The Christian Life Journey Thursday, Sep 30 2010 

I was thinking this morning about life as a Christian and how it is meant to progress.

I think that we are born sinful, and the depths of our depravity only get worse until salvation. Then I think we should gradually be growing more in holiness, with the help of the Holy Spirit. But we will never reach holiness until we die and are resurrected with Christ.

So that would look something like this:

But a lot of the time it feels more like this:

Often it feels like I’m going down instead of up. Why is this? Is the Holy Spirit ineffective?

I don’t think so. I think that the graph above signifies the struggle between flesh and spirit – the ongoing battle of the Christian life. I guess the determining factor would be that it’s an upward trend, moving towards holiness rather than away from it.

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Hello Blogging World! Thursday, Sep 23 2010 

Here I am attempting to blog again. It’s been a while.

Stay tuned!

Pondering Infertility, Part 1 Tuesday, Oct 28 2008 

I’m going to write about something that has been present now for a while, but I haven’t been sure how I would talk about it or even if I wanted to. Even now, my thoughts are not completely fleshed out, so this is me processing them, to some extent.

I may not be able to have my own children.

As people from my church will know, around March this year, I was in hospital for a short time.

I woke at 4am one Wednesday morning to discover a sharp and growing pain in my abdomen. After an hour of trying to get back to sleep with a hot water bottle, I got someone to take me to the emergency room at RPA.

I knew from the start what it was.

When I was 14, I had the exact same pain in my abdomen. I remember the night – it was cold and late. Mum called the doctor to come to our house after many hours and multiple painkillers had not even touched the agony I was in. By the time he got there, I was writhing around on the floor, clutching my stomach. He gave me a needle in the arm and the pain eased slightly.

I went through months of testing and going to see specialist doctors and having them speculate about a “niggling apendix”. Finally, my GP gave me a “maybe” conclusion about an ovarian cyst. He put me on the Pill and said if that fixed the pain, then that’s probably what it was.

Move forward five years – I’m 19, starting to think seriously about getting married and the baby-making that comes with it. I asked my GP if being on the Pill for a long time would create a greater risk of infertility. He said all tests have been inconclusive.

Well, that was enough to have me worried. He said I should try going off the Pill and wait for 2-3 cycles to see if the pain came back.

So when, in the middle of my 3rd cycle off the Pill, the doctors were talking about apedicitis and urinary tract infection, I wasn’t really taking it seriously. But I was kind of hoping it was something like that; something easy to fix.

I remember being asked if I was sexually active (“So you’ve never had sex? Are you sure?”). Being asked if I was sexually active after my friends were asked to leave. Being lectured about chlamydia.

I was a bit confused about what was going on during my time in hospital. On the first day, an ultrasound revealed some free fluid around my appendix, which is indicative of appendicitis, but it wasn’t at all swollen.

Then, when they discovered the cyst, I had different people tell me different things. Some said an easy operation would take care of the cyst once and for all while another doctor laughed at me when I asked if I would need surgery.

For most of the first day I was in there, I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything, because I was on morphine, which can make you quite nauseous. When they finally said I could eat something, my dear Blake walking into Newtown to get me pad thai, which I had been craving. But by the time he got back, the thought of it was making me sick. Even the smell of the food meant he couldn’t eat his there with me.

They decided to have me stay in hospital for another day, just to make sure the pain was getting less.

On the afternoon of the second day, when the pain was still making its prescence known, they rushed me into theater to “check that one of my ovaries wasn’t black and dead” and to remove the cyst while they were at it.

I was happy the cyst was going, but not so happy at the prospect one of my ovaries might have carked it.

I remember the doctor, a tall Russian woman, explaining to me that even if one of my ovaries had died, I still had good chances of conceiving. I remember signing a document to say that I understood the risks of surgery.

The whole concept was foreign to me at the time. It hadn’t crossed my mind that I might suffer some permanent damage from the whole schmozzle. They were supposed to fix me and send me home. So I was rushed into surgery in a bit of shock and not really having time to ponder the whole thing.

(As a side note: I really hate surgery. I hate having to take off all my clothes and put on that flimsy little gown, knowing that as soon as I’m knocked out, they’re going to whip it off. My stomach turned months later when I read in a procedural report on my operation, “feet in stirrups”…)

Some people from Flo had come to visit me right about the time I got out of surgery. Since I was rushed in, not many people knew about the operation until afterwards. These people didn’t.

I was still really groggy from the anesthetic. I recall saying something about whether they wanted to see my cuts, and then immediately realising how stupid I sounded.

I think it was later that afternoon, or perhaps the next day, that my doctor came and spoke to me about the operation.

