Showing posts from 2008

Christmas Wishes

Dear Santa,

I've been a good mum all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two cases of choc bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the wash room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any colour, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze; but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the lolly aisle in the supermarket.

I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only p…

A Politically Correct Christmas Poem

Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's a wreck...
How to live in a world that's politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to "Elves",
"Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.
And labor conditions at the North Pole,
were alleged by the union, to stifle the soul.
Four reindeer had vanished without much propriety,
released to the wilds, by the Humane Society.
And equal employment had made it quite clear,
that Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!
The runners had been removed from his beautiful sleigh,
because the ruts were deemed dangerous by the RTA,
And millions of people were calling the cops,
when they heard sled noises upon their roof tops.
Second-hand smoke from his pipe had his workers quite frightened,
And his fur trimmed red suit was called "unenlightened".
To show you the strangeness of today's ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was sui…

The anointing of Jesus in Matthew 26

In Matthew 26, a woman anoints Jesus with very expensive perfume. The disciples are outraged... what a waste! This could have been sold, and the money given to the poor. On the face of it, they have a point.

The discourse immediately prior to the anointing scene concludes with separation of the “sheep and the goats” based upon their response those in need. The disciples’ suggestion that a valuable possession should have been sold and the money given to the poor is consistent with Jesus teaching to sell possessions to lay up treasure in heaven. In this sense, the disciples are “right”.

However, the apparently noble “ideal” of care for the poor is voiced in a way that is utterly graceless toward a woman who has acted with profound generosity. They have no qualms about embarrassing the woman, for they ask (rather than think) “Why this waste?”

Ideology is always a dangerous beast. Ideology over-values “the noble Cause” and depersonalises actual humans.

Imperfect human beings are capable of tu…

Miracles, medicine and mysteries

Earlier this year, my mother was diagnosed with a 5cm uterine tumour. She was then sent from the local clinic to Peter McCallum hospital in Melbourne for further tests and surgery.

Being my mother (who has had skin cancers disappear and blocked arteries cleared by the power of prayer in the past) she set about to pray. Sure enough, by the time her second appointment came around, there was no trace of anything.

The specialist at the follow-up appointment was informed that Mum and her friends had prayed. He just kept looking at the two sets of scans dumbfounded, shaking his head and saying "I've never seen anything like it".

It appears to be a true miracle.

I was so relieved my mum is OK. But I was left with a deep pang within. Why did my mother in her 80's receieve a miraculous healing, while my sister in her early 50's watched the slow progress of supposedly untreatable cancer through her bones? Why are a few graced with a miracle, but many others only graced with pe…

The Moral Minefield

Exodus 21: 22 "When there's a fight and in the fight a pregnant woman is hit so that she miscarries but is not otherwise hurt, the one responsible has to pay whatever the husband demands in compensation.” (The Message)

I must confess I’m one of those odd Christians who reads the Old Testament. Actually, I’m one of those really odd Christians who likes to read through the bible. All of it (except maybe for some of those genealogies... that’s a bit of a stretch. I don’t think skimming over those bits should be regarded as cheating).

I have been reminded of this passage over the past couple of days as debate has raged over the U.S. election on Alan Hirsch’s blog, a fascinating glimpse into the passionate and divisive world of American politics. I’ve been reminded of this passage because it is the closest thing to an abortion in the biblical record. (ripping babies out of the wombs of mothers would cause the death of mothers in a world without surgery or antibiotics, so I don’t thi…

A new pet

This has been an expensive week in the life of Woodlock pets. Our Maltese "Bubbles" developed an infection that has required daily visits to the vet for injections. She's been a rather miserable pup... but I'm pleased to report she is returning to her rather manic self.

Meanwhile my nine-year-old has begged me to adopt a "online" pet... which sounds a considerably cheaper (if less relational) option in the pet stakes.

Well, let's just see if this works....

Japanese Banking Crisis

Following the problems with Lehmann Bros and the sub-prime lending market in the USA, uncertainty has now hit Japan ..

In the last 7 days Origami Bank has folded, Sumo Bank has gone belly up, and Bonsai Bank announced plans to cut some of its branches.

Yesterday, it was announced that Karaoke Bank is up for sale and will likely go for a song, while today shares in Kamikaze Bank were suspended after they nose-dived.

