Monday, August 30, 2010

10 Things That Make Me Happy

I love quizzes, questionnaires and all that jazz.  Thanks Meredith from The Key to the Door for tagging me.

1.  The knowledge and comfort that Jesus Christ died for ALL my sins - past, present and future.  It's not up to me.  He has paid what I could never pay and my eternal future is secure.  Sometimes I don't think I will ever fully understand grace.

2.  Spending time with my wonderful man.  He is such a top bloke and I don't deserve him.  I love just being with him even when we don't have anything exciting planned.

3.  Going home to Albany to spend time with my family and return to my roots.

4.  Catching up with good friends, the ones who are your 'pyjama' friends as in you are so comfortable in their company.   Even a phone call or an email really makes my day.

5.  Travelling.  I'm so used to spending hours in the car that I really love it.  Road trips ROCK!

6.  Playing or watching sport, especially my Eagles.  I love the euphoria behind barracking for a team; it's totally goosebump kind of stuff.  It makes you feel united with complete strangers who you suddenly have something in common with because you go for the same team.

7.  Curling up on the couch with a good book or watching a DVD and eating chocolate.  Bliss!

8.  Bopping along to music - Christian or secular.  Dancing around like a maniac, singing in the car....good stuff!

9.  Going to the beach.  Whether it be plunging beneath the ocean on a beautiful day or just walking along the sand, dipping my feet in the water, the beach is truly a special place.

10.  Writing my book.  The satisfaction that I have finally gotten my ideas down on paper, and it is my very own creation.

It's hard to stop at ten.  There are so many things I enjoy and are grateful for.

I tag Amanda, Iris and Ronnica.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Focus - Prayers For Rayssa

I've been sponsoring a Brazilian girl named Rayssa through Compassion since mid 2006, so it came as quite a shock a couple of months back when I received a letter from Compassion saying that I would no longer be able to sponsor her anymore.  The letter implied that Compassion Brazil had severed ties with the church which ran the project Rayssa attended, but was rather sketchy with the reasons.  All it said was that Compassion had concerns with the church for a while, and when the church failed to address these concerns, Compassion made the difficult choice to no longer partner with this fellowship.  They said they were worried that my sponsorship money had not been getting to Rayssa, and I wondered whether there was theft and perhaps false teaching happening.

I totally agree with Compassion's decision, but ultimately it is not the dodgy church that suffers, it's the children.  Compassion try and transfer the children to a nearby project, but unfortunately, in this case, there isn't one and so my sponsorship of Rayssa was brought to an end.  I still keep thinking of her, wondering what is going to happen to her now she longer has a sponsor.  Is she going to be ok?  Will she still be able to escape the cycle of poverty?  Will she continue to hear about the love and forgiveness found in Jesus?  Ultimately I know God is a big God, more than capable of looking after His children.  He graciously chose me to help Rayssa, but He doesn't need me.  I'm just saddened by the end of four years of letter-writing and I hope she knows she was as much a blessing to my life as the project monitor said I was to hers.

I remember receiving a letter from Rayssa (well, from the monitor written on her behalf) containing words which have remained with me ever since.  She wrote, Her family praise God for your life.  Wow!  I was floored.  God had used my life and the money He had blessed me with to bring good to someone else.  Money I easily lived without and hadn't even missed.  Yet, it had made all the difference to Rayssa and her family.

I know Jesus has a heart for the poor, but sometimes I don't know where to start.  There is so much poverty and so much suffering, even in our own communities.  I can't save the world, but I chose to try and help one child.  If we all help one child, imagine the difference we could make of bringing compassion in Jesus' name.  If you're lost as to where to start, consider sponsoring a child.  Don't feel pressure, but see it as a chance to show love and share with those in need.

God has shown me what a privilege it is to be able to give to brothers and sisters around the world who could only dream of living the life we lead in Australia.  I'm now sponsoring Wayua from Kenya and am about to write my first letter to her.  But although my sponsorship of Rayssa has ended, it doesn't mean my prayers for her have to.

