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.


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


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?"


"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. :)