Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Frustrated hopes and infertility

So, our computer system is down at work, and I simply have nothing I can be doing right now (but oh so much to be doing when it goes back up because it is press date at the end of the week and this is seriously bad timing). Anyway, so I have been reading Wendy Alsup's blog, Practical Theology for Women, which is very much worth reading. She has done a recent series on Infertility, which is obviously not my personal concern at the moment, but is the concern of some of my friends and the first post contains such helpful insights about waiting in general that can apply to anything (and it contains a poem - what can I say!) and the subsequent posts deal with the topics I've listed below (if none of those statements resonate with you, you are a lot further along the road than I am). I thought it was really helpful. Here are the links to the series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

1) “I prayed and I’m still not pregnant. I’m afraid God’s answer will be NO.”
2) “God isn’t good and He isn’t working for my good.”

3) “Why did God give me a desire that He refuses to fulfill?”
4) “There is no way I can be satisfied with this stage of life.”
5) “How much time and money should I spend seeking fertility? How far is too far?”

6) “I am bitter and jealous towards others inside and outside the church.”
7) “How can I have a meaningful relationship with women who have not been through this struggle?”
8) “I think God is punishing me.”

Wife material

For the balance, Wendy Alsup, who teaches women at Mars Hill Church (home of Mark Driscoll if you are unaware of that fact), writes a blog post about how women are to be helpers of men.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A luminous thing

I am making up for lost poetry Fridays but there are things I need to learn from Robert Frost. I was reading last night haphazardly through A Book of Luminous Things, collated by Czeslaw Milosz, who won a Nobel Prize for literature (after I was done with trying to word the story of The Fall for 5-9 year olds). It is a book full of strange and different international poetry, translated from Polish, Chinese, Swedish, just to name a few. Some of them are illuminate something, for me, and some of them remain impenetrable (as of last night). I came across one and thought ‘oh that one is grand’ only to discover that it is written by good old Robert Frost. It’s about an echo and a deer and so much more than an echo and a deer. (And it gathered further luminosity in my mind, and another rather more literal meaning, after reading Genesis 2:18-23.)

The Most of It

He thought he kept the universe alone;
For all the voice in answer he could wake
Was but the mocking echo of his own
From some tree-hidden cliff across the lake.
Some morning from the boulder-broken beach
He would cry out on life, that what it wants
Is not its own love back in copy speech,
But counter-love, original response.
And nothing ever came of what he cried
Unless it was the embodiment that crashed
In the cliff’s talus on the other side,
And then in the far-distant water splashed,
But after a time allowed for it to swim,
Instead of proving human when it neared
And someone else additional to him,
As a great buck it powerfully appeared,
Pushing the crumpled water up ahead,
And landed pouring like a waterfall,
And stumbled through the rocks with horny tread,
And forced the underbrush – and that was all.

Robert Frost

Picture from www.bryan-hart.com

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Dean on Driscoll

The Dean speaks on Driscoll, and does so very wisely, lovingly and graciously. I was so pleased when I read this.

One night in Sydney

I had a big night last night, but a great night all the same. My sister and brother-in-law and my 16 month old niece had a wedding to go to in Port Macquarie, so they flew into Sydney last night from Darwin, on their way, and came to stay. It was great to see them and just so wonderful to see little Annie at the very endearing age she's at. Because she'd been cooped up in a plane for so long she was on a little mission when they first got to my place to walk and explore every square inch of it and just keep on walking (this just made me laugh because she looked too small to be able to do that!) so she wasn't at her most snuggly, but I got one or two cuddles in. The only problem was that they didn't get to my house until almost 10 pm, and then needed to leave again at 7 am, so it was all too brief, and as you can imagine we were up late and up early. Annie also cried, very briefly, at 2 am because she woke up and startled herself, so I am just running on caffeine today.

