Friday, December 30, 2011

Plodding

It feels like I've just blinked and this year is nearly over.  After all that has happened, how will I remember 2011?

There really is only one word that can describe this year:

Plodding.

I remember a few years back I caught up with an acquaintance and asked her how she'd been going.  She shrugged and told me she and her family were just plodding along.  That meant that life was neither thrilling nor depressing.  It was just ordinary.

For me, 2011 has been a year of two steps forward, one step back.  This has been frustrating, but it has also been a blessing.  In a year of losing a loved one, illness, house renovations, and adjusting to life in another small town, I have been grateful that the end of this year has been better than the last.  At least now our house has more or less been fixed and I am in reasonably good health.  I lowered my expectations this year.  I stopped putting pressure on myself to build relationships too quickly and was content to slowly get involved in the community.  I learnt and I am still learning to say 'no'.

But other relationships have been hard.  I have lost some of my passion for things like group Bible study.  I am over feeling left out and having everyone in the group talk non-stop about babies and ask me if I'm pregnant yet.  Although I need lots of time alone to recharge for social occasions, at times I have felt lonely...really lonely.  Part of the reason I have struggled in the latter half of the year is that I work in an office all by myself and there are very few people who drop in.  When I signed the contract, I assumed my boss would be working in the office with me.  Later I found out that she'd always intended to keep working from home.  Working alone all day probably sounds like bliss to mums with small children, but you can definitely have too much of a good thing.

One good thing about this year is that I finally feel some peace where lopsided friendships are concerned.  I have dropped the ball with some people - not in a nasty, vengeful sort of way, but I feel silly initiating contact and inviting people only to hear a list of excuses or nothing at all.  As a friend of mine once said, "If you email the same person a few times and they don't ever reply, you start to feel like you're talking to yourself!"  I'm not really much of a phone person anyway (I prefer email or letters) and there are only a small handful of people I ring, so don't be offended if you don't hear from me via the phone (I do appreciate people ringing though, I just don't like ringing people in case I've got them at a bad time, and then I feel terrible about it).  If some people decide they want to keep in touch again, I'm more than happy to reciprocate, but I'm over busting my gut trying.  I think I finally have started to move on and have raised the white flag and surrendered.  It's funny that I've done almost a complete turnaround since I wrote this post.  I still get annoyed at people who tell me they want to visit, but I know they never will.  But I no longer feel the desire to corner people and batter them over the head with my diary trying to book them in to visit.  If they want to visit, they know they're more than welcome to contact us and suggest a weekend, but the ball is firmly in their court.

Despite being thrilled that my house looks like a house and not a construction zone, I feel like I am ready to move on (I know, I keep telling myself, "You just moved a year ago!  Are you insane?!?").  I don't belong here, but I know that on this earth no place will truly feel like home, and I will feel like an alien and a stranger wherever we are.  I'm also feeling a lot more robust (I even thought I could clean my entire house and fix up my garden in one day - craziness that resulted in me crashing into bed, having failed in this enormous and ridiculous task).  Despite this readyness to leave, I want to make the most of this time.  All places will have their positives and negatives.  I'm getting a strong feeling from God that our time here is in preparation for something, but I don't want to be too presumptuous about what He might be doing.  More on that later.

Even though parts of this year have been difficult, I think plodding can be a positive experience.  Christians are told to keep running the race, but that doesn't mean life is a sprint.  The race is more like a marathon; it's not about speed, it's about whether you keep going.  Each time I feel like I'm falling, God picks me up and keeps me pressing on.  All Christians have 'walking through the desert' times.  It might feel like two steps forward, one step back, but in the end, I am still moving forward.

Although a change of year doesn't make everything peachy, I have lots to look forward to in 2012 and lots to be grateful for.  See you next year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Better Days by Pete Murray

2011 has had its highs.  Unfortunately it has also had its lows.  While I would label this year as 'especially challenging' rather than 'bad', it's true that I've also seen better days.  But it's also true that I have learnt many valuable things that I would not trade.  Pete Murray captures it so perfectly.

I saw it coming.
I saw emptiness and tragedy,
And I felt like running,
So far away,
But then I knew I had to stay.
And I know when I'm older,
I'll look back and I'll still feel the pain.
I know I'll be stronger and I know I'll be fine,
For the rest of my days.

I've seen better days.
Put my face in my hands.
Get down on my knees and I pray to God,
Hope he sees me through to the end.

I noticed most things, but I didn't notice the change.
It was hot in the morning,
Then it turned so cold towards the end of the day,
And there's no condensation,
I felt like I was in space,
I needed my friends there, I just turned around,
They were gone without a trace.

Now I have just started, and I won't be done 'til the end.
There's nothing I have lost,
That was once placed upon the palm of my hands,
And all of these hard times,
Have faded 'round the bend,
Now that I'm wiser, I cannot wait,
'Til I can help my friends.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Busy Christian's Guide to Busyness

I felt it would be an appropriate time to review The Busy Christian's Guide to Busyness by Tim Chester since December is a busy time for Christians.  As I contemplate how to be a side plate or a saucer for the glory of God, I have found this book to be extremely helpful in how to use my time well.

Do you say 'yes' to requests when you really mean to say 'no'?

If you're busy because of the following:
"I need to prove myself"
"Otherwise things get out of control"
"I like the pressure/money"

At the root of our 'slavery' lie serious misunderstandings, often reinforced by our culture.  If we want to be free, then we need to counteract them with God's Word.  It's important to manage our time, but more important to manage our hearts.

Tim Chester actually lists a number of comments he collected from people in his church in the UK that he thought readers may be able to relate to.  These are the dilemmas I especially wrestle with:
  • How can I balance time between work, friends and church?
  • Why do Christians seem busier than non-Christians?
  • I always seem to take on too much.
This book is not about successful tips for time management.  There is a chapter devoted to using time effectively, but the book is mostly about our hearts.  It will be no use trying to implement time management strategies if we don't recognise why we're so busy in the first place.  The book goes deep into why busyness is such a status in our society and how if you don't answer, "Busy," when someone asks, "How are you?" then you feel like you're a slacker.

