Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Music - Frozen Heart

I received a random email the other day with a link to a new video by The Hawk in Paris. I don't quite know where The Hawk in Paris came from, but it's some kind of alternative group that the singer from Jars of Clay is also involved in. They describe themselves as electronic/synth-pop, which is not my style of music, at all. But I clicked play on this email, and I actually quite like this song, even if it's some kind of corney-ish love song. I like the chorus.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Growing up

I’m a wee bit stunned today. I have mentioned that I have been looking at places to buy. Well, I only finally got preapproval from the bank on Monday morning, as I have been waiting for paperwork to reflect some recent changes at work and so on. Then late yesterday (Tuesday) I went to look at a place that the agent was opening for ten minutes only for another buyer, thought it was a good property as soon as I walked in (you get to the point where you have looked at enough that you know), so I wizzed around, came home and read the building inspection report after bible study last night, which was all clear, so I made an offer this morning and it was accepted! Now there are contracts and sale agreements and other bamboozling pieces of paper flying about and I can hardly believe it.

But I think I got a good deal. It is actually a deceased investment estate so the family were keen to just sell it for a fair price to someone who could proceed in good time and be done with it. It’s further from the city than I was originally thinking, but is actually a few minutes walk from a bus station and a shopping centre, so in some ways is more convenient than other places closer in. And it’s got three bedrooms, albeit one smaller wardrobe-less one, two separate living areas and an enclosed garage (somewhat rare for units in Canberra), with a courtyard out the back (and – the joy – a garden shed and a clothes line!) which is more space than I had ever imagined (or even need). And what I really liked is that the main living area, bedroom and courtyard all face North, and there are skylights inside, as I was keen for a place with light and sunshine. So I am chuffed, and thankful. I could probably still be gazumped, so will try to keep my cool about it till it’s all sorted, but it is very exciting. I am moving out to the burbs to grow vegetables (maybe).

Right now I am so tired, as I couldn’t get to sleep last night with thinking about what to do, so I think I will just go to bed.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Christina Rossetti - Lent

From my 1895 edition of Verses, by Christina Rossetti.

One about dating

I probably shouldn’t post this, because while it starts as a question from a woman, it ends up being addressed to men, and I know we women have our own problems in all this. But I have seen it about on Facebook, and what is amusing is that it is men who have got it sorted who are posting it, and predominantly women who are liking it.

So, here is a dating link.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Christina Rossetti - Ash Wednesday

And then there is this, from my lovely old 1895 edition of Christina Rossetti's Verses. She actually poemed (can I invent that word?) her way through much of the church calendar. I should show you more.

Artworks in progress

A photo posted by Austin Kleon (@austinkleon) on
A little more instagram goodness. There are some who probably just scratch their heads, but I love Austin Kleon's newspaper blackout poems. This might not be one of the most poetic, but different things speak to us at different times. To me this one is that old principle of taking a negative response, or complaint, and working it into perfecting yourself, or your character, to be Victorian about it.

[It's the opposite of the current "haters gonna hate" so "shake it off" phenomena. Can I just say that I really can't abide the Taylor Swift song, Shake it Off. Not because I have any particular feelings about Taylor Swift at all, but because I consider the lyrics to be self-indulgent, ungodly and immature - and the music and shrill singing does absolutely nothing for me either. The bible exhorts us over and over of the wisdom of listening to rebuke (e.g. Proverbs 13:1, 17:10, 27:5) and I particularly like this one "It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools" in Ecclesiastes 7:5. The right response to criticism is to listen, evaluate it for any truth, and use it to grow. Not shake it off with an "if people are going to criticise that's their problem" kind of attitude. (I know absolutely nothing about Taylor Swift as a person, but if she really has had an uncountable number of boyfriends, perhaps she could do some self-reflection on that, and maybe in the end she'd conclude that the criticism is invalid and unfair, but the process of reflection and evaluation is important. If I had teenage daughters I'd be objecting to this song and its attitude.)]