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

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bible Verse of the Day

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Matthew 25:34-40

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

DIY Lantern

My friend, Rhianon, gave me a FABULOUS book for my birthday.  It's called Homemade: Gorgeous Things To Make With Love by Ros Badger and Elspeth Thompson.  If you like making something out of random things, then this is the book for you.  From decorated coat hangers, to natural cleaning products, to ipod covers, there is so much I can't wait to get started on.  Excited much?

A few months ago, my church ran Secret Friend again, and I decided to try making one of the homemade lanterns in the book.

First you need a jar (I used an old mayonnaise one) and a candle.  I got Duncan to melt the bottom of the candle and stick it in the jar.

Then I glued some tissue paper around the outside, stuck some flowers on for decoration, then tied and glued a ribbon around the rim so the lantern can be hung if desired.

The photos aren't great, but it should look nice with the candle lit.

Stay tuned to see what I will make next.  The patchwork skirt is looking very tempting.

Monday, August 23, 2010

5 Reasons For Gratitude

It's so easy to slip into despair and grumbling so I want to start the week on a positive note with five things that have happened over the past week to give thanks for.

1.  Nan has been transferred to Albany Hospital after nearly four weeks in Fremantle Hospital.  She still has a long road ahead with extensive physio needed on the leg which was operated on in order for her to get back on her feet.
2.  Cold and flu tablets.  I've had the flu since Friday night, and I'm thankful for medicine which takes away the fevers and achy body for me to still be able to function.
3.  Friends visiting.  We had two friends, Sarah and Reba, come up to visit on the weekend and they came to the Dally Show with us.
4.  A forfeited netball game.  I was bracing myself to play netball with the flu tonight since one of my teammates hurt her ankle last week, and if I didn't play, we probably wouldn't have enough people.  So I was very pleasantly surprised to get home and find out that our opponents (and arch rivals) Miling forfeited.  Thank you Miling!
5.  Being reminded that although people may fail me, God never fails, and to look heavenward.  Thank you Narelle from Moments for Mum for this post.

What are you grateful for this week?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Pendulum: Honesty and Negativity

When Emma was six months pregnant with Eleanor, she rang me one day to have a chat, and during the conversation, I asked whether she had received much encouragement from other mums.  She told me she had received very little, and that most of it had been scare tactics from 'negative nannies'.

I was thinking, The poor thing!  I know how she feels!  You see, even though I've never been pregnant, I've received enough negativity from women a few steps ahead of me on life's journey to last me ten lifetimes!  Much of this has centred around marriage which I wrote about in Marriage 101: Post-Wedding Doom and Marriage 101: DINKs in the Middle.  Comments such as "The romance will fade," and "Wait 'til you have kids!" really get my goat!

It's not that I object to being told the truth, but the key word here is LOVINGLY.  I very much doubt whether some of these comments were to serve me.  I think they more accurately expressed the other person's jealousy and discontentment in their own circumstances rather than to lovingly prepare me for the next stage of my life.  When someone says something overswhelmingly whingy and negative about marriage or babies, to me it sounds like, "Suffer like I am," or "If my baby won't sleep through the night, then I don't want yours to either."   I get in my head that parenthood must be hard, but still I wonder why some mothers nag me to join the 'Mums and Bubs Club', yet then proceed to scare me out of my wits.  If it is so ghastly horrible with no positives at all, then why did they have more than one kid?!?

Karen from Hippocampus Extensions, who is expecting her first child wrote here, The other unhelpful thing is the pessimism and the “You don't know what you're in for” attitude. Ben thinks other parents do it because it's fun for them to watch the “newbies” squirm. For me, I really don't need it and I really don't appreciate it, thank you very much. (I also haven't figured out how to respond to it graciously either. If you have some ideas, please share.)

I appreciated some young women who married a few years prior to myself telling me honestly about the likelihood of conflict in the first year of marriage.  They weren't saying, "You'll definitely fight", nor were they implying that if we don't fight then we are freaks with poor communication skills.  They were simply warning me of the fact that it happened to them and many others, and if it happens, it's ok, it's normal.  When a friend who is now engaged asked me how our first year of marriage went, I was careful to share with her the good, the bad and the ugly.  I didn't want to scare her off marriage, but nor did I want her to think my experiences will be her experiences.  That isn't always the case.