I had half feared (and maybe hoped, just a teeny bit) that I might get my nephew right here in Sydney because my sister is doing all of this at 35 weeks pregnant, but baby stayed where he(?) was, which is the best place for him.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Me and husband material at the SolaPanel

I've been quoted in the SolaPanel today :), at the risk of making myself look like a high-maintenance, dragon-lady single woman for owning it. While I agree that Mark's biblical reasoning, when asked, for why he suggests that men move out of home was not convincing, and I had some discussion with friends acknowledging such at Engage, most people overwhelmingly agreed with his principles (and if he stressed that you had to own your own home, I missed that). I agree with Nicole's point that women simply aren't looking for a buddy/mate but for someone who shows some evidence that he can lead, spiritually and otherwise, in relationship and who will actually look after them. And it's not so much the men who are perhaps less talented or educated in this area (it's not about some specific personality type Myers-Briggs thing, or even biblical/theological learning, but the willingness to take initiative and responsibility - and there is always room for maturing, or lessons ;) ) as the ones who don't even seem to have any interest in aiming for it that bother me. Some men can even be all very responsible as far as concerns their own affairs, but when it comes to taking care of anyone else it's almost like "but what would I want to do that for?".

Anyway, go and read the interesting comments on the SolaPanel.

And, by the way, I am well aware that women have their problems too and we got off rather scot free from Mark Driscoll, so no doubt some men would like to say a few words and make a list or two.

The end of the challenge

So, the global corporate challenge had ended - thank goodness, because I was heartily sick of my pedometer. The Thomson Thunder Thighs have not done so well, and here I am going to be totally disloyal and anti-team-spirited and so forth and declare to the world that my team really let me down! I have made distances of up to 22,424 steps a day, and what is our team average? 10,537 steps. Admittedly that is over the target of 10,000 steps, which is perhaps all that matters, but, do the maths - someone in my team was NOT MOVING! I actually think we lost one member somewhere along the way (who swiftly left the company rather suspiciously) and two others have just never participated in anything, such that I don't even know who they are. So, the moral of the story is this: there is no point having someone performing exceptionally on your team - in this case that would be me :) - if there are others who are missing, have run out of enthusiasm, are just plain lazy etc. You'll still lose in the end.

But, I know, it's being in the game that counts (though it's debatable that everyone was actually in the game). Here are the locations I visited, just for my own posterity's sake. It was actually really quite fascinating to see the photos and read about these places along the way (especially when it said that Australian tropical waters were full of deadly cone snails that actively pursue, then kill, people in wetsuits - has anyone EVER heard of someone dying from the harpoon of a cone snail?? - I did some research and found out that someone did once, in 1935) so I was happy to be taking my time to smell the roses.

