Tuesday, December 30, 2008


An interesting experience today.  I have been feeling very relaxed - in fact I described to someone today that I'm the most relaxed I have been in years.  An email this afternoon about a work thing that is undone (on the list of many things to do) made my stress level go up immediately - wasn't even a tense email ... but a forward of someone else asking for something.

It was interesting to note just how quickly it changed my state and over how small a thing.  I'm actually thankful for it as it was something I could observe in a way I often can't ... and i was also able to go "I'm on leave - you don't need to worry about that now".  Still I'm struggling to let it go ... and pondering how much of that kind of stress there is in my life on a day to day basis.

But for now - back to leave!

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Just testing whether I can see posts in NetNewsWire.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

We are Adopted

Recently, for various reasons, I've been thinking a bit about foster care and whether all people around a family with a child who is currently fostered treat that family as a "real" family.  A week or so ago, with this in my mind, I was preparing for Christmas and read John 1.  To those who believed in the Light he gave the right to be children of God: we are adopted into his family, we are IN his family.  How often do we treat ourselves and act is if we are only "half" in God's family.  How often do we try and "live in both worlds"?  We are adopted - with all the rights and responsibilities that means.  A friend and I both had tears in our eyes as we thought afresh about the depth of what that means.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Great post coming from an article by Rowan Williams

Having just spent significant time deciding whether to stay in the process of Anglican ordination - and deciding to, it is of great encouragement and comfort to read these words spoken by the Archsbishop of Canterbury which echoes something of my sentiments in my last post.  He discusses it as bringing true evangelical and catholic together.

Check ti out here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Caught in the Middle

So often I feel caught in the middle of lots of things.  It's not that I don't have opinions, I do have them - and quite firm ones at that, but often I can see both sides and agree with parts of both sides, so often end up in the middle - the "middle way" as it is often called (the "middle way" is one of the things that defines Anglicanism - seems like I am in the right denomination!).  

Tonight a conversation with a staff member after a great group conversation about SPACE once again made me conscious of the way in which I am in the middle.  Sparked by some things she said in the group conversation and some other things, we talked through her sense of the only reason to be doing what we are doing is evangelism.  For her that means people being converted.  I'm conscious of how different that is to what matters to many I'm around, in word and action - and how I am in the middle.  What matters to me is that people experience wholeness and for me that wholeness comes in all sorts of forms but only finds it's fulfillment in knowing Jesus and growing in relationship and discipleship of him.  Through the conversation tonight my sense that I am wanting more people with a relationship with Jesus, who long for people to know and experience wholeness in it's completeness, to be in SPACE regularly has been reinforced.

And the conversation with the staff member after this group conversation led me to understand some more of why that is difficult for many around me.  Not only are we time and energy committed in many (good) places - many of the people around me are not sure where they are in their own relationship with God, are not sure about the uniqueness of Jesus, are not experiencing the transformation that they once believed was the experience they would receive from relationship with Jesus, are not growing in their relationship with God ... and at the bottom of it, their confidence in Jesus is low and therefore, they are not confident in what to share about the life that he offers.  Therefore, people come down to being interested in doing good in the world, offering good things to the world.

I am convinced that this in itself, while being good, is just touching the surface of the issue.  It's like giving people a drink of life giving water, but not helping them to knowing where to find the life giving water which will never try up.  They might have a heap of water (good in their life that they might even be able to share with others) but if they are not in a deep connection with the One who is the creator then life in its fullness is not known and shared.  This is what I long for - people to know life in its fullness and to this end the staff members comment tonight is accurate - "what's the point otherwise?"

Friday, December 05, 2008

He is Enough

Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.
Blessed am I who have mourned for I have been comforted.
Through entering into mourning, I have received comfort,
And that comfort is way enough; He is enough.

So can I trust to enter into mourning in other things?
Can I trust that he will hold me?  Can I trust that I will be comforted?
It is only in entering into mourning, that I will receive comfort,
And that comfort is way enough; He is enough.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Tonight I am angry.  I am angry at a number of things - one of them is the way people in all sorts of areas of life keep knowledge to themselves - and teach something they know to not be the only voice.  It's not just that people speak what people can understand - it's often that people speak what they know to be much more questioned than they teach.  One of the values is some of the children's ministry context I've led within is "Don't teach children things that they will need to unlearn later".  I think this is a good principle for life: by all means speak in a language and method that the people you are speaking to can comprehend and apply but don't teach as "the only understanding" things you know to have many more options behind them.  All sorts of fields do this - right now my anger is directed towards people who have studied theology and, in particular, Paul's letters and the "New Perspective" on Paul and who continue to teach a Lutheran understanding to the Law and righteousness even though they know that there are many more views and scholarship around.  

And by the way - yes I did have an exam today - on Romans!  Any guesses what I've been spending much time on over recent days!!!!

Friday, October 31, 2008


I went out for a dinner with a close friend of mine the other night and decided to try some sparkling white for a change.  And I really enjoyed it.  Like it seems with too many things, I like it if it's good quality!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Just maybe ...

My thoughts on Anglicanism and whether I will make it through what is often called the "sausage machine" that is the training of Anglican Ordination candidates goes up and down.  As someone who knows a fair amount about where the system is up to here in Melbourne said to me today and someone else also in the know said to me a little while ago: "You are five years too early".  Often I wonder if there is room for me and people like me in the Anglican system, and in particular in the ordination and immediately post ordination/curacy system.  I often think not.  A conversation I had today encouraged me that just maybe I will make it!  Time shall tell.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


A book I read a number of years ago called "Presence" is becoming a lived experience for me.  Amazing experiences of "letting go" and "letting come" are happening as I live my personal life, as I personally engage with issues in my work life and as I work with others on these issues.  We have no idea what the future that seeks to emerge will look like ... but we feel that we are starting to understand something about the conversations and moments that need to happen for us to be at a point to be transformed personally and corporately so that we can let the coming future emerge and embrace it.  

Here is a diagramatic representation of the process as discussed within "Presence".

Are you who you would love to be?

For various reasons I have been thinking alot about the gap between who we are and who we'd like to be.  Around our faith community, a number of us for many years have loved the expression "mind the gap" and just recently I've had another experience of pondering this and knowing the reality of it in my life.  How often do we really want to be able to be and act a particular way but find ourselves incapable of doing that exact thing.  My most recent experience of this has interestingly been one of acceptance of this reality in a way that it never has been before - still a longing for more and to be different but not a negative experience, certainly one of peace and acceptance, though not contentment (I don't think I want contentment with it).  I think it's only peace and contentment with the reality that then enables honesty about what's going on and the ability to work with reality as it is rather than as you'd want it to be.  This experience has also caused me to reflect on experiences of my life where others would dearly love to have been able to choose to be and act differently than what they were capable of - it's certainly continued to grow my compassion and realism about life.  It's all been quite interesting at the same time as studying Romans 7 where Paul talks about "finding this law at work, when I want to do good is evil is right there with me" and writing an essay on Romans 8 (18-30) about how everything works for (what I reckon is) our maturity as people who are on about what we were created for.  Also interesting at a time where myself and some close friends are having experiences of deep freedom in some areas of our life in ways we are so thankful for ... and can only say that it's the mystery of God's grace that has brought it about.  But yet we live in a time and place in history where we have good reason to hope for transformation and live in a way that opens the path for that, but that needs to accept reality as such that we are still on that journey.  And the journey is good and rich.

Advent Calendars

Last year in early November we had a time at one of our faith community gatherings thinking through how families especially might explore Christmas together.  It inspired me to do an Advent Calendar for my friends who are twins and who last year at Christmas were almost 2.  It was fun and they enjoyed it.  I also gave the content to a few others.  

This year I have revised that a little, keeping it aimed at preschoolers, and I've written an adults version with the same daily themes so that parents have some prompts for thoughts and actions along the same themes that they are working with their children on.  I'm working on giving a "kit" of these to all families who are part of our faith community plus some other important families in my life.   It includes things like candles to light each day, a chocolate or other treat appropriate in that family advent calendar, a card for each day with a theme and an activity for that day.
Let me know if you'd like a copy of the parts of this that have soft copies.
(Solace families - you will get one and will be asked soon about your preference about a few things that are in it so that what you receive is appropriate for your family/children ... but still let me know if you'd like a soft copy to be able to give it beyond your family)

Some other things I've come across that some adults might be interested in for Advent reading and action are two books: one by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan called "The First Christmas" and another is "Advent and Christmas: Wisdom for G.K. Chesterton" - by the Center for the Study of C.S. Lewis and Friends.