Here are a number of things I learnt from the book:
  • The busyness problem is NOT temporary unless we really do something about it.  I'm always tempted to think that the period of busyness will soon be over and then I can relax.  But the diary then fills up like any other time.  To get out of the busyness trap, we need to make deliberate choices.
  • The right attitude to work and leisure is NOT 'work is good and leisure is bad', nor is it 'leisure is good and work is bad.'  We know many people who 'work for the weekend'.  Duncan once bought a shirt and noticed later that it had a tiny label on the pocket that said 'Working for the Weekend'.  He asked me to remove it.  The Bible commends both hard work AND rest.
  • Binge resting is not the pattern which God established.  Our society works 48 weeks per year and takes four weeks off.  But this is not restful as the period leading up to holidays is often the most stressful (oh yes!) and annual leave is not sufficient to recover from months and months of workaholism.  Besides it is only the rich and middle class who can afford luxurious overseas trips.
  • Work, rest...it is all about the glory of God.  We work and rest for God's glory.  The Sabbath was established to remember what God has done.
  • The Bible tells us to number our days, not manage our minutes.  Busyness can destroy relationships.  Some people even use the busyness excuse to avoid relationships.  Don't try and squeeze all you can out of life - just do what is most important.  Jesus did not do everything - He did what God gave Him to do.  Faithfulness - not how much we have done.  Church activities may need to be downsized or pruned to make room for genuine relationships and discipleship.
One thing that really encouraged me was seeing ALL of our work - no matter how menial it looks - as an opportunity to glorify God.  It's not about squeezing more 'ministry' into our everyday lives.  Often we see visiting the sick as a more 'holy' thing than working in an office.  And visiting the sick IS important.  But Jesus conducted His ministry in homes, during meals and on journeys.  Work tasks like photocopying can be an occasion for prayer.  Chester criticises the popularity of Christian retreats in Chapter 5 by arguing that it is 'bourgeois modern spirituality for middle-class people with the time and money to get away from it all' (pages 61-2).  God is not found more in the quiet of the country than in your workplace.  I'm not sure if I agree entirely as occasions of slipping away from the crowds like Jesus did can be very helpful.

There is one very challenging section on children.  Although it is not relevant to myself and Duncan at this time in our lives, we constantly hear about the importance of 'family time' out here which usually means spending time as a family doing cute and fun things like going to the movies or eating dessert.  Chester rebukes couples who use children as an excuse for not putting the kingdom first ("It wouldn't be fair on the children.").   Here's what he says on page 59:
I shocked someone recently by asking them to name one occasion on which Jesus speaks positively about families.  Every time Jesus talks about families He sees them as competing for our loyalty to Him and His community.
....Whatever we say about ourselves, our true values come to the surface in our aspirations for our children.  Do you hope your children will be comfortable and well-paid?  Or do you hope they will be be radical, risk-taking gospel workers?....What does family time actually mean?  Watching the television, eating Big Macs, trips to the shopping centre?  What values do these reinforce?  What about making the service of others what unites us as families?  What about weekly times when the whole family does something together for the good of others?

Challenging words to be keep in mind for the future!

Overall, this is a book I really recommend (other than the Bible) for every Western, busy Christian.  Reading it won't suddenly make you less busy, but it might help you see more clearly why you are so busy (and don't use the excuse that you are too busy to read it...haha).  I saw that I am busy because of my need for approval from others (rather than remembering that God is my master), the need to prove myself (when God is already well pleased with me because of Jesus), and because I like to be in control (rather than trusting God in life's ups and downs).

If you hurt your knee and it gets infected (your busyness gets out of control), you can cover it with a Bandaid (time management skills), but ultimately it won't get rid of the infection (time management won't change our hearts).

Jean from In All Honesty wrote a helpful series on this book and the subject of busyness here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

We did it!  Our first Christmas as hosts and I think we passed the test!  While it was a wonderful day filled with great joy, I am now quite tired.  Kudos to those with big families who do stacks of cooking, cleaning and washing up EVERY DAY!

A few days before Christmas, I created and submitted my entry for the Women Bible Life nativity challenge.  I didn't win, but it was a lot of fun!

My old childhood toys enjoyed the opportunity to star in such an important scene.
 
The angel was a fairy with a dress made out of tissues.
 
Starring Barbie as Mary, Ken as Joseph, a fairy doll as baby Jesus...and a whole lot of computerised sheep.

Bert and Ernie got to be shepherds.




My first foray into the realm of Christmas newsletters.  Hmm I hope my extended family didn't think it was TOO corny.

Then, on Christmas Eve, I got a call from one of the local supermarkets to say I'd won their randomly drawn competition.  Putting my receipts in the box each week paid off!  I now have a brand new microwave. :)

Present opening:

Wow!  For me?




Merry Christmas!

Everybody say, "Christmas!"


My brother, Tim, and I after defeating Duncan and his brother, Clayton, 7-5 in the inaugural tennis match.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'm a Side Plate or a Saucer

About two months ago, I had an anxiety attack.  Actually, I had two.  The first was a milder one during a work meeting.  I don't think anyone noticed, but I was struggling with controlling my breathing, my hands were shaking while I was trying to type the minutes, and I felt like just yelling, "SHUT UP!" and running out of the room.  The second was a bit worse and happened two days later at church!  It involved more breathlessness, shaking, clamminess and a feeling of being out of this world.

I've had them before...but not for quite some time.  Sometimes they have been triggered by a stressful situation.  Otherwise they come seemingly out of nowhere and I suddenly can't cope with normal, everyday tasks.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because it was my own personal experience of my previous post.  I didn't choose to drop my mask.  I have my pride; why on earth would I want to be seen as weak?  But I found myself in a situation where I didn't have much choice.  At church, people noticed and in this moment of weakness, I received some wonderful care.

I hear a lot of women say that there are different levels of friendship (close friend, casual acquaintance etc) and friends for different reasons and seasons (the friend who loves to party with you, the friend who you discuss literature with, the friend whose shoulder you cry on...).  I agree that we can't be best friends with everyone.  That is not my intention, and even if it was, I'm a seriously limited human being who wouldn't have enough time.  My point in the previous post is that sometimes you can find yourself in situations where the friends who you may WANT to be around you cannot be there, and sometimes if you need help, you need to take a risk and ask.  When I had an anxiety attack at church, none of my close friends were around.  We've been at our church for less than a year, so we're still getting to know people.  But, on that day, two fantastic women came to help me.  One made sure I was alright.  The other laid her hand on my arm and prayed for me.  They didn't say, "Sorry we don't know you very well and this is really uncomfortable for us.  We'll call your close friends for you."  They saw a need and stepped in.  Both of my relationships with these women have deepened a bit as a result.  One suffers from anxiety attacks herself so I guess she can relate.  Sometimes our friendships can't always be neatly compartmentalised.  And when we're willing to put ourselves out there, wonderful things can happen.

