Thursday, November 27, 2008

Small Groups: Laying Down Some Ground Rules

Here is long awaited first post on Small Groups.

I realise the title of the post sounds a bit serious. Ground rules, you may ask? That sounds strict. What I meant by 'ground rules' was that with any group of people meeting together, you need to define your reason for meeting. And if you do it early it can solve a lot of potential problems.

Whether you're in a group of three or a group of 15, in my experience, I think it's vital that you all sit down together and chat about your hopes and expectations for the group. You may think this is obvious...we're a book club, obviously we're meeting to discuss books. But I've found it's not always so clear cut. Group members will have different expectations and I'm sure we've all been in groups where we've felt unappreciated and disrespected at times by other members who do things they assume we won't have a problem with.

In this series, I'll be mainly referring to Christian small groups/Bible studies/growth groups/homegroups (yes I've heard them being called all of the above) but I think some of the principles can be applied to any group whether it be a mothers' group, a book club or anything really.

In most of the Bible study groups I've been a part of, the leader/s have initiated an 'expectations' discussion during our first meeting together. This was because it was a new group of people meeting together for the first time. We chatted about what we hoped to gain from and contribute to the group, our fears, our goals and what activities our meetings would consist of. In my opinion, this was so important. Some of the groups I've been involved with didn't do a very good job at sticking to what we'd planned and some fell into a hole because of it. I and others have been ticked off by many things that group members have done, some which they probably assumed wouldn't cause a problem.
  • Group members being late for no good reason other than they thought it wasn't important that they be on time. This especially became an issue for night groups when the group would start late and finish late as a result of people's tardiness.

  • People inviting others to the group without checking with everyone else if it was ok. Obviously this is a complex issue and I will discuss it in more depth in another post. That's why it's vital to discuss these things in the beginning. In the past I've met up with just one or two people at a time who kept inviting people to join us without considering how I felt. This really annoyed me because I thought it would just be us and I think it can damage group confidentiality.

  • Which brings me on to the next confidentiality. Things that are meant to stay in the group which haven't have lead to gossip and hurt.

  • If you're a Bible study group....what are you going to study? Who will lead?
Obviously these are just a few things you'll need to discuss. It sounds boring but honestly it's better than dissension among group members. Even if you've been meeting for a while, why not stop and assess how the group is going. No, you'll never be able to please everyone or have the perfect group but good communication is a key to a healthy group.

Mike from The Upper Room has some good things to say about Christian small groups. Read his post here.

What have your small group experiences been like? Positive? Negative? Have you been meeting with your small group for years or do the members seem to change from year to year? Please share your experiences and your ideas for future posts in this series.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Quote of the Day

To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart, and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.
- Unknown

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why I Can't Stand Generation Y!

Whichever generation you're a part could do worse than have a look at this story that was on 60 Minutes last month. See Part 2 below.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Funny


1. Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we've got our whole lives ahead of us, and you're inside worrying about a stupid burned out bulb?
2. Border Collie: Just one. And then I'll replace any wiring that's not up to code.
3 Dachshund: You know I can't reach that stupid lamp!
4 Rottweiler: Make me.
5. Boxer: Who cares? I can still play with my squeaky toys in the dark.
6. Labrador: Oh, me, me!!!!! Pleeeeeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Huh? Can I? Pleeeeeeeeeze, please, please, please!
7. German Shepherd: I'll change it as soon as I've led these people from the dark, check to make sure I haven't missed any, and make just one more perimeter patrol to see that no one has tried to take advantage of the situation.
8. Jack Russell Terrier: I'll just pop it in while I'm bouncing off the walls and furniture.
9. Old English Sheep Dog: Light bulb? I'm sorry, but I don't see a light bulb!

10. Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark.
11. Chihuahua: Yo quiero Taco Bulb. Or "We don't need no stinking light bulb."
12. Greyhound: It isn't moving, who cares?
13. Australian Shepherd: First, I'll put all the light bulbs in a little circle...
14. Poodle: I'll just blow in the Border Collie's ear and he'll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.


Cat: Cats do not change light bulbs. People change light bulbs. So, the real question is:

"How long will it be before I can expect some light, some dinner, and a massage?"


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Something You Don't See Everyday!

While I was on holiday in Albany last month, my mum and I had just sat down to watch a movie on a Friday night when we heard a loud crash which seemed to be coming from the backyard. She and my dad and I raced outside to be confronted with this.

