A Window into Life in the Suburbs


"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shockwave

Took the kiddies to Dreaworld yesterday and by half past 3, I was ready to fall into a heap and hit the sack. No such luck obviously when there was the 30 minute car ride back home to stay lucid for.

The day started off wet and chilly so I bought us overpriced, conspicuously merchandised ponchos to keep the elements at bay. Rubbish bags would have done as well. Too bad I didn't think about it before we went on the log ride and splashed down into water from a height of couple of metres.
Theme parks are by nature a queue fest so one spends more time waiting in line than on the rides themselves. Not that I would want to be on a rollercoaster for more than 2 minutes, mind you... my inner control freak can only put so much faith in the wonders of technology without screaming "murder".

The 10 year old and I went on the new Shockwave ride. My first thought (after having my spine brutally corsetted into a narrow space) was: Do we actually pay money for this kind of abuse?
My second was: The ridiculous things we do to have fun!
And my third, as we started to swing frenetically in different directions was: Are there people who sit in a room some where thinking up ways to build contraptions like these so that city slickers can have a bit excitement in their lives?
All rhetorical questions, of course.

From time to time I ask myself how an introverted, slothful individual like myself can end up being a mum considering that my idea of fun is time out with a good book.
The last couple of times at Dreamworld I've really felt my age. On Monday, I came off the Ocean Reef thingamy ride with a pounding headache. Those things that go round and round and round and round are a killer these days.

I loved the bumper cars though... had tons of fun watching the 10 year old and other kids oversteering and jamming up the works while I whizzed past gleefully chuckling at their helplessness. Driving experience while not mandatory definitely helps. :D





The things we put ourselves through when we have children.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

5 Books That Changed Who I Am

I've been invited to participate in a meme about books that have changed my life and well, I can't resist. Afterall, it's about books, right?
Oddly enough, it's been hard to come up with 5. If it had been about my 5 favourite books that would've been super easy... too easy but "5 books that changed me" is a different kettle of fish. Had to really think hard about that one.

Pride and Prejudice is hands down my favourite novel of all time and Jane Austen has been the biggest influence on my writing. I read it once a year in the same way a student returns to the feet of the master if only to savour the delicious wit and sly humour wafting through the pages. Although I am of the opinion that Sense and Sensibility and Emma are probably her best written books, there's something about the humour inside the chaos of the Bennett household that keeps drawing me back year after year.



C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity is a book I recommend to all my friends when they ask me about good reference material for their skeptical friends. Above all, I love Lewis' writing style, his ability to explain spiritual truths with everyday analogies.
Like most, I discovered Lewis first as the author of the Narnia chronicles and then as a witty and insightful Christian apologist. Mere Christianity was a lifeline for me at university in the middle of an ideologically hostile environment to everything I had been taught previously. This book, first among many, gave me confidence all throughout my undergrad years that my Christian faith was a reasonable faith standing on robust philosophical legs.




Desiring God by John Piper has been an influential part of my Christian walk especially in the past 2 years. I read Desiring God originally at the end of my undergrad studies but rediscovered it in recent times. I think the "shocking" part of the book was Piper's use of the term Christian Hedonism but really when one delves deeply into it, it is ultimately a clarion call to be passionate about God himself, to treasure Him above all others.
The premise of Christian Hedonism, as Piper calls it is that rather than rejecting pleasure, God worshippers should seek the ultimate pleasure which is God himself. Often God worshippers are distracted by shallow pleasures rather than pursue true pleasure in the God who created them. To quote C.S. Lewis:

If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desire not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, we are like ignorant children who want to continue making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

 

 

On Becoming Babywise was probably the biggest shock to the system I had ever received as a first-time pregnant mother. The notion that I had to feed the baby anything from 6-10 times a day just about destroyed me on the spot! Laugh if you will but I really had no idea... I was a complete dill about such matters.

Nevertheless, I found the book very helpful in preparing me for the early days of having a baby except, of course, that no book can completely prepare anyone for anything in real life. I liked the idea of routines which I used and I really stuck to my guns on that front (probably to the point of tyranny). In all likelihood, I went a bit too far -- too rigid -- (first time mummy fears) and got my knickers in a twist far too many times.

