Archive for April, 2007

Reason to dance!

April 30, 2007

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After a weekend at a church camp, my friend’s husband asked very casually over dinner, “So, what do I have to do to become a Christian and live a changed life?” I think she nearly choked! We are all dancing! It’s so hard to sit still!

Pray for him. Pray for her. Pray for their little family. And feel free to jump for joy with us or dance on a mountain top or anywhere else as we shout “WAAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

God is good.

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Absorbed: me not the falling rain which lies in deep puddles all around.

April 25, 2007

While it rains outside I’m snuggly and warm reading The Lord of the Rings Part 1, pretending to be a hobbit going on a long journey through enchanted forests and long grass…

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I’m hoping to be surprised by elves.

But it seems the day is too wet for hobbits too.

Do you ever read and feel so completely absorbed by a book? So absorbed that even the weather seems to be directed by the narrative? It happened today when I read Chapter VII of The Fellowship of the Ring:

Water dripped down from the leaking gutters above. Before she had finished breakfast the clouds had joined into an unbroken roof, and straight grey rain came softly and steadily down. Behind its deep curtain the Garden was completely veiled.

As she looked out of the window there came falling gently as if it was flowing down the rain out of the sky, the clear voice of children singing above. She could hear few words, but it seemed plain that the song was a rain-song, as sweet as showers on dry hills, that told the tale of a river from the spring in the highlands to the Sea far below. Missmellifluous listened with delight; and was glad in her heart, and blessed the kindly weather, because it delayed her from departing. The thought of going had been heavy upon her from the moment the holidays ended; but she guessed now that she would go no further today.

The upper wind settled in the West and deeper wetter clouds rolled up to spill their laden rain on the bare heads of the flowers. Nothing could be seen all round the house but falling water. Missmellifluous stood near the open door with a book in her hand and watched the stone pavers in the path turn into a little river and go bubbling away down into the garden. Tom Bombadil came trotting round the page of her novel, waving his arms as if he was warding off the rain- and indeed when he sprang over the threshold he seemed quite dry, except for his boots. These he took off and put in the chimney-corner. Then he sat in the largest chair and called the hobbits to gather round him.

‘This is Goldberry’s washing day,’ he said, ‘and her autumn-cleaning. Too wet for hobbit-folk – let them rest while they are able! It’s a good day for long tales…’

missmellifluous agreed and drew near, listening in anticipation.

I wish…

April 22, 2007

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…I could look that happy about going back to school. And to think I have to wait two days till my next holiday!  Bah!

I wish I were a fir beetle

April 21, 2007

Why? you may ask…Well, because they have little piles marking their entry into logs and the like and their little marking piles are cute. See:
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Cute.

But I have big piles of marking marking my entry to Term Two and these are not very cute.

Oh, to be a fir beetle!

I want quality spam!

April 21, 2007

Why do all these spam people think I would like a replica rolex watch? Why do they think that if they send me 57 messages a day that will convince me? Why doesn’t anyone ever send any quality spam? Like spam that tells you where to get a nice cheap pair of Peter Alexander Pjs, or good books at bargain prices, or cheap opera or theatre tickets. That would be the kind of spam I’d like to receive.

I wonder if anyone sends Bible spam…

Why can’t people use spam for good instead of evil?

Telstra offers more than you bargain for…

April 19, 2007

…but I don’t think I like it.

SO yesterday I answered a “No Caller ID” call on my mobile phone and was greeted by a salesman for Telstra. This is not unusual, various phone companies are always calling trying to entice me to upgrade my phone, choose a better plan or change service providers. I don’t usually mind these calls because, let’s face it, I want to get the cheapest phone deal I can. So, as Mr Telstra Representative talked me through the deals I listened, compared plans and bargained.

