Sunday, 26 December 2010

happy Christmas!

We ate a lot.



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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Perspective

What did I tell you? Well I guess it's only been a week so that's better than nothing...

I've been working pretty solidly for the last several days. Had a pretty low weekend mood-wise, where I catastrophised about everything and just felt completely crushed. It's almost like December is making up for NOvember but just slamming me. However I am grateful for my job and the many shifts being sent my way.

Through all this i find i am developing a newfound respect for retail people. No, make that retail people who are good at what they do. And I don't just mean people who can sell stuff, but people who can sell stuff, while having a genuine interaction with a person they've never met before, keeping tabs on a dozen other things happening at the same time, all after standing on hard concrete floors for hours. Anyone can be surly and take your money in exchange for goods.

But in addition to that, working retail is giving me a deeper gratitude for my great God. I am so grateful that he saved me and has shown me that my purpose on earth is not to please the customer or my manager or the regional manager or head office. My purpose is to please him. A byproduct of that will generally mean that I do a good job wherever I am, but it also means that i can see the bigger picture and it is much more than the bottom line on a spreadsheet.

But I have to say, I don't think my legs and feet have ever hurt this much.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

more to come...

I meant to write more catch ups but I've just suddenly hit the wall and need to go to bed.  I fully intend to come back and finish tomorrow, but there is a high chance that you won't hear from me again for another couple of weeks...

catch up 2: a wedding

On Thursday I had the great privilege of playing at and enjoying Josh and Tori's wedding (Josh is Lachy's older brother).  They were married at St Matthias in Paddington, and then had the reception at the Centennial Park Restaurant.  This is the Street family, all looking rather dashing I might say:



You know how you go to some weddings and they feel a bit forced or a bit fake?  Or you sit at the reception making small talk with people who don't really want to talk to you and eating average food?  Well this was nothing like that.  Christian weddings are the best!  The couple made vows that they pledged to keep until parted by death or until Jesus returns, and that real Christ-centredness made those promises ring true.  (Well for me, anyway.  I'm sure to the non-Christians there they were just words.)

The whole day was just lovely, and had such a laid-back, joyous and celebratory feel about it.  The service was beautiful and simple, the food at the reception delicious, the people at my table were lots of fun, and the venue was superb.  Also I got to wear a fabulous dress that mum bought me for Christmas, and was delighted to meet some of Lachy's extended family too.

I'm sure there are some terribly unflattering photos of me that will surface, but here is a blurry one of me, Lachy and Maddy at the reception:

catch up 1: Scripture

Let me catch you up on what's been happening.

Last week I helped out at the Banksmeadow School Scripture Christmas Concert thing...it was so fun!  I realise how I miss working with kids sometimes, as you can be so creative and still get the message across.  It's just amazing watching someone like Kelly P working with the kids; she has a real gift for communicating the gospel to them.  Here she is (very pregnant) doing one of many skits with Lachlan:



One of the best moments was when she gave the only year 6 kid a present, as he was graduating.  She talked to the kids about how this boy, who was a school captain, was an example of what she meant when she talked about letting your light shine.  The boy got all teary...he just seemed to have such a lovely, gentle nature and I thought it was great that Kelly said such things about him.

a NO-vember postscript

It's midway through December already and I never finished my NO-vember thing.  Well that's my prerogative I guess.  The only other principle I'd add at this point is one I learned from Kate N at church the other day, who said when she was doing MTS she instituted a rule of never agreeing to anything immediately.  She always said she had to go home and check her diary, allowing her the time and space to weigh up whether or not she was able or wanted to do what she'd been asked to do.  She said if someone was pressuring her for an immediate response because they themselves were disorganised, then it wasn't her problem.  And making it a blanket rule meant she avoided any guilt at saying yes or no to things on the spot.  Everything was pending.  I think this is a good rule and might try and institute it myself.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

NO-vember principle 2

It can be okay to pull out of some things.  If I look at what is stressing me out in my diary, it's easy to see that some things are non-negotiable and must be faced (eg exams).  But some things can be gotten out of, the people involved probably won't think any less of me for cancelling, but I might just score enough extra space to breathe (eg social engagements).  It can be okay to say "I know I said yes, but now I'm saying no."  (but better to improve at saying no in the first place so one doesn't get a rep for being unreliable)

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

NO-vember principle 1

It is okay to say no.  My time is no more or less valuable than anyone else's, so if someone asks me to do something I am not obliged to say yes just because they asked.  The world won't end.

Eg. swapping shifts with someone at work. Just because I have the day free doesn't mean I have to say yes to the shift swap, especially when I had planned to have the day resting.  Silly.

NO-vember

Seems November is the pun month.  Many will be familiar with Movember, the period of time when normally clean shaven men get around looking highly dubious with moustaches of varying success (all supposedly in aid of raising money and awareness for men's health, though I do wonder whether all participants actually do the charity side of it).  Well Mark Barry has just coined a new one - "NO-vember" and I think I'm going to adopt it as my cause.  In fact, he just tweeted: "I've said 'no' to about 15 things this month. In retrospect, I should've asked people to sponsor me!"

For me, college has just wrapped up with exams, which has been stressful enough.  But instead of being able to rest, it's time to launch into a whole month of busyness. November/December is a stupidly busy time of year, especially so for people involved in churches.  There  are Christmas carol events, end of year celebrations, NTE conference and mission, evangelistic activities leading up to Christmas, not to mention Christmas itself.

The problem is all of these things are good to do.  I love doing graphic design for my church.  I love helping out with graphic design for a newspaper ad that will benefit a whole bunch of Eastern Suburbs churches.  I love being part of planning carols events and I love being in them.  I love working with the AFES team when they come to our church post-NTE for mission.  I love doing music ministry at church and coordinating the team (for which I am paid).  I love spending time with my Christian brothers and sisters, and I love going to church and reflecting on who Jesus is and the miracle that he came to earth as a man.  It's all wonderful stuff.

But there are still bills to pay, and Christmas always ends up expensive, no matter how much I try to stick to a budget.  And while we do gospel work we still are meant to earn our keep and not be a burden on anyone.  So I work as well.  And I'm loving my work at K.K!  And still doing transcription work on the side.  And a little bit of (paid!) graphic design for my old church.  But it doesn't leave much time for anything else.

Rest becomes a complete crash at the end of the day.  Gaps in the schedule leave me feeling guilty because there is Stuff To Be Done.  And yet we are supposed to rest!  We are supposed to have a sabbath.  Because if we grind ourselves into the ground, how on earth will we be able to keep going in the long-term?

I've already had to say no to NTE, which pains me.  I was so looking forward to going, but needed to work and it just became an impossible juggling act.  And yet I still find myself agreeing to do things, even though I shouldn't be able to fit anything else in.  I keep forgetting I need so much more rest than the average person...

So I'm going to reflect on NO-vember.  Even though it's half over.  There is still time to say no.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Change

Had my last bit of training today for k.k (which is what I shall henceforth call my place of employment).

Something that struck me was at the beginning, doing some get to know you type things, we had to turn to the person next to us and answer these questions:

  • name

  • star sign

  • what did you want to be when you grew up?

  • Sundays are for...


The girl next to me, S, was sweet, and we chatted a bit before getting down to the questions.

"I don't really know star signs," she said.  "I'm born in March, so..."

"Aries, I think.  I only know that because I had a friend in primary school who was born in March and she was an Aries.  I don't really know star signs apart from that, and that I'm a Taurus, whatever that means."

