Monday, September 30, 2013

Ahhh Sydneytown, I've Missed You So!

Today Duncan, Rory and I depart for Sydney (God willing).  Therefore, there will be no bloggage here for the rest of the week.  We return on Friday night and hopefully I will be back on board on Monday.

I'm so excited about seeing our friends Amanda and Michael and their girls again.  We haven't seen them since they left Perth to move to Sydney in March last year.  We'll be staying with them while we're there and I'm looking forward to cuppas, chats, seeing Amanda's artwork, their chooks, their vintage caravan Betty-Ruth, and cuddling their cat, George.

We'll also be seeing our friends Jane and Tim.  We stayed with them on campus at the Bible college Tim studies at last time we were there in July 2011.  This time it will be too crowded since they became first-time parents to little Ruth in April.  How different our holiday will be!  Last time we saw so much and drank so much coffee.  It was a whirlwind and fun adventure.  This time, the bubbas will force us to slow down a bit, I think.

Ahhh I love Sydney!  Now we just need to survive the plane trip with a very 'busy' eight-month-old (tips gratefully received).

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Job Year

I read a bit of Job earlier in the year and I imagine that if God and Satan were talking about me behind the scenes, it may go something like this:

"Sarah only praises you when everything is going well," Satan said.  "But now stretch out your hand and strike everything that she has and she will surely curse you to your face."
The Lord said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything she has is in your power...."

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and caused her labour to not progress so that she would require a caesarean which had been her greatest fear.  When her baby son was just two days old she began to sink into a deep depression which would result in two hospital stints (and narrowly avoiding a third).  She spent many hours and days in bed, resulting in social isolation and enormous strain on her husband.  She had to give up her church involvement and could not even attend church for many weeks.  Her baby was struck with silent reflux, causing him to scream when lying flat, cold after cold during the winter months, and eczema.  For months afterwards, he would wake six times per night on average driving his parents to become sleep-deprived zombies.  Sarah was surrounded by an initially unhelpful mother and loads of conflicting and confusing advice and criticism.  Sarah's auntie died after a long battle with lung cancer.  Her depression continued to fluctuate, sinking to lows such as thoughts of suicide.  Just when she thought she was on the way up, her medication stopped working and she was back at the beginning again.  Her cat became unwell because of the stress in the household and started pulling her fur out.  Her husband's migraines became more frequent.  Her football team had a shocking year and, to top it off, the arch-enemies made the Grand Final.

There have been some good things, but please don't say, "But you have a beautiful baby," or something equally trite.  It really doesn't help.  This has been the worst year of my life.

The difference between Job and myself is that Job did not charge God with wrongdoing, even though his wife told him to curse God and die.  But I did.  I became angry at God.  I'm sorry God.  I'm not upright and blameless like Job.

This year I have come to understand some more of God's amazing grace.  There is no way I could be upright and blameless on my own merit.  But praise be to God, He looks at me and sees Jesus' perfect righteousness.  Jesus took my sin, paid the price for it, and defeated death by rising again.  I get a white robe so that although my sins may be scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bible Verse of the Day

"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD.  "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."
Isaiah 1:18

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Who Will I Be Supporting on Saturday?

That's a silly question, but I've been asked it.  Some people just assume I'll be supporting the Dorkers 'cos they're from WA.

The biggest enemy is in your own backyard.  Ask a Carlton supporter if they'd barrack for Collingwood over the Eagles...I don't think so.  I know for a fact that plenty of Dorks' supporters were barracking hard for Sydney in the 2005-06 Grand Finals.

So, when asked if I'll be a Dorks' fan on Saturday, I will quote Kevin from Home Alone:

I'd rather kiss a toilet seat.


Image sourced from here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Eee i eee i o

And on that farm there was a....

Belated 30th birthday party for me!

The theme was come as something to do with farm/country life.

Despite the atrocious weather, I had about 70 guests.  Unfortunately the weather got so bad everyone was squished onto my verandah and in my house.  I had to go to the bathroom a few times just to breathe, it was that claustrophobic!

But I was touched that so many people could come.  Besides our local friends from church and the farm, I had guests from Albany, Perth, Margaret River and Dalwallinu.

Special thanks must go to Duncan's mum's cousin Alsa who stayed with us for two weeks prior to the party in her campervan.  She gave up her time and came all the way from Dunsborough to help me with Rory and just anything else she could assist with.  What a blessing she was.  She got our overgrown garden in order so our guests could actually find the house amongst the weeds!

My man must also get special thanks for the amount of mowing and setting up he did in the two days prior.  I couldn't have had this party without him.