1. Valparaiso - Chil
2. Vina Del Mar - Chile
3. Lo Campo - Chile
4. Los Vilos - Chile
5. Combarbala - Chile
6. Ejido - Venezuala
7. Merida - Venezuala
8. Bobures - Venezuala
9. Aqua Viva - Venezuala
10. Maracaibo - Venezuala
11. Puerto Lempira - Honduras
12. Sirsirtara - Honduras
13. Ahuas - Honduras
14. Rio Platano - Honduras
15. Icacos Point - Trinidad and Tobago
16. Siparia - Trinidad and Tobago
17. St Joseph - Trinidad and Tobago
18. Port of Spain - Trinidad and Tobago
19. Bridgetown - Barbados
20. Nesfield - Barbados
21. Vieux Fort - St Lucia
22. Gros Islet - St Lucia
23. St Anne - Martinique
24. Le Vauclin - Martinique
25. Basse-Pointe - Martinique
26. San Juan - Puerto Rico
27. Mayaguez - Puerto Rico
28. Paraiso - Dominican Republic
29. Port-au Prince- Haiti
30. Hinche - Haiti
31. St Marc - Haiti
32. Kingston - Jamaica
33. Montego Bay - Jamaica
34. East End - Cayman Islands
35. Boatswain Point - Cayman Islands
36. Santa Clara - Cuba
37. Havana - Cuba
38. Las Vegas - USA
39. Boulder City - USA
40. Grand Canyon- USA
41. Grand Canyon - USA
42. Grand Canyon - USA
43. Salt Lake City - USA
44. Sandy - USA
45. American Fork - USA
46. Orem - USA
47. Mirror Lake - USA
48. Milwaukee - USA
49. Waukegan- USA
50. Chicago - USA
51. Buffalo - USA
52. Niagara Falls - Canada
53. St Catharines - Canada
54. Hamilton - Canada
55. Toronto - Canada
56. Laval - Canada
57. Montreal - Canada
58. Sherbrooke - Canada
59. Seydisfjordur - Iceland
60. Eskifjordur - Iceland
61. Galway - Ireland
62. Ballinasloe - Ireland
63. Edenderry - Ireland
64. Dublin - Ireland
65. Bristol - UK
66. Bath - UK
67. Basingstoke - UK
68. London - UK
69. Naestved - Denmark
70. Copenhagen - Denmark
71. Orebro - Sweden
72. Eskilstuna - Sweden
73. Stockholm - Sweden
74. Espoo - Finland
75. Helsinki - Finland
76. Porvoo - Finland
77. Hamina - Finland
78. St Petersburg - Russia
79. Volosovo - Russia
80. Kingisepp - Russia
81. Johvi - Estonia
82. Smiltene - Latvia
83. Gulbene - Latvia
84. Madona - Latvia
85. Koknese - Latvia
86. Aizkraukle - Latvia
87. Birzai - Lithuania
88. Astravyets - Belarus
89. Ashmyany - Belarus
90. Augustow - Poland
91. Monki - Poland
92. Gornji Vakuf - Bosnia and Herzegovina
93. Sarajevo - Bosnia and Herzegovina
94. Lac - Albania
95. Kruje - Albania
96. Durres - Albania
97. Bari - Italy
98. Monopoli - Italy
99. Brindisi - Italy
100. Lecce - Italy
101. Gagliano Del Capo - Italy
102. Tororo - Uganda
103. Iganga - Uganda
104. Linia - Uganda
105. Kampala - Uganda
106. Mubende - Uganda
107. Karonga - Malawi
108. Lake Nyasa - Malawi
109. Lake Nyasa - Malawi
110. Lake Nyasa - Malawi
111. Analalava - Madagascar
112. Antsohihy - Madagascar
113. Befandriana Avaratra - Madagascar
114. Mandritsara - Madagascar
115. Maroantsetra - Madagascar
116. Galle - Sri Lanka
117. Moratuwa - Sri Lanka
118. Sri Jayawardanpura - Sri Lanka
119. Kandy - Sri Lanka
120. Trincomalee - Sri Lanka
121. Mawson Base - Antarctica
122. Antarctica - Antarctica
123. Antarctica - Antarctica
124. Invercargill - New Zealand
125. Orepuki - New Zealand
126. Tautapere - New Zealand
127. Lake Hauroko - New Zealand
128. Cairns - Australia
129. Port Douglas - Australia
130. Daintree Forest - Australia
131. Cape Tribulation - Australia
132. Abau - Papua New Guinea
133. Kwiklia - Papua New Guinea
134. Port Moresby - Papua New Guinea
135. Bereina - Papua New Guinea
136. Kota Kinabalu - Malaysia

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Our Cup of Tea

Rebecca compares Gen Y to a cup of tea. I'm not the most culturally savvy person, but a cup of tea works for me as an access point :).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Poetry recovery - The Tiger

OK, so I still trying to get over the embarrassment of having posted my (very bad - and somewhat half-hearted) trochaic poetry attempt - and wishing I could write some brilliant thing on demand to outshine it, but, alas, I can't. So below is one that works, which perhaps will ring familiar. (Incidentally, my Mum read this poem to my niece one day when she was quite little and rather taken with stuffed rabbits. A few days later she was heard alarming people by toddling around saying "Bunnies, bunnies, burning in the night".) Anyway, writing in trochee is not at all like natural speech, which is what can make it so awkward - if it fails. Another famous trochaic poem is The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, which makes me shiver (when read dramatically by candlelight).

The Tiger

TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mail-in posts

I wrote a silly little post on Friday afternoon and thought I emailed it into my blog. I realised over the weekend that it never appeared, but because it was a silly little post I barely gave it a second thought. Anyway, I just checked and I got my mail in email address slightly wrong. Then I had a laugh wondering whether I might have actually emailed it to someone else's blog. How funny would it be if random posts started appearing on your blog of their own accord (well, it might be funny for just a little while).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A vicariously-living Aunt

God willing, hoping all goes well and assuming that the scans so far have been accurate, I will have a nephew in early November. This is something of a surprise to my family, because we don’t do boys. And I'm not sure that we know that we know what to do with boys either (this might become apparent as you read on). So far I have three nieces, each of whom is gorgeous in her own way, and I wouldn’t have minded at all if I got another one. But, thankfully, I think my brother-in-law knows what to do with boys. He grew up in an all-boy family, is a helicopter pilot in the Army and is, I think, itching for a son to teach a few things (much as he adores his daughter).