The first offer I received was to swap service providers, commit to a $49.00/ month plan and receive unlimited calls to any number between 8pm and 7am daily as well as obtaining a pink phone – why doesn’t anyone tell those mobile phone dealers that pink phones are not necessarily a draw card! Just cause I’m a girl and speak sweetly does not mean I want a pink phone! Ever! No matter how good a deal you offer! Needless to say, more negotiating was required.

After 11 minutes I had negotiated a new phone, two months free service, unlimited 15c sms’, 50x 20c-for-the-first-10-minutes calls to any number/month, all on a $49.00 plan with a two year contract. Now, I thought this not a particularly good deal since the call rate and flagfall was still more than that which I am currently paying and the phone was inferior to that which I already had. So then this lovely sales rep offered me 6 months free service as well as what we had already negotiated so that I could keep my phone or put that money towards purchasing a new phone as my current one would not work on their network.

He sounded a little desperate to make a sale, reminded me of the 10 day cooling off period and said perhaps he should just send a phone out. Anyway, I still wasn’t convinced that Telstra could actually better the deal I already had and was about to wind up the conversation when Telstra rep guy changes tack and says:

“How old are you?”

[silence] Then I think, Oh, he probably just has to ask for legal reasons so that he can sell me a phone.

“You are over 18 aren’t you?”

“Yes, I’m over 18”

“Are you 21?”

“I’m older than 21”

“No! Really, you sound so young!”

Now I’m used to the buttering up factor that is sometimes encountered when people are trying to sell me things so I let it slide.

“Well, I am older than 21.”

“You must be 25…?”

Okay, think I, this is so going beyond buttery…”No.”

“So, where do you live?”

[uncomfortable silence]

“I mean, so we can post this phone out to you. Are you in Sydney?”

Somehow I still think he’s trying to sell me a phone and stupid, stupidly answer,”Oh, yes, [I state the suburb]”

“Oh wow! I live right near you. I live in [states neighbouring suburb]. I probably know you! What’s your name?”

At this point I’m wary but still thinking this could be a new sales tactic and am wondering how this is going to convince me to buy a phone because I am sure that I don’t know this guy but Mr Telstra Man is becoming creepy and I’m thinking I need to get out of this conversation quickly…

“[states name – stupidly! and says] I’m sure you don’t know me and I really have to go. Sorry, I don’t think you can offer me a better deal than what I already have.”

“Okay then. Well, ah…I might just keep your number anyway and ah…”

Might just… no way! When did this become part of the deal? The pink phone was a way better offer! I mutter something about being uninterested until Telstra reduce their call costs and hang up.

Who does that? Apparently Mr Telstra does.

Sometimes I think God has very large bottles

April 19, 2007

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[God,] You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.

from Psalm 56

In which I scrutinise media representations of the Virginia Tech shooting & call us all killers.

April 19, 2007

I am kind of, no not kind of, absolutely sick of the media depiction of the Virginia Tech shootout already. The event was terrible! Yes! The whole incident is absolutely tragic! The magnitude of the event is horrific! We recognise that. We grieve.

What I don’t like about the representation of this event is how Cho Seung-Hui is represented as some kind of heartless killing monster. Okay, now this is the part where I don’t necessarily win any friends…Yes, his deeds were awful, abominable, reprehensible but I can’t help thinking that somehow, we failed him. I mean, to be that tormented, to be that angry…what had he seen, what had he read, what had he experienced to make him feel so desperate that killing became an option? An heroic option.

I am in no way saying that what Cho Seung-Hui did is okay. It is not okay. Ever. But I recognise in Cho Seung-Hui’s eyes a hopelessness that, but for the grace of God, I would feel every day. Every single day.

This world is pretty messed up. It’s not how it’s meant to be. We are not meant to hurt each other, lie, cheat, steal, live in selfishness…we’re not meant to. God created us for more than this.

I don’t want to see the NBC news footage, I don’t want to see videos of the event, I don’t want to get inside Cho Seung-Hui’s head and figure out why he did it. The images of his face are enough. Looking into his eyes I see the pain, the anger, the hurt, the utter hopelessness and I know there have been times when I have felt it too.