I was getting quite mad with some people for turning on the negativity hose during Emma's baby shower and giving her a good blast with it.  They kept saying stuff like, "It's gonna hurt so bad," or, "Be prepared to have no sleep for years".   Honestly, I felt like screaming, "SHUT UP!"  Emma is not stupid.  She knows all of this stuff and had prepared herself as best as she could in her head.  She even had it written on her Facebook page, Looking forward to motherhood - all the joys and all the challenges.  Even though I'm childless, I kept trying to reassure her that she had the patience of a saint (she lived with me for over three years!), and that was a key ingredient required for motherhood.

Jean from In All Honesty has a great post here called 13 Ways to Discourage a Younger Woman which she followed up with How to Encourage a Younger Woman and be Honest at the Same Time.  On the first post, I commented, I appreciate people being real and honest, but there is a line, and are the motives to lovingly prepare someone for the next stage, or to kill off others' joy because joy is lacking in their own lives?

Yes, what ARE our motivations for being honest?

Let us not stop sharing with honesty, but motivated not by jealousy or discontentment, but love.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


First Emma had a baby shower.

Now she has a baby. :)

Eleanor was born on the 28th July, and after visiting Nan, we cruised past another hospital to meet the Little Miss when she was just four days old.

Proud dad, Peter

My first cuddle.

She won't break, Duncan! ;)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Emma's Baby Shower

I mentioned here that my close friend, bridesmaid and former housemate, Emma, was expecting her first child at the end of July.  When I met up with her and our other good friend, Christina, for lunch in June, Christina and I decided we would throw Emma a baby shower.  The mum-to-be was very grateful for this gesture since she was feeling much too tired to consider organising it herself.

Christina did the invitations and decorations, I organised a couple of games, Emma got her house ready, and everyone brought a plate of food.  Emma wanted to keep it small since it was held two weeks before her due date so she only invited around 15 people.

She said she had a great afternoon which Chris and I were pleased about since that was the purpose of the event.  We were so glad to be able to do this for such a great friend of ours.

Some of Emma's friends.

Chris and I.

Christina and her cousin, Crystal.

Everyone playing 'Guess the Baby Item'.

'Pin the Dummy on the Baby'.

Amy helping Emma with her presents.

What could this be?

Ah, wraps!

But wait....there's more!

The next time I saw Emma she was looking a lot lighter.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Focus - Mourning With The Mourning

I know before I even really start typing that this post is probably going to be controversial.

A Tale of Two Friends
Earlier this year, a close friend of mine suffered a terrible loss.  As she went through the various stages of grief, and I did my best to comfort her from 300km away, she told me that many others in her life who she considered friends had not been so comforting.  She is a strong Christian who has not doubted God's love, but has been burned by the lack of acknowledgement of her grief by those in her church.  Since then, she has struggled to attend church regularly.

She told me that some people avoided her.  Others that she had told of her grief kept chatting to her like nothing had happened, but did not even offer one word of acknowledgement about her pain.  She said some offered much comfort in the beginning, but seemed to fall away after her time of struggle turned into weeks, and then months.  Out of all the people who said they were there for her in the beginning, only one friend continued to follow her up and meet with her to pray.

The second friend was rocked by the death of her brother's fiancee (who was also a close friend of hers) in early May, which I briefly mentioned in my post Not When, But If.  Her friend and sister-in-law to-be went to sleep one night and never woke up.  She was only twenty years old.  Since that time, my friend has expressed much of her grief on Facebook by writing beautiful, but heartbreaking letters to her late friend, and most of her status updates in recent times have been rather melancholy as she struggles to come to terms with her sudden loss.  About a month after the death, I was speaking to a mutual friend who asked why my friend kept putting sad statuses on Facebook a month on, as if she should be over it by now.  Ummm, newsflash: my friend may NEVER fully get over it.  She is taking steps forward, but it will certainly not be in the timeframe other people set for her.  I was astounded how anyone could make such a heartless comment.