Anyway, so my sister told me that she wanted a red and blue room for this baby. Starting from there, when I was in Hobart I couldn’t resist buying this little Raggedy Ann and Andy (and this baby will be a little brother for Annie you see, but I am fairly sure that “Andy” doesn’t feature among the name options).

She also told me that she’d like a Paddington Bear in the nursery. I was rather taken with that idea because as a child I always wanted a Paddington Bear, with real gum boots on. I remember staring longingly at them in what was then Grace Bros in Tamworth, wishing badly that I could have one, and watching Paddington on TV and just loving it. So, I have done plenty of research about Paddington Bears and decided that it needed to be a shaggy-furred one, with real boots of course; that I was unashamedly going to live vicariously through my nephew when it came to this bear. Then yesterday I found the perfect Paddington and went a little crazy and bought him.

The thing is that just now I am wondering how much this boy (and my brother-in-law) is going to appreciate his rag doll and teddy bear?! Should there be wheels on something? But how cute is this bear?!!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Another poetry experiment - Temptation

Instead of going to sleep last night I started a poem (the first two lines show evidence of being written at midnight I think you'll find). I have mentioned that I was reading about metrical poetry, and this one is just a fiddle that I finished in my head as I went about my doings today. I actually really don't think it works at all. It's mostly a trochaic tetrameter that becomes sing-songy, composed of uninteresting lines with hypersyllabic endings that limp away into nothing. And it's very 19th century (and is basically just a little sermon to myself). But I amused myself writing it, tapping myself trying to her the feet, and it's all about practice. So, because I don't think it will make the next anthology of English poetry (though I want to try and write something else around the same idea - which won't make that anthology either), here it is:

Oh the shining ignus fatuus
Dancing over the mire you call to us
Know to follow there’ll be grief to pay
Yet we falter, gaze, our feet of clay

Onwards, upwards, narrow trail so dark
Empty, lonely, cold, without a spark
Looks to wind around forever
Backwards, forwards, brightening never

‘Tis our vision dim, so short the view
Heart so misled fails to see the true
Star will rise then sun will follow
Night of sighs, joy on the morrow

Ignus fatuus, flitting o’er the mire
Gaze not, march on, clutch the holy fire
All that glimmers here is transitory
Hope on, up-slope, pressing on to glory.

ALP 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Driscoll on Being a Dad, a Husband and a Man

So I just listened to this (which is part 2 - part 1 is on the same blog). As you will notice I am hardly the target audience, but I have to say, listening to that kind of a teaching as a single woman I found it so attractive.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Drug supply

So I have a fellow Swell Season junky, who has put up some other links on his site (I watched these two, but figured I couldn’t post them all!). For any other diehards I found another good version of I Have Loved You Wrong, which you can see better. I also liked this version of What Happens When the Heart Just Stops by Glen Hansard, with the amusing introduction, and there are some other good versions of this song out there too.

I have loved you wrong

This is something else beautiful (though it's not the best recording): "Forgive me ... for I have sinned ..."


Fantasy Man

This is beautiful (Marketa and Zuzanna Irglova):

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Meditating on Scripture

I appreciated the two posts that Mark Driscoll put up today on meditating on scripture (here and here). I have recently finished reading 2 Peter in my personal reading, and we are now going through 2 Peter at church, which is nice timing. Something I have been trying to do as a result is learn some of Chapter 1, particularly verses 3-11 - or even just verses 3 and 4! (I fell asleep trying to recite these two in my head last night.) They are so packed full of truly amazing things in every phrase. I have to keep stopping and starting and thinking and reading again:

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
The chapter then lists seven qualities we should strive to develop, in the light of the preceding verses, and then vs 9 hits us with the admonition that if we fail to demonstrate these qualities, we’ve just plain forgotten what we’ve been saved from.