I have found the latter half of 2011 to be a bit of a rough ride.  After feeling like I was getting somewhere by the middle of the year, I have realised that that no matter what is happening in life, I need Jesus...more than anything...all of the time.  Things started to go a bit pear-shaped when I went from doing admin work at home to working in an office in town again.  I struggled in ways I never thought I would.  Coupled with a very busy October full of event organisation for work (which I hate with a passion), it was all too much.  I have enjoyed November and December far more as everything has gone back to a more slower pace.

This has made me realise something...I don't have a very big life 'plate'.  I cope better with a smaller plate of one or two things, rather than a large plate crammed with everything imaginable.  Some women are dinner plates.  They thrive on busyness and having their fingers in many pies.  I'm a side plate or a saucer.

For a long time I've felt ashamed of my 'side plate or saucerness'.  Women are very good at being discouraging by making busyness and suffering some kind of status.  What?  You're finding life hard?  I have 10 children and run all of the ladies/kids/hospitality ministries at church, plus I work part-time outside the home and I'm president of the P&C, soccer club, tennis club....  My life is HARDER than YOURS.

I'm a side plate or a saucer.  That doesn't mean I want to be a slacker.  I just want to be a side plate or a saucer for the glory of God.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Friend Who'll Just Scream With You

If you didn't know it already, I'm a big fan of Packed to the Rafters.  Season 4 ended a while ago now, but there was one episode that really got me thinking.  It involves the nature of friendships.

I had been watching the development of Julie's new friendship with Donna with great interest.  After initially getting off to less than a good start, the two middle-aged women were starting to bond.  But the turning point really came when Julie received a phone call from a rather distressed-sounding Donna, asking if she could come over early in the morning.  Julie was puzzled, but went and was starting to realise that some of Donna's behaviour was quite bizarre.  It was then that Donna confessed to suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

I think this is true for many adult friendships.  We meet many people we get on well with at surface level.  But there comes a time when the friendships are put to the test.  Will the friends go deeper and share more of themselves, and be willing to ask for help if needed?  Or will they remain at superficial chit-chat level and revolve around fun activities?

Friendships often mirror dating relationships in many ways.  On the few first dates, both parties are usually trying to impress each other.  Charm is employed.  Weaknesses are hidden.  There is a lot of 'sussing each other out'.

But as the dates go on, one party is going to have to make a move.  They are going to have to drop their mask.  They are going to have to risk exposing more of themselves.  Otherwise, they might have met their potential mate but have the relationship never go any further.

Donna took that risk.  She knew she needed a good friend to help her, and she suspected that Julie might be that friend.  She dropped her mask.  After the initial shock, Julie responded by being a good friend to Donna.  Her efforts to help Donna manage her OCD culminated in a hilarious scene in a park where she showed that sometimes the best way to cope is just to let out a huge scream...right there...in the park...in front of many onlookers.  Julie put herself out there for her friend.

There seems to be an unwritten rule that you shouldn't expose yourself emotionally too early in a friendship in case you scare your new friend away.  There is meant to be a period of shallow acquaintance-level conversation before more deeper topics are broached.  Donna acknowledged this in the episode by saying, "I know we haven't been friends for very long..."  When I moved here, I felt the same.  I knew I had to go through the casual "How are you?...I'm ok" type conversations and that was what made me feel so weary.  I was down, I'd just lost my Nan, our house was a mess, it was my second big move in 2.5 years...I didn't feel like conversations that didn't have a point.  I just wanted to find someone here who I could be honest with straight away.

My prayer is that we will drop our masks and foster environments that encourage others to do the same.  And I pray that I will be the kind of friend who'll just stop and scream with my friend when they're going through hard times.

Image is from: http://tvweek.ninemsn.com.au/blog.aspx?blogentryid=894113&showcomments=true

Monday, December 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What!  You too?  I thought I was the only one."
- C.S. Lewis

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Tree...O Christmas Tree

I'm very excited to show you....


Our very first Christmas tree! (Just thought I'd let Meredith know that I definitely didn't put it up in September - I waited until the 1st December hehe.)

We couldn't have a big tree in Buntine because of the size of our cottage.  Then when we moved here, Duncan's workmate and his wife gave us their old tree because they were buying a new one.

So pretty!   I know, I know, it's not the real meaning of Christmas, but you have to admit...it does look a bit nice. :)

Although we have big Christmas tree, the little Christmas tree I had still deserves to be on display so it has its place of honour on the mantlepiece.


Oh and we're hosting Christmas this year - our first time ever.  Both families are coming to us.  Just our immediate families though - my parents and my brother, and Duncan's parents and his brother.  After doing pretty much nothing for Christmas last year because of the move, I have really got into the swing of it this year.  I've done my very limited present shopping, the tree is up, and most of the Christmas cards (I bought some from Matthias Media) are done.  I decided YES in regards to Christmas cards, but just to my extended family, family friends, those who gave us cards, and those who don't have the internet.  I even wrote a very brief Christmas newsletter and now I'm planning to enter Cathy's nativity challenge.  I think I might have to make all of this stuff bi-yearly though - it's a bit tiring.  But after praying about it, I felt God telling me this would be a way to bless others and point them towards the real meaning of Christmas.

What are your plans for Christmas Day?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Calling All Theoblogians #11

Here's a thorny issue to ponder...

Can you be a Christian and believe in evolution?

Firstly, I'd better be clear on what I mean by 'evolution'.

I don't mean the kind of evolution that says humans came from apes.  I don't know anyone who claims to be a Christian and believes that.  I mean natural selection kind of evolution, survival of the fittest, and so on.  There are a growing number of Christians from the evangelical Anglican circles I used to mix in in Perth that don't believe in a literal six (24 hour) day creation.  There is no dispute that God created or could create in six 24 hour days, but they believe the word 'day' in Genesis means 'a period of time'.  They believe the earth is millions of years old, and not thousands which is the claim of Genesis.  I also get a sense of 'we are educated, scientifically-minded people who have moved past that idea that the earth was created in a literal week' attitude as if they think those who believe otherwise might as well believe in fairytales.  They think that believing in an old earth is no barrier to being a Christian.  These opinions have been voiced by a few people, but in no way reflect everyone.