 

 


The Bible... both the Old and New Testaments... has impacted my life on so many different levels that it's difficult to know where even to begin. I have come to see more and more the Bible as God's revelation of his redemptive plan throughout human history. At various points in our history, God the Creator intervenes and uses deeply flawed and wicked people to achieve his purpose. He is building his kingdom and I'm always... always amazed that he chose me to be part of this great enterprise. The Bible is fundamentally about God although I daresay, we often like to think that it's about us. I don't know if reading the Bible has made me a better person... but it has made me humbler one. Even that, I expect, will be a lifelong journey.


And now, I tag... Ling's List, Ky, Sandy J., Debbie ,

 

If you ladies want to have a go, the rules are below. As for the rest of you, what book or books would be on your list?

  • Tag between three and five people
  •  link back to this post
  • call the post “five books that changed who I am”
  • enjoy!

 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hey, It's My Kitchen

Some of us are control freaks... and we know it. It's not all bad because generally we organize everyone else whether they want us to or whether we even realize that we're doing it. Really, we're automotons. We see a logistical problem and our inner freak compels us to solve it.

I don't know what your inner freak is like... but mine freaks out when ankle biters loiter around the kitchen, raids the pantry or want to adjust the recipe for the fun for it.

Control freaks should probably avoid having baking days with the kiddies but I thought as part of my rehabilitation/therapy, I would try and ease up somewhat. Loads of my friends and acquaintances do cooking with their little ones and live to tell the tale so how bad can it be, right?
Well, that answer varies... depending on the age and personality of the child.

I really, really didn't feel much like going to the park yesterday morning. The wind... the chill and the restless child. Outdoors... yeeech... I've just recovered from a headcold! So I thought... "baking, yeah... haven't done that for a while... Good way to keep the 4 year old occupied."
Sort of.
(Incidentally, as a bonus I've discovered it's a productive way to keep warm)


4 year old was totally on board with the whole thing. Except of course, she wants to do everything I do. Taking charge of the rolling pin wasn't enough for her. At one stage, I think we had a tug-of-war over the mixing bowl.
Yeah, she's a control freak in the making. However did that happen?

Plus 4 year old is the type that doesn't care to observe and wait for instructions. She's brimming with initiative and she has to do something... anything... even if it means opening the oven while the biscuits are cooking when mum's back is turned for a millisecond, rummaging the pantry .
So mum's inner freak... freaks... aaaaaaaargh...
"Do you want to get burnt?"
"No..."
"It's hot."
"I want to see."
"There's nothing to see. Anyway, it's not good to open the oven door before it's ready."

So she was shooed out of the kitchen and then sent to her room for further contemplation.
At this point, I totally embraced my inner freak.

Last night at my fortnightly Bible Study, a member of th group asked for prayer, concerned about her motherly forgetfulness. Our study leader said that something that's pertinent here... and that is, we all live by the grace of God. There are a myriad of things that can happen and some times they do. It directed me once again to remember the importance of prayer at the start of each day for the protection of my children.

In my feeble attempts to control my environment, I must come to the conclusion that I can take every precaution but at the end of the day I cannot make bad stuff go away at will . All I do is cast all my cares on He who knows all things and is truly in control over all things. The inner freak must give way to the inner promptings of the indwelling Spirit.




Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Library Fines/Finds

There's something cathartic about paying up one's library fines. Perhaps it's like finally paying off the mortgage except on a miniature scale. Debts... owing people money... often does feel like a form of bondage.

I had sworn to impose an embargo on library borrowing at our place after having to do a hunt for an elusive book and a DVD over the weekend. I blame the 10 year old, of course. She takes the books everywhere and then leaves them here, there and everywhere. Like the toilet, for instance. Not that I have a problem with her reading in the toilet per se. But I can't see why she has to leave them there and cause the door to get jammed so nobody else can get to the toilet or the book without doing some kind of acrobatic maneouvre.

But yours truly lost all resolve when I started browsing. Bad idea to be browsing when trying to impose a household borrowing embargo. Had a quick squiz at a couple of pages of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and chuckled out loud. And then I spotted L.A. Confidential sitting forlornly in the perspex slot at the end of the first aisle. Aaargh... I have been so wanting to read L.A. Confidential for years, since seeing the movie. Thought the husband might like to read it even if I never get to it. What a great film that was... Not recommended for kiddies, mind you. Strictly adults only fare. Police corruption, violence, prostitution... you get my drift. But Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce were really good in it. Guy Pearce, I have to say, really surprised me... I had only seen him in the odd episode of Neighbours previous to this.