She said her Sundays were for brunch and just hanging out.  When it was my turn to answer I said Sundays were for going to church, and helping out with music at church, as I was employed as a student minister.

"Oh!" she exclaimed.  "Are you a Christian?"

"Yep."

"Me too!"

"Oh cool!"

"What church do you go to?"

"Wild St Anglican in Maroubra."

"That's great!"

We got called back to report to the group before I could find out anything more about her.  I realised she had been hesitant to say anything about her Christianity, assuming that I wouldn't be into it, or I might make preconceived judgements about her, but she was obviously excited to find someone else like her among the group.

We went around the circle and each had to tell the group what we'd learned about the person beside us.  Every single person in the group said a variation of Sundays were for waking up late, eating and just chilling out.  When S introduced me, she talked about my church involvement.  When I introduced her, I just said the bit about her hanging out and eating brunch.  I didn't think she'd want to be 'outed' by me.  But it made me realise how comfortable I am with my Christianity these days, and how intrinsic a part of my person it is, being a follower of Jesus.  I'm not ashamed to say that I spend my Sundays at church or for people to know I believe in Jesus.  But I know that when I was at uni, I would have been more like S; I would have identified as Christian if pressed, but wouldn't have willingly volunteered the information.

I like seeing how I've changed, how the Spirit has changed me.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Be still my soul

I've loved the revival of old hymns that has been happening over the last few years.  There is so much richness in those old songs!

Last night we went to hear the excellent new jazz band transit launch their eponymous album (I did briefly wonder at the wisdom of going to a gig during exam week, especially when a bunch of MTC lecturers would be present (and playing in the band), but hey, I got over it).  The band plays some original material, as well as some great old hymns reworked into jazz arrangements.  I really enjoyed their version of Be still my soul (especially Andy Vance's gorgeous piano intro, and you can't go past Sibelius's beautiful, simple melody, really), and even better I've had the lyrics floating around in my head all day, especially verse two.  They are especially good words to keep singing to myself as I study, and as we receive a letter putting our rent up, and as we hear news that my uncle had a mlid heart attack on the weekend (he's okay, by the way), and...all the news, big and small, the Lord God is in control of it all.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.


 


Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.


 


Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.


 


Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.


 


Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.


 


Words: Katharina A. von Schlegel, in Neue Samm lung Geist licher Lieder, 1752 (Stille, meine Wille, dein Jesus hilft sie gen); translat ed from German to English by Jane L. Borthwick in Hymns from the Land of Luther, 1855.

Here's a traditional, boys' choir version of the hymn for your listening pleasure. It really is a beautiful piece of music.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

the eleventh letter of the alphabet

So I now am working retail.

I applied for a Christmas casual job at kikki.K, and got it!  I'm at the Eastgardens store, which is conveniently close to home.  I've never worked in retail and although many seem to hate retail work, so far I'm quite enjoying it!  I guess I'm still at the stage where it feels like I'm playing shops, with my kK apron on, but bizarrely this could turn out to be something I'm good at.  It's good to be around people for short bursts of time, to be busy and productive, and not sitting by myself at the computer all day!

Lachy said to me I had to now master the art of selling expensive stuff to people who don't need anything.  This is true, to a point, of any job in retail.  But after a few days of training and my first real shift today, I have to say I don't mind working in such a pleasant shop, surrounded by such lovely merchandise.  I think it would be vastly less exciting if I was in a huge department store or a supermarket or something like that.  And it's kind of cool when people come in and get all excited about the products without you even having to do anything.  I'm pretty sure when it gets busier around Christmas it'll be much more stressful, but so far it's been good.

I'm also pretty sure everyone's going to be getting stationery-related gifts from me this year. :)

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Too much stuff

The internet can be at once an inspiring and daunting place.  Looking through craft blogs for inspiration starts off well and makes me feel excited about the potential of creating things.  But as I click through, reading tips and tricks and admiring pictures of beautiful creations, it invariably leaves me feeling uncreative, useless and like I'll never have enough get-up-and-go to make anything ever again.  Which is rubbish.  I just need to know where that tipping point is between "yay" and "bluh" and close my browser before I get to it.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

vitamins

I keep meaning to say that I have noticed something recently that is kind of a 'duh' realisation.  Although I have been taking multivitamins on and off for a few years, I had recently stopped for a while, simply because I ran out and couldn't afford to buy more at the time.  Over this most recent vitamin hiatus I had gone through a bit of a mood slump.

I started taking them again a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say that they have made such a difference to my mood and how I feel physically.  I know with a lot of those sorts of things it can be hard to tell whether they work or not ("where do we get these placebos?!!!") but in this case, Swisse Women's Ultivite is doing me lots of favours.

So note to self - vitamins are worth the cost.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

grillage

Had a great dinner at Dave and Lisa's last night.  In true Dave style, he grilled me on all sorts of things, namely what the next few years will look like for me, what my plans are during and post-college, etc.

I do enjoy these sorts of conversations with him, because I know he is trying to help me think through the big questions and clarify my motivations for things.  And he also gently points out things he is concerned I haven't thought of (he doesn't think he's gentle, but he is pretty good at this and Lisa's around to soften the blows if required).

The main things we were trying to think through is what to say yes to and what to say no to, where my strengths lie, and what ministry might do to someone already struggling with depression.  I have the problem of negotiating the tension between 'this is what I'd like to do' and 'this is what I will have the energy to do'.  I tend to look at each prospective 'project' in isolation, instead of seeing the big picture and how everything fits into that, and although this sounds ridiculous, I tend to forget I'm dealing with depression and forget to factor it in.

So I think "hey I'd like to get more involved in youth ministry so I can start putting some of what I'm learning into practice."  And I notice there are gaps in the youth leaders' team at church next year.  So I volunteer to do youth ministry.

But I'm also still doing music ministry for church.

But I'll also be doing college almost full time.

And I haven't factored in non-lecture study time, plentiful rest time, exercise time, etc.

There is so much good work to do.  But I don't have to do it all!  And as Lisa pointed out, just because I say no to something now, doesn't mean I'm saying no to it forever.  It's just for this time.

Still chewing this over.  But I do greatly value the people God puts in my life to help me along in my walk with him, and to help me think through how best to do the work he has for me to do.

Friday, 8 October 2010

disclosure

So the depression thing hangs around, and especially rears its ugly head for me when I am extremely busy, which leads to mega tiredness.  For short periods, I tend to be able to run around like a crazy thing getting lots of stuff done, but it usually tends to be the Stuff of Least Resistance.  If it's anything complicated or anything that will take me too long, I tend to leave it til later, and keep busy with the easier stuff.  Unfortunately, that means the harder stuff starts to pile up.

But I always think "I can do it, it's okay, I can do it...I've just got to extend that deadline...or avoid that person until I can get it done..."  This is a terrible technique for obvious reasons, leading to stress, anxiety and guilt when I let people down.  I had a friend who was waiting on something from me today gently rebuke me, saying "communication is the key".

I fully agree!  But when do I communicate?  Do I say at the outset, "look I know I'm fully capable of doing whatever it is you've asked me, but you should know that I might not get it done when I say I will, and it's not because I'm lazy but just because I struggle with depression"?  Do I just do my best and then when I find I can't manage, say "I'm having issues with depression at the moment, and I am sorry but this is going to be delayed"?

Both tactics make me feel guilty and like a total hypochondriac.  I know depression is real and I know it is something I am very slowly working through, and some days I will be good and other days I won't.  But it just feels like such a cop out to admit it.

