Tuesday, February 21, 2012

b-hap's (big hairy audacious prayers)

This morning, while randomly trawling through radio stations in the car, I heard a bit of a segment on Radio Rhema (yeah AM I know...).  It was a talk by well known preacher Tak Bhana on a show called 'Running with Fire''.  The essential message was that Christians need to be braver when asking God for 'the big things.''.  He spoke of how people become disheartened when they ask God for something and don't get it, but that we simply need to have more faith and keep asking.  He cited an example of needing an extremely large sum of money - he asked God for it, and there it was.

Now I'm the first person to admire someone for such faith.  And to agree that there are times that we shrink our view of God to such an extent that we might not believe he is capable of what we ask Him for.

But to hear that I just needed to be more faith-full, and to keep asking for bigger, more amazing things?  Well that makes me uncomfortable.  Not because I don't believe God isn't capable of giving our hearts desire.  But because it's all a bit close to the prosperity theology that has been popular of late.

Sure ask God for big things.  Believe that he is able to give them.  But don't think of his as a magician, able to conjure up all that you want, just because you asked for it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

human nature

“It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” 
― Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

Up until very recently I subscribed to the Anne Frank view of life.  I want to believe that despite it all, we human beings are decent people.  That we are fundamentally ''good''.

Unfortunately recent events are leading me to re-evaluate that opinion.  A person who is extremely close to me has been badly deceived by someone she trusted.  It's not important to go into the details, but suffice to say, her belief in the goodness of mankind has been somewhat shaken too, and I'm seeing the after effects and pain that results from the deception.

And so I've changed my perspective.  I still hold the belief that human beings have the potential to be good.  That we have an underlying drive for self preservation and also for the preservation of each other, and that includes upholding our core values.  But I also think that maybe we have an equal potential to be ''bad''.

I am still not entirely convinced of the Christian theological position that we are all inherently evil and born that way.   But I am becoming more and more sure that we have it within our selves to be sinful (to use a Christian term), or hurtful/selfish (to use a more humanist term).

 And, I'm beginning to think that maybe it is not until we experience hurt ourselves, that we can shine the light on our own hurtful behaviours and take steps to change them.  

This conclusion makes me sad.  And even though I still have at the root of all this, the belief that every person is redeemable (there's another of those Christian explanations), and that no-one is irrecoverably broken, the fact that we are human makes us capable of harm without effort or even intention.

Friday, February 17, 2012

priorities and other stuff that's important

For the past day and a bit I have been at a training conference for my one my jobs.  Yep, I have more than one. I have 4 in fact, and to date I have juggled them fairly successfully, as long as I work on a just-in-time model and largely operate in the ''important and urgent'' quadrant!

My new boss, only in the job a few weeks, and this was the first time he had met his team en masse, spoke this morning on the topic of priority.  It was a devotional-focused session, and several times he said ''this is what I'm hearing/learning/having revealed to me.  And each time that happened I thought ''me too''.

You see, I have been really considering if it is sustainable to get four (income producing) balls in the air.  I'm worried that one thing is taking priority over another.  That in fact some things don't get the priority they deserve.  Including my family.  My work includes after hours time on the phone or computer.  The kids don't get that, even though the pay off is that I am home for them every day after school.

I arrived back to collect my children, being cared for by grandparents, after 18 hours of learning and discussion and very little sleep, and 2 1/2 hours on the motorway, to find my son ill.  I didn't even take my shoes off and was straight to the hospital where I learned he had an infection in a cut on his foot which had turned septic and was making him quite ill.   I had been checking the foot each day, but in a cursory way it must be said.  And that kind of thing happens quickly.  I was reassured by the Dr it was ''boy stuff'' and he was given a tetanus shot and some antibiotics.  It gave me a fright.

This evening I realised again that I need to deliberate the issue thoroughly.And soon.   And then be deliberate in my actions.

It's a tough question and one I know is demanding an answer of me and soon: what are your priorities and what do you need to do to get them in the right order?   I've got a feeling that the answer is going to be a bit painful and uncomfortable to address.  I know that I don't WANT to give up anything I do.  But I also know that I NEED to in order to manage - no, honour, my priorities.

How about you? What are your priorities? Do you feel they get the time and attention they deserve?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

do i have sucker tattooed on my forehead?

So I've started my renovations.  There's been a flurry of tradesmen coming in and having a look about, sucking on their teeth, making vague noises about mess and fuss...and offering me completely outrageous quotes for the work I'm requesting to be done.

I hasten to add here that some of the tradesmen have been fantastic, spending lots of time talking through what it is I want, offering suggestions and following through with their promises.

But I am sure that the minute the slightly less honourable ones realise that I am a single woman, they see an opportunity to pull the wool.   I can see it from their expressions...''ah someone who has no idea...here's an opportunity to make a bit extra"!  Call me a cynic but I am sure that if there were a bloke lurking in the background they would be rather more exact with their pricing, and would spend less time talking about how much dust they are going to create and more on the details of what they are actually needing to do.

I'm a pretty independent kind of girl, heck up until recently I even owned my own chainsaw (I sold it because I just wasn't get the use of it...).