Limiting Communications

I'm in another of my reading zones and currently I'm reading "Here Comes Everybody - The Power of Organising without Organisations" by Clay Skirky.  I thought this quote from page 42 was interesting and telling: "If you have ever wondered why so much of what workers in large organisations know is shielded from the CEO and vice president, wonder no longer: the idea of limiting communications, so that they flow only from one layer of the hierarchy to the next, was part of the very design of the system at the dawn of managerial culture".

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Which thing to write about!

There is so much going on within and around me that I don't know which of the many things to write about.  So much growth, so much thought, so much being.  Life is good, God is good, I am satisfied.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Definition of Spirituality

We were sitting around at our regular coffee catch up time for staff around our network and discussing a range of things regarding spirituality. At one point, one of the people who is fairly disparaging of the word "spirituality" asked us all what we meant by the term. We went around and shared ... it's an interesting question. Most answers were something around "connection with 'the other'". The thing I added to that was that it was about "being" - with ourselves, God ('the other') and each other. I think for me at the moment it's something like "the mystery of deep connection with 'the other' which allows a 'being' with ourselves, God, each other and the world as it is in reality".

As I think about what I said in that conversation and a conversation over dinner last night when someone asked me about the Alexander Technique lessons I've been having all year - I recognise that "being" is the word of the year for me. It's an active "Being" - but it's not "doing" - it's a mystery that is hard to put words to but I know that I'm deeply growing in. It's a different way of living. It's one of being fully present in reality - physically, emotionally, spiritually. It's full of life and possibilies. It recognises limits and even chooses to limit itself further for the sake of growth and life.

Anyway - what's your definition of 'spirituality'? For those of you more "in church circles" - how would you define what the word means to you to someone "not of a Christian faith"?

Solace Dinner

Last night was a Spring Feast with the faith community network which I'm a part of. It was a lovely night - great food, great atmosphere, even greater people and a really special sense of understanding something deep about the mystery of life together, spoken about a bit but just "known". It was a time of celebrating a number of the dreams of people in our networks who are or have been involved in the journey of something that we reckon delights God. Thanks to another network who have gifted us with some money - this celebration included a gift of money to use in some way towards the dream. We celebrated things at all stages of the dream cycle - including things that have "failed". I love that! What we are wanting to celebrate is people's joining with God in the world - not the "outcome" of that (although we do want to celebrate when we can see the differences in a positive direction to). We recognise that "failure" is inevitable and shapes for the next step in the journey. But in essence it's also people's joining with him in his heart for the world that delights God - so that's also what we want to celebrate. It was a great night of being, celebration and presence, where God was gently but strongly honoured.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mission - Families and/or Marginalised

It seems that I am having many conversations at the moment around some decisions we have made in my work/faith community context about our mission focus being families and children (and therefore our buildings being focused on families and children). The issues in the questions are complex - and to be frank, while it's tiring, it's raising the kind of conversations, questions and issues that we ought to be having more frequently!!!

Some of the conversations remind me of the first year or so of our faith community in 2000/2001 when I was doing Forge and also when myself and many peers really were thinking alot around issues of "priority for the poor". Our faith community at the time met in a strongly upper middle class area of Melbourne and I remember numerous supervision conversations around "what does incarnational ministry look like in upper middle class Melbourne"? Should we be doing it? Does God call us to have a priority for the poor? Given where I was in those conversations, I find it ironic (but very like God!) that I'm one of the main advocates that we should be basing our mission focus and therefore buildings on the main growing demographic of our area - families who materially are doing quite well. I've grown strongly in the direction of seeing it as important to "become all things to all people in order that we might save some" , or in my words - doing whatever it takes to connect with a people group in order that they might see the invitation to participate in the kingdom of God and join in on that. And we find ourselves in an area where a main growing demographic are families who are materially doing quite well. Alongside that, those of us who are committed to mission on the ground in a day-to-day way long term have a heart for those people, as well as abilities to connect with them and offer things that are needed for this group. We also find ourselves having a sense that this is the group who God has invited us to focus our efforts towards as we seek to be his followers in this place at this time.

Those of us doing this process have thought long and hard about this and wrestled with it, praying and fasting and spending much time thinking and discussing it. Not only is the question the general "priority for the poor" question but also currently our building is a space that much of the week a handful of local very marginalised people spend alot of time and where we are heading this will not be possible. There is another faith community that does a great job connecting with those marginalised people but they do it in a more "program" way rather than the "open space" way we have been doing. However, in reality it is 6 or so people and all of us who work on the ground regularly see clearly that these people cannot be in a space that families are going to be safe in without much supervision (and that's if the families are comfortable being around them - which certainly several local families have strongly indicated they are not).

So it's a bit of a predicament really and we have felt called to move ahead strongly with the single focus on the site we are talking about but haven't felt free to leave aside the question of how we continue relationship with those we currently have connection with and also I haven't felt free to assume that what we are currently doing will definately conclude (though thinking it will on the current site we are talking about).

Several of the wider community around these decisions (people from the faith communities who gather in the space) are currently questioning this focus. Some of it is from their personal perspective: where do I fit in this? I like the wide range of people currently at gatherings - will that continue if the site and building are focused on families and children? Absolutely fair enough questions. Another range of questions centre around: difference is a key of the gospel and also a key of our community, this goes against that. Yet another range of questions centre around: how can we not be focusing on the marginaised, especially how can we be creating a space where at least much of the time they would not be welcome, especially as a people of faith how can we do that. An extension of those questions centre around our responsibilities to those we currently have relationship with and who currently find themselves "at home" in the space we are discussing.
Great questions - I love that they are being asked and discussed and not easily left.

It's also an interesting journey for me personally - I find myself owning that I am more gifted than most in my abilities to minister with the marginalised, I find my passion for ministry with families and children coming to the fore once again, I find myself more strongly than ever believing in incarnational ministry - thinking that it's important to "become like" the people we are seeking to connect with, I find myself facing the realities of time, space, money and energy more than ever, I understand more than ever the need to make hard decisions, I find myself thinking it's important for us to stay in the struggle of what we think theologically, what the missiological needs and questions are and what we feel God's saying - and what it means to help others stay in the struggle.

And while spending hours thinking, discussing, praying and writing about those issues, I have been planning the next stage of the space becoming a "Family Wellbeing Centre" which starts on 1st October and planning timelines and project plans into next year.

And while doing that, doing the many things that our current and future ministry in this area requires. One of the things I love about things currently is the excitement that some staff have around what we are doing and being part of the vision - it's great to have such people working for us (I did semi hunt them down as people with the missiological ethos we need in the space at this time!!!!) I also love the stories daily of connections we have with people of all kinds, in the space and in the suburb; I love being part of the rhythms and relationships of this local community.

Great excitement and focus in the midst of struggle and questioning, that would be the title of my week!

Sunday, August 31, 2008


It's been a long day but I'm deeply satisfied. It's been a day of much life and one which I've loved with every part of me. All the same, I will be glad to get into bed tonight. (Right now I'm across at my lovely friend's across the road whose computer I am using to connect to the internet!)

This morning I led Solace Sunday stuff think through the connection between Thin Places, Open Hearts and Spiritual Practices. What? you may ask! It's teaching prompted by Marcus Borg's book "The Heart of Christianity" which numerous parts of the Solace network are exploring at the moment. He draws on the Celtic tradition to speak about "Thin Places" - the times when this reality is "permeated" by experiencing "the more", God and the things of the transcendant. So I led us in thinking about the Thin Places in our lives, what it means to have open hearts and a little on spiritual practices. I then spoke on how they interconnect. I'm conscious that this relationship is deep, mysterious and complex - that's what I read in others experience and also is true in mine. As I live in practices I find I experience Thin Places and I find my heart opened. Likewise, as I open my heart I find myself experiencing Thin Places and find myself wanting to engage in spiritual practices. I also find myself engaging in practices, which opens my heart and that leads me to experience Thin Places.

I then felt strongly led to catch up with a friend who had texted during the morning - a great time which I sense was quite profound.

