Sunday, December 27, 2009


Joy to the world,
The LORD is come. (trad. carol)

The true light, who brings light to all people, has entered the world, as John 1:9 describes the arrival of Jesus.

Lots of presents, lots of food. I felt more relaxed with my church family than my own extended family. Interesting...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Change Coming

I have been on maternity leave for the last 12 months and I have to return to work in 3 weeks time. I am beginning to prepare myself for spending chunks of time away from my almost-11 month old. I am finding myself thinking more about the tasks and responsibilities I will have to take up in my job.

This year has been an oasis of calm for me. I am a little afraid that busy-ness and rushing will seep back into life when I go back to work. Don't misunderstand me - I have had plenty of tasks to occupy me in the past 12 months. But there has been a freedom to stop and absorb the blessing around me. To marvel at the people I share life with.

My husband has been able to devote himself to work full-time while I have been home more. I really wanted to see him take full advantage of this - capitalise on it fully! He has found it hard to have so much time. He is looking forward to the restriction on his available time, because he says it makes him more efficient. Here's hoping that happens for me, too.

This is my final maternity leave (according to our best plans), and that has helped me to enjoy and relish it. I am also sad to leave this 'stage' behind me.

photo: stock.xchng

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Children are sociopaths?

I really enjoyed this article from the Onion, and my eyes have been opened to the sociopaths living in my own house.

It just goes to show that anecdote and opinion can be used to back up any assertion. Brilliantly.

I love my little sociopaths, and I'm not sure I'd like to have one of the other 2%.

Monday, December 7, 2009


I visited a Christian bookstore today. The word 'megastore' is probably appropriate. In fact, I was overwhelmed by the amount of material there. My mind was boggled with the thought of taking even a thousandth of the information there into its recesses. And then actually putting it into practice?

I had fun choosing lots of Christmas books for preschoolers, so that they can be the presents at our playgroup Christmas party. There were some fantastic books that really appeal to kids.

Tonight I am pondering the time, energy, resources (read money) that goes into producing books, CDs, DVDs, gifts, etc. There is no end to the writing of books, but in the end, are they all meaningful, just because they are 'Christian' books? Do they distract us from the real things that matter? Are people writing books to glorify God or themselves? Are there lots of people out there who just like to drive an agenda (the new Holden Agenda, a great car for pastors)?

Don't misunderstand me, I have read some great books and been encouraged immensely by some of them. Some people have deep insights and wisdom from God to share. But how do we sift through and find it when there is such a forest around the important trees?

Saturday, November 28, 2009


It's been 2 months since I have posted anything and I'm contemplating changes in my blog.

My project for the next week is to make sure we have something planned to do as a family for advent. I have been reading what other people do/have done and feel slightly overwhelmed at the prospect.

My prayer is that I can excite everyone about the gift that God gave us - Jesus. It's so easy for kids to get caught up in all the commercialism of Christmas. I have really noticed how parents can promote this by making gifts and desires such a focus. We live in an area of Sydney with lower resources but parents go all out to buy heaps at Christmas. Especially putting heaps of money into Chrisco (a company that I really dislike for the way they rip poorer people off!!).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Faded and neglected

Walking home this afternoon, I noticed how overgrown our local creek is. It is completely obscured by weeds which are flourishing this spring. The parts where the water is visible are filled with rubbish (our kids have previously counted four discarded shopping trolleys, an old bike and a plastic rocking horse, not to mention general refuse).

Everything I looked at seemed to be overgrown, uncared for or just faded. I was momentarily overcome by decrepitude. It was reality breaking through my rose-coloured glasses.

I like where I live, and appreciate its green semi-ruralness. I am surprised how easily I can block out ugliness and neglect. There are just brief times when I see clearly. When I realise that there is so much that I could be doing to improve life.

There are two things that I can do in response to this. Too often I do the first - feel overwhelmed and paralysed and not change anything. The second is to pray, because I feel helpless.

I need to pray more for this place. The neglected landscape reflects the neglected, lost people.

Friday, September 11, 2009

An ordinary week

Memorable moments for this week...

When asked to say what he loves about his dad, in a church vox pop on Sunday, our 3 year old answered, 'I love my dad because he beats me up.'
Not much to say in response to that one...

Being given 2 slow cookers for my birthday. (I'm already a bit of a leisurely dinner maker, but this will be ridiculous.) Oh, the pressure of being asked 'What would you like for your birthday?'