Recently I read two books on this subject:

Refuting Compromise by Jonathan Sarfati has the tagline A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of 'Progressive Creationism' (Billions of Years), As Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross.  It is, as its name suggests, a response to another book written by Hugh Ross, who claims to be a Christian, yet believes the earth is billions of years old and has written a book about why he believes this to be the case.  The hardest thing about reading a book which is essentially a review of another book is that I haven't read the original book.  Therefore, I can only go on the bits of Ross' book which Sarfati quotes.  I probably should go and read Ross' book, but if it's as 'sciency' as Refuting Compromise, it won't be likely.  I found Refuting Compromise to be a painful read.  I didn't enjoy at all, but I persevered because I wanted to see if the book contained any 'gems' of wisdom.  It does, here and there, but most of it went waaay over my head, and I ended up skipping or skimreading a fair few chapters.  I felt I could have said what he said in about a quarter of the size of the book, but I also suspect this book isn't really aimed at someone like me (who has a very non-science mind).  Thank God for the chapter summary at the end which you'd probably understand more than reading the actual book if you have a mind like mine.  I've given the book away since I doubt I'll ever pick it up again, and Duncan has said he's not interested in reading it.  However, it's probably a really good book to read if you are into sciency stuff and can understand it

On the whole, I found The Essence of Darwinism by Kirsten Birkett to be a much more helpful read (I have read it before, but that was nine years ago).  Not only is it short (142 pages), but it makes scientific theories much more accessible to someone like me.  Basically it can be summarised in a few points:
  • What is known as 'Darwinism' today isn't actually Charles Darwin's theory at all.  His theory has evolved over the years and there is considerable disagreement between scientists.  Evolutionary theory is not a proven fact the way many schools teach it to be.
  • The evolutionary debate is always religious.  Why can't it ever be neutral without religion being an issue?  Because it involves us...people...our origins.  If we have evolved by chance, then there isn't really any meaning of life, and humans are no different from the rest of the animals.  Without God, humans are not special.  There is no morality.  We don't make sense without God.  Debates about evolutionary theory are never just about the theory - they are always within a framework.  Some of those who believe strongly in evolution are also staunch atheists.
  • Genesis is not so much about the 'how' (the mechanics of creation), but the 'why'.  Genesis explains why God created us, who God is and how we should relate to Him.
While the book is mostly very helpful, I think it falls down in a few places and I found those places quite alarming.  While it is true that what matters most is the 'why' and not the 'how' and that Genesis does not say EXACTLY how God created, the 'how' still matters somewhat.  On page 127, Birkett says, We cannot say a priori that God made His creation work in this way or that way.  It may seem bizarre, even uncomfortable, to us that God developed humans from apes.  What of it?  Other people find it uncomfortable that God might have created humans instantaneously with no intermediate steps.  What we find uncomfortable or not is hardly the issue.  We do not and cannot dictate how God has worked.  But how can any Christian say that God MIGHT have created humans from apes when it is clear from Genesis that He didn't:
the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7).
There were also a number of her arguments in the Epilogue: What About Genesis? that I didn't agree with (get a copy and read for yourself).

I've never been a big fan of 'creation ministries'.  I think it is one of those topics that people like to get on their soapbox about (like baptism, the Lord's Supper or end times), but can distract Christians from the clear command and importance of spreading the gospel.  For this reason, I don't want to subscribe to Creation Magazine, nor do I appreciate people telling me I need to read it as if I'm a lesser caste of Christian if I don't.
But in recent times I've come to see that such ministries have a place and I certainly don't wish to discourage them.  I can see that the creation account may be a stumbling block to some people coming to faith and apologetics in this area can play a vital role.  But I think some Christians need to be careful in that they don't become TOO focused on this area and start arguments all the time.

Why are many people so quick to trust carbon dating, yet doubt Genesis?  One 'sciency' friend of ours has said that if people believe science is true, then they are completely missing the point of science.  Science is a theory, not a fact, and that theory continues to evolve.  Science needs to be reinterpreted by Scripture, not the other way round.

I don't think Genesis is meant to be read in the same way as an apocalyptic book such as Daniel or Revelation which have different meanings for the word 'day' (i.e. the 1335 days in Daniel).  Genesis is a narrative and, despite the opening chapter being very poetic, there is no reason to doubt that the word 'day' does not mean a literal 24 hour day.  After all, it says there was evening, and there was morning, the 'x' day.  Sarfati argues that the Hebrew word yom is what is used for the word day in Genesis. This means an ordinary day (sunrise to sunset). The Fourth Commandment for Sabbath rest makes no sense unless the days of the working week were the same as those of creation week.

I've also come to see that if you fiddle with Genesis, the rest of the Bible starts to cascade.  If Genesis needs to be reinterpreted to fit with science, then which other parts of the Bible need to be as well?  I'm wondering if the need to doubt the literal six day creation is coming from a desire to 'fit in' with non Christian friends rather any scientific 'proof'.  We don't want to to look like weirdos for believing something that seems so ludicrous to the rest of the world.  We want our friends to come to know Jesus so badly that we often compromise what the Bible says and water it down to make it more palatable to them.  The trouble is, if people doubt that all of Genesis is true, what does that say about their claim that the Bible is inerrant?

Thoughts?

Any other books you recommend on this topic?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Techy Stuff

Until a little while ago, I had this Blogger profile picture which displayed on my own blog and when I left comments on other blogs:


But then a few months ago, I did a very silly thing.  I went into Picasa and wondered why there were so many copies of this photo in the album.  So I deleted some of them.

Nooooo, Sarah, NOOOOOO! Bad, bad decision!

After this, I noticed when I commented on some blogs, my profile picture was replaced by this horrible looking image:


Then Blogger Help provided the answer:

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/blogger/thread?tid=5356579984d80119&hl=en

In short, DON'T delete anything from your Picasa Web Albums.  Even if it looks there are 50 copies of the same photo.  Don't touch it.

I ended up changing my profile pic to one of my favourite photos of all time - the jumping, action shot. :)



So now this picture will display with my comments.  BUT it still doesn't fix the comments I've left on other blogs in the past.  They still have the ugly exclamation mark.

I thought I'd mention this in case anyone was experiencing the same problem....or was considering deleting photos from Picasa.

Oh, and something's gone wrong with my header picture.  I looked at my blog on one computer and the header picture had shrunk by half.  But then I looked at it on another computer and it seemed relatively normal, except maybe a bit smaller.  There have been stacks of bloggers reporting this in Blogger Help, but, although Blogger says it's a 'known problem', they haven't mentioned a fix for it yet.

