Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Guys, it does matter whom you marry too. Trust me.

Last time I wrote a blog in response to the 'girls' version of this article, I had a feeling they were right about a few things. Not so much this one.

Those interesting folks over at The Christian Pundit must know a lot of mean spirited and cruel people. Or maybe they read about them and assume they are real; I don't know. I'm writing in response to an article entitled Guys, it matters whom you marry too. If you have ever been a wife who nags, expect some kind of housework to be done or even think your husband has half a brain, read my thoughts as well as theirs. Please.

Firstly, the article begins with the notion of keeping unbelieving girls at arm's length until they are "properly" converted. Listen up fellas. If you wait for the woman of your dreams to be 'mature enough' spiritually, you better hope there is a wedding chapel in Heaven. We all go through times of doubt, depression and a lack of wisdom about God. The Dark Night of the Soul is a God thing. It doesn't make you less spiritual if you are struggling with things within your faith.

The article discusses the impact wives have on the service of the church. Yes, a Godly woman is great to have by your side. But your woman needs to be able to be honest about how you serve. If you are pouring into the lives of everyone but your own family, there's a problem. My favourite Adrian Plass book sees the main character (Adrian) enter into serving a small group for his church, who continuously gets roped in to 'serving' and 'fellowship' at the expense of his family. I won't spoil the ending of that story for you, but Adrian does realise his calling is closer to home than first thought.

There is a fair whack of words such as 'whine', 'whinge', 'complain' and 'nag' in here. Look, wives can do that. Girlfriends can do that. Mums can too. But it certainly is not a gender exclusive issue. I became very agitated at a friend's husband who would constantly nipick at people's habits, and in turn his habit had a negative effect on his wife. As previously stated, though wives might be seen as 'helpmates', we also have our own ideas, opinions and feelings. To bow down because the 'head of the household' is 'entitled' to spend a night out with his buddies is really unacceptable. Lots of the situations in the piece are very broad, but I believe the message of that article is - men can do what they want; women have other jobs. Not true. Sorry boys.

The article finishes with this:
But if you’re not married, don’t put yourself in a bad situation when it is 100% avoidable. Don’t marry someone who can’t follow your leadership. Don’t marry someone who is not seeking to love Christ as you seek to love her as Christ loved the church. Marry someone who knows and demonstrates the love of Christ.

As a close friend of mine once said: 'we love people because of their defects'. You can be loving and kind while acknowledging traits your partner have aren't especially appropriate or caring. No one is ever going to be 100% compatible, uncomplaining or loyal in service to you. Take a reality check before you invest in advice like this.

My only advice is two fold:

1) If you really have concerns about the man or woman of your dreams, talk to someone you know will give you a biased opinion. But face reality - the person for you is never going to be perfect on this earth. You can live with them, or you can't. It's as simple as that.
2)  As I have said previously, marriage is a relationship of love and grace. Be gracious when you can. Say sorry first. Don't sweat the small stuff. Honestly, some of the stuff in the article is really small stuff, while others may bring forward some thoughts you actually need to deal with. And that's okay.

-with love and thoughts from my little family to yours xx

Monday, 27 January 2014

How to read more!

I read every day, and I have since I was nine. I simply love reading, and those who don't often don't understand it think it's okay not to be a reader or say things like "oh, I wish I had time to read". Here's the thing - I believe we all have time to read. That's why I don't watch a lot of television. Reading is the reason I haven't worried about eating alone, why I am always entertained by something and why I have way too much general knowledge than I know what to do with. So, those of you who want to read more, read on.

1. Find a book you like.
So many people make plans about reading classics or best sellers, but if you don't enjoy them or find the book too challenging, you won't read it and there goes your great idea of reading for pleasure. If you like romance novels, if you like movie-tie-ins, if you like books by Max Walker - it doesn't matter. Even if you think your taste in books could be better, start by reading things you know you'll enjoy.

2. If you can't read it through, leave it and walk away.
I remember trying to read a terrible book called 'Big Girls Don't Cry' about a bunch of bossy ladies running a publishing business. I think I was about 21 and it was the first book I had got halfway through and just couldn't finish, even though I wanted to. Like I said, if you don't like it, you'll be a lot less inclined to read. And it isn't worth it.

