's ironic because the majority of Duncan's family are Christian and mine are all non Christian (except for me of course). We're praying that God will be using us to witness to my family so they might come to know him.

I have apologised to Duncan repeatedly over botching up his proposal. My big mouth just ran away with me. So I let him propose again ;) Poor guy but I have never made things easy for him and he still wants me anyway. Bless him ;)

I love you Duncan. I thank God for you and I can't wait to marry you in eight and a half months. You are the only fish in the sea for me xoxo

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Pictures Tell The Story.....

This is why there was a lack of bloggage at the Sedshed last week.... ;)

Juicy details will follow shortly.

Now you can all go and pee from the excitement! ;)

Photo Friday - 'Vacation'

One of my frequent weekend 'vacations' in Buntine.
24th March 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Loving the Unlovely

What did the title of this post bring to mind? When I say ‘unlovely’, who do you think of? Most people tend to think I mean prostitutes, drug addicts and the homeless – the kind of people society likes to place in the ‘too hard’ basket and generally ignore. But no, that’s not who this post is about. I mean people with unlovely personalities.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a Christian friend at MYC (Mid Year Conference) a camp for Christian uni students back in July 2003. She has probably long forgotten it but it was a pivotal remark I would remember for years to come and one that I would often refer to later in my Christian walk.

We were doing bible studies on 1 John in small groups and soon the conversation turned to loving others. Someone asked us all, “who do you find harder to love – Christians or non Christians?”

At that stage, I had only been a Christian for one and a half years. Every Christian I’d met had been super nice and I seriously doubted I would ever meet a Christian that I would dislike even remotely. I was midway through my third year of living in student housing with non Christians who lived like pigs and were disrespectful so the Christian community was proving to be a safety zone I loved escaping to. Without a doubt, I answered, “non Christians.”

The other girl answered, “I find it much harder to love Christians.”

I turned in shock. How on earth could it be difficult to love Christians? They were so nice, so friendly, so generous. Sure I’d met some Christians who I thought were downright hypocrites but the vast majority seemed to be genuinely living out their faith.

“Why?” I asked her incredulously.
She replied simply. “Because they should know better.”

I thought long and hard about that comment. It’s true isn’t it? Christians should know better. We’re certainly not better people. In fact, a Christian is someone who knows they’re NOT a good person and that’s why we need a Saviour. God has graciously revealed himself to us and how he wants us to live. We KNOW God yet we continue in wilful disobedience. That’s why it often hurts more when we are betrayed by a Christian friend than by a non Christian friend who does not know God.

Fast forward two years. I was at church and got into a conversation with a male friend of mine after the service. This guy is a cheery fella and very welcoming to all so I was shocked when he confessed that he often finds it difficult to love Christians. Looking back, I don’t know why I was shocked. Even though he’s a great guy, that doesn’t mean he finds it any less difficult to live out the command to love people (even the unlovely of the world). As the conversation went on, I got the feeling he was referring to people we both knew but, of course, he didn’t name names. I wondered if they were the same Christians I was finding it very difficult to love myself at the moment and was getting more and more frustrated with.

I can’t remember what else we talked about that day. Another guy from church soon joined us the conversation and it pushed me back to the two commands that Jesus listed as the greatest – loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and loving your neighbour as yourself.

We can’t separate the two
These two commands are inextricably linked. Jesus did not separate them. If we love God, then we must also love people. And if we love people then we must also love God. We cannot have one without the other. There are many ‘religious’ people who claim to love God. But they do not love people. Likewise there are many humanitarian type people who claim to love everyone. Yet they shake their puny fists at God and tell him to get lost. The cross is a great reminder of these two commandments. It points vertically to remind us to love God but also horizontally to remind us to love people.

Why does God place such a high priority on these commandments? I can see why he would call us to love him after all he has done for us but loving people? That’s just plain hard. Because I can’t narrow it down just to people I like. Loving my neighbour doesn’t just mean my next-door neighbour. It’s whoever I have contact with from family to friends to work colleagues to the random guy I bump into in the street. Whether I have ongoing contact with them or one-off, God still calls me to love them. Sometimes there are days when it all seems too much. Some people are just too hard to love. They aren’t grateful, they don’t treat me well. Kindness seems to have no impact on them. Yet God still calls me to do it. Why?

