Monday, January 24, 2011

Unexpected commentary on the world of Austen:

It is excellent having a little brother who will sit and snuggle with my mother and I while we watch the latest adaptation of Emma. Not only does it make my literary and fangirl heart happy, but it also provides unique insights into the film. When Mr. Elton first came on screen, my brother dismissed him as "creepy" (he was right, of course).

Later in the movie, when Mr. Elton delivered his romantic riddle to Emma and Harriet, Tain was just as intrigued by the riddle's solution as the characters were.

"Cour'ship!" Tain said, surprised.
"Yeah," I replied. "Do you know what courtship is?"
He looked at me. "It's food."
I paused for a second. "Uh, no -- not corn chips. Courtship. It's quite different."
"Oh," he said.

(By the way, this adaptation of Emma, starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller, is truly delightful. Their faces alone make this the best thing ever. It's like a catalogue of quirky expressions).

* * * * *


The First Rose -- bravo you for stepping out into new things! I hope the choir proves to be a fabulous experience :).

H.C.H. -- thank you, friend! x

Simplythis -- thank you for getting it! I definitely have my doubts when I make these rambly posts at times. "Am I the only person on earth who thinks this way?" :)

Mothercare -- lovelove! (besides, I learnt it all from you)

SandieT -- thanks so much for reading and commenting. It's sometimes sad when our needs are unmet by the very environment we thought would provide all the answers, but I guess that every time we are individually challenged to extend love to one another, that becomes the church in action in small, personal ways. PS. I miss the beautiful land of WA; enjoy your time there, however long or short it may be :).

Abbie -- likewise, thank you for being so continuously encouraging and loving in spite of my failings! x

Rebecca Simon -- those friendships are rare, aren't they? -- but maybe their rarity only makes them more precious.

Elisabeth -- we get to be "more than conquerors" by repeatedly learning that we can actually survive outside our comfort zones :).

Asea -- that is such a beautiful image: the idea of different threads pulling together to create a friendship, with each shared thread making that friendship stronger. I love it!

Mitanika -- you are lovely; your comments always make me happy :D.

Caitlin -- ah, I love that you commented knowing that I would rejoice in whatever you have to say, regardless of the fact that you felt you didn't have the "right words"; you know me well and you were right. Thank you! xx

Amanda -- thank you, Amanda. It seems like it's a feeling/understanding so many of us have experienced. xx

Chantel -- you are so right. And perhaps it's the awkward social barriers and mystery etiquette which makes us recognise those truest friendships for the treasures that they are.

Julia -- :D xx

Friday, January 21, 2011

A very long-winded way to say: I'm thankful.

In 2011 -- as far as I can tell -- I'll be living in the same place I spent 2010 in, and doing the same stuff I spent 2010 doing. But it feels like a new beginning all the same. For one thing, I'm sharing a home with my parents and little brother again. For another, both my sisters have just settled into new homes and are expecting new babies in the first half of the year. And there's this thing of me looking for a new, more local, church community. So there is still a lot of newness about this new year.

Of course, though, with the beginning of one thing comes the end of something else, and the end leaves me pondering the bleak truth that we don't always leave an impression behind us. Sometimes we're just... forgotten.

This, in turn, has made me think long and ponderous thoughts about the nature of friendship and, in fact, most kinds of social interaction. I confess that, sometimes, it all seems like a bizarre dance and I don't know the right moves. At other times, this idea of interacting -- especially within the church where, idealistically, I tend to imagine that relational barriers won't exist -- feels sort of like a reverse emperor's new clothes: we spend all our time piling on more and more ridiculous layers, and none of us is bold enough -- or cares enough, possibly -- to be naked (and of course I mean this figuratively) before each other. There are some who are willing to get to that soul nakedness -- by which I mean being really real, really loving, and really telling the truth -- but there is no one who sees enough or notices enough or cares enough to respect and appreciate that vulnerability. How many of us have shared a deep need or a sincere heart's cry only to have it evaporate, unnoticed, in the air?

