Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: The Year That Was

I thought it was right to end the year with a 'pondering' post...

2014 reminded me strongly of 2011.  The craziness of 2010 with my Nan's illness (and death in early 2011), the move, and plenty of other stresses kind of melted into a 2011 which was really a 'year of recovery'.  It was a year of finding our feet in a new place after so much turmoil the year before.  2014 was much the same.  After a 2013 which was the worst year of my life, I was grateful for more stability, predictability and steady plodding this year.

So many people tried to scare me with stories about the horrors of having a toddler.  Well, I'd just like to say that having a child who can walk brought me so much joy this year.  Do you know how much easier it is to get around NOT having to carry the child, plus half of the house to go the shops?  He can walk to the car and even carry some of his own things.  Hooray!  He can enjoy the park, the beach, the town pool, and the farm much more because he can walk.  And I enjoy NOT having to soak his pants for days because he's been crawling through the dirt.  It has been a great year watching my bubba grow into a little boy.  He loves 'helping' and we've got into much more of a steady routine.  He likes knowing what's going to happen next, but he's also flexible (much like me).  While there have been tantrums (oh, the tantrums), he's become increasingly fussy and suspicious when it comes to food (which has been frustrating), on the whole, looking after him has become much easier.

One of the highlights for me this year was a return to the stage after more than 10 years.  Being a part of two plays and receiving such great feedback has been incredible.

There have been sadnesses and struggles.  Rory's allergy diagnosis and having to rehome Ebony brought me such grief.  While I have questioned myself whether it was right to mourn the absence of a pet so much, I still feel like I'm far from over it.

I've been suffering from consistent fatigue for much of this year.  It all started in February when I was weaning Rory - my weight went haywire, my arthritis returned with a vengeance (and then went into remission again).  There are days when I REALLY struggle to get out of bed and crash as soon as Rory naps.  I still don't know how I managed to do the plays, it must have been LOTS of caffeine, family support and afternoon naps.  At times, I was in despair about the house because cleaning was the last thing I felt like doing.  In the past month we've had the incredible blessing of the provision of a cleaner to help me out (she also cleans for two of the other ladies on the farm).  2015 will involve further investigation into what is causing this tiredness.  I'm still in a quandary about whether to persist with doctors or naturopaths as neither have really helped much.

To all readers of this blog, I wish you more than a happy new year.  I want more than happiness for you.  I want you to know the true and living God, who is the only solid rock.

Right, I'm going to have a nap now if I'm going to have any chance of staying up until midnight.

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Very Martha Christmas

I try to avoid reading blog posts or articles about how we should be Marys at Christmastime, and not Marthas.  You know, the ones that say how important it is to stop rushing around DOING things and spend time sitting at Jesus' feet, just listening, reading your Bible, praying.

It was our turn to host Christmas this year, so 'Mary time' was always going to be scant.  I thought I was organised this year but, sadly, I was not.  There was plenty of last-minute rushing around - presents I'd forgotten, presents I wanted but couldn't find locally, food that needed to be prepared...  I put up the tree, sent Christmas cards and newsletters to my extended family and family friends (all non-Christians), bought presents, spring-cleaned the house (partly), baked cookies to give as presents, posted care packages to missionaries on behalf of my church...  Not surprisingly I was hit with terrible fatigue just before Christmas.  I cried when I had to get out of bed.  Even caffeine wasn't cutting it.  I started to loathe Christmas and all it has become.  We were invited to a Christmas Eve party at Duncan's boss's house, but when my chocolate mousse turned out to be a disaster, I was completely and thoroughly over it.  I didn't go the party; Duncan took Rory and I went to bed and cried myself to sleep.  I WANT to be Mary, sitting at Jesus' feet, feeling wonderfully spiritually edified.  Yet, I always fall into the Martha trap.