Our church prayer meeting.

Reading Isaiah 51:7-8

“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong
you who cherish my law in your hearts.
Do not be afraid of people’s scorn,
nor fear their insults.
8 For the moth will devour them as it devours clothing.
The worm will eat at them as it eats wool.
But my righteousness will last forever.
My salvation will continue from generation to generation.”

There are so many things I do not say, about right and wrong and God's law, because I fear scorn or insults (or even that people might not like me). Sharp as a two-edged sword for me.

Watching Costa's Garden Odyssey (my new favourite TV show). I learnt what a permablitz is and wondered again if the creator of the universe would rate a mention in the 'Zen Shed' segment (garden spirituality). I don't think He's enough.
Costa's beard is incredible, but he spoke to a Sikh banana and blueberry farmer from Woolgoolga who matched it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Feeling helpless...

Around me, things go wrong that I cannot fix. My friend's father dies during a time when my friend and his wife are already dealing with significant loss in their lives. Someone in our community struggles with finding out their son has been sexually abused. Sick people cannot manage to live the lives they would like to, and labour under constant, chronic pain.

I wonder why some people carry such heavy burdens. Why others can seem blessed in every aspect of their lives. I cannot frame an answer that truly satisfies.

I pray irregularly and unsystematically about these things. I am so human in my lack of faith, lack of compassion and lack of perserverence. Even though I feel helpless to change things, I still cling desperately to thoughts of what I can do.

I long for a day when helplessness and sadness about the state of the world drive me desperately to prayer.

Help me Lord, to remember that you are here.
Help me see you as you weep with the hurting.
Help me ask you to change things and to bring your kingdom.
Help me to trust you.
Help me to accept my own helplessness and let you work through me.
Help me to believe that you are powerful to help.

My current dialectic -
"I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief." Mark 9:24

Sunday, August 23, 2009


When I came across a blog review of 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy it reminded me of impressions I had after finishing it earlier this year. Apart from being quite beautifully and sparely written, the post-apocalyptic/post nuclear event world was eerie and frighteningly deserted.

It reminded me of John Marsden's 'Tomorrow, When the War Began' and his subsequent books about post-invasion Australia. The characters could never be at ease or safe, always unsure who was watching or lurking around them. It was partly menacing but also forlorn and lonely.

The twist which really surprised me about the story was about perspective in narrative. The man builds a slow picture, through gradual revelation of his and his son's history, of what has happened to the world and to humanity. I did not question the truth of his perspective until the last scene of the book. McCarthy, by the isolation of the two main characters through the book, maintains their perspective as the trustworthy account of how the world has reached the point we glimpse. It was only when other characters entered the narrative and spoke, that the man's perspective was questioned. It was only on reflecting back from the conclusion, that I was able to see the possibility of paranoia or isolating himself for reasons we may not even have known.

The love that the man had for his son was interesting, also. I hope that I would want to stay alive for my child, even when I had lost desire to live. The father's love was fiercely protective and sacrificial, in a strange way. The instinct for survival and care for his son in the midst of loss and desperation was so strong.

I was left wondering how often we picture our own history a certain way, and how often it is only part of the story. We have a particular narrative in mind as we reflect on our experiences and it is so easy to mistake those around us - to misunderstand actions or motives, to perceive situations wrongly. Of course there are times when our version corresponds with the stories of those around us, but sometimes we get it totally wrong and misunderstand completely.

There was a note of hope at the end of the story, but humanity was deeply troubled, lost and struggling. It was evident that survival was a haphazard and dangerous pursuit, and left me thinking of Jesus' compassion for the crowds, 'harrassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd'.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the holy spirit. Romans 15:13.

I keep coming back to this verse from Romans as I finish reading the book this week. The word hope caught my attention, as I try to puzzle out ideas about faith, hope and love for a weekend away later this year.

God = the source of hope.

Hope is future-orientated. It's what we look forward to, what we are waiting for. So often, the way we talk about our 'hopes' is with a sense that they may not eventuate. We hope to get particular things or go to certain places or achieve established goals. Sometimes it just doesn't happen. Sometimes we keep trying and other times we just shift our sights. This is not the hope of God.

When we trust in God for our future, then we can have confident hope. We can be confident that God will take care of us, both here on earth and when we enter the place he is preparing for us in heaven. The holy spirit will remind us again and again of God's promises to seek and find us, to reconcile us to himself, to adopt us as his children, to make us part of Christ's body and work through us, to bring us to the Great City in heaven and place us among the worshipping throngs of people.