But I know my limitations and I also want to trust the people that come into my house to do the jobs I am not able to do.  I just wish they'd treat me as if I had a few more clues than they think I have.  In fact, why not treat me like a bloke.  that'd work.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

the things we do for love

- stay up until midnight creating a birthday cake that we looks fantastic, get it out the next day and learn that it looks nothing like the birthday boy wanted...but he loves it anyway
- have a houseload of kids come and mess the place up, and eat me out of house and home
- spend $10k on a new bathroom because the tween spends way too much time in front of the mirror and it's driving the rest of us mad
- drive a 75km round trip to pick up a cat for a birthday present, only to have same cat run away and have to do the same trip the next day
- spend $40 on party food that will mostly likely end up on the deck or in the pigfood and not in the kids mouths
- spend hours and hours on a sausage sizzle raising money for kids hobbies
- lie awake worrying about said cat, and wondering how to explain if it doesn't come back
- consider getting another cat asap and trying to pass it off as it's twin....

Thursday, February 09, 2012

little boxes made of ticky tacky

Today I went to a new part of town.  It's a sprawling subdivision following on from another sprawling subdivision which is an extension of another area of subdivision to the north of the city.

The house I visited was gorgeous - all modern lines and a fancy kitchen and designer garden.  But there were some things about the neighbourhood that made me feel, well, frankly uneasy.

Row after row after row of identical houses, with ''neighbour friendly'' fencing on each sides.  Tiny sections. Long roads with little planting and no hills or dales to break the monotony.  Brick and tile as far as the I could see.  Big garage doors are the feature that face the road.   And they weren't cheap.  The signs I saw advertised houses ready to be bought for upwards of $400k.

It took a full ten minutes of driving on a wide new road to get back to the main street, and a further 20 minutes across mad traffic to get to the outskirts of the city.  There were no pedestrians to be seen, let alone people walking dogs, or pushing prams.  No kids on bikes.  No one in their garden watering the plants.  Barely a house with a window open in fact.

I came back to my sleepy village, where every house is different and people live their lives in their gardens - which are as much at the front of the house as the back.  Where kids of as young as 6 or 7 walk and bike to school.  Where there is always at least one person walking their dog.  Where there are stiles over the fences between neighbouring houses for easy ''kid access''.  Where I can go for three or four days without getting the car out of the garage.

Perhaps sprawling developments with pristine housing is the way forward.  No doubt if you live in such a place you would say it has appeal and attractions.    Low maintenance.  Public transport.  New water and power systems.  Modern facilities.

Where I am there's a few tatty bits.  It can be noisy with all those kids and dogs about. :) There's always someone passing by to stop and talk to.  There's trees that shed leaves on the lawn.  The odd dodgy hole in the paths and roads.  There's no bus.  I have a septic tank because theirs no public sewerage system.

But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, February 06, 2012

hugs not drugs

I had bumped into a friend in the supermarket yesterday.  I don't see him very often, and he greeted me (in the queue) with a great bear hug.

Today he came by my house for a proper catch up, and again his visit started and ended with a hug.  He's a spiritual kind of guy, and we talked a lot about ''that kind of stuff''.  In fact, we got onto the subject of touch, as he is a healer, but in particular where it fits when you're around people not well known to you.

I mentioned that although part of work takes me into "corporate world" it is not uncommon for me to hug the people I meet.  He works in a trade, and says he often hugs his customers as he leaves his house.

Now this might sound kind of strange to the less tactile among us, but I reflected on the idea of touch further today and decided that it had become part of the way I do things - and how much I wish more people connected in this way.  I understand that there are places, and times, and people where it's not appropriate - but for me, touch is an important way of communicating.  And too many people are starved on safe, non-sexual touch.

I'll admit it. I love hugs. I love being enveloped by someone I feel safe with.  I love being able to hug my friends.  Touch is not my primary love language (more on that here) but it sure rates up there!  (Cuddles are great too...but that's not what I'm talking about here.:))

In a busy world there is often little chance to even to stop and talk, let alone take the time to physically - and by association, spiritually or emotionally - connect with the people we come across.  Imagine what a changed world we would live in if this were done differently.

Idealistic? Probably.  A bit kooky? Possibly.  Life-changing? Definitely.

Friday, February 03, 2012

the power of choice

My eldest child is extremely strong-willed. There's no getting away from it, or prettying it up - she's liked being in charge, and getting her own way.  Believe me it causes some challenges and some grief - not least because her mother is kind of the same....

She understands that I'm the head of the house (well, most of the time she does...) and she accepts that there are going to be decisions made that she's not necessarily going to like.  But one of the things I've learned over the past few years (the hard way, mostly) is that things go a whole lot more smoothly in our house when she feels like she has some control over the things going on in her life.  She's barely 9, but I am conscious that she is wanting to feel some independence.

So I have started allowing her some choice.  She can choose what to wear  -  made easier because I decide what is in her wardrobe in the first place so there's nothing inappropriate.  This is a biggie as at times she would happily wear a fur coat in summer and a t-shirt in winter.  Sometimes I have to bite my tongue... :) She can choose what to eat for lunch, as long as I vet the lunchbox before it goes in the school bag.  She can choose where to sit at the dinner table.  Whether to bike or walk to school.  Whether to read or draw before bed.   How her hair is done and when it gets washed (my only requirement is once a week, she picks when).

I've also starting allowing some small freedoms.  Choosing lights-out time (within reason).  Going for a bike ride on her own.  Using the phone.  Some screen time playing games she wants to play rather than for homework.

It seems like small stuff - in fact it IS small stuff, but it has gone a long way to making her feel like she is part of the decision making in our house.

And that has made for a happier household.