While Samurai Bank is soldiering on following sharp cutbacks, Ninja Bank is reported to have taken a hit, but they remain in the black.

Furthermore, 500 staff at Karate Bank got the chop, and analysts report that there is something fishy going on at Sushi Bank where it is feared that staff may get a raw deal.

Rrrrrr, me hearties

This Friday is the official "International Talk Like a Pirate Day".

Our office is in training for this auspicious occasion. It can take quite a bit of practice to roll one's R'ss convincingly... as in, "Rrrrrrrr, me hearties".

My colleague in this endeavour (task, not the famous ship) has sent around some useful links for those who wish to participate in this event. I've just participated in an online survey, to discover my "pirate name" is Mad Anne Rackham. It has a certain ring to it.

You may wish to discover your own pirate name at:

Or you can study up the glossary of pirate words at:

However, my favourite site on land-lubbing pirates comes from the marvellous "Lark News" site:


Birth Order

1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your OB/GYN confirms your pregnancy.
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.

Preparing for the Birth:

1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.
2nd baby: You don't bother because you remember that last time,
breathing didn't do a thing.
3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your eighth month

The Baby clothes:

1st baby: You pre-wash newborn's clothes, colour co-ordinate them, and
fold them neatly in the baby's little bureau.
2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard
only the ones with the darkest stains.
3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can't they?


1st baby: At the first sign of distress--a whimper, a frown--you pick up
the baby.
2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your
3rd baby: You teach your three-year-old how to rewind the mechanical


Favorite Murphy's Law

I had a good whinge yesterday. I know it will shock you, gentle reader (Christian leader and trainee minister that I am) that I failed to trust and praise the Lord constantly... but alas, whinge I did.

On the plus side, I whinged to a wise mentor, who shared a version of Murphy's Law I had never heard (or remembered) before:

"Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence"

I found this strangely comforting.

What are YOUR favorite sayings... and why? I'd love to hear from you!

Car types / Woman types

With my tongue planted in my cheek, I have begun the process of identifying various “types” of women based on their vehicles. My current list is as follows:

Ultra-feminine woman. The car smells of perfume and potpourri. There may be fringed or ruffled pillows on the back, Helen Steiner-Rice poems displayed on the dashboard, frangipani stickers on the rear windows, and a small homemade quilt as a throw or cover.

Car is full of stuffed toys.

Neat freak. The car is immaculate inside and out. The only bumper sticker is the one of their car dealer (unless they have had time to scrub it off).

Overwhelmed Mother. Car is a total mess. The floor at the back seat has McDonald's wrappers, mouldy apple cores, the packaging of toys that have been hastily ripped apart, discarded socks, crushed school notices, etc. Biological experiments are growing in the deeper layers, hidden under more recent child offerings.

Hyper-religious. Likely to have not only a fish sticker but a challenging mes…

Chick Wisdom

Women over 50 don't have babies because they would put them down and forget where they left them.

A friend of mine confused her Valium with her birth control pills... she has 14 kids but doesn't really care.

One of life's mysteries is how a 2-pound box of chocolates can make a woman gain 5 lbs.

My mind not only wanders, it sometimes leaves completely.

The best way to forget your troubles is to wear tight shoes.

The nice part about living in a small town is that when you don't know what you are doing, someone else does.

The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight because by then, your body and your fat are really good friends.

Just when I was getting used to yesterday, along came today.

Sometimes I think I understand everything, and then I regain consciousness.

I gave up jogging for my health when my thighs kept rubbing together and setting fire to my knickers.

Amazing! You hang something in your closet for a while and it shrin ks 2 sizes!

Skinny people irritate me! Es…

Sabbath rest, life balance, and all that tricky stuff

If you can’t use your own blog for shameless cross-promotion, what CAN you use it for?

On the 9th of August, Jo (from the Baptist Union of Victoria) and I are organizing a conference for women, with my former boss and all-round wonderful person Lynette Leach as the keynote speaker. See:

The theme of the keynote is life balance… an incredibly important topic that seems to keep popping up in my world one way or another.

I was interested in Baba’s comments on the “Boundaries and Burnout” thread how she takes Sabbath seriously. She even practices the ancient command to the Israelites to leave the land fallow one year in 7 on her farm… a Sabbath rest for the land itself.

