Friday, 30 November 2007

a revelation

I think it's quite amusing that I tend to blog more when I'm away from home. Obviously more is happening that I need to process, and also I need to feel connected to normalcy in some small way.

I woke up at 6am this morning, so decided to get up and go to the gym. It was great - I only did about 40 minutes, but felt so much better for it. Got a huge coffee and a muffin and started off the day much happier than I have the last couple of days. Also had a shower in the gym's clean, bright showers so didn't have to contend with the mould.

Today has been a busy sort of day, but bitsy, running around doing odd jobs and getting stressed out by constant demands from people. But still, I got to hear Richard Chin's talk on Revelation 6-7, which was excellent and extremely challenging (one big point I took away was that although we in the west might not face death for following Christ, we need to live as though death would be preferably to faithlessness - or anything else without Christ, really. Might sound extreme, but, well, it is!).

I was planning to just hole up somewhere and chill out on my own most of the night, but a bunch of staffworkers from Newcastle asked me to go to see Elizabeth: the Golden Age, and I jumped at the chance to get out and see a movie. I don't seem to do enough of that anymore.

The movie was gorgeous to look at, but I found it quite disjointed and disappointing in its portrayal of religion, and the way it played fast and loose with historical facts (though I didn't really expect anything else). The Catholics (especially the Spanish Catholics) were all zealots and going to war as ordained by God; the English Protestants were basically just English - England was the thing that mattered, and God didn't really get a look in, even though they were staking their whole identity on a question of religion. I need to do more reading on church history to get the facts straight in my head; that's the problem with this type of movie, the glossy narrative and visuals tend to stick more than something you read in a book.

But it's interesting how there were resonances there with what David Brown, the General Secretary of the GBU, said in his talk last night about student work in France (GBU is the French equivalent of AFES). He was explaining why the French have the attitude they do to Christianity, and said that basically they have had it ingrained in them for centuries that religion equals war. Having seen some of that portrayed in the movie tonight, it's easy to see how people would believe that.

The passage Richard was speaking from this morning was about the four horsemen of the apocalypse that bring conquest, leading to war, leading to famine, leading to death. The language is poetic and symbolic, and can be hard to get your head around. But the fact is this: it isn't some vision of the future, of things that will happen someday. This is the world we live in now. It makes us weep and cry for justice when we see the things that are happening in our world, when we see man's inhumanity to man.

Yet the only one who can bring peace and justice and restore things to right is our God. Not a Queen. Not a regime. Not any earthly power, be it a treaty, United Nations, or international war tribunal. Only God can do that. And the way he chose to do that was through giving his son as the atoning sacrifice for all this evil, all this suffering, all this sin in the world so that we would be washed clean of all this filth. It's quite incredible. Revelation uses the symbolic imagery of the Lamb (= Christ, the innocent sacrifice), and his blood washing us white as snow. As Richard said, it's bizarre! Have you ever tried to get a stain out by using lamb's blood? But that's the image - that through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we are made perfect in God's sight. What a wonderful thing.

In his love and infinite patience, God is waiting for us to turn back to him so that many more can be with him in the new creation...what a glorious day that will be!

Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?"

I answered, "Sir, you know."

And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

"they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Revelation 7:13-17

Thursday, 29 November 2007

a litany of woe (or whingeing)

Thanks to all who have sent me encouraging messages/emails/pokes today. It helps.

I went on an expedition to the Canberra Centre to buy more milk for the conference and ended up having an absolutely massive coffee and brownie at Starbucks (note that I never have coffee at Starbucks - I'll have a chilled beverage of some sort if necessary but I try my hardest not to go anywhere near them (please believe me, cafedave!!!!)) - that's how desperate I was for caffeine and sugar. It did help a bit. I also bought a glass star for my Christmas tree from the Oxfam shop, in keeping with my tradition of buying one pleasing new ornament each year for the tree.

The expo kicked off today. The expo is for people who are exploring doing student ministry and want to find out more about it and the opportunities available. I haven't really taken part in it at all, because I've been doing random jobs and just trying to keep going as best I can.

