Monday, June 30, 2008

History in the making?

Meeting in Jerusalem overnight, a group of Anglican bishops - including the Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen - agreed to form a rival global fellowship that will take a conservative line on issues such as the ordination of gay clergy.

This could be an amazing season of change for the Anglican church.

(HT: Joe)



Meaghan -- Love you bigger! Thanks so much for your comment. You might just get to read it; how does a chapter a week sound? :)

Caitlin -- your lovely comment made my day! So we are anti-driving and anti-speech-making buddies? Yay! Love you, too! xox

Weekend VI: of people, places, and literary things

Remember how, in primary school, your teacher always emphasised that a nouns are always people, places, or things? Well, that definition perfectly sums up my weekend -- a whirl of people, places, and things. On Friday, my mother's aunt and uncle came to stay from their home up north. They are such a fun couple and inspire me heaps. They are active, healthy, vibrant, and involved in their children's, grandchildren's, and great-grandchildren's lives. They're lovely and it was great to spend some time with them.

On Saturday they headed off again and Mum and I spent the day pottering. My dad and small brother set out on a boy-stuff adventure and spent happy hours at a motorbike swap meet. Meanwhile, Mum and I baked and tidied and watched snippets of Doc Martin and I tried not to think about the coming evening.

But evening came at last, and, with it, the cocktail party to announce and toast the winner of the writing contest for which cause my valiant red pen had edited and scribbled and scrawled.
Good thing: we got to dress up and wear pretty clothes.
Bad thing: each finalist had to prepare an acceptance speech, just in case. Argh!

With butterflies hovering too flightily for comfort, I arrived at the library where all was in glorious array for the gala event. My first thoughts were of self-abuse for thinking stupidly that it would be a good idea to come on my own. At this kind of occasion, I tend to take refuge in talking to my own family or friends instead of others, so I decided to go it alone and be more sociable. For a moment, I regretted it, then I spotted one familiar face and decided to burst (sedately) into the many mingling circles.

We sipped drinks and chatted until the formalities began, and we were all surprised when not only the winner but each of the ten finalists in the manuscript competition was called forward to be awarded a gift and have their novel introduced. I was in such a daze I didn't even hear what the judge said about my little story. I'm regretting that; I would love to have known how she described it.

At last, the moment of truth came. There was an actual envelope with the actual winner's name in it, and they actually opened it with all the deliberation you see at the Oscars. The winner was Desmond, a dear man in his late seventies whose gentle wisdom has been a delightful influence during the year of workshops. I'd said to Mum during the week, "If there's one person I would love to see win, it's Desmond." When he did, I was so thrilled.

He made the sort of speech only such contented, dignified, humble people can make, and when I went to offer a congratulatory kiss and tell him I'd hoped it would be him all along, he broke in before I could speak and said, "I had my fingers crossed for you." I hope his story gets published; I can't wait to read it.

In the millions of times I thought it over beforehand, I reached the conclusion that I would be thrilled if I won the contest (because of the many opportunities such a prize would provide) and thrilled if I lost (because I wouldn't have to make a speech; seriously!). So, although there was the strange letting down of pent-up nerves afterwards, I was content.

While it would have been empowering (I hate to use that word but it fits here) to have someone say, "Yes, I think you can write," -- and another part of me wonders, "What if there is nothing redeemable at all in my novel?" -- at the same time I am convinced that I would keep writing anyway. Even if the judges had said, "There was one story which actually made us embarrassed for its author," I don't think I could stop. I might for a little while, but not forever.

So now it remains to keep honing and to keep learning -- with all this wonderful year of education to hang over me like the benevolent shadow of a great mentor.

I realised this morning that Saturday's event was my first real Literary Thing. Does this mean I'm a grownup now?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Web roundup II

Good stuff on the web this week:

biblical womanhood :: In the (rather small) online circles I'm a part of, there's been some discussion lately about whether the choice to bear children at all (note here that I'm not even saying how many or when) is entirely up to us or to God. The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood blog had something interesting to say about that, couched in a post about Rebecca Walker, daughter of The Color Purple author Alice Walker:

"When women completely deny their God-given right and ability to bear children we are seeing a complete giving over to the desires of the flesh (Romans 1). To see children as a burden to be thrown off is a reversal of the created order and a sinful repression of the desire that probably once burned bright. It should make us weep for them."

blogging :: In the current voyeuristic climate of our generation, the seedy world of reality television and the equally seedy world of reality blogging tend to make us all lust after the juicy details. In a blog post over at The Line, Thomas Jeffries discusses why too much information really is too much information.

faith :: A beautiful post about hungering after the Lord. Just read it.

media :: Ted Slater offers the best thoughts ever on why Christians should be thoughtful about the content of the movies they watch, even in spite of the necessity of "cultural relevance."

shameless plug :: Back issues of Whatsoever mag on a big sale :).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Weekend V

Let me tell you about this weekend past.