I don’t remember much about what she said. I do remember her showing me pictures of my insides and of the cyst they had taken out. I was shocked at how it looked. A doctor had told me from the ultrasound that it was 5 centimetres in diameter. But in the photo it was a huge silver ball, lodged in the pink fleshiness of my abdomen.

My ovaries were fine. But there was something else. While they were removing the cyst they had found some endometriosis. There were more pictures. More fancy medical talk. Explanations and possibilities.

And then I was left on my own to digest what I had been told. Endometriosis (endearingly known as “endo” by those who have the condition) is the growth of the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) on areas outside the uterus. It grows during ovulation, stimulated by the hormones. In bad cases, in can cause miscarriages and infertility (it is the second leading cause of infertility in women) and in good cases, there is mild pain.

More thoughts to come…

A crazy dream Saturday, Sep 13 2008 

I had my first “wedding disaster” dream last night.

We were having the ceremony on some kind of ship, and the decorations weren’t done on time. Then it was raining and muddy (on a ship? hey, it’s a dream…).

My seamstress made the wrong dress, and I ended up wearing a black cocktail dress, and then when that ripped, a white sheet.

My sister applied bronzer to my arms and shoulders that made me look like I had small-pox.

My grandparents were late and I had to park their car while they got seats.

Ah, don’t you just love dreams!

The amazing thing is that I was pretty calm about it all. But I think I would like it if things go a bit better on the real day!

Boyish Monday, Aug 4 2008 

A cheerful anecdote from my day which occurred whilst playing “Indiana Jones” with one of the kids I mind…

Me – “I’ve seen all the Indiana Jones movies.”

N – “Really?”

Me – “Yeah, I think they’re great.”

N – (pauses)

“Are you boyish?”

Me – (stifles laughter) “No, girls like Indiana Jones too…”

N – “Oh yeah. I think I saw a girl with a gun in one of them.”

Incest and the “Yuck Factor” Wednesday, May 14 2008 

I can’t even remember exactly how the conversation started.

I think someone in my Media Law class made a flippant comment about a father/daughter couple who had appeared on 60 minutes a while ago.

Amid the class’s eruption of laughter (over the sheer irrelevance of the comment), our tutor spoke: “But what’s so wrong with that anyway?”

More laughter.

He continued, “Really, if they are both consenting adults, is there anything wrong with that?”

He had everyone’s attention now.

“That’s just yuck,” someone called out.

The classroom murmured in agreement.

“But what makes it yuck?” he persisted.

“Well… it’s just not right… there’s a high chance their kids will be deformed,” another person offered.

“No more of a chance than the 35 year-old women we allow to undergo fertility treatments. Should we stop them having kids?” he said.

“But it’s just gross!”

The students protested more loudly now, scoffing at the wild suggestions our tutor was making.

“Are you actually trying to justify incest?” one girl asked incredulously.

“I’m just trying to challenge you all to think about why we consider things wrong. If you take away the biological reason, you only really have the yuck factor left, and that’s not enough to base law on,” he argued.

Students still took their turns speaking up, but it all came back to the “yuck factor”. No one could give any reason beyond that for why it would be wrong.

Then our tutor’s real agenda emerged: “After all,” he said, “you have to remember that homosexuality was once considered ‘yuck’.”

I saw it coming.

Did I mention our tutor is gay? And quite outspokenly so. Everything comes back to this issue. In every class, gay rights are on the agenda.

But I didn’t imagine before that he would take it this far.

I mean, I had heard the warnings from Christians that today we’re seeing homosexuality accepted, and down the track it will be incest, and then peadophilia.

But that was just fear-mongering, right? Those crazy Christians just looking for another reason to pull down the gay agenda?

The truth is, the “yuck factor” is not enough to base laws on (nor is it an adequate response from Christians). If we don’t base our morality on the Bible, then we can justify anything.

But it’s not like this is anything new…

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:28

Word of mouth Tuesday, Feb 5 2008 

This is a bit different than what I normally put on here, but I think it’s really important.

Anne Jackson, a very cool blogging girly, is going to Uganda soon. She’s trying to get lots of people to sponsor children over there, and will also be blogging while she’s there.

Here’s a couple of links where you can find out more!

BLOGGING LIVE FROM UGANDA

SPONSOR A CHILD FROM UGANDA

I’ll be home for Christmas… Saturday, Dec 22 2007 

As Blake has been reminding me of my lack of posting, I decided that it was probably time for an update and for me to get back into writing regularly.

So here I am.

“Home” for Christmas.

He he he.

Anyway…

Personal Catch-up

Let’s see… the last time I posted was October 18. A lot has happened since then.