Despite all the preparation, I'm so glad I had a party.  I was exhausted afterwards and had the mother of all headaches (from stress and lack of sleep, I think), but I got to catch up with lots of people and celebrate the first 30 years of my life.

Despite the weather, Duncan managed to get the fire going.

The downside of having a party on election day...

Crowd of kids watching Shrek 2.

I came as the town gossip.  I wore a badge that said, 'I know your
business before you even know it yourself!'

Doing the honours.


Terios came as Bob Katter

Kate was a wool bale

My friend Asha, who is a photographer, took pics.  (She is editing
them at the moment).

Connie (right) was a CWA lady

 There were plenty of flannels

Me and my bro.

I took my wig off eventually.

Then the wig did the rounds.

The downside to a party...cleanup!

 The remains of the fire the next morning.

 We cooked breakfast for those who camped on the farm.

Mmm bacon


Friday, September 20, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Quote of the Day

Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace.  And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need for God's grace.
- Jerry Bridges

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Remember the Lord by Colin Buchanan

I came close to chucking in my faith last week.  I'm not sure what prompted these feelings.  I just feel so dry, Bible reading is a drag, I often get angry at God for the way things have panned out this year, and every little thing that goes wrong often results in a near panic attack.  That's when I started allowing myself to believe Satan's lies - you're not good enough, you haven't repented enough, God doesn't want someone who keeps getting angry at Him or ignoring Him.

Praise the Lord it's not about me.  It's about the love, grace and mercy He has shown to me in Christ.

I bought Rory a Colin Buchanan CD a few weeks ago.  It has been more of an encouragement to me than I could have known and has brought me real perspective when I've started wandering away.  The lyrics are so simple, aimed at children....yet relevant for each of us when we are tempted to allow the circumstances of life to overshadow God and His promises.

If you stub your toe when you get out of bed,
And you slip in the shower and knock your head.
If you miss your breaky and your bike tyre's flat,
If the dog eats your lunch and you step on the cat.

If you're hitting the skids and you're up the creek,
If you're down-and-out and things look bleak.
If you're in the pits and you're out for a duck,
If you're long in the tooth and short of a buck.

Remember the Lord, Oh-oh!
Remember that He is in control.
Remember the Lord, Oh-oh!
He's watching His children,
He cares, Oh-oh!

Lyrics sourced from here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bible Verse of the Day

To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy...
Jude 24

Friday, September 13, 2013

Old People in Young People's Clothing

I used to be quite keen to go to a church consisting of mostly older people and lend a hand, help bring down the average age of members etc.

That was my younger, more naïve self.

I know there are lovely older folk out there who genuinely love youth and wish to encourage them.  But there are others who, although they may crow loudly that they want more 'young ones' in their congregation, are not keen to accommodate the younger generation.

Basically they want old people in young people's clothing.

They want to be able to say that they have youth and young families in their midst, but they remain essentially a club for old people.  There might be young people there but they don't get a say in how the church moves forward, they aren't being trained for leadership positions, and their 'radical' opinions are seen as a wanting to get rid of a few hymns for instance.

The church remains run by the oldies, for the oldies, and the 'young ones' are expected to just go with it.

I don't want to ever be a part of a church like that.  I want to meet with people who want to grow...both in number and maturity.  I don't want to be a part of a stale, irrelevant church that exists to just have a sing-song amongst themselves and be wonderfully welcoming to each other, but not reach out to the world around them.

When I talk about change, I don't mean compromising the gospel or watering down aspects of the Christian faith that are offensive to the world.  I mean removing stumbling blocks that would prevent unchurched people coming along to church.  I remember what it was like to be a non-Christian.  It can be scary stepping into a church where everyone is dressed up in suits and ties, sings songs that are in Shakespearean type language and make no sense, and nothing, like the Lord's Supper or prayer, is explained to the outsider.

There are many old, stale churches out there who can't understand why no-one wants to join them, yet they don't want to listen or change on disputable matters.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This Little Church Stayed Home

I've never read a book which made me want to shout for joy and throw it against the wall in anger all at once!

This Little Church Stayed Home is a reaction to churches 'selling out' on the gospel in favour of 'marketing' themselves to both Christians and non-Christians alike.  Gary E. Gilley explores the dangers of churches focusing on being attractive, rather than remaining firmly grounded in the Scriptures.

I agree!  If a church forgets that they should be on about Jesus and His gospel, then why do they even exist?  They have lost their saltiness.  Watering down core beliefs that are unsavoury to the rest of the world may make the church more palatable to non-Christians but, in the end, what are they being attracted to?

To be honest, I don't know why churches try to sell themselves by having 'good coffee'.  I know there are a lot of coffee snobs out there, but there are plenty of cafes that do coffee better than any church.  Why would someone be attracted to a church purely by the promise of 'good coffee' when they can get one at the café down the road (and don't have to hear anything which challenges their views on God and their lifestyle)?

