Thursday, May 30, 2013

30 Years of Sarah

I can scarcely believe it's my 30th birthday today.  Surely I'm still 15....aren't I?

























(photo by our wedding photographer Justine Stevens)






(taken at 5:30am this morning when I was feeding Rory)


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rafters and PND

I've watched every episode of Packed to the Rafters since it began in 2008, but I was most interested to see how the storyline involving Nathan, his wife Saskia, and their new baby Edward would pan out.  In the episodes leading up to last week's episode where Saskia walked out on her husband and son, it was clear to me that she was suffering from postnatal depression.  I was wondering how realistic the storyline would be.

I was glad to see this illness that affects so many women being given the limelight in a popular TV show.  I was still very puzzled about how the storyline was handled, such as why Nathan didn't try harder to save their marriage or get her to see a doctor.  But ultimately I felt I could relate a lot to her suffering.  While I didn't want to leave Duncan for another man, I empathised with her confused mind, wanting someone to take the baby away so she could get decent sleep, the feeling of being surrounded by chaos, yelling at the baby to shut up.  As regular readers of this blog will know, I've been there and still coming out of that long, dark tunnel.

Bravo to Rafters for at least attempting to highlight this issue.  Even though they are just TV characters, I really felt for both Saskia and Nathan.  It's so hard on the men too.


Friday, May 24, 2013

The Winner Is....

The deadline has been and gone and the random number thingy has selected a winner:

It's bettyl from My Views of New Zealand.

Congratulations!  Could you please leave a comment with your postal address and choice of book (the comment won't be published).

Thank you to everyone who entered.  Here are the results from the reading survey, including my responses:

1.  How often do you pick up a book (daily, nightly, fortnightly, randomly, hardly ever, when I get a chance etc)
Daily (I do my Bible reading in the morning and usually a bit of something else in the evening).  Sometimes - those rare moments when my TO DO list is by and large dealt with or I feel like having some down time - I will read in the day time too.
My response: I used to read daily, but since Rory was born I now read very sporadically.

2.  What sort of books do you read the most? (fiction, Christian books, self help, biographies etc)
Whodunit, detective, historical fiction, biographies, Christian non-fiction
The Bible, Christian books, and during the school holidays I read fiction.  I can't read fiction during the term because other things need to be done, as well as books being read.
Christian fiction and historical fiction
Currently textbooks, some fiction, the occasional biography
My response: I usually alternate between fiction, Christian non-fiction, and the occasional biography.  I would read a Christian book, then a secular book, and then another Christian book and so on.  In the past few months I've mostly read parenting books, although I'm cutting down as some I've found to be unhelpful.  I don't feel I have the mental capacity to read and digest a Christian book right now, but I'm hoping this will change soon.

3.  Where/when do you usually read? (in bed before going to sleep, during breakfast, on the train on the way to work, sitting in the car waiting to pick up the kids, in the hammock etc)
The most common time is in bed before going to sleep (every night, I find it hard to go to sleep without reading). I also read when I'm siting in a waiting room, sometimes on the train (though I don't ride the trains regularly).
I have a chair in the front room and a sofa in the back room. If no-one is home I read out the back because the sun streams in that window for most of the day and it is lovely. If everyone is home then I read at the front of the house where it tends to be quieter. And I read in bed in the evening.
On the couch in the evening
Eating breakfast, curled on the couch with tea, longish train trips, waiting for family
My response: I used to read every night in bed before going to sleep (unless it was a late night).  I haven't done that much since Rory was born as I mostly tend to crash into bed and want to go straight to sleep.  Now Rory goes to daycare for a few hours a week so I can get some respite and I either read or watch TV series then.

4.  What is one Christian book (other than the Bible) that you recommend all Christians should read?
I would say all Christians should try to read at least one Christian biography a year, picking someone they can relate to (as opposed to someone who is a kind-of super-hero Christian).
 Knowing God
God Must Like Dandelions
God's Big Picture
Operation World
God Smuggler
Adventures in Prayer
My response: The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission by John Dickson (which is one of the books on offer).  It's so hard to pick just one though.

I may just make this a yearly giveaway so stay tuned.... :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Day Remaining enter my competition to win a Christian book of your choice out of the 14 books I have reviewed over the past year and a bit.  Follow the link for details.