There are many small, frustrating things that have been happening since we arrived. For example:
  1. The college our office is in has recently undergone a security upgrade. All the doors require swipe cards to open, and if a door is left open for longer than about 2 minutes, a high pitched constant beeping alarm sounds. This can only be stopped by closing the door, or pressing a button, every 2 minutes. This is really not ideal when you have an office that many people need to come in and out of, and only a limited number of keys. At one stage, I was sitting next to the door just so I could press the button every two minutes and stop the beeping noise. It seemed very much like some bizarre psychological experiment. Now that the busy period is over, the door is closed so no more beeping. However, there is a low-level pulsing beep coming from one of the doors outside, and it sounds like we're in a hospital. It's really quite surreal.

  2. The outside doors are locked for the night at 5.00pm. So people can no longer go in and out of the building without swipe cards, and even more bizarrely, they can't get out without swipe cards. This is very, very annoying.

  3. The conference mugs, which are given free to every delegate so they can have morning and afternoon tea, did not turn up last week to S's house when they were supposed to (she lives across the road from uni and was going to mind them for us until the conference). So I rang the supplier and organised for them to be delivered straight to the conference site instead and he assured me they would be delivered first thing Wednesday, in time for our first delegates to arrive. But no, they did not turn up yesterday and after much ringing around, we discovered they had been delivered to the wrong address and were going to be delivered by 9.00am this morning at the latest. I wasn't holding my breath, which was just as well, because of course they didn't turn up this morning. Then we got a call from S saying 8 boxes had been delivered to her house and the courier refused to take them to the uni where they were supposed to go. This was worrying because a) they weren't supposed to go to S's house, and b) there were supposed to be something like 32 boxes. So I drove over to S's house, retrieved the 8 boxes, which were enough to keep the expo delegates happy, and I still have no idea if and when the remainder of the mugs are going to show up. I have achieved a zen-like state of calm about it, and I think the supplier was grovelling extra hard because I was being so nice about it, but it's getting to the point where if one more thing goes wrong with the job I'll explode all over someone and it won't be pretty.

  4. I hate the showers in my college. They are mouldy and they smell and make me feel claustrophobic (some of you may recall that I have major bathroom issues). I am trying to be thankful that the shower pressure is good and the water hot, but it's very hard to wash yourself adequately when every fibre of your being is screaming at you to get out.
But - I have internet access. I have a comfortable bed. I have good food and plenty of it. I have people around me who are praying for me. And I am part of this amazing movement that is all about proclaiming God's word. There isn't much to complain about, really.


So I'm at Canberra for the expo and NTE. Most years I'm tired but excited. This year, I'm tired, sad and fighting a very strong urge to run away. It's quite disconcerting. I am trying to think of practical ways to remedy this swamping depression - J and I had a drink and a chat last night, and I may follow her example and go to the gym in the mornings (there's a Fitness First nearby). That might sound odd given that I'm complaining about being tired, but I think possibly getting the blood flowing and those happy exercise endorphins into my brain might help a lot.

It's going to be a great conference. I know it is. I just hope I can participate and not become a gibbering mess in the corner.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007


me hammock, originally uploaded by the procrastinatrix.

My mother, in her usual fashion, has given me my Christmas present early. Well, she had to because I had to choose it. Anyway, it arrived today and I took great delight in setting up my purple hammock in the backyard! No waiting til December 25 for me, nosirree!

It's a very cool Anchor Hammock, Australian designed (though made in China) and it is just the most divine thing. When you lie back in it, the parachute fabric kind of closes around you and it's like being in a pea pod (or how I imagine that would feel, never having actually been in a pea pod). It is so soothing just lying there, gently swaying and looking up at the clouds skating across the sky. It also has a sunshade for when it's actually, well, sunny. And I reckon it would be the most comfortable thing to go camping with - much better than sleeping on the ground.

If I had more time and didn't have to pack for NTE, I'd probably just lie out there all night...I go tomorrow morning at 6am! I'm unbelievably tired, as you can probably tell from the most unflattering photo, and there are still plenty of things to do to get myself organised. I just hope I get some miraculous burst of energy and can get through it all, and that I'll be able to actually take in some of the stuff at the conference.

Bring on the adrenaline!

Monday, 26 November 2007

my new shoes

There's nothing quite like a new pair of shoes to make you smile. Especially ones like these.

Sunday, 25 November 2007


And now for a bit of Sunday night silliness...this is via Meg, and I can't believe I hadn't seen it before, but it is continuing to make me giggle (and a warning: it will get stuck in your head).