First of all, it felt long. Friday was a holiday from usual work in order to prepare for the Mammoth Garage Sale of the Century. Given that we'd had one of those Garage Sales of the Century only three or four years ago, there shouldn't have been too much stuff to sell -- but there was. Our life is a little cycle of downsizing at the moment so there is always something that should go.

Going through "stuff" -- stuff that was once precious and now isn't or stuff that there is too much of or beloved stuff that there is really no place for -- always puts me curiously in touch with my own mortality. I guess the shallowness of Things, and their temporal nature, points to that which is deep and enduring. And I am always made uncomfortable at the disparity between what is and what should be. Being uncomfortable is often awkward but it is usually helpful, too.

The garage sale itself was on Saturday, and necessitated rising at 5am in the piercing cold blackness. The ad we'd placed in the newspaper said we'd be starting at 8am but, of course, the customers began rolling in around 6.30. People picking over your things proffers more discomfort.

Hosting a garage sale is a bit like opening your personal diary and having random strangers come along, pick up the diary, and read it all. Occasionally one of the readers will smile and and meet your gaze and say, "I know what you meant when you said this here," but mostly they will wrinkle their nose and look at you strangely out of the corner of their eye, or ask if they can tear a piece out and do some editing and then stick it back in again. That is what a garage sale feels like.

But we sold some stuff (not quite enough to make our garage gleam with bareness, unfortunately) and we met some people with very cool accents to boot. Then we put all the unsold stuff back into the garage and celebrated its end with fish and chips.

I wasn't well for much of the weekend so Sunday saw me in pyjamas until very late, reading Alex and Brett Harris's Do Hard Things. So far, it's very, very good. I don't know why I am surprised; everything else I've read by these guys has been great. But I suppose I assumed that perhaps the contents might only be applicable to teenagers -- and instead I am finding a million ways to apply the concept of doing hard things to my own life, even though I'm nineyearspastteen. Oh, and Chuck Norris wrote the foreword! The Chuck Norris. For some reason I think this is incredibly hilarious.

There was no night-church this week so instead we did church the old-fashioned way (which is simply hanging out with other believers) and caught up with friends who live in the city but whom we only seem to catch up with on about the fifth of forever. It was so lovely to while away the afternoon (and into the chilly early evening) and talk and nibble at the huge spread they'd prepared. We must do it more often.

One half chaos and the other half refreshment. That was our weekend. I'd say that's a pretty good mix.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Encouragement for those 'there in love and longing'

This could have been written for the single heart...

Thou hast not that, My child, but thou hast Me,
And am I not alone enough for thee?
I know it all, know how thy heart was set
Upon this joy which is not given yet.

And well I know how through the wistful days
Thou walkest all the dear familiar ways,
As unregarded as a breath of air,
But there in love and longing, always there.

I know it all; but from thy brier shall blow
A rose for others. If it were not so
I would have told thee. Come, then, say to Me,
My Lord, my Love, I am content with Thee.
Amy Carmichael, Rose from Brier
Caitlin -- I am so glad to have a comrade-in-arms! Yes, driving is horrid. :)

The Fantastic Four

Courtesy of Narelle. Play along, folks. You know you want to.

Four jobs I've had:
1. columnist at Country Threads magazine
2. freelance writer for Architect & Builder magazine
3. editor of Whatsoever Magazine
4. freelance project designer for Homespun magazine

Four movies I've watched more than once:
1. A Series of Unfortunate Events
2. Remember the Titans
3. The Great Escape
4. Master and Commander

Four places I've lived:
1. Singleton, New South Wales
2. Bowen, Queensland
3. Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory
4. Mandurah, Western Australia.

Four places I've been:
1. To the letterbox.
2. To the bookshelf.
3. To the library.
4. To the secret stash of sugar-free treats.

Four favorite foods:
1. Chocolate ::smirk::
2. Chocolate cake
3. Chocolate mousse
4. Chocolate milk.