Dave has said to me more than once that he's startled to remember I have depression because I seem so capable, like I've got everything under control.  That's because I want everyone to think that!  And, to some extent, I am still that person which is why I keep saying yes to things when people ask me to do stuff.  Because I want to still be involved, I want to contribute, I want to use the gifts I have.  And yet...it doesn't do anyone any good when I fall over.

If you were working with someone who had depression, how would you prefer to work around it?  Would you want to know upfront (and maybe choose to work with someone else)?  Would you want to be told at any stage of the process?

Edit to add:

I started to read CJ Mahaney's series on procrastinating and but stopped because I was feeling too guilty, then had to remind myself that a large part of the reason things slip by me is because I'm unwell (I also wonder about the whole 'procrastinatrix' title of this blog...this is constantly reinforcing to me that it's in my nature to procrastinate).  Probably where the guilt thing comes in is because there is some truth there; I do procrastinate.  But the depression completely warps it.

amusing grace

Have been enjoying music by The Autumn Film today.  They are the band behind Page CXVI (which for some reason I keep calling "page 26" - damn those roman numerals!), so although their music isn't always about faith and Christianity, that's the perspective they're coming from.  I always wonder what non-Christians do with 'crossover' artists like these guys and Sufjan Stevens; do they acknowledge the Christian perspective, ignore it, or not even notice it?

My attention snagged on their song Holding Ground from their So Loved EP, and I thought I'd look up the lyrics.  Of course you always get sent to those Free Lyrics Sites of Dubious Quality when you Google for lyrics, but the interpretation of this line particularly amused me (and all the different sites seem to have copied it from the same source):
Frozen here I wait for the warmth of your graze
To open my eyes to the light of your holding place
How can I sustain this never ending existing pace?

"Hmm.  What could that word be?  Something that rhymes with place and pace...um...nope.  Must be graze.  That doesn't really make sense, though I suppose grazes can be warm...that must be it.  Maybe it's deep or something."

But the reason I liked this song was for this section, which just hit me where I needed to hear it today:
'Cause you're patient with my impatience
And you tell me that I'm lovely
'Cause you're faithful when I'm unfaithful

And so I'll wait...and I'll pray
pray that I can wait...and so I'll wait.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The what effect?

I don't often get involved in letter writing campaigns or take a stand for much.  But as a Christian writer who thinks about the world she sees and is immersed in, I realise that this has been a bit of a cop out.  We were taught in an ethics class years ago that it is important to get your viewpoint out there as a Christian, because if we say nothing, then our worldview is not being represented.  I get upset and angry about some things I see in the world, but don't often act on them.  I might talk about it with mum or some friends, maybe even blog here, but I don't often write to politicians or corporations or the newspaper.

But only those who speak up get heard, right? I have many brave writers to inspire me, from my dear friend Hendry whose thoughtful, Christian-perspective letters are regularly published in the SMH and local paper, to people like Melinda Tankard Reist, who is a most outspoken advocate for women and girls (and must have an incredibly thick skin!).

Today I wrote a letter.

Lately I've been reading a lot on Twitter, on Melinda's blog and on the advocacy site Collective Shout about an extremely distasteful promotion for Lynx deodorant, involving a competition for men to win a trip to the Lynx Lodge, a place that purports to fulfil every male's fantasy of being surrounded by buxom women who want nothing more than to please them.  This was further promoted by a 'pop up hot tub' in Martin Place, where women in string bikinis cavorted in a hot tub and offered massages to passing businessmen on their way to work at 8 in the morning.

As I've been thinking about youth ministry at college this year, I've been thinking more about what it means to provide good role models for girls and boys about how to treat each other.  Unsurprisingly, this whole Lynx thing is pretty much the exact opposite of the lessons you would want to teach to young people these days, and yet it's just out there, insidious and yet supposedly humourous, slowly bleeding its image and attitude into peoples' brains without people even being aware of it.

So today I wrote a letter of complaint to Unilever, the company who makes Lynx.  Here's what I wrote:

[box]I have been reading, with growing concern, about the Lynx promotional competition involving the so-called Lynx Lodge at Lake Macquarie. It sounds to me like a brothel being targeted at teenaged boys and young men, and everything, from the concept itself through to the pop up hot tub promotion in Martin Place recently, deeply offends me as a young woman.

Whether or not the Lynx Lodge is an actual place is irrelevant - your advertising for this product is degrading and humiliating to women, who are being portrayed as little more than sex toys available to fulfil male fantasies. It is also insulting to men, appealing to the basest level of intellect and suggesting they believe that women are happy to be treated this way. Neither of these things has anything to do with the product itself, and although the advertising executives you hired may have thought the idea that a body spray or deodorant could attract women was funny, as it has gone on, the advertising campaign has become tasteless, demeaning and shameful.

The Lynx Lodge may have been conceived as a joke, but the sexist attitude behind all the advertising for Lynx products speaks of something that definitely is not amusing. It is teaching boys and men to view women as little more than sex objects, and suggests to girls and women that the only appropriate way to behave around males is to be scantily clad and always available for whatever sexual activity the male desires. Without trying to be alarmist, it doesn’t take a genius to see that this sort of thinking can lead to dangerous and frightening outcomes, ranging from women being leered at, to sexual attacks and rape.

As a result of this campaign, I have no hesitation in boycotting all Unilever products, and know many others who will do likewise. [/box]

Although I don't expect much of a positive response from Unilever (it will probably be along the lines of this), I'm starting to understand through reading about recent campaign wins on the Collective Shout website, that every voice counts, and if you have the ability to say something, it's worth a shot.

PS.  Oh and also, I used to share a flat with a guy who used Lynx liberally.  Let me just say that, from a woman's perspective, Lynx is more successful in its repelling qualities than anything else, much as this clip says:

Sunday, 26 September 2010

bottlebrush

Spring Sunday mornings in the garden is the best time. So much colour and so cool to see flowers unfolding.  And looking at the bottlebrush and other native plants, it's so easy to see how May Gibbs was inspired to create Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.

silly silly

Okay so I tried the job for less than a week and gave it up.  Too impossible, even for me. :)

Have applied for a 2 day a week graphic design job in the Eastern Suburbs, which sounds much more like me.  Hoping that I hear back from them.  I know God's got it under control, I just have to trust, trust, trust.

If anything, though, it helped me to realise how much I like my graphic design work.  I have stuff up on my website, but when I put together a little portfolio thing I realised it all looks pretty amazing together.  This is a big realisation for me!  But I was talking to Jess today and I think maybe it's just a creatives thing, you never are completely sold on the work you do, but if you get a chance to step back and look at it a bit more objectively then that can be helpful!

And just cos I can, here's is what I sent to the employer:

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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Busy busy

So I got some work! Thanks to a contact from the delightful Elsie, I'm now doing 30 hours of website content writing work per week. If you read that and went "30 hours? I thought she was at college", you would be echoing the sentiments of my brain, which is quietly battening down the hatches in the case of total meltdown. But I really needed to be earning some better money and contributing more to my household, and this job is only til early December.

So I'm grateful to God for throwing this opportunity my way, and now praying he'll give me the energy and stamina to make it through! Also that I'll remember how to play well with others - first time in 18 months that I've worked in an office (for 15 of the 30 hrs each week). And that somehow I'll have time to study too...and do church stuff leading up to Christmas...and...

I'd better go to bed!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

wristlet

[gallery link="file" columns="4"]

Just finished a little wristlet pouch/purse thing for LD's birthday.  There was a lot of angst with this one because I kept jamming up the sewing machine - something to do with the thread I was using I think.  But I like how it turned out, even though some of the corners aren't as rounded as I'd like.  Used a pattern from the excellent Keyka Lou Patterns...love her stuff.