Tonight at our 5pm service I led us in a time looking at Ecclesiastes. I've been thinking and encouraging us to think about the phrase "everything is meaningless", "vanity of vanities" as being about temporariness and in particular the concept of "everything being unable to be able to fully be grasped" or "everything is puzzling" which in my understanding is closer to the Hebrew word that it is a translation of.
I then had a profound "Thin Place" experience as I had communion - a time of experiencing the one who is unable to be grasped who I love dearly and deeply and in a way that I can't even begin to grasp my love of! His invitation tonight was to allow myself to enter into not grasping life at a deeper level - and tonight I did that and experienced a profound sense of being caught up in the largeness of life, all that is. It's an experience beyond words.

Time for bed - knowing that life is good, God is good, while life and God are both beyond graspability!
(and time to let my friend go to bed too!!!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I'm housesitting at the moment and a couple of days ago the house was broken into.  I came home and my laptop was gone, my old phone and various things of the owners.  It was clearly someone on foot so small things.  I've never been broken into before - it's a wierd feeling.  

How do I feel?  Violated, invaded, on edge.  Interesting ...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Isaiah 30:15

In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What was that???

I'm asleep and wake with what I initially thought was a noise off the street - was it?  I don't know.  I'm deeply asleep and wake with what sounds like a trumpet or sax playing a stanza.  After initial vague thoughts not very complementary to whoever was making the noise at this time of morning I roll over and look at the time - it 3.43am.  It's at that point I realised the day that it was and the significance of this early hour on this day.  It's 4 years today since Paul died.  And it would have been at around that time.  

Over the last couple of days as I've been conscious of the date approaching I have been conscious of my age.  I didn't have the details in my head of exactly how old Paul was when he died - but discovered yesterday - he was 32.  So this is the first year at the anniversary that I am older than he was when he died - that's hitting me this year. 

Paul - I remember your life and death today ... thankful for who you were and thankful that now you are known and know fully.

Others for whom this day is significant - I'm conscious of you on this day and pray for space and ability for it to be what it needs to be on this day 4 years on.  

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Grateful - that was the word that came to the fore out of the mixture of emotions that were around yesterday.  Grateful for lots of things.  Grateful for the kind of support that has been around me - while there are times when the people I would have hoped for support from haven't been that, I recognise that the support I do have is of an amazing quality; there have been excellent people on this journey.  Grateful that Mum died when she did.  I can't imagine how mum would have aged without killing herself with anxiety and worry (umm ... and maybe she did anyway!).  But the grateful part of me is grateful that she didn't need to go through more of that and I'm also thankful for myself and others around her that we didn't have to cope with that especially in the possibility of it being mixed with increasing dementia.  And especially grateful for who I have continued to become through it all.

Grateful - it's a good place.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Friday is the Yahrzeit of Mum's death ie. in Jewish terms the anniversary of someone's death.  It's a little tricky to know which is the "real" date as we know mum died on the 11th July but we found her on the 17th July.  For me the most significant date is the 11th.  

This week is surprising me somewhat.  I wasn't expecting it to be easy ... but it's different to what I was expecting ... even though as I think about it what I'm experiencing is probably in the very normal zone.  I was expecting Friday, and the lead up, to be hard.  But I think I was expecting a very specific kind of hardness, I guess a bit more specific and almost explosive, momentary.  What I'm experiencing though can best be described as dullness.  It's greyness at it's most grey.  It's close to tears but not really being there.  It's dull and constant!  It's also familiar - with a different edge to it and with less ability to observe it as well as experience it, much of last year I lived in this place.  But in a sense it's shocking me.

In the midst of that dullness I'm also very good - life is good and it's very good to be into things after being away.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Back to Melbourne Life

My holiday has been good.  The first half of the first week I spent in Melbourne - a lot of low key work physically sorting out stuff and purchasing stuff for a working bee for church.  You might say - how was this a holiday!  It was most definately - re-creational.  I did it in a relaxed attitude and did some physical, satisfying, creative, order creating work; definately re-creational!  Then I went to Sydney and had a relaxing week or so with good friends in a place that is highly relaxing for me to stay in (a second home).  Then a trip around places of import in my family - all 4 of my parents graves, places my parents used to live, places I used to live, cups of tea with people who knew me as a baby, more tea with people who grew up with mum and also her cousin ... and finding my great great grandmothers grave and my great grandfathers grave.  Exhausting stuff but once in a lifetime stuff.  (I'll write more about that over coming days)  Then several wineries - and lots of wine tasted and purchased.  

Now I'm back in Melbourne and mostly back (although a little family history consumed).  I'm excited to be back - already some great stuff has happened and I'm excited about the coming months.  For this week - a retreat day by myself tmw, in SPACE on Tuesday and various meetings and work to do on Wednesday and Thursday.  On Tuesday I also start a small business course which I'm excited about.

Sad by Reality - and deeply moved ...

One of the things I did while I was in Sydney was go to the church that I was part of as a teenager.  It was a church that shaped me deeply and there is no way I'd be where I am today if it wasn't for the embrace, teaching, example, passion for godliness and mission and much more which was given to me in the midst of this community of God's people.  And in so many ways this continues to be true.  Some of my closest friends are people who were part of this community and many people who are still part of this community I deeply respect.  It's lovely to be embraced in a community which you haven't been part of for 15 years.  Several of the people who were part of this community with me are now elsewhere around Australia and the world and several who are still part of this church I am in contact with in other ways.  Probably some of the key readers of this blog fit into one of those categories.  And those relationships are really important to me - but separate to going to church when I'm in Sydney (even though this time I had really important conversations with both the people of one such couple at church after the service!)  And many of the people who I have no other contact with other than Sunday at church when I visit are also important to me.  However, I think I may well have just visited this church for the last time as my standard thing to do in a visit to Sydney.  Part of it is that life has moved a long way, it's been a long time.  But most of it is the fact that I am in the process of being an ordination candidate in the Anglican Church.  You see this is a Sydney Presbyterian Church.  There are many awkward moments when I say what I do for work and it gets even more uncomfortable when I say I'm almost finished a Master of Divinity and then neither of us knows quite how to deal with the next thing - that I'm an ordination candidate for priesthood.  Several of the people who matter to me from my Sydney world also personally do not agree in theory with with women being ordained in such roles and in various ways we've needed to work out what it means to journey together in grace and a sense of unity with deep differences which involve much of what I'm embracing in life - to enable important current friendships to continue we have needed to work out what it means to live with these differences, being true to ourselves; I feel in a good place with most of these people around that.  However, the people I see after church and not at other times are plain awkward and it feels unnecessary so.  Why do I need to make them uncomfortable?  Why do I need to put something in front of myself that I don't need to?  We don't have the context, relationship or need really to discuss it properly but it doesn't seem to do anything good for anyone.  And it will just get worse as I'm ordained.  So not based on anything about the gathering itself (in fact I enjoyed much of the service last Sunday) I think I may well have just attended my last non "special event" service at the church of my teenage years.  I'm sad by the reality of that but as I wrote this became deeply moved by where the friends who have other views and I are at.  While I say sad by the reality - there's also a sense in which it's just deep freedom to be who I am and to allow them to be who they are and to know that the best way to do that is to avoid the unnecessary discomfort.  

Deeply Satisfied

I'm sitting at home after a good friend has left at the end of my first day back at work after 2 weeks of leave.  My current fav music is Enya which is on and my current fav hot drink as Oriental Tea House's Tropical Dream which I have in one of fav mugs.  I've just had a deeply sole enriching time with a very good friend who journeys deeply with me and me likewise with him.  The journey is a privilege and deeply life enriching.

One of things that we were talking about is what a picture of a "safe place" is for us (prompted by a book I've been reading about trauma treatment and the need to help people find a "safe place" in themselves to go to when they are going beyond what they are well able to handle as they are facing the trauma in their lives).  One such picture for me is a lovely night I had in Sydney during my holiday with two of the readers of this blog.  In a sense there was nothing special about this night.  At another level it was literally heaven on earth.  It was a night with two of the people who have journeyed much life with me and who accept me deeply for who I am and I likewise (and have for almost 20 years).  None of us now live in Sydney so it was a night that was special because we certainly can't do it every week - one lives in Canada, one in country NSW, and I'm in Melbourne.  We're also at somewhat different life stages so it was a gift that on many occasions would have been more difficult to have happen - and so we were especially thankful for one of our mum's who looked after another one of our toddlers.  There was gift from people other than us for this night to be what it was - of this we were deeply grateful.  So that's the setting for this night.