The modern, develop…

Noah in Australia

In the year 2008, the Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in Australia, and said, 'Once again, the earth has become wicked and over-populated, and I see the end of all flesh before me. Build another Ark and save 2 of every living thing along with a few good humans.' He gave Noah the plans, saying, 'You have 6 months to build the Ark before I will start the Unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights.'

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard - but no Ark. 'Noah!' He roared , 'I'm about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?'

'Forgive me, Lord,' begged Noah, 'but things have changed. I needed a building permit. I've been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system. My neighbours claim that I've violated the neighbourhood zoning laws by building the Ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the Shire Council for a decision. Then Energy Australia demanded a b…

Boundaries and Burnout

Finding healthy boundaries is an issue with a lot of resonance for me.

The reason this issue sets off bells ringing is because I experienced severe burnout a couple of years ago. A friendship evolved into something that was so demanding and painful that something in me finally snapped. I've now been left with the effects of post traumatic stress and anxiety. This still feels like something that is foreign to me, as I have a naturally placid temperament. (I was one of those smiling "easy" babies). I had no idea what was happening to me when my first panic attack hit... all I knew was I was shaking all over and couldn't stand up.

This experience made me realise that if burnout can happen to me (naturally laid back soul that I am!), it can happen to anyone.

This is a really difficult issue to balance as a Christian. Part of the life of discipleship is caring for others, part of the life of discipleship is going the extra mile, part of the life of discipleship is "layi…

Lost and found

The faciliator or a pastors' wives retreat found herself in deep water within the first few minutes together. All the women shared around the circle, introducing themselves as the wife of pastor X at church Y. The facilitator responded:

"No, no... I'm not interested in any of that. I want you to tell me about YOU... what you love doing, what your hobbies are, what kind of person you are."

A significant number of women in the room promptly burst into tears.

These were good, wonderful Christian women. They submitted to their husbands, they served in their churches, they loved God. But somewhere along the way, something had disconnected inside them. They had lost touch with something of the unique, authentic "me" that lurks within every person God has created.

Christ is the one who brings abundant life... or as this is expressed in the Message bible: "More and better life they they ever dreamed of". In relationship with God, we should become MORE of our …

Public Women's Business

Well, I've been kept somewhat busy lately with events. The Churches of Christ Vic/TasAGM and minister's retreat were held last Friday and Saturday. The "Inspire" conference for women will be held at Ballarat next weekend (see for for details.) And on this Monday night I'm conducting a lecture at CCTC (Churches of Christ Theological College) on women in the church.

In preparation for this lecture, one of the things I've done in the past couple of days is tally up the statistics for women employed in local churches in ministry positions. I suspect these are a good "litmus test" of the capacity of women to exercise their gifts fully at a local church level. At the moment, 25 % of our ministry employees are women, which suggests a marked trend of improved participation. There are considerably fewer ordained …

Might as well face it... you're addicted

I spent some time last weekend reading Sharon’s online book about her son Tyler, who died as an infant... at . I must warn you before you begin however... I’d advise arranging a snack and a thermos flask by your side before you begin. It is a story that sucked me right in... initially (I think) because my eldest son was born prematurely, weighing 2 ½ pounds... so the first part of Sharon’s story evoked all that weirdness and helplessness of having your own child in a humidicrib kept alive by the wonders of technology... and the strangeness of changing nurses and changing hospitals and changing hormones... and the empty feeling of arriving home from hospital minus a baby.

I think I was drawn in even more so, however, by the wonderful candour of Sharon’s writing... it is a raw, almost painfully honest account of grief and loss and struggle and the grace of God. Anyone who has suffered a profound loss, or a difficult relationship, or a sick child, or a pr…

Vehicular Incompetence - the parable of the handbrake

One of my tasks on Wednesday night was to drive Sally Morgenthaller to her hotel after a women's dessert and coffee night. I had borrowed by husband's work car in order to chauffeur the important international guest. Apart from this being a much nicer vehicle, a recent altercation with another car has left me unable to open the passenger front door of my own car... and I didn't think putting Sally in the back seat was a good look.