When I think back to what attracted me to Jesus before I became a Christian, it was seeing the lives of my Christian friends at high school.  Then I realised what I truly craved....acceptance, true friendships and community, and deep joy.  All of these I found at church: I learned that when I trust Jesus' death and resurrection, my sins are forgiven and I am totally accepted by God; I have genuine relationships, and the deep joy that comes from knowing Christ, that no matter what happens to me on this earth, one day I will be spending eternity with Him and His people in a renewed creation.  But it was more than that.  I learned that the world doesn't revolve around me and what I want, but it's all about Jesus and giving Him the glory He deserves.  After I became a Christian, it was the solid Bible teaching at church and encouragement from other Christians which helped me along in my walk.  If the church sells out on the gospel and focuses on being cool, then they have lost their reason for existence.  When churches focus on what Jesus can do for people, they risk promoting Him as just another fad to bring self-fulfilment.

I have a lot of respect for Rick Warren, but I did agree with Gilley's criticism of The Purpose Driven Life (which I have mostly read).  While it offers sound, practical advice, many of the Scriptural references are taken out of context.  In Warren's gospel presentations no mention is made of sin, repentance or even the Cross.  Real life (i.e., a life with purpose) seems to be the reward, and lack of real life (purpose) the problem. (page 90)

Now for the bit that made me want to throw it against the wall....

Just because a church wants to change how they do things does not mean they are not prioritising the gospel.  A church that has hymns is not more holier than thou than a church that has modern, upbeat music.  A church that has stain glass windows and a steeple and looks like a church building is not more faithful than a church who meets in a community centre, on a university campus, in a pub, in a park, or in someone's home.  A church which uses the King James or New King James Version is not superior to a church which uses the New International Version, the Good News Bible, or the New Living Translation.  Let's face it....we find it hard to invite non-Christians to church because church often seems like a foreign culture.  If a church wants to do things differently to help break down the barriers to faith, then I applaud them for that.  Reaching out does not equate to selling out.

I think one reason I didn't like this book so much was that I heard some older people raving about it.  When a book appeals to older people who I know don't like 'modern churches with loud music', I get very suspicious.  They might have completely missed the author's point, but it was like they were equating being small with being faithful.  Just because a church is growing in epic proportions, doesn't mean the gospel is not being presented faithfully.  Likewise, just because a church is small doesn't mean they aren't doing all they can to reach out to their community.  I don't like it when some churches pat themselves on the back for being small.  I would never want to go to some churches because they are so stale.  They say they want young people, but I get the feeling a young person with a fresh attitude and a few ideas would be thrown out onto the street and labelled a heretic for wanting to change the music.

Anyway, it's still worth a read.  Gilley presents a lot of good information and rebukes to alternate teaching from postmodernism, mysticism, and the emergent church in the US.  There are a lot of subtle threats and temptations to be unfaithful to the gospel and it's good to be informed of such things.  I'm glad he had the guts to say it, even if I didn't agree with everything.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Calling All Theoblogians #12

Duncan and I watched the movie, Alive last week.  Based on a true story, Alive is about a team of young rugby players from Uruguay who were flying to Chile for a game in 1972 when their plane crashed in the Andes mountains.  Several passengers were killed instantly, but most survived.  After learning that the search for them had been called off and with only measly supplies of food and drink, they survived 10 weeks in freezing conditions (a few more died during this time), before three of the guys started a brave trek out of the mountains.  Eventually they were rescued.

The controversy surrounding this tale involves HOW they managed to survive for so long after their food supplies ran out.  The tagline says, They overcame the impossible by doing the unthinkable.  What was the unthinkable?  Yes, they survived by eating the bodies of their dead friends.

This sparked an interesting discussion between Duncan and myself.  Would we do the same if we were in that situation?  Is cannibalism wrong in that context?

I think no Christian would dispute that killing someone and then eating them is downright wrong and grotesque.  We are not to murder and God has given us plants and animals for food.  I doubt anyone would get their jollies out of eating human flesh either (unless they are Hannibal Lecter).  It was a massive decision for these young men, many being Catholics, even though one joked, "If I die and you eat me, promise me you'll clean your plates."

Is it wrong to eat the body of someone who is already dead if that was your only means of survival?

Personally, I think I would (unless someone can convince me that God forbids it in all circumstances) although I felt sick to my stomach when they finally went ahead and did it.

Can anyone shed some light on what the Christian view on this matter should be?