The night itself was at a restaurant which I really wanted to go to and hadn't been to for years in Darling Harbour.  The environment and food was great (for me, garlic snails, kangaroo and creme caramel with a glass of pinot from NZ).  We wandered through  Darling Harbour and around to King St Wharf and found a place we liked (recognising thoroughly our age by the places we were avoiding!!!) for a cocktail.  Now the environment, the food and the alcohol were all great - but the specialest thing about this night was gentle presence with good long term, life-giving people.  You can't trade that for the world.  

And I realise that even a night a year ago with these same people, in the same setting, with the same circumstances wouldn't have been as close to "heaven on earth" as this night was for me because of the difference in me!  I was able to deeply enter into this night in a way I have never been able to before.  There is deep freedom in me to be present and enter in and enjoy - I can't say how delightful it is.

So deep thanks to God who was and is and will be present, bringing life of all kinds into being.  And deep thanks to special friends who journey life together - be it over distance much of the time.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Shaped for Mission

Recently I've been thinking about how I've been shaped so strongly with the agenda of mission being the natural assumption of my environment.  It's amazing how the air you breath is so strongly something that you take it for granted - and that's how it is with me and mission.  There are lots of ways in which that is true but recently I've been especially aware of how it was true in my teenage years - and for various reasons I think true for me more than even others who were around the same environments as I was.  It makes me see just how clearly God has shaped me into the person I am today.  I'm particularly thankful to the young adults and some other adults who were around me when I was a teenager for the way they have shaped a heart for mission into the very core of my being.  (well it was God who has - but very much helped by them)  People who had a heart for mission, local and overseas, were around me in every direction; I had the opportunity to be involved in running an outreach youth group when I was 16; I was around and involved in the running of a 4 week outreach thing when I was about 15; I ran various mission things at school during high school; I hung around with people who breathed mission with every fiber of their being; I got prayer letters from someone working as a boarding house teacher at a school and those letters and her life shaped me in my mission heart profoundly.  Today, my definition of mission might be broader but this is a key part of when and how my heart for mission was fostered - for which I'm hugely thankful.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Well it Seems

I just found the song that God used to invite me to a deeper commitment to himself when I was 13.  One Friday or Sunday night sitting in a building that no longer exists in Hurstville, Sydney in 1989 we sang this song and, along with many other things God was doing in my life at the time, it called me to in deeper way than ever before "give my life to him and him alone".  I don't know who it's by - if any of you St Gile's readers know - I'd love to know who actually wrote it.

Well It Seems

Well it seems like there are just so many things
That can take my heart away from you oh Lord.
Oh please, please help me Lord to see the emptiness they bring,
And by your grace I'll serve you always,
You are my King.

Verse 1:
I'm bound up in a course of education
The pressures on to study and succeed
I'm seeking a career, some money and my self-esteem
Am I really doing this for you or me?

Verse 2:
Some friends I have do things that do not please you,
And it's sometimes hard to differ from the crowd
Relationships are fine, but only under your control
Am I showing all my friends how great you are?

Verse 3:
When I think of all you left behind to save me,
Your Father's glory and your heavenly home
The sacrifice you made for me is just beyond compare
I give my life to you and you alone.

Psychological shaming

Just having a lovely coffee reading todays paper.  Leunig's article today had a quote I just had to share: "Psychological shaming has displaced moral shaming" - I reckon that's so true.  

It's led me to thinking about what impact does this have on our "Centred set theology" (ie. being an inclusive community centred around Jesus).  I wonder whether we have replaced moral fences with psychological fences in the name of "health".  Mmm ... pondering, any thoughts?

Friday, May 23, 2008

It's about the kingdom

I'm in one of those spots where I'm more convinced then ever that life, true life, is about God's agenda for the world and not my own.  More than ever I know that means me needing to be prepared to put aside the various things that are important to me that are out of step with God's heart for the world.  These include big life decisions through to minute by minute decisions ... it involves painful decisions to choose for true life above short term, feel good life.  I know deeply that it's so worth it but yet despite that I continue in many ways and at many times to choose the path that leads to death rather than life.  However, God, in his grace, continues to call me back into embracing the life that he offers, and as I do that I have more of a hunger to join in with his heart for the world.  I pray that in the smaller and bigger decisions of life I, and you, would choose for the things that really matter above what seems to be the thing we want right now.

Two places yummy places to eat

In the last couple of weeks I've eaten at some great places - as well as the Oriental Tea house yesterday, a few weekends ago in Daylesford I went out for dinner with my housemate and we went to a pub that had been recommended to us: The Farmers Arms, it was truly amazing.

Then last weekend I took my dad to Soul Mama which I love.

To what end?

For years I've been thinking about the fact that if you pursue something, you are likely to not get it.  For example, pursuing community as an end in itself seems to kill community rather than produce it.  On the other hand, getting on with doing good in the world together, tends to produce good community as a by-product.  I was reminded of this yesterday as I was talking about the way in which I am a boss to staff (which I think I do well, and staff tend to say the same ... well mostly, I've had one staff member in my time not like my style and I now understand alot of why).  Anyway, as we talked yesterday, I realised that while I love lots of what I do as a boss, I think I am too far up the end of "caring for the staff member" and not enough up the end of "focusing together on the world we are serving".  It was the by-product of this that hit me yesterday in a way I've never thought as strongly as yesterday: if I concentrate on caring so deeply for them above focusing on the outward focusing that we are wanting to do, what am I modelling and encouraging others in.  Not surprising for someone with a prophetic/pastoral gifting to find this balence a bit of a difficult one - but I think I had some new insight into it yesterday.  

Oriental Tea House

Yesterday my boss/colleague and I spent the day discussing some things to do with the role I am FINALLY completely into (yay! what a relief).  She took me for lunch to a place she'd recently been to and thought "this is Barb - I must bring her here" - it was great - the Oriental Tea House.


Lots of my friends are pregnant at the moment - I'm enjoying walking the journey with them.  I've realised in the last few days one is due each month July - Sept.

Monday, May 19, 2008

What are you passionate about?

Today was theological reflection.  It sounds a bit unheard of it seems but I love theological reflection - it's one of the highlights of my week.  How excellent is it to have to meet together with a group of other people to think through what various theological resources say about situations in all of our lives and pastoral situations.  And again it seems a bit unheard of but I do like our group.  Often people struggle in theological reflection because of people from various perspectives and colleges are in the groups - I'm loving it, certainly helped along by someone who leads that well and also the fact that my own theological perspective is embracing of people in different places.  The main way we think through issues is thinking through our first response to the situation and then thinking through the issue from the perspective of various theological resources: scripture, tradition, reason and experience.  It's a helpful framework that I really like.

So today one of the things we thought about through a situation in someone's life was what is the place of passion in ordained ministry ... great question and great time of quiet prayer for me afterwards too.   

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day

So yesterday was Mother's Day.  It hit me fairly hard - harder than I expected.  Really not surprising but hard and I didn't predict it.  So not surprising since my primary grief has been around the person who was my mother not being in the world (umbilical cord breaking etc etc). 

However, in many ways at least on surface that's not what hit me most.  What hit me most was spending the whole weekend with my community of faith and not one person mentioning it or acknowledging it.  In stark contrast I had a phone call from someone I used to work with (who has been lovely through it all) while I was at our final time of our weekend away at 1.30pm yesterday - just ringing to see how I was doing.  It was lovely but did mean the contrast was in my face. I had a few messages indicating it through the day - that was lovely.  

But no-one I spent the weekend with acknowledged it.  Now it did lead to me leaving the bbq and going to a private spot and having a moment with God in tears and felt met amazingly - it was good.  But that doesn't take away the pain of no acknowledgement by people in my day to day local faith community (there was acknowledgement from my wider/potentially closer in many ways faith community - non Solace people).

The lovely thing is that I haven't for a moment questioned anyone's care - there is no question in me that people care.  What I'm sad and hurt by is the lack of expression of that care yesterday.  And more than that it's made me ask questions about how we foster that kind of care in faith communities.  And what stops it from being expressed.  For us as Solace I think the biggest thing is just how stretched we are with our own lives and have very little room for things beyond that - particularly things that take brain or emotional space; we are poor in those areas, as well as time.  I think another is lack of knowledge of whether it's best to ask or not - I've certainly come to the conclusion that acknowledgement is better than non acknowledgement.  It is possible that some people thought of it but didn't know whether to say something or not.  Another question for me is whether people are less likely to ask about or acknowledge such things because I'm a leader in the community - as I've thought about it, I've decided that to whatever extent that is true, it's neutralised by the fact that more people know more and have closer relationships because I'm a leader.  Yet another thing I'm conscious of is the good old someone else will do it. (thankfully they did - just not anyone there over the weekend and on the day not anyone connected with Solace)  Another issue I'm conscious of is the fact that I am quite good at these things so therefore expect more of others.