God calls us to love others because he first loved us. So by loving others, we can show them God’s love and he uses us to be channel of divine grace to others. God showed his love for us by coming to earth in the person of Jesus and dying a horrible agonising death at the hands of his creation who disbelieved, abused, ridiculed, spat on, whipped him and nailed him to a cross to die. He did it all so we might not have to die for sinning and rebelling against God but he took the punishment we deserved so we might be forgiven and reconciled to himself. So when people treat us badly for trying to love them, keep in mind that we treat God much worse. His love for us is patient, unwavering, passionate, sacrificial and gutsy. It’s that kind of love, we are called to model to others, even our enemies.

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:19-21.

It’s easy to love flippantly by saying “I love all the orphans in Africa,” yet it’s much harder to love the difficult person at church who you know personally.

How on earth do we love people like God loves us? Does this mean we need to die for them? No. In certain contexts it might, but usually no. 1 Corinthians 13 is the ‘love’ passage so often read at weddings. Yet, the kind of love Paul is talking about is not just romantic love. Rather, the letter to the Corinthians is written to a church struggling with internal conflict. He explains what love REALLY is.

There are many ways to show love to someone and people give and receive love in different ways. Yet here are some ways the Bible calls us to love others.

Being generous to them
“And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:34-36.

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22.

Forgiving them
If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:5-11.

Not judging them
For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God. Romans 14:9-11.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Matthew 7:1-5.

Rebuking them
“Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbour frankly so you will not share in his guilt.” Leviticus 19:17
"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17.

Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. 2 Thessalonians 3:15.

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father's wife. And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you." 1 Corinthians 5:1-13.

Not taking revenge
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the LORD”. Leviticus 19:18.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbour as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law. Romans 13:8-10.

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19-21.

Praying for them
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:43-44.

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28.

Love is tough stuff. It involves forgiving, rebuking and praying for people who cause us nothing but trouble – Christian or non Christian. Yet our reason for rebuking is never to judge hypocritically but rather to restore our brother or sister’s relationship with God and others. The line between rebuking and judging is often a very fine line to walk. Yet, love demands we take a stand, especially when our brothers and sisters are being ungodly and not be like ostriches with our heads in the sand, hoping it will go away. I’ll admit it, I find it very hard to call a Christian ‘enemy’ my brother or sister when it feels like we’re anything but. But like it or not, that’s our relationship if we’re both trusting in Jesus.

We are lay aside our desire for revenge and trust that God will avenge all wrongs. I find this so hard when I often just want to go and beat the crap out of the person. Two wrongs will never make a right but we are to overcome evil with good.

There’s much I could say and I’m sure to go into more of these topics in detail. I’m no expert at this loving God and others thing. Far from it. The last few years have provided me with more unlovely Christians to love than I could possibly have imagined. Sometimes I want to give up. But then God reminds me of how he and others have continued to love me even when I haven’t made it easy for them.

If you’re finding it tough going regarding loving the unlovely, then please don’t give up. Keep going, overcome evil with good and pray that God gives us all the grace we need to change. For only through him is any of this possible.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Funny

I had hoped to do a 'deep and meaningful' post this week but couldn't seem to find the time. So stay tuned for it next week and here's a Friday Funny instead.

I'm off to Buntine tonight. Have a grace-filled weekend :)


An Amish family were in a mall for the first time. The boy and his father were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny silver walls that could move apart and then slide back together again.

The boy asked, "What is this Father?"
The father (never having seen an elevator) responded, "Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don't know what it is."

While the boy and his father were watching with amazement, a fat old lady moved up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched the small circular numbers above the walls light up sequentially. They continued to watch until it reached the last number and after a short pause, the numbers began to light in the reverse order. Finally the walls opened up again and a gorgeous 24-year-old blonde stepped out.

The father said quietly to his son...

"Go get your mother."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Photo Friday - 'Busy'

I'm such a hard working librarian!

1st February 2006

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy 6 Month Anniversary To Us!

Today Duncan and I have been together for six months. Well done us!

Yes, it began late at night over the phone on Friday 5th January 2007...seems like a long time ago now but I suppose it's not that long really.

