Friday, October 30, 2009

The Pendulum: Naivety and Paranoia

When I think about issues associated with security and privacy, I want to strike a balance between being naive and paranoid. In an increasingly 'online' world, more and more people are becoming nervous about who is accessing their data. While some will happily put it all out there on the net for anyone to read, others are convinced it's only a matter of time before they have a personal cyberstalker on their hands.

Of course privacy and security are big issues in the 'real world' as well. We lock our houses and cars, we install burglar alarms and some even avoid striking up deep and real friendships for fear that, one day, their friend could use their deepest, darkest secrets against them.

I have trouble to relating to people who fall too far into either category. I know some people who have a very laissez-faire attitude to such issues. They don't lock their car or house because they assume that theft 'won't happen to them', they put their address, phone number etc on their Facebook profile or blog or they open up to complete strangers about difficult, personal issues they are facing. I have met a few people before who, upon meeting me for the first time, proceeded to spill out all their troubles. Now, personally, I don't have a problem with this; I was more concerned for them! They obviously assumed I looked like a trustworthy person (or maybe I just have 'Counsellor' tattooed on my forehead) but for all they knew I could be an axe murderer...or the town gossip.

Then, on the other hand, you get the people who seem to live each day worrying and panicking about their own and their family's personal security. I hear about it a lot concerning Facebook. One spouse has a Facebook profile and puts photos of their kids online along with their names (but locks the profile or photo album). Their husband/wife doesn't have a Facebook profile, nor have they looked into what Facebook is like but they are NOT impressed by the fact that photos of their kids are online in case there are online paedophiles lurking around. Some bloggers who prefer to blog about the weather or a funny thing their dog did, can't believe that fellow bloggers share openly about their thoughts, feelings and happenings of a more personal nature. Then there are the people who choose small talk and shallow friendships over deep and real ones. I have actually heard some people declare themselves to be 'private people' and one person told me their frustrations about trying to develop real relationships, saying that conversations they have had with some people have only ever been banter.

So where's the middle? I have my own views on where I think the middle is, but I know others will disagree. That's fine, they can disagree in their heads all they like but I do feel judged sometimes when they verbalise it. I know some people probably don't approve of the things I write about on my blog and that's fine, they don't have to read it, but I don't feel I'm sharing anything inappropriate or anything I haven't already verbalised. I'm probably going to be seen as a bad mum one day (if God wills us to have kids) because I plan to put pictures of my kids on the net, along with their names, so that family and friends who are far away can see their progress. Personally, I can't stand shallow friendships; I don't see the point and sometimes we need to give of ourselves to our friends in order for the friendship to grow. Yes, that involves taking a risk because they might betray us, but I want to throw off surface level chit-chat and experience REAL fellowship.

But I do believe wholeheartedly in security and privacy. I don't have my address or phone number online. I only add people on Facebook if I know them (or of them) somehow. I'm just 'Sarah' on my blog for this reason. That's not hiding behind a persona as some bloggers would see it. Why do I need to give my surname? If I learn that someone is a gossip, then I won't trust them with anything personal. I don't write down passwords and pin numbers in case they fall into the wrong hands.

I don't want to be lax or naive and think that the world's a happy place, full of roses, but nor do I want to believe everyone's out to stalk me.

How about you? What are your guidelines concerning privacy and security issues?
Image is from

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quote of the Day

This one's for Mark as he prepares for his Bono message. It's one of my favourite quotes.

I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for grace.
- Bono

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Duet

This was emailed to me a few years ago. It almost made me cry!

Wishing to encourage her young son's progress on the piano, a mother took the boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted an old friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked "NO ADMITTANCE."

When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing. Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

At that moment, the great piano maestro made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy's ear, "Don't quit. Keep playing."

Then leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child, and he added a running obligatio. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed what could have been frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was so mesmerized that they couldn't recall what else the great maestro played. Only the classic "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

Perhaps that's the way it is with God. What we can accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy. We try our best, but the results aren't always gracefully flowing music. However, with the hand of the Master, our life's work can truly be beautiful.

Next time you set out to accomplish great feats, listen carefully. You may hear the voice of the Master, whispering in your ear, "Don't quit. Keep playing."

May you feel His arms around you and know that His hands are there helping you turn your feeble attempts into true masterpieces. Remember, God doesn't seem to call the equipped; rather, He equips the 'called.'

Monday, October 26, 2009


Last year, while we were in Tassie, I read Dawn French: The Biography by Alison Bowyer. It was my prize for being the top student in Year 12 Drama Studies at my high school back in 2000 so, yes, it took me a while to get around to reading it. I have to admit, when I first received it I had no idea who she was. I know....shame, shame.

It was such a great read, I had trouble putting it down even though we were on our honeymoon. She has had quite a turbulent life but there was one bit in the book that stood out at me because, to be honest, it made me quite angry.

Now Dawn is well known for being a rather large woman and the book says that during her school days she used to laugh off her discomfort about her size by cracking jokes at her own expense. This is understandable; I think a lot of us use humour as a defence mechanism at time, including myself. But in Chapter 9: Size Matters, I think she well and truly crosses the line.