Could you please do me a favour?

Could you please look at my blog and tell me if the header picture looks 'normal' to you?

Thanks...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Graeme's Rags and Riches 50th

We headed over to Bridgetown on the last weekend in November for Duncan's workmate Graeme's 50th birthday (Graeme did most of the work on our house).  The theme was 'rags and riches' which meant you could come rich, or you could come poor, or you could come rich AND poor (there were a lot of men wearing nice shirts and ties with ragged, dirty jeans).  I chose to interpret it as 'poor who became rich' (see below).  It was a great night around the fire with some rocking good tunes.  We chose to stay the night in our tent.

Rags in 2010.  Riches in 2011.  Oh yeah!

Duncan chose to come as...his boss!  Cheeky!


 
The birthday boy and his cake
 
Speech time
Adam all wrapped up in a Wiggles rug
Caitlin and two of the farm kids
The farm crew



The next morning, Graeme took us on a tour of his farm, starting with the cows


Graeme's maremma which protects his goats

One of the bulls and the maremma






It was an honour to meet Frosty, Graeme's favourite bull

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Lesson Learned in 2011

Do not buy cheap underwear.

That is all.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Pre-Teens Want 'Revenge' on Bad Friends

Researchers asked a group of 267 pre-teen boys and girls about how they would feel in 16 hypothetical situations, which included friends telling their secrets to other children, friends not completing their part of a group assignment and friends not reacting compassionately to personal tragedies, such as the death of a pet.

Both sexes were just as likely to want to verbally attack the friend, threaten to end the friendship, or seek revenge against the friend.

But when it came to emotions, girls were far more affected by a disappointing friend than boys, reporting they would feel more anger and sadness.

Girls were also more likely to view the friend's transgression as a sign the pal didn't care about them.

Very interesting article indeed.  I remember the pre-teen years.  Girls can be bitchy.  In regards to girls feeling let down by their friends who don't seem to care....I feel like that now!  It's definitely not just a pre-teen thing.

Read the rest of the article here:

Monday, December 05, 2011

Quote of the Day

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.
- Oprah Winfrey

Friday, December 02, 2011

5 Thoughts on The Slap

Well, everybody else seems to be talking about this series so I thought I should share my 5c worth (it's gonna be a bit more than 2c haha).

1.  The characters are all extremely unlikable and from various conversations and blog posts, I can tell I'm not the only one to think this.  Rosie was the one who probably annoyed me the most with her 'I let my child run wild' style of parenting.  I was furious when Connie made up the lie that Hector raped her and didn't even apologise to Richie when he went in to bat for her and got in trouble over it....grrr.  I couldn't stand Koula, especially when she complains about Australia (well, go back to Greece then) and calls Aisha 'the black one' behind her back.  Harry is a bastard.  His wife, Sandi...well...why on earth does she stay with him?!?  I love character studies.  It's a sign of a good series where you get so engrossed you feel something towards the characters.

2.  But while the characters are generally horrible people, I think they reflect ourselves more than we'd like to admit.  People have been commenting on how lewd and crude the characters are, but that's what happens when you see people up close and personal, and unfortunately that's how people talk these days (come and live in a country town where, with some people, every second word is a swear word).  At first, it just looks like a normal bunch of people getting together for a barbecue, but The Slap takes you below the surface.  I have to confess that I saw bits of myself in some of the characters.  I've felt the tension between the choice of marriage/family or career.  I can remember what it feels like to be a teenage girl liking an older guy.  While some people were horrified at The Slap, I think it's a confronting but fairly accurate portrayal of the world we live in.

3.  The acting was brilliant.  William McInnes' narration was really unneccessary.  At times it felt like I was a fly on the wall eavesdropping on conversations, the dialogue was that natural.  The little boy who plays Hugo is outstanding for his age.  They picked some absolutely brilliant child actors.

4.  I think this series shows the impact that different stages of life can have on friendships - those who have kids and those who don't, and also parents who have different 'parenting strategies'.  I fully expect kids to be little turds at times, but it annoys me when parents make no effort to correct their behaviour in other people's houses (read: my house).  I was talking to a friend who is a mum to two young boys today and she was recalling an incident a few days ago when she invited lots of mums and kids over to her house.  Two of the kids (who were siblings) started trashing her house (and I mean trashing it) - climbing up bookcases and getting bubble blowing stuff out and then throwing it on the floor so there was a slippery mess everywhere; picking up ornaments, throwing them and breaking them etc.  My friend tried to gently ask the mum to get her kids to stop (since there is a rule you can't discipline someone else's child), but the mum just sat there as if nothing was happening.  My friend said she was fine with it if it was just toys everywhere or something, but it took her and her mother-in-law hours to clean up the mess.  In regards to The Slap, I don't blame Hugo for his behaviour since he had clearly had very few boundaries set for him in his life!  The scene where Hugo spits on the old man and then Rosie blames everyone else for his behaviour disgusted me.  Ok, I get that you're not supposed to have a go at parents, but seriously....even my friends who have kids themselves expect visitors to show some respect for their property and other people.

5.  I think this series will be really good for Australian TV.  It shows that you don't need a big budget to tell a compelling story.  Yay that it has already been sold overseas.

Image is from http://resources0.news.com.au/images/2011/10/06/1226160/581292-abc1-the-slap.jpg

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Leave Me Alone, I'm Lonely by P!nk

I've mentioned before just how relevant I think P!nk's lyrics are - especially when it comes to marriage and relationships.  This is one of those songs (please excuse the swearing though - I think the song would be better without it).

Go away.
Give me a chance to miss you.
Say goodbye,
It'll make me want to kiss you.
I love you so much,
When you're not here,
Watching all the bad shows,
Drinking all of my beer.

I don't believe Adam and Eve,
Spent every ****** day together.
If you give me some room,
There will be room enough for two.

Tonight.
Leave me alone, I'm lonely,
Alone I'm lonely.
I'm tired.
Leave me alone, I'm lonely.
Alone I'm lonely.

I don't wanna wake up with another,
But I don't always wanna wake up with you either.
No, you can't hop into my shower,
All I ask is for one ******* hour.
You taste so sweet,
But I can't eat the same thing everyday.
Cuttin' off the phone.
Leave me the **** alone.
Tomorrow I'll be beggin' you to come home.

Go away.
Come back.
Go away.
Come back.
Why can't I just have it both ways?
Go away.
Come back.
Go away.
Come back.
I wish you knew the difference.
Go away.
Come back.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Marriage 101: The 'Good' Wife

After 3.5 years of marriage, I can say that expectations really suck!

