Tuesday, June 29, 2010

From Head to Hand: Being a Christian Writer

As I edit my first novel, I am well aware that my faith in Jesus impacts on what I write about and how I write it.  It's a fine line, and Christians differ greatly on what constitutes 'Christian literature' in the realm of fiction.

I'm learning the delicate balance of communicating what I believe through storytelling, but creating characters who do not share my beliefs.  Nobody wants to read a schmaltzy Christian story where everyone becomes a Christian in the end.  Life is just not like that.  I want to portray a world like the one we journey in....gritty and real.  I'm inspired by C.S. Lewis and U2 who communicate their faith through fiction and song lyrics.

Readers will always read things into stories that the author never intended.  They will assume because a character holds certain values, that this must be the embodiment of what the author holds dear.  That simply is not the case in my book.  My main characters make decisions and think thoughts I disagree with, but it's all part of their growth and learning.  I would certainly not label it a 'Christian' book by any stretch of the imagination, but there are definite Christian 'themes' which emerge in the storyline.  As I've became a Christian and slowly mature in my faith, the plot of my novel in progress has changed accordingly.  When I started, I was a non-Christian fifteen-year-old, obsessed with the ways of the world and achieving glory for myself.  My book begins with ten-year-old Brad Sinclair growing up in the working class Adelaide suburb of Alberton in the mid 1980s, with his heart set on becoming a champion footballer.  Without giving too much away, Brad grows into a young man who is confronted by challenges and obstacles which force him to re-evaluate his perspective.  I believe such a change only occurred when my own worldviews and plans shifted after coming to Christ.  Before that, the plot involved Brad achieving everything he ever wanted and finding maximum fulfilment from sport.

Christian artists cannot simply detach themselves from their characters and say, "It wasn't me....it was them."  Yet neither can they write in a way that is completely devoid of reality.  If we are to somehow communicate the gospel through our art medium, we need to be holy, yet real.  Some things I'm wrestling with as I write and edit are what constitutes swearing? Can I describe sexual activity?  The majority of characters in my book are professional footballers...young men in their twenties and thirties.  They would not speak to each other as old ladies sipping cups of tea would.  Yet, I've come to the belief I don't need to actually write swear words in my story for readers to get the point; I can say, "He swore loudly," for instance.  Likewise I can write about a sex scene in a tasteful way.

When I studied theatre at uni, I was faced with similar moral dilemmas.  I was planning on auditioning for a play and just before I was called in, I read the fine print on the poster which I'd neglected to read before.  It said full nudity would be required.  I walked out of the green room at that moment.  There are other issues which come into play as well...should I be in a play where I'll have to use foul language or kiss another actor?  It's too easy to just say, "I'm playing a character.  It's not really me."  But what we do with our bodies, acting or not, can have an impact on our spiritual health.  I have come to the conclusion that if I am to be salt and light in the arts community, then I cannot just lose my saltiness.  The world is watching, they know we follow Jesus, and they want to see how we'll react.

Even as I wrestle with these issues, I know I'll always come under fire from Christians who disagree with my convictions.  I was told quite bluntly by a fellow Christian a few years back that writing about a sex scene between two characters who are not married to each other is always wrong.  I know some will dislike my use of the terms, 'crap' and 'bastard', for example, in my book.  But while we should strive to be godly, we cannot live up to everyone's differing expectations.  Christian writers like myself can only do what we feel called to do.....to communicate the gospel through fiction with the hope it will reach a needy world.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Bro's Famous

Well, not really.  But he'd like to think so.

My little (only by age) brother, Tim, has been living in the UK for the past two months, playing cricket for a local side near Chelmsford, and basically having a working holiday.  He's coming back to Perth in late September.  My mum is hoping he'll meet a nice Pommy chick over there.  If that happens, Duncan and I are hoping he'll decide to get married over there so we have an excuse to go to the Motherland ;). No luck so far.

Anyway, he was pretty chuffed that he got his picture into one of the UK newspapers, having a coaching session with former England batsman and current England batting coach, Graham Gooch.

Tim is the fourth from the right.