I’ve been struggling with doubting that I had all things pertaining to life lately (and just plain forgetting about godliness in that area) and losing sight of the very great promises I do have. So, I am going to have another go at 2 Peter 1 and work and through Mark’s seven steps:

Practically, there are some steps that can be helpful for Christian meditation:

1. Pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you Scripture, convict you of sin, and give you a heart to lovingly obey Jesus.
2. Memorize a word, verse, phrase, chapter, or scene of Scripture that bites you.
3. Write it out in your own words, seeking to grasp the full meaning of what is said.
4. Ask yourself what is revealed about God.
5. Repent of any sin that the Holy Spirit convicts you of.
6. Pray for anyone or anything that the Holy Spirit brings to mind.
7. Determine what God would have you to do in obedience to His Word.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Scottish Tablet

One of the things I did with my friend over the weekend is pop into the British Lolly Shop. She bought a few novelties for her kids (she left her three kids at home with her husband) including a gob-stopper for the five-year-old, which is going to stop his gob for a very long time. My friend’s husband’s family is Scottish, so she was looking at Scottish lollies. I got lured in myself into buying a “Scottish Tablet”, because I thought it might be similar to these things a Scottish friend in Armidale used to have sent over called “Gold Bars” which were totally scrumptious.

So, when we got home I decided we should eat my Scottish Tablet. I was looking forward to this – mouth watering as I remembered Gold Bars. But seriously! Scottish people ought to be ashamed of themselves. This is what is in a Scottish Tablet: Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Full Cream Sweetened Condensed Milk, Butter, Salt, Flavouring. Think of something reminiscent of fudge, only more like just a slab of sweetened, and I mean sweetened, fat (and I thought I had a sweet tooth!), with none of the redeeming features of fudge. It's not even really flavoured! There is simply no excuse for eating anything like it! So horrid.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bargain shopping!

I have an old friend visiting for the weekend, down from country Queensland, and we have been having a great time! Yesterday she wanted to do a spot of shopping and so we found ourselves in MYER in the city (has anyone else noticed that right now the MYER building is covered with a screen printed with a picture of the MYER building? - weird). Anyway, we found a clearance section with 75% off the already marked down price. I looked through it rather listlessly to begin with, not having anything in particular that I was looking for, but I came away with $529 worth of clothing for $23. Yes, that's right! - I have not left off any digits. I never would have paid $529 for this stuff in the first place, but that's my kind of shopping!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Living Spirituality and cafe conversations

One of the blogs I like to read for something different, written in a different space to other blogs I read (it's one of my secret blogs - or was - those blogs that I hesitate to mention in certain circles lest people consider me dodgy), is Living Spirituality, by Dr Greg Laughery. Greg is now the Director of Swiss L'Abri, married to one of Francis and Edith Schaeffer's grand-daughters - so just bear in mind the purpose of L’Abri (ie to be a "shelter" and a place where people can go and discuss ideas and ask questions) and the philosophical setting of central Europe. When I was at L'Abri in 2001 Greg was my tutor, who I met with each week to work through Philippians and talk about life. It was good stuff! At the moment, once a week Greg hosts a dialogue session in a cafe in Suisse. Some days I wish I could be there.

Here's why:

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue.

I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

Why is living so unlike telling? Or is it?

Some questions from the past (and if the question sounds simple, I can guarantee you that the discussions wouldn’t be):

Do you see any analogies between learning to ride a bicycle and learning to trust God?
Are we left powerless to talk about truth in the face of seemingly endless interpretations?
Why do you think, in Genesis 2, it was not good for man to be alone?
Do you believe that Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels was a-political?
If Christianity is true, why are so many churches empty?
Do you think the end of the world is close at hand?
What is heaven?
The Bible frequently speaks of hope. What is it?
In what ways do you see yourself taking part in God’s drama of redemption?
What do you wish you could be certain of?
Why are churches turning into coffee houses, apartment buildings, and art museums?
What’s your response to the record high price of oil?
Why do you pray so often or so little?
Can you recommend any good novels?
What’s so compelling about good stories?
What are two significant points of Pentecost for today?
There is a mass exodus from traditional churches going on. What are you doing? Staying in? – getting out?
If you believe in Christ, how do you feel about having a white robe saturated in his blood (Rev. 7) ?
Sun, moon and stars are not divine, but do you think they mark out something of the character of God and the world?
What is an experience of God and is it different than other experiences?
In today’s world that is often described as Post Christian, Post Modern, Post Church, Post – Everything, how are you surviving?
What are three central truths of the content of Christianity?
What are you angry about?
What does it mean to be in community with God?
What role, if any, does imagination have in reading Scripture?
Was Jesus of Nazareth an anarchist?
What do you think are some of the most important things that Christians can be doing in 2008?
Do you think women are undervalued in your church?
Why does so much shaming go on in evangelical churches?
How can we protect ourselves from shaming and abuse without being selfish?
Are there any ways that guilt gets the best of you?
Will a focus on creation give us a better understanding of God?
Is it appropriate for a Christian to drink alcohol?
What are some of the meanings of love and justice?
What role, if any, does the church play in God’s plan to renew and redeem humanity and the world?
How do you see, if at all, a connection between forgiveness and forgetting?
What role does experience play in your belief in God?
What’s your view of body piercing?
What would you see as advantages or disadvantages of self introspection in the Christian life?
If you don’t go to church, why not?
What are several characteristics that you think should identify your church?
We may know very well until someone asks us: What is love?
How do you see imagination pertaining to your belief in God?
Do or should icons have a place in your life?