Just Do Something
The first friend said the thing that hurt her the most was the lack of acknowledgement of her pain by other Christians...the people who she thought she could count on the most.  She wasn't asking for wise words, meals, hugs or gifts...she just wanted people to stop pretending it wasn't happening because it made them uncomfortable. All she wanted was for them to say, "I'm sorry for your loss," or "I'm praying for you."  Nothing deep, nothing profound.  But because she felt so many people were ignoring her, she felt more alone than ever.

I agree that it's difficult to know exactly how to help the hurting.  Some want people around them and others want space.  Some may become aggressive as they deal with their grief.  But however uncomfortable we may feel about their potential reaction, we need to realise that that person is feeling much worse.  Sometimes it may be good to ask how you can help practically, but often they may be too woolly-headed to ask for help so actions do speak loudly, such as cleaning someone's house or bringing them a meal.  If they have a request for you, like prayer or a hug or just to sit and talk, then DO it.  Read their body language which will usually be a strong indicator whether they want to talk or be left alone.

What Not To Do
Everyone's different, but I think there are some things that should definitely be avoided in times of suffering.  One is cracking jokes with someone who has just experienced a terrible loss.  They don't want to laugh, they need to grieve.  I have experienced such rage at people when I've told them about something terrible that has just happened, and all they do is smirk and spit out stupid one-liners.  They aren't trying to cheer me up; they just want to diffuse the atmosphere because it's making them feel uncomfortable.  SELFISH!

Don't say stupid things!  When Duncan's brother died nearly 11 years ago, he had someone come up to him and say, "I'm so sorry for your loss," (which he was fine with and appreciated), but then they continued to babble on, saying stuff like, "You must miss him," (well, duh!).  It's not about being cliched, but sometimes a short statement, a text message expressing your love or a sympathy card in the post can speak far more powerfully than incessant babbling.

The other thing that really makes me mad is when people who have experienced intense suffering fail to comfort others going through strife.  I really hate it when some people (particularly elderly Christians unfortunately) say blunt things like, "You're obviously not trusting God enough."  When I hear that, I think to myself, You nasty old crone.  You've received comfort when you were down, yet you fail to offer it gently to others with genuine concerns.  We ALL need to be pointed back to the love of God in the midst of our grief, but there is a way to do it and that is with TACT.

No Excuses
The old excuse, "I just don't know what to say," (so they avoid the grieving person and say nothing) doesn't cut it with me.  Instead of going out of their way to bring comfort to someone, all they can think about is their own potential discomfort.  Again, the selfishness of some people never ceases to amaze me.  It is worth experiencing discomfort for the comfort of others.  If you're not sure what to say, just say something like, "I'm sorry for your loss," or "I'm praying for you."  That's all some people want...acknowledgement.  The knowledge that someone cares for them...especially when they have gone out of their way to let people know what has happened only to be ignored.

I've heard a number of Christians talk about 'pity parties' as if they're too afraid to give comfort in case their friend decides to indulge in their sadness.  If that's their reason for ignoring the hurting then that is the most pathetic excuse I have ever heard!  My two grieving friends do not want to indulge in self-pity.  They want to move forward with baby steps, but if we are so insensitive we cannot acknowledge the terrible nature of death, then that is a very sorry state of affairs.

We are commanded by God to offer comfort to the suffering...just like the comfort He gives to us.  But I've realised that some just want to selfishly sit on the comfort they've received from God because it takes them too far out of their comfort zone to offer it to anyone else.  Paul says, "Mourn with those who mourn." (Romans 12:15).  Comfort is not to be left to those who supposedly have the gift of comfort.  Yes, there are gifted evangelists, for example, but that's not an excuse for the rest of us to never be involved in evangelism.  We ALL have the responsibility for bringing comfort to those in our midst.