The rest of the article is here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-1289036/Paul-Newman-England-batting-coach-Graham-Gooch-passion-player.html

If you haven't voted in my poll yet, you have less than 24 hours to do so.  If you're using a reader, and have no idea what poll I'm talking about, click through to see my blog and it's on the top right of the screen.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Funny

I got sent this by email....just in case you were wondering if it were true. ;)


I hate it when people forward bogus warnings, and I have even done it myself a couple times unintentionally but this one is real, and it's important. Please send this warning to everyone you care about....

If someone comes to your front door saying they are checking for ticks due to the warm weather and asks you to take your clothes off and dance around with your arms up, DO NOT DO IT!! THIS IS A SCAM!! They only want to see you naked.

I wish I'd gotten this yesterday. I feel so stupid.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Eyes Are Dim, But I Can See....

Now I have my specs with me.

After a few weeks of persistent and painful headaches behind my right eye which caused me to feel dizzy and nauseous, Duncan suggested I visit an optometrist.  The first time I said, "NO!" very firmly indeed.  I look ridiculous in glasses full stop.

But when my usual remedies of Panadol Rapid or Nurofen failed to stop the headaches, I began to reconsider.  It was when I realised that I was lying in bed reading with my book almost touching my nose that I realised I had a problem, and eventually booked an appointment with an optometrist the last time I was in Perth.

It turns out I am long-sighted so I struggle to read up close, but can see things quite well from a distance.  I think hours of computer use at work, editing my book, doing TAFE assignments, and general net surfing have finally taken its toll on my eyes.  My specs arrived in the post a few days ago and I'm to use them for reading, computer work, TV and night driving.  It's quite weird wearing them actually.  Yesterday I wore them to work for the first time, and while I was walking around the office it felt like the floor was sloping.

And finally, here are the glasses.  There are some pretty nice frames out there so my descent into nerdville wasn't quite as bad as I was anticipating.  Anyway, Duncan thinks I look sexy so that's all that matters. ;)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Sedshed Turns 4

My bloggy celebrated it's 4th birthday on Saturday.  Yes, I first started blogging on the 19th June 2006. 

Unfortunately I didn't bake it (myself) a cake, but I did give it a new outfit instead.  If you use a reader, click through to see my blog's new look.  It is one of the standard Blogger templates (not game or skilled enough to try creating or editing a template yet), but it is books which is very 'me' being an avid reader and a former librarian and all, AND I have a picture of my house on there.  Oh and there is now a 'Like' option on the end of each post, so if you don't feel like writing a comment, but just like the post, you can do so....just like Facebook :)

To celebrate, I've decided to do a couple of polls.  If you're a reader of this blog, please say whether you use a reader or if you come directly to the URL, via a link from another blog etc.  Then for those who indicate they use a reader, I would like to know which reader you use.

Sound easy enough?  Ok then, please do the poll....just for me :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Focus - From the Inside Out

Recently, a women's Bible study group was formed at my church.  It was something I'd been thinking and praying about for a long time, wondering if it was a wise idea to get involved in another 'activity', whether it should be in the morning for young mums, or would any of the women be interested in coming at all?  In the end, I placed it in the 'too hard' basket as far as doing anything myself, but I kept praying about it whenever it entered my mind.  Then a month or so ago, a friend at church approached me, and told me she wanted to start a women's group, to meet once every three weeks on a Tuesday night, and would I be interested in coming along?  Wow!  God is good.  We've met a couple of times so far, and I've found it encouraging as well as convicting.  Each time we listen to an online sermon, then journal and pray about it by ourselves, and then chat together about it.  It has been great meeting with people who are honest and transparent, rather than feeling Bible study is like an academic exercise.

The first week focused on Romans 12, particularly on the first few verses where it speaks about Christians being living sacrifices, and being transformed by the renewing of our minds.  I've been thinking about that a lot lately.  We are responsible for putting sin to death in our lives, but none of this is possible without God at work in us by His Spirit.  That's what I was getting at in Friday Focus: Take 5.  Take 5 will not work unless I have a new heart and new mind from which my thoughts and opinions flow.  I can stifle corrupting talk all I want, but it doesn't stop the ugliness flowing from my heart.