Saturday, 24 November 2007

and now, a brief and unprecedented political post

Well there we go. Saturday was exactly as I'd planned it yesterday - I got a new stereo for the car and it is SO cool. I went to vote. Meg came over for dinner and we watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

The one thing that I didn't anticipate was feeling quite emotional about the election results. I have a very poor grasp of politics beyond the rudimentary, and I'm sad to say I probably know a bit more about how the American system works because of the West Wing than I know about Australian politics (though I know a bit about local government through the excellent series Grass Roots that used to be on the ABC (what an indictment on me and my generation)). I'm just lazy I guess, but also I get frustrated by mudslinging and propaganda so I just switch off entirely during election campaigns.

But even I can see how amazing tonight's result is and the huge Labor margin has won by.

I am excited that we have a change of government. I think Kevin Rudd is a gracious and worthy man for the job, and I am glad he professes to be a Christian. I am happy that we have a man as Prime Minister who I won't be ashamed of as Australia's representative on the world stage (at least I hope I won't be). I'm glad we have a woman as Deputy Prime Minister (hey, it's a step forward).

And I'm under no illusions - I know that in Australia, although the parties would say they are vastly different, it's not as vast a gulf as in other parts of the world. It's not like we lose our liberty through a change in government. It's not as though we've had a new government forced upon us. It's not as though the vote is dependent on how much money you can throw at a candidate, or how many people can be bothered turning up to vote. We are so fortunate to live in a place that has so much freedom, where we all have the chance to cast our vote, and where no matter what the result (and despite its many flaws) we will still live in an amazing country.

Almost enough to make me sound vaguely patriotic. Huh.

Friday, 23 November 2007

letting go of the week

It's the end of what has been a long and frustrating week. I got heaps of work done, but it was like pulling teeth, with endless revisions and things going wrong. But I feel confident that all my artwork and publications stuff for NTE is done to the best of my ability. Now all that's left is to finish the last minute things, write my talk about 'how to write' for the network time Karen and I are presenting at NTE, and then head down to Canberra on Wednesday to start the conference week. Hopefully I can take lots of excellent photos, get enough sleep, catch up with Jackie and Anthea and also be challenged and encouraged by the great speakers we have this year.

In the more immediate future, I am very much looking forward to this weekend because it doesn't hold much! My gym session tomorrow morning got cancelled so I can sleep in, and I am very excited because tomorrow we get to vote and I'm getting a new stereo to replace the defunct one in our car so when I drive down to Canberra it won't be in silence. I should probably be more excited about the potential for a change of government and my small part in it, but actually the CD/MP3 player excites me more. It's a sad world.

Then, in the evening, the lovely Meg is coming round for DVDage and dinner. I haven't hung out with her for ages, so that will be great.

And then, hopefully I will get to write. Haven't written all week and I need to catch up to Guan! Speaking of whom, had dinner with him and his lovely wife M (or is that Q? (we said we wouldn't name her on our blogs but she liked the Bond sound of M)) tonight. We had delicious dumplings and san choy bow and noodles, played Bohnanza, got to know each other a bit better and laughed a lot. A positive end to a frazzling week!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


gingerbread, originally uploaded by the procrastinatrix.

went to the Gingerbread House making at Wild St Church last night, having been invited by Sam (who I met at a service there), and also my boss, now that I think about it. There were about 80 women all packed into this tiny church hall to hear a talk about Jesus' birth, and to make gingerbread houses. I wanted to try to get to know some of the other women from that church, but of course we all got absorbed in the activity of house-making and there wasn't that much conversation that didn't involve discussion about candy cane placement.

Of course, my icing bag exploded somewhere near the beginning of the evening, so I was pretty much covered in icing sugar and globs of icing for the whole night. I was disheartened to see the woman next to me didn't have so much as a sprinkling of icing sugar out of place, but then I looked at her house and it explained a lot - everything was excruciatingly neat, all the lollies in very straight rows along the house's roof. It was beautiful, but...neat. Almost too neat.

Still, I quite like the way my gingerbread houses always look a bit haphazard and joyous. Who wouldn't love to live in a house like that? (well probably the woman I sat next to last night)

Monday, 19 November 2007

a bit of musicality, please

Sunday was quite good. I had been dreading it, as due to a scheduling conflict, we had a double baptism at church - one family was a church family, and the others were not. I'm always torn about this; I really hate the whole concept of people who have no Christian faith getting their kids baptised during a church service, and standing up there making promises they have no intention of keeping. I suppose its like non-Christians having church weddings in that regard.

