Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Small Groups: Single Gender or Mixed?

If I may ask you to look back on small groups you've been involved with in the past....which do you prefer - all male or all female (depending on your gender) or mixed?

I'm not just referring to Christian small groups/Bible studies/homegroups whatever you want to call them. It can be any group such as a sporting team, parenting group, book club, small workplace.....you name it.

I'm torn to which I prefer as I have been a part of both and can see the benefits and drawbacks of each. Here are my lists of pros and cons:

  • Makes it easier to share things of a personal nature. I find it easier to open up with a group of women than in a mixed group.
  • Can do girly things without annoying the blokes.


  • It can get bitchy and cliquey (I'm talking in regards to all female groups here). My experiences have been positive when I've been in a group of random women of all ages and backgrounds but when there are a lot of similarities between group members, women tend to be a bit too exclusive. I've had my issues being in groups of women mostly over 30 or who are all mums. I didn't have a problem with this until they kept pointing out I was the only chick under 30 and acting like I was too young and stupid to hang around them. Unfortunately women NEVER grow out of bitchiness!
  • Too much gossip because there weren't any blokes to put a stop to it.



  • I've learnt a lot by hearing men's outlook on life which is often very different to the female perspective.
  • The group tends to stay on track more when there are men present and a male leader and not get sidetracked by waffling.


  • In regards to Bible study groups, I've been frustrated when it seemed that the men in the group wanted to keep the group's interaction at surface level chit-chat and made it virtually impossible to get to know the other people in the group well. At times, it felt like we were studying an academic textbook rather than God's Word which is living and active and speaks to us in all areas of our lives. Therefore, prayer time was very general and we only ever prayed about stuff like the weather or Auntie Mary's broken leg but avoided praying about ourselves or how the passage applies to us as individuals as well as a group. Sometimes groups I have been in have avoided this by splitting into gender-specific prayer groups but I don't really see the point of that. If you're going to do that, then you might as well have single gender groups fullstop. I'm not saying people should be super deep and meaningful or share things that are inappropriate but I have felt jealous of mixed groups who are really involved in each other's lives and care for each other deeply.

That's me. What are your experiences? Do you prefer mixed or single gender groups?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Photo Friday - 'The Face'

I've always had the same face.....

But now I have a new hairstyle!

With summer just around the corner, I felt like a change...

Friday, September 25, 2009

5 Worst AFL Club Songs

At least I won't have to listen to any of THESE songs after the Grand Final tomorrow!

1. Port Adelaide
Stupid lyrics, stupid song. We'll never stop, stop, stop til we drop, drop, drop. Ha! I could write better lyrics than that.

2. Fremantle
This song is so dreary and depressing, no wonder they're so crap. I wouldn't win either if it meant listening to that song. Strange how the two newest clubs in the competition have the two worst songs, in my opinion. The song writers must have run out of ideas. I wonder what Gold Coast's song will be like *shudder*.

3. North Melbourne
Too fast and too irritatingly cheerful. It reminds me of horses cantering. Awful song!

4. Brisbane
Lame and a bit dreary. I think I just got sick of hearing this song when the Lions were at the height of their power at the start of the decade.

5. Sydney
Maybe I don't like this song because of the 2005 Grand Final? Or maybe I got sick of seeing Sydney singing it in the changerooms with that old dude in the middle conducting them. Either way, it doesn't do anything for me.

Which AFL club songs do you think are the worst?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Was There That Day....

Those of you who live in WA may remember a series of SGIO ads a few years ago with Ernie Dingo in them. They involved him reflecting on a great onfield moment in the Eagles' history and he finished with....."I was there that day."

I had my own "I was there that day" moment when we went to see the Eagles play the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium. We honestly didn't go expecting to win. Why would we? They had lost their last 19 away matches or something ridiculous. No, we were going for the atmosphere, to support them in the unholy land, to rile some Vics perhaps.....;)

We caught the tram into Melbourne hours early, me wearing my Eagles' jacket of course. No sooner had we sat down when a loud voice behind us said, "The Eagles are going to lose!"