Then I read this article, When God Gives You an Overcrowded Christmas on the Desiring God blog which Meredith shared on Facebook!  Thank you Meredith!  This gave me so much perspective on why I do what I do at Christmastime.  While some was probably done from wrong motives (not wanting people to think less of me for having a messy house or not enough food, not wanting people to think I'm depriving Rory somehow for not having a tree, presents and taking him to Christmas parties), I spend time buying Matthias Media Christmas cards and sending them to my non-Christian relatives because I want to point them towards Jesus.  I want to have people at my house because I don't want them to spend Christmas alone (our friends who came don't have many family members in Australia).  I posted the care packages because I want missionaries spending Christmas in countries where it is not celebrated to know that they are loved and remembered at this time.

I might be exhausted...but it was not in vain.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Passing Down the Christmas Stocking

My uncle's (now ex) partner made me this beautiful Christmas stocking 26 years ago (I was five years old at the time).  She made one for my brother, too:

Now, I've decided to pass it on to Rory.  Hopefully he'll get as much love out of it being stuffed full of goodies on Christmas morning as I did.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Thank you for reading along here in 2014.

I thought it was pretty cool to see this shopfront in our town.
Remember the real reason for the season!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why We Don't Do Santa

Duncan and I decided a while ago that we wouldn't try to convince Rory (and any other children we might have) to believe in Santa.  Duncan was raised in a Christian home where the focus was on Jesus being the reason for the season.  I was raised in a secular home and believed in Santa until I was about nine, I think.  My parents encouraged belief in Santa (and the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy) and it did make my childhood quite exciting and magical.

So, why don't I want Rory to believe in Santa?

Well, let's just say that I don't think Santa is this huge issue which Christians should fight against.  He's not the reason for Christmas, but I don't want to be known as anti-Santa.  I just don't want him to be the centre of Christmas.  I'm quite happy for Rory to put out food for Santa, sit on his knee at Christmas parties, and have a Christmas stocking.  I love Harry Potter, but I don't think it's real.  You can enjoy the fantasy behind something without being deluded by it.  I fully intend to tell Rory that, although we don't do Santa in our family, it doesn't give him the right to ruin other children's fun or laugh at them.  We can disagree, but still be gentle and respectful.

The ladies over at the GirlTalk blog put it so well:
First of all, it is helpful to remember that belief in Santa isn’t a major theological front on which we mothers must fight. The well-meaning people who ask our children “What is Santa going to bring you?” aren’t questioning the deity of Christ or the authority of God’s Word. They might be perpetuating the myth of Santa, but the essential truths of the gospel are not at stake in these conversations with strangers (or friends). And the motives of these individuals are generally an expression of kindness to you and your children. 

The post where this quote comes from is fantastic in helping Christian families who don't 'do Santa' relate to those who do.  I can see this becoming quite an issue as Rory gets older since all the kids we go to playgroup with (who will also be the ones he goes to school with) all come from families where Santa is the focus of Christmas.  It's almost seen as child abuse by some non-Christians to not encourage belief in Santa, as if you're ruining their childhood.  I can also see this becoming an issue with my parents.

So, why don't we do Santa in our family?
  •  Christmas is about Christ, not Santa.  Jesus is real, Santa is not.
  • I don't want to lie to my kids.  The world may see it as a 'white lie', but a lie is still a lie.
  • Santa only brings gifts to kids who've been good.  Jesus IS the greatest gift of all, and His gift of salvation cannot be earned by being 'good'.
  • Santa is unfair.  He brings better presents to wealthier kids and nothing much to poorer kids.  How do you explain that?  How do you explain to your child why Santa brought their friend an iPad and them a colouring book and stickers?
  • I don't want some old guy who doesn't exist to take credit for the presents Duncan and I give (haha).
Pretty happy with his present at the daycare Christmas party

This was at our tennis club's Christmas party.
Rory doesn't like beards, so Santa was NOT a hit.

 If you're a Christian parent, how do your deal with the issue of Santa?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Funny

So funny.....and appropriate for Christmas.