Four places I'd like to be right now:
1. At the front door opening the box of advanced reader copies of my novel. The dream!
2. In a Borders store using up a gift card of an indeterminate value with some zeros after it.
3. Lying on my bed with a book.
4. Having an unbirthday party with all my favourite people in the world.

Four things I am looking forward to this year:
1. Tasmania, and the snow and old buildings it will show me.
2. Discovering whether my due-to-be-born-in-September nephew is actually going to be named Jack and whether, in fact, he will even be a boy.
3. Christmas. It's always great.
4. Seeing if my brother can actually become the rock star he would like to be.

Four TV shows I watch:
1. Foyle's War
2. Poirot
3. The West Wing
4. Numb3rs

Four speakers I appreciate:
1. John Piper
2. Barbara Hughes
3. Josh Harris
4. Peter Barson

Four gifts I like receiving:
1. letters
2. secondhand books
3. something made
4. surprises.

Four things I like doing:
1. being an aunty
2. going to young adult's Bible study
3. chatting with girlfriends
4. organising bookshelves

Four things I like to hold:
1. old books
2. fat babies
3. oranges
4. a comfortable pen

Four things I think need addressing:
1. the irresponsible use of apostrophes
2. hatred of policemen
3. why driving is such a horrid thing
4. integration of the generations.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

You nailed it, Don

Reading through Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz with a bunch of very lovely girls at the moment. I came across this hard-hitting nugget of truth today:

A friend of mine, a young pastor who recently started a church, talks to me from time to time about the new face of church in America -- about the postmodern church. He says the new church will be different from the old one, that we will be relevant to culture and the human struggle. I don't think any church has ever been relevant to culture, to the human struggle, unless it believed in Jesus and the power of His gospel. If the supposed new church believes in trendy music and cool web pages, then it is not relevant to culture, either. It is just another tool of Satan to get people to be passionate about nothing.
Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
Chapter ten: Belief




Caitlin -- thanks so much for sharing my excitement! The publishing process is really a pretty unsure thing. Before it gets published, the book needs to somehow impress either an agent or a publisher, and that is the hardest part of the job. We'll see what God does!

Abbie -- you're so right; I don't think Jane Austen would've had one of her "elegant females" racing around the street for an hour or more. However, I do think the older version had a run in it if I'm right... I just can't remember if it was in the book! (I'm going to have to check that now or I'll keep thinking about it!) And thank you for your kind congratulations!

Elizabeth -- Thanks, lovely! You can read it soon if you like (ooh, now I'm nervous). I'll have to get the huge wad of papers down to you somehow. :)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Awesome thing of the day #1

Spotted in a Target store:
Whodda thought it, huh? I'm actually not a big fan of Christian merchandising, but I was never more happily surprised by a shopping trip. Apparently the t-shirt line is a tie-in for World Youth Day but it doesn't really matter, either way. It was simply neat to see the Word of God in a Target store!

They call him... the InkMaster

This week, I have worn my valiant little Papermate Kilometrico pen (ink colour: red) to the nib with excessive crossing and scribbling and the making of many illegible notes. However, the faithful implement spent itself body and soul in pursuit of a higher cause: the expulsion of grammatical errors, the addition of clarity, and the extermination of the unessential.

This morning, the approach of The Deadline meant that the editing must stop, and The Little Red Pen That Could was laid to rest at last. I merrily delivered my completed manuscript (tied with a bow) to a local library where it will be judged along with ten to fifteen others for the second phase of our shire novel-writing contest.

And now it is behind me, I am looking immensely forward to engaging with the real world again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Web roundup

What's ruffling feathers, provoking thought, and making me pause this week:

relationships :: The 6th of June was the anniversary of when John Piper and his wife first met. At the Desiring God blog, John Piper shares the poem that he wrote for Noel on their 40th anniversary. It's really beautiful.

culture :: Apparently Christianity Today not only reviewed the Sex and the City movie, they also recommended it. Ted Slater of Boundless asks them: "What part of 'flee sexual immorality' didn't you understand?". Way to go, Ted!

biblical living :: Encouragement that young men and women of this generation are embracing the pattern of Biblical manhood and womanhood.

grace :: "The heart of my issue is that I am not accepting the fact that the blood of Jesus was sufficient to cover all of my sin, and when the guilt I feel over my sin paralyzes me, it is certainly not from Him. It is buying into the lie that the sacrifice Christ made was not enough." Good thoughts on grace from Ashley Wolpert at the Relevant Blog.

discipline :: Until this week, I didn't know Randy Alcorn had a blog. There's a super post about planned neglect: Saying no to good things so we can say yes to the best. This is a powerful principle that I definitely need to learn more about.