I turned to see a man probably in his 60s grinning at me, a bottle of Cooper's in his hand. Physically, he reminded me a lot of Michael Caine and his laisez faire attitude to drinking on public transport didn't diminish as the journey went on. We turned around and started talking to him and he reckoned we should be commended for coming all the way to Victoria to see the Eagles play. Even as more and more people got on the tram, it wasn't hard to hear him. He had the loudest voice of anyone I had ever met and was obviously already as pissed as a parrot, telling us that he had drank all the night before and now had to keep drinking to avoid a hangover (!) We overheard him telling someone else how he'd been fined twice in one night for street drinking.
We spent a few hours shopping and eating in the city and I saw SO MANY Eagles' supporters and only about two Bulldogs' supporters before we headed to the stadium. It was a sign! :)

Although there were only roughly 22,000 people at the game, it was a terrific atmosphere. Everyone supported who they wanted to support and there was no aggro at all, except the Bulldogs' fans sure let the umpires know they didn't like some of their decisions.

The Eagles' amazing start shocked me and when the Bulldogs came back, I thought it was only going to be another three quarter effort. But my boys fought on and when they won, it was an unbelievably joyous feeling after such a bleak season.

So when people talk about Saturday 8th August when the Eagles broke their 19 away game losing streak, I can say......."I was there that day!" :)


Pre-game warmup.

Practising their goalkicking. They were surprisingly accurate that day.

Woosha and co.

Yeah right they did....haha!

Here come the boys!

Bullies coming through their banner.

Quarter time huddle.

A heartstopping victory.

Joy for the Eagles. Heartbreak for the Bulldogs.

We took a photo of the scoreboard....just to prove we were really there :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

When Winning Is Everything

Netball is over! Last night my team played in the grand final.....and lost....by four goals. It was very disappointing but there's always next year. The team we lost to had beaten us twice during the year, by two goals each time. 2+2=4. I think God has a sense of humour :(

It is disappointing but not devastating. In many ways I'm very glad the season is over. This year I've played in a 'successful' team. We finished third at the end of the regular season but clawed our way into the grand final by upsetting the second-placed team in last week's preliminary final. This was a stark contrast to last year when we finished second last (although only four of us from last year played again this year).

But you know what? I enjoyed last year more. I really did. Last year we were a team made up of such a random group of people. Although you couldn't say we were 'friends' because we didn't know each other well, we were such a mix of ages and backgrounds that we got on really well. This year, the majority of the team were 30-something mums and I've felt kind of on the outer. I think when a group of very different women get together, it is much more harmonious. When the group have a lot of similarities, it can get bitchy and cliquey.

Last year, we lost by some hideous margins but nobody blamed each other. We just did our best and fought the game out. This year, I've felt like the 'weakest link' because of my often poor shooting and subsequent move to WD. Now I haven't actually heard anyone bitching about me but I can feel it in my bones and in my waters. This year the whole league was bitchy to the max and I've overheard some people saying some shocking things about people who are meant to be their friends off the court.

At times it felt like some people thought that winning was everything. Every week I got flooded with emails from my teammates about winning and tactics and stuff like that. At first the motivational stuff was cool. Then it started to get a bit wearing. This is a local netball competition in a country town, not the Olympics! Whatever happened to just enjoying the game and playing for fun? Last night when we lost, some of my teammates looked pretty dirty while others just copped the loss on the chin and congratulated the winners. When others see winning as everything, I stop enjoying the game so much. I feel too much pressure and that's not good. I'm sad to say I haven't looked forward to games each week this year.

I love the movie, The Mighty Ducks which, if you've watched it, you'll know is about a successful lawyer who after being convicted of drink driving is forced to do community service which involves coaching a incompetent junior ice hockey team. On the back of the cover it says, First he teaches the hapless team everything about winning and then they teach him that winning isn't everything. Isn't that why we play after all? For the love of the game, win or lose?

