Monday, June 26, 2017

The Shack

When I first finished it, I honestly don't know what to make of this book.

Like no other Christian fiction book I've ever read (although I haven't read many), it's interesting, but not the amazing work so many Christians rave about.  I've had friends say it's the first book they'd recommend to non-Christian friends wanting to find out more about Jesus, particularly if their objections to Christianity centre on the issue of why God allows suffering.  Personally, there are many other books on Christianity and suffering I'd recommend before this one.

The Shack tells the story of a man called Mack whose youngest daughter, Missy, is abducted and brutally murdered.  Mack has had some experience with church etc., but was largely doing his own thing, while being consumed with his grief, when he receives a note, supposedly from God.  The note told him to go to the shack in the middle of the wilderness where some of Missy's belongings had been found stained with blood and God would meet him there.

One of the things that I felt most uncomfortable about was how God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were portrayed.  God is represented as a jovial African-American woman called Papa, Jesus is a carpenter (which is the truest to Scripture out of the three), and the Holy Spirit is an Asian woman called Sarayu.  The issue I have with these representations of the Trinity is that not once in the Bible are they described in this way.  Why is God depicted as a woman?  Is it to make a particular point?  To be controversial?  It's easy to say that it's just fiction and it doesn't matter, and that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe portrays God as Aslan the lion, so what's the difference?  But the difference is that Scripture does describe God as like a lion (and many other things).

I think the book does a reasonable job of portraying the close relationship between the three beings of the Trinity.  The three in one concept is not easy for any human mind to grasp, but it does display the distinctiveness, yet the unity of Father, Son and Spirit quite well.

While the book is sad, given the deep pain Mack is dealing with, I didn't find myself feeling overly emotional while reading it.  Some people have told me they were moved to tears.  Maybe I am just an unfeeling sort of person, or maybe it was because I was focused on analysing it for its biblical faithfulness and theology.

I think the main flaw of the book is that it focuses on Jesus coming to end our pain, rather than Him coming to save us from our sin.  We are not innocent victims of sin, we ALL are sinners in need of a Saviour.  Our suffering may not be the direct result of our own sin or someone else's, but the state of the world is a result of all of us having turned away from God to rule our own lives.  The book does address Mack's own need for a Saviour towards the end and his need to forgive the man who murdered his daughter, but it should have been a more central theme as that is the gospel - a God, who came to earth Himself to die and rise again to reconcile us to Himself.

It's not enough to just say that The Shack is fiction and it is not intended to replace or sit alongside Scripture.  That may be true, but the writers of Christian fiction have a responsibility to ensure their theology is grounded in Scripture.  The Shack is enormously popular and now there is a movie version.  As I intend to write Christian fiction, I would hope that people would be wise and discerning in reading my stuff, not just swallow it blindly because it's what their itching ears want to hear.  I think The Shack shows the intimacy of the relationship with God we all crave and it is by no means evil.  It's not my book of choice.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

5 Men's Fashions I Don't Like

I've done the sheilas...now it's the blokes' turn.

1.  Man buns
There are no words.  I can't believe there is a new Ken with a man bun now.


Image from here
Image from here

2.  Biker/bushranger beards

 Sorry, Will.  The beard needs to go.

Image from here

3.  Tattoo sleeves

I like a man to actually have some visible skin.

Image from here

4.  Tight pants

I'm not a fan of the metrosexual look.

Image from here

5.  Ear plugs

Why would anyone want a gaping hole in their ear?

Image from here



Monday, June 19, 2017

Limping Through The Blogosphere

I've heard/read a number of bloggers, who are mums, say that they found it much easier to blog when they had babies and toddlers, rather than older, school-age children.  Their blogging patterns seemed to reflect that - long, thoughtful posts every day, or at least several times a week. Well, now I'm in that phase of life, I'm wondering in awe how they did it?  How can they churn out magnificent posts with small children crawling over them?  How they can concentrate amidst the fighting, screaming and whining?  Wouldn't blogging be easier when all of their children are in full-time school?  That phase of life seems tantalising to me at the moment.  At least six hours, five days a week would be oodles of time to write something marvellous.  And in peace and quiet, too!  That doesn't seem to be the case, however, for many of these mum bloggers.  Sadly, many of the blogs I once looked forward to reading with such anticipation are now no more, or sporadic at best.  The tumbleweeds are a blowin'.

