Thursday, July 31, 2014

Forget me not

I had a birthday this week. This is one of the gifts I received. It’s from the Royal Albert Flower of the Month series and adorned with forget-me-nots.

To make a silly blog confession, I have always wanted to own this cup and saucer. I have something of a “thing” for fine china, particularly fine china that is blue and white, so this seemed like a cup and saucer I had to have. But I have always resisted getting it, because, the truth is, I was always hoping someone special might one day buy it for me. So I never wanted anyone else to. In my mind forget-me-nots belonged to romance.

But then twenty years went by and no-one special came along, and then Royal Albert discontinued this series, and I missed it altogether. (There's a lesson in that somewhere.) So now I have a second-hand one that I bought on ebay myself, and for which I got the money back from my Mum. Sigh. Life is full of little disappointments.

I have given up the hope of there being a man who will take joy in bringing me joy by giving me gifts – or time, or words of affirmation, or any other of the languages of love. (And I have on occasion stretched my neck out and given things to men, but all that came my way for that was humiliation and trouble, because obviously I chose the wrong man, and it is a better idea to wait for men to do the giving first.)

But I shall use this teacup – and I know it is only a silly teacup – to remind myself that God does not forget me, and that he gave himself up for me, at great cost to himself, out of love (and took the sodding initiative, rather than sitting back waiting for me to do it all or first prove my own affections – as I’ve said before, it is little wonder people are Arminian, if relationships between men and women are supposed to reflect that of Christ and the church).

I shall use it to remind myself to forget not God either, and all his many benefits (Psalm 103:2) – one of the small ones being the luxury of fancy fine china!

Forget-me-nots are sweet, unpretentious little flowers, that grow in road-side ditches. I like them for that.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A song for freedom

Since I have been a little political and a little musical of late, I thought I’d post this. It’s really about being a Sara Groves fan, and I have posted some Jenny & Tyler here before also.

This song was recorded to raise money for organisations that fight to prevent human trafficking. It’s a U2 cover, which is always going to be perilous, and when I first started listening I thought ‘no, this isn’t working’, but it gets better. I like the little instrumental pause on “you broke the bonds and you loosed the chains ...”. That's all not really the point in any case. It's from an EP called For Freedom.

Monday, July 28, 2014

My puzzlement with the world

This might be the most un-PC blog post I ever write, and I don’t even want to blog about such things, because there are plenty of other dedicated and angry blogs a person can read. But, someone needs to explain to me sometime soon how an evolutionary worldview supports the current obsession with, even worship of, homosexuality and abortion as public issues.

Maybe I am missing something, but I thought I studied enough science at university to see a gaping lack of cohesion in all this somewhere. I can’t help feeling sometimes like I’m living in the middle of a weird cultural blind spot, and wondering whether, if the world still exists in 500 years, the folks of the future will look back and shake their heads at the vast space between what we claimed was the explanation of the universe and what we believed was driving human action (maximising your own genetic output and all that) and how people actually wanted to live and what they spent their time campaigning and protesting about.

I could hazard a guess at some of the arguments, but they’d have to be rather convoluted, because there is no very straight line between the two.

That is all.

(And this post may not last long if abusive comments start coming my way. I was called a “f*%$ing reject” on Facebook yesterday, for commenting about abortion (why I did this I don’t know, I must have been feeling reckless), but I didn’t take any notice of that comment because it wasn't punctuated properly. Hah! That and it was plain nonsense.)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Twelve Simple Hymns

I should point out, for folks who appreciate such things, a link to a free download of Twelve Simple Hymns.

It’s the music from the 2014 Bishop’s Cathedral Convention here in Canberra, but is recorded by some friends from my previous church in Sydney, which is a weird overlap of worlds (and it was only when my previous church put up the link on their Facebook page that I realised the connection, because an email was sent around with a link at work on the last day before I went on leave and I hadn't got around to listening till now). So, if you like simple acoustic music, you might enjoy this. It perhaps only happens inside my own peculiar head, but when the piano intro to Here is Love starts playing, I expect it to turn into Bridge over Troubled Waters, which I haven't listened to for years, so I’m hearing “When you’re weary, feeling small, Here is Love, vast as the ocean ...”. That sort of works.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Some Shakespeare for Saturday

It’s been a while since there’s been Shakespeare here, so here a little snippet that seems apt to recent events:
Each new morn
    New widows howl, new orphans cry,
    New sorrows strike heaven on the face.
Macbeth, Act 4, Sc 3. Spoken by Macduff.