Dawn is well known for making outpsoken remarks defending overweight women and even encouraging women to pile on the pounds. A lot of it stems from the fact that could not wear the same fashion as her friends when she was a teenager due to her size so she lashes out at thin women. It's fair enough to criticise Hollywood with it's stick thin stars who live on crash diets, but not all women are thin or of a healthy weight because they neglect to eat or abuse their bodies with diet pills. I keep hearing the 'I can't help being big boned' excuse to justify being overweight and for some women this is true. One of my mum's best friends has always been on the big side yet she eats healthily and does a fair bit of exercise. Others put on weight because of medication they need. But Dawn openly admits to leading anything but a healthy lifestyle and I get sick of hearing people who complain about their weight while taking their next bite of KFC. Our weight is not always beyond our control.

Dawn actually says during the chapter that fat women are better than thin. This is where I think she goes too far. Fat people get bullied, sure, and it sucks but thinism is just as prevalent as fatism. I don't believe in having a go at overweight people, it's their life and their eating habits are up to them but what does get my goat is when they pick on me and it's deemed to be acceptable because thin is the majority. Newsflash: thin is NOT the majority in the Western world where obesity is a growing problem. I believe in leading a healthy lifestyle and that there are different healthy weight ranges for each person.

I have been bullied by overweight people and I'm tired of it. In this ridiculous age of political correctness, they can call me 'Bony', 'Skinny Mini' or 'Anorexic' but if I call them 'Fatty' or 'Fatso', it's a big no no. Why is it ok to confront someone because you are worried they're losing too much weight but it's NOT ok to confront someone who is GAINING too much weight? Aren't both a health problem? In primary school, I had overweight girls use their size to intimidate me by twisting my arms up behind my back until it hurt. I've been shopping with people who have done nothing but complain the whole time that I shop at 'skinny teenybopper' shops. Richard Burton's widow, Sally, finally lashes out at Dawn in this chapter for declaring that men like bigger women better than thinner women. I have had someone say that to me as well and it really hurt, especially since if I'd responded with, "No, they like thinner women better," I would have received a tongue-lashing.

On page 157, it says Defending women for being overweight is one thing, being rude about thin women, quite another.

I completely agree!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Photo Friday - 'Autumn 2009'

The farm. Not long before seeding.
April 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Dictator of Cockburn Central

Is it just me or do these photos at Cockburn Central Station remind you of countries under dictatorships where there is a big photo of the leader on display for all to see.


Is this lady the new dictator of Cockburn Central?

Ayatollah Khomeini, previous dictator of Iran.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Calling All Theoblogians #7

What's with all the different English translations of the Bible out there? What are their origins? Which one is the best? Or doesn't it make a difference?

I've always used the New International Version (NIV) because it was the one I was given not long after I became a Christian and it's the only Bible I've ever had. Personally, I'm not fussed with translations as long as I understand the gist of the passage.

But some people have their preferences and others go beyond that and insist there is only one true translation. People who insist the King James (KJV) or New King James (NKJV) are the only versions to use really get my goat because, quite often, they themselves have no idea why they think this way; they are just going on what their church has said. A friend of mine told us recently about when he preached at a church other than his own and an older lady told him afterwards that she liked his sermon, but she usually didn't listen to anything that wasn't preached using the KJV (he used NIV). He thought to himself, "What a stupid woman!"

For a while, my old church in Perth started using the English Standard Version (ESV) during services because they reckoned it was more accurate then reverted back to the NIV because it was what most people had. I've heard mixed opinions on the New Living Translation (NLT), the Good News Bible and The Message (is that even considered a translation?). Some despise them with every breath they take while others rave about them. Who is right?! Is there anyone who wants to add an opinion on Bible translations such as which ones are better than others or if it doesn't make a difference? Are there any good books out there which explain when and where the different translations originated from?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Funny


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bye Bye My Honey

As some of you will know, my husband, Duncan, has had his own blog since February 2007.

Well, now it is no more.

Yep, he's pulled the plug on Beyond the Black Stump. The stump is gone so you won't be able to find your way back there.

His reasons? Lack of time, lack of motivation and the fact that he's just not into writing and blogging the way I am.

Bye, bye honey. See you in the real world :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Last month, Duncan and I had a 'trash and treasure' stall at our local fete. Not only did we clean out a lot of junk but I also decided to get out my beads and have a go at making some jewellery to sell. Lately, I've been dreaming of ways to make money for the purpose of furthering God's kingdom. Having a clean out and not being a hoarder of useless crap is a great way to raise some funds for those in need. We decided that all proceeds we made would go to support women and children associated with Pregnancy Problem House and by selling some of our old stuff we made $75.80. Honestly, I couldn't believe some people wanted to buy our junk....but I'm very glad they did. I can't wait for the next fete or market to come along.

Here are some of my attempts at creativity:

Some of our random junk.