But past the sadness and hurt, my main question is what does it mean to foster care and thoughtfulness in the midst of faith community?  As I talked it over with someone tonight I was conscious of the need for prompts for people to put things forward in some way because people just aren't going to know/remember things well given our lives - we will probably act on that in some way at 5pm ... in fact the conversation produced a great suggestion about a prayer box/board that local people can request prayer for stuff.  I'm loving where the conversation and thoughts are taking me and the few who I've talked to.  That is the main reason for this post.

(Solace people who are reading this - I hesitated before writing this but wanted to share the journey.  I am sad and hurt by the weekend/Sunday's experience in this regard - although in general had a great weekend including some things on Sunday.  Please do hear my statement above about having no question of care - that's a HUGE affirmation of who we are and the care I know you have for me.  But the question I'd have for us, myself so included, is how to mimimise the times when this kind of hurt and disappointment occurs - and I'm wanting to be more proactive than ever about that given my experience on the weekend.  Please do speak to me about it as the last thing I want to help along is guilt over this situation - although I am most happy to prompt each of us to question what we can do within our resources and how we facilitate being able to be people we want to be)


Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Words I used to describe yesterday - like a bubble of a completely surrounding grey cloud, knowing that on the other side of the grey cloud the world is bursting with life and energy, but that I am in the grey cloud and for the moment I can't escape.  It wasn't a feeling of lack of hope (like a feeling of being trapped there for ever) but it was a feeling of "this is where I am right now, and it is claustrophobic and dark and numb and right now I can't get out of it".  

Monday, April 28, 2008

Mixed Emotions

Today mum would have been 65.

Everyone says first birthdays and first anniversaries following deaths are the hardest - I know that well.  But, of course, once again I learn that all that I know about death and grief is at least very different to my experience of the death of my mother.  Those feelings of intense grief and "blurriness" are back this morning.   As I think through my last week, I discover that my reactions to people and my ability to relate well shows strong signs of grief.  And I try and be gentle on myself - it IS the day of my mother's birthday.

I think about last year.  I organised to have mum over for dinner - with dad and a close friend who my parents know well who was staying with me at the time.  The day before mum cancelled coming.  Dad, Sonja and I still had dinner.  I don't know how many times Dad and I have had dinner together when we were meant to be having dinner with mum as well.  A good decision many years ago now means that we have gone ahead with things even if mum chose not to come, even when it's her birthday dinner!  So Dad and I went out on Saturday night this year - not actually in memory of mum's birthday, actually in celebration of him purchasing a house ... but it did feel a bit interesting - we are out together for dinner 2 days before mum's birthday, without mum and rather than being strange, it is unfortunately quite normal.

I think today the thing I am saddest by is the lack of ability mum had to be able to enjoy things like her birthdays while she was here.  Her anxiety around events was so great that she sabotaged the potential of them being good by making such issues around them that any potential for them to be free and easy is gone.  So unfortunately mum's birthday without spending it with her is surprisingly normal.  A sadness for me today as I think about this is the tendency I have towards similar behaviour - mostly not as extreme as mum's but still in that direction.  I long for change in that.

Another thought this morning as I thought about what I'm feeling is a statement that was made to me on the day of mum's death - you are so lucky.  mmm ... someone who was with me heard it more than I did.  Not the words to say to someone whose mum has just died - but said by someone in intense grief themselves.  However, those sentiments reiterated by the same person a few days ago hit me more.  Indeed, there are consequences of mum's death that indeed find me in a fortunate position - one which few people of my age and stage of life find themselves in.  Some of that is because of mum's death - some because of the consequences of timing decisions that mean that things were in the state that they were at the time of her death.  I am grateful and feel immensely blessed and freed by the financial impact of mum's death.  I am amazed by that in more ways than I would want to talk about publicly.  But the circumstances that lead to me being in this situation do not leave me thinking the words "you are so lucky" are the appropriate words.      

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thinking Self and Observing Self

The book I'm reading makes a distinction between the thinking self and the observing self.  I find it quite a good distinction - the thinking self is all the thoughts, feelings, urges and sensations we have about life - all our judgements and thoughts fit are part of that self.  The observing self, however, is the part of us that observes what is happening and monitors and notices.  Our thinking self is just that - thinking - not good or bad, and certainly not the controller of what is.  Most of the time thought we act, I certainly act, as if it is.  I think this, therefore it is.  I feel this, therefore I need to pay attention to that.  Not necessary untrue, but not necessarily helpful either.  And that's the key question of this book - does this thing the thinking self is telling us (thought, feeling, urge, sensation) help us live in the direction of our values?  If yes - let it propel us in that direction.  If no, don't try and struggle with it, do things to "let it be" and keep living in the direction of our values.  This is profoundly different as well to much previous work I've done around psych stuff - rather than trying to change our unhelpful thoughts and feelings, we are encouraged to let them be and make space for them, but not let them dictate what we do.  There is place for lots of these different perspectives - but this is certainly the time and place for the ACT perspective that I'm exploring for me ... It's amazing how it's transforming my thinking and my life.  It gives me shivers regularly - and aligns so well with so much of my theology.

This morning I thought of another thing it changes for me.  With friends, colleagues and people who I am walking alongside in life, I often say "what are you thinking" as I can tell they are processing something.  This perspective puts new light on that - if I'm encouraging myself to not pay as much attention to every thought/feeling that comes into my brain (notice, make space for it, but not let fuse with it), how do I use that to influence how I relate and work with others?  I suspect that sometimes that will mean continuing to ask the question (making space for it) and sometimes not (not helping the person/us be fused with their unhelpful thoughts).  It'll be interesting to observe this and learn as I practice it.

Another helpful analogy with all this stuff that has been helpful for me is that our brains are like all the emails that are sent to us - without any filters.  As we get more filters on our emails we can trust more what goes into our junk mail and we might scan it quickly but we don't pay much attention to it - but those emails still come in, its just we don't get consumed by them.  That's been helpful for me.

If you can't tell - I'm excited by it all.

Monday, April 21, 2008


So a new challenge that feels like a real invitation to life: to rid my life of negativity.

Not to rid my life of speaking the truth when that is a statement that might be negative.  But to rid my life of an attitude of negativity.

That includes conversations and thoughts, words I speak, conversations I encourage by my interest, attention I give to my thoughts and many other things.

Right now I'm in the process of noticing the extent to which negativity is present in my life.  It feels harsh and painful but gentle, good and full of peace.  It has all the hallmarks of the spirit of truth at work.  

Great quote

A great quote that Anj has on her blog today:

"Regardless of how a compulsion appears externally, underneath it is always robbing us of our freedom.  We act not because we have chosen to, but because we have to.  We cling to things, people, beliefs, and behaviors not because we love them, but because we are terrified of losing them.

The Dark Night of the Soul - Gerald G. May

Saturday, April 19, 2008

ACT therapy

I've been learning about ACT therapy and loving what I'm discovering and what I'm starting to action in my life.  The popular book on this called The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris is well worth a read and is quite readable.


I'm in the process of an essay on John 13:5-15.  It's the footwashing passage in John - only recorded in John, the book the doesn't include the institution of the Lord's supper.  I'm enjoying immensely although my brain is getting fried!  It's a greek exegesis essay so I'm needing to wrestle with questions around the specifics of the text - what does this word mean, what is the emphasis and should it actual be there at all anyway.  
But some of the questions I've been pondering are why we celebrate communion but we don't have footwashing as a ritual.  I think I've got some answers around that question.  
Another question raised by many scholars is whether there is a reference to baptism in the passage - I don't think there is.

However, one of the things that's hit me deeply has been Jesus' reaction to Simon Peter - in this passage and at other times (we looked at John 21 last week at church).  Jesus' firmness and his grace has hit me again - in his reaction to Simon Peter and to me.

Farewell to Box Hill forever

Tonight I went out to Box Hill - the place that we have owned for 21 years of my 32 years of life.  Currently too it is representative of all our family homes - so it is farewell to the place that we have owned, where I have lived, to family homes in general and to mum's home.  It was great to "be" in the house - to sit, draw, walk around, reflect and pray.  A friend's song came to mind - she wrote about going back to the family home also before it was sold; she wrote about how "she was formed here" and how "my family grew into me, I grew into them".  That was so real for me tonight - the ways in which my family grew into me in good and bad ways.  But more than ever there was an acceptance of it all and an ability to let it be and move on, knowing that it is, in a sense, forever mine.