God does not make these promises lightly. He makes them as the lord of the universe who speaks and things happen. Hope in God is sure because He is trustworthy, and he is powerful to make it happen. Trust then leads on to confident hope. Trust also gives us joy and peace. Knowing our lives are in God's hands gives us an abundant contentment and a sure hope.

It's hardest to hope when things are falling apart around us. When a child dies, or when a partner leaves us. When we can't find a job or when the one we have seems to hard.

I find it hard to hope when its difficult to see God's work in the lives around me (especially mine). Maybe I don't trust that he can do things, that he will fulfill the promises he has made to rescue people. Sometimes my sin is to trust in my own wisdom for a situation, rather than looking to God and praying desperately for him to do what is needed.

Paul is praying that God will give people joy and hope, as they trust in Him. Then they will have overflowing, confident hope.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


David Malouf's book, Ransom, retells part of the Iliad. Achilles has killed Hector and Hector's father, Priam, king of Troy decides to approach Achilles man-to-man and plead for his son's body in order to give him a proper burial. The book tells the story of this journey and the meeting of the two men.

The book has been described as 'lyrical', and I found it really pleasurable to read. The writing appears effortless and flows so well. I reached the end of the book struck by the beauty and tragedy of the story, having seen so much in such a short, simple picture.

I have never read the classics, as such, but feel inspired to try. We went to see 'Antigone' last year and it had a similar feeling about it. Life, death, betrayal, heroism presented with a certain transparency and urgency. Reactions are visceral and powerful, love is forceful and the gods involved as participants in the drama of life and kingdoms.

This book is definitely worth reading.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Grace and Life

Discussion at our place, last night, centred around God's grace.

In our outcome/achievement orientated society we can measure our faith by the 'things' we do for God. Sometimes it feels like we are only pleasing God if we are 'doing' something worthy. This is especially true in Christian ministry. In some circles we boast about 'busy-ness', albeit in a sheepish way. (Our discomfort is more with the posture of boasting rather than being uncomfortable with being too busy.) I have noticed, myself, that when people ask how our church/ministry is going that I want to demonstrate to other Christians the worthy things that we are doing or achieving.

I don't think it is wrong to be busy at times. There will always be times when things pile up on us and different things demand our attention at the same time. The danger comes when we only know how to be busy. When we maintain a roll of busy-ness out of habit it can lead to a lack of skill in discerning what is really important to spend time and energy on. More importantly, it demonstrates to the people around us that we believe personal worth is in achievement rather than in being a beloved child of God.

So often, when busy, we come to trust in our own efforts. We can become proud of what we see as our own achievements as a busy and important person. We can come to think that God will only really love us if we are doing something for him. It is sad that we can sell our loving father so short, that we see his love with worldly eyes, contingent on us being good or worthwhile.

God loves us in our lostness and failure. His grace is that he comes to us and loves us before we can do anything for him. This grace then leads to gratitude in us and a desire to be part of his mission to the world, but the grace comes first.

This must be balanced with a desire to live a holy, godly life and to be involved in labour that will withstand the fire of judgement. God wants us to live a fulfilled life* - I would suggest, a balanced life - where we understand the value of work and service but also know the relief of rest and the joy of celebration. The work God does in our lives and spirits is a much truer mark of value than our own work and achievements.

*John 10:10 - 'I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'
It is interesting that Jesus talks about bringing life for people 'to the full' in the context of his shepherding and his sacrifice. The full life is found in following the shepherd and living in his care.

Crocheted Coral

I have just mailed my contribution to the Sydney Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. I am looking forward to going to the Powerhouse Museum later this month to see the completed reef and see if I can identify my pieces. Here are some pictures for posterity to prove I did take part in an artistic/creative endeavour.

I could not have co-ordinated or concieved this project but I am excited that people who can have made it possible to participate.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Being with God

We had a discussion last night about what it means to know God intimately. So often we know about God, but it can be harder to enjoy being with God.

I struggle with this as it always seems to be more important to be doing something rather than 'nothing'. It's interesting that we refer to being still and resting as doing nothing. I actually think that God wants us to 'waste' time with him rather than rush off to our next urgent task. Even when I think about my time with God, I focus on the practicalities of what I'm going to read or what I want to say/pray about. I'm not suggesting that those things aren't good, but I don't want to forget to listen and be still, enjoying the time that the God of the Universe has for me.