Monday, 13 September 2010

planted

[gallery link="file" columns="4"]

Yesterday I finally won my battle with a bed base.  In an effort to recycle and save lots of money and have a neat looking garden bed, I had kept an old bed base from a bed we'd had since we lived in Singapore, and thought it would be easy to rip it apart and turn it into a garden bed.  Well, some of it was easy.  But those things are surprisingly well-made!  I just couldn't get the springs out from the base, as they'd been nailed and stapled in very firmly.  In the end I just took to it with a hammer and whatever brute force I had and pulled it apart. [insert Amazonian roar here]

And so I replanned my existing garden beds, extended them a bit and laid some more no-dig garden beds.  So you can see in the pics, there are already some mature plants alongside the seedlings.  We've already got maturing spinach, leeks, red onions, spring onions, parsley, broccoli and rhubarb.  I planted tomatoes, basil, capsicum, zucchini and eggplant.  Doesn't that sound like a delicious salad?

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

the Rocking Man Bag

I made this one for Lachy, who is affectionately known by Elijah Peters at Wild St as Rockran.  So we called this version the Rocking Man Bag...

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Click on any of the pics for a close up view.  I took them in a bit of a rush, so no time to make them especially artsy!

It has a more man-friendly colourway than my last one, as well as double brass pop snap closures and an internal pocket with zip.  It also has piping around the flap!  My first attempt at piping...and it went pretty well I think.

The fabric is 'latte' denim for the body (that's what it said on the roll!), checked taffeta for the back lining, and a cool grey London print for the feature fabric and handle .



(you can see the print detail if you click on the image above, but it has two quotes on it, as well as a bunch of Londonesque images.  One is from a favourite childhood rhyme of mine: 'Oranges and lemons / say the bells of St Clements / You owe me five farthings / Say the bells of St Martins'. And the other made me laugh: '"When a man is tired of London he is tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford" Samuel Johnson')

We had fun at the Remnant Warehouse yesterday looking at everything and trying to make good fabric combos.  There is so much choice, the possibilities just reel through your mind.  (Also, little shout out, I just have to say I love the staff in that shop. They are truly awesome.)

Lachy also managed to find a +$200 pair of scissors and when the lady was cutting our fabric, asked her if her scissors were the expensive ones.  She said yes, and that they were amazing - I held them and yes, they felt incredible.  Lachy said it was just as well sewing wasn't his hobby or he would have bought so many toys by now.  I am only restrained by poverty, I must say - there are so many bits and pieces you could buy.

And now to start planning the two commissions for bags I've taken on as a result of my crafty endeavours...

Monday, 6 September 2010

it's all grace

My Bible reading today was Mark 3:7-19, when Jesus calls the 12 disciples.  One thing struck me as I was reading; that Jesus calls Judas Iscariot, knowing that he will eventually betray him. Judas was with Jesus from the beginning, so he saw and heard Jesus' earthly ministry first hand, and yet he didn't believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the son of God.  He was right in the thick of things, and yet ultimately couldn't see what was right in front of him.

I've been thinking people I've known in churches, or people who call themselves Christians, who are right in the thick of things and seem fully committed, and yet haven't actually 'got' it.  It hasn't clicked, they haven't understood, they take on the label of 'Christian' and they join in the community and get involved, but they haven't allowed the word of God to transform them, to change their hearts, to turn their lives around.

It's not for me to judge, by any means.  And, until Jesus returns, it's never too late for people to get it.  But I thought it interesting to realise that right from the beginning of 'church', of people gathering in Jesus' name, there have been people who looked like the real deal on the surface, but underneath were just the same as they had always been.  But that Jesus knows who we were, who we are and who we will be, and loves us anyway.

The SU notes that went with today's reading talked mainly about Simon Peter, the disciple who would go on to be the rock of the early church, but who displayed some very human stumbling and mistakes on his way there.  I've always been encouraged by Peter, because he is so real in his responses to Jesus, being broken by sin and then by the grace of God being rebuilt into the man Jesus knew he was. He is a great encouragement to persevere, to not be destroyed by missteps and failures in the Christian life, but to trust in Jesus.

I'll just quote the last para of the notes by Steve Bradbury including a cracking quote from John Newton:
Simon was no Peter, at least not yet, and it would be some time before the trust Jesus was placing in him, and the re-creative and restorative forgiveness God kept pouring into his life, made Simon into the rock that Jesus could already see.  How wonderful that we, too, can intimately know this transforming love, expressed so poignantly by the one-time slave-ship captain John Newton: 'I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be.  I am not what I hope to be in another world.  But still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.'

Encounter with God, Scripture Union, Jul-Sep 2010, p94

Sunday, 5 September 2010

making

Okay I know I didn't have to stay up til 2am on Saturday night to do this, but once I got into the swing of making stuff again I just wanted to keep going til I finished.  And I don't have to get up early tomorrow.  And I'm really happy with how this bag has turned out...



Fits a 14" laptop, has two pockets at the front (that can fit a large notebook) and a giant pocket at the back, which would fit magazines or whatever.  I used some green denim-like material (which you might remember from the Ramona bag) and some leftover bits of heavy fabric I bought at Ikea ages ago.  I modified the pattern from here (I changed the feature/plain fabric combos, omitted an interior pocket, made it larger and left out the zipper and magnetic closure because I didn't have either and I wanted to finish it).

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I don't know I why I keep forgetting how good it is to make things.  Just about anything, whether it's a card or a cake or something a bit more complicated like this bag, but to actually create something new is immensely satisfying.

And now, to bed.

new status

Had a fun afternoon with Mr Street. We had lunch at Bourke St Bakery, wandered around and bought bits and pieces that he needed, and some cheap interfacing I needed to make some new bags with.

[caption id="attachment_165" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="A couple of muppets at Bourke St Bakery"]A couple of muppets at Bourke St Bakery[/caption]

Then we came back to my house and...I gave him a haircut. First time I've ever cut anyone's hair! (except my own fringe, which doesn't count) I think my grimaces and strange faces were probably not very confidence-inspiring, and he said he'd tell me he liked it regardless.

[caption id="attachment_166" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Before...looking a little nervous perhaps?"]Before...looking a little nervous perhaps?[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_164" align="aligncenter" width="375" caption="Before - back - didn't realise just how long it was!"]Before - back[/caption]

I think it ended up not too bad really, except for some of the side bits around the ears, which we won't talk about (I think the combination of ears and sharp implements made me nervous).  It did take me a really long time though...but I guess it's one of those things that gets quicker over time, once you've figured out what you're doing.

[caption id="attachment_167" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="After...too cool"]After...too cool[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_168" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The cat inspects the curl carnage"]The cat inspects the curl carnage[/caption]

I think this means I have attained real proper girlfriend status. You know it's serious when your boyfriend lets you near his head with a pair of scissors. :)

Friday, 3 September 2010

How long, o Lord?

Each day is a fight, to varying degrees.  A fight for joy?  A fight to stay afloat?  A fight against this silly black dog, who I forget about even though he's always skulking along behind me.  Some days I don't notice the struggle, it's just part of the momentum of the every day.  And other days it feels like to even see beyond the next five minutes is impossible, like I'm stumbling around in fog.

I've been sick for a while with some coldish thing, got better, went away for the weekend, then got sick again.  It's been dragging on for weeks now, with headaches and nausea and aches and pains and the blah blah blah of symptoms that are so boring to describe because they are just so mundane.  They sound, even to me, like excuses, like hypochondria, like psychosomatic nothings.