We laugh as we relish the seemingly bizarre societal conventions that so complicate the romance of Darcy and Elizabeth, but we're surrounded by just as many ourselves. They take a different form, of course, but they exist all the same. Just as in the days of Bingleys and Bennets, beauty opens relational doors where plainness does not. Similarly, those with charm and charisma may find pathways into friendships where quieter people do not. And one social trick that often trips me up is the sense that involvement seems to equal relationship, especially where church life is concerned -- but of course it doesn't. We feel connected to someone because we go to school with them, or we both teach the same Sunday school class, or we helped out with that thing that time, or she goes to the same writer's group as I do. We feel connected because we are in proximity. But when circumstances change and the proximity lessens, the relationship is proven for what it is. A true friendship survives all that, but others... don't. And it can hurt to be reminded that we are not as valued, loved, connected, or even as remembered as we'd hoped.

And all of this, in turn (I feel like Fiddler on the Roof's Tevye, with his multitude of 'other hands'), makes me realise how very very blessed I am by the handful of really true, really dear friends I do know. Interestingly, only one of them lives in the same neighbourhood as me. Many live outside Queensland and even outside Australia. Most of them I have known for many years, and some of them I'll only see once or twice a year, if that. Some are related to me. With others, I have nothing external in common. But all of them are people who don't require me to pile on the layers in order to be their friend. In fact with these precious people I don't need to be anything. I don't need to be loud or quiet, funny or serious, pretty or plain, dressed up or dressed down, happy or sad, ultra religious or worldly wise. And because of their unconditional love and their lack of relational requirements, I can actually just simply be the flawed person that I am, loving them and growing along the path that God has for me, as content to sit alongside them watching a movie as engaged in discussions about the real challenges of living faithfully.

Such a level of grace and commitment and get-along-with-ability is a rare thing; I'm learning this all the time. So here's to those precious ones whose kindness and love are beautiful, cheering, comfortable reminders of what great relationships are really like. Love to you!

* * * * *


Samantha R -- bravo, you! Relish your year of yes!

Rebecca Simon -- it was indeed. Are you home and settled again now?

Katie -- so true. Happy things mean life goes on.

Elisabeth -- really? You're one of my adventuring heroes whom I feel convinces says "yes" to everything! PS. I owe you an email. Coming soon.

Simplythis -- you little Brisbane local, you.

Nan -- thank you for dropping by. xx

Saturday, January 15, 2011

In spite of everything...

In spite of floods that soaked Brisbane, upset bridal car arrangements, and kept some of the wedding party out of the state, nothing dampened Hailey's joy as she married Josh today in a beautiful old church in the city. Given the setting, their wedding is pretty much a historic one and I just know they're going to have the best story to tell when they are grey and wrinkled and small grandchildren are clamoring for tales. Happy marriage, you two! Love Him and love each other.

* * * * *


Jessica -- that's pretty much one of the nicest writing-related compliments ever. Thank you!

Abbie -- sometimes it's not so easy to see which lessons have been shared, so it's exciting when it does seem a little clearer. Here's to a 2011 full of grace and awesome fellowship with Jesus :).

Asea -- you are totally brave and heroic in my book :D.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The year of yes.

It's kind of terrible, but I can't actually remember whether I made new year's resolutions for 2010 or not. I suppose it doesn't really matter; it would appear that God has his own secret resolutions and goes about setting up little sovereign obstacle courses so I learn the things that he wants me to.

Around December, I started thinking about what 2010 had looked like for me. In spite of the lack of resolutions (or forgetting the presence of resolutions, if I made any), I'd noticed a pattern in the days and seasons and happenings of my year. The theme that kept appearing was the idea of saying yes. And now that I've been pondering it for a while, I can almost imagine God writing the resolutions list for me. Right at the top of it: This the year that Danielle will learn to say yes. I think of it as 'The Year I Said Yes When I Wanted to Say No'.

