Friday, February 26, 2010

Growing Up Non Christian - Part 3

A few weeks after I became a Christian, I started attending the church I would attend until I left Perth after our wedding in April 2008.  I'd seen posters around campus, but was reluctant until a student from the Christian Union invited me along.  Looking back, this was the ideal church for someone unchurched like me.  They met in a lecture theatre, had no stain glass windows or flowers or lacy tablecloths draped over the communion dishes. The Lord's Supper consisted of juice in small plastic cups and breadmaker bread which we pulled lumps off.  People came wearing whatever they happened to be wearing that day.  It was simple, unpretentious and centred around the gospel and God's Word.

Yet, being unchurched, I still felt like an alien.  I'm writing this because I think people who have grown up in Christian families seldom consider how strange and confronting church services can be for the outsider.  I had no idea what people meant by a 'sermon' and I never had the courage to ask.  Finally I realised, oh it's the Bible talk!  I didn't know where to turn to a particular book in the Bible and I didn't know the words of the songs.  One thing I did appreciate though was that things were explained before they were done during church.  The pastor or service leader would say what they were doing and why.  I know some established Christians found this patronising and tedious, ,as a newcomer, I found it refreshing.  Each time I visit my old church, they still take the time to explain things in case there are unbelievers or new Christians present and, as a believer, I still find it helpful to be reminded of why we do things instead of following tradition for the sake of tradition.

Slowly God started revealing areas of my life which needed to change.  I learnt I had His Holy Spirit dwelling in me which enabled me to say no to sin and yes to God.  But this is a long and painful refining process which will go on until the day I die or Jesus returns.  To many non-Christians, I probably looked like some kind of saint.  I wasn't into drinking,  I didn't sleep around or do many of the 'bad' things that Christians don't do.  But God started to reveal to me the ugliness of my own heart and my involvement in many of the 'respectable sins' which many people don't give much thought - things like greed, lust, anger, pride, jealousy, gossip etc.  At first it didn't feel like my life was any different.  I still swore, I still burnt CDs, I still lost my temper (a lot).  But God was slowly whittling away at me, sawing off my rough edges to conform me into the likeness of His Son.  He convicted me through His Word, through other people, through a gentle rebuke to my heart, but still it felt like I wasn't very different to how I had been.  I remember once a friend from church approached me after the service and told me he'd Googled my name for the fun of it (as you do), and he'd found a short story I'd had published in an online magazine during my first year of uni.  He commented about the amount of swearing in it; I'd written about the bogan male flatmates from the previous post and since they swore a lot, I was merely quoting them.  He wasn't judgemental about it; more amused than anything.  I've had so many people comment that I look sweet and innocent (pffft) that it must have been a shock to the system to find that piece.  I explained that I'd written that before I was Christian, but still my battles with foul language were far from over.

The pastor at my church gave me my first Bible and as I read it, I was surprised to find out how relevant it was to life today.  In the past, I'd scoffed at the relevance of a book thousands of years old and the people who bothered to read it.  I learnt that Jesus' death was not the last ditch attempt to appease an angry God as my mum had made it out to be; that it was planned before time and Jesus went willingly out of his enormous love for us.  Not only that, but He was God in the flesh who came to earth to live the life we couldn't live.  One verse that struck me was 1 Peter 4:3-5 - For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.  I thought, wow, this was exactly what I was facing as a new Christian in the worlds of student housing and theatre.  If you don't get drunk, they scoff at you and won't hang out with you.  I discovered that sex outside of marriage didn't start happening in the 1960s, it was happening way back in Genesis, the first book of the Bible.  People were engaging in orgies, drunkenness, and some of the stuff I read, the Bible sure isn't this nice G rated book.  It's gritty and full of real life stuff.

Suddenly my faith in Jesus meant I was confronted with choices - God or the world.  I could strive to win the world's affection or I could live for my Lord.  This lead to me making decisions not be involved in plays at theatre that would involved nudity, not swearing in my creative writing pieces, and not getting drunk with fellow students in the student village or at theatre cast parties.  It wasn't easy, and it never will be.  I'd wanted fame and acceptance so badly, it was hard to just ignore ridicule and not care what people think of me.  I'm still guilty of caring more about what people think of than what God thinks of me.  But God has never given up on me and I've found great comfort in verses such as To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy. (Jude 1:24) and being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6).