It has been incredible time but not entirely smooth sailing. We've encountered opposition to our relationship, clocked up a few kilometres on our cars (Duncan especially), dealt with lots of hellos and goodbyes and, on individual levels, have faced stress and health issues (me) and drought (Duncan).

But we've also had the incredible privilege of seeing God at work in our lives and his love and faithfulness to us. While everything didn't go according to our plans, God knew exactly what adversity we needed to saw off our rough edges and make us more like his son, Jesus.

Through it all, we've learnt more about God and more about each other. We've learnt who our true friends really are - especially those who prayed so much for us (thanks in particular Scoobie). We are also so thankful for the many people who let us stay at their places when we've travelled to see each other and the 99% of people we know (including both sets of parents) who have gone out of their way to offer support and encouragement.

After what has been a joyful and difficult six months all mixed together, the song I Can See Clearly Now really sums up what I'm feeling at the moment.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.
(C) Johnny Nash

I think I can safely end this post by saying we're really enjoying being together at the moment. Some friends of ours are getting married on Saturday and I can't wait to hit the dance floor at the reception (and drag Duncan there with me) ;)

At our friend Alistair's 30th on the 9th April this year (don't we look cool in our sunnies hehe)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Get On Your Soapbox #5

I decided to write this post after I'd calmed down a bit. You see, this rant is all about stealing.

While I was at work on Friday, I put my hand up to my neck to touch my necklace....and it was gone! This wasn't the first time with that particular necklace. It's had a bit of a dodgy clasp for a while but I usually catch it sliding off my neck. Not this time - I hadn't felt a thing. I quickly retraced my steps all through the library and to the few places on campus I had been to that day. Nothing. I checked the library's lost property and the main uni lost property. Still nothing.

I was furious. It wasn't that the necklace was particularly valuable. In fact, I made it myself, it was one of the first pieces I made when I first started beading a few years ago. All it consisted of was a number of wooden beads, mostly of different shades of pink. I could make another one and, in fact, could probably make a better one. It probably looks like a piece of cruddy old junk to anyone else but I made it and happened to like it and it went with a number of my tops.

The point is that someone must have found it lying on the ground and decided to keep it for themselves...that's what I was mad about. The fact that they didn't actually take it off my body or out of my bag doesn't matter....if you pick up something and keep it, rather than hand it in to lost property it's still STEALING.

It's not the first time this has happened either. A few years ago, Emma held her 21st in Kings Park and my mobile phone went missing. I'm not sure whether it was stolen out of my bag or if it fell out and someone kept it, nevertheless it was still stolen. We went straight back and retraced our steps when I realised it was missing but to no avail. The Kings Park lost property people and the cops hadn't seen it either. I was also furious that night because I'd just finished uni and didn't have a job. The last thing I wanted to spend my money on was a new phone.

That's why I feel so happy when I see people being honest and doing the right thing. At the library, we get students handing in laptops, mobiles, wallets, jewellery, USB drives and other valuables that have been carelessly left lying around by their owners. They could have chosen to keep them but no, they chose to hand it in to lost property. When they hand this stuff in, I tell them 'THANK YOU'.

You might ask where to draw the line regarding what to hand in and what to keep. For instance, most people wouldn't hand in twenty cents but they would hand in a wallet (you hope). I don't know where to draw the line but the basic principle is - HAND IT IN.

I think my necklace falls into the 'hand it in' category. Since I made it, I'm sure there's no other like it and if I see it on someone's neck, I'm gonna rip it straight off :\

A photo I had of myself wearing the necklace.
Me, my cousin Romeny and Uncle Merv at my birthday last year. 21st May 2006.

Photo Friday - 'Gray'

You can tell Photo Friday's American can't you? - it's 'grey' not 'gray'.

Anyhoo, there's nothing greyer than Albany's skies - even in March. I had lots of fun when my rellies came to visit four years ago including my auntie from Adelaide who I'd never met before (well she met me when I was a baby but I don't remember that).

We took them out to see The Gap and the Natural Bridge and despite Albany's most unpredictable weather, we all enjoyed ourselves.

L-R: my cousin Brad, his (now sadly ex) wife Glynnise, me, my cousin Matt (in the red shirt), Auntie Al and Matt's partner Marcus (in the yellow shirt).
29th March 2003