But today I woke up feeling much more okay than I have for a while.  I felt like moving.  I felt like doing something.  So I did some yoga to ease back into things (not that my exercise is ever what you'd call strenuous!).  I felt great.  Had some yummy food for lunch.  I was starting to feel like just blobbing at home but no, had things to do!  I was up and energised!  I could achieve them!  I got in the car and drove to the inner west...

And then my brain kicked in.
"What are you doing? Why are you at college? Why did you think you could do this? You're only part time now, what's it going to be like when you're full time? You shouldn't be at college.  You shouldn't be at college.  You haven't even done the readings for the last couple of weeks.  You've only been to half the lectures.  You shouldn't be at college."

And on. And on. And on.

Eventually my common sense kicked in and went "hey that's the depression talking, snap out of it." So I rang my mum for a reality check, and wise as ever, she reminded me I'd been sick, run down and tired from the weekend away.  And that whenever I felt like that I had to look after myself and remember that I needed lots of rest.

But by the time I was sitting in my class at college I felt the nausea and headaches start to hit again.  I thought I could tough it out.  I mean, it's only two hours, right?  But at the mid-class break one of my friends walked past and said "Bec! You look terrible!" and I thought "right. I'm going home."

The drive home seemed to take forever.  But eventually I got home, put on my trackies, got out my Old Testament textbook and did the readings for class while in bed under my blanket.  After a couple of hours I still feel a bit blah but much better than I did.

Sometimes depression feels like a tangible enemy, to the point where I feel I can echo David's words in Psalm 13 and cry to God, wanting to know when this season of my life will end.  It's been years now!  Will I always feel like this?  Maybe, maybe not.  Will I ever have boundless energy and stamina and ability?  Maybe, maybe not (though all signs point to no...I mean who does, right?).  Does suffering depression mean that God loves me less?  Of course not!

As much as the enemy is prowling around, the closing stanza of this psalm is ever true.  May I ever trust our gracious God, and go wherever he leads me.  He'll give me what I need to do the work he wants me to do.

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I take counsel in my soul

and have sorrow in my heart all the day?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
 


Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;

light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,

lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”

lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
 


But I have trusted in your steadfast love;

my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD,

because he has dealt bountifully with me.
 


(Psalm 13 ESV)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Engage 2010

Went up the mountain to Engage 2010 last weekend.  It was a beautiful weekend, with clear cold nights and crisp sunny days.  I was a bit out of it most of the weekend, so found it a bit hard to get a grasp on the talks and as a whole.  But from what I could hang onto they were thought-provoking; what stuck in my head is that we should work for good, and live as God's people in the world together, not isolated from one another.

That sense of community and fellowship was really strong in the house we stayed in over the weekend.

[caption id="attachment_148" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Hanging out on Saturday night"]Hanging out on Saturday night[/caption]

There were 17 of us, not all from Wild Street, staying in this lovely house called Greenhills at Blackheath.

[caption id="attachment_136" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The lovely (huge) house, Greenhills"]Greenhills[/caption]

Lisa and Dave had organised all the delicious food beforehand, and there always seemed to be people ready to help prepare and cook.

[caption id="attachment_147" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Dave, the gourmet burger master"]Dave, the gourmet burger master[/caption]

There was enough space that you could lie in the sun, or play pool, or toast marshmallows, or just sit around and chat.

[caption id="attachment_141" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Anna and me on the lawn"]Anna and me on the lawn[/caption]

It was just a great weekend building on existing friendships, making new ones, serving one another and hearing God's word.  It's been a long time since I've come home from a conference weekend and wished I was still there, but I definitely felt it this time!

[caption id="attachment_149" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="School photo (sadly, minus Lachy)"]School photo[/caption]

Thursday, 26 August 2010

daffy

It's not quite spring yet, but everyone can do with some daffodils.  Here are a couple that are bringing me joy in my garden at the moment.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

history comes alive!

I had a marvellous experience this week. I met with a group of other musical directors from other Sydney churches at St Philip's York Street. This was a lovely occasion in itself, to meet with other people who are doing the same sort of thing I'm doing at Wild Street, and to also share our experiences and knowledge and hear how others do church (for example, Bren and Ro's experiences at St Paul's Castle Hill, where they have around 1100 people attending over four services differs greatly from Huw's at St Philip's, where they have around 150 people attending over three services).

Although that fellowship was well worth the time, the highlight of the day for me was actually being shown around St Philip's, the church, and learning a bit about its history. It's a beautiful building, designed by Edmund Blacket and built between 1848 and 1856 (more about the building's history here).

[caption id="attachment_116" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="St Philip's York Street, from the bell tower gallery"]St Philip's York Street, from the bell tower gallery[/caption]

Huw led us down to "the dungeon" - first to see the strange little choir room (a most uninspiring space for a choir but good conditions for preserving boxes and boxes of choral scores that Huw has no idea what to do with). Then we went into a little locked storage room, and Justin, the rector of the church, joined us to chat about some of the things therein.

There was a case full of impressive silverware and a wall of photos and drawings of the past ministers of St Philip's. But the things that took my fancy the most were the two books Justin brought out.

Richard Johnson's Bible

This is the King James Bible that Revered Richard Johnson brought over on the First Fleet.  He preached his first sermon from it in 1788, and continued to use it as he ministered to the new colony.  As Justin said, if you became a Christian in Australia, you could trace that heritage back to this very book.  (I'm not sure why I opened it at Job to take the picture, it just fell open there...)

Prayer bookAnd this is the prayer book he used.  Justin said "this is the only page with the splatters on it - what do you think they're from?"  The clue is in the contents of the page itself; convicts getting married would sign their marriage papers or register on the pages of the prayer book (presumably because they had no table or anywhere else to do it).  We also had a quick look at the beautiful marriage registers from the 1800s, complete with people signing their names with Xs because they were illiterate, or being given permission to marry by the government, as they had no family here to vouch for them.

It was just an amazing connection through history with people who had worked hard and preserved the gospel, bringing it on a stinking boat all the way from England to this new, alien country, because it was important to bring God's word to those who needed it.  Working alongside criminals and the dispossessed to tell them how much God loved them when nobody else did.

I was struck by how much we have in Sydney now, the freedom to worship, the ready access to all sorts of resources, Bibles in multiple translations.  And yet even though they might not be in the exact same circumstances as the convicts who came over on the First Fleet, the majority of people in Sydney still need to hear about God's love for them, about him sending Jesus to die for them so that they didn't have to be judged for their sins.  It's awe-inspiring to stand on the shoulders of men like Johnson, but also a reminder that there is still much work that God has set aside for us to do.

It's exciting to see the people at St Philip's working hard to reach people, especially in the CBD area.  I'm praying for them to stand firm and persevere in a tough harvest field, and that God will bring them much joy.

Edit to add:

Just after writing this I did my Bible reading for the morning, and the passage was Luke 10:1-20, which seemed to tie in beautifully with what I'd just been reflecting on.  Jesus equips and sends out 72 disciples to go ahead of him and tell people that the kingdom of God is near.  They go out and come back with reports of great success:

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

(Luke 10:17-20 ESV)

That is something really important to remember in all the work we do for God, whether we have times of great joy or great sorrow, whether things seem easy or are a big struggle, that it's not about us.  That we can only do this work because Jesus has given us the power to do so.  And that ultimately the point is to glorify our great God.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Fearfully and wonderfully made

There are babies all around at the moment. It is very exciting to me that 2/3 of the Hive Mind are becoming first time parents this year.  Today Astrid Winter Beilharz was born to Karen and Ben!  I'm very excited and can't wait to meet her tomorrow.