As I see it, you take the criticism and let God use that to keep making you into something beautiful, a work in progress, you don't shrug and say well I am just going to shine and sparkle and be me as the beautiful authentic person I (already) am, and the rest of you can be damned, or dismissed as "haters". As a radiant older lady in Tamworth used to say, when faced with criticism, "nothing comes to me without first being sifted through the hands of father", so don't be too hasty to shake it off. Mix it into the art.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday

I thought the blog needed this poem by TS Eliot, who has not featured here for some years.

Lent appears to be a subject of contention among friends, with some supposing it deludes folks into thinking that through deprivations they might find favour with God. I have not grown up in an environment where Lent was practiced myself, and I once thought I was doing a work colleague a favour by telling him he had black stuff on his forehead (I don't recall that it looked anything like a cross!), but I have no serious objection (and God knows I could use any prompts towards remembering repentance), and I like particularly the last five paragraphs of this essay by Dan Anderson.

Picture from here.

T.S. Eliot

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Humble goodness

A photo posted by Andrew Peterson (@andrewpetersonmusic) on

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day. I meant Valentine's Day.

I had this text conversation with a friend this morning (who is married with four kids). I literally cried laughing when I realised what she thought I meant. And then I went to Bunnings after all.

Fifty Shades of Genesis 3:16

If you have read even just one of the criticisms of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, and want something more to read than my Valentine's drivel, then Wendy Alsup has written a great post, Fifty Shades of Genesis 3:16. She has been arguing for years that we get the interpretation of Genesis 3:16 wrong when we read it that women want to dominate men, and the evidence seems to be stacking up in her favour.

Ironically, I see it even in the post I wrote below. The frustration and disappointment and sometimes even rage that women can feel when men won't take initiative and be responsible. And it does appear that women rising up and dominating is actually a perverted response to that disappointment and frustration. For every domineering woman there is usually a passive man, and you'd have trouble sorting out where the relationship dynamic began. That is not to say that women can't have very real problems in respecting their husbands, but that the fallenness of the dynamic is not always as it appears (Wendy has also written many good posts on respect too). 

This unmentionable day

So it's Valentine's Day. I know the mature and sensible thing to do is to ignore it (or maybe even sneer) but that is reasonably difficult given how many emails full of gift ideas I have received in the last few weeks.

I actually thought to myself that since I am never given anything or taken out anywhere I would treat myself to something or other. I wouldn't be so silly as to pay Valentine's Day premiums on cut flowers, or go out to dinner by myself, which would be simply awful, so I thought about going to Bunnings for a flowery living plant instead, but given I may need to move sometime soon I decided to stall on that idea. Perhaps I can have a new book (yay! - any excuse).

And I know that men don't want to receive things from women they're not interested in, and that the surest way to make a man not want what you have to give, and treat it like it is worthless, is to give it to him without making him work hard for it, and I know that if a man was interested in me he'd be asking me out, not waiting for me to give a silly Valentine or for me to do the asking or just grunting on social media or ... And I am not going to trust a man who isn't taking the initiative, because you have to ask yourself why he isn't, and I have had enough trouble. So I didn't give anyone anything either.

It's a shame really, because I don't know whether gift-giving is one of my love languages or what the psychological compulsion and enjoyment is, but I like finding different and apt and sometimes fun gifts to give. I don't ever want to be in on the histrionics that unless you get twelve roses, a ribboned box of chocolates and a stuffed gorilla it activates the Cold War, I just like some of the fun little tongue-in-cheek and humorous things. But I shall keep it for the day, which I know may never come, when I meet a man who appreciates what I have to give, in the ways that I have to give it.

And I know I can give my girlfriends or my relatives or homeless people cards and fun things any time I want, and that's a nice thing to do, but who wants to pretend that's the same thing. And I know that God loves me more than any man on this earth ever will, which is not actually a very tall order for God so far in that comparison, and that God's love is a whole lot more than I deserve.