I'm guessing that many of them have returned to work, or have filled their child-free time with other activities.  Coupled with busy evenings when the children return and there is little time for blogging.  What smidgen of time is left for social media is taken by Facebook.

In case you haven't noticed, my blog is dying a slow and painful death.  Not only am I running out of ideas for posts, I have precious little time to write them when I do have a bloggy brainwave.  Keeping the blog chugging along was fairly easy with one child, but I am much too drained with two.  I don't want to stop, but I'm struggling, and there are precious little readers left anyway.

Today is my blog's 11th birthday!  Usually, I'd give the blog a new birthday outfit, but this year it can stay in the same clothes.

In previous years, I'd announce this blog's birthday with pomp and blare, but it's a quiet celebration here this year.

I'm going to keep going.  I'd love to write more....and I will....one day.

HAPPY 11TH BIRTHDAY, THIS IS WHAT SED SAID!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday Funny

1.  Two blondes walk into a building...you'd think at least one of them would have seen it.

2.  Phone answering machine message: If you want to buy marijuana, press the hash key.

3.  A guy walks into a psychiatrist's office wearing only cling wrap for shorts.  The shrink says, "Well, I can clearly see you're nuts."

4.  My friend drowned in a bowl of muesli.  A strong currant pulled him in.

5.  A man goes to the doctor with a strawberry growing out of his head.  The doctor said, "I'll give you some cream to put on that."

6.  You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving the other day.  They left a little note on the windscreen.  It said, 'Parking Fine'.  So, that was nice.

7.  A man walked into the doctor's.  He said, "I've hurt my arm in several places. 
The doctor said, "Well, don't go there anymore."


Monday, June 05, 2017

Just Another Day

I turned 34 last Tuesday, the 30th May.  It was a nice day, but an ordinary one.

Birthdays tend to lose their magic as you get older.

This year, my present is surgery to correct abdominal diastasis.  I'm booked in for that on the 14th July.  More on that later.

Seeding is still dragging on.

Bible study was cancelled, so I spent the day just with Flynn.  Rory was at kindy.  Flynn and I went for a walk with the dogs, we had lunch and a nap, then we picked Rory up from the bus.

Duncan managed to get home from work a bit earlier and we headed into town for takeaway.  Of course there was Viennetta, as per my annual tradition.  I think I'll change the tradition next year though, as it just didn't seem to taste as good as usual.  Time for something different.

Another year, another birthday.  Just an ordinary day.

One of my more spectacular birthdays.
My belated 30th birthday party in 2013.

Friday, May 26, 2017

How Many of These 250 Movies Have You Seen?

I got this off Facebook. The ones I've seen are in bold.