Friday, September 06, 2013

This Year Just Keeps Getting Better


On Sunday Rory came down with high temperatures, a blocked nose and he was definitely not his usual hyperactive self.  It was quite strange seeing him sit listlessly on Duncan's lap.  Normally he's wriggling around, being very 'busy'. 

He has had eczema on and off since he started solids in early July.  I took him to the doctor who thought it might be connected with teething.  But he doesn't have any teeth yet, and doesn't seem to be showing any signs of getting any soon.

By Monday morning, the eczema was shocking.  We took him to a doctor in Albany as we thought it might be Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease.  Due to the fact that it was also on his back, chest and behind his knees (and not on his feet), the doctor said that it wasn't.  I think his temperature has been making the eczema worse, but now it seems to have been brought under control with Panadol.  He's also been on penicillin for an inflamed throat and has been finding feeding difficult.

Now we're on a strict elimination diet to see what was causing the eczema in the first place.

His sleeping is now in the realm of shocking!  He's up every hour, crying loudly and if you don't go to him, he soon becomes hysterical.  He usually wakes 4-6 times per night anyway, even when he's well, but this is just horrible.  I'm really worried about Duncan who gets up to the majority of the wake-ups to let me rest.  We've even tried co-sleeping, but it makes no difference.  He's not hungry because when I offer him milk, he only takes a bit and has had enough.

My poor bubba has had cold after cold this winter and now this!  But everyone has sick kids, Sarah, you say.  What else is new?

To make things worse, I'm having my belated 30th birthday party this Saturday.  Everything has been organised.  After my initial worries that no-one would come (I'm having it here on the farm), I now have around 80 people coming.  So much for thinking that no-one loves me!

I will NOT cancel!  We've already had to postpone our trip to Sydney because of my depression.  I will NOT cancel everything I've been looking forward to.

Rory was much more cheerful yesterday. 

But the horror night wakings continue.

We're booked in to visit Ngala next week.  It can't come soon enough!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Quote of the Day

Australians go to the polls on Saturday.  We could have a new Prime Minister by the evening.

I wrote about my political position here almost five years ago and it hasn't changed.

Voting is an enormous privilege, even if it seems like a hassle at the time.  Many people around the world only dream of such freedom.

I thought this quote sums it up:

And I felt lucky.  Because we have a choice, and I think that we vote, not to get the best party in, but to keep the worst party out.
- Jacob Coote in the book Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (page 29)

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


Do you want to be a good friend?


Remember your trials, your suffering, and hold onto it.  I'm sure that seems like bizarre advice.  The worst times are what most people would rather forget.  But if you forget then you cannot empathise.

As we move through the different phases and stages of life, we run the risk of our past experiences becoming a blur.  We forget the pain.  We forget how bad it was.  Then we become indifferent towards others who are currently going through similar trials because we can't remember.  When we can't remember, it is harder to offer comfort.

One of the hardest things I've found about being a new parent is the lack of empathy from some older parents.  I've heard ladies in their fifties and sixties say, "I don't know why my daughter/daughter-in-law is so stressed."  They've clearly forgotten how hard it is to have babies and young children.  The memories have become hazy.  They don't remember that they were that frazzled young mum thirty years ago.

Some of the best comfort I've received is from mums with children slightly older than Rory.  They remember all too well what it was like navigating the early days of parenthood.

I want to be able to genuinely relate to and empathise with my friends.  Sometimes they will be going through things beyond my experience, so all I can do is offer tea and sympathy.  But other times they will be going through issues that I have faced in the past and I want to be able to give them a hug, cry with them, and offer a reassuring voice from several steps ahead that it does get easier.

The longer I'm married, I run the risk of forgetting what it was like to be single.  Nowadays I find myself envious of single, childless people having a coffee together, enjoying uninterrupted conversation.  When single people express their desire for a family one day, I often want to scream, "NO!  Enjoy what you have.  You have freedom to do what you want, when you want.  You have a full night's sleep.  Nooooo!"  That's when I have to stop and remember.  Being single wasn't a walk in the park for me, and it isn't for many of my single friends.  I remember days of loneliness, sitting, hoping and wishing for a husband and children to share what I have.  I need to offer empathy, comfort and friendship to those who are single because that's what I wanted when I was in their shoes.

Now that I'm married and a mum, I want to remember the struggles I've faced with Rory and having postnatal depression.  I want to go out and help other first-time mums - hold their babies for them so they can have a shower or a sleep, cook a meal for them, clean their house, offer adult conversation because I'm so, so grateful for those people in my life who have done that for me.

Hanging onto your hurts doesn't mean hanging onto the bitterness; it enables you to reach out, relate and help your friend through it.


Monday, September 02, 2013

Quote of the Day

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
- Mother Teresa