Friday, May 30, 2014


It's me berfday!  Hip hip hooray!  I'm 31 today!

Although I've only been in my thirties for a year, I'm enjoying this stage of my life so far.  I like saying I'm 30 when people ask me my age.  I feel like I get more respect for being a thirty-something, like I'm considered more of an adult.  The twenties were amazing, but the dirty thirties also rock so far.

There is so much to look forward to this weekend.  Today, Duncan's boss is giving him a few hours off from seeding so we can go out to lunch.  It's becoming a yearly tradition.  My parents are here, then they go and Duncan's parents arrive.  I get to eat Vienetta (also a birthday tradition).  On Sunday, Rory and I are going to Perth, along with my parents and my brother to take my brother to the airport (he's going on a three-week holiday to the UK).  Then on Monday I get to catch up with a very dear friend and meet her new baby boy for the first time.

I've also decided it's bloggy break time next week.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

5 Reasons Why Facebooking is Better Than Blogging

Although I prefer blogging, Facebook definitely has its advantages, too.

1.  It's quicker and easier.  I don't have to think as much or be as articulate.  Churning out a thoughtful blog post takes more time and mental energy.
2.  You can choose your audience.  With blogging, you never really know who is reading.  You can't lurk with Facebook if the privacy settings are set to 'Friends Only'.  Sometimes I wish I could block certain people from seeing certain blog posts.
3.  You can't comment anonymously or under an alias.  Yes, there are people on Facebook who aren't using their real names, but, in general, the Facebook culture is that people sign up with their real names.  If you want to comment, you have to 'own' what you hiding behind anonymity.
4.  People comment more...despite having to use their real names.  With blogging, you know people are reading (from your stats), but it's a struggle to engage them in conversation.  Therefore, Facebook is a much better ego-booster than blogging (haha).
5.  People tend to use Facebook more consistently, allowing the conversations to flow better.  I know some people take breaks from the internet for days at a time, but with blogs, people comment then might disappear for a while and it's harder to keep the conversation going.

In what ways do you think Facebook is BETTER than blogging?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

5 Reasons Why Blogging is Better Than Facebook

1.  You can write so much more and explain what you mean in more detail, rather than having to make a quick update that may be misunderstood.
2.  You don't have to use your full name (or even your real name).
3.  You can limit your audience more.  If you want to blog without all of your acquaintances finding it and reading it, it's easier to do so - just don't tell them or advertise it on Facebook.
4.  You get to 'meet' new people.  Facebook tends to be about connecting more with people you already know.
5.  There are more customisation options.  You can 'personalise' your blog more than you can your Facebook page.

If you're a blogger who's also a Facebooker, what ways do you think blogging is BETTER than Facebook.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Pendulum: Black and White Versus Grey

I think there are two dangerous positions when it comes to being a follower of Jesus.

One is that everything is black and white.  A friend's husband once said very emphatically that everything in the Bible is black and white, and there is no such thing as 'grey areas'.  I actually do not think a lot of the things he considers black and white to be black and white at all.

The other is everything is grey.  In this postmodern age, this position seems to be the most subtle among Christians, and the most dangerous.  Suddenly nothing can be seen as absolutely true, only what is true for you (which may not be true for someone else).  Everything in the Bible is evaluated by personal experience, and clear commands are altered to fit our 'experiences'.  We start talking about 'faith lenses'.  Yes, how we come to the Bible is influenced a lot by our background, but that does not mean our background and experiences are a litmus test for what is true.

While there are some very clear commands in the Bible, I think it's fair to say that when it comes to application, there are a lot of dilemmas and grey areas.  Just when you think something couldn't be easier to apply, along comes a situation which makes you really think about how to be faithful to Jesus in that particular circumstance.

Of course, the logical question is which issues are black and white and which are grey?  I don't want to get into unnecessary debates here.

All I want to say is that it's easier to be either legalistic or lawless, rather than adopt a response to different life situations which is shaped by grace.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The How and Why of Love

I've started to take a real interest in Christian ethics recently.  It began last year when a GP I see sometimes in Albany asked me about family planning.  I used to take the Pill with little thought until I was advised against it by another doctor due to the fact that my family history of stroke makes it a risk.  I've heard other Christians say the Pill causes abortions, but I dismissed this argument with little thought, assuming they were the 'no contraception/you need to let God determine the number of children you will have' types (meaning they are advocating having as many children as the Duggars, and as if God doesn't determine your family size anyway, regardless of whether you use contraception).  But it wasn't until I asked the GP whether the Pill prevents conception or implantation, that I was shocked.  She said there is no guarantee that the Pill will prevent conception, but it reduces the lining of the uterus so that the embryo has nowhere to implant, and will inevitably die.

As a Christian who believes that life begins at conception, this threw up huge dilemmas for me.  I was so blase about using contraception before.  I think many Christian women take the Pill not knowing what it truly does.