Settlement is in a couple of weeks.

So much to blog

There are so many things that I could blog - and the specific thoughts I might try and blog separately - this will be a more general post.

Life has been full and right now life is very very good.  I feel more content and settled than I think I pretty much ever have.  Life is good and I am good.

It hasn't been that the whole of the last month - in fact quite the opposite.  I got very much to the end of my tether about 2 weeks ago which has encouraged a deep considered look at my life with deep considered decisions and 2 weeks later life is very different.  

I am very conscious of the amazingness of the many great people in my life - of all kinds.  I'm particularly thankful right now for many people who I have deep friendships with.

More than that though I'm very thankful for the deep connection I have with the creator and life-source of the universe - I seriously have no idea how I'd do life without that.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Yourself or your real self?

'Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Look for yourself and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in’.

CS Lewis

Thanks Hamo for the quote :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I've been feeling my aloneness quite profoundly over these days/week. It's not loneliness - there are lots of ace people in my life. But as always, a holiday season has prompted in me a profound sense that I am at base alone i the world. At some levels it's a sense that is deepened by Mum's death but really it's been like this for a long time ... some of it is just that my family is REALLY small. And now it's just dad and me in our nuclear family and even in my next level out extended family just 4 people ... and we are spread over the country and dad is not in Melbourne during most holiday seasons. So aloneness at a deep level.

It's been good to cry out to God in the midst of that and to know his presence but for it not to take the realness of the aloneness away - and that is good, as much as I just wanted it taken away, I know that life only comes through facing truth and facing the death that truth speaks .. it's only then that new life will somehow, sometime emerge.

One of the things I wrestle with in all that is what does it mean to not indulge myself in these feelings but also to not allow busyness or anything else to cover over them ... I think I'm learning more about that balence than I ever have before. A friend had a spiritual director who met her for the first time the other day ask her if her depression was an indulgence - the words made her ponder, and they have made me ponder too.

I'm in a hard spot but in that feel I am doing well ... though it is agony.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Control or Resurrection life

I want to control
But that's what Good Friday is about
- the world (the darkness in the world) having the final say,
those who want to maintain control putting Jesus to death.

But the Resurrection shatters our illusions of control,
Shatters our illusions that we can control God,
that we can control the force of life in the world.

Even when we tried, and try, to control him and his force of life,
He shatters those illusions ...
and comes and walks alongside
inviting us into his path of life.

But we need to let go of control,
for the heart that wants to control,
will refuse to see the truth of the resurrection,
will refuse to acknowledge who it is alongside.

But for those who choose to embrace truth,
who allow God to be God,
they, we, are invited into life with the one who surprises us,
who walks alongside,
and invites us into his resurrrection life.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holy Saturday Reflection

(Written to be read after reading Luke 23:50-56)


He died yesterday.
They prepared the spices for his body,
No doubt in the midst of all sorts of questions and feelings.
But the ability to do something was good.

Now they are constrained by the Sabbath.
Or maybe more accurately – maybe they are freed by the Sabbath.
Constrained in what they do.
Freed to feel what they feel,
To truly experience,
The emptiness, grief, guilt, confusion, shock and pain.

I imagine it was a bit like the emptiness of the funeral night in our society,
That time where all the busy-ness has been done and there is no more to do,
Where the tiredness can come crashing in,
Where we are frightingly alone with all that we feel.

And alone with our thoughts and feelings,
Some things become clearer – there are stunning moments of clarity,
But much is blurred by the many emotions that we feel,
And we wonder why,
wonder if we could have done anything to prevent it,
Wonder if we missed the hints,
Wonder if we were mistaken in loving,
Pretend that it doesn’t matter,
And at the bottom of all that,
When the raging somehow quietly stills,
Emptiness alone.

So on that Sabbath,
The one after Jesus died,
I imagine his followers had so many feelings that raged around.
I imagine that they had moments of clarity in the midst of the storm,
Times of piecing together Jesus’ words,
running through every interaction, picking up his hints about dying,
even in those moments of clarity,
still not understanding all that he said,
not understanding all that is to come.

But mostly I imagine they feel empty,
I imagine they feel alone,
I imagine they wonder what life is now that Jesus has gone,
I imagine they wonder if they were stupid to give their love and devotion to this one who is now no more.
I imagine they wonder if they could have stopped it.
I imagine they try just to do what they normally would have on the Sabbath before this all began.
I imagine they wonder if they could do anything to change it.
I imagine that questions and accusations abound,
That the raging torrent of grief is strong,
And beneath all that,
Emptiness abounds.

Embracing the emptiness,
The raging torrent of questions and emotions,
That is the place this day in the story invites us into.

From our place, we know new life will come,
But let us experience the emptiness,
The guilt, the grief, the confusion, the shock, the pain.
It’s as we experience that fully,
That strangely a new life we never thought would come,
Meets us powerfully in ways we never thought imaginable.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Tonight was our Tennaebrae service. It is often a special reflective time for me and tonight was no different. I was discussing various things with my Alexander teacher today - including a passing comment from her about my tendency to abandon myself. It struck me because they are words that Anj has used at various points so it was in my head for the rest of the day following my lesson.

Tonight during the service the words betrayal struck me afresh and I was conscious of needing to stay with that. As I stayed with that, the conversation from earlier in the day came back ... and they came together powerfully - my tendency to betray the body of Christ in the way that I abandon myself. And also my tendency to betray the body of Christ in the way I treat others in the body of Christ (often through the process of abandoning myself - my deep true self, my alive to God self).

It was an amazing centring time to mostly stay in silence as I helped pack up (i might become a quaker yet!; certainly time for some more silent retreats for me), very much staying in the place of not abandoning myself.

Also amazing was the lack of condemnation I felt as I had this realisation - a level of sadness, yes; but condemnation, no; more a sure knowledge of the invitation to life that the realisation is: an invitation to not betray the body of Christ but to choose life not death for the true, alive to God self in me and others.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Snippets of Life

Life is very full at the moment, here are some snippets that give you a window into the whole:

- Walking home yesterday, bumped into someone I know through the op shop, got my car from home and helped jump start their car (Gosh I love Fairfield and more and more being a part of this place in all sorts of ways)

- Walked around the Fairfield Village SPACE building (St Paul's Anglican Church building) with the architects and consultants who we have working on a feasibility study for our renovations and making the space into a family wellness and childrens and families learning and play cantre.

- Sold a house: now that made me feel like an adult! Argued with the real estate agent about the price of the reserve ... and got a good, solid price, I am pleased.

- Have experienced more of a mystery illness, that bizarrely while it's absolutely annoying physically I'm not stressed about on some other levels.

- Having some more Alexander Technique lessons

- Having a week of trusting God about a range of things in consistently deeper ways.

- Being more grounded in myself (and God) than ever before and being able to see that through some quite concrete responses.

- Translating John 1 and getting translations in on time.

Life is very, very full; but quite good as well.

Monday, March 03, 2008

A Bit of an Update

It feels like ages aince I posted on here - each day is so full and goes so fast at the moment, but with quite significant things happening as well as just mundane things of life.

Last week I started back at college after a couple of years not studying. It's going to be a stretch for my Greek (I'm doing John's gospel - Greek text). It was also good to see how in general my confidence is so different and I am so much more able to be my true self than I've ever been in an academic setting - so that's fun. But I was in culture shock at how far I've been out of the "evangelical" church environment - I came away from two days at college last week saying "if I hear the words gospel ministry or evangelical ministry again I'll shoot someone". Well I wouldn't go that far - but I did notice strongly the assumptions about what everyone in the class/stream would think and the strong bias towards a particular theological stance - one that would be different to many of my baseline beliefs now. So that's all interesting.

On Saturday friends got married - and I mostly married them (everything but the legal signature bits - 'cause I can't do those bits yet!). So that was fun but exhausting ... and the bride also stayed at my house the night before so yes it was quite a couple of days!

In the Op Shop we are having a Kids market on Monday week (10th March) so yesterday we were sorting kids clothes all afternoon - fun with people I love hanging with.