The cover of The Sydney Morning Herald today depicted passport type photographs of each of the victims placed over a picture of Cho Seung-Hui’s face in the background. The visual representation graphically showed how we view perpetrators and victims: the victims are innocent the perpetrator is guilty; the victims are human – they smile – the perpetrator is inhuman – his face is contorted with anger and hatred. Sure, the victims were killed while innocently going about their daily lives, while the perpetrator committed a terrible crime. I acknowledge all of this but still I wonder… what if we’re not all that different to Cho Seung-Hui? What if we all kill things we love every day maybe not with 30 bullets but with words, looks, actions and intentions.

I think this is how God views us. Actually, I don’t think it, I’m pretty sure of it. We’re all closer to Cho Seung-Hui than we’d like to admit. After all the Bible tells us that we are responsible for Christ’s death…but fortunately we can be forgiven and escape the anguish of a lonely hurt filled existence. I know that my life has changed because I now know that God takes seriously the suffering we feel in this world. It was such a big deal to Him that He, in His goodness, stretched out His own arm to save us by subjecting His Son to a death that should have been ours. Through this God shows His amazing love for us – all of us.

I know we mourn and grieve and this is right – we should. But as we pray and grieve for the victims and their families, can’t we mourn for Cho Seung-Hui too? Can’t we pray that God have mercy on his tormented soul? As well as on ours?

This is not how life was meant to be.

A Dilemma of Biblical Proportions.

April 18, 2007

I’m wanting to buy a new Bible. My last one was given to me by my ex-husband about 9 years ago and I can’t stand the hypocritical inscription in the cover any more! Apart from tearing the cover out – which I can’t bring myself to do because then I would have to use a Bible I defaced…it just seems wrong – I think my only option is to buy a new Bible. So, here’s my question: Which Bible?

I have been researching and I think I’d like an ESV but I have been using the NIV Study Bible for so long that I’m finding it hard to pull away. I love the annotations in the NIV Study but I’d like to try an ESV because I have heard and read that the translation is more literal than others (you can compare verses here). At the same time I have been put off the ESV because it is also known as the Eastern Suburbs Version* here in Sydney and this puts me off because the reworked title conjures up images of the exclusivity associated with the Eastern Suburbs. It’s a ridiculous reason, I know, yet strangely has been a hurdle. I just don’t want a snobby Bible!

So, I was thinking, perhaps I need an ESV Study Bible. But when I searched for one all I could find was this:

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Not that this is necessarily bad either. However, having not seen the Bible, except for an excerpt on Ellen’s blog, I’m wondering if it will influence my interpretation of the Bible as I’m reading. If I’m going for a Bible that is more literal do I really want it to be interpreting what is written from one particular perspective? Don’t get me wrong, I am a Christian of Reformed persuasion yet I don’t want to just take this as the given perspective. I want to test and challenge my views in order to be convinced of the truth. I want to read the Bible as it is and see if it matches the Reformed perspective I have come to hold not read the Bible through Reformed tainted glasses – if that makes sense.

Along the way I’ve discussed the pros and cons with minister friends and have read too many articles and have seen a very strange game (!?) on the same. Then I heard about the Geneva Bible and discovered there will be an ESV Literary Study Bible to which I immediately thought both “Ooooh!” and “Hmmm?” and as a result have become not a little confused.

If you’re with me this far, you’re doing well and may be ready to answer my next few questions:

What do you think?

What are the pros and cons of each as you see them?

Which Bible translation are you using and why?

Have you used the ESV and/or NIV? Which do you prefer?

I’d love to hear all your reasons from the ridiculous – such as one Bible is perceived to be more snobby! – to the sublime.

*Because a prominent minister from the Eastern Suburbs was on the Translation Advisory Council for the ESV.

Kim!

April 18, 2007

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…and we thought it would never get here. dsc_0106.jpg
arrived yesterday: 17 April 2007
Woooooohooooooooh!

