Friday, 29 January 2016

Links to my published work

For prosperity's sake, or perhaps because I'm in the process of applying for my Master of Creative Writing, here is a bunch of links to examples of my written work.

Offbeat Bride
What Gilmore Girls can teach us about proposals

New Times
All articles can be accessed from  New Times Previous Editions

March 2014  
Reach Out - A Review of Ruby Charlotte's album 'Tell Me You're Alive'

February 2014
What could you give up?
Caring for Cambodia

December 2013
The Twilight Years (with Bindy Taylor)
Ironbank Faith Community
Jamestown Uniting Church
The Miracle Man

November 2013
A faith journey for senior school students
Hallett Cover Uniting Church
Farewell to Tailem Bend
Meet the State Mission Fellowship
The Road to Peace

History of the Australian Guide Program
AGP Document

Girl Guides Australia: Traveller's Tales
Sangam Be The Change: MDG3 2014

Archived Blogs
Lisa's Olave Challenge Blog
PopFunk (my small business blog)
Kid-Kits and Deserted Islands: not another BSC blog

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

From the Archives 2012: About grief.

Krishnamuri was once asked what is the most appropriate thing to say to a friend who is about to die. He answered: "Tell your friend that in his death, part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes all thes you will also go. He will not be alone." - 'The Last Lecture'

Grief never leaves you. It becomes less raw, yes. The ache for that person dulls just a little, but it never changes the fact you would trade anything to see them one more time.

There are a lot of things I could say on Facebook, but I won't. What I will say is this - I admire my friends who are continuing on the legacy of people who are now in Heaven. The best legacy you can leave behind is that of love.

Relationships don't end because one of us is still here and the other isn't. We are always in relationship. Memories keep our loved ones alive.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The awkardly titled blog: Growing Up Christian

Something I have been meaning to write about is a bit of an on-going theme of mine, which is, awkwardly titled, Growing Up Christian. Sometimes I have been a little bitter about my experiences as a youth person growing in a number of churches and different ministries, but really, it has brought me much joy, friendship, faith and respect for those who are in ministry. I’m certain of my faith, but uncertain of where I should be in tends of regular worship in a church. All the same, here’s some thoughts from me about, well, growing up Christian.

I went to two services a day, usually, morning and evening. Morning services were nice because more people attended them, and you could do stuff after church. The sermons tended to be longer, which was mostly okay. Also, visiting speakers and baptisms tend to happen more in the morning.

I liked evening services better because they, generally speaking, are more youth orientated. (By ‘youth’, basically, anyone who is not yet a grandparent.) The worship music was often more contemporary, the services were shorter, and depending on who was there, sometimes there would be some kind of gathering afterwards. I also really like doing things at night, so evening services were always my preference.

Other churches
There is almost always a ‘cooler’ church than yours. As a teenager, I was fairly certain that there were at least two churches that seemed more with it than my own. I don’t know if it was to do with their technology (I was on Overhead Projector duty a lot), the fact their worship team seem to shop for  clothes somewhere I didn’t, possible mood lighting, or general welcoming atmosphere. What I found though, was that although I might stray a little, nothing really beats your own, predictable, know-where-the-toilets-are kind of church.

Youth groups
I’ve been part of youth groups since I was 13. Let me tell you some things about them. Some churches are happy to define the age bracket of youth group. Others are a bit more fancy free. Some of my favourite people I have met through youth group, some people I saw every week and hardly spoke to them. Youth groups are supposed to be fun, but, really, the best nights were always a) ‘chillax time’ with a speaker or something, but do what you want before and after, b) with people you liked and c) unpredictable.

As young people, we did lots of fun things. We also did lots of ‘fun things’ according to adults. Some highlights for me include a Survivor themed day (complete with a gross food challenge), girls only sleepovers, cooking nights and sneaking out during watching videos to have D&Ms. Sometimes there was a bit of pressure to bring friends and try and make youth group bigger. Actually, I just wanted to hang with my church friends, and my friends I would bring along tended to come for the big themed nights, or not at all. Youth groups are best led, in my opinion,  by people who are passionate about youth and aren’t always looking to be entertaining. There are many youth organisations you can join for adventurous activities and Big Nights Out, often youth group is not the best place for it.