Losing will either humble you or embitter you. Personally, I think it does some people good to lose. Although I love to be competitive and I love to win, I've learnt that if treating people badly or making them feel they aren't good enough is the way to get there, then I'd pick losing any day. Losing has humbled me and made me realise that I'm reliant on God for my abilities. In my post, Replaced, I wrote that after my poor shooting, I'd been put into WD which I found most strange and unfamiliar. But after two of our shooters left our team due to pregnancy and a move to Perth, I was suddenly shooting again. Often I'd pray, asking God to help me shoot well and each time I'd hear him respond, For my glory or for yours? That humbled me. If I were honest, I'd admit that it was so I could impress people and win back my spot. Last week, I played GS for the entire preliminary final and I can't remember playing as well as I did....ever. I barely missed and it felt like God was shooting for me (it sounds bizarre I know). Everyone was telling me how awesome I was and how I was the star of the game. Yes, it was a great feeling.

But for the grand final, I came crashing back to earth proving the old saying is true that a week is a long time in sport. I was back in WD again and the WA I was opposed to played such an excellent game she won the game MVP award. Suddenly I wasn't the hero anymore, I was the villain. Well, nobody said so but I could feel it and I could see the 'looks'. The best thing though is that God was using that experience to teach me that the praise of men is futile. It only lasts while I'm making them happy but when I fail, I'm the bad guy. Instead I need to not look to the approval of men but to please my Heavenly Father who is not pleased by success or winning but by my living his way and giving him the glory.
There's no way I ever want anyone who wants to play local sport feel that they're not good enough. Earlier this year I played in a tennis doubles tournament and invited a friend from church to be my partner. She said she would but also told me she hadn't played since high school so she was worried how she would go. Each time she stuffed up a shot, she apologised but I kept reassuring her it didn't matter in the slightest. I was just so happy she bothered to give up her time to be my partner. We came last that day. We didn't win any games at all. But it was such a fun day and I enjoyed every bit.

About a month ago, I told Duncan I was thinking of not playing netball next year because I just wanted to have fun and not deal with win-at-all-cost types. He urged me to play on so I will. You see, I do feel sorry for some people whose sport is their god. Sport will fail you, it is not there for ultimate satisfaction. But I know the true and living God who is much more concerned with my heart than winning and that's what I'll persevere in living out on the court.

Monday, September 21, 2009


While in Melbourne last month, we got to catch up with people we hadn't seen for a long time. First, we had dinner with my cousin Lee and her family at Southbank. I only met her and her daughter, Amy, for the first time ever when they visited Perth at the start of last year and this time I finally got to meet her husband, Barrie, and son, Cameron, as well.

The following day we caught up with our friends, Jo and Dan, who got married a week after us. They moved to Melbourne late last year so this was the first time we'd seen them since then and the first time we'd met their honeymoon baby, Sean. We went to the coolest chocolate cafe called Max Brenner Chocolate Bar where everything on the menu is chocolate! Definitely my kind of place :) I ordered a pot of melted chocolate....yummo! Afterwards, we went to a Chinese restaurant.

Dunc's coffee.

My first cuddle with Sean.

On our second-last day in Melbourne, Jenn (the friend we were staying with) took us for a drive to the DFOs (Direct Factory Outlets) in Essendon and then out to the quaint little town of Kyneton which is about an hour north-west of Melbourne. Her brother is a chef at a fine dining restaurant there and while the food was visually exquisite, I am not really a fine dining kind of person. I prefer my fish and chips any day.

Jenn and I.

Dessert, which included chocolate tea.
The restaurant in Kyneton.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Photo Friday - 'Plants'

The Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park in Tasmania contains a lot of beautiful and delicate plant life. These are just some of the extraordinary plants we saw during our cruise on the Gordon River last year.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Supermarket Etiquette

If you reckon there's nothing like grocery shopping to get your blood boiling, then you may be able to relate to my little poem :)

If you stop to chat a while,
With your trolley blocking the aisle
I will come and glare at you,
And tap my foot for a minute or two.
I think aisle blockers should be banned.
Don't look at me like you don't understand!

Hey you there in the line.
Don't you ever read the sign?
It says twelve items or less.
You must have fifty there at best!