Sometimes these are the expectations put on me by others.

Sometimes they are the ones I put on myself (maybe because of the real or perceived expectations of others).

The surprising thing I've found is that the person who has placed the least pressure on me to conform to a certain image is Duncan.  Kind of surprising really since I'm HIS wife so you'd think he would have expectations.  I'm sure he does (we all do), but he is very kind.

I've also come to the realisation that there are two types of wives who face untold pressure to conform:

Pastors' wives
Farmers' wives (in my case, farmhands' wives)

When you're married to a pastor or a farm worker, it seems that there is a new level of pressure to be a certain kind of wife.  You're expected to be involved in your husband's work in a higher level.  My married female friends have husbands in a wide variety of occupations.  I have a friend whose husband is a pool salesman, but she doesn't know heaps about pools.  I have several friends who are married to engineers, but they don't know stacks about engineering.  Most of these women could probably state where their husband works and his role, but I doubt having a husband in that profession has made them an expert like he is, nor would they want to be.  They love their husbands and want to support them, but they are just not interested in pools or engineering.

But when you're a pastor's wife or a farmer's wife, you're expected to know the intricate ins and outs of church or farm life.  Whenever we go out to church, to tennis or wherever, people ask me what Duncan is doing on the farm and how much rain we've had.  Normally I can give them a basic answer, but sometimes a basic answer does not suffice.  They want DETAIL and I feel like shouting, "For heaven's sake, Duncan's standing over there, go and ask HIM!"  I feel like I am defined by the farm and the fact that my husband works there.  In the loneliness that sometimes comes with country life, I'd just like someone to take an interest in me and what I do - not just the fact that I'm a farmhand's wife.  Praise God, there are some lovely ladies at church who are interested in my work and my book.  That makes me want to take an interest in their lives as well.

Maybe it would be easier if Duncan was a pastor because sharing and teaching the word of God and encouraging others is something we're BOTH passionate about.  I'd suck as the stereotypical pastors' wife, but at least it'd feel we're in it together and it's something I understand.  The farm, on the other hand, is something I'm not passionate about and find difficult to understand.  It's like calculus to me.  Despite what some of our city friends seem to think (that you just stick a seed in the ground and watch it grow), farming is an intricate science and I don't get the terminology.  I am there to support Duncan and that's it.  I don't think I should be forced or expected to take any more of an interest in my husband's job than my friends with engineering husbands do.  I see my role as 'holding the fort' - doing housework and helping make life easier for Duncan during busy seasons of shift work. The farm is NOT our family business!  I was talking to one of the other wives on our farm and it was such a relief that she GETS IT.  Her husband is also a farmhand, but he does not have a farming background and this is their first time on a farm.  While she loves the country life and raising her kids out here, she does not take a huge interest in the farm.

I'm also realising that the word 'support' means different things to different people.  To me, it means allowing Duncan to do what he loves and helping him to do that.  It doesn't mean that I BECOME him or pretend to be interested in things that I'm not.  Sure when you love someone, you want to take an interest in the things that make them tick, but there is a line.  I've seen some women totally change their personalities when they meet a guy.  Suddenly they've become revheads because their boyfriends/husbands are revheads - even though they never liked cars or bikes much before.  When Duncan and I first started dating, he took up blogging because he could see how much I liked blogging.  But not long afterwards, he canned his blog because he just wasn't into it.  He didn't HATE blogging - he just found writing hard and it wasn't for him.  That's fine, I don't love him any less because he isn't into everything that I'm into.  I'd like Duncan to support my writing by letting me write books and seek out publishers, but I don't expect him to want to become a writer himself, to feel strongly about it, or want to be my agent or my editor.  I just want him to let me do what I love, the same as I try to make things easier for him when he is working on the farm.

It's women that I've found the most discouraging in my 3.5 years as a farmhand's wife.  Some women just don't understand that I want to pursue interests off the farm. They don't get how I don't want to kill, pluck and cook my chickens, or sit around making jam all day.  They think I should be able to answer all of their questions about the farm - and some have criticised me for not being able to.  I'm wondering if this is a generational thing where, in the past, farmers' wives didn't work, except on the farm, and their whole life was the farm.  I went to an office management course for work earlier in the year and I met a number of young farmers' wives who seemed rather discontent about their life on the farm - having to do the office role (even though they find it hard and would rather be doing something else), dealing with a disapproving mother-in-law etc.  I really felt for some of these women.

So how have I learnt to deal with this?
  • Remind myself that I am playing for an audience of one.  God is the one I'm looking to please in my role as a wife and He is already well pleased with me because of Jesus.
  • Support comes in different ways.  Duncan has asked me to work part-time in the past because we've needed the extra income.  He doesn't want me to sit around doing nothing.  He's very excited about my book even though he's not a writer or much of a reader.  Likewise, I try to do little things for Duncan that encourage him - going out for a ride with him in the ute, tractor or header (depending on what he's doing) because he likes the company, getting meals at a reasonable hour, making sure he's got plenty of work clothes etc.  And when I fail at these things (which is often), he tells me not to put so much pressure on myself.
  • Telling people, "I don't know," and suggesting they ask Duncan if they ask me a question about the farm which I can't answer.  If they give me a disapproving look, that's too bad for them.
  • Rising above any snide criticial comments for not being a farm expert.  If other ladies don't approve, again that's just too bad.

Monday, November 28, 2011

How To Rid The World Of Nagging

If everyone did what they were asked the first time, nagging would not exist.

That is all.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Funny

Another one I found in my inbox...

1.  No-one is listening until you fart.
2.  Sex is like air - it's not that important unless you aren't getting any.
3.  Always remember you're unique - just like everyone else.
4.  If you think nobody cares whether you're alive or dead, try missing a few mortgage payments.
5.  Before criticising someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticise them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
6.  If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
7.  If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably well worth it.
8.  Some days you are the dog, some days you are the tree.
9.  Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.
10. Never, under any circumstances, take a laxative and a sleeping pill on the same night.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Pendulum: Christmas Cards

Ok people I need your help.

I've been wondering whether to do Christmas cards this year.  You can tell I watched a lot of Gilmore Girls in 2009/10 because I've written a pros and cons list just like Rory does.