I think Christians who focus on morals get it very, VERY wrong.  Our new lives come from the hope and forgiveness we have in Christ, so we should be focusing on telling unbelievers the gospel, rather than insisting  they stop drinking, stop sleeping around etc first.  Insisting our unbelieving friends and family cease certain behaviours will not make them Christian.  I was talking to someone recently about whether we should rebuke non-Christians for swearing.  This person thinks it is a good idea and puts it into practice with their workmates.  I am of the opposite view.  I do not insist on godless people living a godly lifestyle.  It may make them Pharisees, but it will not make them followers of Christ.  Jesus spoke about this to the Pharisees in Matthew 15: 18-20, "But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.' "  It is the gospel which changes people from the inside out, and that is the hope we are to share with others.

Knowing that God is at work in me, renewing my mind brings me great comfort, but if I'm honest with myself, sometimes I don't really want to change.  Sometimes I like my cold, bitter heart, and I don't want to love others; I want them to suffer, like they've done to me.  This is being brutally honest.  At our last women's Bible study, I felt God convicting me of self-righteousness and having a critical spirit, that although others' sin is real and hurtful, it doesn't excuse my own.  I've felt him tapping away at me for a while now like an annoying cricket, and I keep wanting to say, "Go away, God.  I'm not going to change.  It's THEM who should change."  Part of my fear of letting God renew my mind and give me a new heart is that I'll become a pushover.  As I commented on my post, Featherbrained, I already feel that people take advantage of me, and they still don't get how their behaviour is thoughtless and hurtful; they keep thinking I'll say, "That's ok.  No worries," all the time.  I keep saying to God, "If you change me to make me a kinder, more loving person, then they'll keep hurting me."  I know I need to trust God with this.

This is a prayer which I wrote during a reflection time:

Lord, I don't want to be self-righteous and bitter, but I know I am.  More and more people keep hurting me and failing my basic expectations.  I don't know what to do.  I don't know whether to confront or be silent.  They don't get it, Lord.  I'm worried I'm going to be consumed by anger.  I feel like I'm better than them, Lord, because I don't do what they do.  But I know you're convicting me of this lie.  Help me love them and forgive them.  Is it wrong for me to pray that they'll change?  I don't know anymore.  I fear it's going to keep happening.  Change them, Lord, but change me too.  I don't want to be used by people, Lord.  Mould me and make me like your Son.  I'm asking this even though I'm scared about what it could involve.

Now one of my regular prayers is for God to renew my mind, to take the self-righteousness and bitterness away before it consumes me, so that I may see people as God sees them.  It sure ain't easy, and I would really appreciate your prayers for God to change me from the inside out.

To join in Friday Focus, and share what God has been teaching you lately, click here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bible Verse of the Day

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Guest Etiquette

This post will probably repeat some of the stuff I wrote about in Host Etiquette, but being a guest requires different sorts of manners in my book.  Since being married, Duncan and I have not only had many opportunities to improve our hosting skills, but, due to our frequent travelling, we've also been guests many times ourselves.