So before you shop, think a while.
Go armed with good manners and a smile.
Don't dawdle, don't delay,
And we'll all have a pleasant day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

5 Favourite AFL Club Songs

In celebration of it being the middle of the AFL finals, I've decided to list what I think are the top five club songs. Of course the Eagles' song is no doubt the best but to eliminate bias, I'll exclude them from the list.

1. Melbourne
Too bad we don't get to hear this song too often because I reckon it's the best. It's fast, it's catchy, it's triumphant and it reminds me of musicals. I love it. It frequently gets stuck in my head.

2. Richmond
As above.

3. Collingwood
As much as I can't stand the Pies, I have to admit they have a good song. It makes me want to start dancing in the street.

4. Essendon
It reminds me of a war victory song and a musical song at the same time. No wonder the Bombers fans get revved up and passionate.

5. Adelaide
I loved this song when Adelaide won their back-to-back flags. It doesn't have the fast, catchy tunes of the Melbourne clubs' songs but it's a strong, military sounding song to put the fear into opponents.

So there's my Top 5. Bar your own team, which teams do you think have the best club songs?

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Peacemaker

Over the last month or so, I've been reading a book called The Peacemaker by Ken Sande. It was recommended to me two years ago and at the start of the year, I finally got around to buying it. It has taken me a while to read because of the subject matter and I found myself having to have breaks from it because it made me emotional and delicate. If you have any doubt about what the book is about, it comes with the tagline......A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict.

This year, I decided I was going to read some books with 'difficult' subject matter that I had been wrestling with for some time. The first was Respectable Sins and now it has been The Peacemaker. You might be thinking I'm some kind of masochist for wanting to put myself through such personal turmoil and discomfort but I've come to the conviction that it's easy to read books that say what we want them to say and that make us feel good. God desires us not to stagnate but to grow in our faith and love of him and sometimes this process, like a refiner's fire, is painful but the results are well worth it. Despite my nerves before opening up to the first page, I knew the message of The Peacemaker was a message God wanted me to hear.

As some of you will know, I have spent the better part of over two and a half years struggling with unforgiveness, bitterness and anger at Christians who I felt have hurt me deeply and some have never apologised for it. I wrote about what was probably the most major incident here but there have been others. After living a relatively conflict-free existence with other believers during the first five years of my Christian walk, it has been a tough challenge to say the least. In December 2007, I did a five-post series on Forgiveness and after I wrote that, I thought I had turned the corner. I was sadly mistaken. Last year, I increasingly found myself dwelling on past instances and I could feel the bitterness festering in my soul.

The thing that attracted me to The Peacemaker was that is was promising to look at what the Bible has to say about forgiveness and reconciliation. I was getting sick of hearing pop psychology, even from well-meaning Christians, and I just wanted to hear from God's Word. It is a book I would recommend for any church leader who no doubt has to deal with conflict regularly. Ken Sande goes into what it means to be a peacemaker, that all Christians have the responsibility to be peacemakers in their churches and not delegate this responsibility to the 'gifted ones'. The book largely deals with conflict between believers although it does mention peacemaking strategies if a believer is at conflict with a non-believer. Some of the topics Sande deals with are property disputes (which I didn't feel were relevant to myself at this point in time), steps to resolving conflict (either as the perpetrator or the victim), when to rebuke and when to overlook, idolatry as the seed of conflict, taking the command to resolve things within the church seriously and not take each other to court, and the importance of seeing the command to forgive in the light of the enormity of God's forgiveness through the cross.

One of the strengths of the book is that it made me see that despite others' offenses against me, in the light of my sin against God, it is nothing. The book convicted me of my tendency to take God's forgiveness for granted yet refuse to forgive others and that this is a great offense to God's holiness.