PROS
  • People know we're thinking of them.
  • People who've sent us a card don't feel we're snubbing them.
  • A chance to point my non-Christian relatives towards the true meaning of Christmas.
CONS
  • Time consuming.
  • Likely to be unappreciated.  Seriously does anyone really care or not whether they get Christmas cards?  I don't feel offended if people don't send me cards.  If it's a card they've made themselves and has a personalised message in it, then I appreciate  and treasure it, but if it's a cheapy with To Sarah from Bob inside then I don't really see the point, and it's off to Planet Ark to be recycled as soon as Christmas is over.
  • A waste of paper if they are unappreciated.
Each year some of my cousins send Christmas postcards with updated pictures of their kids.  I guess this is a good thing to do if you have kids - relatives get to see how much the kids have grown etc.  But we don't have kids so I'm not sure we really have anything interesting to say other than 'Merry Christmas'.  In 2009 I sent this picture off to everyone - some in an actual card and some as an e-card.


I suppose I could send an updated picture of the animals now that Gypsy has joined our family.  But I can't see Ebony wanting to be in the same photo as the dogs.  It took a few takes to get this picture and, as you can see, both animals are trying to escape.

If I did send Christmas cards, it wouldn't be to everyone.  Maybe just my small extended family, a couple of family friends and those who don't have email.  There's no way I'm doing Duncan's family as well - they are as numerous as the sands on the seashore!

Are you doing Christmas cards this year?

Do you care whether you receive a card or not?

Help me make up my mind, people....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quote of the Day

When you begin a journey of revenge, start by digging two graves: one for your enemy, and one for yourself.
- Chinese Proverb

Friday, November 18, 2011

God, Justice, Underbelly, and The Magic Finger

I mentioned in my post 5 Things I've Learnt in 10 Years of Following Christ that sometimes I really don't understand grace.

Perhaps it is because grace involves getting what you DON'T deserve.  In their song, Be My Escape, Relient K wrote, "The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair."  That's the whole point of grace - it makes things unfair.  It does not always appear just.

Don't get me wrong - I'm very glad God showed grace to me.  He gave me life and salvation when I deserved judgement and death.  But often I struggle with understanding grace and showing it to others.

I've always been very concerned with justice - even since I was a child.  I remember screaming at my mum on countless occasions, "It's not FAIR."  Usually this was in response to getting punished for something my brother did.  Perhaps it's also because I, like many others, was bullied at school.  When you're a kid, it hurts to see others doing terrible things to you and getting away with it.  The lack of justice can be spirit-crushing.

Maybe this is why I got so excited when I heard about the book, The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl.  Although I never read the book until I was an adult, I'd heard that it was about a girl who had a magic finger to get revenge on those who made her angry and I thought, Cool!   Here's a caption:
The Magic Finger is something I've been able to do my whole life. I can't tell you how I do it, because I don't even know myself. But it always happens when I get cross... and suddenly a sort of flash comes out of me, a quick flash, like something electric. It jumps out and touches the person who has made me cross...
How great would it be to literally point the finger at someone and something humiliating happens to them.  Excellent!


Some people I know have also wondered why I have enjoyed watching all of the Underbelly series.  "It glorifies crime," they say.  I actually think it does the opposite.  It shows evil people briefly having their time in the sun, but in real life, they all seem to be either dead or in prison.  I think that's why I'm drawn to Underbelly and other crime shows.  Justice is inevitably done.


I know that God is just.  What I have trouble dealing with is suspended justice.  God has set a day in the future where He will call everyone to account for their thoughts, words and deeds.  This is both comforting and scary, and sends me running to the cross of Christ for mercy.  But knowing this doesn't always make it easy to live in the here and now where I need to leave justice in God's hands, and resist the temptation to take revenge.

Over the past 10 years (and particularly in the last four years), I have learnt a lot about trusting God when I am wronged and mistreated.  It has been a hard and painful journey at times.  I have had to fight the urge to take matters into my own hands.  In saying this, I do not mean that it is wrong to use the earthly justice systems.  It is not wrong to involve the police or go to court.  But these systems are not perfect and God is the only one who executes righteous anger and true justice.

Last year I was listening to a sermon which challenged to me to think harder about what Do not take revenge actually means.  It can mean not bashing the person, but also it means not doing more subtle things like trashing that person's reputation during a conversation with a friend and....here's the shocking one....not praying for the person.  Massive ouch!  How many times have I refused to pray for someone because my anger was burning towards them.  Not lifting someone up before our Heavenly Father can actually be the ultimate form of revenge.

A few months back I was treated badly by someone and plotting revenge was at the forefront of my mind.  I considered playing some pranks like ordering them a pizza and a taxi (I know, how juvenile am I) - even though I didn't have their phone number and would have to get it from the White Pages (if it was in there).  I thought about how many people I could tell how evil this person was.  I couldn't pray for them except to say, "Lord, please smite them for me."  I was ANGRY.  I wanted revenge.  Even though I felt God telling me, "NO Sarah!  Leave things to me," I strongly considered putting one of my plans into action.

But then, not long after the incident, I was prayed for by a Christian friend and this friend told me she felt God telling her that I would inherit His nature.  This friend did not know what was going on, so when she told me that, I could not describe the peace it brought to my soul.  Despite my evil thoughts of revenge, God was at work in me and He was going to make me more Christ-like.

Then a couple of weeks later I found myself praying for the person who had wronged me.  I'm not saying this to make myself look good.  It was hard to get the words out, but I was honest with God, and He helped me.  I told Him that I was having trouble praying for this person, but He enabled me to pray for her.  This person is not a Christian and I found myself praying that God would change her heart and bring her to Himself.  All glory to God here because this was definitely not from myself.

When I find myself on the receiving end of hurtful behaviour, it's a constant battle to stop wishing for a magic finger.  Instead I need to keep trusting in my good and just God, who knows and sees all.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bible Verse of the Day

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your rightousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.  Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it only leads to evil.  For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

Psalm 37:5-9

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why? Why? Why?

Why does the phone ring (after being silent all day) when....
  • I'm on the toilet
  • I'm in the shower
  • I've just got out of the shower (so I'm standing around wrapped in a towel and freezing)
  • I'm outside hanging washing
  • I'm outside feeding the chooks or the dogs
  • I've got food in my mouth

When I'm having a great day, why does someone always have to say or do something to ruin it?

Why does it always start raining when I want to leave the office to get a takeaway coffee?

Why do I bump into someone I know at the shops when:
  • I'm in a filthy mood and don't feel like talking to anyone
  • I'm in too much of a rush to talk
  • I'm wearing old trackies or the like
  • I'm buying a present for that person
  • I'm buying something 'personal'

I don't get it.  Please explain.....