3. Read every day.
If you make reading a habit, it makes the idea of being a reader a lot less scary. There's a reason primary school students are expected to read every day - they need to get better at it on many levels. Seeing as you're an adult who has mastered the English language, it can be easy to get out of the habit of reading, but if you find time to do it - and you will - it is well worth it.

4. Read wherever you can.
My book will follow me wherever I am. I am very good at multitasking - reading and doing just about anything else, but here's some places I will happily read:
-short (5-10 minutes) or long trips in the car
-during lunch breaks
-bus, trains, trams
-while eating any meal or snack
-blow drying and/or straightening my hair
-while mixing cakes and baked treats
-before I go to bed
-any place I am bound to be bored

I used to love getting Maccas and sitting under a palm tree at Moseley Square in Glenelg when I started Bible College. It was the most relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

5. Scrap the idea that reading is a 'holidays' thing to do.
I cannot state how much this annoys me.
For me, books are a reward (I often promise myself some reading time to get through boring jobs such as housework), an escape and a way to help me think about the world. This notion that people "don't have time" to read is rubbish. Do you have time to watch television? Do you have time to surf the Internet, check up on Facebook or play a console game? If yes, you have plenty of time. Get over this idea that being "busy" is cool. It isn't, and everyone can see through it.

6.   Reread old favourites.
When I first moved into my own place I felt incredibly lonely and homesick. I borrowed a stack of Roald Dahl books, which I never owned as a child, and suddenly felt okay again. It was Maltilda that got to me the most. I read young adult fiction all the time because I love it, you can put it down and they are very quick reads. So if you had a favourite series (for me it is BSC and Sweet Valley), reread them and fall back in love with the magic of reading.

7. Have books around you always.
I have a lot of books and a lot of bookcases and my fellow bookworms can all relate to the way we accumulate books on our shelves. Many of my books are old friends I love to revisit, so even if I have nothing new, I will reread them. I also have a number of books I haven't read, but plan to. Books are expensive if you by them from bookstores, and it is rare for me to buy new ones (maybe about 10 a year). But I do lots of op-shopping and visit book exchanges to restock my collection which helps. Having a library you like (and it is okay to dislike libraries) is always great too.

8. Don't bother reading book reviews.
There are plenty of book reviews online. Unless you are buying it brand new in hard cover, don't overthink it, just buy the book and be done with it. I love reading book reviews afterwards, as sometimes it settles my fears and thoughts (like The Vale Girl - I wasn't the only one who didn't love the ending), but reading them beforehand can give too much away.

9. Listen to audio books.
I drive a lot, and I hire audio books from the library to listen to. I read Mao's Last Dancer that way and formed a love for Maeve Binchy books by listening to the audio recordings.

10. Just do it.
Right now. I dare you.
Go to a book shelf, pick up a book and read a few pages. You won't be disappointed.

Lisa's Summer Reading List

Since I've now completed reading a whole bunch of books over summer, I thought it was about time I reviewed some of them. I recommend each and every one. Enjoy!

I read The Book Thief in a day. It was honestly that good. The novel is about a young girl, Liesel and her unquenchable desire to read and write. Assisted by her foster father, she learns to read and to love her new family. I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more. I have also seen the movie which only missed out a few minor details. All up, my favourite book of the summer.

Set in Penola, this novel spans the first year of high school for Robbie, an intelligent misfit who becomes obsessed by his new teacher, Miss Peach. Miss Peach also has a vast array of admirers and conjures up fear, surprise and suspicion as she tries to enlighten the small town she has exiled herself to. A disturbing book, but compelling and far too close to home for those of us in the teaching profession - or for those who were ever teenagers themselves.

A reread about three women who are mourning the lost of a friend who commits suicide due to her husband's infidelity and dishonesty in business. The ladies form The First Wives Club to help combat their own demons and bring down their former husbands, who would have been unsuccessful without them. Very clever, lots of characters to remember and some unfamiliarity of New York City sometimes requires some rereading of pages. Fortunately this novel is nothing like the movie starring Bette Midler.

Instead of cleaning my house I read this book instead, and it was well worth it. Jancee was a dorky teenager who happened to strike it lucky by landing a job at Rolling Stone magazine. Chapters interchange between Jancee's personal life and reflections about her professional life. It is fascinating reading about her interviews with certain celebs and her tips for dealing with those with difficult behaviour. Refreshing, funny and sweet, I would love to be friends with Jancee, and now that I've read this text, I feel that I am.