Anything super you've found on the web this week that needs sharing? Engage here.



Bethany -- so glad you were encouraged. It's sometimes scary to go out on a limb but I think that, as Christians, we need to be transparent (with discretion) about our own failings that we can better show His goodness. For where sin abounded, grace did that much more abound.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Genius, unfulfilled. And that's okay.

When I was small, I used to take comfort in the possibility that I might, one day, become a genius. I think it was L.M. Montgomery books and Little Women, mostly. All these spirited girls brimful of imagination and snappy conversation, bursting out onto a world waiting with held breath (and corsages of beautiful roses) for their genius to emerge and shine on everyone gloriously.

Now I am (pretty near to probably) grown up, the harsh realities of my own inadequacies remind me constantly: no genius here. I've always known it, I think, but you know. When you are twelve you can dream.

Just lately, when I seem to see my own infallibility lit up around me like Las Vegas, I've come a little closer to understanding what the genius dream was all about. I think. And what life is showing me is that this genius thing was not so much a desire to be really brilliant at something, but a desire for people to think I'm really brilliant at something.

(Did I really just type that out loud? Ouch.)

I see the threads of this thought pattern hanging around even now. I compare my work to someone else's and, instead of simply being impressed by their greatness, I wish I was as good. Or someone offers an opinion that contradicts mine and I shrink into insecurity and decide my opinion must surely be the inaccurate one. Or I take a plunge with some creative endeavour or other and no one says it's good and lovely and wonderful and... was that really the only reason I was doing it?

That's why this word from Amy Carmichael's Rose from Brier came like pure, cutting poetry to a soul such as mine:

Let not thy peace be in the mouths of men.

We stand or we fall to God alone. I think this must become my catch-cry. Let not thy peace be in the mouths of men.

Weekend IV

Another waterlogged weekend that wasn't quite able to make up its mind whether to be truly wintry or not. Saturday was a pottering kind of day that included dawdling through work left over from the week, and all those other little thingy kind of jobs that you tend to save for Saturdays. In the afternoon, we made a belated effort to actually do something weekendish and headed into hitherto unknown parts of the city for an Expotition (as Pooh would have put it). It was late in the day and that part of the city was quiet, making it one of those lovely times when you feel as though you have stepped out of your own world and into someone else's.
My sister and I found a store which is like what we dream of owning if we actually had our own shop again. It was actually two businesses which shared a two-storey building. The bottom one was a collection of boutique new and very cool vintage clothes (oh, plus this amazing jewellery made by a Vietnam vet from melted-down bullet casings). The top floor (only accessible by a tiny, creaking staircase) was filled with gorgeous textiles (crocheted donuts and cupcakes, oh my!), gifts, and home decor. Plus, it was white-painted brick and had giant windows letting in the soft afternoon light, making it incredibly cosy.
We browsed through delightful antique places, too, one of which is getting my award for Tidiest Antique Store ever. The neat lines and rows of silver jewellery and snuff boxes and all manner of other things -- labelled with immaculately-lettered little cards -- were a delight to my obsessive-compulsive little heart. We also came across a boxy little store which turned out to be a violin-maker's workshop. Oh my. Can we all shout 'Dickens character!' in unison? We pressed our noses to the window and looked in awe over the amazing array of finished and half-made instruments. Little pieces of curled-wood and half-formed pieces littered the work bench and it was so cool.
Afterwards, we headed down to Southbank where the action at the markets was slowing down towards day's end, and finished up by having an earlyish dinner of fish and chips at The Deck Cafe. Home again and no washing up (yay!) so we sat to watch a very thrilling, very thought-provoking M. Night Shyamalan movie.
Sunday everyone rose early for a trip northwards for a motorbike swapmeet. I stayed home with the little bro who wasn't too well, and we listened to music and read and had a slow breakfast. Too many late nights caught up with me and I had a nap before church, waking with that horrendous zombie feeling that always makes you wonder if it was worth it. Apparently it was, because the energy kicked in and church was a huge blessing. Not many turned up last night (combination of State Youth Games and the rain, maybe) but they missed a great sermon -- the final in The Grace Effect series. Jens shared an amazing quote from Spurgeon which I'll share with you all if I can hunt it out. It sort of takes the Gospel and pins it on you for right now and every moment to follow. Very good stuff.
And Lauren and I were delighted because the new version of Persuasion was on the ABC last night. We'd been waiting eagerly for its release ever since we first heard of its making. The book has been special to us since we read it as part of an informal book club with a friend and I discovered Anne Elliot to be the Austen heroine I could most relate to (owing to an unfortunate penchant for too much introspection, probably). We celebrated the completion of the reading by watching the seventies mini-series of the story. Unfortunately though, it was, well, rather boring. Persuasion is quite an analytical story with not a lot of action; to drag it out over many hours didn't quite do it justice (it did make the highlights of the story seem Very Exciting Indeed, however). So we were thrilled to see the BBC tackle this new version -- and it lived up to expectations. There were a few tweaks with the storyline here and there and a few modern touches, but they didn't spoil it for me. If you're a fan of Austen and period dramas, I'm pretty sure you'll love Persuasion. The DVD is due for release in Australia the first of July. I'm thinking this'll be one to add to the collection.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Yes, please