There was one thing that stood out at me. On page 217, Sande writes in regards to our withholding forgiveness, Until we repent of this sinful attitude, we will suffer unpleasant consequences. To begin with, we will feel separated from God and other Christians. We may also experience unusual hardships and lose blessings that would otherwise be ours. Then he refers to Psalm 32:1-5 where David experiences the anguish of unconfessed sin. To be honest, I'm not sure what to make of this but I am starting to wonder whether my unforgiveness towards others is responsible for my panic attacks. Praise be to God, I have not had one since early May and I am wondering if by withholding forgiveness, I am 'poisoning' myself with bitterness (like the quote I posted yesterday)? I want to tread carefully here because I'm aware that there are many who claim that the sick are suffering with ailments because of unconfessed sin which is not only often untrue but insensitive and hurtful. I'm just beginning to feel in my circumstances that God has been convicting me of having a bitter, unforgiving spirit which is hampering my spiritual (and also physical) health. I'm interested to know what others think about that quote from the book.

The book tends to deal with minor disputes and therefore I think it falls down slightly when it comes to dealing with major incidents. For example, he mentions quite a number of times that we are not only to forgive but to pursue reconciliation. I was wondering how that is meant to work is serious cases where to try and repair the relationship to the level it was before is near impossible. On page 219, Sande says, Being reconciled does not mean that the person who has offended you must become your closest friend. What it means is that your relationship will be at least as good as it was before the offense occurred. He uses the example of a husband whose wife has committed adultery. Now she has realised the error of her ways and has begged him for forgiveness. The husband confides in his counsellor, "I forgive her, but I just can't be close to her again." Sande responds to this common dilemma by asking how we would feel if God said the same thing to us and asks if we would feel we were truly forgiven? I thank God that he wants not only to forgive us but to reconcile us to himself but does that mean a woman whose husband had cheated on her with her best friend would need not only to forgive her friend but try to get the friendship back to how it was? In minor cases this may be easily achieved but I don't know if it's always that clear cut. Sande insists we must give a repentant person the opportunity to regain our trust but I'm wondering if there's a place for boundaries in order to protect yourself from further hurt?

Another part of the book that irritated me somewhat was his insistence that during conflict, both parties should confess their contribution to the problem. To me this sounds quite offensive when one party is clearly in the wrong. Of course we're all sinful but I don't think we need to take blame in situations that we didn't cause. He suggests that if we confess our role in the conflict then it might encourage the other party to do the same. In cases where there has simply been a misunderstanding, yes that is sound advice but if one party has initiated the conflict then it sounds insensitive to suggest the 'victim' confess to something merely to squeeze an apology out of the perpetrator. I know we have our blind spots but there are some cases where one party is clearly the one at fault.

There is a chapter devoted to the Matthew 18 process of confession, forgiveness and restoration and I was pleased to see that he encourages those in churches who would be considered mature to take the role of peacemaking seriously. Too often, leaders stick their heads in the sand and tell people to resolve their conflict themselves but there are cases where one party is unrepentant and hostile and therefore external help is needed.

My favourite bit of the book is where Sande encourages those struggling with unforgiveness to confess their sin to God, knowing that he is faithful and forgives our sins as he promises. He talks about his own struggle with unforgiveness and offers hope to those, like me, in the form of a prayer. He encourages us to pray honestly to God about our struggles and said that at times this is his honest prayer (page 205)
God I cannot forgive him in my own strength. In fact, I do not want to forgive him, at least until he has suffered for what he did to me. He does not deserve to get off easy. Everything in me wants to hold it against him and keep a high wall between us so he can never hurt me again. But your Word warns me that unforgiveness will eat away at my soul and build a wall between you and me. More importantly, you have shown me that you made the supreme sacrifice, giving up your own Son, in order to forgive me. Lord, please help me to want to forgive. Please change my heart and soften it so that I no longer want to hold this against him. Change me so that I can forgive and love him the way you have forgiven and loved me.

Since reading that, I've been praying that prayer over and over. Not because I think it's some magic formula but because his words are my words. He puts into words so perfectly what I'm feeling and need to confess to God. I know the forgiveness road is a long and bumpy one and not one that I'll ever properly master in this lifetime but God equips us to be able to forgive and be peacemakers in his strength.

Overall, it is a book I would recommend to anyone who is in the middle of conflict or been scarred by it. In fact, I would really love someone else to read it and let me know what they think so I would know whether my objections to the book are real or whether they aren't true and come from a stubborn, hard heart.