Don't put it off if you wish to enter.

Open to all readers around the world. :)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Christian Book Giveaway Reminder

Just over 48 hours remaining until I announce the winner of my competition.

I will give away a Christian book to one lucky reader.  Follow the link to see the options.

The catch?  You have answer a few short questions about your reading habits (or lack of) by leaving a comment on the original post.  I will not publish the comments.  Instead I will publish a list of responses, but will not indicate who said what.

You do not have to be a blogger or a Christian to enter.

It is open to anyone anywhere in the world.

If none of the books appeal to you, consider entering to win a book for a friend.

It's to celebrate over 2000 comments at the Sedshed, my upcoming 30th birthday and my love of books.

Enter...enter! :)

The winner will be drawn randomly at 4pm West Australian time on Friday 24th May.

P.S.  I had one entrant enquire if the question asking which book you would recommend all Christians read is referring to Western Christians.  Yes, it is, but if you're in a different context, feel free to use that.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Sedshed Annual Christian Book Giveaway

It's time to do a giveaway on this blog.  I've been planning this for a while.

Below I've listed all of the Christian books I've reviewed since February last year when I last gave away a book.  I'm going to give one lucky reader a book of their choice.

Why?  Perhaps it's to celebrate this blog having over 2000 published comments.  Or perhaps it's because of my upcoming 30th birthday (although technically I should be the one getting a present haha).  Perhaps I'm just feeling nice. :)

Yes, there is a catch.  To enter I need you leave a comment telling me about your reading habits.  The comments will not be published.  Instead I will compile an anonymous list of what everyone said once the winner has been announced next Friday 24th May.  It will be very interesting to see what kind of readers you all are.  (If you aren't a reader, you can still enter by stating that you don't read much).

I need you to please answer the following questions:

1.  How often do you pick up a book? (daily, nightly, fortnightly, randomly, hardly ever, when I get a chance etc)
2.  What sort of books do you read the most? (fiction, Christian books, self help, biographies etc)
3.  Where/when do you usually read? (in bed before going to sleep, during breakfast, on the train on the way to work, sitting in the car waiting to pick up the kids, in the hammock etc)
4.  What is one Christian book (other than the Bible) that you recommend all Christians should read?

The winner will be drawn randomly.  There is no right or wrong answers.  Even if you hardly ever read, you are very welcome to enter.  Maybe none of the books appeal to you, but you might consider entering to win one for a friend.

Here are the books on offer (with links to my reviews):

The Trellis and the Vine

Don't Waste Your Life

Operation World

Leading Better Bible Studies

One To One Bible Reading

Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)

Unpacking Forgiveness

Forgiving Hitler

The True and Living God

Suffering Well

The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission

Making the Most of the Cross

Now That You Are Back

The Envy of Eve

You have until 4pm (West Australian time) next Friday 24th May.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Rianna's 30th

I've been to my fair share of 30th birthday parties in years gone by, but this year is definitely the year of 30ths.

My good friend Rianna turned 30 in late March.  Hers was the third 30th I'd been invited to this year so far (I couldn't attend my friend Rhianon's in January because it was the day after I had Rory).  Duncan was relieved that Rianna's party didn't involve costumes. ;)

We took Rory with us so some other friends could meet him for the first time.  I'm not sure if I would take him again.  He was quite unsettled and it's hard to concentrate on conversations when you're wondering if your baby is crying and you can't hear him over the noise.  Still, it was a good night and a great celebration.

Countdown: two weeks to go until I turn the big 3-0.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Helen H Lemmel

This song has brought me great comfort this year.  I often found myself humming the tune while I was in hospital:

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's a light for a look at the Saviour,
And life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting,
He passed and we follow him there;
Over us no more sin hath dominion -
For more than conquerors are we.

His Word shall not fail you - He promised;
Believe Him, and all will go well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell.

Lyrics sourced from here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

In Memory of My Auntie

Mother's Day was a sad day for two of my cousins this year.

On the 15th April, my Auntie Alison, who I visited in Adelaide nearly four years ago, lost her battle with lung cancer.  I was in hospital when I got the news.  I wanted to go to Adelaide for the funeral, but my mum advised me it wouldn't be a good idea when I was already so fragile.