You should know that I'm pretty much a total wimp. While I am usually composed during more traditional high-pressure situations, I am a complete fraidy-cat about some of the most simple things. Most of all (it would appear), I'm afraid of the unfamiliar, of being placed outside my comfort zone.

Usually, I've been able to get by with avoiding the comfortless zone as much as possible, but in 2010 I began to get the message loud and clear that being scared of something is never enough of a reason to say no. While wisdom may dictate something is dangerous or unhealthy and should be avoided, simple fear is not a legitimate motivation for taking a step back. With that sad discovery, my whole argument for avoiding many terrifying things was pulled out from under me.

This meant that I lived alone. I travelled insterstate by myself. I drove to unfamiliar places armed only with my totally incompetent map-reading skills. I killed spiders and cockroaches. I went to conferences without a pal for support. I called tradesmen and talked to them about stupid things of which I know nothing, things like pool pumps and stuff. I accepted favours even when I had nothing to give in return. I made sudden u-turns into strange territory. I answered the phone when I didn't recognise the number (we have already established I'm a baby, yes). I had to sew my mouth shut to avoid making disclaimers or explaining away just for the sake of feeling secure. I was sometimes even -- wait for it -- spontaneous.

Of course, these are all things most normal grown ups do every day of their lives without batting an eyelid. But in the past, I've mostly wanted to say no. For 2010, God decided this was no longer acceptable and -- you know what? -- most of that stuff turned out to be incredibly less scary than I'd imagined. Turns out it's actually fun looking after a house all by yourself. And travelling alone means you meet the people around you instead of just spending all the time chatting to your companions. You can fake that you know what you're talking about when it comes to tradesmen. As for map-reading, practice doesn't necessarily make perfect but it does make passable. And I might even like driving a little bit. Of course, killing spiders is still icky and disgusting and terrifying and sickening but -- I do know that I can actually do it without throwing up.

So in 2010 I learnt to say yes, if not always then certainly more than I have done in the past. God had a better resolution in mind than any I could have come up with, and I'm so thankful. I've got no clue what's going to happen in 2011 (my friend Anastasia predicted that 2011 will be the year of saying no, which made me think about the principle of saying no to good things so you can say yes to the best ones). It'll be exciting to see what unfolds.

* * * * *


Amanda (1) -- thank you! It's good to be back, and dry.

Samantha R -- let's hope your rain isn't as epic as that here!

Amanda (2) -- thanks for your prayers. This state needs them. x

Katie -- love! I hope your own road trip was wonderful.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

There are times when insomnia could be handy.

I keep waiting for a moment in time to stop and write to you all here, but that moment keeps evading me. Tonight, I'm making that moment, even if it's only a tiny one (I'm so sleepy).

Tuesday found us driving home from our semi-spontaneous road trip with the fear that we might not make it through. The radio was a constant in the background, sharing the unfolding news of the flood devastation as an angry wall of water made its way through Queensland and down into northern New South Wales. We wore out our phone batteries checking updates through social media and replying to anxious text messages from friends. There was an urgency to our northwards drive as road after road closed. But -- miraculously -- they kept closing behind us. At one moment we saw emergency services crews hauling the blockades out onto the road seconds after we passed.

There was an eerie and surreal sense to the trip. We passed tiny towns where locals had gathered by the streets to fill sandbags. We drove across a patch of road where the Clarence River had overgrown its banks and was spilling onto the highway. And we took a four hour detour when the inland pathway was blocked by floods. Eventually we made it home, though, dry and safe -- and with hearts breaking for those whose stories have not ended so neatly.

The destruction left by these floods is difficult to comprehend, even here on the fringes of it all. Please pray for Queensland.

* * * * *


Meaghan -- YES! My road trip included youuu! Hooray!

Samantha R -- and I hope
your 2011 is drenched in grace :).

Elizabeth Fay -- ooh, I should have taken opportunity today to talk with you about the Dawntreader movie and our mutual favourite quote.

Mitanika -- I absolutely think Eleven should be the mascot for 2011.
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