Sometime I knew I would have to face the inevitable...telling my friends and family about my new faith.  To put it simply, it didn't go that well.  While some reacted with screams of joy and encouraging words, quite a few Christians didn't seem to believe me.  I thought, You were the ones who were praying for me and now you don't believe your prayers have been answered.  It's like in Acts 12 when the church is praying for Peter to be released from prison and God performs a miracle.  Then when Peter turns up on their doorstep they don't believe it's him!  That's what it felt like for me.  It was like they thought I was stirring them or something.  The family were another story altogether.  For the past few years, my mum had been telling me to go to church, to go to youth events, to go to Christian Union stuff (presumably to be a good influence on me and keep me away from drugs or something), but when I told her I'd become a Christian and was part of a church, she didn't react well.  It was as if she saw church as some kind of reform school and, since I was still a sinner, she told me it hadn't worked and was a waste of time.  She picked up on everything I did wrong and I ended up losing my temper on many occasions.  When I went to church, she and Nan would mock me, asking me if I'd had my sins washed away.  My dad and my brother were the apathetic ones; as long as I didn't force it on them, they didn't mind what I did.  In retrospect, I think my mum was frightened and still is.  Having a Christian daughter, however imperfect I may be, reminds her that there is a God out there who just might want her to acknowledge Him.  As a child, she'd told me that I hadn't been baptised and that that was a decision I needed to make myself if I wanted to be part of God's family.  When I finally did get baptised in February 2005, she seemed very disappointed as if I was doing it just to annoy her.  It was if my faith was an assault on everything she'd raised me to believe and I was confirming my status as the black sheep of the family.  She still thinks my faith is just a phase that I'll grow out of one day.  It's frustrating because it seems like its one step forward, two steps back with her.  Since I've been with Duncan, it's been better, but she still thinks God is going to give her a seven out of ten and just accept her.  Nan is the same; she thinks church is some kind of cult that will suck her in.  I was amazed when I read Jesus' words in Matthew: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn " 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'"  This was what it felt like for me.  My own family were my enemies.  Just by being there, it didn't matter whether I spoke or not, I was a visible reminder of a faith they didn't share.

After this reaction, I went into shutdown mode and didn't tell anymore people unless they asked directly.  I hid my faith where possible to avoid more rejection and ridicule.  Because of my reluctance to do evangelism, I began to doubt whether I was really a Christian and why on earth God had chosen such a useless person to be His.  This resulted in several really low periods in my life because of my guilt over doing silly things due to be being afraid to stand up for God. By then I had finished my three years of student housing and completed my first degree.  Emma moved to Perth in January 2004 to study at ACOM, and months before, she asked if I was interested in living with her.  Despite the dangers associated of living with good friends, I knew we'd get along fine and it was living with her that I experienced a few of those dark periods in my life.  I think I just couldn't believe I was in a place that was clean and equally mine (well, rented) and I had no drunken yobbos banging on my bedroom door at night while I was sick in bed with the flu like I'd had in student housing.  I think after three years of feeling like I was just surviving in my own dwelling and bottling everything, I just couldn't believe I was finally 'free'.  It was during 2004, when I felt that God would never want me anymore, that He taught me valuable lessons about grace.  God had chosen me to be his and He would finish the good work He'd started in me.  I couldn't understand why I would care so much about what strangers or acquaintances thought of me and a very wise person provided the answer.  She said, "Your own family have basically rejected you.  So, if the people closest to you have reacted this way, then you're feeling why would anyone else accept you."  That was a pivotal moment of healing for me, and, since then, God has only kept awakening a passion for evangelism in me that some nights is so strong, I can't sleep.