A Big Fat 'F' For The Church
Too many times the church has failed in this area.  So many churches have shallow relationships, masks and fake smiles.  To be honest, when I've admitted that I'm not doing so well, some people have almost looked annnoyed and uncomfortable as if I'm ruining their happiness and they can't wait to get rid of me.  Oh no, you can't talk about something SERIOUS in the church...we only talk about the weather or what our kids got up to here.  Or you just need to stop having a pity party and trust the Lord more.  *I roll my eyes*.

The Bible describes the church as a body.  We all are different and unique parts, each with our role to play.  If one part cannot function, the whole body is affected.  Think of when you have a sore foot.  Other parts of the body rally and take more of the load so that foot will not have to bear it.  I guess I had this kind of naive view that that would be how church would be like.  Sadly my hopes have often been dashed.  A friend told me a few years ago now, "I feel like our church is 'correct' (as in it has 'good teaching'), but I haven't really experienced a lot of love there."  Ouch!  And this was coming from a guy! 

If we know in our heads that the Bible commands us to comfort others, yet do nothing, that is detestable.  Unfortunately churches are very good at making people very busy and self-absorbed.  Some people are too wrapped up in themselves to notice what is going on around them.  I want to have wide-open eyes so I can see what is going on around me.  We are told to carry each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2), but unfortunately many people will just make you feel like an inconvenience.  Some people have said they find it hard because they feel they are shouldering too much.  When someone tells me about their troubles, I try to do all I can, but still take a step backwards so as not to make myself too stressed and unable to help them at all.  Perhaps if everyone took this seriously, the burden-carrying would not just fall to a kindheared few.

Having said all that, I do not want to take anything away from the genuine Christians I have met who have showed love and compassion to those in need.

Two-Second Facebook Memories
I am generally a big fan of Facebook in that it eases the burden of isolation somewhat.  But I've realised that it has its downsides.  Facebook and the media have made us into news-hungry sensationalists, in that so many people are constantly on the lookout for the latest 'heading', but have forgotten what they read two seconds ago.  Rodney from The Journey mentioned this in his post How can we forget Haiti?, pointing out that Haiti's plight does not end the moment it disappears from our TV screens.  Now, I'm starting to make mental and written notes of people's struggles mentioned on Facebook so that I can continue to pray long after it ceases to be 'news'.  I mean, seriously, people have memories like sieves these days, and we forget follow-up care.  One of my close friends had her first child a couple of weeks ago, and I want her to know that when all of the congratulatory hype dies down, that I'm still praying for this new little family and willing to help them in any way I can.  The same is true for both of the friends I have mentioned who are walking through grief.  With the second friend, I've noticed that the number of comments on her posts have dwindled as if people are becoming bored with her being so down.  I want to keep walking with those friends.  Grief and sorrow has no time limit.  Cathy from The Best Book Co-op has a brilliant post here about walking with friends through grief.

My Own Story
Why am I writing about this for Friday Focus?  Well, since Nan has been in hospital, I've seen the true colours of some people I know.  I'm not big on emailing or texting prayer points, but I know a number of people who do it regularly, contacting quite a few of their friends who they think are the praying-types and letting them know of a situation or a friend who needs to be lifted towards our Heavenly Father.  I'm happy to respond to these prayer requests and I believe if something is big enough to worry about, then it's big enough to pray about...I just can't ever remember sending out a prayer request before....until a few weeks ago.  I asked people to pray for Nan, explaining that my main concern was that she turn to Christ.  A number of people responded, but many I have not heard from at all.  Since then I have struggled with bitterness and anger.  I KNOW some people would have got that message since I've seen they have been on Facebook, mucking around, commenting on other people's trivial statuses about the weather or a bad coffee they had, yet they couldn't even take two seconds to say to me, "Yes, I'll pray," or "Sorry to hear that."  I noticed that when I put something silly and meaningless on Facebook like that I made the Mr Grumpy cake for Duncan's birthday, everybody comments or 'likes' it.  Yet, when I write that I'm visiting Nan in hospital, only one person comments.  ONE!  What sort of culture are we creating that we are happy to talk crap with people, yet we can't take two seconds out of our time-wasting to offer comfort?  I read this article the other day, and this bit stood out at me:
We're very good at celebrating good news in our culture. You're pregnant! Engaged! You got married! Had a baby! Bought a house! Got a promotion! But we're collectively hopeless when it comes to acknowledging things that are painful, awkward, unpleasant and sad.
I couldn't have said it better myself!