There is space for different sorts of times in relationships. Sometimes there needs to be agendas, progress, working things out. Sometimes it is time to laugh, have fun, welcome others and enjoy community. Sometimes it is pleasant to sit and be and enjoy the presence of those we love. I love to look out the window and drink in the sight of my family playing or talking. I cherish those moments and am glad that I am here experiencing them. I want to feel like that about my times with God. There have been times when that has been true, but there have also been times when I treat God like another chore I need to get done, in order to get on with the next one.

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalm 46:10

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Comfort Women WWII

War is a complicated, messy, tragic business. There doesn't appear to be any winners when we consider conflicts of the last 200 years (probably the last 2000, but I don't know enough to comment wisely). Even armies who have 'won' bear scars and lose people.

Amnesty International have a campaign running currently to try to raise awareness of the women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers during world war 2.

It's simple to get on their website and create a butterfly like this one (I made this one tonight). The campaign is clear and specific and made me consider a group caused to suffer immensely by war, who are intended to remain silent and ashamed - forgotten. There must be millions of women and children around the world in just the same position in current and recent conflicts.

So go to and make a butterfly.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Snatching a moment

My mind is bubbling with ideas and plans at the moment. It is an effort to slow it down to write a post. The nagging sense that I have missed or forgotten something lurks at the corner of my consciousness. Maybe that's just because I forgot to tell my husband about plans for friends to come for dinner until ten minutes before their arrival, tonight. Maybe its because I've forgotten to go to bed, yet.

The dilemma* that I am faced with this evening is that I want to take time to reflect, but I fill my time so that I run out of time to think. Late at night I sit down at the computer and what would take me 5 minutes at midday, takes me fifty minutes at midnight.

This is as far as I can get tonight. I'll be back to continue later...

*I use 'dilemma' advisedly. My dilemma lies somewhere on the importance spectrum between identifying a song on the radio with my iPod and the inability of the world to abolish hunger despite an abundance of food.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Slap

I've just finished reading 'The Slap' by Christos Tsiolkas. It was a bit sex-obsessed for my liking, but I thought it was a gripping story and I enjoyed the story coming from a number of different perspectives, through different characters' chapters.

Physical discipline of children is such a fraught issue, and that is not the only complicating factor for the people in this story. Some politically correct views are challenged and there is not a pat solution. Other politically correct perspectives on sexuality, relationships and fundamentalism were not questioned at all.

The portrayal of drug-taking was often as positive, particularly with regard to experimentation and I would want to be more cautious than this. It made me wonder if I am very sheltered and prudish because my experience of illicit drugs is limited and I don't have such an open acceptance of their ubiquity and desirability.

It stood out to me, how much personal history, family and experience shape the reactions of each character. Every person had pain, loss or misunderstanding which was at the source of their broken behaviour. There was also a clear message about the need for forgiveness in order to bring healing.

The mother of the child who is slapped, seeks retribution on his assailant. She is a deeply needy woman, both trapped by and idealising motherhood. She is obsessed with her son and the need to be a 'good' mother, but overwhelmed by his possession of her. The sad implication was that her nurturing of her son was going to be a source of future problems for him. That is a searing possibility which I don't like to consider in my own life. But if I don't, how can I work to stop it happening?

I would recommend this book, for the ideas it raises. It is well written, and accurately portrays the dilemmas and blindnesses of our society.

Friday, June 19, 2009

10 things I want my children to learn and remember...

I have decided to try out a list post as advised by the comment links to Justin Moffatt's blog and Abraham Piper's post. So here are my top 10 things I want my children to learn over the next 20 years.

  1. They are loved
  2. Family is a safe place
  3. Learning something new is good
  4. It's possible to make most things at home
  5. It's OK to be scared, sad or angry
  6. To listen
  7. To handle being wrong
  8. To laugh
  9. To be generous
  10. To love other people

I have compiled these with the understanding that the love of God and being one of his children permeates all these, without including an overt 'be in a relationship with God' lesson.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Being Thankful

How do I teach my children to enjoy good things and be thankful for them?

If something we like happens regularly, we can get to expect it and forget that it is a blessing. We might even get to the point of demanding it and being put out when it doesn't happen. A gracious gift can become a burden to the giver and the recipient takes it for granted.