Our neighbours from over the back fence have their garage backing onto the fence. As soon as we'd arrived outside, the guy who lived there had come through the fence and was looking in horror at the state of his car. Apparently he'd lent it to his partner's friend who had been over at their place and wanted to borrow their car to go and pick up another friend. Instead of reversing out of the garage she must have accelerated forward at a terrific pace, smashed through the rear wall of their garage and right through our back fence. When my dad asked the guy if his partner's friend had been drunk, he replied, "She must have been." Anyone must have been to do that! Why he'd lent his car to a drunk person I don't know; I wouldn't want a drunk person anywhere near the driver's seat of my car or any car. But he obviously didn't realise just how drunk she was because he was very devastated about his car. Luckily the driver was ok.

My parents are renting so they don't have to worry too much about organising repairs for the fence. Someone came to tow the car away the next morning but I don't know if the fence has been fixed yet.

That sure was my bit of excitement for the night!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Facebook Reunion

It's true a lot of people don't like's weird, a time waster, provides an excuse for not catching up face to face, people can put up embarrassing photos of you for all to see.....

I like Facebook, it has many pros in my opinion. But one in particular. It helps you reconnect with people you lost touch with years ago which can lead to renewed relationships in the 'real world'.

In September last year, a girl whose name I didn't recognise added me as a friend on Facebook. Only when I saw her profile picture did I realise that she was an old friend, Lesley, from primary school who I hadn't seen pretty much since then. She's now married (which is why I didn't recognise her name) and has kids. We lost touch because we went to different high schools, had a fight and Albany is big enough for two people to live in the same town and not bump into each other for years. Once she added me on Facebook, I apologised for being a teenage cow, she laughed and we were friends again. Yes, Facebook has its good points.

Since Lesley now lives in Newcastle, it was a bit difficult for us to be anything other than Facebook friends but when I heard she was coming to Albany for a bit, I thought I'd seize the chance to catch up in person. Duncan had to work so I went to Albany alone last month and Lesley and I met up for coffee at Dome (her husband was away overseas).

We'd chatted freely and easily on Facebook and it was never ever awkward but I was still worried about how meeting up in person would go. I've heard many stories about online friends who experience a wonderful virtual relationship but struggle to maintain conversations in the real world. I was quite nervous about meeting up with Lesley again. It went ok. To be honest, I was surprised that she wasn't as open and chatty as she is on Facebook but I decided to interpret aloofness as shyness. At times I felt like I was the one keeping the conversation going but I realised that my nervousness was just being manifested differently to hers - into overt chattiness. After we resumed out Facebook interaction I was convinced that she'd indeed been shy as she is keen to catch up again sometime. I can't blame her for being shy I guess.....I was and it had been over 12 years!

Online is definitely easier in many ways although real life is more rewarding. Some can't stand the thought of having their monitors stripped away and people see them as they really are.....much more than words and photos on a page. To be honest I do enjoy hiding behind my monitor sometimes.

It also made me think about how I view God. Sometimes it seems like God is distant. I talk to him but we haven't met face to face. But there will come a day when Jesus will return, all will see him, and we who trust in him will dwell with him forever. As good as it will be, I know seeing him return will also be an experience that we cannot imagine and there will be no computers to hide behind. Awesome and good but scary.
Have you ever had an experience similar to mine? You've met up with someone you haven't seen for years or maybe met a fellow blogger for the first time and things were more awkward than you expected. Not bad, just awkward. I'd love to meet many of the people I interact with in the blogosphere but I'm worried that I won't be as I seem least not straight away. And I'm also worried that they'll be shy and I'll be the one trying to keep the conversation going because I can't stand difficult silences.
Anyone want to meet up with me anyway? :)

Lesley and her kids, William and Chloe.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Fowl Friends Have Names

I have consulted the blogosphere and Facebook to name our birds.

And their names are.......
  • Attila the Hen (which I thought of but it was also suggested by Iris.)
  • Rebeakah (yes that's ReBEAKah...which is one I thought of).
  • Yolko (suggested by a Facebook friend).
  • Ginny (which I got from Ginger which Amanda suggested but decided to make it Ginny instead because I'm a big Harry Potter fan!)

Thanks to all who contributed. I liked many other suggestions as well and I'm sure they'll be used in good time when Randolph gets his butt into gear and there are chickens....hopefully.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Name Our Hens Competition

Recently Duncan and I bought some new fowl friends.....four pullets and a rooster (the rooster was free).