Some days I still feel like an alien among other Christians who have grown up in Christian homes.  In the past I've wished that I had grown up a Christian , but now I realise that this was not God's plan for me.  Growing up non-Christian means I see some things differently from those who have grown up in the church.  I question things that Duncan, for example, does not question so readily.  Some people probably get annoyed at me, thinking I'm some kind of stirrer, but I won't sit by in silence while some complacent Christians sit comfortably in the church when there is a dying and needy world outside.  I get so frustrated at old people who will fight for tradition instead of focusing on what is truly important.  I don't 'get' those people who think Christians should only sing hymns or get dressed up for church, and I certainly don't get why churches have to look so feminine all the time with flowers and all that crap everywhere..... no wonder some men don't want to come to church!  Having said all that, I'm certainly not saying that only Christians from non Christian homes feel this way.  I know of many who have grown up 'churched' but still feel just as alien in the church sometimes and care very much about the world outside.

Because of my experience of having Christian friends at a government school, I am so against 'closed' Christian schools (where only kids of Christian parents can attend) it's not funny.  Initially this caused Duncan and I to clash because he has grown up in a Christian home and went to a closed Christian school for primary school, and said he would quite like to send our kids to one.  I would NEVER in a million years want my kids to go to one of those schools!  I fully believe in Christian kids being given the chance to be salt and light to their friends who come from different backgrounds instead of being shoved into 'safe' little Christian circles in case they be lead astray.  I'm sure it was tough for my friends sometimes, but God used them to bring me to Himself.  God is a BIG God and He has our backs as we venture out into the world.  I'm not implying that Christian kids should be sent to the worst school possible just to prove a point, but I've seen too many young Christians I knew in Albany grow up in a Christian bubble and then fall away when they went to uni or left home.

Sometimes it feels some people who have grown up Christian don't 'get it' at times when I hear people say, "Oh your family aren't Christian, wow what opportunities." as if everyone is suddenly going to want to become a Christian because I'm around.  Yes, there are opportunities but it's also challenging. Having a non Christian family can be tough, but I want to keep things in perspective.  There are many around the world who are disowned, imprisoned, beaten and face death for following Jesus Christ. I've shared my testimony numerous times now and, each time, someone has been surprised to hear that I didn't come from a Christian home and told me they wish they had an 'impressive' testimony like mine.  I always say EVERY testimony is impressive, because it is God's miracle.  It doesn't matter whether it was the apostle Paul or someone who has grown up with loving Christian parents, each testimony points to God's power and grace.  Nowadays, I don't wish for a different background or upbringing; I just don't want to get complacent or give up praying for my family and for the world.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Growing Up Non Christian - Part 2

I said my goodbyes to my family and friends then my mum and I caught the bus to Perth.  We stayed in an apartment in West Perth for about a week before I moved into Curtin student housing.

The moment I stepped foot into my new flat, I knew that Perth wasn't going to be the smooth-sailing ride to success I had imagined it to be.  My new flatmates consisted of two guys and a girl from Geraldton (Gero deros), a guy from Port Hedland and a girl from Denmark (the town in WA - not the country) who actually had been in my year at school although I hardly knew her.  I walked into the kitchen and my heart plummeted.  It was clear that the others had been there enough to establish themselves and there was barely any room for my things.  The kitchen was already skanky with piles of unwashed dishes, empty pizza boxes and beer bottletops everywhere.  It was clear that the male flatmates were typical young Aussie bogans.
I said to my mum, "Please don't make me live here."
She would hear none of it.  This is my mum by the way whose home is her palace, immaculately cleaned from ceiling to floor multiple times per week and she was content to leave her daughter in a hole she wouldn't have lived in if someone offered her a winning Lotto ticket.

This was the start of the first of three years in that student village.  It wasn't the kind where you have meals cooked for you like at UWA.  At Curtin, all the student villages are self-contained and you get shoved in a flat of six (sometimes eight) people (plus their random guests) and I had to learn to cook, budget and look after myself.  Most nights I went to sleep to the sound of death metal music rocking the flat's foundations.  There was no point in talking to these guys.  Unless you wanted to sleep with them or clean up after them, they weren't interested in having you as a friend.  They were the most unreasonable pigs I have met to this day and they used to go out at night, lock their bedroom doors with the metal music raging inside or smoke dope in their rooms and it would come wafting into mine.  I still don't know how I managed to get any sleep that year or maintain any sanity.