If you'd like to borrow it, let me know. If you've already read it, please leave a comment with your thoughts.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Quote of the Day

Unforgiveness is the poison we drink, hoping others will die.
- Unknown

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Botanic Gardens

Melbourne's Botanic Gardens has got to be one of the most beautiful places in the city. It would take all day to explore them fully but we managed to spend a few relaxing hours there before we caught up with some friends. We brought some books and sat on a bench and read. So peaceful! I could stay there forever.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Secret Friend

A few months ago, my church ran an activity called 'Secret Friend.' You may have heard of it. It involves a group of people putting their names into a hat, drawing one out each and then buying a gift for that person. But the giving is done in secret. You have no idea who your secret friend is.

I, along with two other ladies, helped organise it just for the women since blokes don't really get into gift-giving as much. They had done it for the last few years at least but this was my first time since coming to Dally. Each Sunday for four weeks, we bought a cheap gift for our secret friend, wrapped and labelled it and put it in a box. On the last week, we sat around trying to guess who our secret friend was thanks to various cryptic clues they'd given us. Whether we guessed correctly or not, our secret friend had to confess. It was a lot of fun!

The reason I'm blogging about this is that I've been thinking a lot about giving and our motivations for doing so, especially in regards to yesterday's Bible verse. Secret giving is not something we're generally accustomed to; we're used to being known as the giver and being thanked for our gift. As much as I love giving gifts to show my affection, I realise my motives are often mixed. While I hope my gift is a blessing and is useful to the receiver, I often struggle with selfishness. Will they like my gift? Will they hate me if they don't like it? Do I look like a cheapskate? I hope my gift shows what a witty, creative person I am. I hope my gift is their favourite.

Often we give to make ourselves look good, there's no doubt about it. But how do we deal with mixed motives? One solution is to stop giving but that is inconsistent with what the Bible teaches us about generosity and cheerful giving. Since reading those verses in Matthew, I've found myself becoming more and more excited about anonymous giving.

With Secret Friend, we all eventually found out who our secret friend was. But what if we never found out? What if we saw from afar our gifts being received with joy and couldn't confess that we were the ones who had made the receiver so happy? Our humaness screams at us to take the glory but what if we let the one who truly deserves it, take the glory.....God.

It's a shame that a lot of organisations (even Christian ones) don't often allow you to be an anonymous giver. You have to sign up and commit to a regular amount, they have all of your personal details. I know they need to think about budgets and all that but I found myself wishing there were more instances where I could give secretly. Then I realised that there are an ABUNDANCE of instances for anonymous giving. So many people are in need, not just financially but of encouragement. What great opportunities there are!

So leave money or gifts on someone's doorstep, write an anonymous note of encouragement. By no means am I saying those that leave their name are downright wrong but with secret giving, the person cannot thank you or praise you, they can only praise their Lord and Saviour or it can show them His love if they do not yet know Him. Don't seek your reward in this lifetime. Leave that to God.

I know that when I've been down or facing hard times, I have been so blessed by those who have given in various ways. Whether I knew who you were or whether you were my secret friend....thank you. Your kindness caused me to praise my God.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Bible Verse of the Day

Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:1-4

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Recently, I read Bek's post Name Calling where she asked about stories of how people got their names and the meanings behind them.

That made me think. Not about my own name but about others I've been given. You see, nobody ever seems to remember my name and I've been called just about every other name under the sun.....but my own. I must be a highly forgettable person!

Here are some of my 'aliases':

First Name:
Sara, Sally, Sandra, Sonya, Samantha, Emma, Rachel, Rebecca, Karen, Rosemary, Claire, Lisa, Jane, Helen.

Maiden Name:
Evans, Edwards, Edmonds, Edmondson, Edmuns, Edmuds, Edments, Ements.

Married Name:
Birt, Burton, Bird, Birch, Bush.

So as you can see, nobody gets any of my names right. It's kinda sad and funny really.

Claire Evans......Lisa Burton....oh well, at least I have lots of ideas for my next fake ID....kidding haha!

Does anyone ever get your name wrong? What 'aliases' have you had?