Vertigo
Memento
Rear Window
Laura
The Third Man
The Maltese Falcon
North By Northwest
Blue Velvet
Dial M For Murder
The Usual Suspects
Wall-E
Forrest Gump
Amelie
The Notebook
While You Were Sleeping
When Harry Met Sally
Casablanca
Notting Hill
Pretty Woman
Sleepless in Seattle
Lawrence of Arabia
Ben-Hur
Schindler's List
Gone With the Wind
Spartacus
Titanic
All Quiet on the Western Front
Saving Private Ryan
Reds
The Ten Commandments
To Kill a Mockingbird
12 Angry Men
Kramer vs. Kramer
The Verdict
A Few Good Men
Witness For the Prosecution
Anatomy of a Murder
In Cold Blood
A Cry in the Dark
Judgment at Nuremberg
The Big Blue
Rocky
Kingpin
Hoosiers
Bull Durham
Baseketball
Remember the Titans
Raging Bull
Chariots of Fire
Jerry MaguireClose Encounters of the Third Kind
Star Trek
E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial
A Clockwork Orange
The Matrix
Blade Runner
Alien
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Back to the Future
The Searchers
High Noon
Shane
Unforgiven
Red River
Brokeback Mountain
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Shanghai Noon
Stagecoach
3:10 To Yuma
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Pinnochio
Bambi
The Lion King
Fantasia
Toy Story
Beauty and the Beast
Shrek
Cinderella
Finding Nemo
The Wizard of Oz
Howl's Moving Castle
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
King Kong
Miracle on 34th Street
Field of Dreams
Princess Mononoke
Groundhog Day
Pan's Labyrinth
Big
The Godfather
Goodfellas
The Godfather Part II
White Heat
Bonnie and Clyde
Scarface: The Shame of a Nation
Pulp Fiction
The Public Enemy
Little Caesar
Scarface
Citizen Kane
LA Confidential
Se7en
12 Monkeys
The Da Vinci Code
Minority Report
The Name of the Rose
Along Came a Spider
The Prestige
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Singin' in the Rain
G.I. Blues
Mary Poppins
My Fair Lady
The Sound of Music
The King and I
Grease
Grease II
Moulin Rouge
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Dirty Dancing
Step Up 2: The Streets
Strictly Ballroom
Hairspray
Centre Stage
Stormy Weather
Flashdance
Shall We Dance?
Saturday Night Fever
West Side Story
Napolean Dynamite
10 Things I Hate About You
High School Musical
Fame
Heathers
Pump Up the Volume
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Dead Poets Society
Rushmore
Rebel Without a Cause
How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Ghost
Just Like Heaven
Stepmom
Armageddon
The Wedding Planner
Love Actually
Runaway Bride
Bridget Jones' Diary
50 First Dates
300
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Passion of the Christ
Gladiator
Braveheart
The Thin Red Line
2001: A Space Odyssey
Star Wars IV: A New Hope
Clueless
The Breakfast Club
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Teen Wolf
Donnie Darko
American Pie
To Sir, With Love
16 Candles
Dangerous Minds
Boyz n the Hood
The Princess Bride
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Labyrinth
The Chronicles of Narnia
Willow
Van Helsing
The Dark Crystal
Beowulf
Ladyhawke
V For Vendetta
The Dark Knight
Hulk
Iron Man
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Spawn
Daredevil
Barb Wire
The Watchmen
X-Men
Superman
Dark City
Mad Max
Robocop
Gremlins
THX 1138
Starship Troopers
Army of Darkness
Gattaca
Logan's Run
Conan the Barbarian
Psycho
The Shining
Aliens
The Thing
Frankenstein
The Exorcist
Saw
Shaun of the Dead
Resident Evil
Vampire Hunter D
Night of the Living Dead
The Amityville Horror
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Poltergeist
Nightmare on Elm Street
The Ring
The Grudge
Hostel
Halloween
Rosemary's Baby
Pearl Harbour
Memphis Belle
Apocalypse Now
Gallipoli
Enemy at the Gates
Full Metal Jacket
Platoon
Das Boot
Gettysburg
Glory
Get Smart
Blazing Saddles
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Python: The Life of Brian
40-Year-Old Virgin
National Lampoon's Animal House
Ghostbusters
The Man Who Knew Too Little
The Odd Couple
Dr. Strangelove
Tootsie
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
The Naked Gun
Spaceballs
The Birdcage
Coming to America
Meet the Parents
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Anchorman


How many have you seen?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Quote of the Day

I'm sending my book to Allen & Unwin's Friday Pitch next.

I didn't come this far to only come this far.
- Unknown

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Tale of Two Mother's Days

Mother's Day, Sunday 14th May 1995:
The day of the inaugural Western Derby between the Eagles and the Dockers.  This became known as the 'Mother's Day Massacre' as the reigning premiers, the Eagles, taught the young upstarts a lesson, belting them by 85 points.