Volunteering and ministry
I started volunteering at a Christian community radio station when I was 15, which is something I loved to do, but certainly had its time and place. I found, quickly, that volunteering often gives so much more back than you expect, but also, sometimes it is not what you think it will be. I was really slowly eased into my time at Rhema (which is now Lime FM if you’re curious), and I probably wasn’t exactly great at what I did, although at the time I thought I was awesome (because: teenager).

Other than announcing, I joined a Beach Mission for ten days. Like volunteering at Rhema, I wasn’t great at this either, but didn’t have a lot of support in what I was supposed to be doing. I loved the experience, but in this case it was probably too much too soon, and I haven’t served on Beach Mission since. I would also help out at different youth groups, which I enjoyed, but again, I was older and didn’t love being told what to do. I always valued spending time with young people, and I am really grateful for this time in my life.

Worship teams
Of all my church friends, I am one of the slim minority of those with no musical ability whatsoever. I love music, and have for as long as I can remember, but on a worship team I am, really, not very good. Just before moving to Adelaide, I had the opportunity to lead worship for about six months at youth services, which I loved, but, again, wasn’t always fit for the job. I did find (as I have now that I sing to Natalie at least twenty times a day) that the more I was singing, the better I became… but when coming up from slim-to-no-talent, it’s probably nothing to write home about.

I got into a bit of a pattern of being a youth band groupie for awhile, but things changed when one of my friends called and asked me to decorate church for a service. Well, I went all out and brought in all sorts of junk from the storage shed which hadn’t seen the light of day since the 80s. And, being a thoughtless youthie, I never put any of it back, but man, it looked awesome. Like I said before, I spent a lot of time on the OHP which is not a job I say I miss too often.

Church friends
I thought I’d better write about this before my next topic. I was super blessed to have mostly amazing church friends. They were often the people I spoke to about the tough times, or my goals or thoughts or theories, before talking to someone from school about it. It was hard though in my last year or two before moving to Adelaide, when most of my friends had moved away or moved on, and there wasn’t really anyone to help fill the void. Also, my church friends, and Bible College friends, are some of the few people I like having hugs with, because (((hugs))).

Church friemenies
I have made a few church frienemies over the years because I’m a girl, and girls are into drama. Now, sometimes I did have fights with my church friends, but we always made up after a few weeks. Not the same. Sometimes in life there are people who, for whatever reason, don’t like you, and other times, you don’t like them for valid reasons.

Frienemies happen because someone you aren’t really friends with, but know well enough to talk to after church about something you are both a part of, decides that they want to a) give you advice, b) rebuke you for whatever indiscretion or c) tries to get epic goss on you on many occasions and fails, often. These people are never going to be your friend, so move on.

The opposite sex
Some things I discovered too early on, really, is this. God is an “great” excuse for not wanting to date someone, or wanting to. My Bible College friends and I would lament over the phrase ‘But he said God told him…’ so many times I lost count.  To avoid interacting with someone of the opposite gender, I have seen fake girlfriends, strong beliefs around being led to date someone in a few years time, pledges to the single life and waiting for The One.

What I also found was that once you have found someone you like, seemingly everyone around you will find fault with that person (in reality, we are all flawed, just some more than others). When things don’t work out, some people feel terribly sorry for you, you’ll definitely have a few I-told-you-sos and others rejoice that you are now single and can ‘prepare your heart’ for the right person.

I have only been out with guys who are Christian, or have grown up in the church, or have faith but don’t attend, so I don’t know any different. I also know that all of the advice I was given regarding relationships, love and sex is bogus and I threw it out of the (mental) window.

There are a lot of helping people in the church. I have met many a nurse or teacher or community worker this way. I think there is also a lot to be said for the opportunity to explore the creative arts through music, through art and design, and sometimes through interpretive dance.

Music and pop culture
A minefield.
I know a few people who threw out all their ‘secular’ music, and some who regret it. I know others who have left the church and happily passed it along. I have seen worship trends come and go, I have seen different versions of popular Christian sayings do the rounds too. And, for the record, I mostly can’t stand Christian music. I have some exceptions, which is mostly old school stuff (when I started listening to Christian music, dc Talk was already old school). I don’t really like Veggietales as much as what I did when I was a child. I take offense at some songs, others I really like. I hate repetition, but I hate learning new songs. Basically, when it comes to music, I am painful.