Me at our stall.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio G. Spafford

I find this hymn helps me to trust God during hard times and it assures me that while trials may come, through Jesus, He has already fixed my greatest problem of eternal separation from him.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Marriage 101: Leave and Cleave

The whole issue of a newlywed couple becoming their own, new family is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. You see, a lot of people won't see newlyweds as a family of their own until they have their first child. I think that's wrong. From the moment Duncan and I were married we became our own family. A family of only two but a family nevertheless (Duncan refuses to count Ebony and Maya as our 'family'). ;)

Also, what does it mean for a couple to 'leave and cleave'? Genesis 2:24 says a husband will LEAVE his mother and father, yet what about cultures where multiple generations live together in the same household? I'm presuming that although parents are still around and in our lives, they are no longer our primary family. For example, the number 1 woman in a man's life is his wife, and not his mother. Likewise a woman's number 1 man is her husband, and not her father.

In Australia, most married couples don't live with their parents. But up here, it's common for a son and his wife to live on the same farm as his parents and I'm hearing more and more stories of people who have a somewhat....errr...strained relationship with their in-laws. Personally I'm very glad that Duncan and I live way out here and have had the time and space to get to know each other and make decisions together. We were talking to an older couple ages ago who said they went to live in the country in the first year after getting married and said it was the best thing for their marriage. I like the way our families can still visit but we're not living on top of each other and I do feel sorry for some of the young women up here who have married into a farming family and it looks like they've become completely absorbed by their husband's family. By that I mean their husband's family might live next door and their family far away. In other cultures it's probably normal for people to live with their parents or in-laws but there's no way I'd want that to happen. I think for some relationships to flourish it's best for there to be physical space between family members. I've got on so much better with my parents since I left home.

I think in a marriage you need to understand that while your spouse may get on very well with your family, it's an altogether different kettle of fish if you were to move in next door to them. Sometimes I hear of women who want to move next-door to their parents so their mum can babysit etc but the husband isn't quite so keen to live next-door to his mother-in-law and who could blame him!

One thing I'm learning is despite their children marrying and leaving home, parents never stop PARENTING. It's hard when we're thinking through some big decisions and other family members are lumping unwanted advice on us. The Bible says we are to honour parents but that doesn't mean we will always agree, even if the parents are Christian. I'm actually dreading having children for that reason. Some of the people who whinged and gave us grief about our wedding plans were family; how much worse is it going to be when there are children involved? Everyone seems to have their own opinion on what are the best parenting techniques and it really annoys me when they force their opinion on others as if it's gospel truth. I'm the kind of person who will ask for help or advice if I want it.....I don't want it forced on me. I shudder when I hear of family members bitching about other family members' parenting skills. If they're going to bitch about them, then they'll surely bitch about me.

Although Duncan and I often don't see eye-to-eye about decisions we must make, I'm loving us being our own little family and I'm glad we have other family in our lives. But personally, I think leaving their parents and establishing their own home is the best thing any newlywed couple can do.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Bible Verse of the Day

...a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Get On Your Soapbox #14

Before I head off for the weekend, I shall leave you all with a rant......;)

There's one thing about living up here that really annoys me....


The Great Northern Highway is full of them and they think they own the road. Honestly all of the psycho truck drivers I have ever encountered have been on the Great Northern Highway. When I've been travelling to Albany on Albany Highway, I have seen some trucks pull over to let a line of traffic go past! How nice is that! There's zero chance of that up here.

Honestly do truckies think they're above the law or something? One time I was driving to work and I was stuck behind three trucks. The road had a double line but still they started mucking around, overtaking each other.

Last year, I had probably one of my most scariest experiences ever involving a truckie. I was on my way to Perth after work. It was dark and the road was windy. I kept encountering truck after truck that would not turn off their high beams for oncoming traffic. Then suddenly a truck came roaring up behind me with its high beams still on and started tailgating me. I was doing the speed limit, the truckie was obviously speeding. Not only was I blinded by the light, I was blinded by the lights of oncoming trucks as well so I had to slow down a bit on a narrow and windy patch of road. I was too scared to slow down in case he rear-ended me because he was certainly showing no sign of slowing down and I was terrified of being run off the road. Eventually the truckie roared past me and by this stage I was so angry, I turned my high beams on and thought, 'Take this, loser!"

Suddenly he swerved off the road and I seized my chance to overtake him. As I drove past, he opened the driver's door and hung out by one arm, screaming abuse. Instinct took over and I took off, not stopping until I reached Perth.

Both my mum and Duncan told me off for flashing my lights at him, saying I only made a bad situation worse and that if he'd caught me I could have been beaten up or dead in a car accident. I know they're right but I just saw red and I'm so sick of tools like that on the road, thinking they can intimidate smaller vehicles. Yeah I know a lot of truckies are probably on drugs but that's no excuse. I'm sick of bleeding hearts defending them, saying they need to take drugs because they have such long, tiring stints behind the wheel. So what? That's no excuse to behave like a psychopath. They're not the only ones on deadlines and I'm glad the cops up here are clamping down on dangerous driving from truckies.

I'm standing up for drivers of minis, Barinas and little Accents like mine! It's time the truckies, bus drivers and Perth people who drive four wheel drives when they don't need them be taught a lesson!