Here's what we will not do in others' houses and what we expect of our own guests:
  • We will be VERY quiet when getting up in the morning, realising that some people we stay with are night owls and therefore not 'morning people'.  Duncan's body clock tends to wake him at 6am even when he's not working (typical farmhand) so it's fine for us to get up early, but it doesn't mean the whole household has to.
  • You break it, you pay for it...unless the host insists it is not necessary.  It's always good manners if you, your child, or your pet breaks something, then to at least offer to replace it, rather than shrug your shoulders and demand grace.  Once when we were in Albany, Maya was a bit miffed that Ellie, our old family cat, snubbed her so she ripped Ellie's bed to pieces.  We offered to replace it, but my mum thought it was more hilarious than anything.  Ellie was horrified.
  • We will not touch things that should not be touched.  I have no problem with people looking through my CDs or books, but rifling through drawers is a big no-no.
  • We will not complain about the food our hosts serve, nor do we like being complained to after we have slaved our guts out preparing a feast.  We will not force things on people's plates though, rather we prefer to let everyone serve themselves.
  • We will not demand that our hosts abandon watching their favourite TV programmes so we can watch ours.  I will tape shows if I have a guest over, but I do not like being made to feel guilty if a guest wants to watch something when my favourite programme is on.  If you're going to someone's house, set your own VCR beforehand to record the show.
  • We will try and spend some time with our hosts so they don't feel we are using their house as a hotel.  We've actually failed in this area in the past when staying with people *big slap on the wrist*.
  • We will not dramatically change our house or living arrangements.  While we will make some necessary adjustments, it is rude to insist someone change their home layout if we are only visiting once in a blue moon and for a couple of days.
  • We will offer to wash up, help out with housework etc, but if the hosts say no, we won't push it.  I actually don't expect guests to help at all.  They are guests, and we are more than happy for them to sit back and relax.  I've figured if I or someone else is being more of a hindrance than a help, then it's best to back off.  Some people think they're being helpful, but they're not.  I know people mean well, but putting things in the wrong drawers just means I can't find things later on.  That's why I'm getting people to wash or dry dishes, if they offer, and I'll put them away.  Also, our kitchen is small so I don't like people hovering in there, it's claustrophobic.
  • We will not criticise the host's cooking skills.  I've had people come over when I've been cooking, joking that they're the health inspector, or trying to take over and telling me I'm doing it wrong.  For goodness sake, go away, that's just annoying.
When being a guest or having guests, I feel it's important to have a balance between familiarity and respect.  I like my guests to feel comfortable and at home; I don't want them to feel like they're in a museum.  However, some basic respect for the house and its occupants is also vital, such as smoking outside and not walking on the carpet with muddy feet for instance.

If you're going to come and stay,
Here are some things to make my day.
Let the cooks do their thing,
Quit the hovering and criticising.

Keep your fingers to yourself,
Don't break that item on the shelf.
If you do, offer to pay,
Demanding grace is not the way.

In the morning, don't make a peep,
Let the hosts enjoy their sleep.
Everything will go smoothly then,
And you'll be invited back again.

Monday, June 14, 2010

5 Movie Scenes Which Made Me Cry

1. Patch Adams
Patch questions God about suffering.

2. The Horse Whisperer
Grace re-tells the accident.

3. Forrest Gump
Jenny's death.

4. The Parent Trap (1961 version)
Mitch and Maggie get back together.

5. Philadelphia
The hospital scene.

Which movie scenes have reduced you to tears?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Can someone please explain this to me because I'm at my wits end trying to 'get' some people.

Honestly, how can some people go through life being so incredibly vague, disorganised and forgetful?  I know we all have our moments, but for these people, it's like a lifestyle choice.  How on earth do they hold down jobs, maintain relationships or get anything done?

When I hear some women talk about how they have 'baby brain', I roll my eyes.  I'm thinking, how can they blame their featherbrainedness on pregnancy when they've been like that their WHOLE LIVES?  Show me a woman who normally is a fairly organised person, who suddenly loses her marbles during pregnancy, and THEN I will believe 'baby brain' exists.

At the moment, work is a nightmare trying to get organised for our next field day in less than two weeks.  My workmates and I are trying to get everything done in a certain timeframe only to be let down by other people outside the workplace who are not meeting their deadlines.  Their disorganisation makes us look unprofessional because we can't complete tasks until they do what they said they'd do.  How do some people get and hold down important jobs when they decide to go AWOL and leave us hanging?  It's rude!

I'm getting fed up with disorganised people - both at work and in my personal life.  For goodness sake, buy a diary, get Google Calendar and USE THEM.  It's not about being obsessed with people-pleasing; it's about honouring your promises and commitments.  I hate it when people say to me, "Oh you're so organised," as if I got lucky with the 'organised gene' and they missed out.  Take some responsibility!  Organisation is a skill that everyone needs to keep practising their whole lives.

Are some people like this because they think there's always someone who will be stupid enough to pick up after them?  As one of my former workmates at Curtin used to say, "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."  I think this saying is true, but the worst thing is that other people's disorganisation ends up affecting those around them.

Are these sort of people gravitated to me or something?  Does anyone else feel the same?

I don't get it.  Please explain.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Me Berfday Weekend!