When I began my uni course, I soon realised I was in way over my head.  I began to doubt whether I had chosen the right course or even whether I should be at uni at all.  In Albany, I was used to being one of the better English and Drama students and now suddenly I was a very small fish in a very big pond.  I clashed with my creative writing tutor because she didn't seem to like me very much and I often went home crying and humiliated.  It was only when a couple of my people from my class told me they reckoned her criticism of my work was not constructive that I realised I hadn't been imagining it.  It was my baptism into the world of writing which is tough and competitive.  I had dreamed of coming to uni and making friends as good as the ones I had in Albany, but most of the people in my course were those strange arts types and I felt like I had nothing in common with anyone.  However, I did manage to make one good friend who I am still friends with to this day.

Amidst all my busyness, I barely had time to think about God.  At my orientation, I was approached by a girl from the Christian Union who asked me to fill out a survey on religion.  It had questions such as, Do you believe in God? to which I answered Yes.  Another question was about Jesus and who I thought He was.  I answered prophet from the multiple choice options given to me.  I had a feeling Son of God was the correct answer, but I didn't feel I was ready to take that step and acknowledge it.  A few days later I received a phone call inviting me to one of their meetings.  After encouragement from my mum (surprise, surprise) I went along a few times but as the semester wore on, I came busier and busier, particularly with my Film and Television class which involved long hours filming and then in the editing suite.  So I stopped going after about two meetings and thought little about God for the rest of the semester.

I went home to Albany during my mid-year break and realised how miserable and homesick I had been now that I'd slowed down enough to realise it.  I'd been spending hours on the phone to my parents, begging them to let me leave the hole that had been my home for the past five months.  But where would I go?  I felt uncomfortable asking relatives or family friends if I could stay with them, I had no money, a drivers licence but no car, and all of my close friends were still in Albany.  I was so far out of my comfort zone, but not despondent enough to think I needed God.  If things were going to get better it would be due to my hard work and determination.

My back was broken when I returned to my flat for Semester 2.  The guys had been there during the holidays and totally trashed the place.  There was rubbish everywhere, a record amount of dishes, my feet stuck to the floor when I walked on it and there were all kinds of decomposing things in the fridge and on the floor.  My mum opened one of the plastic bags to see what was inside and flung it away, shrieking, "It's a chicken carcass!"  If I wasn't in such shock, I would have found her reaction quite amusing.  My dad is a property manager and he has evicted his fair share of feral tenants.  He complained to management and they forced the guys to clean up the flat or face immediate eviction.  I returned to the flat to find it uncharacteristically spotless, but I wasn't sure whether to feel relief or disappointment.  I wanted a hygienic place to live, yet I also wanted them gone.  It irritated me no end that the mother of one of these guys complained when her son was finally kicked out at the end of the year.  She was clearly one of those 'My Johnny is an angel' types.  Some mothers have NO IDEA I tell you!  I was back to being miserable and desperately wanted some kind of hope.

Despite my lack of attendance at Christian Union meetings, I was still on their email list and an email I received over the next few weeks struck me hard.  It was about a camp that was held during the semester break and I recalled fondly the kind of Christian fellowship I had envied my Albany friends for, and suddenly my longing was reawakened.  I started attending the weekly Bible talks and signed up to join a Bible study before I really thought about what I was doing.  I lied to my good friend from my course, telling her I was going home for lunch when I was really going to the meeting, but I soon came clean and she was encouraging when I thought she would laugh at me.  I guess it must have been strange for her because when she met me, I wasn't Christian, then a few months later, I was.