Saturday (1st March) was my first day officially in my new role as Fairfield SPACE Presence, Manager and Liason (we are still looking for a better name! - various people are voting for SPACE Cadet!). It's a bit wierd at some levels because much of my new role I've either been doing as a volunteer or in my paid role but the ace thing is that it all enables me to focus on it more - and with the things I've been doing as a volunteer at the fore (which is much more the stuff that excites me etc). I'm still finishing off stuff from my old role and it seems a bit like I'm the only person in the system noticing that these few days are a new start (to be honest only a couple of us really know!). Talking to a good friend today - we spoke about how to mark it for myself - this is part of that but she is also coming across and we will have a drink at lunchtime!

And in the midst of all that I have had some significant periods of grief over the last few weeks as we head up to the Auction of mum's house next weekend.

Mmmm ... okay it's no wonder I'm exhausted!!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Selling the Family Home

mmmm .... selling the family home is a wierd thing. The house is on the market and at one level I so want it all over with. But another I really don't want the house to go - its been the "base" I have known for many years and that will be no more. In many ways it's the final confirmation of mum's death - sounds funny, but in some ways that is some of what she was / offered; that base.

It will be nice to all be finished but it is a process of grief as well as celebration as well as "it just is" along the way.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


During Lent this year I am reducing/not drinking caffeinated coffee. I dropped down from my usual three cups of coffee a day to two for the first week - no real deal. As of Thursday, I've been down to one - now that's been a bigger deal but not in the way I would expect. On Thursday, I realised that I had just drunk my one coffee for the day as I finished the coffee. Today was a crazy day which involved being up early to do work for a 9am meeting. I had my first coffee at 7am. When I was in a cafe for my meeting it didn't occur to me in the slightest that I was doing anything strange ordering my normal coffee. In fact it took me until about 1pm to realise that I'd just had two coffees. I was not stressed about it - but it lead me on some interesting journeys of thoughts - how easy do we fall into things which we choose not to do/how easy is it to not live the life we have chosen and lots of other thoughts. The process of choosing to give up caffeinated coffee for Lent has been as interesting as anything else - the "decision" just happening "in" me. It's like it was something I "just knew" to do. And it isn't so much about what I'm giving up on this occasion nor even about not depending on something - it's much more about choosing life and choosing to remove something from my life that is not good for me. It's also been interesting that just as strongly as my decision to not have caffeinated coffee, was my decision to keep having decaf - the rituals of coffee in my life are ones I love and think are very healthy, so I've kept the healthy aspect and am choosing against the unhealthy. It's with all that in mind I read this post from Maggi Dawn about Lent - words which I've read before but are much more poignant right now as God does significant work in me around relaxing in him and in myself being human and as God calls me away from the idol that self-improvement has been in my life and continues to call me and lead me more into a life that is lived and on about his kingdom - now that's a life worth living.

It's a common misconception that Lent is about self-improvement. Somehow a
half-remembered custom of giving things up has been mixed in with our society's
obsession with self-help and self-improvement, so that we've blurred the true
meaning of the fast into a rather individualistic concept, more like a New Year
Resolution to detox or de-clutter.
Lent is not about giving up luxuries, not about losing weight or gaining other benefits, not about food per se, not about de-cluttering or Feng Shui or about any other kind of feel-good, de-toxifying exercise. In the end, it's about denying yourself some of the essentials of everyday life in order to focus on the reality that we depend upon God for life itself; about re-aligning ourselves with God and his purposes in our world;
about reminding ourselves that all we have is a gift from God in any
And neither is Lent about achievement. We cannot earn God's love, nor
save ourselves. If our Lenten Fast is understood well, it will relieve us of the
need to try harder, achieve more, feel worthy. It will ground us in the firm and
unshakeable knowledge that we are human - we are but dust, and to dust we shall
return - but that to be human is enough, under the loving gaze of God.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Nourished by those around me

I've been really conscious recently just how thankful I am for the people around me. It's not so much "wow I have unreal friends around" - although that I do :) It's been more the sense of who is around me (in terms of the character of those people) and the things that they give themselves to and the impact on me of that. I am nourished by them.

Some of the times I've been conscious of recently:

- an amazing conversation over lunch with 3 other Solace people: real, deep, able to challenge, most excellent. I came away from that conversation refreshed in a way I rarely experience. I've thought long and hard aboutwhat made it what it was - and I do believe that largely it was the character and longings for real conversation of the 4 of us around that table.

- the loving to engage with the Bible and respond to it of the people who are part of our 5pm time at Fairfield SPACE

- a friend who last night in the midst of me stating how life is and some struggles doesn't particularly comment on those but speaks hugely of the character that the wrestle I was talking about in me shows and how much she loves that character. Man, that's the best thing she could have done to nourish that character in me.

- a friend who gave the day yesterday to do a range of tasks off my to do list

- an ex boss who as she was signing me up for my library card to return to study made sure she asked about how the process of grief had been and about where we were up to in selling the house

- the joy and embracing of life of the 2 yr old twins I am friends with

- a friend who is wrestling with what it means to be a presence of life in her local community and speaking with me about it ... it continues to challenge me at every turn about what the things we are talking about mean for my life - all very well to be able to help someone journey with it (which is important) but it's excellent that as I do that it calls me to evaluate how I am living too

That's just a smattering of the occasions that nourish me - for which I'm thankful.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

House is on the market

So the family home is having an open for inspection for the first time today. It's wierd being able to look up your family home on the internet and see it listed amongst the other properties for sale. It's an empty house now, clean and with the garden done - now just a few things in the cupboard and a few things left in the garage for dad and I to deal with. The Auction is in 4 weeks (presuming we don't sell beforehand). In so many ways, it's the end of an era. Even though mum and dad were separated for 10 years and in a sense I left home at 13 (when I went to boarding school) and all sorts of other things - there really has been a strong family unit sense in many ways. It's bizarre but the actual selling of the family home is in many ways for me the end of that family unit. Mum's death was, but in so many ways this is more so for me. It really is a symbol of the family unit as such being finished. There continues to be dad and I - and my commitment to him is higher than ever - however, there is a sense in which that is two adults who are profoundly connected, rather than in the sense of a family unit - it's hard to put this stuff into words often.

However I word it - something profound is ending for me in the selling of this house. It's not selling mum's house, it's selling our house and in the selling of "our" house, "our" is no longer. It's not a bad thing - in fact I think quite good and healthy, however, real and as an ending, grief is involved. We have owned this house for 20 years - of those years I personally only lived in it for 5 years and even then in much of that time I was hardly there (while I was at uni I spent much time at friends houses). However, those 5 years were over 3 different times of living there and for 16 of those years at least mum has lived there. Also, much of my stuff has been in and out of there numerous times and it's only now over recent months that my last stuff has left the house. There is a sense in which it has still been "my" house and that will end with the sale and subsequent settlement.

"Our" family homes have always been important to me and apart from this one there is only one which I can in any way get to in any normal way - and that's the one from the first 3 years of my life in Richmond NSW - it is still there (or was last time I visited it and the street anyway!). However, the base family home from my primary school years has units on the property now (Westmead, NSW) and our two houses 2 doors apart on Groote Eylandt are a little hard to get to on a regular basis (although I do plan to go there this year).

There is a sense in which this is all the end of "our" family unit. Profound, real, grief-filled yet good, freeing and a real ability to move on all mixed together.

It just is

Had a lovely day yesterday - driving down to Anglesea with a friend. We had lunch in one of my all time favourite cafe's just on the other side of Anglesea.

It was a day of wide ranging mostly unfocused conversation - lovely and relaxing. One of the things that came up only really in passing a couple of times was me being an only child. It came up in connection to me being a CODA and it also came up in connection with mum's estate and the dealing with that.

As I think about it - I can't actually conceptualise what it would be like to have siblings, it's just not the way my life has worked. Really at quite a deep and fundamental level, I'm not sure if I can really picture a family with more than one child - that is all I have known in my own direct experience. For me, nuclear family equals parents and one child. I know other things in my head but the more I think about it, the more I realise how much my mental picture of "family" comes from my own direct experience.

And, as always, I'm aware how much my being an only child shapes who I am - in ways that I'm aware of and in ways that go way beyond what I am conscious of. I can't imagine sharing the journey of what life has and is in my family with another person - it's just not how life has ever been, or ever will be. Am I sad about that? Not really. It's more a realisation that the concept of a sibling is really a foreign concept.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The experience of being a CODA - isolating and unheard

I don't talk about it very much - but I am very aware that being a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) impacts me greatly. A discussion today about how I learnt to speak - sent me into a self-reflective mood around my life as a CODA tonight. Often CODA's feel isolated. However, I think the thing that I find hardest is being a CODA of deaf parents who don't sign. It really feels like the world that I "belong" to is very small - I'm not part of the deaf community, in many ways I'm not part of the "normal hearing" community, but neither am I really part of the CODA community because the "norm" is signing families. There are a few of us CODA's from non-signing families but we are very few and far between. It's an isolating experience.