A bad thing that could turn out well :)

Our computer system here at work is not working and I simply have nothing to do that didn't involve me using that system. Rumour has it that if they don't fix it soon they might let us go home. I have to confess, I am hoping that they can't fix it any time soon! It's such a nice day outside - and it's Friday!

Poetry Friday - Bereft

I have been reading a little about poetical forms and metrical poetry lately. Don't ask me why, I just decided to make it something I was going to read about. The use of rhyme and meter creates a poem in ways we may not even detect. So here is a superb example of a metrical poem in which the use of rhyme also builds the mood. I think this is a tetrameter which is primarily iambic, though the lines don't begin with an iamb - and that's the sort of thing you can learn about poetic forms.
Bereft

Where had I heard this wind before
Change like this to a deeper roar?
What would it take my standing there for,
Holding open a restive door,
Looking down hill to a frothy shore?
Summer was past and day was past.
Somber clouds in the west were massed.
Out in the porch's sagging floor,
Leaves got up in a coil and hissed,
Blindly struck at my knee and missed.
Something sinister in the tone
Told me my secret must be known:
Word I was in the house alone
Somehow must have gotten abroad,
Word I was in my life alone,
Word I had no one left but God.
Robert Frost

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Google v Newsgator

Yesterday during lunch I set up a google reader. I have been using Newsgator for quite a while now, but the thing I didn't like about it was that if I marked something as read it disappeared altogether. Being the hoarder that I am, plagued by the "just in case", I didn't want to mark something as read and get rid of it straight away - just in case I wanted to come back later. So I set up a google reader to see if I could read things and still leave them there. Yippee - I can! This might not be so helpful in my war against hoarding, but now I can actually see where the new posts are.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The root of all sin

So I think I still get a couple more goes at mentioning him :). I haven’t yet received the CDs of the talks from the ENGAGE conference in the mail, and I am starting to watch the post. But, very briefly, two of the things I found particularly helpful and challenging from Mark Driscoll were these:

Glory + Sacrifice = Worship

Glory – What’s most important

Sacrifice – What do you sacrifice for glory? This is how you know what is most important.

Worship is our only problem, the root of all sin. All the rest is the fruit.

He talked about what things become our functional saviours, which was well worth thinking through eg for the woman at the well in John 4 it was men and relationship.

Then he asked us six questions to answer the one big question of whether we worship Creator or creation. These were the questions:

1. What do you long for most? (And motives count within that

2. Where do you go for comfort

3. What makes you angry with Jesus? (We have idols and we get disappointed if we don’t get them, but the God of the bible doesn’t exist to serve my false Gods.)

4. What do you make sacrifices for? (Where do you spend your money? Follow it and you might find your idol.)

5. Whose approval do you seek?

6. What makes you happiest?

These were scribbled randomly on my scrap of paper, so if I want to edit these after I listen again to the talks, I’ll let readers know.

Women, family, civic leadership etc

I have been reading a couple of blog posts over the last few days about Sarah Palin and about whether or not women should hold civic leadership positions and whether or not they should do that when they have families and so forth. So, I am a few days behind on all this but here are two I found most interesting: this one by a single woman, at Radical Womanhood, and this one, by a Mum with six kids under ten, about what is a woman's highest calling (which I found quite unexpected). Tim Challies also wraps it all up here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Children of the Olden Days - Part 2

So there is something I like more than old tapestries, and that is old books. And sometimes you have to buy old books simply because you've judged them by their covers. Recently I found an old children’s book by Louisa May Alcott, called Under the Lilacs, which I had to buy because it looked like this:

And inside were pictures like this:


Purple poodles, a donkey and peacocks. To further rouse my interest in the instruction of children once upon a time, I flicked open the book and, there, as part of the story, I came upon this poem, supposedly written by a child called Miss Celia:

MY KINGDOM

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard I find the task
Of governing it well.
For passion tempts and troubles me,
A wayward will misleads,
And selfishness its shadow casts
On all my words and deeds.