That was what prompted me to read this book.  Along with the contraception question, I had many other queries such as, Can a divorced Christian remarry? and Should a pregnant woman have an abortion if her life is at risk?  These questions are addressed in this book, but first Michael Hill seeks to teach a framework of ethics, rather than jump ahead to specific questions.  I found myself impatiently reading the first section on how ethics are developed when I really wanted my questions answered.  But it is vitally important to understand the ideas and concepts used in ethics before we can start applying them to specific circumstances.

One thing Hill tries to get the reader to understand is the difference between morals and ethics.  Often these two terms are used interchangeably, but they mean different things. 

Ethics is the study of morality (page 16).

Ethics also have three distinct aspects:

Descriptive ethics - identifying the moral rules and standards that people adopt.
Normative ethics - locating moral standards that we can operate on and live by, trying to analyse moral standards to see if they are right and true.  Many people obey the moral commands in the Bible, but they do not try to see the reason behind the command.  Ethics is more than obeying rules.
Meta-ethics - the questions raised by the very analysis of morality itself i.e. what is moral value?

With this in mind, the second part of the book was enormously helpful in getting me to think about how I react as a Christian to the issues in the world today.  Rarely are issues always black and white and sometimes a 'retrieval ethic' is necessary.  This means we live in the age between Jesus' ascension and return and we cannot apply our ethics perfectly in situations where there are people who don't submit to Jesus' lordship.  Therefore, in such cases we ought to show love and do good.  An example of this would be in supporting our government's recognition of defacto couples with children as having the right to receive the same financial benefits as married couples.  This is NOT because Christians see marriage and defacto as the same - marriage is marriage and defacto is defacto.  It is because our retrieval ethic of doing good and showing love means that we don't want the children of defacto couples to suffer because they are being denied financial assistance.

The first part of the book can be quite heavy going, but it is essential to read it first to understand how ethics are formed.  Many Christians grow up believing that abortion, murder, divorce etc is wrong, but have no idea WHY they believe this to be the case.  This book takes us right back to Genesis and creation, investigating the framework of God's world and how He designed it to work.  Only then can we examine issues such as sex and marriage, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, euthanasia and abortion. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Love Child

Season 1 is over, but when it returns, you must watch this show!

Love Child is an Australian drama set in Sydney in 1969.  It centres around a 'home for unwed mothers' next to a hospital, and explores the issues involved with adoption during this era.  Young, unmarried mothers were expected to 'hide away' for the duration of their pregnancy, give up their child for adoption, and then return to their old lives as if nothing had ever happened.  The main character is Joan, a feisty, young midwife who challenges the injustice of the system.

Now that I'm a mother, I felt quite emotional watching this show.  Giving up Rory would break my heart, I can only imagine what some mothers must have gone through.

Friday, May 16, 2014

I Love My Church

It's so easy to be critical of churches sometimes, to focus on the things they're doing wrong as God's people, rather than the myriad of things they're doing RIGHT.

I just want to give a huge shout out to my church.

I'm thankful that they have a right and biblical view of children. I'm thankful that they haven't bombarded us with parenting 'advice' and criticism. I'm thankful that they are a church who welcomes babies and children. It's lovely to see the older folk say hello to Rory each week and see him smile and chatter back in return. I'm so glad that no-one seems bothered by the noises babies and small children inevitably make. In fact, one bloke approached me after a service and told me not to worry about Rory's loud and happy screeches bothering anyone - they love hearing the sounds of children because it's the next generation coming to church, the next generation who they hope will grow to love and serve Christ and be the next leaders.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not advocating children running amok during the service. We try to get Rory to sit still and look at books or play quietly with toys. If children are upset or having tantrums, parents take them to the cry room to help them settle so everyone else can still hear. But my church is such a gracious group of people. They don't mind prams being in the way. They seem to remember what it was like to be a parent of young children. There's no 'children should be seen and not heard' attitude, no disapproving frowns if Rory makes a noise, only love and acceptance. They know we are not raising an unruly brat, they know we are doing our best to be considerate of them, too.

I wonder if many young adults today have been turned off church because they grew up associating it as a place of disapproval and punishment. I think many churches are dying because they are full of old people who think any baby who dares make a noise in church is a 'bad baby' attitude which makes my blood boil. What young parents would want to come to a place like that?

Thank you God for my church. Thank you that they are a people who welcome little children as Jesus does.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Difficult Mothers

With Mother's Day just been and gone in Australia for another year, I thought this was an appropriate time to review this book.

I bought it online when Rory was just a few weeks old and I was in the midst of conflict with my own mum.  Having a child of your own kind of brings back difficult memories and magnifies present tensions.  This book contains very sensitive subject matter.  Not all of us are mothers, but all of us HAVE (or had) a mother.  It is as relevant to men with difficult mothers as much as women.  How we were mothered can affect our mothering.