I actually found this in Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, by Timothy Keller, which I started reading a few days ago. I don’t know why I didn’t start this book earlier, it’s so good. You might wonder why I read such a book. Life has personally been stressful and hurtful of late (and whatever I do to try to fix a situation only makes it worse, and I can’t try anymore), and work exposes me to another level of pain of suffering (if I said Ro*yal Commi*ssion you might understand – we haven’t yet been called up as an organisation, but we might be, so I work on the ‘vaults of darkness’, as I've called them, in case) and thus it is good to have a heart and mind prepared to encounter such things, view them rightly and keep close to God.

Here’s another old quote that is more encouraging:
I will be with you, your troubles to bless, and sanctify to you your deepest distress.
From How Firm a Foundation, Ye Saints of the Lord, by John Rippon, 1787.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Snow adventures

Well, the snow adventure is sadly over. But here is a picture of my sister's family that I snapped in the snow, which turned out rather nicely, and then some evidence that I was in on the tobogganing. Tobogganing is super fun, I have to say. I think I enjoyed myself as much as the kids. You can't really tell in the pictures, but if you got a good run from high up the hill you could go flying down the mountain at quite a pace. There was a while after lunch when my brother-in-law had been excused from child-minding responsibility to go snowboarding, and my sister was at the bottom of the tobogganing hill building another snowman with my nieces, and I was going up and down with my five-year-old nephew and we had a hoot. I'd let him set off wherever he went, then try to steer down after him, which was at times challenging (the steering power on these things is limited!).

I am up there somewhere with my nieces, in pink.

Ready, set ...


Not the most lady-like set up happening here, but it worked a whole lot better if you could get your feet up on the toboggan, and the little one loved it.

We must have been moving too fast! (I was just wearing a down jacket that I had already, but the lack of a water-proof/wind-proof hood became an issue. If you are going to the snow, I highly recommend hoods!)

Preparing for run number 650 ...

The nephew leads the way.

Just cruising by.

The little people loving it.

This one was a little trooper and would happily do it herself (she just needed dummy when she started tiring and by 2.30 pm she was dissolving and ready to go to sleep in the car back down the mountain).

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The question girls have answered by their father

I have to say, I find all the articles well-meaning folks post on Facebook about the importance of fathers hard to read at times, though I read them all, out of some kind of morbid curiosity. That or a desire for some kind of enlightenment that might bring about some kind of transformation. But I do usually start to squirm and feel like they all explain my life. Like this (which I edited because it doesn’t actually make sense the way it’s written in the article), from this week’s Facebook link, which is well worth reading for what else it says by the way (and there’s a nice little mention of a lighthouse, which is my thing for this week). This is in reference to daughters and their fathers:
They also look to their dads for the answer to the question, ‘How can I expect to be treated by a man?’ If the dad treats them with respect, they set the bar of respect high. They don’t take crap from blokes.

But if that makes you thoroughly depressed, read this one

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

A winter holiday

I did eleven and a half hours of freelance work over the weekend to get material off to press, when my plan is to aim for about six hours a week, so I am having a bit of spell this week, thus the messing about listening to music on youtube.

Then I actually have next week off, which is going to be very welcome. Holidays can be difficult as a single person, trying to come up with someone to go somewhere with, at a mutually amenable time, and you tend to jump at opportunities that present themselves. Consequently this one’s a bit premature with the new job but has come up in opportunistic fashion as my sister and her family from Queensland will be down in the snow on a winter holiday and asked if I would like to meet up with them there, so I ran it by work and they are very kindly letting me have the time off. In some ways I should perhaps not be doing it as I keep telling myself that I need to plan holidays better and not just end up visiting extended family in ad hoc fashion. Also when you catch up with families as a single person you usually find yourself simply tagging along and fitting in with whatever they are doing, without thinking too much about it, which can be good but is not always the best way to have a rest. Next week I will be tagging along on a family holiday, but I don’t have to fly to Queensland to do it, and it will be very nice to see them and spend time with the little nieces and nephew who are growing up way too fast and to play in the snow.