It was at Bible study that I soon figured out how much I DIDN'T know about God.  I still can't believe my nerve actually, going along and asking all kinds of impertinent questions and thinking I knew the answers.  It was blatantly obvious that I wasn't a Christian, but I guess my presence must have excited some people because they asked if I was interested in doing a course called Simply Christianity which I was keen to explore.  It was as if God was drawing me and I started to fight against it because I was terrified about how my life would have to change if I became one of them.  I sure didn't feel like one of them.  This was obvious when I didn't know where Ephesians was in the Bible and some guy made a joke about it by saying, "It starts with an E."  That made me angry and humiliated.  I could see that these young people were different, but I was still convinced that deep down all Christians were hypocrites.  I couldn't understand why they were so keen on a word called 'evangelism' which to me sounded like 'Bible-bashing' or 'converting'.  When one of the staffworkers mentioned he'd been talking to some Muslim students about Jesus, I asked why he was bothering when they already had their own religion.  He smiled at me and pointed out that many Muslims are actually very keen to talk about Jesus.  I soon found that out to be the truth the following year when I had a Muslim flatmate and we had many good conversations.

It was after the fifth and final week of meeting to go through Simply Christianity with two fellow female students that I put my trust in Jesus in that empty classroom.  I felt God telling me to finally take the plunge and invite Him in and I realised He'd been calling me for the past few years, but I'd been resisting His call.  But after I prayed, I didn't feel any different.  I'd expected some super spiritual 'feeling', but there was nothing.  Yet, I trembled when I realised I'd asked God into my life to be my Lord and my Saviour and wondered if I could go back on my decision.  I didn't tell anybody at first.  I knew my life had to change, because that would make me just like the so-called hypocrites I had self-righteously judged.

I was a follower of Jesus - saved, washed clean, forgiven and in a restored relationship with my God.  Now my walk with Him was about to begin.

To be continued....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Growing Up Non Christian - Part 1

One thing I've never done on here is share my I came to put my trust in Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.

It has been over eight years since that day. It was certainly not as spectacularly spiritual as Paul's conversion.   It happened in the quietness of an empty classroom at Curtin University where I was close to finishing my first year of my arts degree in creative writing and theatre (all those useful things that will guarantee you a job haha).  I had been meeting with two girls from the Christian Union for Bible study.  We finished in prayer and I asked God silently to come into my life, to forgive me for rebelling against Him and to be my Saviour and King.

I'd better backtrack a few years....

My upbringing was an average, secular, nominally-Christian one.  I never went to church.  I never went to Sunday School.  I didn't know any hymns.  The only time I set foot in a church building was for my primary school's annual Christmas carol singing.  Looking back, it actually surprises me now that my school ever ventured into a church building.  I went to a government school but, being the oldest school in Albany, it came with its traditions.  And one of those traditions involved having a numb butt on a hard pew crammed in with twice as many bodies as it was designed to hold, singing songs I didn't understand.  I hated the pews, but I did like the songs.  There was something awe-inspiring and reverent about them.

One of the outcomes of being raised non-Christian is that you inevitably get taught things about Jesus and His followers that I found out in latter years weren't true.  Like most of their generation, my parents had been raised in the church, but left in the early 1970s when they reached their twenties.  Suddenly they didn't need God anymore...if they ever truly followed Him in the beginning.  During one Easter, my mum told me that just before Jesus died, God was so angry with evil people, He was going to destroy the world when Jesus begged God, "No, take me!"  So I spent my childhood and teenage years believing that Jesus' death was a last-ditch effort to appease an angry God.  I swung between seeing God as a gentle grandfather and an angry tyrant who I'd never be good enough for. and Jesus was this nice guy who picked up lambs and said, "Bless you my child."  I was 10 when my mum wanted to send me to Sunday School under the reasoning that it would be 'good for me'.  As a child, I interpreted this as, 'You're a disobedient girl and Sunday School is a kind of reform school that will teach you some good manners.'  I told her she couldn't make me go and she eventually backed down.  Six days of school?  What kid wants that?

So I spent the majority of my childhood giving God very little thought until I hit high school and the Gideons came to give us all free New Testaments.  I saw one boy tearing his to shreds, mocking it and I was horrified.  I didn't really want my Bible but I could never have brought myself to destroy it.  I found myself reading it in bed at night by torchlight and found some of the verses very comforting.  I didn't really understand what I was reading but I would look up verses on topics I was curious about such as fear or faith and be enthralled.