Another reason I'm struggling with anger towards some people is not just their lack of acknowledgement, but because I've counselled, hugged and helped some of these people when they're sad, but they can't be bothered doing the same for me in my hour of need.  I receive a fair few phone calls, emails and texts asking for support etc, so I didn't think it was too much to ask for some back.  All I was asking for was prayer for Nan.  That takes TWO MINUTES.  I wasn't asking for hugs, presents, food or a long chat.  All I wanted was for them to lift this prayer up to God.  I'm not asking them to love Nan as much as I do.  When friends have contacted me, asking me to pray for another friend of theirs, it's true that I don't know or love them as much as they do.  But I do care, and as I pray for this stranger, a peculiar thing happens.  I feel like I am united with them, I feel some of their pain, I sometimes even cry for them because although we haven't met, we are both part of the body of Christ and when they hurt, I hurt somewhat too.  Maybe some people just don't give a toss about the elderly.  I've heard that attitude from some young Christians and it has disgusted me.  They don't think the elderly are worth evangelistic efforts, that we should be focusing on young people.  Umm, hello, God cares about everyone.  Shouldn't we put some effort into people who don't know God and are near the END of their lives?  Maybe more people would respond if I was emailing them about a baby.  It's like some people think, She's just an old lady who's going to die soon anyway.  Well, this may be news to some people, but she matters to ME.  And I thought the salvation of those who don't know Christ should matter to some Christians.

I get tired of people who expect me to be full of jokes all the time, playing the clown and being the one who always cheers THEM up.  Well, I get sad too!  And I need to know that some people actually care.  Right now, I know I have some fantastic, genuine friends who have shown such love over the past few weeks (you know who you are).  But I'm also realising with sadness that some so-called 'friends' are not friends at all.  Oh they're very happy to have me around listening to their problems.  But when I need someone, they're nowhere to be found.  Or they actually have the nerve to smirk or have a little laugh while I'm trying to relay my grief.  All I am is a free counselling service to them.  I've tried to make excuses for them.  Maybe they're busy.  Maybe they forgot.  But now I'm acknowledging the harsh truth.  Some people are too self-absorbed and it's all about them!  I said to Duncan the other day that I'm trying to convince myself that some people have got my messages and prayed, but just not told me.  But from my vantage point, it feels like I'm being completely ignored.

Well, what has God has been teaching me through this?  To tell the truth, I really don't know.  Maybe He has been showing me that I have some really great friends...and some who don't care less?  Maybe He has been highlighting just how far the church falls short when it comes to comforting the sorrowing?  At women's Bible study on Tuesday, we looked at James (yes, the passages about the tongue), and I felt Him convicting me of my desire to really have a go at some people.  But how can you speak graciously to someone when your sinful nature is screaming at you to spit in their face?  It is a hard and painful transformation process.  I know my anger and bitterness will just consume me if I let it which is not what God desires.  Somehow I need to be godly in His strength, even though I have been hurt.

I'm still wrestling with how to confront people and how to deal with lopsided friendships.  If anyone has any suggestions, I would like to hear them.

If you would like to join in Friday Focus and share what God has been teaching you lately, click here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bible Verse of the Day

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nan's News

A few posts ago, I wrote how my Nan has been unwell recently and was flown from Albany to Fremantle Hospital over two weeks ago.  I also mentioned that she isn't a Christian, and I was hoping to share the gospel with her again, thinking it could be my final chance.

Praise the Lord that I did get to share with her about how salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, not by works.  She listened, which astounded me, and then she said, "Yes."  I'm not sure what that meant, and she is not the most open person when it comes to spiritual things, but she did tell me that she said she was hoping that she would go to heaven and not to hell, which is why I shared about God's wonderful gift of salvation in Jesus.  Duncan and I shared Romans 10:9 with her in a card, and I saw her looking at and reflecting on it for a while.