But after I had loaded up Sally and her luggage, I realised something was wrong with the car. It shuddered, it lacked power, and my first thought was "Oh... something's wrong with the fuel or exhaust system." I drove some distance, but thought I'd better return to the church car park lest we have a breakdown somewhere in transit. Fortunately, I quickly found a volunteer who was happy to drive Sally to her hotel... a young woman in ministry who seemed quite pleased to be able to chat with Sally further. Sally's luggage was dul…

The next "Survivor" series

I received this email today... a pilot for a television series.

Six married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks.Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes. There is no fast food. Each man must take care of his 3 kids; keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of "pretend" bills with not enough money. In addition, each man will have to budget in money for groceries each week.

Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives, and send cards out on time. Each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment. He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care (weekend, evening, on a holiday, or right when they're about to leave for vacation). He must also make cookies or cupcakes for a social function.

Each man will be responsible…

Confessional: not much of a trainer

I was once the "official trainer" for an English Channel swimmer.

This is actually far less impressive than it sounds. I had assured my friend Suzanne that I would go over to England for her channel swim. As I was the only person who had committed to do this when she registered with the Channel Swimming Association, she noted down my name as her official trainer. Her "real trainer" stayed back in Australia.

As it turns out, another of Suzanne's friends Mary travelled to England with her and perfected her "feeding technique" (warm carbohydrate drink lowered from the Dover pier during practice swims; and passed from the boat during the actual swim). This left me with the "comic relief" role of singing songs all night (yes, it was an overnight swim) through a microphone. I also assisted in the swimmer "greasing" process immediately before the swim, did some videotaping of the swim (with inane commentary), and held out a torch beam to gi…

A sword in your soul

Luke 2: 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul also."

Being the mother of Christ was a tough assignment for Mary. She was required to face the shame of pregnancy outside of marriage, risking not only innuendo and gossip, but a real threat to her life. She nearly lost Joseph, but for angelic intervention. She faced the birth of her first child away from her family circle in an unhygienic animal shed. But of course, more sorrows were to come:

Mark 3: 20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind." ....31Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, …

The Easter Paradox

As readers of "Secret Women's Business" would know, I am organising a dessert and coffee night with Sally Morgenthaller from the United States. I am also seeking to invite a few key women involved in the emerging missional church to have a meal and an informal question and answer session with Sally during the Forge Festival in April.I had a conversation yesterday with Sally's tour organiser. He was musing out loud whether it would be best to put this small group in the 'Winner's Hall', the 'Victory Room', the 'Acheiver's Room', or the 'Abundant Financial Prosperity, Healing and Unending Joy Room' (well, I made that last one up, but you get the idea...)"It sounds like the festival's being held in a Pentecostal church. I don't suppose they have a 'Humilty Room', a 'Suffering for Jesus Room', a 'Sacrifice Room' a 'Lament Room' or a 'Taking up your Cross Room'?" I quipped, s…

Men Rules

I received the following email today explaining the rules of men. Now I know...

At last a guy has taken the time to write this all down These are our rules! Please note.. these are all numbered "1 " ON PURPOSE!

1. Men are NOT mind readers.
1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.
1. Sunday sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.
1. Crying is blackmail.
1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!
1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.
1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it... That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become Null and void after 7…

Sally is coming to town!

I'm very excited to be involved in organising a dessert and coffee night for women in leadership with Sally Morgenathaler from the United States.

For anyone within cooee of Melbourne... this will be on the 9th of April at 7.30 pm at New Hope Baptist Church... corner Springfield and Middleborough Roads Blackburn North.

Sometimes when I read articles from innovative thinkers I have the strange experience of knowing that... although I have read these words and seen these ideas expressed for the very first time... they are expressing something I already know. That someone has managed to write what I know to be true somewhere deep in my gut, in my intuition, if you like. That someone has finally given words... the capacity to name and explore... that which I already feel.

I have been reading a few of Sally Morgenthaler's articles lately, and have had this kind of experience. (Admittedly I am practically "off the scale" in intuition, according to my latest Myer-Briggs test)


Chicky Babes?

There was a minor outcry in the office this afternoon as I looked at the Hillsong Colour Conference for women website . I let out one of my characteristically over-loud exclamations as I saw last year's gathering described as a large collection of "chicky babes".