Some thoughts…
I have spent well over half my life doing Sunday School and youth group and ministries and working in a Christian environment.  It hasn’t all been a bed of roses, but it has been fun for the most part. And I am really grateful, for all of it. Really, I am. I highly recommend reading Adrian Plass and his Sacred Diary series. They will change your heart, and leave you wanting to laugh and cry, all on the same page.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Lisa's Pop Music Mix Tape

I love pop music.

Okay, I like a lot of music, and I'm not to ashamed to admit that the Top 40 radio stations are quite alright with me. I like rock too, so if you're like me and chuck it all in a big mixing pot, add bogan rock, and reasonably decent rock as well.

Why though? I mean, I've always been a bit out there in my tastes when it comes to fashion, interests and, well, obsessions. But when it comes to music, I like what all the teenyboppers like. I admit, I am still a teenybopper.

I remember the day I first discovered music. I was lying on my bed before school, with my walkman turned into 5SE (the pre-FM station days). I was 10 and the theme tune of 'Grease' was playing. I cranked the volume + static and that was it. Music and me, we were BFFs. As a preteen I love Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Bewitched, Steps and Hanson. Those tastes haven't really changed. And I also love 60s, and 80s pop and anything 90s which Matt and I would term "well, it's a good song to skate to".

Pop music got me through my first and ten disastrous crushes, break ups, countless nights on the dance floor, marathon bus trips to and from Mount Gambier and helped me form connections to people through conversation and shared love of music. And having said all that, I really can't sing and I don't play anything. I just love music.

I have been scoffed and laughed at on countless occasions for using lyrics to express my thoughts and emotions, rather than putting my own words to it. I have sniffled my way through 'Turn Back Time' by Cher and walked down the aisle to 'Smile' by Uncle Cracker. I have uncovered so many compilation albums I could never afford (or had stolen from my car many years ago), and each one is a little treasure chest.

To celebrate my admission, and to finally say to all you indies, Triple J purists and anti-pop fans - yes, I do love Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and PitBull, here is my list of songs which helped create the person I am today.

Lisa's Pop Mix Tape

1. Wannabe - Spice Girls
When this song came out, I totally loved the Spicies (as my Dad called them for some reason). The whole Spice album is bloody brilliant. I truly love each of the girls, and their autobios are worth reading (except Posh's, I actually threw my copy into recycling - on purpose.

2. MMMMBop - Hanson
I remember buying this single in Target with Matt. I didn't care that anyone else thought they looked like girls, Hanson did some mighty fine work in their hey day.

3. If you want it to be good girl (get yourself a bad boy) - Backstreet Boy
About track 7 or 9 on the album - I was so fortunate to have my first copy of this album on tape thanks to Ali. What's good about this song? Everything. It's totally random and I wish there was a video clip for it.

4. Total Eclipse of the Heart - Nikki French
Yeah yeah, Bonnie Tyler recorded this song first, but Nikki French made an awesome dance remix. Some would say it is a perfect roller skating song, and they would be right. There's melodrama, there's bitterwsweetness. Some may say the tween version of the spooky Bonnie version, which really spoke to me at 18... so much angst!

5. Lay Your Love On Me - Racey
At 13, Lay Your Love On Me was one of my 'had to listen before school' songs. There was references to being a teenager, letting your love run free, and the girl being everything he ever wanted to find. I could relate.

6. My Sharona - The Knack
Unfortunately, the boys in my Year 8 classes did a strip tease as a Red faces act to this song, and I started loving it. It drove my poor mum completely nuts.

7. Barbara Ann - Beach Boys
Give me a barber shop quartet any old day and I will be happy. This song includes an improv with the phrase 'hey, pass me the ashtray!', how could you not love it?

8. Crocodile Rock - Elton John
So many memories of why I love this song. Firstly, because it played on our last day of school in Year 4 and Scott was doing 360s pretending he was a cow (for some reason?!), and then played a few weeks later just after Trent was born. Secondly, because it played on a very happy Adelaide night, spent crusing around town. And, most importantly, I consider Crocodile Rock my 'lucky' song because I've never had a bad day after listening to it.