I only met her a couple of times in my life, but she never failed to send me a card for my birthday.

She was my Nan's daughter-in-law and they were so much alike in personality, despite them not being blood relatives.  Even when my uncle passed away, they always kept in touch every fortnight by phone.

I will miss her.

Auntie Al and her dog, Max

With my mum and I

Monday, May 13, 2013

Reflections of a Mother

I read this years ago and thought it was appropriate seeing as I've just celebrated my first Mother's Day as a mum.  It's a great reminder of what I can control and what I must leave in God's hands.  This is for my son:

I gave you life,
But I cannot live it for you.

I can give you directions,
But I cannot be there to lead you.

I can take you to church,
But I cannot make you believe.

I can teach you right from wrong,
But I cannot always decide for you.

I can buy you beautiful clothes,
But I cannot make you beautiful inside.

I can offer you advice,
But I cannot accept it for you.

I can give you love,
But I cannot force it upon you.

I can teach you to share,
But I cannot make you unselfish.

I can teach you respect,
But I cannot force you to show honour.

I can advise you about friends,
But I cannot choose them for you.

I can advise you about sex,
But I cannot keep you pure.

I can tell you about alcohol and drugs,
But I cannot say "No" for you.

I can tell you about lofty goals,
But I cannot achieve them for you.

I can teach you about kindness,
But I cannot force you to be gracious.

I can pray for you,
But I cannot make you walk with God.

I can love you with unconditional love all of my life,

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Prompted To Write: Rules To Live By

I've decided to take up Meredith's writing challenge with the topic Rules to live by.  Follow the link if you'd like to join in.

My recent stay in hospital revealed to me that I am much more of a rules person than I thought I was.  Rules are ok; they have their place.  But rules and small babies don't mix.

I've decided to ignore the baby books.  I partly blame those so-called 'baby whisperers' for the mess I've ended up in.  The nonsense they peddle to nervous first-time parents is criminal.  Have a strict schedule and your baby will sleep through the night at six weeks.  Let your child sleep in your bed and they will still be sleeping in your bed when they're in high school.  Don't let them suck their thumb or they'll still be sucking their thumb when they're 18.  Let them cry otherwise they'll manipulate you and will turn out to be a wuss.  You get the drift...  Of course I wanted to do things 'right'.  I'm a first-time mum.  I didn't have a clue.  Friends recommended these books.  Some were a bit more full-on by telling me I HAD to have a schedule otherwise I'd have a child hanging off my boob all day. Yep, those books combined with my ordered, structured personality were a ticking timebomb just waiting to explode.

What I learnt in the MBU is that when it comes to babies the only rules are good old-fashioned common sense, flexibility and love.  I drove myself mad trying to find the 'secret ingredient' to get Rory to sleep longer.  The only thing to do is resettle, resettle, resettle, and cuddle without the fear that I'm still going to have to cuddle him to sleep when he's a grown man!  I'm going to treasure these cuddles right now because they'll be over before I know it.

Many of those baby books treat all babies the same.  That the same routine etc will work for ALL babies!  What rubbish!  Babies are different just as all children and adults are different.  Before I had Rory I needed a good eight hours sleep a night to function, but I have friends who get by just fine with five.  I allowed myself to be convinced that there was something wrong with my beautiful son.  That just because he wasn't a good sleeper during the day that it erased all of the lovely things about him.  So he doesn't sleep for very long, so what?  He's got the best smile and laugh.  He loves people.  He's very handsome.  He loves to kick his little fat legs, especially in the bath.  I get annoyed when people ask me if he's a 'good baby'.  What's a 'good baby'?  One that sleeps all the time?  If that's the yardstick, then he'd be a 'bad baby'.  I was guilty of seeing him like that.  I wanted a robot instead of a son.  One that followed the rules perfectly.  I couldn't see what a gift I'd been given.

I came to hospital desperate that they 'fix' Rory's sleeping for me.  They gently showed me that I was the one who needed to be 'fixed'.  With a more settled mum, came a more settled bubba.  I needed to be freed from 'following the rules'.  When it comes to babies, the rule to live by is learning to be that patient, wiser, kinder person who helps them grow up in this world.

This was taken a few weeks back on the 12th April -
mine and Duncan's 5th wedding anniversary.