Over the last year or so a person who has worked with me for a number of years has realised that for me to say that I don't feel "heard" is not simply "I don't think you have taken in what I am saying", rather it is "I don't feel like my existence is being acknowledged" which we both realise comes from very early childhood experiences, particularly stemming from not being "heard" by my parents. As I have been around young children in recent years I can't imagine what it was like for me as a baby/toddler to not be "heard" by my parents and the number of times I felt like I was ignored and just plain treated as a non person. One of my responses to this has been to desperately seek out being "heard"/"acknowledged". The reality is that my parents did all they could to "hear" me (my sense is within what they could control were over-protective) - but the limitations were so huge and given the circumstances there is no way around the fact that there would have been many times where I was in want or need and was not responded to. I am still coming to terms with how this has effected me.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dwelling in places where people dwell in darkness

It's interesting to watch what is happening in me as I make decisions to give myself to the area I live and where our church building is in an even deeper way, and as I choose to give myself more deeply to my calling of working with God in helping shape people for mission in the world and as I choose to give myself to the final preparations I have to do before I am ordained.

The words of "the world conspiring with you" seems to fit my experience now - like at many other times. The universe is such that when you choose life and the things that "fit" the world both works with you (and profoundly against you too).

Right now I'm seeing the working with.

Last nights reading was Matthew 4 which we looked at through doing a Lectio and some words that leapt out at me had me looking at my Greek - in essence it seems that the call for me is "just as Jesus dwelt in the midst of the people who were dwelling in darkness, that is the call for you" and then I read a blog post this morning that also had the words that call of priethood is to "know how to stand in the dark places and to find resurrection".

It's also fun watching things in me that have been a bit dormant for a couple of years gain space, room and energy.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Consequences of Grief

A good friend and I were talking about grief the other day and one of the things we agreed was that a key consequence of grief is "expect some of your key relationships to fail". As we both said we are not sure that you can know this during and not sure how much it's helpful to say it to people in the midst of the intensity of early stages of grief but we both reckon it's a profoundly true statement, as we have watched others and experienced significant grief ourselves. Certainly for us it helps us to just relax a bit at least looking back - and to be easier on ourselves than we otherwise might.

As I think about it, I reckon it's broader than just grief - I'd say that in any big thing in your life, whether good or bad, that's one of the things I'd say "expect some of your key relationships to fail". Not sure I like the word "fail" - but you get the gist of what I mean - "not be able to cope with it". That's certainly been my experience of all sorts of stage in my life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

6 months last week

Well - last week it was 6 months from the date of mum's death - or to be more exact 6 months since we found her and the date on everything official. Ironically, it was the same date I received the probate paperwork in my mailbox.

I've been feeling it profoundly in a way that I can't my finger on really. When some people have asked me recently how it is some words of used are "it just is", "it seems to be at a point of acceptance". But now it seems to be more the place of sadness - again not mostly sadness for the person who was Lyn being in the world (although a little of that at her best) but rather sadness for my mum not being in the world.

I haven't been out to the rose garden where we buried her ashes by myself yet - and due to the above I'm thinking it's time - so I'm going to do that today. Never know I might also make it to one of the places my good friends ashes were scattered as well - we shall see what I need to do once I've trecked out to Lilydale.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I've been thinking about the statement (wherever it is from) that "the good is the enemy of the best". It's led me to think a few other things "the many is the enemy of the one" and especially for me at the moment "the fact that you can do something is the enemy of the things you are called to do". I've been thinking lots about the many things I can do - many of which I enjoy, many of which just seem to need to be done by someone and I'm able - and how they distract from "the" things that whatever words you want to put around it I am called to do, the things I'm uniquely made for, the things that in this phase it is right for me to be giving myself to. It's hard when there are many things you can do to give yourself wholehearted to the things you are called to today. But that is faithfulness and it is the call to life.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Iceblock melt

My 2 year old friends currently are coming to terms with the fact that "iceblocks melt and balloons pop". Iceblocks and balloons are two of their favourite things at the moment and coming to terms with the fact that they melt and pop - that you can't control that - is very hard. Their mum prayed for us on Sunday morning with our versions of iceblocks and balloons. What are the iceblocks that melt and frustrate you as you desperately try to hold onto them? And what are the balloons that pop and frighten you, make you angry?
It describes so many things over my life - I'm now going to call the iceblock or balloon moments.
Call to Discipleship

Christ, whose insistent call
disturbs our settled lives:
give us discernment to hear your word,
grace to relinquish our tasks,
and courage to follow empty-handed
wherever you may lead,
so that the voice of your gospel
may reach to the ends of the earth, Amen

(A Prayer Book For Australia)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Accountability vs. Edit-ability

For many years accountability was big for me. It's also big in many Christian circles. A good friend started questioning the concept a few years ago and over time his questioning has won me over. I now think that it's quite an unhelpful concept. I've recently been reading (or more like skimming) a good book called Organic Community and that also questions the "accountability" concept.

It puts into words what my friend and i have discussed over several years and has a useful table camparing accountability relationships (AR) and edit-ability relationships (ER). A couple of the comparisons which speak some of what we have thought about are:
AR are built on the understanding that people are primarily bad and sinful, whereas ER are built on the understanding that people are good, made in the image of God.
In AR the partner tries to ehlp by creating more structure, rules and regulations whereas in an ER the "Editor" makes suggestions but leaves the major reworking with the individual.

Within the chapter it talks about what I think is the major issue though - who is responsible for our actions and for holding us responsible for our actions ... under God that is each of our responsibility. Often this becomes merged unhelpfully in AR and rather than taking responsibility for our own actions and growth we give that power - or at least the power to hold us responsible for that - to someone else.

It really comes down to who is responsible for our life - and before God that is each of us. Thankfully, God does put others around us to journey with us and to be involved in helping us be more the people he longs for us to be but the responsibility for that lands squarely with each of us. I think AR, very differently from what they would aim to do, keep people from embracing their potential maturity, whereas ER helps people to embrace it. (Now on the other hand the concentrating on AR has taken many people into some good relationships where they have shared in ways like no other so don't hear me saying it's all bad; however, for me there are points at which it has often just reinforced some of my own broken behaviours and patterns.)

Now I'm off out of the oven that is my house at the moment to an air conditioned house and a walk in the evening air with one who is very much a fellow journeyer on this life adventure - and who definately encourages me to take responsibility for my life before God and who i do the same for her - I wonder what of life we will enjoy together this evening, ponder this evening, challenge each other on?!


Over the last 6-12 months I've increasingly been thinking about whether venting or talking stuff through in that kind of way is actually helpful. Most of my life I have believed that it's how I work and process and others have reinforced this belief. But for a range of reasons I've started questioning whether it's actually helpful.

The seed of this thought realisation (worded like that because I know myself well enough to know that most significant things are simmering in me for a long time before they come to even this point) started almost out of the blue one day several months ago. I think it had been a stressful situation and for some reason I just thought "I'm not going to vent or talk to anyone about this at least until I am no longer worked up about it". This is the opposite to my automatic response. It was certainly a good path.

Since then several other things have happened - and I certainly have made decisions to vent to a more specific range of people - mostly people who won't just let me vent actually, partly chosen because of that.

During the past week I rang a friend to "vent" (I think actually used that word!) and he was happy to hear that but was in no mood or space to just allow a vent so we did good work on what was behind it.

Then this morning I read The Chief Happiness Blog which sometimes has quite interesting things on it, a link to a page about how bad venting is for you - I reckon it's so true.

Mmm .... very long term patterns I'm changing here so it will take time and I'm well and truly already on the path and it's already significantly changing relationships but will continue to. I do think that it's something God is really significantly doing in my life and a real invitation to live life more in the ways he desires ... an increase of life in abundance.

(Now most but not all of the people I vent to in some way read this blog - do feel very free to respond to this information how you feel best and how you are able - from doing nothing with this information to asking me the question of "do you really think talking about it in this way and at this time is the helpful thing" to a stronger boundary around hearing a vent)