9. Jack and Diane - John Cougar Mellencamp
I grew up listening to this song, and hated it until I was 15, when I actually started listening to the ballad. Man, a great story. And it's referenced in 'Tully', my favourite book as a teenager. Score.

10. Born This Way - Lady Gaga
This song played all the time while Mum and I went on a cruise a few years ago. Okay, so apparently it's meant to be a bit of a LGBT theme song, but I love what it stands for. Being yourself.

11. All The Small Things - Blink 182
The first time I really heard this song was a Thursday close at KFC. We were all being incredibly silly and kept changing the lyrics to it. Actually, that seemed to happen a lot at KFC. I have been known to scream the words out on freeway on random occasions.

12. Titanium - David Guetta featuring Sia
A tough call, as I also wanted to pick 'Don't Let Me Go', but this one's a bit more mainstream. A good video clip, a song about being bullet proof, exactly what I needed right then.

13. Believe - Cher
Cher made so many good songs, and Believe seemed to be a theme tune for starting high school and leaving my friends behind (a bot of a joke, seeing as that was like 15 people, only one or two who were devasted by our separation). I love 'Turn Back Time' - so romantic, and 'In His Kiss' too.

14. Bad Case of Loving You - Robert Palmer
What's good about this song? 1. It was the Coon jingle for awhile. 2. A bit naughty but a lot fun to sing while driving down Henley Beach Road (and maybe at the stoplights near Holbrooks Road, a little too loudly).

15. Jump - Van Halen
A roller skating song. Also featured in 'Best Friends' film about roller skating. Was my theme tune at 12. And no, I still can't jump on my skates, but the kid in the movie could.

16. Raspberry Beret - Prince
I owned a raspberry berry, and did a lot of op shopping as a teen, but saying I wasn't too bright wasn't especially nice. I also loved 'Little Red Corvette' at 20 after being messed around by someone who did not have a little red Corvette, but close enough to allow for poetic license.

17. Dancing in the Dark - Bruce Springsteen
Such a good song, and at 21 I could relate. I so wanted something better than the life I had, and Bruce just got to me. He longed for something better. So, my better at 22 was to move across town, start at a new uni and be a single lass, but still, it was different and it made me happy.

18. Teenage Dream - Katy Perry
I love this song. It's sexy and cute and funny all at once.

19. 3am - Matchbox 20
How could I really choose a Matchbox 20 song:? They are all amazing. The girl in this one is pretty bonkers. Again, I can relate. Being bonkers is my life story. Honourable mentions include 'Real World', 'Unwell' (although that makes me cry a lot whenever I hear it now) and ' Bright Lights'.

20. She Will be Loved - Maroon 5
Does Maroon 5 (and Matchbox 20 for that matter) really belong in pop? For now, yes. Why I love this song? The OC ads. Standing around on corners in rain. The idea of an on-again-off-again realistic (but incredibly) depressing relationship. It has all the melodrama you want, without it sounding too OTT (see 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' for more OTT information).

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Things I miss about the old school The Simpsons

I'd like to say that I grew up on a healthy diet of The Simpsons, Neighbours and Seinfeld. But Seinfled finished when I was 12, Neighbours in simply unwatchable and The Simpsons... well, they're still rerunning them, but the newer eps. Not the ones I'm going to write about., which are Seasons 1-5. Of course after 24 seasons, of course it going to evolve. But here's what I miss all the same.

1. Homer being a reasonably good dad.
In the first few seasons, Home was actually a pretty good dad. Okay, sometimes he could be irresponsible, but often he had his kids' best interest at heart. Take, for example, when Bart was going to jump over Springfield Gorge, Homer goes and stops him. Okay, so Home accidentally fell down the gorge on the skateboard, but still. He was a nice dad then.

2. Some continuity please!
My second favoruite episode is 'The Way We Was', in which we first learn about how Homer and Marge got together after their prom. Why do I love this one? It's just really sweet. The other flashback episodes had some continuity with this one... but ones of late really have not.

3. Homer has a boss.
I realised this today while watching the episode where Home gets sent to India to manage the company over there. Homer was often called to see Mr Burns in his office. As someone who now has a real job where I have to see a boss in an office, I forgot that for awhile there, Homer was just like us working class people. Now days he is fired, hired and off doing a whole bunch of random stuff.