We've been looking after our friend Jane's chooks for about a year now. We started off with four and sadly are now down to one. Up until a month ago, we had the last two, Meeny and Outcast, but Outcast had started looking sick for a while and spent a lot of time standing around with her head under her wing. Then one Sunday in October when I was in Albany, Duncan came home from church to find a hawk in the chook yard over Outcast's body. He spared me the grizzly details but he was certain the hawk must have seen her as an easy target and killed her rather than her dying first and it feeding off her carcass. Hawks like it fresh after all.

So now we only have Meeny left. I'm not sure how old she is but I'm guessing around five. She's an ISA Brown and an ex battery hen so she's heading towards retirement and only lays when she feels like it. We have to grab her eggs quickly too because despite us feeding her plenty of shell grit, she's an egg eater and doesn't like us taking her eggs.

As you can see from the photo, Meeny was very curious about my camera. Duncan doesn't believe that animals have personalities but I told him he's so wrong. I think it's incredibly interesting spending time in a chook yard and observing the politics that go on in there. Maybe I've just got too much time on my hands but I find chooks fascinating. Meeny is a bossy, dominant bird and as soon as we put the other chooks in her yard, she flew at them and pecked them, including the rooster who is twice her size. Even now she gets first choice of the food. I'm thinking of changing the spelling of her name to Meany ;) She's very tame and comes running up to me every time I come into the yard, thinking I have food for her and she pecks my boot. Maya finds her enthralling and Meeny's not the least bit afraid of a dog looking through the fence at her. Maya will lie outside the chook yard watching Meeny attack a piece of bacon rind (her favourite) and look in awe at this strange bird.

This is our rooster who I have named Randolph because we all know roosters are randy birds.

I've been told that Randolph looks like he is a very proud bird which is understandable of course because he has five hens to choose from. He's part ISA Brown and part something else, I can't remember what the breed is called but his dad is a big black rooster. He also seems to have a permanent surprised look and has learnt to crow but at completely random times. I have plans for him to be a breeding rooster. Duncan likes him too but thinks he has potential for other things. Lately we seem to be having many conversations like this....

Duncan: The rooster....the rooster for CHRISTMAS.
Me: Don't you dare hurt Randolph.
Duncan *smirking*: Oh but he won't feel a thing!

He is just stirring me. He knows that if I come home and find Randolph gone and a roast chicken in the oven, it'll be the worst for him!

And lastly, here are our four new unnamed pullets. They should start laying by Christmas. Presently they are a bit leggy and have no combs or wattles yet. Although they get bossed around by both Meeny and Randolph, they are cunning and it was hilarious watching them steal Meeny's bacon rind when she wasn't looking. She was NOT amused and they got a few pecks for it.

Now this is where you come in. Please help me name my hens by leaving a comment with your ideas. Be anonymous if you like. Please nothing unoriginal like Henny Penny or Henrietta. Be creative! Have a go!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christians and Sport

Those of you who are regular, long-term readers of this blog, may remember this post I did back in March this year about how our faith needs to transcend into the realm of sport...whether as players or fans.

Then I was reading the GirlTalk blog last night and saw this post about a book which sounds like it's exactly what I was going on about. It's called Game Day for the Glory of God. Take a look here.

Now I really want to read it. If you're a somewhat sporty Christian, you might like to check it out too.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Buntine/Dally vs Perth

I've been living in Buntine for more than six months now so that's probably enough time to do a 'review' of how my lifestyle now compares to the one I had in Perth. Remember, this post I did in January when I announced I was moving? Well, I'm going to list many of those categories again and do pros and cons for each....just so you all know a bit more about how my life is now.

We get it rent free and can have as many animals as we like.

The size. It's a small house compared to my last place in Bibra Lake. There is a lack of cupboards etc and as a result we've had to put a lot of our stuff into storage at Dunc's parents' place.

We're out in the middle of nowhere which definitely has its advantages. Lots of peace and quiet, space and it certainly puts an end to people just randomly 'dropping in'. No-one in their right mind would drive all the way out here to drop in on us because with the price of petrol it would be costly trip and a waste of time if we were out. Because we're so far out, it also helps with saying 'no' to things and not getting too busy. And when we don't want to go to something, the distance is a perfect excuse ;)

Our location also has its disadvantages. More petrol is required and the price of it up here is about 20c/litre more than Perth. I'd quite like to be involved in a few things in Dally but I'm not a good night driver and don't want to fall back into bad habits from Perth of getting involved in EVERYTHING.