Anyway, I was listening to Oh to be Loved by Thad Cockrell the other day, when I discovered it has been recorded by Page CXVI also. So, here are both versions, which are suitably kind of mellow for the day.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Little mossy gardens and Joy

I went and sat in the Arboretum cafe this afternoon, for the sake of leaving the house and driving in the countryside. It's very pleasant on yonder hill. The cafe is a vast high-ceilinged cavernous space, but is strangely not noisy and stark, and it has this vista in its favour, this being taken from my table out the window.

I actually thought I'd re-read Surprised by Joy by CS Lewis, after dabbling in that essay last weekend, as it's been a few years now and I have forgotten things I'd like to remember. So, I finished chapter one, in which Lewis describes his desire for Joy being awakened by his brother's toy moss garden constructed in a biscuit-tin lid, then I went for a wander in the Bonsai Collection. Strangely apt.

The photos don't do these wonders justice, as it was too sunny and I had only my phone so couldn't wipe some of the surrounding distractions out of focus, and you can't really be amazed by the scale of these creations, but I did find many of these strange little trees very evocative. (I must go back in a better light with a better camera.)

I don't think I have ever posted the quintessential Lewis in which he describes his discovery of Joy, so here it is, from the first chapter of Surprised by Joy.
... I will only underline the quality common to the three experiences; it is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and from Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again. Apart from that, and considered only in its quality, it might almost equally well be called a particular kind of unhappiness or grief. But then it is a kind we want. I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is. 
I actually came home and read The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, by Beatrix Potter, as that formed one of the three experiences Lewis is describing. I can't say that I was transported by any Idea of Autumn (though I do very much love Autumn, and am pleased to be back in a climate where it comes in all its splendour, and the Brambly Hedge Autumn comes closer), but that only proves the contextual and singular nature of these stabs of longing.

So I had myself an afternoon of what pleasure is in my control, as Lewis writes:
What more felicity can fall to creature
Than to enjoy delight with liberty?

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Conflict resolution ideas

Picture from random blog.

The link to this article on conflict resolutions tips by Ken Sande came in an email newsletter from the church I attended in Sydney.

I find conflict a really grievous and stressful business, one that sometimes gets extraordinarily complicated by other factors. I am not a person who has had a lot of conflict in my life. We INFJs are generally known to be the diplomats and peacemakers, and generally I think that is true for me. Particularly in work situations I have been commended for working with, or at least around, some of the most difficult people. But that only makes it even more distressing and surprising when it comes along, and for reasons you can’t understand and don’t seem to be able to resolve.

A while ago I asked someone to forgive me, and I don’t even really know what for at the highest level, except that I must have done a lousy job of doing good to this person given the way they react to and treat me. I didn’t get answer, so I guess I just have to assume I am not forgiven. Not forgiven enough for an answer in any case. And the truth is, my attempts to reconcile the problem have only contributed to the problem and thus made it worse, mostly because they achieve nothing at all so just add to the pile of attempts, which is itself partly the problem.

But the article helped me see that perhaps that is in some measure because my efforts have been fuelled by good desires that have just grown to big, “such as a craving to be understood, loved, respected, or vindicated”. (We INFJs are also a bit nuts about wanting to be understood.) And I have definitely focused a little too much “love, attention, and energy on something other than God”, in wanting to bring those things about. That makes me wonder whether even wanting to resolve conflict in itself can become a form of idolatry that inevitably causes conflict? ... (A person could get very tangled up!) Whichever way that works I “should deliberately pursue right worship, that is, to fix your heart and mind on God and to seek joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction in him alone”.

It’s also helpful to read that God doesn’t hold us responsible for the outcomes. If another person is not willing, or not ready yet, to respond to a request for forgiveness, well that is not something we can force them into or be responsible for, and we might just need to let it be. And if I have muffed up the attempts, even really badly, and been misguided, and feel terribly misunderstood, I believe they were, at least sometimes, motivated by attempts at obedience, which is what God requires.

And I am very glad that God isn’t someone who is going to say “I forgive you; I just don't want to have anything to do with you again”.