4. Bart was bad, but actually nice too.
I liked how Bart would always have a change of heart about his bad behaviour, and then come good - as in "I got a D minus... I kissed the teacher, yuck!"

5. Lisa and Bart actually get along for another reason than plotting against their parents
My favourite episode is 'Stark Raving Dad', yes, the one with the song 'Happy Birthday Lisa' in it which may or may not have been sung by Michael Jackson himself (Wikipedia says yes, but Simpsons insiders have always been quiet about it). Why? Because Bart actually tries really hard to do something nice for his sister.

6. Otto is the bus driver! (except that time he was briefly fired)
Otto was one of my fave characters as a kid. Actually, I wanted to catch the bus so I could have my very own Otto Man friend. Now he only randomly appears in places. Sad face.

7. Lisa is an actual kid without too much activism
Look, I get my namesake is very intelligent, but does she have to take a stand on everything? I liked Lisa when she was into horses, Malibu Stacy and hanging out with Marge (like when she learned to sew, so cute!). Now days, if there's some kind of cause to stood uup for, Lisa's all for it. If it's PC, Lisa's all for it. I know that's part of her character, but somehow she was much more endearing (and easy to relate to) when she was a smarter-than-smart eight year old.

8. The creator's take on pop culture
Radioactive Man, wherever you are, come back!

9. Quotable quotes
I'd like to estimate that in our household (Stephen, Lisa and a cat), we average some kind of Simpsons reference at least once a day. Sure, maybe I have mentioned the guy we sat next to on the cruise who ordered "chowder" every time I think of crab meat or cruises, but that doesn't really count. Maybe it's because I haven't had to watch the last few seasons as reruns for years, I don't know.

10. The extended family
More Selma and Grandpa Simpson is requested. I love Grandpa Simpson - he is hilarious. He was better in the good old days (which, I guess for him were the good bad old old days), but when he did things like Sunday family visits and baby-sitting the kids, he was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The BBC Booklist

The BBC says most people have read around 6 books on this list - lets see how we go!
Cut & Paste all of this, including the instructions, into your Note's section
Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read once. Enter a number for the number of times you read something. Make sure you delete my x’s!

LOL. I have started at least ten of these books as well but I won't mark them ;)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
X4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling 
X5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee 
X6 The Bible 
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott 
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
X16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
X19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (aka 'War, what is it good for?')
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
X29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
X37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
X39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
X40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne 

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
X46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
X49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zifon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
X59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon 
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
X61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
X64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
X68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
X73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett 
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
X81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens 
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
X87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton x
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
X99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factoy - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

My total: 19

And about 25 'I started but.... nah'.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

From the Archives 2008: The Books I could Never Find at Koorong

At Koorong today I couldn't find the book I wanted. The book which would finally help me live the life I've always wanted. Rich, sucessful, hanging out with God 24/7. But then I thought about the books I could never find at Koorong even if I wanted to. And here's a brief list:

- Where is God when it Hurts (because you've stubbed you toe in your boyfriend's parents house and they'll get angry even if you use the word 'bugger')?

- How to Make Friends and Kiss Boys at Influencers Conference

- Every Young Man's Battle: How to pick up chicks at easter camp

- Every Young Woman's Battle: How to avoid being picked up by sleazy guys at easter camp

- Help, I'm a Youth Worker (and I can't even afford a palm pilot!)

- The Blah Blah Sisters Prayer Group (who met twice but then forgot about it)

- Christian Or Convertable? The two questions singles should always ask

- I'm in love the with disco siren (but don't tell my pastor)

- Where to Sell all of Your "Secular" CDs in roder to make money to give to the church

- How to Write a Testimony Withut Looking Like a Whinger

- The Rules of Not "Going Too Far"

- How to Subtly Convert Your Best Friend

Monday, 11 January 2016

From the Archives 2011: Weird and wacky 'Christian lifestyle' choices in ten simple dot points.