On Saturday I went along to M's baby shower.  Like Karen's baby shower it wasn't an occasion of groan-inducing dread as some showers have been (I hate the ones where you play ridiculous games like how many nappies can you peg up, or how fast can you change the nappy on the plastic doll, or - the worst - the baby food taste test where you have to identify commercial brand baby food by eating out of unlabelled jars. Ick).

At Karen's we played fun games like Spicks and Specks and designing imaginary Facebook pages for Peanut, I mean, Astrid.  It was a lovely mixture of people from Karen's different spheres of life, there was yummy food, and lots of laughter.

Baby clothes for little UnAt M's we also had lots of yummy food and drinks (complete with a drinks menu).  It was a pretty relaxed affair, made even more relaxed by the gorgeous, tranquil St Ives setting of her parents' house.  For entertainment, we had creative pursuits, like making origami animals to be hung up in the nursery, and decorating plain baby clothes with fabric paint.  My effort is pictured on the left there, and induced many "ohhh you're so creative!" gasps from other girls.  I was kind of taken aback by that, because I hadn't thought it anything special, and in fact thought I'd mussed it up a bit.

I said to Karen later that I always find that odd when people say things like that (although nice of them to say!), and I realised it's because most of my friends are creative in one way or another.  They can write, draw, play music, etc, etc* so I just assume that everyone can.  I've always been able to do these things easily, so just assume everyone can.

I guess it's much like people who are good at maths being astounded at my inability to do simple arithmetic, or people who are good at sport not understanding what it means to be completely uncoordinated!  Thank God that he has made us with so many different skills and given us so many different gifts.  We are all "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps 139:14).  Wouldn't life be boring if we were all the same?

 

* this cheekily puts me in mind of this passage from Pride and Prejudice...when I looked it up to quote it, I couldn't just take one line but had to put in the whole lot...sorry it's so long! :)
"It is amazing to me,'' said Bingley, "how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are.''

"All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?''

"Yes all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover skreens, and net purses. I scarcely know any one who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished.''

"Your list of the common extent of accomplishments,'' said Darcy, "has too much truth. The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by netting a purse, or covering a skreen. But I am very far from agreeing with you in your estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are really accomplished.''

"Nor I, I am sure,'' said Miss Bingley.

"Then,'' observed Elizabeth, "you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an accomplished women.''

"Yes; I do comprehend a great deal in it.''

"Oh! certainly,'' cried his faithful assistant, "no one can be really esteemed accomplished, who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.''

"All this she must possess,'' added Darcy, ``and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.''

"I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.''

"Are you so severe upon your own sex, as to doubt the possibility of all this?''

"I never saw such a woman, I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe, united.''

Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley both cried out against the injustice of her implied doubt, and were both protesting that they knew many women who answered this description, when Mr. Hurst called them to order, with bitter complaints of their inattention to what was going forward. As all conversation was thereby at an end, Elizabeth soon afterwards left the room.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

A moan about shape

I feel like my top half doesn't match my bottom half.  Well I think I've kind of always felt like that.  It's hard to buy dresses for this reason, because if they fit up top they don't fit around the middle, and vice versa.  I've kind of fallen off the weight loss wagon too, so I'm stuck in that in-between phase of all my clothes.  Nothing quite fits, but I'm loathe to buy anything new because I may either lose weight or put it back on (I hope not!).  This is mainly why I spend most of my days in jeans and t-shirts.  You don't have to look polished and have everything fitting perfectly; you're supposed to look kind of casual and if there are a few lumps here and there it doesn't really matter.

But today I wanted to wear a skirt.  And nothing's working. I feel lumpy and frumpy and horrible in everything I put on.  And I'm trying not to acknowledge that the jeans and t-shirts look isn't really that flattering on me anyway because that's my only other recourse.

And I'm complaining, which frustrates me.  This will not do.  I should just be content.  I'm so much healthier shape-wise than I was eight months ago.  I should concentrate on fitness, not weight loss.  I should...I should...I should...

Friday, 13 August 2010

Drawing

Further to that last post and talking about design skills, something I've been enjoying lately has been drawing. You wouldn't know it, by the length of time it took me to finish some comics for the upcoming Kinds of Blue anthology, but I realised I actually got quite a lot of pleasure out of it once I stopped comparing myself to everyone else and just enjoyed what I was able to do.

The little falling girl and cat in the header is one of the characters I drew for Guan's Labyrinthine and I like how she looks here, on my blog.

loss of joys

I gave a talk to my chaplaincy group at college the other day about what it's like to have depression.  I've been sick all week, so it wasn't the most coherent of chats, and thankfully it was very informal and relaxed.  I am always happy to answer questions about depression and what it looks like for me, as I feel that if I can at least contribute to peoples' understanding of it, then it will have been worth something.

One of the things I talked about was the loss of things that give you joy, and I've been reflecting on that a bit more since I gave the talk.  It took a long time for me to realise that two of those things for me were reading and writing.  Well, I kind of understood the reading thing; depression can make it really hard to concentrate, and I know my mum talked about being unable to even read the newspaper when she was going through a period of grief.

It took longer to come to terms with the writing thing.  Writing had been part of my identity for so long, and expressing myself with words was what helped me sort out my thoughts and emotions.  It came easily and what came was reasonably polished straight onto the page, even without editing.

I definitely took that gift for granted.

When the creative writing slowed to a trickle and then eventually dried up, I didn't want to admit it.  I thought "I'm just being lazy" or "I'm just stuck on this stupid novel".  People would lovingly try to encourage me by telling me how much they looked forward to reading my book, how much they loved my writing, how talented I was.  But I wasn't writing.  Can you be a writer if you don't actually write?  If you suddenly have no love for the written word?  If the thought of finishing your novel fills you with dread, rather than elation?  If you think you have nothing to say that anyone would want to read?

I didn't want anyone to know this.  I didn't think they'd believe me anyway.  But especially when I was standing up in front of people at events like The Faithful Writer and giving writing advice, what a charlatan I'd appear if they knew I couldn't actually write anymore!

I'd say that every writer goes through periods like this.  But it took me so long to link this with my depression, to see it as a symptom of the black dog's presence in my life.  That my joy was being stolen.

The decline in my writing seemed to coincide with the ascendancy of my graphic design skills.  It's almost as though I lost the ability to express things in words, so found the immediacy of images more suitable.  I have struggled with feeling confident in this area too, thinking "I don't know what the rules are", "I never learned this stuff", "someone's going to find out I don't know what I'm doing".  But I realised the other day when I saw some books I'd designed for sale in a bookshop that I was actually proud of my work!  Seeing them on the shelf alongside other books for sale made me realise that my work stands up well.  And suddenly those negatives can be seen in a more positive light - "I don't have to stick to any rules", "I can make this up as I go along", "I taught myself how to do this from scratch!"

I think I am getting better.  Very, very slowly.  Each day has its own challenges.  But the fact that I can be proud of my work and positive about my skills is a huge turning point.

Maybe one day the words will come back too.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

winds of change

I've decided I need a bit of a change. I also need to simplify my life a bit...I was using Expression Engine to power the blog, and it has been a good platform to use.  But I feel that I am hampered by my lack of HTML and CSS ability, couldn't get the blog to look the way I wanted or do what I wanted, and got to the point where I realised I didn't actually care that I couldn't do it and that there are many other people in the world much more talented in this arena and I should avail myself of their skills.  This is quite liberating!  Normally (as I discussed with Karen recently) I feel this weird need to master everything, be it coding, craft or...something else beginning with C.  And that's just not possible!