Monday, November 14, 2011

5 Best Posts From Other Bloggers in 2010

Sometimes it's tempting to see the blogosphere as a competition - or, as the Urban Dictionary puts it, to be overcome with blenvy.

But I believe credit must be given where credit is due and these blogs are infinity times better than mine.  Yes, I'm running a bit late.  2011 is nearly over and I'm blogging about posts from 2010. Oh well.... stay tuned in early 2012 for 2011's best posts.

This is not about giving those silly awards or tagging people.  It's just highlighting some great posts that I can relate to now, or feel might be relevant to me in the future.

Drum roll, please....(in no particular order)

1. How To Be a Successful CHRISTIAN Parent or Not  - No Reading at the Breakfast Table

2. There Will Always Be At Least One - Markedly

3. Not Trying To Be Missional - Women Bible Life

4. 13 Ways To Discourage a Younger Woman - In All Honesty

5. A Difficult Transition - The Key to the Door

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Simply Christianity

I'm all for evangelistic courses.  They aren't magic, but God used one of these to bring me to Himself 10 years ago.  It was Simply Christianity by John Dickson.  The following year I was given the book of the same name, but I only read it for the first time last year.  It was Easter and I wanted to read something that focused on the gospel.

Simply Christianity is good because it really does let the Bible speak for itself.  A vast amount of the book is simply the gospel of Luke intermingled with John Dickson's commentaries on the chapters.  So you're reading chunks of Scripture and then hopefully any questions you have will be answered in the subsequent chapters.  For this reason, I found the book more helpful than the course, although the course has the advantage of having group discussions.

When I read the book and did the course, I was presented with Jesus.  10 years ago this shocked me when I encountered in the pages of Luke not just gentle Jesus meek and mild, but also a man who had authority over nature, over mankind, over sickness and over death.  He was and is like no-one I've ever known.  The book explores the repercussions of meeting this Jesus.  Who is this man?  If He is who He says He is, what does that mean for our lives?

The downside of this book is the same as I imagine it would be for all 'life of Jesus' type courses.  Inevitably questions arise about sin.  Before I became a Christian, I did not think I was a sinner.  I believed that sin was murder, rape etc and because I had never committed those sins, I was not a sinner.  My question was: why did Jesus have to die?  For this reason, something like Introducing God would have been helpful because it goes through the Bible from creation to the fall and you get to see God's great rescue plan for the world unfold so when Jesus comes along, hopefully it makes a bit more sense.  But having said that, John Dickson does a great job addressing potential FAQs in an 'Extra Information' section at the end of the book.

If you or a friend are wanting to investigate Jesus, then the Simply Christianity course and book are great places to start.  Put aside any views of Him you may have got from the media or friends, and be willing to encounter the real Jesus in the pages of Luke's gospel.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Quote of the Day

Grace is the most perplexing, powerful force in the universe, and, I believe, the only hope for our twisted, violent planet.
- Philip Yancey

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Amazing Grace by John Newton

I hadn't really heard this old hymn until I became a Christian.  When I heard it all the way through I was blown away by its relevance to me.  I especially love the last verse and how good the new creation will be - praising God forever.  I was blind, but now I see....

Even if you've heard this 10,000 times before and it's an old favourite, read through the lyrics and be amazed again at how amazing God's grace is.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come.
Twas grace that brought us safe thus far,
And grace will lead us home.

When we've been here ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when we first begun.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Bible Verse of the Day

...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

Friday, November 04, 2011

5 Things I've Learnt in 10 Years of Following Christ

I've been a Christian for 10 years (read my story).

Here are just some of the things I've learnt in what has been an incredible adventure:

1.  God is big (well duh, you say).  He is bigger that we can comprehend.  He is not a genie.  He is not a butler.  He is not my grandfather.  He is King, Creator, Lord, Judge, Lion, yet also Saviour, Father, Lamb, Counsellor, Brother and Friend.  He cannot be put in a box.  He can do more than we can ask or imagine.  I will never understand everything about Him.  He has chosen to keep some things about Himself from us.  Yet He has also revealed Himself so that we can trust Him.  Some days I'm content not knowing everything about God.  Other days I just want to ask Him what on earth He is DOING?

2.  God is all about waiting.  I'm not.  He has control of time.  He knows and sees all from beginning to end.  Everything happens in His timing.  Moses was 80 before God called him to rescue the Israelites from Egypt.  This makes me impatient.  I get frustrated at myself to change.  I get frustrated at other people to change.  But things happen in God's time and not ours.  He is in no rush.  Sometimes in hindsight we can see why God allows things to happen.  Other times we will never know this side of heaven.  It's a constant choice to remember that God is good.

3.  People have been angry that I have become a Christian.  More so, my family have been angry that I've become a Christian, particularly my Mum.  This has got nothing to do with preaching or Bible bashing - they just don't like that I believe something different to them.  Jesus was right when He said that the world would hate Christians for following Him.  Most people are ok with 'nominal Christianity' - ticking Christian or Catholic on the Census form, sending your kids to a Christian school, church attendance at Christmas and Easter - but not when it affects lives in any real way.  The message of the cross is offensive because it pricks at human pride.

4.  People will disappoint us.  I look back and remember people who were pivotal in introducing me to Christ.  Now they have fallen away.  Some deny they ever really believed.  This is terribly discouraging and heartbreaking.  It's easy to think that if these 'super Christians' failed then how will I be able to keep going?  But there is no such thing as a 'super Christian'.  We are all susceptible to falling.  We are all reliant on God for each breath.  Sometimes it seems for every person who decides to follow Christ, there will be one who drops out of the race.  Churches will disappoint.  Fellow Christians will be apathetic.  I believe that somehow we need to balance this reality with the responsibility of the church to love others.  If you've been turned off Jesus because of His people's hypocrisy, please reconsider.  This does not excuse really bad behaviour from Christians, but fix your eyes upon Jesus.  Find out about HIM!

5.  The cross is where justice and mercy meet. In the person of Jesus, God took the punishment humanity deserved for rebelling against His good rule over us. Grace is one of the most perplexing concepts ever. Somedays I think I understand it and other days I don't. But when I reflect on it, I feel the most incredible peace and joy. There will always be hardships in this life, but I have great hope because of what Jesus has done and I know where I am going.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

RIP Gwendoline

I found one of my chookies dead in her nest today. :(