How can I learn to rule myself,
To be the child I should,-
Honest and brave,-nor ever tire
Of trying to be good?
How can I keep a sunny soul
To shine along life’s way?
How can I tune my little heart
To sweetly sing all day?

Dear Father, help me with the love
That casteth out my fear!
Teach me to lean on thee, and feel
That thou are very near;
That no temptation is unseen,
No childish grief too small,
Since Thou, with patience infinite,
Doth soothe and comfort all.

I do not ask for any crown,
But that which all may win;
Nor seek to conquer any world
Except the one within.
Be Thou my guide until I find,
Led by a tender hand,
Thy happy kingdom in myself,
And dare to take command.


I know that Little Women was a big hit, but I wonder how children responded to this book.

Children of the olden days

I quite like looking inside and outside old historic sites. One of the things I particularly like looking at when I am inside an historic house is the old tapestry samplers. Once upon a time I did cross-stitch. These days I don’t have the patience for counting tiny squares of thread.

For the uninitiated, a “sampler” is an example of various stitches, which usually contains all the letters of the alphabet and all the numbers, in some form of design, to show that you could stitch your letters and numbers and place them nicely amidst a few flower pots and animals or the like.

But it’s the little verses stitched into some of these old tapestries that give a curious glimpse into life gone by, especially those in the little tapestries you find in children’s nurseries. There may be a flaw in that statement as I realise that there may have been a code that applied to tapestry verses that didn’t necessarily reflect the rest of life. Nevertheless, I doubt you’d find children of today stitching the same verses, especially not at the same ages. Here is one I copied down from the nursery of Narrynnya, a historic house in Battery Point, Hobart:

Cast off all needless and distrustful care
A little is enough too much a snare
Our journey from our cradle to our grave
Cannot be long nor large provision crave
1834 Caroline Prior
Aged 9 years


I don’t know whether Caroline Prior composed that herself, or was instructed by a pious governess, but if she had to sit down and stitch it no doubt she came to know it well!

I must be getting old because something about old tapestry samplers hanging in old nurseries, especially above exquisite tiny old doll's houses, makes me lament the way the world has changed.

The Fathers' Business

Two friends of mine have just launched a new website: The Fathers’ Business; a project to source, create and host content that is useful to Dads. It looks to be good!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A River Runs Through It

Last night, when I had all my friends' children in bed, I sat down and watched the DVD of A River Runs Through It, which I have previously mentioned. It’s a good film, powerful in its understatement. It’s the story of a Presbyterian minister and his two sons growing up in Montana – a story about fly fishing and family, of the things they said and all the things they never said, about the inevitable comparison that takes place between siblings, whether intended by the parents or not, about personality and boys making their way to manhood, about men who need help but don’t know how to receive it, and ultimately about the tragedy that is the younger brother. It’s also beautiful for its cinematography. I haven’t got much to base this on, but I’d say the film is worth watching if you have been given the enormous task and privilege of raising boys, or simply as a perceptive observation of men. Otherwise, you can read the (nicely short)book (that is a link to an excerpt).

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Random facts meme

I was tagged by Nicole to do this meme (and then actually forgot - I keep forgetting things lately for some reason). So I'll get the 'rules' out of the way first too:

1. Link to the person who ‘tagged’ you!
2. Post the rules on your blog!
3. List 6 random facts about yourself!
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post!
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by commenting on their blog!
6. Let the tagger know the entry is posted on your blog!

6
random facts about me:

1. I wrote my first car off, rolling it at high speed off a bend I never made, after some involuntary stunt-driving, when the accelerator cable jammed at full throttle on the open road.

2. There's something wrong with my little finger, on both hands, which I was to have fixed as a teenager but never got around to. Now it's just my freak show party trick kind of thing.