My poultry are so blessed living here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Year of Farewelling Pets

A few weeks ago, I received some very sad news.  A friend of mine from Albany saw Ebony listed on a Facebook buy, swap and sell page.  The bloke who I gave her to was trying to rehome her due to being too busy and her not getting along with his farm dogs.

I was devastated to say the least.  I just wanted her back.  I worried about what the impact of going to yet another home would be on her.

A few days later I received a call from a lady who had adopted Ebony.  She wanted to know if Ebony's microchip was still registered in my name or the guy I'd given her to.  She sounded lovely and said Ebony has settled in well with her family in a town an hour south of us.  Her three boys are doting on her and she is lapping it up.  This put my mind at ease somewhat.

But I still miss her terribly.  This will be my first Christmas without her in many years.

This has been a horrible year, as far as my pets are concerned.  Another hen, Shelley, passed away last night.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Boo, Boo, Boo

That's the noise Rory makes whenever I mention the chooks or we visit them.  He's trying to say, "Book, book, book" Hehehe.

He's just like his mum and late Great Nan...he loves chooks!  He loves going into the chook pen and being surrounded by chooks, they don't scare him in the least.  He even tried to catch Solomon once.  Solomon wasn't having any of that!

So proud of his fowls.

It's more crowded around the self feeder now.

Rory's favourite hen is Sheba.  I told him, "That's Sheba," and now, whenever he sees her, he shouts, "BAAA."  I'm not sure if he misheard me and thought I said 'sheep' and now thinks she's a sheep, not a chook.  Perhaps the poor chap is confused.  Or maybe he's just emphasising the 'ba' at the end of her name.

Friday, December 12, 2014

We Have a Winner, Folks!

The random number generator thingy has chosen....

Karen from Life Actually

Congratulations Karen!  Could you please leave a comment with your postal address and choice of book (the comment won't be published).  Due to Christmas being so close, it may take a while for the book to arrive.

Thank you to everyone who entered. 

Now, I asked what 'Christian issue' has most interested readers if this blog lately.  Here are the anonymous responses.  It was interesting that no-one seems to have any pet issues at the moment:

Well, I'm not one for really getting caught up in issues so I don't often go looking for books on particular issues. The best book I've read in last 12 months is Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. Highly recommended. Her account of becoming a Christian and leaving behind life as a lesbian. Most convicting is the wonderful way her church family loved her as she explored, questioned and grew. A challenge for all of us to love the way Jesus did. 

My reading this last six months has been very sparse, mainly books to keep up with Bible study preparation. So obviously "A Gospel Pageant" by Allan Chapple has been big on my agenda and more recently a couple of books on the minor prophets.
And now in December you will find me dipping once again into "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus" edited by dear Nancy Guthrie.
So not issues as such - more study preparation and now Christmas preparation.

My Christian book reading lately has been pretty limited really. Our church encouraged us to read a book, and then discuss it in small groups with the plan of giving it away to a non Christian friend, so I read a book called "Stepping Out in Faith" by Mark Gilbert. It's a book about former Catholics sharing how they came to know the Gospel in their lives. Hoping to pass that one on to a Catholic friend of mine.
I have also started reading "Good News for Weary Women" by Elyse Fitzpatrick. The title sounds terrible, but weariness is probably an apt description of the state of my life at present! It's been a good reminder that we don't need to place unrealistic expectations on ourselves because we already have everything we need in the Gospel.
So I guess maybe the theme of my reading lately has been that the Gospel is all that we need!

My plans for next year are to read some Christian biographies (The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert is actually at the top of my list).

Thursday, December 11, 2014

24 Hours To Go enter my competition!

You could win a Christian book by simply telling me which Christian issues most interest you at the moment, and which books you've already read on the topic.

Your comments will not be published and will remain anonymous.  I will publish a list of responses, but will not mention who said what.

Details here.

I will draw the winner randomly tomorrow at 5pm (West Australian time).

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Don't Forget to Enter My Competition

Three days to go....

You could win a Christian book by simply telling me which Christian issues most interest you at the moment, and which books you've already read on the topic.

Details here.

Hurry!  You know you want to...