So I've moved on over to Wordpress for some hassle free blogging, and am playing with some beautiful themes courtesy of the excellent Elegant Themes. I'm also moving everything over to my own domain so even though I don't feel like I know what I'm doing, I can blunder around forever in my own space.

Hopefully I will blog more as a result too... :)

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

whirlwind update

I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet lately! Things have been a bit crazy. Also didn’t mean to leave the blog on such a downer. So a brief update:

  • College has gone back and I’m excited to be there! Doing two youth ministry subjects and old testament B this semester, and even though it’s only week two I already love the youth min subjects. I’m with a group of three other women (Annie, Marette and Amanda), so we’re kind of the youth ministry gang. I made a crack at lunch one day that we were like the Charlie’s Angels of youth ministry, which Jane, the convenor, found hilarious. I’m still not entirely sure what I meant by it, but it makes me smile. Expect a bunch of posts on the importance of youth ministry as I develop my thinking on this!

  • Salt Magazine is almost in the can! It’s always a struggle to boot my creative brain up, and this time was no exception. But I think we’re going to have it in on time, which is fantastic. The issue is called ‘Revolutionary News’ and the design aesthetic has been inspired by street art and propaganda kind of stuff. This was especially influenced by going to see the excellent Banksy ‘doco’ Exit Through the Gift Shop, which I highly recommend. Here’s the cover, and it’ll be out at a campus near you soon...(let me know if you’d like a copy):saltcover

  • Have almost finished my artistic contributions to the Plan to Take Over the World, which is our name for the comics anthology that the amazing Karen has spearheaded. It’s called ‘Kinds of Blue’ and is a collection of comics on the theme of depression. Karen has written most of them and gotten a number of very talented artists to contribute the images to her words. I have been collaborating on one comic with Guan, and one that I have written and drawn myself. It’s been quite hard to get them finished - the irony of working on comics about depression while struggling with depression is not lost on me. But it’s almost at the layout stage (which I am also doing), and it’s going to be so cool to have the final product. I will keep you updated on its progress and, you know, invite you to the launch party. smile

  • I didn’t know if I was going to say anything about it here, but lots of you know about it already anyway and it’s the thing in my life at the moment that’s constantly making me go squeee, so here it is: I’m in a relationship and will have been for about 2 months as of tomorrow. His name is Lachlan, we go to Wild St together, and he is an avid reader of this blog so it feels a bit weird to be writing about him when I know he’s going to read it. So I’ll just say that this is what’s happening, I’m extremely happy and we’re taking it one day at a time and trying to continually commit it to God.

  • My dad and his wife are expecting a baby in early March. Um...not much to say about that really other than, yeah...well...yeah. I’ll be praying lots for this child. And praying that I can be godly in the way I treat him/her, and dad and J. Haven’t talked to my brother yet. No idea what he thinks.

  • Mum is back from Canada and looking for work. So if you hear of anyone who needs an awesome Executive Assistant and pays well, let us know. smile


That’ll do for now…

Thursday, 15 July 2010

pumpkin time

Why is night time so hard?

Someone who worked at a hospital once told me it seemed that people tended to pass away in the early hours of the morning more than other times. I remember when I had chronic asthma it was always much worse in the middle of the night. And, so it would seem, my depression/loneliness is worse around now.

It’s odd because normally I don’t mind being up at night. Even if I feel I should be sleeping, night time has always been my time. I always seemed to get the most writing done at night. I could read and read and read until I heard the morning birds. I just liked being awake when it was so quiet and still. But there was something about knowing my mum or flatmate was asleep in the other room that made me feel safe somehow. But at the moment, being home alone for extended periods of time, it just feels wrong. I feel adrift and alone.

You’d think I was a little kid or something, wailing at being away from her mumma for a night or two. One night I can handle. A couple of nights, that’s fine. But at the moment, 10 nights out and with another week to go before mum comes home, I just lie awake in my bed, feeling like time has stood still and I am going to be stuck in this long, dark night forever. Reading can’t distract me; my eye scans down the page but doesn’t take the meaning of the words in, and my brain is still ticking over, catastrophising, despairing. I try to pray but they are fits and starts (never am I more grateful for the Holy Spirit’s intercession than at times like these). I am grateful for my friends, and being occupied during the day and the evening, but those times aren’t the problem. It’s this time, the graveyard shift, post-midnight, the time when it isn’t seemly to call anyone up for no apparent reason. The time when I lie and stare at my cat and wish she was capable of human speech. It’s a bit worrisome really.

I’ll get through it. But, as always, if you’re a praying person please pray for me that I would be able to maintain perspective and common sense, and that my brain would allow my body to rest!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Amazing grace

I dropped mum off at the airport today for her two week holiday in Canada. I was at once excited and a little melancholy to see her go, but mostly I’m really glad she gets to have a holiday.

As I was driving home past the giant billboards that line the road from the airport, I noticed one massive billboard of woman wearing a come-hither expression (and little else) under the words: “Life is short. Have an affair while in Sydney.” Curiosity got the better of me and I googled the website being advertised when I got home (not actually wanting to visit the website itself). Its description calls it an agency for “Married Dating, Affairs, Married Women, Extramarital Affair.” Okay then of course I clicked through to the website because I couldn’t quite believe it. But yes. It’s an agency with the sole purpose of setting married people up to have casual, sexual affairs.

What. The. Hell.

Sometimes our world just makes me want to scream. Then it makes me think about how this is nothing new, that right back since humanity began we’ve been behaving like this, taking good gifts from God like relationships, marriage and sex, and treating them like garbage. It makes God’s grace all the more overwhelming. Isn’t it mindblowing that he would send Jesus to die to save us, to make us clean and whole and alive when we deserve nothing but death for the way we’ve treated him?

If you want to hear a great talk on God’s grace, have a listen to Rod’s talk on Ephesians 2 from Wild St yesterday. It’s gold.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

warm

I went on a short break to stay with the Tonkses in Bundanoon. I got to play with a fire. This made me happy.

Brazier

Sunday, 13 June 2010

curse maps*

Yesterday I went down to Shellharbour to visit some dear friends I haven’t seen for quite a while, Stacie, Ben, and deliciously cute little Eli. I’d been looking forward to this catchup for some time and it was a really lovely day, sitting in the winter sun, eating yummy food, chatting about big things and small, listening to some of Ben’s new (exciting) music, laughing with Eli ("Hey Eli, what’s your favourite colour?” “Black!” yep, true child of rock, even at 2 years old).

I had also been looking forward to the drive. I love driving, especially when you can drive fast (though 110km/h doesn’t feel that fast, but you work with what you’ve got). But yesterday for some reason I started to feel quite anxious, especially as I passed Wollongong and headed towards Lake Illawarra and Shellharbour. Then it dawned on me why; the only two times I had been down to that specific area were following a break up when I was trying to salvage the friendship and work out what had gone wrong. It astounded me that all these years later, just driving through that same place could have such an effect on me subconsciously, and make me feel kind of worried and insecure, doubting myself and the people who love me.

Memory can be such a dangerous thing if you don’t deal with it. It can blur and shift and warp things to take on more or less significance than they actually had. There are definitely areas that remind me of particular people, and place is such a strong thing. After one of my first break ups, it took me a long time to be able to go back to Bondi, and even now I don’t feel that comfortable there, because I had spent so much time there with this particular guy (for a long time I was just worried about running into him there, which is a more practical concern).