O Lord God,
I pray not so much for graces as for the Spirit himself,
because I feel his absence,
and act by my own spirit in everything.
Give me not weak desires but the power of his presence,
for this is the surest way to have all his graces,
and when I have the seal I have the impression also;
He can heal, help, quicken, humble suddenly and easily,
can work grace and life effectually,
and being eternal he can give grace eternally.
Save me from great hindrances,
from being content with a little measure of the Spirit,
from thinking thou wilt not give me more.
When I feel my lack of him, light up life and faith,
for when I lose thee I am either in the dark and cannot see thee,
or Satan and my natural abilities content me with a little light,
so that I seek no further for the Spirit of life.
Teach me then what to do.

Bethany -- yes, we did enjoy Bee Movie... but I don't think it was necessarily a children's movie as the G rating suggested. I found it hilarious and such an entertaining flight of imagination. But some of the humour was a little too adult, I thought. How about you guys?
Caitlin -- yay! I'm glad they got to you quickly. Happy reading! :)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Weekend III

Heavy rain (accompanied by wonderful, moody, howling wind) has been steadfastly swamping south-east Queensland for the past few days. It is so grey that it looks like winter, but it hasn't been so very cold over the weekend -- a fact made evident this afternoon when my little bro ditched clothes and decked himself out in big brother's hand-me-down speedos to race outside for some puddle-jumping. It's good to have all this rain. Queensland needs it.

The weekend was a happy blend of busyness and relaxation. Saturday morning I up and headed out for a brunch with some girlfriends, sort of a combined birthday celebration for Linda and Rachel. There is something just so fun about going out for breakfast, and the cafe we ate at was delightful. It must be good; we had to wait a wee while for a table even at 9.30am. The food was scrumptious (seriously the best poached eggs ever) and the wait staff really cheery -- even on a Saturday morning! It almost made me wish we still had our cafe going (they were fun days).

Afterwards we all did some shopping together which was a fun logistics experiment (six girls bargain hunting) but, since I have promised elsewhere not to detail trips to the mall, I will say no more about it.

Saturday evening we headed into church for a benefit concert for the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students. Although the turnout was rather small, the program was a lovely selection of music roaming from the Baroque right through to the contemporary period. My favourite piece of all was a portion of Bach's third Cello Suite (for pure deliciousness, there's some video here). Delightful.

Sunday incorporated a hoped-for sleep in and late breakfast. It was a grey day (as they have all been lately) and we all just pottered our way through the afternoon before heading to night church for the third in the series on grace. It's really good stuff -- just what I have been needing to hear. This year, in particular, I've found myself seeking assurance in works or, worse, finding none because I'm just not good enough. It's been more awesome than I can say to be reminded that it's all because of Jesus.

Today it's my mum's birthday (yay!). The theme of the day has definitely been Good Food, with homemade croissants for breakfast and chocolate date cake with hot truffle sauce for dessert tonight. We had planned a bread and gourmet cheese (with ginger beer in glass bottles) picnic for lunch, but rain blew those plans. So we ate our picnic lunch in the lounge room and watched Bee Movie together instead, which was probably just as fun. All this, combined with a general feeling of not-quite-well-ishness, meant we put work on hold for the day -- and it's felt rather like a long weekend. Nice.

If your Monday is feeling rather too normal, here's a video to cheer you up. Improvised airport musical goodness, with thanks to Staish for the link!
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