I am finding this a hard one to teach at home. Maybe I need to look out for where I take gifts for granted?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adopting embryos

I have been listening to a friend talk about frozen embryos which will not be used by couples having IVF. Apparently, in Victoria, these embryos can be offered to other couples for adoption. In NSW this doesn't usually happen, so unused embryos are often destroyed.

It seems strange that it is preferable to kill an embryo rather than allow it to be adopted by someone who longs for a baby. Adoption is so out of favour because of the complications it can bring for children and biological parents. It has now become preferable to be killed rather than adopted. What is going on?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Devilled Sausages

The new favourite meal at our house is devilled sausages. Why is adding a bit of spice, being 'devilled'? Apparently the term is a Georgian one. I hope that we can be godly and spicy in our family.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cha-ordic (aka Paradox #1)

I heard this word today in a podcast sermon from Mars Hill Bible Church and have decided to take it up and use it. Rob Bell used it to describe how the church should be.

It is a combination of the words chaotic and orderly, and I am interpreting it as the positive aspects of both concepts combined. That there is the spontaneity, flexibility and freedom of chaos with the predictability, safety/boundaries and solidness of order.

I like the balace of it as an idea and the paradoxical flavour of it. I am beginning to hatch/gestate an idea of a series of posts about paradox and dialectics. More about that when I do bit more research and thinking.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Jesus' Last Words

We are doing a series in Sunday School about things Jesus said the night before he died. I don't think it will be exhaustive or the last word on last words. I hope it gives the kids a picture of the great promises and encouragements that Jesus gave his disciples and his church.

So far we have spent time thinking about...

"Your lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other." 

"I am going to prepare a place for you, and I will come and get you." 

 As I read through John 14-17 I keep coming up with so much hope for what is to come. Despite Jesus knowing the anguish that lay ahead of him he was able to teach and comfort his friends. Of course there was also a sense of urgency about his teaching, because he knew what was about to happen. Yet he was able to be so clear-sighted in what he said to them, despite their inability to understand what he was pointing out. It would be easy to say how slow they are to 'get it', except that I know how often I don't understand what is happening around me until it has well and truly occurred. I am able to read Jesus' words in the light of the next few days, (and years), which put John 14-17 into perspective.

Jesus' promise to prepare a place for me, has made me wonder what life would be like without the hope that I will one day be in heaven with Jesus. What if the life of 'quiet desperation' most people lead was all we had? D. H Lawrence said that heaven was just a carrot to get poor people to put up with their poverty here in this life. The promise that Jesus is talking about and the glimpses of heaven we get in the bible are much more than that, though.

One day I will live in a place where everything goes right, where there is no danger, where I am perfectly understood and where I perfectly understand - no more confusion, loss, half-heartedness, mind-changing or disappointment. I will never have to watch the news with disgust or horror souring my mouth again. I won't have to wonder about the safety of someone I see in the street or at work. I won't have to feel helpless watching people's lives that seem so difficult to change. 

I love the beautiful pictures of a city, with a river flowing through it, with God in the midst of it, life and love abounding. The city is peaceful, yet filled with people and praise. I have my place in it, as do each of God's people. Thinking about that future helps me put this world in its right place. It cannot defeat me and, more importantly, it cannot overshadow God and his plans.

This Sunday,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Just read some interesting reflections about being stressed and tired and needing to give time to restoring activities. See

The restoring activity I need at the moment is to spend time reading the bible and being challenged to live more saltily. It has become too easy to just drift along and my faith make no difference to how I live. I am busy and I do get tired but I think this saps my strength to the point where I don't even care about the eternal trajectory of the lives around me. Sometimes I struggle to even pray faithfully for my own family.

Putting on a good spiritual face with Christians I have known for a long time is hypocritical and I don't outright bluff and lie. However, I make little additions to the truth of my lasitude, prayerlessness and barrenness, so that they do not see how broken I am and how much I need the mercy of my Father.

I really want the answer to be easy and not to have to change. I want a transformed life with as little effort as possible. I want to be able to carry out all the projects and ideas in my mind, but there just is not time or energy to commit to them all. I need to prioritise and choose but I allow circumstance and laziness to choose for me. It is easier to sit and watch an hour of Brothers and Sisters than to spend an hour praying or talking with my husband in order to encourage him.

I stop to see where I am and how life is progressing. Usually, it is so easy to skim quickly over what I see, so that I do not get too self-critical or discouraged. But sometimes I need to really be honest in my appraisal when I look in the mirror. 