Of all the diverse age groups surrrounding me in the office, none were interesting in being described as "chicky babes". I have trouble imagining anyone out of their teens proudly describing themselves as a "chicky babe". It set off a bit of cognitive dissonance in me, frankly.

I see Jesus as a liberator of women, rejecting narrow social roles and stereotypes, heading a church in which there is neither "male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free", where spiritual gifts are poured out freely on all who call on Christ's name. I see that women of all ages, races, ethnic groups, shapes, sizes, and appearances are equal in God's sight... where all different kinds of unique pers…

Thy Will Be Done

Like many Australians, I listened to the opening of Parliament on Wednesday, and Kevin Rudd's "Sorry" speech to the stolen generations of Aboriginal children.

I was moved even before Kevin began his speech with the opening prayer to Parliament. Normally this prayer seems a meaningless ritual prior to the government and the opposition hurling abuse at one another.

Wednesday was different.

"Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven... forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us".

I was moved because I knew in my heart of hearts that this was going to be one of those rare days when a sound like heavenly grace was going to be heard on earth... in no lesser place than the highest office in our land. When the Kingdom of God would be at hand... when God's will would be done... when "Sorry" (and the implicit request for forgiveness) would be heard... when confession would be made and reconciliation sought. A day …

Primary school years

I've taken a while to reflect on the most significant influences on my spiritual development in the space between preschool and high school. Family example, family devotions, church, Sunday school teachers, Girls' Brigade, Christian camps at Mill Valley Ranch... there were so many influences that came to mind. However, one of the influences that truly stands out (after reflection) is perhaps one of the easiest to overlook. In my first three years of school, I was taught to read. In one dull moment in the summer holidays between grade two and grade three I picked up a book... "The Boy Next Door" by Enid Blyton. It was the first chapter book (minimal pictures) I had ever read... but I was rapidly drawn in to the exciting story. I read for hours. I was hooked. I then proceeded to devour every Enid Blyton book in our house (a mercifully plentiful supply). As school returned, I then proceeded to read every Enid Blyton book in the school library (a pitifully …

Africa Afire

I spent some weeks in Kenya back in 1992... I loved the warmth of the people, the hospitality, the wildlife and the countryside. It's an amazing place... which is currently on the brink of potential chaos. Over at Calacirian (see link to the side) Sonia has been writing about Africa, especially the new tragedy unfolding in Kenya. She writes what I feel about the situation... but she's a much, much better writer than I, so rather than attempting to "say" much about this, I'll provide the link to her most recent post: Importantly, this is about not only what is happening, but what we can do about it. Her other recent posts describe some of the background to what is going on. I encourage you to read these... and to act as you are able.

Flamin' Hot

It's going to be 41 degrees Celcius in Melbourne today... which roughly translates in Fahrenheit as utterly unbearable. I'm getting my car serviced today. After dropping off my car I will take a short walk in the sun to the nearby shopping centre / movies to enjoy an oasis of airconditioned comfort... a walk in which my children and I will probably achieve a well-developed state of dehydration.  There are many metaphors of God's judgment in scripture... outer darkness, being shut out of the banquet, being left behind, imprisonment, a garbage heap (Gehenna)... but the metaphor that sticks most in the mind (perhaps thanks in part to all those Looney Toons cartoons) is that of fire. At the risk of offending some readers, my opinion is that this is no more "literal" fire than the streets of heaven are paved in "literal" gold. Nonetheless, these images are to be taken seriously... God's justice will be accomplished, and those who have rejected…

Mad hair and no lipstick

At the Churches of Christ women's day in October I was MC for the day... and event organizer (hence the "go-to" person)... and led a closing devotion. I ran around madly all day... then stopped off for a toilet break after a round of thank yous and goodbyes. A terrible sight greeted me in the ladies' mirror. My hair had gone horribly mad, my lipstick was all gone, my mascara had flaked off (I had heard that most mascaras are based on industrial glues, and had opted for a chemical-free softer alternative. Only to discover why most mascaras use industrial adhesives). I had recently turned up to a pastoral care class minus lipstick, and was treated to a concerned enquiry about whether I was feeling ill... yes, the mirror confirmed I can look washed out without a bit of cosmetic assistance. Fancy "MC-ing" and "mini-preaching" while looking so ghastly!!!! I did smile wryly at myself however... I'm clearly a failure as a stereotypical femi…