But then another part of me thinks, well, if this is the only chance these people are ever going to have of hearing the gospel, then it's worth it that they come. Maybe something they hear, or a conversation they have will prompt them to start thinking seriously about what they believe. Sadly, I think most of the time that's not the case and the family and friends all look impatient and bored while the rest of the church service happens, but perhaps I'm just being cynical.

Anyway, I was doing the music for yesterday's service. There were specific requests from the families, including Amazing Grace and that the sister of the non-Christian mother would sing Shout To the Lord as an item (odd perhaps, but I'm figuring that although the parents of the child being baptised weren't Christian, some of the extended family probably were).

Now, STTL isn't a bad song, but it's in the 'my Jesus, my boyfriend' category, is a Hillsong mainstay, and has been done so many times that it can have a bit of a deadening effect. Now I had never met this woman, we had not had any rehearsals and I didn't even know her name, so I wasn't exactly looking forward to this 'item'. Well it turns out I needn't have worried, as she didn't turn up to sing anyway (she may well have been there, but didn't present herself for active duty), and it was decided we'd do it as a congregational song.

One wonderful thing that did happen was that a bunch of students from New College (where the Christian family lives and works) came to help out with the music. So instead of it being just me, Danielle and Bethany, we had guitar, bass guitar, cello, and violin. And even though we didn't rehearse it sounded fantastic! So instead of being a ploddy shemozzle, Shout to the Lord and Amazing Grace actually ended up being really uplifting and joyous, as they are supposed to be. I had so much fun playing with a band, with people who didn't need too much instruction, but we just all fit together and the resulting sound was wonderful, and hopefully edifying to the people who had to sing to it.

Saturday, 17 November 2007


Every time I see Claire and Jo they chastise me for not blogging more often. Note to self,

Today we had afternoon tea at my place, along with much fascinating discussion about what actually happens when babies are born (Jo is due with her first child in a couple of weeks). Kind of gross really. But nice to have that sort of conversation in a real way instead of it being all cooey and isn't-motherhood-just-a-joy-now-my-life-is-complete kind of way. It's still kind of freaky to think that someone I went to school with is having a kid, but then I remind myself that I am actually 31 and many people have multiple offspring by this stage.

Apparently, according to my father's family, I'm not yet married because I'm too choosy. Lah.

Jo went home to succumb to the charms of the couch, and Claire and I went to the Spot for Arthur's Pizza, a cocktail at the new Ritz Bar (felt kind of...rural), and then to watch Death at a Funeral, which was excessively diverting.

I haven't written much in the last week but hope to get some done tomorrow - oh, I forgot to blog about this. Guan and I challenged each other to a write-off during November. Whoever writes the most gets a Moleskine purchased by the 'loser', although I maintain there are no losers in this exercise...(when I told Dave about this he asked what a Moleskine was. "A type of notebook," I replied. He looked at me. "A notebook?" "A really cool kind of notebook." "But it's...a notebook?" "Yes." "Hmm." "You're not a writer! You wouldn't understand!!!!")

The inspiration for this month was NaNoWriMo, in which people all over the world attempt to write a novel of at least 50,000 words' length in the space of a month. We were realistic and knew neither of us had the time or energy to do that, but we could make up our own version. We called it Spend A Month Really Really Really Really Really Trying Really Hard To Write Given That We Have Some Other Obligations And Things To Do Occasionally Month. But that's a mouthful, as is the acronym (SAMRRRRRTRHTWGTWHSOOATTDO), so we dubbed it Sam the Pirate Month (I made a Facebook group for it and everything where we post our progress (or lack of) and get cheered on by other group members who were sane enough not to embark on the exercise).

The thing that's amazing is that although I haven't written much this week, I have actually written 10,000 words since the beginning of November! I decided to write something completely frivolous and new, and it's actually been wonderful to remember what it is like to write for fun. I know I can write whatever I want whenever I want, but when there's a big project like The Novel hanging over my head, I feel some sort of weird obligation to it, like I can't waste valuable time writing anything but The Novel. But the way Sam the Pirate Month works, it's kind of filling up my creativity reservoir by getting me past the whingey avoidance block that has been tripping me up as far as The Novel is concerned. Hopefully the momentum will continue and will be able to be channelled into other areas.