I do believe that there is a time to be gracious to myself and not to be too hard or critical. But if true graciousness is possible, then there is also a time to acknowledge my deep, deep flaws and failures. Not doing it so that someone can hear or see, then reach out and reassure me, but so that I can know how much I need help, how much I need God and his spirit in me.

Only then can I begin to be restored.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The May Experiment

Well, today is the last day of May, and unless I post twice today, then I have not quite made my ten posts for this month. I am happy to say that I think I've made more of an effort at blogging, and that the experiment has been helpful. Some incentive, or challenge was needed to get me going, obviously. I still think that the main purpose for this blog is to make some of my thoughts/ruminations more real by recording them. I censor myself greatly and to some degree that is necessary. I don't think I should risk exposing others to every thought which crosses my consciousness and I'm pretty sure that I have many thoughts which are not worth recording for posterity.

One of the really great things about being a more diligent blogger has been all the interesting people I've spotted on the net. None are famous, some are people who I've known, met or been in the general orbit of over the years. Some blog anonymously but I've been able to guess who they might be. I have been able to clarify some of the things I appreciate in a good blog. I enjoy lucidity and eloquence, humourous anecdotes, attempts to tackle big ideas and concerns, generous acceptance of human struggles and mistakes, tempered by a desire to be transformed and mature. I continue to be amazed by the minds and hearts of others as they discuss their lives.

I've learnt some things about people which may be a little too much information, but I think I'm starting to see that in the great variegation of humanity, there are some remarkably common themes.
  • I think we all hunger for significance and meaning in our lives. 
  • Even the most adventurous of us need a little safety and security to be happy. 
  • We all need to matter to someone and be connected to others - whether our family is a blood one or a friendship based one it is such a deep anchor for our identity.
  • People get fired up when they see injustice - seeing justice done and people respected, is important to us.
  • Laughter brings a bond and understanding between people and being able to laugh at oneself is both freeing and healing.
We all like to encounter other people's opinions about things that matter to us - relationships, losses, spirituality/meaning, integrity, how to love people well. Even if we disagree with them at least that is a place to start an interraction.

I will keep trying to blog, not least because it is part of my recent efforts to be more self-reflective, to listen more and to sharpen my spiritual life. I hope I can live out this verse from the bible more and more...

 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians chapter 4, verse 8.

I'd like to hear what you think...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What did I do today?

It seems to be easier to write about the things that are going on in my head. I would like to have some amusing or witty anecdotes about my life, but somehow they don't seem to stick in my brain long enough to be here when I sit down at the computer. I've just read a really funny story about a girl who went white water rafting in Zambia, and lost her pants the first time she got into the water. She spent the next twelve hours in her G-string, adventuring down a river. ( I would love to give a link to the post, and acknowledge her but know diddly-squat about how to do that - all I know is that it was also posted on a recent blog-of-note,

If you would like to imagine what I was doing today - picture this. I am walking home from the local soccer field in the drizzling rain. My umbrella shelters me and the almost-4-month-old baby strapped to my chest. I have two more boys trailing behind me who are eating their sausage sizzle purchases as they follow. We made it home reasonably dry and with cold feet. We made it past the corner shop without buying lollies or footy tazo chips (some may call it a miracle) and had surprisingly little protest about it. It rained most of the afternoon, and there was more 'screen-time' had by kids than would usually be allowed at our place - Play Station and the kitsch 60s Batman movie. Most of the things I should have got done today are not done. If only I could keep the whole house tidy at once (Do I really wish that, or is it just what I think a 'good' mother should say?)

Sometimes it would be fantastic to be white-water-rafting, but I do love my life. I'm just not sure that its very interesting, to anyone other than the people in it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


My rudimentary understanding of the concept is that it refers to the space between 2 people, the relationship or the interraction between them. 

Learning about therapy has been pretty challenging as I sit with my client/patient (depending on what your particular discipline calls her). On one level I am remaining attentive, listening to the content of what she is saying. On another level, I am listening to the themes which arise and linking patterns for future reference. Then my eye must keep attentive to time (note to self - suggest wall clocks for MH centre at LH! Serruptitious watch glances take too much effort!). Then I am also trying to weigh responses to what I say - was that a disjunction or an elaboration? How can I stop and talk about that - bring attention to the intersubjectivity?