Let's be honest - Christians are a bit weird. I've grown up in church, been to Christian schools, worked in different ministries and have had an extreme over-exposure to the Christian lifestyle in general. I'm actually kind of over it. Not over Jesus - He is a totally rocking guy who had some amazing ideas and messages to share with the world. What I am over is Christianese, over people making the gospel and its message into something all about them, their needs, thoughts, etc etc. So I thought, tonight being Christmas, I'd share some of the stuff I find... well... a little bit weird.

1. fellowship
Why can't we just call it friendship? Sure, there is a spiritual side to the friendship we have with one another, but then if that's how we view it, we can turn something like a friendship into something which allows others to speak into our spiritual lives, and quite frankly, this isn't always the best idea. It can be hard to draw the line from what is Biblical and what is just your personal opinion. It also becomes difficult when people wish (or attempt) to mentor you when this was never God's intention. I've seen people leave the church over this - it is pretty serious. I think we need to be more definite in what people's place is in our spiritual lives.

2. romance
I always feel weird being a single Christian girl, and sometimes being a taken Christian girl is even weirder. if you're not taken, people assume it's because you've taken some great call to be single (not likely kids), and if you are then the questions are: when will you get engaged/married/pregnant? It would be terrible to do such a thing in the wrong order! As someone who grew up in the Joshua Harris generation (aka: blinded to reality) - I am yet to blink when someone announces their engagement after 4 months of "courting" but part of me thinks I should be concerned... yet I'm not, despite my own experience in this area. Of course we are not to judge (after all, this is why I'm writing the top ten list), but why is this so accepted?!

3. sex
The problem with lots of literature out there is that sex is built up to be some great pinnacle of a relationship. Yes, it is a sacred act, there is no denying that. On the other hand, making rules, boundaries and promises can often lead to heartache, discouragement and disappointment. These things are important in all relationships, including sexual ones. However, people don't suddenly become sexual creatures when they get married. I don't want to get blurry on this one - make your own choices, and don't follow what some book says. Study the scriptures for yourself. Song of Solomon does make for juicy reading after all.

4. church stuff
(I've only really just started to like church again in the last month or so - it has taken me a really long time to soften my heart towards church life in general.)ANYWAY. Church is good.Christian friendships are good. Being told you need to commit to 20 gazillion church things is not. If I had it my way I'd be at church more that what I currently can be. The problem is that often we are committing to and pouring into church stuff that is really just 'stuff' with a God-label on it. Many of things I like to do (like Bible Studies and youth groups and church council meetings) are useful and good for building others up. On the other hand, going to every service, attending a number of homegroups, mid-week meetings at Maccas about a ministry group,  helping with post-church coffee and being part of some bogus committee all in the same week is going to lead to burn out. That's dangerous for your health and your faith.

5. worship events
We tell the world that we are different from them. Then we give musos flashy lights, pretty clothes and create a mosh pit. Then we tell youth that they should be doing this for God's glory, not just dancing for the sake of it. HELLO! This is only thing kids know. They often don't define it as worship - it is music. Worship comes from the heart and to do it we must have some kind of understanding behind it. A good Christian song is still a song until we apply some of our faith and knowledge to it.
I'm not dissing my musically talented friends - many of them have the right heart attitude about this stuff. We need to look at how worship is being presented  and then do something about it to help kids learn, grow and understand it.

6. repeating stuff the preacher dude (or dudette) tells us to
I cannot stand this crap! honestly! does it make you remember stuff? Maybe. It does make the preacher sound more like a motivational speaker or rock star than they would care to be. I know this is some kind of style people are used to. I've heard it done authentically. But i've mostly heard it done in some lame ways. "I can't hear you.." Oh, come on. People will take out of a sermon what they want to and what they're led to.

7. corny youth group games
This year I have played a lot of corny youth group games. I've been part of many bad ones. I've ran many bad ones. some good ones too. if you grew up in a youth group you'll know exactly what I'm on about. Now, personally I hate to be humilated and looked at. I don't really like touching people either. I don't do competition nicely. People like me hate corny youth group games. Let's abolish them, or at least, start looking at why we do these things.