Who knew all I needed was a challenge?

I've been winning so far. I'm trying not to be complacent though, as I have a feeling Guan may yet pull some rabbits out of his hat. Also he might write more words than me.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

out of the blue

Sometimes, in the middle of a completely unremarkable day, things just fly in from nowhere and whack you in the head. My dad sent me a text message today, telling me that he is planning to propose to his girlfriend this weekend. His girlfriend is one year older than me. She's nice, but...she's one year older than me. Even my brother's girlfriend is older than her.

And today is the anniversary of my parents' divorce. I do believe the irony is probably lost on him.

I'm still processing this. If they are both happy, love God and love one another, then I wish them well. But I still reserve the right to be weirded out.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

she can think for herself

There are moments when I remember I'm actually an adult and have opinions and fully formed thoughts of my own, and it never fails to surprise me, because inside I still feel like I'm about 17 (or 23, depends on the day).

We went to Freda's for dinner tonight and there was a couple there who go to the church I grew up in (I don't remember them). We idly chit chatted as we served up the delicious roast dinner, and then suddenly, and without any warning, we got into this really intense conversation about things we're told to do in the Bible, whether we should take into consideration the culture and customs of the time in which it was written or take all the instruction in it literally (the chap who started the discussion was for the latter), and basically how the whole world is going to hell in a handcart.

I piped up and said that I thought the world had always been as bad as it is now, we just didn't know about the extent of its depravity before because we didn't have the questionable luxury of mass communication. When I read the Old Testament I'm almost shocked at the brutality and carnality of the sin that's depicted there, and yet it's not that different from things that you read about in the paper every day. Basically it comes down to the fact that people are and have always been sinful, and that only Jesus' atoning sacrifice can make up for that (that bit wasn't in dispute). I pointed out that if we were talking about whether or not women should have their heads covered in church (this was the particular bit of instruction the guy was struggling with, I have no idea why): any woman could wear a hat and say she was respecting God and showing the world that she was 'different', but if she hadn't sorted out where she stood with God and wasn't living a godly life then she would be a hypocrite and her hat wouldn't save her in the end.

Having a mature exchange of ideas about theology with someone I've never met before? Me?! Gosh. I feel all growed up.

Monday, 5 November 2007

love thy cupcake

I do so love living in a house where it's easy to cook.

I made cupcakes last night in honour of mum's home visit today. She came home with a woman from St Luke's who was there to check out the house and make sure she was able to get in and around. We had some coffee and cakes, and then mum had to go back to hospital. It's almost cruel in a way; she said later it was like going to boarding school. But she's doing so well they think she will be able to come home on Wednesday! I think her determination to get back into her own house is fuelling her progress as much as anything.

The only problem is now I have all these leftover cupcakes. Ha! It won't be problematic for long...

Sunday, 4 November 2007

love thy neighbour

I met my next door neighbour the other day. We've been living here over a month now and I hadn't introduced myself to anyone, but he was outside watering his garden when I got out of my car so I went over and introduced myself.

"I am Bictor." he said. "And my wife is Berrrrta." He has a lovely accent, not sure where it's from. "If ju need anything, anytime, ju come and knock at our door. And the same in reverse, we will come and knock jore door."

"Of course!"

"That's how we do."

"Very neighbourly."

"That's right."

"You have a beautiful garden, by the way. I admire it every day. We're trying to do something with ours, but it's horrible..."

He grinned. "Well, it's okay, the weeds are coming up."

Then the loveliest thing happened yesterday. I was just about to leave the house when the doorbell rang. There was Victor, holding a big bunch of fragrant white lilies.

"Hello, I thought ju might like this. Is the time for them now, so I thought..."

"Wow! They're beautiful! I might take some to my mum in hospital."

He shrugged and smiled. "Dey are jurs now, ju can do whatever ju like."

Mum told me to keep them here, so I've got them in a large vase on the dining room table which you can see as you walk down the hallway. Every time I look at them, I think about how wonderful it is to have good neighbours. I've lived so long in places where the neighbours were unfriendly, where you'd smile at people and they'd look right through you, and if you needed help you'd have to think twice before knocking on anyone else's door. So it's good to know someone might be looking out for us. And it reminds me how important it is to be a good neighbour, even if it just means saying hello and smiling when you see people on the street.

Bringing flowers is just above and beyond and very much appreciated.