At this stage, my brain is overloaded and amidst it all I'm trying to behave naturally and comfortably. Thankfully, the person I sit with and practice all these skills with is also someone who has allowed me to know her and her life intimately. For 4 years we have sat weekly and talked together about life's struggles, stresses and surprising strengths. What we have is friendship and understanding - they lie within a strict frame and boundary - we do not interract outside our weekly sessions, we are not buddies.

The mind is an amazing instrument. So precise and able to multi-task in a complex way. Personal, individual, trainable and focussed. Open to the vagaries of relationship, with marvellous plasticity. Sometimes the language is complex but the reality is simple.

People are made for relationship, made in the image of a complex and relational god. Made to listen and to be together, to grow together and to move through life, hopefully maturing and strengthening. We both learn and grow in this 'therapy' and I hope I begin to get my 'intersubjectivity antennae' working.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mothers' Day Present 2009

I received a fantastic gift for Mothers' Day this year. I actually started to make a present suggestion to DJ before the big day and he stopped me saying, "It's all taken care of". The two older kids had been shopping at the school Mothers' Day stall and my daughter couldn't resist telling me that it would be so exciting when I could wear my present, because it was very beautiful.

My 3 year old and 3 month old went out and bought me an ipod. It has been fantastic and I've been listening to a number of podcasts lately. I am really looking forward to having more opportunities to feed my souland mind by listening to interesting stories and sermons from all over the world.

So, thanks to my lovely family for a great present.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Around the world in 80 gardens

I have found myself regularly sitting down on Tuesday night to watch a man called Monty Don travelling around the world to look at gardens (ABC1 Tues. 8:30pm). It sounds relatively low key, but it is a visual feast and really interesting commentary about the gardens and their links to historical, cultural and spiritual aspects of the societies which formed them.

The TV critic from the London Times hammered Monty last year (when the show was on BBC) for being populist, boring and lacking a script. He obviously has groups of die-hard fans and staunch detractors in the UK as a regular garden show presenter. I have no experience and talent in landscape design and only a skerrick more in gardening. So, I have learnt heaps from Monty's comments about each garden, it's style and construction. I'm looking forward to the last 4 episodes over the next few weeks.

Reflecting about the Tao and Zen concepts which have influenced the gardens of China and Japan, has made me think about my own spirituality and how it might be reflected in my relationship with nature and the garden. I can see how the beauty of our natural surroundings can lead us to worship - either the nature or its creator. It is natural that we would be in awe of both. Nature can be so beautiful, so powerful, even so destructive. Consequently, though, anyone who could make the world we live in, and make it from nothing, must be beyond our imaginings in power.

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. 
So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.  Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.  And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. (Romans 3:10-23)

Perhaps gardens are one of our attempts to subvert and control nature. Then again they may be part of our expression of love for the world which God made for us to tend, and know and enjoy. For me, gardens, especially beautiful, peaceful ones, allow me to calm my mind and be ready to praise and thank God for his love and goodness. They create space to stop and listen for the touch of divine beauty, to enjoy time with the people I love.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


In April, I planted some seeds in our vegetable garden beds, looking forward to a crop of root vegies, spinach and oniony things. In the first week after the initial sowing, the chooks managed to jump the fence and scratch around in the bed. Now I have a variegated array of plants emerging and it is quite exciting to see what will pop up where, next.

One thing I have noticed is that English Spinach either didn't get scratched up much or it has a unique homing quality for its sibling seeds. 

I have managed to get some gardening gloves to save having to dig the dirt out from under my fingernails prior to cooking dinner. Unfortunately, I seem to wander up the backyard and leave them sitting on the shelf in the garage, more often than not. Perhaps my gardening habits are a little haphazard. Anyway, I'm still scrubbing under my nails more often than I would wish, but I'm also enjoying being outside and watching green things grow.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yes, I went to a parenting course

Children value themselves to the degree they have been valued.
No child can see themselves directly, they see themselves from the reflection of others.
We hold the key to other people's self-image, especially our kids.
(Suzy from Centacare).

It is confronting to reflect on what my children see reflected in me. Somehow they are present for all those little moments when I react first, think later. I really wish that I could keep my best moments for them, rather than them seeing my selfishness so often. The pity is that they cannot see it for what it really is - MY selfishness. Instead it lays itself upon their pictures of themselves.

Thankfully, there are times when I am able to reflect love and acceptance, patience and enjoyment.

Therapists talk about the 'gleam in the mother's eye' or mirror transference which help us to develop a coherent self. A bible college lecturer I knew used to love to talk about Martin Buber's description of the I-Thou encounter between God and us, in which we are fully known and fully accepted.