I had two of my good friends, Rhianon and Rianna, come up from Perth and Albany respectively to celebrate my birthday with me.  I think I can safely say an enjoyable and relaxing weekend was had by all.  Here's what we got up to...

This baby was the first thing I wanted on our wedding gift registry....and this was the first time I actually got around to using it!

Rhianon adding more chocolate.

Mmm mmm mmm

Oh yeah!

You can't hide, Rianna.


Too good!

Duncan got into the act.

On Saturday, we went for a picnic at Wubin Rocks.

It wasn't as nice as it is during wildflower season, but still a pleasant spot nevertheless.

Everyone got to have a ride on the tractor with Duncan.

Off to church on Sunday morning.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Quote of the Day

Keep your words soft and tender because tomorrow you may have to eat them.
- Unknown

Friday, June 04, 2010

Friday Focus - Take 5

I've decided to join Amanda from Amanda's Musings Friday Focus series to reflect on what God has been teaching me lately.

Recently I was having a conversation with someone when they suddenly made a remark which inwardly cut me to pieces.  Basically they were poking fun at my physical appearance, and I was so shocked I couldn't offer much of a response except to gape at them.  That night, I lay awake for hours, replaying the conversation over and over in my head so I could respond differently.  In each of my inner 'role plays', I offered a sharp rebuke, and they apologised.

I'm sure this person meant no harm, but I still wonder why they had to bring it up in the first place.  I understand the need to rebuke and correct when someone's behaviour is sinful, but they were simply ridiculing a physical attribute of mine.  It had no benefit to me and it only succeeded in making me self-conscious.  Since I felt like I'd gotten to the stage where I was reasonably comfortable and accepting of the body God has given me, this landed quite a blow.  I'm still self-conscious about it now.  So why did this person do it?  Well, I don't really want to bring it up with them again if I don't have to, but I'm wondering if they did it to take the spotlight off their own body, to inflate their own confidence and deflate mine?  Who can understand women, honestly!

The whole conversation got me thinking about the tongue.  One little organ can be used for so much good, yet so much evil.  We build up and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, then seconds later we use it to tear people down...people made in God's image.  It got me thinking about how I use my tongue.  I've said my fair share of dumb things over the years, things I wish I could take back.  Often God has revealed my sin to me by having others sin against me in the same way.  Then I've turned to God and said, "Ok that hurt, I think I'm STARTING to get it now."

I've started to employ a new strategy which I've called 'Take 5'.  Basically when a smart arse, belittling or sarcastic comment find its way to the tip of my tongue, I take five seconds to think about whether it would be a good idea to voice it.  Would this comment encourage or tear down?  Is it appropriate?  If it's of no benefit to anyone, then I need to learn to keep my fat mouth shut.  I've been surprised at the number of times I've used 'Take 5' that so many remarks I was planning were simply not helpful at all, and I'm grateful for the grace of God that I didn't voice them.  My tongue is sharp.  I could tear you to pieces and leave you reeling if I wanted to.  I'm beginning to realise this is not a gift of wit, but it flows from my own pride....pride in wanting to be known as a quick-witted, funny person who has all the best comeback lines, and wanting to get a cheap laugh for myself at the expense of others.  This has been hard to swallow.

Although 'Take 5' has helped me evaluate my own heart in a sense, I need more than just a stifling of unhelpful remarks before they get to my tongue.  I need a heart change.

That's a topic for another post....

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Bible Verse of the Day

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
Proverbs 10:19

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Those of you who are Facebookers might remember 'Doppelgänger Week' a few months back.  The idea was to post a profile picture of a celebrity which you or others think you look most like.

One of my friends suggested Ginnifer Goodwin.  Do you see any similarities?

My brother, Tim, is a dead ringer for St Kilda player, Adam Schneider.  During last year's Grand Final, Duncan and I kept shouting "GO TIM!" each time Schneider got the ball.

And Duncan decided during Doppelganger Week that he is not only a fan of James Bond, he looks like him too (a few people said, "Yeah, right!")  Personally I think my honey is much hotter than Daniel Craig!

How about you?  Which celebrity have others said you look like?  Who's your Doppelgänger?