It was in Year 8 that I met Emma, but it took us a year or so to become friends.  I wasn't a very nice person to her and I couldn't believe that I'd actually met someone who went to church and WANTED to go!  I wouldn't blame her if she hadn't liked me very much either, I was downright rude.  Some may argue that not much has changed, but I think Christians can relate to the prayer of the alcoholic and I see myself as a work in progress.  Anyway, a lot of my so-called friends from primary school got into drinking and smoking and after trying it, I decided I didn't want to go down that path.  Perhaps even back then, God was giving me this strange sense of right and wrong.  When it became apparent that I would not join them on their 'extracurricular activities', they ditched me.  So by Year 9 I was in the awful position of feeling alone and friendless.  I had acquaintances, but I craved a real friend.  I got to know Rhianon better that year as we had some classes together and soon, she, Emma and I started hanging out together.  It was strange because I don't think we planned this. It just sort of happened and, to be honest, as nice as they were, they were not the friends I would have chosen.  I wanted friends who were loud and popular, who could benefit me in some way and get me where I wanted to the top.  Instead God provided me with friends who were humble and gentle - so different to anyone else I knew at that stage.  God was moving the pieces of the puzzle slowly into place.  I'm glad God knows better than me.

Despite being in the position where I now had Christian friends, it was in Year 9 that I decided to become an atheist.  My English teacher stated quite emphatically one day that, "There is no God," and I found myself agreeing with him.  Surely if you got rid of God, then you solved a lot of the world's problems?  But a world without God made no sense to be and I began to rethink my position.

In Year 11, I met Christina.  We had no friends in our Human Biology class and she'd only been at my school for six months so we ended up sitting next to each other as two fellow loners.  It was the start of another great friendship.  We still talk about that class to this day.  It was so much fun and soon my Christian friends grew in number; I met Rianna in Year 12.  My dad used to joke about this, implying that I was some sort of Pied Piper of Christians, that somehow all these 'religious people' were drawn to me.  I couldn't explain it, but I was equally as drawn to them.  They were different to everyone else in my year.  They lived differently, yet they weren't weirdos.  They had this incredible hope in a person called Jesus.  They were part of a group of people who they loved to meet with each week, a group called 'church' who I had previously associated with stony-faced hypocrites who sat on hard benches and sang incomprehensible songs.  I wanted to be one of them.  Whereas my other Christian friends were quieter and more reserved, Christina had a louder personality similar to mine.  She was so open about church and God and inviting myself and others to Christian things, I couldn't believe it.  Didn't she care about her reputation?  I sure cared about mine, so I kept my longing hidden and pretended to be sceptical.  I had always been a very ambitious person.  I would set my sights on a goal and do whatever it took to get there.  I was going to be a famous writer and actress.  Suddenly this wasn't enough anymore because my friends had this Jesus in their lives and I didn't know why, but I wanted Him too.

Surprisingly my mum was the one who encouraged to accept my friends' invitations.  She said it was a good thing and I should go along so I went to the Christian group that was set up at my school by a local chaplain which in later years, became known as the GARLIC group (Get A Real Life in Christ).  I joined them in prayer and each time my eyes started watering uncontrollably.  I had to turn away so people wouldn't think I was crying.  Emma told me later she was shocked when I asked her for a copy of the Jesus: The Man Behind the Millennium video that came out when we were in Year 12 in 2000. She thought I wasn't serious and mentioned that she was nervous, thinking I was going to bite her head off when she actually brought it to school.

I briefly considered becoming a Bahai because I didn't quite know how to tell my friends that I wanted to come to church regularly.  My next phase was an idea about starting my own religion called the 'Sarah religion' where basically people would come along, unroll some mats and bow down and worship a picture of me.  I wasn't serious but it showed that I desperately wanted something to follow.