What a glorious day that was!

Mother's Day, Sunday 14th May 2017:
Exactly 22 years to the day.  This one was not glorious, but it had nothing to do with football.

We were on our way home from church when we received a call saying that a fire was threatening our house.  Apparently the neighbours had been burning off, but it was a windy day and the fire spread to the bush behind our house, where our rubbish tip was.

I dropped Duncan home, so he could join the local fire brigade (made up of farmers) to help fight the fire.  The boys and I escaped to a friend's house, 10 minutes away.  She was with her husband, helping to fight the fire and their two boys were with a friend, so we had the house to ourselves.  At this stage, I didn't realise just how close the fire was to our house.  When our friend, Mel, returned, she told me to brace myself for the worst, but that they were doing everything possible to save the house.

I'm terrified of fire.  I don't know where this strong fear comes from, but I hate lighting fires.  I let the house go cold in winter if Duncan's not home, rather than put more logs on the fire.

A range of emotions engulfed me - panic, fear, uncertainty....anger.  How could the neighbours burn off on such a windy day?  Why didn't they keep an eye on things?  Yes, rain was forecast (but it hadn't come), but didn't they check the wind forecast?  I'd always thought that if there was a fire, that I'd be happy to escape with our lives, that 'stuff' didn't matter.  And it wasn't the actual stuff I was fretting about; it was the ardurous task of starting over.  Where would we live?  The farm had insurance, but how long would we have to wait?  I had no idea about any of that.  I didn't want to have to deal with people offloading piles of their old junk onto us, thinking they were being generous, but really just cleaning out their cupboards.  No, I don't want 50 smelly blankets and old high heels, thank you very much.

I worried about my animals.  I began to brace myself for the fact that they could already be dead.

But I was also freaking out because the very night before, I'd dreamed that our house was burning down.  Now it was coming true!  What was I supposed to make of that?

Mel returned to the fire, rescued our dogs and took them to a neighbour's place.  The neighbours across the road were told to evacuate.

The boys and I stayed at Mel's house and gradually we were joined by all of the farm wives and their kids.  On one hand, I was grateful for the company.  On the other hand, I just wanted to be alone.  I was numb.  I didn't want to listen to laughing and joking people, chatting cheerily around me.

Finally, I heard the news that the fire had been contained and it was safe to go home. 

Miraculously the house wasn't even smoke damaged, it just smelt horrid, like we were smokers and had smoked inside for years with the windows shut.

My animals were all safe and well.

Although I am so thankful to God for granting my anguished requests to save our house, I am ashamed to say that, once again, I was angry.  How could God let this happen?  I was challenged to think about whether He is a good God if our house had burned to the ground.

The answer: Yes, He is.


They backburned this paddock next to our house to contain the fire.







Monday, May 15, 2017

A Day's Work

This poem reflects motherhood so beautifully.  Happy Mother's Day for yesterday!

Today I left some dishes dirty,
The beds were made around 2:30.
The nappies soaked a little longer,
Their odour grew a little stronger.
The crumbs I spilt the day before,
Are staring at me from the floor.
The dirty streaks on the window panes,
Will still be there next time it rains.
"Oh shame! Oh lazy one," you say,
"And just what did you do today?"
I nursed a baby while she slept,
And held a toddler while he wept.
I played a game of hide and seek,
I squeezed a toy and made it squeak.
I pushed a swing, I sang a song,
I taught a child what's right from wrong.
What did I do this whole day through?
Not much that shows, I guess it's true.'
Unless you think what I have done,
May be important to someone,
With bright brown eyes and soft dark hair.
If that is true, I've done my share.

Sourced from here

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Designer Babies

I really do not understand how some parents (read: mothers) can spend sooo much money on their babies.