I had not been anticipating a book of this nature, but I happened to read some reviews online and knew what I was getting into. With the death of Mark Darcy (by the way, that's no spoiler, you find out in the first pages in), Bridget is juggling motherhood and singleton life again. Some of the characters are a little unbelievable, the tweets and text messages are both desperate and badly overwritten and I spent most of the book lamenting the death of Mark. All the same, Bridget is the one of old - still obsessed with her weight, having an overbearing mother and dealing with Smug Marrieds. Another character missing is Shaz, her journalist friend who likes to say "fuck" a lot. Seeing as I was a huge Shazzer fan and the new-to-the-scene Talitha is a terrible substitute, I really wanted her back. She didn't reappear. 
All in all, lots of laughs and a few tears. Billy and Mabel are adorable, though Mabel's speech is incredibly frustrating throughout the text. Despite Daniel's belief that if Bridget had a baby "she'd leave it in a shop", she actually makes an excellent mother. 
The novel, still in classic diary form, is a little time warped - we start in the present, then go back a year, then come back to the present again. Still very Bridget Jones - lots of lists, mentions of being Buddhist and Tom being adorable - with a predictable ending you can see miles away.

Of all the books I read, I liked this one the least, but as it is Jane Green, I powered through all the same. The novel centres around a group of friends who grew up together and lost touch. However, the person who helped keep them all sane was Tom, who is killed in a terrorist attack. While trying to deal with their grief, the group rediscover themselves as a social circle, reveal issues they are battling and fall in love lust. The most realistic character is Holly, who has her life domineered by her husband, and who never truly fell out of love with Tom. Least realistic is Saffron, a movie star with an alcohol problem who is having an affair with a married actor. Fluffy and totally put-down-and-do-housework, it's worth reading if you don't want to overthink the text.

Quick pick airport read!
This memoir tells the story of a young Robyn Davidson who trained with camels for two years before walking across the outback (NT to the coast of WA) with four camels she had trained. When other people asked her why she wanted to do her, her response was "why not?" Robyn did the trip just for herself, not to prove any point or for a specific cause. Her sponsorship with National Geographic helped fund the journey, though this was a cause for concern as she wanted to avoid invasion of her privacy. Robyn walked the majority of the distance by herself, though she did have some help from new and old friends along the way. An insightful and thought provoking travel book, Tracks is well worth a read.

Last but not least, I read The Vale Girl on my birthday and was both fascinated and disappointed. Narrated interchangeably by the third person and missing girl (Sarah), the novel tells of the days following the disappearance of the town prostitute's daughter. The townsfolk are disinterested in helping locate her, her mother is disengaged from the situation and those who couldn't talk don't. The saving grace of this novel is Tommy, Sarah's only friend who continues to challenge this mindset. Probably too many twists and some unbelievable events to make this one a particularly satisfying read (at least from my perspective).

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Lis does some mythbusting!

About 4am I started thinking about some myths, confusion and untruths of our modern world. And I don't really want to be preachy, but I also hear (or see) myself debunking some of these myths time and time again. Here is an uncomprehesnive list of lies people love to buy into.

1. Facebook will soon start charging for its services.
An oldie but a goodie, this concept has been floating around free email and social media websites for years. Facebook and its counterparts won't start charging for services. Why? They would lose their market audience.

"Did I hear you say 'market'?"

Too right Sonny Jim. Ever wonder why those small ads often relate to you? Yes, it is a creepy world, where you pay for your free website using your identity. On the other hard, collecting data on your interests does prove useful and I have often clicked on ads just because they relate to what I'm interested in. So that's how I'm paying for it.

2.  SMS/emails/private messages can't be tracked. I have privacy settings!
I have pretty high privacy settings on Facebook and it is hard for people to contact me if they don't have any prior connections to my little world. However, how do you think police make statements about FB activity, times of phone calls or text messages, even when deleted? Is it because the owner of that page or technology gave them their password? No.

3. On the other hand... ____ hacked into my FB page! Oh noes!
This annoys me so much. No one hacked into anyone's account, they simply left their account signed in and someone else (usually a sibling, housemate or one of "those" friends) used it to write annoying things, troll or otherwise be a nuisance. This isn't hacking. This is just failing to log out of your Facebook account or having people in your life who are rude enough to use your account to write stupid stuff no one cares about. In my seven years with the technology, I have never been "hacked" or left my FB logged in so other people can use it. If you ccare about your own FB account, log out. It isn't that hard.