My high school memories are some of the most treasured of my life and God had provided me with such wonderful friends whom he knew I needed.  I didn't want high school to end, but I was determined to get into Curtin and leave the following year.  I farewelled Albany in February 2001 and had a going-away party since I was the first of my friends to leave home and leave Albany.  But despite the sadness, I was only determined to succeed on my path to fame.  I was sure Perth had only good things for me and I couldn't wait to start my adventure.  Rhianon admitted years later she was worried because they had been witnessing to me for the past few years and now I was leaving, and they wondered if their efforts would still bear any fruit now that I was about to enter the uni environment.  But my Christian friends did not stop praying for me, that one day I would accept Christ.

If you told me it would be by the end of that year, I would have laughed in your face.

To be continued.....

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Funny

Well, I haven't been able to blog as much as like this week due to our VERY POOR internet connection.  Grrrr.  So here's a few jokes to end the week on a high.


How to tell if a Catholic is driving too fast

Jewish Olympic swimmer

Hilarious church signs

The woodpecker might have to go!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dunsborough Holiday

After Esperance, we headed to Dunsborough to spend some time with Duncan's family, staying one night in Albany on the way to break up the LONG trip.  We caught up with friends from Busselton as well and had fish and chips at the beach one night which was just lovely.

Our friends James, Suzie and Ruby

Duncan's mum has decided to convert to Islam hehehe :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lesson 11 from Sarah's School of Dating

This question is relevant to both singles and couples.  How should we approach Valentine's Day?  Here are some different approaches I've taken or heard of.

To a single teenage girl, Valentine's Day is an important day on the calendar.  It's the day you hope Mr Crush will finally get up the courage to leave a rose or an anonymous note.  At high school, I used to live in hope than one day my true love would reveal his mutual affection and I'm ashamed to say that I even left my bag lying around, partly unzipped to make it easier for him to drop something in there.  Yes, I know, how sad!  Of course my hope would be shattered only to have it reignite the next time Valentine's Day came about.

A few years ago, as a 21-year-old single, I was invited by a single friend to an 'Anti-Valentine's Day Dinner' she was hosting at her place.  All of the invitees were single people and I think it was meant to be a night devoid of couples talking about houses, kids, weddings and the like.  If it was meant to encourage me as a single, it failed miserably.  I left that dinner MORE discouraged about my singleness.  Rather than ignoring the fact that it was Valentine's Day, I felt the dinner drew attention to the fact that we were all without partners and that we should be feeling resentful about it.

Some people spend what looks like their life savings on schmaltzy presents in a bid to win their sweetheart or affirm their love for their current partner.  Other couples despise the day with a passion, resenting the commercialism and stating firmly, "I don't need to celebrate Valentine's Day to show that I love my partner."

Personally I think all of the above approaches are wrong and here's why:
  • Valentine's Day is not the be-all and end-all of life.  If you don't get a Valentine, don't take it to heart (try telling that to a teenage girl though).  The love of your life may appear on one of the other 364 days of the year.
  • If you're single, don't retreat into a anti-Valentine's singles' subculture.  Not all couples get lovey-dovey on Valentine's Day.  In fact, many do nothing.  Being anti-Valentine's not only draws attention to the fact that it's Valentine's Day but can also be very discouraging to singles by reinforcing that they're SINGLE.  I found when I was single that only hanging out with singles did not solve the difficulties of singleness because they constantly kept complaining about their marital status.  I know singleness can be difficult, but I get darn sick of singles trying to ruin my happiness by constantly complaining about 'smug marrieds' and not inviting couples to things.
  • Presents are good, but people give and receive love in different ways.  Don't get sucked in by the lie that your love is measured by how much you spend.  And besides, who wants to get a teddy with a love heart on it EVERY year!
  • While it's good not to be seduced by the commercialism surrounding the day, don't let your relationship go stale because of a lack of romance.  I've heard so many people say, "It's all bunch of crap.  Sally knows I love her.  I don't need to get her anything.  People should love their partners every other day, not just on Valentine's Day."  Yes, that's very true.  People SHOULD do nice things for their significant other on other days of the year.  But DO THEY?  Really?  Sometimes people just say that as an excuse to be complacent and not putting enough effort into their relationship.
In regards to Valentine's Day, I am a big fan of the saying, "Redeem the day."  I've heard it mentioned a lot in relation to Christmas.  So many Christians complain about the commercialism of Christmas so they think boycotting it is the best option.  I say no, redeem the day.  Bring back its original meaning.  Valentine's Day is meant to be about showing your love for the one you love.  So show your love.  Yes, do it on all 365 days of the year but, in our busy world we often get lazy and forgetful.  Use Valentine's Day as a reminder to show your special someone how much they mean to you and it doesn't have to be expensive.  Do something that's special for both of you.  If you're single, rejoice in the love that God has for you which is more powerful than any human love.  Not in a cheesy 'Jesus is my boyfriend' way, but celebrate the love that Christ has for his bride, the church.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day?  What sort of things do you like to do to show your partner you love them?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Love Song For No-one by John Mayer