Now that I'm a mother, I find the title of this book as daunting as it is intriguing.  Mothers are subject to enough criticism as it is.  The last thing they need is to be psychoanalysed and blamed for their offspring's every misdemeanour.  I would hate to find this book on Rory's bookshelf one day.  I'm far from perfect, but I don't want to be labelled 'difficult'.  For this reason, I'm giving this book away because I don't want my mum to see it in my possession.  Our relationship may not always be harmonious, but to see that book on my shelf would be hurtful to her.

I guess the logical question to ask is: what classes a mother as 'difficult'?  How difficult is difficult?  The book groups difficult mothers into the following categories:

The Angry Mother
The Controlling Mother
The Narcissistic Mother
The Envious Mother
The Emotionally Unavailable Mother

After reading this book I was relieved that although my mum displays some of these traits (except envious) and we have our differences, she is definitely not 'difficult'.  Our main issues stem from the fact we think very differently on many issues and my mum takes my disagreeing with her as a rejection of her parenting, when it's really the fact that we're just very different people.  I remember a huge argument when I was in high school; she wanted me to be a teacher and was so angry when I told her I didn't want to be one.  She wanted to be a teacher and never got to be one, so it felt like she was projecting her unfulfilled dreams onto me.  Then, of course, she doesn't really like the fact that I'm a Christian when the rest of my family isn't and that I don't vote Liberal when she has always voted Liberal.  There are some appalling mothers out there and it's no wonder some people have problems and then pass them on their children, and so the cycle of emotional and physical abuse continues.  This book is very much about educating yourself and being aware (there is a section called 'Am I a Difficult Mother?')  It's made me very aware what kind of mother I DON'T want to be.

Although this book is enlightening, there was one bit which left a bad taste in my mouth.  It was about depressed mothers and the effect that growing up with a depressed mother can have on a child.  I already wonder/worry what effect my PND could have on Rory or any future children, and I felt this section was rubbing guilt into still fresh wounds.

This is a book for anyone who's had a 'difficult' mother or even a strained relationship with their mother.  Even if you've had a great relationship with your mother, it's still good to realise what others go through.

If anyone would like to borrow/keep this book, let me know via the comments section and I'll arrange to get it to you.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mouse House

The last couple of days have been spent waging war on a plague of the little critters....or maybe I keep seeing the same mouse....who knows anymore!  Nope I definitely saw two of them running around our bedroom.

Yesterday I woke to find mouse poo near my pillow. They must have been running around near my head while I slept....yuck!  After that Operation Clean Bedroom was underway. I'd been putting it off for months, but suddenly it rocketed to the top of the priority list.  They'd got into our wardrobe and eaten my wheat bags...not exactly what I wanted to be cleaning up at 10pm when my bed was calling.

Tonight it was the kitchen cupboards which needed cleaning. 

Rightio rodents, it's war! Yes, I know a small brown mouse...a truly dangerous animal. The traps have been set, but they licked the peanut butter right off them. Tonight we will hopefully find out if they prefer almonds.

I wish Ebony was here! No mouse would dare run brazenly around our room when she was asleep on the bed. She might have been a hopeless hunting puss, but her presence was a good deterrent.

Maybe I should thank the mice for motivating me to clean my house.

Friday, May 09, 2014

For The Mums

Amidst all the 'mummy wars', the criticism and running commentary on your life when you become a mum, let's all remember this this Mother's Day and celebrate our diversity:

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Hitting the Stage

I'm finally getting to do something I haven't done in over 10 in a play!

The last time I was in a play was when I played a black cat in a pantomime while at uni.

December 2003

I auditioned for a local theatre production (everyone who auditions gets a part) and I'm now going to weekly rehearsals.  The play is a murder mystery farce.  It's tough rehearsing in the middle of seeding, and I'm so grateful to my parents who come up to take care of Rory since Duncan is working long hours.  It's just something I have to do at this stage of my life when I only have one child.  I've missed the buzz of theatre terribly over the past decade.

Then this morning I got an email from the director saying we are no longer going to be doing this play.  Licensing issues, plus two cast members pulling out meant we would be struggling to be ready to go by late June, which was the plan.  So, now we're going to be doing a different play and performing it in mid August.

There you have it, the crazy world of theatre.  As the old saying goes, the show must go on.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Do Chooks Grieve?

While I'm on the topic of death....

I was just thinking recently how good it has been having this bunch of chooks together for a while now, and that it was a while since I had lost a hen. Then, on Saturday afternoon, I went to feed the chooks and found one of my girls lying dead in front of the wheat and water buckets.

What's worse is that I'm not entirely sure which one it was. When we got them, they were wearing coloured bands around their ankles (I'm presuming the bands indicated which batch they were from). But when Eggnog's band started cutting into her leg, Duncan took them all off. Now, since many if them look alike I'm not exactly sure who's who.