Friday, December 05, 2014

Sedshed Christian Book Giveaway

Maybe this will liven things up a bit....

It's been over a year and a half since I did one of these.  It's almost Christmas.  It's time!

Here's the choice of books with links to my reviews:

Battlefield of the Mind

Why We Love the Church

This Little Church Stayed Home


God's Good Design

Why Trust the Bible?

The Postpartum Survival Guide

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

The How and Why of Love


 Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Islam in our Backyard

Living with the Underworld

What's the catch?  All you have to do is tell me which 'Christian issue' you're most interested in at the moment and what books you've read on that topic.  I tend to get thinking about a particular topic and then read Christian books on that topic.  What's your topic of interest lately?  Is it baptism, the Lord's Supper/communion, evangelism/mission, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, the cross, spiritual gifts, how to do church, church music, end times, creation vs. theistic evolution, prayer, Christian views on parenting, education..etc. etc?

An issue that has really interested me is ethics and this year I read The How and Why of Love and Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (both on the list below).

All you have to do is leave a comment letting me know of your favourite topic lately and which books you've read on that topic (and if you recommend them or not).

No comments will be published.  When I announce the winner, I will also compile an anonymous list of responses, but no names will be included.

This giveaway is open to everyone - bloggers and non-bloggers, Christians and non-Christians, from anywhere in the world.

You have until 5pm next Friday 12th December (West Australian time).  The winner will be drawn randomly.

If you're not much of a reader, why not try to win a book for a friend?

GO! :)

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Wake Up Blogosphere!

It's waaay too quiet out there.

There are very few bloggers blogging, and even less people commenting.  Page hits are way down.

Maybe this would be a good way to liven things up a bit.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Solomon's New Wives

Poor Solomon the rooster was well on his way to becoming a widower this year, losing four wives in as many months - Rose, Clementine, Eggnog, then Florentine.

We've arrested the slide by acquiring him four new fit, young wives/concubines.  Duncan's parents kindly gave them to us, and brought them over when they visited a couple of weeks ago.


Marilyn (White Leghorn crossed with other breeds) is after Marilyn Monroe since she's blonde.
Sheba (Australorp crossed with a Light Sussex) is after the Queen of Sheba, since she visited King Solomon.
Dixie (Light Sussex) is after the Dixie Chicks.
Esme (Light Sussex crossed with other breeds) is after Esme Watson from A Country Practice since chooks are such busybodies.

The arrival of the new girls has caused a flutter in Cluckingham Palace.  The old girls - Omelette, Shelley, Gloria and Princess Layer - have let the newcomers know exactly where they sit in the pecking order.  But the newbies will not lay down without a fight - it didn't take long for Gloria and Sheba to start going at it, rising off the ground with a flapping of wings and squawking loudly.  Meanwhile, Solomon greeted his new wives with a strange little rooster dance.

Now we have the old girls laying and the new girls laying.

Anyone want eggs?

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Shocking Death of Phillip Hughes

Like most people, the death of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes last Thursday shocked and saddened me.

If you're not familiar with what happened, here's the story.

I've been trying to figure out why I found it distressing.  I'm not a cricket fan.  I don't know him personally.

Was it because he was young?
But young people die every day.

Was it because he was famous and talented?
But so many celebrities have passed on.

Was it because it was sudden?
Sort of, but people die suddenly every day.

I think it was because it was so random.  It hasn't really happened before in cricket, at least not that we've heard of here.

I think it's a stark reminder that you can be here today, gone tomorrow.  You don't have to be doing something stupid or dangerous to lose your life.  You can be cautious, be in the best health, be doing what you love....and you still can't cheat death.

Praying for Hughes' family, friends and teammates, for Sean Abbott who bowled the ball, and for everyone who has been touched by this tragedy.

Praying that they will look to the Author of Life......Jesus.

Image from here.

Monday, December 01, 2014

The Christmas Tree Isssss Uuuupppp

I waited until the 1st December, like a good girl.

The playpen is necessary in this stage of life.