I tried to write about this once, and even draw it, but I never did it justice. Maybe it’ll be one of those things that I chew on for years and it will eventually appear in a book of mine - you read it here first! Okay, so say you have a mental map of the world around you, and it’s flat, like the page of a street directory. When you have an experience in a particular place, that experience pushes that location in your mental map up a bit, so now the map isn’t flat anymore but has some kind of accumulated memory deposited on that spot. So eventually your mental map will have lots of bumps and things sticking out in it, like a page of Braille, reminding you of places and people and events. The more emotion that’s attached to the event will make the location stick out more. Or maybe rather than peaks, the event will have created a trough or a gap that takes you by surprise, a dip that you had forgotten about and inadvertently fall into.

I feel like in my driving yesterday, I skirted around the edge of the Grand Canyon. But visiting it and peering in and realising that it isn’t so deep or wide after all was a good thing. I’m much changed from the girl of that time. And I’m glad.

* curse maps is kind of inspired by the idea of curse songs, from Phonogram 2.2

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

asymmetry

Was running very late this morning. The problem with this is that then there is no chance of getting an all-day parking spot and I have to keep moving the car in every break we get. I’m also sitting here, in the break between Biblical Theology lectures, feeling a bit head-swimmy.

Today Peter Bolt gave a paper on complementarianism: appreciating God’s designed, delightful differences between men and women. I dislike the ‘equal but different’ tagline that is floated around a lot, but I do like ‘designed, delightful differences’. It casts the whole thing in a much more positive light. Equal but different just sounds defensive.

I like this reminder of God’s created order and getting glimpses of how the world would work so well if we all lived according to God’s design. In this case, creation is a hierarchy. God created man, a helper was needed for man but the other created beings (animals) weren’t suitable, so the woman was made from man. Men and women are two parts of a whole, and complement one another. This forms the beautiful hierarchy or asymmetry of order that goes God->man->woman->animal. This hierarchy (though it’s seen as a negative term these days) allows for a responsibility of care – this is amongst people (men and women) who have equal status before God, however there is a definite order and asymmetric of responsibilities. The man is required to care and the woman to submit to that care, and men and women both are to care for the rest of creation.

So our biology matters, gender matters, the way we’ve been created as male and female matters. The hierarchy is not imposed on us by the Fall, it is part of God’s good creation, but post-Fall it causes us pain. This can be seen when women refuse to be led by their husbands, or by wrong abuse such as a man dominating his wife through strength or violence. The problem we have is not the created order, the problem is our sinfulness.

I love getting glimpses into how things are supposed to work, and seeing God’s generosity and wisdom in creation. Makes me long for everything to be put right, because we just get it so badly wrong.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

ramble

I keep opening this screen, intending to write, and then just stare until I give in and shut the browser down. A lot has been happening and yet not much at all. There’s lots of stuff going on that I feel isn’t appropriate to discuss in this space - which will shock you, I know, given some of the other stuff I’ve written about. But I guess it’s not prudent or kind to talk about situations involving other people ...well it’s gossip really, I suppose.

All I can say is how I’m feeling at the moment.

I’m feeling simultaneously encouraged and burdened by life and relationships, which I guess is how it goes. I have had a period of a few weeks where I’ve been finding things more of a struggle than normal. Have been just really tired, really emotional, really anxious. Have gone up a step on my medication in the hope that it will help me even out a bit (the doctor said I could). It hasn’t quite stabilised yet (these things often take about three weeks to really kick in when you go up or down with anti depressants) but hopefully I’ll feel the effects soon. All I’ve been wanting to do is sleep the past week, but when I do sleep it’s not especially restful. Weird dreams and unexplained waking up. Yesterday I slept for 13 hours but still felt exhausted (I know that often happens when you oversleep anyway, so that doesn’t help).

I led singing at the Wild Street women’s day yesterday with George and Tamara. The day’s theme was ‘Wholehearted Faith’, so one of the songs we chose was Great is Thy Faithfulness, which I haven’t sung for years and years. I was doing fine with it until the last verse, which I’d even mentioned in my intro:
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

I just got all choked up by the third line and started to cry. Encouraged by the truth of it and also broken by acknowledging how much I need God. Broken and thankful. I don’t know, it’s very confusing. But then I could sing out “Great is thy faithfulness!” with great gusto, even if my voice was warbly and cracking (I put the mic down so no one else would have to hear it!).

Thankfully I have finished a lot of the paid work I had over the last several weeks, so I can concentrate on Wild Street and college work now. College has been immensely encouraging, but at the same time very draining. It’s hard being around people so long every day when I’ve been mostly on my own during the day for the last year. I find morning tea and lunch times quite hard because I actually have to (gasp!) talk to people. But they are generally such lovely people, and I am so grateful for people like those in my first year group, and some of the lecturers and chaplains who are very supportive. I think I’ll get over it eventually.

Anyway I just want to let you know how I’m doing. And ask that you pray for me, if that’s something you do. Thanks!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

decisions

I don’t know why I haven’t been blogging. I want to. But words aren’t coming. There seems to be too much to think about, too much to do, that sitting down and blurting out my thoughts seems indulgent somehow, even though it actually would probably help me sort things out in my head.

My biggest news is that I’ve decided to do the Bachelor of Theology in youth ministry at Moore, which is a 3 year course. I’m currently enrolled in the Diploma of Bible and Youth Ministry, which is a one year course (though I’m doing it part time). But after mission week, I just thought and prayed and realised that I really do want to be well equipped to...gulp...work in full time ministry. What a turnaround! I have often felt like Jonah, running in the other direction from where God has called me to be. But as I am continually humbled before him to trust him and accept that his plans are good and wise, and I feel he is very much leading me in this.

Anyway so that’s where I’m at currently. I’m juggling two days of college, one day of church work, and every other spare moment trying to do design work. It’s a lot busier than I anticipated. Your prayer would be appreciated!

Friday, 30 April 2010

She gives me the irrits

Simone has written a brilliant poem, which I commend to you: The Soprano Will Always Get The Man

I have to say I agree. Cosette always irritated me. And now I know why.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

His steadfast love endures forever

Had a massive, unexplained anxiety attack last night (while driving, not recommended, probably as distracting as being drunk behind the wheel). Strangely, even though I know casting my fears and failings on God is the solution when I’m feeling like that, it’s often the last thing that occurs to me.

I guess the very nature of depression and anxiety means that you lose rationality, you become entirely self-focused and you can’t see anything beyond the stifling fog that surrounds you suddenly. I’m grateful I have people praying for me, and I have a mum to make me a cup of tea, and most of all that God can reach through it all to remind me that he’s there. Decided not to do the things I had planned for this morning, and instead sat under my blanket on the couch and read this psalm, which brought great comfort. God is good!
Psalm 138

I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
for great is the glory of the LORD.
For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

The psalm offers us a helpful prayer dynamic to follow on occasions when, like the psalmist, we find ourselves in ‘the midst of trouble’ (v7). This dynamic is expressed in the psalm’s main sections. The first encourages us in our trouble to look back to deliverances of the past (vs 1-3) . . . Having praised the Lord for his past goodness, we are invited in verses 4-6 to look forward to the time when all the rulers of the earth shall yield to God’s sovereignty. . .

Having enabled us to find comfort in both past experience and future hope, the final section (vs 7,8) bids us to look out on the troubles that are intimidating us now, casting ourselves upon the Lord’s steadfast love that did not fail us in the past and will endure for ever.

Encounter With God, Apr-Jun 2010, Scripture Union p36