Why does a baby need expensive designer brand clothes when they are going to grow out of it in two seconds?
Why does a bald baby girl need to wear a headband?
How on earth can a baby, only a few months old, be comfortable in skinny jeans, leather jackets....and shoes?

Image from here

Image from here

What is the point of a cake smash?  What a waste of a cake!

Image from here

How can some parents say they're struggling to pay the bills, yet fork out hundreds (or thousands) on a decorating a baby's room, or on a first birthday party?

I don't get it.  Please explain...

Monday, May 08, 2017

Born This Way

Earlier this year I read on Facebook that a Christian acquaintance had decided to 'come out' and reveal himself to be gay.  I heard through a mutual friend years before that he had said he was gay, but this was the first time he'd announced it publicly.  Some Christians were applauding him, while others were concerned.  He kept throwing around phrases like, "We need to have a new conversation" and mentioning that he'd been to a conference for gay Christians in the US.  I'm not sure if he's declaring himself to be a 'practising'  gay, or if he's saying that he has homosexual feelings, but intends to be celibate.  This raises a very important question....can you be a Christian and gay?

In the light of the current push to legalise gay marriage in Australia, this is an important and much-needed book.  One of the reviews I've read of it is critical that it doesn't take into consideration that homosexuality is an emotive subject, that there are Christians struggling with these issues (or have family who are gay), that the author himself has no experience in ministry with gay people. and that the book should be more 'pastoral'.  There's no doubt that the subject will trigger all sorts of feelings, but there needs to be a place where we TRY to put that aside and look at what the Bible says about homosexuality - not our experiences, not our feelings, not our pre-conceived ideas, and certainly not what the world says.

Born This Way addresses both what the Bible says and challenges the world's commonly-held beliefs about homosexuality:
  • How the mainstream view of homosexuality has gone from 'homosexuality is a disorder, but now it's considered normal and natural. It used to be that homosexuality was opposed and suppressed, but now it's celebrated and nurtured.  If you don't agree with this view,  then you are likely to be verbally opposed and ostracised.  You may be called intolerant, a bigot, a homophobe or a redneck.  Almost every Christian I know who has expressed any disagreement with the mainstream view of homosexuality - however carefully expressed, however nuanced their views - has experienced persecution at some level. (pages 15-16)  This is the intolerance of 'tolerance'.
  •  The use of the word 'homophobia' - how what traditionally meant 'irrational fear' or hatred, now includes even simply questioning or disagreeing with homosexual practice.
  • The belief that homosexuals are 'born this way' (hence the title of the book).  There is no evidence for the existence of a 'gay gene'. Many gay people have expressed their dislike of the term 'sexual preference', because it implies sexual orientation is a choice.  Someone who experiences same sex attraction may have 'some biological or hereditary factors that play a role in causing this attraction - but to a much smaller extent than is often claimed.' (page 51)  It is certainly not in the same category as eye colour, hair colour etc.  'There are many psychological or behavioural traits that are only partly determined by genetics.  In those kinds of cases, a wide range of other factors will come into play to influence how a person ultimately lives or behaves. (page 51)  Some people are more inclined to smoke, overeat etc. and these are CHOICES that people still make, that should be resisted.  The book uses the example of a person born more inclined towards violence, but they couldn't claim being 'born this way' as an excuse.  The issue of bisexuality, dispels the argument that someone is either born gay or straight.  Studies have been done on identical twins, where one is gay and the other is straight.  Surely if it was genetic, they both would be one or the other.
The book emphasises that there is a big difference between ATTRACTION and ACTION (although lust is sinful, no matter what orientation you are).  Every single human being faces temptation - from Satan, from our own desires, and the world.  That is why Steve Morrison, the author, prefers to use the term 'same-sex temptation', rather than 'same-sex attraction'.  The Christian doctrine of original sin says every person is born with a 'motivationally twisted heart' (page 99).  Although some people are more prone to homosexual temptation, given the right circumstances, any of us be tempted this way.  Vaughan Roberts is an author and a minister at a church in the UK, who has admitted in one of his books that he has battled same-sex temptation'.  But he refuses to let this become his identity.  He sees himself as a sinner, saved by grace - like all Christians.  Although it is a temptation for him, he says it must be resisted, like all sins.  He says a supportive and loving Christian community is vital for him, as it is for us all, no matter what our personal temptations are.