With Valentine's Day approaching, I thought I'd reflect on some lyrics that so perfectly capture the agony I often felt while I was single.  Who is the 'one'?  Could it be them?  Or them?  Have I missed my chance and let the love of my life walk on by?

Staying home alone on a Friday,
Flat on the floor looking back
On old love,
Or lack thereof,
After all the crushes are faded.
And all my wishful thinking was wrong,
I'm jaded,
I hate it.

I'm tired of being alone,
So hurry up and get here.
So tired of being alone,
So hurry up and get here,
Get here.

Searching all my days just to find you,
I'm not sure who I'm looking for.
I'll know it,
When I see you.
Until then, I'll hide in my bedroom,
Staying up all night just to write,
A love song for no-one.

I could have met you in a sandbox,
I could have passed you on the sidewalk,
Could I have missed my chance,
And watched you walk away?
Oh no way.

You'll be so good,
You'll be so good for me.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Excellent Esperance Expedition

After we spent a few days in Albany over the Christmas/Boxing Day period, we headed to Esperance for six nights of camping in our tent.  Since we had only used our tent once before since receiving it as a present, we were very much looking forward to this.  Unfortunately the day after we arrived was 45 degrees and, with only a tent for shelter, we were more than a tad uncomfortable.  We spent that day moving from place to place in a desperate attempt to get cool.  After an early morning trip to the beautiful Twilight Beach, we went to the airconditioned comfort of the shopping centre and spent most of the afternoon jumping in the pool at the caravan park we were staying at and sitting inside a shade house.  Finally, we went to see Sherlock Holmes at the cinema just to spend a few hours in airconditioning.  The night was horrible.  We lay awake in our tent, drenched in sweat, praying that the seabreeze would relieve us which it around midnight!

The other downside was I developed a nasty rash which spread across my chest.  It was angry, red and lumpy...and highly embarrassing so that I had to wear high-necked shirts just to hide it.  It finally subsided after days of taking antihistamine tablets and using hydrocortisone cream.  I have no idea what caused it, but the chemist suggested it was a reaction to sunscreen!

Fortunately the rest of our stay was very enjoyable.  It was Duncan's first visit to Esperance and my second having previously gone on a family holiday there in 2000 while I was in the middle of Year 12.  I'd fallen in love with Esperance on that first trip and after nine and a half years, I finally went back there.  The beaches and coastline are exquisite.  Our good friends, Sarah and Craig were holidaying there for part of the time we were so it was great catching up with them and doing things together.

If you ever do get the chance to go to Esperance, I highly recommend visiting Mermaid Leather.  It's a factory where they make leather products out of fish and shark skins...handbags, shoes, pens, jewellery - you name it!  You'll be amazed at what fish skins are useful for.

Sea lion

Hello there!

Craig and Sarah

Us on the jetty.

Lovely coastline

Beautiful Twlight Beach

The sexy man!

Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park where Sarah and Craig were camping.

The man going for a dip at Hellfire Bay.

Frenchman's Peak

Le Grand Beach

Thistle Cove I think

Our dwelling for the week.

Hmm I didn't know he'd taken this photo until I saw it on the camera.

Back at Twilight again.  Love it here!

Don't you dare take my picture!

Clearly he is meant to own this shop.