Thank you!

That’s right, Bookworm Bookmarks have made it Down Under!  There are some great new designs – go and have a look. You too could be as happy as me!

Thanks, Kim!

Mwah!

the beauty of cartography

April 16, 2007

More delicate than the historians’ are the map-makers’ colours.
Elizabeth Bishop 1911–79
‘The Map’ (1946)

While it has been argued that mapping is an act and representation of savage imperialism, and to a great extent I agree, I have always been drawn to the beauty of maps.

When I was a little Miss I loved to look at maps. I remember lying on the floor looking at maps with a friend of mine for hours. I loved the aesthetics of the maps and he loved the facts. While I was studying every colour and texture he was memorising the capital cities, populations and flags of most countries. People thought us strange but we didn’t care for the beauty of maps was ours and we hardly wanted to share it.

Today I am a little more mature, I’m willing to share, and I have discovered a gorgeous map blog that I would like to share with all of you. It’s called Strange Maps but I think it not strange, I think it beautiful. The maps on this site support the theory that cartography is an expression and representation of political dominance and control. A fact I find quite intriguing. To think that the manipulation of a representation of the landscape actually has an effect on the landscape of human history, human identity and world relations is quite amazing. The maps here are loaded with symbolic significance. They are powerful statements of the times and people who created them. And they are beautiful. Check it out.

Wow! Look @ this…

April 16, 2007

I am number 46 on the top 100 Growing Blogs list – you have to scroll a long way down to find me – and the only way I would have known is because they linked to me. I wonder what it all means…

I’m sure I only have about 13 readers.

the holiday

April 16, 2007

So, I’m back and the holiday was great!dscn6447.jpg

Looking down on to Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head, NSW

We went to Lennox Head, 15 minutes drive south of Byron Bay, on the far North Coast of NSW for 5 days – see map here. Actually, as it took us a whole and I mean whole day to drive there and another whole day – not as whole as the first but whole nevertheless – to drive back, we were really only there for three days. But we had a lot of fun in those three days.

The first thing my little boys wanted to do when we got there – after sleep since we got in at 12:30 am – was go to the beach. So, off we went. We stayed in units across the road from the beach so all we had to do was cross the road, walk down a little path and there we were. The beach was beautiful. Rough and a little bit deadly to swim in – you’d get in and a massive undertow would drag you 20 metres down the beach before you’d even caught your first wave – but beautiful in all its treachery- you can view the beach through a webcam here, follow the link and choose your vision format. The water was so warm and the salt was refreshing. The sand was beautifully soft and fine after being pummelled for so many years by the merciless sea. Broken shells, jellyfish and a few smooth pebbles decoratively littered the shoreline.

As we arrived on the beach the fresh sea breeze kissed our faces like an old friend we hadn’t seen for too long and the waves rushed up to meet us. Exhilarated, we ran to the sea discarding towels as we went and plunged into the gorgeous glistening ocean.

The first swim at a beach is special. It’s bonding. We fell in love with this beach instantly. The fact that it was so close to our accommodation made it ours alone – despite the presence of others on the beach.

We arose for early swims each morning and usually left the beach at about 9:30 am just as the wind was picking up and the lifeguards were deciding to close the beach after witnessing the sea tear a board away from yet another small child being swept down the beach faster than they deemed safe. It was good to get up and swim before the sea got too rough. We’d usually go back and eat another breakfast – because you have to eat something before you swim but nothing too heavy, just a snack – as we were starved by the paddling, ducking, diving and walking.

I liked this routine as it left us a lot of time to do other things later in the day, like: exploring the gourmet shops for tasty morsels to whip into a delectable dinner or lunch, or visit nearby Byron Bay with it’s beautiful beaches, forests, lighthouses and town life.