3. I've inserted microchips into over 500 hundred brushtail possums, 200 rufous bettongs, and about 100 rock-wallabies, with the scars to prove it, and helped trap wombats in the snow and in central Queensland, koalas at the Gold Coast, mahogany gliders in far north Queensland, radio-track bridled nail-tailed wallabies in the middle of absolutely nowhere ... And I'm the Alison Payne who took these photos (second page) of a water snowflake (in the process of putting together that and eleven other fact sheets).


4. When I was ten years old I was given a stuffed koala in yellow corduroy overalls. I don't know why but I really took to it (him) and carried him everywhere, sometimes wrapped in a blanket, for a year or so - about five years after everyone else had left-off such things. (Unfortunately this sparked a general interest in koala things, such that for years after that I was given some really kitsch presents, simply because they had koalas on them. I'm slowly getting rid of them.)

5. In 2001 I spent a month at L'Abri in Switzerland and had the time of my life.

6. For all I think I am robust and fit and healthy, and loathe and detest any form of female hysteria (screaming, swooning and the like), I have this embarassing habit of fainting, not during blood tests, but about five minutes later when I think I've made it and have left the building and set off somewhere else. And once I was on a field trip with a legendary fellow from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, to collect blood samples from a newly described rock-wallaby for DNA testing, which I'd done in the past just fine, when, in the middle of bleeding an animal, without any warning, I passed out and fell off the verandah. I came around in the arms of this fellow, to my extreme embarrassment - then got up and did the next rock-wallaby. I don't know why this happens.

I'm going to tag Simone, Ben, Sophie, Bonnie, Bec, George (to try and share these things around - and since I am emailing this in from work, where I can't access blogs, I'll do rules 5 and 6 later).

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

My mind's made up

OK, so I have already admitted that I am obssessed, but what is the point of having a blog if you can't rave on about things you love at times. So, if you go to this site for The Swell Season, scroll down in the discography to the second song Live @ Artists Den (which I just discovered was down there) and watch and listen till the end, when they are doing what I can best describe as wailing in harmony, playing the piano and the guitar like there is no tomorrow (as in so fast you can't see the hands moving), and the violin wells - that, that transports me.


(And thanks to Duncan for letting me know they are coming to Australia next year! I hate the (incorrect) use of "so" like this, but I am so going to be there!)

Male/female chemistry

How peculiar is this newspaper article? That's what I call chemistry. I'm not so sure what to make of the implications, but it's fascinating.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thread the Light

I am wary of looking for any sort of theology in secular music, and rarely do it. You do find the odd great lyric out there, but it's usually a rather meaningless practice. That said, one of features of post-modernism that I take advantage of every now and then is that what's apparently truly important about art these days is not what is says but what it says to me. So, when I listen to This Low, by The Swell Season, I make what I like of the chorus. This is what it says (and you can listen to how beautifully they sing it here):

Thread the light,
Thread the light,
Shine the light,
Don't hide the light,
Live the light,
And give the light,
Seek the light,
And speak the light,
Crave the light, and brave the light,
Stare the light,
And share the light,
Show the light,
And know the light,
Raise the light,
And praise the light,
Thread the light,
And spread the light.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The aftermath

So I am back from ENGAGE. I always find it so deflating to come down the mountain after these conferences and have to turn around and go straight back to work. I want a day off just to distill and absorb - maybe next year I'll take one.

It was such a very, very good weekend. I got half way into Mark Driscoll's first talk and thought 'you know what, for once I am not going to madly scramble down notes but just sit here and listen, and order the talks'. So, I don't have any ready notes (but can't wait to get the CDs!) and right now have to write something else and put together an application for something else again, but I shall return with more of the content (after distilling and absorbing). Very briefly Mark Driscoll spoke from John 1, 4, 6 and 10 and Don Carson spoke from Matthew 11 and Psalm 40.

Mark's talks were excellent (and he continued to sock it to the "late-blooming" Aussie males - to the glee of all the women!) and Don, well, he failed to disappoint. After what I said below, when Don was being interviewed on what keeps him going in ministry his answer was that so far in his life he has had three diseases that could have taken him out, and each time, as he lay facing that possibility, he kept coming back to the hymn line "Oh let me never, never outlive my love for thee" (from O Sacred Head Sore Wounded) - his voice breaking ever so slightly as he said it. And that is why I like him.