Then next time, I will say it again, I will plan a holiday properly. There is actually somewhere that many years ago, in perhaps rather silly fashion, I thought would be a nice place to go for a honeymoon. Then a colleague at my previous work actually went there for a honeymoon recently and showed us all pictures, which reminded me that I’d always wanted to go there. I’ve given up hope of being asked on a honeymoon, because you probably have to be asked on a date to get there, but have resolved to go myself. The prohibitive factor has always been that there are things I would like to do there that it is not particularly wise or safe to do as a woman on your own, but I have now reached the place of not caring, because going with a girlfriend doesn’t make much difference in that respect in any case, and I don’t have so many girl friends who enjoy hiking and the outdoors, and you can’t go away with guys unless you go in a group, and I don’t have a group, and I am not going to ask men to go places either, because that just makes them uncomfortable and henceforth in my life I am leaving it to men to do all asking, and men can go away on outdoorsy adventures with their mates for a blokesy time without having women trailing along so aren’t likely to ask me to go, and so I shall go by myself, or I’ll never get there. And if harm comes my way you can all say “she died doing something she loved” as they always do. So, that is my plan. Having blogged it hopefully that spurs me to make it happen.

I’ve also started investigating local bushwalking clubs, because I’d like to be able to get out and explore places, without going solo into the wilds.

So I've started a novel in preparation for holidays and am reading Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, which has been on the list for a long time. So far, so good! I shall keep you informed ...

Monday, July 07, 2014

The peace in my troubled sea

Or how about this? A folk rock worship band from Northern Ireland. I like it. I got it from this post. There's a little boy by that name in our family, and another baby David who came in a storm. But you'll have to excuse me because right now I need to go listen to some more of the Rend Collective.

Sunday, July 06, 2014


What can I say? I cried on first listen. Our text in church today was Matthew 11, particularly this:
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

Sunday - Endless Reserves

Today I post a Newspaper Blackout poem by Austin Kleon, called Endless Reserves.

This is true, but only if you fight any bitterness and the ensuing stinginess with love by filling yourself from God's endless reserves, if you were to ask me. In the face of a realisation of misplaced trust or of unrequited or rejected love, it's oh so easy to resolve and mutter to oneself "I am never ever going to __ again" or "that is the last time I am giving anything of myself at all to __" (believe me, I have so muttered) or the end of all risk-taking or making yourself vulnerable. But that's also a fast track to heart atrophy.

And if we can only see that in Christ love is renewable, what are we really going to lose? There isn't any need to freeze people out or withdraw yourself from them because you feel like you gave away too much love. So, I like this.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

The pelican-in-her-piety again

Here are a couple more pictures of the pelican-in-her-peity, taken about the place on my phone, just incase you thought I was exaggerating that story. I've read that it is often given the body of a swan and the head of an eagle, which looks to be true in at least some instances, but makes one wonder why bother then calling it a pelican. 

I've also been informed that there is a pelican sundial in the courtyard of Corpus Christi College in Oxford, erected in 1581, and discovered it is on the coat of arms for that college. Apparently this college has had for a long time a reputation as specializing and excelling in Classics, and the college's historical significance includes its role in the translation of the King James Bible (all from Wikipedia). So, now you know. I'm curious as to whose idea it was to use it here in Canberra.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

A morning poem

The exercise-in-the-morning caper is getting quite gruelling here in Canberra. If you look at the temperature descent throughout the night it is at it's very coldest around 6 am, and it's a strenuous effort going outside soon after. But I am trying to persevere for at least some mornings of the week and toughen up. I take courage from the fact that, while winter has really only just begun, we have passed the winter equinox so the days will only get longer.

The other morning I was out jogging in my usual purple jacket, with a pinkish/red one underneath that is very light and has holes in it but has very long sleeves I can bury my hands in, and a bright pink ear-band around my head, because that was the dregs of the ALDI ski gear when I decided such a thing could be useful, and a lady came out to the footpath with a wheelie bin and said "you match the sky". It was spectacular sunrise that morning. So here is a morning poem, that has something of Romans 1 about its ending.

Picture from here.

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

from Dream Work (1986) by Mary Oliver © Mary Oliver