The thing I like about shopping up here is that everything is in the main street and it takes far less time. This is so much better compared to Perth where I would go to the Carousel to buy two things and end up spending an hour there because there was no parking or long queues or both.

I'm not used to shopping being a 'social' experience. Here, you can't go down the street without bumping into about half a dozen people you know. I'm used to 'anonymous' shopping where I can go to a big shopping centre and not know a soul. Sometimes I really don't feel like stopping and chatting, however that doesn't mean I want you to ignore me if you see me in the street. It just means I'm not used to it and I still get the 'I'm in a hurry' mentality which is so common of Perth shoppers.

Another downside is there is only one supermarket and because there is no competition, the prices are ridiculous and a lot of the stock is past its use-by date. Disgusting! I always make sure I do a big dry goods shop each time I go to Perth. Also, it's frustrating not having everything at my fingertips like I was used to in Perth. Some things are just not available here.

I enjoy the food from the bakery and the pub and I guess the pros of eating out in Dally is that there isn't much debate about where you'll eat because we're not exactly spoiled for choice.

The lack of choice is a downside. I miss my fast food! Bring KFC to Dally!

It's small, it's friendly. The people have been welcoming to me. Can't complain about that side of things. Besides I'm finding out that more and more of them read this blog ;)

These aren't really cons, more things that I've found hard to adjust to. I've only ever been a member of one other church in my life so its been strange going somewhere else that is so different in many aspects. At my old church, we had singers and more musicians. Here, we just have one pianist and that's it which I find hard sometimes because I'd rather someone lead (since I don't know many of the songs) and makes the congregation sing with more gusto in my experience. Also, I find it strange that people dress up more, sing so many hymns and read from the KJV during the service. Because I went to an evening church, I'm used to rocking up in whatever I was wearing that day. If I had my way, I'd have less hymns with confusing lyrics to make it easier to invite non Christians but church is not all about me....that's just my point of view. For the first time, I'm at a church that actually has people of all ages and they're all related. At my old church there are a lot of people that don't have extended family at the same church and most of the demographic were under 40 and university educated. Here, there are sometimes three generations from the same family at church and most are farmers or married to farmers. Again, not bad things, just different.

I have work.....that's a good thing. I work with only one other person compared to being in a department of a large library which I was in before. This helps me get to know my workmate better because there's no-one else to talk to. I like that the job is cruisy and that it's part-time and that I get to meet so many people from the community.

I've had to deal with being on a lower wage than I'm used to and sometimes I miss the big social atmosphere from my old work. Luckily the person I work with is nice because it could have been very unpleasant if she wasn't. Also, working in a shop that sells so many things I like is VERY tempting.

Concerning Duncan's work, I'm finding being married to a farmhand quite strange in some aspects because they work such long hours during busy seasons and I'm used to a 9-5 job. I'm not begrudging about this because I understand that's the nature of his job, I'm just trying to adjust.

Most people I've met outside church have been very welcoming. It helps that a lot of others are new too and finding their feet. I particularly like the tennis club at Buntine who have been so inclusive and welcoming. It's good being a part of a small community. I think that community is harder to create in Perth because it's such a big, sprawly place....where do the boundaries of each community begin and end?

Being a newcomer, I often feel like an outsider just because I don't know everyone and it feels like everyone else has known each other for years. I miss my friends in Perth most of all and sometimes I think if I'd moved up here as a single person, I'd find it very hard. And what they say about small towns is true.....gossip is rife and everyone seems to know your business before you even know it yourself.

So there you have it. If I had to choose out of the city and the country, I'd definitely pick country. There's no way I'd ever want my fast paced, stressful city life back again. On the downside, it's the relationships that I built in Perth that I miss the most.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Funny

My friend Rachel sent me this one by sms. I thought it was a hoot! Enjoy!

A priest gets pulled over for speeding. The officer sees an empty bottle of wine on the seat.
"Have you been drinking?" he asks.
The priest assures him it's just water.
"Then why do I smell wine?" the officer inquires.
The priest sniffs the bottle and says, "The Lord be praised! He's done it again!"

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Honeymooning With My Honey

Here are the pics from our first and brief honeymoon down south. We spent two nights in Pemberton and one in Donnybrook plus a few at the Pagoda in Perth.

Duncan thought it was lame that the first photo I took was of a chook! hehe

At the Lavender and Berry Farm in Pemberton.

Awwww it's the honeymooners.

Dunc was in his element at the trout fishing place.

Haha it looks like he's taking a leak here. He wasn't by the way.

One fishy.