4. Things remain broken. For-ev-er.
This is a lie I have never really been able to buy. My dad can fix pretty much everything. Actually, the only thing he couldn't fix was my Baby Secrets doll who fell out of my hospital bed when I had my tonsils out. Computer virus? Sorted. Electronic diary thrown into the bath? Sorted (actually, it came back even better, the thing didn't beep everything you pressed a key). Security tag left on from shopping spree at target? Sorted.

With the rise of YouTube, how to videos are readily accessible. Sites like Life Hack make it easier to find ways to solve broken items issues in your life. Use your noggin and Google, and you should be well on your way to fixing broken stuff.

5. Do Not Call Register - I shall never get an annoying call again!

I have signed my grandma and our own home phone up for this service. Several times. Apparently you remain on the register for eight years. On the other hand, it is simply cold sales calls who shouldn't be calling you. We get charities and surveys all the time. We also have companies we have services with call every few months. Check the website for more information, but simply put, it is worth being on the register, but don't except unsolicidated calls to stop altogether because they won't.

6. "I never answer silent numbers"
I hear this all the time.

Granted, I have had my phone number for 12 years now, so I rarely get any calls which are wrong numbers, telemarketers or creepy people. However, here's a short list of calls I have received from silent numbers:
-Australian Tax Office
-Department of Education offering me work
-Australia Post
-Friends who are protecting their phone ID for work purposes

That should be reason enough to answer private numbers.

7. "Aren't cruises for old people?"
I love cruising.

Maybe The Love Boat misled some crazy people into thinking it was just oldies, gold diggers and millionaires who cruise. I have sailed with P&O twice and about to embark on my third cruise. It depends on which company you travel with, and when. My experiences are during holidays, so there are many families on board and they are well catered to. On the other hand, other cruise lines cater to older people, especially depending on your itinerary. If you have always wanted to cruise, but the concept of a 'floating RSL' has held you back, talk to a knowledgeable travel agent about what would best suit you.

8. A handwritten note must be true. It's handwritten.
 I see handwritten notes all the time on social media, and people are always like "Good for you! I'm glad someone rescued that dog from the hot car/dumped your mean boyfriend in a funny way/ got another one up on the police". It gets old quickly. And while those things might be good (especially the dog one), it doesn't mean they are real.

One that has been circulating for months now has been the slightly pyscho and stalker like girl who has hidden her ex-boyfriend's belongings in all their 'special' locations. You can see that story here.
What bothers me most about this:
- why is the letter still in a notebook?
- why don't we know the author's name?
- this thing is viral - why have we never heard from Kelsi, the boyfriend or the girlfriend? Or any of their friends?

I'm waiting for my good friends at Snopes.com to debunk this one eventually.

Of course, this is a short list, but one I really wanted to get through to those of you playing at home.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

"It matters whom you marry," they said.

I recently read a post on a Christian blog about marriage. You can read It Matters Whom You Marry here. In some ways I do agree with the author in some aspects of this advice. Basically, you shouldn't marry a jerk. I decided that I'm kind of sick of receiving unsolicited advice about relationships, so I really wanted to use the opportunity as someone who is newly married to respond to some of this advice.

The blog opens with a love triangle at a youth group - the princess, the jerky guy and the "computer geek" (her words, not mine). The jerky guy got mad at the princess, and the author seemed to think that from this one interaction these two young people experienced a bad marriage would follow.

Here are some really simple facts I know about guys:
1. Guys can be complete jerks. But girls can be pretty terrible too. Actually, there is a 'sister' blog to this one advising young men on how to choose the right woman to marry. We'll talk about that one another day.
2. Everyone has a bad day. And sometimes they even have poor motor control.
3. Boys mature slower than girls. Simple. So no one should even be contemplating marrying anyone in a youth group setting unless it caters for young adults as well.

Here's something is strongly suspect about this blogger:
I'm pretty sure this antidotes about people she knows are made up, or at least, second hand information. That's my discernment, but if I'm wrong, please forgive me. This lady seems way too nice to know horrible people.

Below are the headings taken from this blog, with my two cents worth below.