So, who is this book aimed at?

Morrison says he wrote the book primarily for Christians who are being swept along and confused by society's opinions.  I have seen a number of Christians, who either have homosexual temptations themselves, or who have gay friends or family, try to redefine what the Bible says about homosexuality.  They try to say it's ok to be a practising homosexual, as long as you're in a committed 'marriage-like' relationship, that the verses against homosexuality are for homosexual rapists, or those who are promiscuous.  But it simply isn't true.  Despite this being such an emotion-charged topic, we need to look at what God says in His Word about His design for the world, not water down His truth.

I think this book would also be very helpful for a non-Christian who wants to know what Christians believe regarding this issue.  The gospel message is well-articulated about why God designed the world the way He did, and why ALL people, gay or straight, need a Saviour.  It reveals a loving God, who died for all.  No-one is beyond His grace.


 You can order this book from the Matthias Media Australian online store here. Or the US store here.



Thursday, May 04, 2017

Quote of the Day

Our culture has accepted two huge lies.  The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear or hate them.  The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.  Both are nonsense.  You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.
- Rick Warren

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Perth Pilgrimages

Here are some photos from our two most recent Perth holidays (January and April),  I had allergy testing twice to see if I'm allergic to antibiotics I got a horrible rash while taking for mastitis in Mother Baby Unit).  The tests involved skin patches, skin pricks and then taking tablets).  So far, I'm in the clear and it seems that the rash may have been viral.

My arm after skin prick testing


In January, we visited Elizabeth Quay and Rory had his first train ride.

Rory did not want a photo with Mummy on the Carousel


At the train station



Chilling at the local park near where we stay


In April, we caught up with Duncan's brother for a barbecue and took the boys to the zoo.






Galapagos Tortoise


Some kind of monkey

Lemur
 
Orangutan

Orangutan


The male Indian elephant


Tricia the elephant


Penguins


Snake

Another creepy-looking snake

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Funny

Maybe it's just my warped sense of humour, but I find these funny.







Wednesday, April 26, 2017

From Dolls' House to Bookcase

A friend of mine gave me an old dolls' house for free that was in need of some TLC.  When I saw it, I thought that would make a great bookcase.

We were starting to get more books that would fit in Rory's robot bookcase, plus he was getting annoyed at Flynn pulling his books out all the time.  It was time for Flynn to have his own bookcase with board books in it.

It took me MONTHS of a little bit here and a little bit there, but......I did it!

The boys are very happy with it.




Thursday, April 20, 2017

I Won't Give Up

I sent my novel to a publisher in mid January and, knowing it would take up to three months to hear from them, I grew increasingly nervous and restless as mid April approached.  Then, two weeks ago, I got an email I did not want to receive:

Dear Sarah

Thank you for giving Fremantle Press the opportunity to consider your manuscript THE ROAD TO SEPTEMBER for publication. It has now been reviewed for our fiction list and regrettably I have to tell you that the decision was to not make an offer to publish.

There were tears shed.  Now I guess I have to keep trying.  I've come too far to give up.  I won't give up.
Like the many publishers who reportedly rejected J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter, maybe one day those who have rejected my work will be kicking themselves.  And all I will say is, "You had your chance."

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Quote of the Day

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour.
- Truman Capote

Monday, April 17, 2017

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts

My reminder to myself to refocus...
 

When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine, 
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Lyrics from here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Nine Years and Three Years

Yesterday was a significant day.


Nine years since we said hello to marriage:




Three years since we said goodbye to a much-loved friend:






I tried to dwell on the happy side.