8. a shared meal
Oh dear.
Shared meals scare the living daylights out of me. There's always a surprise (usually tuna), there's bad cooking (think Mrs Cropley) and there's always the Tim Tam packet that runs out. However, shared meals are accepted. I've been to shared meal post-services, pre-services, weddings, funerals and youth group events. I always leave not really knowing what I have eaten. This was especially bad at a Bible-times based progressive dinner after which I was hideously sick all the next day, and felt so poorly I left the house for a night at Simon's in a Winnie-the-Pooh jumper. This is why I don't like shared meals.

9. the handshake bit.
I used to love doing the handshake bit at the Bapos here in MG. I knew and loved so many people I never got time to give them all cuddles. However, since then I have grown to hate this part of the service. The Passing of the Peace - much nicer and less hugs. The greeting of others with a holy kiss - blurgh. I have been exposed to that rubbish many times. I really really hate that.

10. the Christian bubble
This is where I leave you tonight my friends - the final thought of the Christian bubble. I have lived in this Bubble for short lived periods of my life. It is a terrible place to be, and here's why - because you so rarely get the opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ with others, and if the opportunity arises, too often we see the flaws (or sins) in a person's life (gay people. single mums. new christians. people who use drugs and alcohol. other religions. single dads. people who can't come to church. people who are scared of church. people who are severly hurt by the church). We see these flaws and address them first (law) before introducing them to a gospel message (grace). Now, despite what some preachers may believe (shall we say, a little group in Rundle Mall), the grace of God, brought proudly to us by Jesus Christ is the message we need to deliever first. It is all very well to say "look, here are your issues you need to get right before you meet Jesus," but that is a LIE. People know that deep down they are unhappy with aspects of their lives. They are looking for something more. Let's not condemn them before they even meet Jesus.

Let's be honest. If you have an issue in your life that is there before you become a Christian, it will often be there afterwards. Circumstances can change dramatically with God, and I have seen and heard amazing things God has done in people's lives - literally right away. However, if you're gay, or if you're living with your partner, or if you are addicted to a substance, those things are going to take time to work through. Let's get honest with ourselves and God. We can be like them, but not like them. Maybe instead of having all these nice Christian "things to do", we create at atmosphere for everyone most of the time - believers and non-believers alike. Am I being idealistic? Perhaps. I mean after suffering through the biggest Christian bubble ever, I can see how hard it is for outsiders to be included in anything, let alone everything. But it sure is possible. We're not an exclusive club. Jesus made sure of that.

My message is clear - the Christian life is whacky. What I find weird you probably won't. Maybe I've offended or upset people. Maybe you disagree with me. Maybe you don't. I just wanted to put it out there for those who have found it all a bit tough and don't know what to make of this crazy Christian lifestyle. I still don't and I've been in it hardcore for ten years. I've been more hurt by Christian people than the world. That's not right, but it isn't an excuse to give up on someone I wholy believe in.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

About being unable to sleep, about being a mum, and about fierce motherhood competition.

A super honest post because middle of night.

I'm pretty tired. I have what much more experienced mums call 'a good baby'. I'm tired because I don't sleep well at night. I like to make sure Natalie is okay, even with my favourite Relax Rain app I hear her wiggling or sighing in her dreamland state. And that's okay. I have been told to sleep when the baby sleeps, or to not sleep when the baby sleeps. I have been told to eat better, to sleep more, to have what my generation refers to as 'me time', to exercise more, to rest my knee, to let my bubba cry, to have routine, to do stuff outside of being a mum. I haven't been told anything about how I still look pregnant but I'm sure as hell that's been batted around a bit. No, I don't need any advice in that area either.

The thing is, that although I am ridiculously (and self imposed) sleep deprived, I love being a mum. I didn't know this kind of love even existed. I love her more than words can say. I am a mamma bear of the best and worst kind. My life has changed, completely, rapidly and happily. I feel no need to vent about how frustrated I am about something my new baby has done, because nothing makes me feel that way.

I don't love all the things that are attached to motherhood. I hate the competitiveness. I hate the advice you don't want. I hate that I feel I have to justify my actions and choices and beliefs. I hate that superiority that mums of older children sometimes have. I hate random strangers telling me things about my child or offering suggestions. None of this is about actual children though, and it says more about those people than anything else.

A lot of this stuff has been bothering me for a long time. I don't want to just fall into some deep dark hole, or worse, deactivate my Facebook account because everything is driving me a little cuckoo bananas.