I think it was Rose.

Duncan was working and the other chooks were looking a bit disturbed at the fact they couldn't get to their food and water.  So, I put on my thick gardening gloves and got rid of the body, far from the house so the dogs couldn't dig her up. Seeing my pets dead kind of freaks me out, so I was proud of myself that I could at least remove the body.  My poor girl. :(

The strange thing was that Rose's head was completely buried in dirt. The other chooks obviously did it, but why, I don't know. Is it some kind of chook grieving thing? When Russell Crowe died they did the same thing. Bizarre!

Meanwhile, Princess Layer - my sole surviving hen from Buntine - soldiers on.

I'm down to seven girls now. RIP Rose.

Friday, May 02, 2014

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

I think it was Easter which prompted me to read this book.  I bought it after Meredith reviewed it and it's a topic I feel needs to be addressed more in Christian circles...or at least addressed properly.

Sometimes I feel like I have a different perspective on death to everyone else.  Sometimes it feels like I'm the only one championing for the rights of the bereaved to grieve the loss of loved ones, while everyone else tells them to 'think positive' and wants funerals to be happy clappy celebrations.  I say someone 'died' while everyone else says 'passed away' as if that somehow reduces the awfulness of death.  The worst thing is that if I voice these opinions, I get labelled 'morbid'.

This collection of writings, edited by Nancy Guthrie, was both a comfort and a challenge to me.  It was good to know that there are prominent Christian pastors and writers, both past and present, who have not shied away from addressing the topic of death.  From Charles Spurgeon to Tim Keller, J.I. Packer to Joni Eareckson Tada, R.C. Sproul to Martin Luther, these are timeless sermons and writings brought together in one very short, readable book.

Here are the main points of what I took away from this book:
  • Christians need a new view of death.  Often we live as if this world is all there is, instead of using our time on earth to prepare for eternity.  We see it as a tragedy if someone has died young because they've 'missed out'.  Missed out on what?  If a person is in Christ, then death is not a tragedy because to live is Christ and to die is gain.
  • But death is not our friend.  Death was not meant to be a part of this world.  It only came into the world because of sin and it will not exist in the renewed creation.  We should not see death as 'good', death is awful and it causes breaks in relationships, even if that separation is temporary.
  • Death is not 'natural'.  We need not fear death because it's 'natural', but because Jesus defeated it.
  • We need to prepare to 'die well'.  Like we need to learn to 'suffer well', we need our witness to others extend into how we die.
  • Death should not be a taboo topic in church.  We don't need to lighten it up and just concentrate on the fact that the person is with Jesus.  We need to mourn with those who mourn.  If we talked about death more, we would fear it much less.  I'm often afraid of the process of dying rather than where I'm going.  I often fear dying a slow, painful death and it's in times like these that I need to stop dwelling on that fear and trust God.
  • Our hope is in Christ and being with Him for eternity.  People say Christianity shouldn't be about 'pie in the sky when you die', but it kind of is.  Because we KNOW this world is not all there is.  Last year I had a conversation with a fellow Christian when I was still very depressed.  I explained that having depression had caused me to put my hope more firmly in Christ and His promises.  I told them all my hope was pinned on being with Him one day.  This person asked me if I had any hope that life could be good right here and now.  In return, I asked them about Christians being persecuted for their faith overseas - their hope is not that life in this present world will be 'awesome', but that they trust in Christ's death and resurrection, and will one day things will be put right.  This person then thought long and hard about it.
  • Which brings me onto my next point....suffering prepares our hearts for eternity.  I did not have to think about death when things were going well, I was just cruising along quite happily.  Likewise, Joni Eareckson Tada writes that she didn't think about eternity as a happy, carefree 17-year-old...until she broke her neck in a diving accident and ended up a quadriplegic.
Some of the chapters are easier to read than others.  Those that were written centuries ago are in more 'old English' and I found them a bit more difficult, although I could still get the gist of what they were talking about.

A must read...

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Quote of the Day

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope."
Paul is not saying that since you have hope you won't grieve.  He's not suggesting you should be somewhere between hope and grief.  He's suggesting an extreme balance.  He's saying, "I want you to grieve, but not hopelessly.  I want you to have hopeful grief."
First, he says, Christians grieve.  The Bible doesn't suggest to us a stoic approach to death.  The most remarkable example of grief in the face of death is Jesus Himself at the tomb of Lazarus.  Jesus didn't at all take the Victorian approach of keeping a stiff upper lip.....
.....Here is the balance Paul is suggesting - take your anger and grief and rub hope into it, the way people used to rub salt into meat to keep it from going bad.  Rub hope deep into your grief and it will make you wise.
- Tim Keller in the book O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, edited by Nancy Guthrie (pages 87-88)