At least I don't think I'll have to dig through the toy boxes, laundry basket or under the 4 year old's bed to find these books when due date comes around.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Trial of a Different Kind

I haven't been blogging much of late and it isn't because I've had a lot on my plate. Obviously I've seen busy periods the last few weeks but it's mostly been about moi wallowing in a state of a depression about the future.
I've been wanting to return to work since 4 year old is now in kindy 3 days but then I'm not sure if I really do. I've applied for several jobs but so far nothing's on offer. So I've been stradling in a state of limbo... some of it, of my own making.

After thinking about things, I've come to the conclusion that unbeknownst to me during this time, I've been going through a trial. Often we think of trials as things we go though because of the bad stuff around us or when the going gets tough. So when circumstances don't seem particularly bad, it doesn't feel like one is being tested.

As I've been re-reading the book of James in the NT (our pastor's preaching through it presently), I've come to the conclusion that trials are fundamentally times of testing rather than times of suffering. Although they often go together. They test the quality of our faith (that can happen in okay times too) and our resolve for the things of God's kingdom. Or more importantly of God, himself.
My problem has been that I haven't had too many God-related thoughts of late. Not enough God and far too much anger and frustration than I should harbouring.

I mentioned anger management issues a couple of weeks ago and we who are parents are only too aware that 90% of our anger problems begin with us rather than the kids. Children often test and try but we are responsible for how we respond to them.
The gospel of Jesus Christ reminds me that I'm a sinner... I'm a rebel. My instincts are to do what comes naturally. Times of testing show me the quality of my Christian life, shows me that I often fall short and where I fall short. Times of testing also sends me back to the cross, with the knowledge that I can't parent or do anything else on my own because I lack the wisdom and the capacity. But as James reminds us, that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God, "who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." (James 1:5, ESV)

It has perhaps become passe to say that I have become more in awe of God since having the kids. Nonetheless, it's true. In their rebellion, they help me perceive how gracious and merciful our Lord is. I find it intriguing that it is in the OT we often read about God's compassion and that he is "slow to anger". A quick internet search yielded 9 references throughout the OT pertaining to this reference:


  1. Exodus 34:6
    And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,
    Exodus 34:5-7 (in Context) Exodus 34 (Whole Chapter)
  2. Numbers 14:18
    ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’
    Numbers 14:17-19 (in Context) Numbers 14 (Whole Chapter)
  3. Nehemiah 9:17
    They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them,
    Nehemiah 9:16-18 (in Context) Nehemiah 9 (Whole Chapter)
  4. Psalm 86:15
    But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
    Psalm 86:14-16 (in Context) Psalm 86 (Whole Chapter)
  5. Psalm 103:8
    The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
    Psalm 103:7-9 (in Context) Psalm 103 (Whole Chapter)
  6. Psalm 145:8
    The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
    Psalm 145:7-9 (in Context) Psalm 145 (Whole Chapter)
  7. Joel 2:13
    Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
    Joel 2:12-14 (in Context) Joel 2 (Whole Chapter)
  8. Jonah 4:2
    He prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.
    Jonah 4:1-3 (in Context) Jonah 4 (Whole Chapter)
  9. Nahum 1:3
    The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.
God is gracious and compassionate... and even if we don't always know what is good for us, I'm grateful that he does.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Tribute to the Iron Lady

I've finally started reading Claire Berlinski's biography of Margaret Thatcher (been sitting beside my bed for a couple of months) and came across this wonderful tribute from the author regarding her subject here.

I was meditating upon that and thinking of my beloved Margaret Thatcher. She was, famously, tenderly devoted to her husband, to whom she was very happily married. She insisted upon cooking him his breakfast every morning, no matter what the demands of her day as Prime Minister of Britain. His death devastated her.
Don't know why... but of all the impressive things Mrs Thatcher did in her life, that one is the one that impresses me most. It tells me more about the woman than anything else, I think.