 Here are just some of the ways that marriage will impact every aspect of living. 1. It will impact you spiritually.
Of course it does, and I'm really glad this blog mentioned spirituality before everything else.If your values are Christ-centred, yes, marrying a Christian guy is the way for you. But if you are happy being in a multi-faith relationship, you married someone who is struggling spiritually, or your husband has faith but is not overly committed, there is hope. In the real world I know many praying wives who pray daily for their husband's spiritual life. I admire these women greatly.

This article states a lot about the husband being the head of the household, leading his family through their faith journey. However, this is not always the case, and sometimes women find themselves relying on pastors and mentors to get them through. Sometimes women are the spiritual head of the household. Does this coincide with the teachings of Paul? Perhaps not, but perhaps there is no choice for the wife than to fulfill the role of the head of the household.

2. It will impact you emotionally.
Sometimes I have had a terrible day, and then been quite fine for my lovely husband to follow through with his night "out with the guys". Okay, so Stephen spends a lot of time playing sport. But that makes him happy. My mental health and happiness is not weighted on interactions with my husband. He isn't responsible for my happiness or how I react to a situation.

On the other hand, some people don't deal with emotion well. Some people don't do tears, sentimentality or tradition. And if your future husband is like that, he most likely won't change. This cookie-cutter guy in choosing the man you marry won't help you, unless you are willing to apply it to your own situation and learn what you can accept with the spirit of grace. Before I was getting married, a lady I admired once told me "If I wasn't Christian I just couldn't be married to my husband!" It is all about grace and having the power to forgive.

3. It will impact you physically.
Rule 1: You can help provide for your household.This is a bit rich coming from me, as it is holidays and I am not working. However, I make my own pocket money and help out where I can. Even if it is just selling a dress for a few bucks on eBay or doing the ironing (my least favourite job), I contribute.

I do agree with the author when it comes to the husband being the provider - money can't buy you love, but it does get you are roof over your head, food on your table and clothes on your back. Sometimes people marry and don't have any of these things. You have to make it work for you.

Rule 2: Being playful is seriously okay.
I am a highly playful person. I also give awesome arm punches. You need to use your own discernment here. The author does make some very valid points, but you need to use your own mind too.

Rule 3: Accept that guys aren't perfect
There is a whole lot about sexy time in here which I'm not prepared to cover in this particular blog, other than the simple advice is that although a number of women spend a lot of time investing in self-education about relationships, the number of men is probably fewer. What I'm trying to say is that ladies need to be upfront with their fellas about what they want, need and like in all things, not just in the physical sense. And sometimes you don't know either - I hate having my feet touched (I'm really ticklish), but I like having a little rest in the morning if I have woken up with carpal tunnel. Often Stephen will bring me my heat pack to help get my hands warmed up for the day ahead.

4. It will impact you mentally.
This is why I think pre-marraige counselling is really important. Accepting that often their are things about your partner that you find challenging is crucial, but it is how you deal with those issues that helps make or break the relationship. Just because a man lacks understanding about all of your emotional needs or has some difficulty supporting you shouldn't mean that he is not the right man for you to marry. It means you need to speak up and work on your relationship. This is why I don't recommend short relationships before marriage. Being friends and/or dating for a few years helps you decide what you can and can't accept about your relationship.

5. It will impact you relationally.
I think it is unreasonable to expect your future husband to accept all of your friends, family and myriad of acquaintances. In the real world, people do not always get along, and a particular trait you like, or at least accept, in a friendship might be unacceptable to your partner. Also, when you are married, relationships change dramatically. You lose friends, you make new friends, you might become less or more family orientated. It varies greatly, and it should. Be grateful if your future husband brings up issues he has with your relationships, and consider them with great care. Often this will be out of genuine concern rather than a lack of respect.

I encourage you to read the blog and make up your own mind. It seems to be have directed to younger girls which makes me sad - encouraging marriage is all good and well, but only when a couple is ready for it. Reading books and blogs will only get you so far. Invest in the relationships you want to be in for years to come - with family, friends and possible future husbands. It is always worth it.

As a friend's excellent advice on our wedding day was 'communication is the key!' Even the exclamation mark in this reads true. A lot of the advice is in the blog is simply passive. Without investing in communication time, rather than your thoughts and sharing them with your significant other, far too many assumptions will be made. People get hurt. Talk more, analyze less. Live and love with God's grace.