Until Saturday, her leg that was operated on had been healing well, although the doctors found a host of other things wrong with her (I suppose this is quite normal as she is 97).  Still, this hasn't been stopping her enjoying a host of visitors, proving she can still draw a crowd in her old age.  Besides finding eating and sleeping difficult, she has been battling a chest infection and passing blood.  Then on Sunday morning, she took a turn for the worse.  The nurses were attending to her, when she couldn't breathe and air had to be forced into her lungs to get rid of the fluid building up.  They were wondering if she would make it.  Duncan and I rushed to Perth, quite upset, thinking we might have to say a final goodbye.

One of the valves in Nan's heart is no longer working meaning her heart cannot pump oxygen as well as it should and causes her blood to clot.  The only cure for this is open heart surgery, but the doctors have ruled this out as an option as there is little chance she would make it through the operation.  Basically these sorts of episodes are going to keep happening, and there's nothing which can be done.  She is in the Lord's hands.

One of the more light-hearted moments of the weekend was watching Nan go on drug-induced 'trips'.  I don't know what medication she is on, but every now and then, she'd say, "I'm going now," close her eyes and then a few minutes later she'd say, "I'm back," and then proceed to tell us about how she was in her hospital bed, being wheeled down a laneway among lots of tulips.  My cousin, Brad, and his partner, Marisa, visit her most days, and once when Nan was about to go on one of her 'trips', she said to Marisa, "Come on my trip with me," and Marisa was like, "Ummm, ok."  If I didn't know better, I'd ask Nan if she'd been smoking dope. ;)

Feeding your own grandmother is a strange feeling.  I remember all the times she cared for me as a child while I was sick and now the roles are reversed and I'm the one sitting by her bedside.  It is an enormous privilege to bestow a little of the care she gave to me back to her.

Nan seems to have picked up for now and she was quite chirpy when we visited her.  I'm still bracing myself for the day when I will have to farewell Nan from this life forever.  Praying she will turn to Christ if she hasn't already.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Bullseye For Mr Grumpy

Duncan turned 29 a few week ago (yes, one year away from dirty 30).  My surprise present to him, which turned out to be not such a surprise in the end, was a trip to the Lone Ranges Shooting Complex in Belmont.

Duncan has a rifle, but we wanted to try some handguns.  We shot a .22 revolver and semi automatic.  You should have seen the reaction I got when I told some people I went shooting.  Some went, "Oh I can't believe YOU shot a gun," like I'm some kind of helpless little girl.  And these are people who apparently think they know me well.  Ha!  They obviously don't know me at all.  Then the same people went on and on, saying, "Guns are bad, mmmkay" (well in their own words).  Ummm we live on a FARM.  They are a necessity up here.  Besides, as one of my former workmates told me, guns aren't bad in's the idiot who's holding them.

My results with the semi automatic.  Poor Duncan was outshot by his lovely wife.

Happy shooters with their holey targets.  Yes, I was the only girl who shot.
L-R: Dave, Cam, Duncan, Mick and I.

Duncan's nickname (from me) is Mr Grumpy.  About two years ago, he went to Target to buy a pair of winter flannelette pyjamas, and when I met him outside the store, I asked him what he'd bought, expecting some ordinary-looking stripey ones.  Instead, he smirked, reached inside the bag and pulled out...Mr Grumpy pyjamas.  The pjs have become affectionately known as the 'Mr Grumpys', and now I've noticed that whenever Duncan put them on, he becomes Mr Grumpy!  It gave me a great idea for his birthday cake.

Novelty cakes are not really my forte, but I was quite pleased with how this one turned out.

Who looks grumpier?

How about in this one?

Our friends Ali and Jen who came up to visit and helped us devour Mr Grumpy.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Friday Funny

There's nothing like a few random 'wrong number' calls to get me smiling after a difficult past fortnight.

First, there was the call to my mobile from a dentist in Sydney, looking for Mr Robbins.

"Hello, is that Mr Robbins?"
Ummm do I SOUND like a Mr Robbins?!?
"No, sorry I think you have the wrong number."
"Well, we just want to remind Mr Robbins that he has a dentist appointment tomorrow and this is the number we have on our records.  I'll try again."