Byron is really so incredibly gorgeous. Cape Byron is the Eastern most point of Australia. You are almost guaranteed of seeing dolphins there and after being at the Lighthouse for no more than five minutes we spotted two pods of dolphins swimming off the coast below. There were over ten dolphins in all. And of course we felt like they were swimming there just for us because dolphins do that, you know. They were beautiful!

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Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay, April 2007

We went away with two great friends who were complete gentlemen the whole time and showed great kindness and care towards me and my boys. They played endless games – like ‘chase me with your water pistol while I run away on the scooter’- which they enjoyed as much as my little men did – and dino-opoly, actually the adults played that from 10:05 to 2:30 am – yes, we’re nuts! – after the chiluns had gone to sleep; chatted about all sorts of things; understood the needs of my children; swam with the boys; played beach cricket; carried the littlest when his little legs could carry him no further; told them stories and gave them their first campfire complete with feats of fire twirling and marshmallow toasting!

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They drove us the very, very long way there and back and after all of that gave us the incredible gift of paying for our accommodation! A gift I am still completely blown away by and in all its generosity struggle to accept. I am not good at accepting gifts – I wish I were. I think God is teaching me to be humble and say “thank you”. I am thankful that I have such beautiful friends who always act as they believe God would want them to and in doing so encourage me to do the same. I am a very blessed woman.

I’m home!

April 14, 2007

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…and now to unpack.

By the time you read this…

April 9, 2007

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I will hopefully be driving off into the sunrise.

Today, my two little boys, two friends and I will be heading off to the north coast for a five day holiday. It will take us all day to reach our destination, but when we get there we’ll be surrounded by beautiful beaches, mountains, forests and friends. The guys I’m going with are godly Christians and I look forward to the discussions we’ll have, the encouragement we will give each other, and the time we’ll spend with my precious little men. I look forward to the break.

Rain is forecast but really I don’t care if it rains the whole time as long as we are safe and together. Pray for traveling mercies. I’ll ‘see’ you when I’m back in the big smoke. Till then…

Fare thee well!

xo

A not-so-traditional but no less powerful Easter Sunday Greeting

April 8, 2007

Some friends of my family tell this story about an Easter Sunday in their house when my friends were young. It’s a great story that I don’t think they’d mind me sharing.

On the Saturday night before Easter Sunday this father was putting his two boys, aged three and eight, to bed. As he was doing so he was explaining to them about a great tradition Christians all over the world share. The father explained that on the morning of Easter Sunday, Christans all over the world would be using a special greeting. They would say to each other,

“He is Risen!”

to which the reply would come,

“He is Risen indeed!”

The father of these little boys explained that as this was a good tradition that reminds us of the good news of Jesus coming to life again, he would like them to remember to respond to his greeting in this manner in the morning. So, they practiced. The father said “He is Risen!” and the boys replied “He is Risen indeed!” And they said this a few times with great enthusiasm and sincerity.

The next morning the boys woke early and rushed into their parents room. As planned, their father greeted them with the traditional Easter Sunday greeting, “He is Risen!” to which Mr Three replied “Hallelujah, Baby!”

Hallelujah indeed!

the reward is in the task

April 7, 2007

…is what I’ve been told my whole schooling life. The reward is in doing a task and doing it well as if serving the Lord not men.

I went to a school in which awards, rewards, merit and demerit certificates were not given. We did not have school captains or prefects. We were not encouraged to compete with other students – unless competition was intrinsic to the task, such as it is in playing sport. We were not rewarded for achieving or performing well.

The rationale behind this was that all our gifts and abilities come from God and our purpose in using them should be to glorify Him. Also our motivation in doing things should be to serve and become more like Christ. Jesus is our motivation and serving and becoming like Him is our reward. As such the reward is in the task.

It was also argued that rewards could not be justified from a Biblical perspective. In God’s treatment of us we never get what we deserve. We always get far more than that. Far, far more. We ignore, despise, reject and scorn God by trying to live life our own way and He gives us a pardon that costs us nothing and Him everything! Even when we do try to please Him the Bible says that all our righteous acts are as filthy rags. Yet we are constantly given more grace, more love, more peace, more life, more joy.