Two fishies. The staff there cooked them for us and we ate them for lunch.

Beautiful view from Karri Valley Resort where we stayed.

Our little balcony over the water.
Meeting more furry friends.
The road was blocked due a tree needing to be felled. Apparently it was leaning dangerously over the road....or maybe the shire just wanted a new table.
The trees are soooo tall!
I like this pic of us.
We visited the Bicentennial Tree. Haha look at that girl pulling a wedgie out....caught on camera!
Crazy people, including little kids, climbing to the top in thongs.
I got about two metres up.
Tree graffiti.....not cool!
Dunc's reaction to me taking a photo of him driving.'s me!
At Jarrah Jack's Brewery.
The beer I had was disgusting. Can't remember what it was called.
View from the brewery.
At the cider factory in Donnybrook.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

From Head to Hand: Characters

Here is the long awaited first post of my series on writing. I thought about calling this series 'Just for Middo' since it was Middo who suggested I do it at the start of the year.......I hope you're reading this Middo! :)

Please note....these are just my views, they are not from a creative writing 'bible'. I did a creative writing major at uni and I learnt heaps about general rules and principles but throughout uni I enjoyed experimenting and breaking those so-called rules.

Here are is what I think is of importance when creating characters:
  • Base them on people you know. Seriously those around us provide us with the best inspiration. Even if the character is an animal or a mythical creature, you can still give them personalities of those we know. This prevents the characters being two-dimensional and 'wooden'. I like creating 'hybrid' characters where I will take the body of someone I know and the personality of someone else and combine them to create a character.
  • But be careful! Don't make your characters TOO much like someone you know. Would you like reading about yourself in a book, warts and all? You have be careful you don't get sued for portraying someone negatively in a book. Be subtle......don't think just because you've taken someone's character and given them a different name in your book, that the person won't recognise themselves.
  • Search the net for questionnaires and surveys and answer them as your character. This helps create 'three-dimensional' characters.
  • The good vs evil concept works well with children's books such as Harry Potter and many of Enid Blyton's stories but I think in adult fiction, characters with more substance are required. However, that doesn't mean that the behaviour of an evil character always has to be justified with an excuse.
  • Avoid stereotypes e.g. the mad scientist with wild hair wearing a white lab coat. One creative writing tutor I had gave the example of a little old lady with a grey bun and floral dress in a nice little cottage.....who is growing dope in her backyard. Now THAT would be interesting ;)
  • Make your characters flawed. No-one can relate to perfect characters, we generally want to read about people with struggles like our own but who can overcome them.
  • Send your characters on a journey. This is one of the golden rules I was taught. Don't suddenly and dramatically change the characters' personalities but as they go through the story, they will learn, grow and change.
  • Keep a notebook of random scribblings about the characters as you think up things.

In my novel that I'm currently about three quarters of the way through, I used the bodies of celebrities, people I know and my own body; changed little things about them; mixed them with several different personalities including my own, those of people I know and characters from other books and movies. One character in fact is part myself, part Maria from The Sound of Music, part Joan of Arc, part Pollyanna, part Velvet from National Velvet. Hopefully that's an interesting mix. However, many of the other characters are based on real people physically but have made up personalities.

What the gurus say.....

  • Bryce Courtenay has admitted that The Power of One is based on his own story of growing up in South Africa. Yet, he's said when the main character, Peekay, begins pursuing his dream to become a champion boxer this was where the similarity to his own life ends. He urges budding writers to make their characters 'larger than life' so that people will want to read about them.
  • Marian Keyes writes about characters suffering from low self-esteem just as she did.
  • Candace Bushnell admitted the character Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City is her alter-ego.
  • Enid Blyton went against the trend by declaring her characters, bar one, are always imaginary by rule and, as a result, they have been criticised for being two-dimensional.

The thing to remember about creative writing is that everyone will have a different opinion to mine and even to the 'experts'. There are recommendations but there is no right and wrong so play around and have fun!

Some of this was based on an assignment I did in third year (2003).

Monday, November 03, 2008

Baby Olivia

Our friends, Corinne and Mick, who were married last year had a baby, Olivia, on the 27th September. They emailed some pics and, as you can see below, she is a real cutie. I had a cuddle a few weeks ago when I was last in Perth.

Out of the seven weddings I went to last year, four of those couples have either had babies this year or are expecting.

And even more crazy.....out of the six weddings we've been to so far this year (which includes our own), two couples have either had babies or are pregnant. In case you were wondering, we were NOT referring to ourselves.