Five minutes later...

"Hello, is Mr Robbins there, please?"
"Sorry, you have the wrong number again."

The next day I get a text reminding me of my appointment at this dental clinic in Sydney.  I texted them back, explaining that they have the wrong number and seeing that I live in WA, I definitely don't have an appointment at their clinic.  I wonder if Mr Robbins did manage to get to his appointment?

Three days ago at work, my phone rings and I notice that it's a number I don't recognise before I answer.
"Hi Sarah."
Ok, I'm thinking, this phone call is for me this time...but who is it?
"It's Justine Lee's mum here."
Who on earth is Justine Lee?  Do I know her?  My brain works overtime.
"Oh right, hello."
Maybe I can wing it hehe.
"I was just wondering if you want to bring Rowan over for a playdate with Justine?"
What the...I have a son called Rowan?
"Umm I think you have the wrong number, sorry."
The lady laughs, apologises and hangs up.

How weird that she really did want Sarah and whoever this Sarah is, she obviously has a very similar mobile number to mine.

Ah, there's nothing quite like the random callers.  I've learnt that my alias is Mr Robbins, and that I have a son called Rowan who I have obviously forgotten about. Hahaha!

What are the randomest 'wrong number' calls you have received?  Tell me stories. :)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Quote of the Day

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.
- Anatole France

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Farewell Ellie

On Saturday night, Duncan and I arrived in Perth to visit Nan, where I was greeted with the news that I had lost a dear friend.

Ellie, my 18-year-old cat in Albany who had been a part of my family for the past 13 years, was put down on Friday.

I wrote in my post My Girls from 2007 about how Ellie and her sister, Marmalade (aka Marmers) were my much loved feline friends.  Marmers was put down in January 2008, and Ellie never quite recovered from the deep depression she went into after being separated from her sister for the first time in 16 years.  She had been doing better in recent times, but her physical health had been failing for a while.

I'm sad, but not devastated as I was the one who kept telling my mum the kindest thing we could do for her was to put her to sleep.  I didn't want her to suffer.

Some of my favourite memories of Ellie were when she had to learn to use a litterbox for the first time (she spent the first five years of her life as a outside farm cat), when she and Marmers were BOTH outsmarted by a very determined and clever mouse, the way they both used to follow us when we went walking down the street, and the night she lay so close to the fire, her tail got singed.  Ellie HATED dogs, even poor Maya who tried so hard to be her friend on her first visit to Albany.  Her attempts at friendship were met with hisses and a rather miffed Maya ripped up Ellie's bed in revenge.  Then there was the time we brought Ebony down to visit, and Ellie wound back the clock and gave my poor black kitty a beating she would never forget.  Ellie gave me the cold shoulder for a couple of days after she met Ebony as if she were horrified I had 'replaced' her with that 'black thing'.  I told Ebony that Ellie had passed on, and she looked at me smugly as if to say, "Good!"

Fat cats by the fire.  Winter 1998.

My girls in their younger days when their bodies worked the way they should.  April 2004.

Ellie meeting Maya for the first time.  26th December 2008.

Moments before the big catfight!

It's quite amazing really to think that my ginger girls had been around for some of the most significant moments in my life so far.  They came to live with my family in 1997, aged five, and have been there while I started Year 9, finished school, moved to Perth, became a Christian, finished uni, started working, and got engaged.  Then Ellie was still around when I got married and moved to Buntine.  If she were human, she would have her driver's licence by now and celebrated her 18th with a big party.

In the end, Ellie became Nan's special pet.  Duncan would remark, jokingly, when we saw them both by the heater, "It's the grumpy old Nana and the grumpy old puss."

Well, I've lost my puss.  I'm not ready to lose my Nana yet.

I always count myself blessed to have had such beautiful pets.  I love my dog, but there is nothing quite like stroking a contented cat.

Goodbye Ellie.  I'm glad you're not in pain anymore.  I'll miss you!

Ellie in 1998.  She never did like having her photo taken.