Knowing that this was how I was taught for 13 years will help you understand the angst I felt at being given a ‘Thinking Blogger Award‘ by Rebecca. I don’t think I’ve ever received an award before – even when my professor wanted to nominate me for one at uni he rather amusingly missed the deadline – so I have never had to face this dilemma before. I have never had to ask myself, do I accept an award knowing that I don’t believe in them? or do I turn an award down on principle and shun the generosity of my awarder? No. I can’t. I don’t think I can do either.

I was reflecting on the content of my blog the other day, before the award was given, and I was thinking about how little I really post of any intellectual or spiritual quality. My blog is a place where I post my random, often angst ridden, and almost always trivial thoughts. The time I spend composing posts is minimal. The effort I actually apply in trying to write beautifully, reflectively and with quality is so minimal I think my name a joke. I considered stepping up the quality and content of my blog but dismissed the thought realising the commitment needed to turn this blog into one of quality was way beyond that which I am willing to invest. Sad really. I chose mediocrity.

In light of this, Rebecca’s award is truly undeserved- especially as it has been given to me by her; she received the award four times over and would be so worthy of a fifth nomination! even her post was metacognitive! – truly gracious and truly an example of how God treats me – with undeserved goodness & generosity. With grace. For this I am thankful and would like to say “thank you, Rebecca!”

Thank you for recognising the moments – as brief as they are – when I do actually think before I post. Thank you for generously giving me an award I don’t feel I deserve. And thank you mostly for reminding me that I should be doing all I can to use my gifts and abilities to serve God in everything I do, for the reward is in the task – it is in getting to know other bloggers with a heart for Christ and Christ-likeness, it is in learning more about God through them, and it is in becoming Christ-like in everything, even blogging.

Thanks to you for reminding me of all this, Rebecca! I will gladly accept your award as a token and reminder of grace! And I will graciously pass the baton on to 5 more thinking bloggers to do with as they please.

To the Dekker’s, John and Radagast – you often make my head hurt with all your thinking. That deserves an award.

To ish – your poetic word play always gets me thinking in new and creative ways about faith, life, the universe and digging holes. Thank you!

To Island Sparrow – your reflections on life are always so thought provoking, inspiring and uplifting. Thank you.

To Candy – you make me think often by being real about your life and faith both on your blog and via email. This has saved me from making some foolish decisions and is worth much more than a Thinking Blogger Award, so please accept this a a token.

And in the true spirit of unbounded grace I am exceding the 5 person limit – ’cause God always give us more than we are entitled to – in order to nominate more people:

Paul (probably – maybe liz) – if you want to think about the God delusion,who invented paediatrics, the meaning of U2 lyrics, Schaeffer, Christians and slavery, global warming and a plethora of other topics often presented from a Christian perspective with keen scientific insight, then Paul’s your man. He’s a thinker.

Lastly, but by no baffling means least, Andrew of A. Stark Place and A. Stark Magazine. I don’t think he stops thinking – ever. The best thing about Andrew’s thinking is that he thinks in often obscure and extremely funny ways which is just plain brilliant. For this I award and thank him.

Phew! That task was rewarding. I think I’m done.

Oh, apparently there is a button thingy you can put on your blog if you want to. I’ll put it in the comments for you to pick up if you wish.

quizzical challenge

April 7, 2007

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“I don’t want to talk about it. Just give me my $10!”

…was most likely said by my 8 year old son in response to which Monopoly card?

Another question…

April 6, 2007

At his blog today, John Dekker answers a question that perplexed me when I was younger:

Why is it called “Good” Friday, my religious education students asked me. If it’s when Jesus died, it should be called “Bad” Friday…

It’s a good question, but the answer is much better!

say this out loud…

April 6, 2007

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is for

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 said very confidently by my Kindy boy. And you know, I think he’s right.