Practically, I want to spend more time cherishing my children and accepting them. Much of what is going on in their minds is actually a mystery to me. (Its for another time, to ponder how much is mine to discover and how much is theirs to guard and protect).

My 6 year old and I talked today about being taught to 'Stop...Think...Do' in her kindergarten class. I could take a lesson from her teacher about that, please. And then practice it the next time something is spilled, broken, drawn on, forgotten or just not where its supposed to be.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothers Day 2009

Mothers' Day has always been an opportunity to tell my mum that I love her, that her presence in my life is precious. I'm priveliged to be someone who is able to look back on growing up as a time encouraged and supported by my mother, a strong, determined woman who loved me and my siblings enough to serve us and not expect in return. Not only that, I admire my mum, she completed a tertiary degree while caring for 3 schoolchildren and started working in a technically demanding job when I was a teenager.

I'm aware that my mum is not perfect, but she is someone I can trust and depend on. She is the one that I ring up regularly when I just need to hear a friendly voice on the other end of the phone. Just this week she came over and cooked our family dinner while I took the kids to soccer training.

So today was my opportunity to let her know that I appreciate what she gives to me. And I did do that, along with being richly blessed with loving gifts and cuddles from my own children. But I was reminded of the complicated nature of motherhood in a number of ways today, too. 

Today I talked with a friend whose mum has died, and listened as she recalled some precious memories of her mother - calling her 'darling' as no-one else could and watching their favourite TV show together. Bittersweet feelings, being reminded of a precious but interrupted relationship.

I also thought today about friends who have not been unconditionally cared for by their mothers. Friends whose mothers have failed to give them the acceptance, support or encouragement that they needed in their formation as people. For some, Mothers Day is a reminder that they would rather not experience.

Then, today, I sat with someone close to me who yearns to be a mother but has been struggling with infertility. Her life and marriage have been overwhelmed with the cost - both emotional and financial - of IVF. She has experienced sorrow, loss, disappointment made sharper and more bitter on Mothers' Day. She has had 2 close friends have children in the past month, and I, myself, sit beside her with my 3 month old, 4th child. This is a woman who likes to plan and loves to serve and care for people. Yet, here she is, totally helpless to make the deepest desire of her heart happen. And I know that she struggles to delight in others' children because of the deep disappointment they remind her of.

Parenting/mothering is a deep human desire, and so totally out of our control. We are especially reminded of that when we cannot have a child despite our own desire and effort. Only God can bring a human life into being, and we sometimes forget that when our 'plans' for parenting go smoothly. 

Sometimes I need to  be reminded of just how much I have to be thankful for - a positive, present mother of my own, and the chance to mother my own children. And I pray for comfort and hope for those who find Mother's Day painful or confronting for any number of reasons.

Praise be to our God, who can encompass both joy and pain comfortably, who walks beside us, knows us intimately and loves us deeply. 

And thanks Mum.

Friday, May 8, 2009

My experiment

The more I read the blogs of regular and established bloggers the more I am paralysed in my own efforts. It's a mixture of 
  • admiration for the thoughts that other people so eloquently express, 
  • other people's ideas seeming a infinitely more original than my own (let's face it I've never thought them before),
  • a fear of being trivial,
  • a fear of being self-obsessed,
  • the knowledge that no-one actually reads what I have written.
I am going to conduct an experiment. I will post 10 times before the end of May and see if I just lack discipline, rather than inspiration. Is it just a good expressive apperient that I need?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A restless night

Last night I paced the floors with a restless, febrile(? - temp measured by mum's hand on brow rather than use of a thermometer) six week old. At this moment I expect I should be cuddled up in bed sleeping, but I have finally meandered back into the vicinity of blogspot. Gestating is over and I have some space to sit and think (and pontificate?)

My wish for the next 3 months is that I can enjoy the pleasures of a little baby - the tiny silky limbs, the gaping, gooing smiles, the quietness of 3am streetlight in the loungeroom window, DJ with a tiny body perched along his arm. The last time for the first times. This gift - yearned for, undeserved, just a fraction out of my league. Some days I think I cannot be enough or do enough and must rely on the touch or hand of someone else.

Keep me thankful, with an eye for the joy and pleasure. I have fear I will not savour it. Different from the piercing dread that his distress last night might have been serious illness, more a nagging sense that I might be distracted by busyness and not lay down strong enough memories of this moment.