I was probably distracted from writing by the impending doom of essay deadlines. I got a good head start on my essays though, which meant I was comfortably working right up until they were due. And I didn’t suffer any suffered a little bit of stress.

I finished my first year of uni in one piece. I must say, it was actually quite enjoyable.

I feel like I’ve learned lots. Lots about how to “do” uni, how to make friends (and how not to), how to be committed to uni clubs, how to get the most out of my spare time.

I’ve also just finished 2 weeks of work experience at the local paper. I am so thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much and really see what it’s like to be a working journo. I was kind of thrown in the deep end, made to write stories by myself from about day 2, but it worked out well. It’s actually quite different to doing journalism assignments at uni, but it’s better, I think. For one thing, you do about 4-5 stories a day, so there’s not so much time to dwell on the good or bad details. You just have to do it. Secondly, you leave the work at work. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did do one Saturday interview, because my contact worked during the week. But what I mean is, in contrast with uni assignments (which take more time than they’re worth), stories generally don’t follow you home.

Blake and I have been apart (geographically) for about 2 weeks now. And he’s about to go to Luxembourg. I miss him, but things are going well.

Being home, I miss all my friends in Sydney. But I am enjoying time with the family (well, not always :P).

It’s so close to Christmas!

I am really excited about watching my family open their presents from me on Christmas morning. I bought them all things I know they’ll love this year. I really do like the giving part better than the giving. Can’t wait til I have kids to buy presents for. (Actually, I can wait, but you know what I mean)

Christmas Reflections

There’s a bit I’ve been thinking about in the lead up to this Christmas. And it’s significantly deeper than the usual (selfish) “I wonder what everyone has bought me?”.

I guess one thing I’ve become more aware of is that some people will be feeling really lonely this Christmas.

I know that this will be my Nanna’s first Christmas without Pa. She’ll be surrounded by family on Christmas day, but she’ll still be hurting.

There’s different reasons for different people, but I think Christmas has a way of highlighting loneliness, because everywhere you look, it seems like Christmas is about family and spending time with loved ones.

I think the family thing is a nice little cliche that our culture has invented to get around talking about the real meaning of Christmas. But it really doesn’t cut it when you think about the first Christmas.

I feel almost like a child again as I rediscover the wonder of Christmas.

The reason we celebrate is this: God (almighty, holy, limitless, perfect) takes on human form.

As a journalist, my first question is ‘why?’

Why would God send his very Son (his very Self) into earth, a pit of sin and filth, so far from the perfect world he had created?

What in the world could motivate Him to such a… preposterous action?

God in human flesh?

Who could ever invent something so wild?

Or could it be true?

When I ask myself why He would do such a thing, the first thing that comes to mind is “because he said he would”.

Over 500 years before Jesus was born, in fact.

This is what the prophet Isaiah wrote, as he was directed by God:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.  – Isaiah 7:14

In case you hadn’t heard, Immanuel means “God with us”.

Okay, so God came to earth in human form because he promised he would half a millenium earlier, and God keeps his promises.

But why would be promise such a thing in the first place?

I’ll get to that later…

Contentment vs. Passivity Thursday, Oct 18 2007 

While I was home on holidays a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of hearing my pastor preach on 1 Corinthians 7 – that seemingly enigmatic passage about singleness and marriage.

He prefaced his sermon with the fact that he was working through first Corinthians expositorily, and this is a passage frequently covered topically. He also said that he might have “glossed over” (read: not fully explored) some of the more detailed issues because of time constraints.

So, despite the fact that I was only hearing one sermon from a series, I found the teaching very helpful and, in a lot of ways, different to teachings I had previously heard on 1 Corinthians 7.

The basic thrust of the message was that Paul is telling us, as Christians, to be content with the stage of life we are now in; to not long for some other situation that may seem “holier”. Apparently, this was the Corinthians’ problem: they kept thinking that singleness meant that a person was more holy. Naturally this was creating problems in the church.

I think a nice summary of Paul’s point is found in the following verses:

17Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. 21Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. 23You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.

1 Corinthians 7:17-23

What a freeing message – nothing we do (not circumcision, not uncircumcision, not slavery, not freedom) affects our salvation and holiness. Holiness is something that we get through Christ.

I think I always struggled with this chapter because it has often been used to preach “the gift of singleness” idea. That is, the notion that by merely being single, you are gifted and somehow better off than married or dating people.

Now, I realise that Paul says single people can focus on pleasing God better than married people can. I don’t dispute that. I do, however, think it requires a correct attitude in the heart of the single person.

They have to want to live to please God. Your life is not automatically more pleasing to him merely by being single. You have to want it and you have to pursue it.

This is something that I struggle with a lot. I heard, in a great talk the other day, that in God’s eyes, you are either single or married. There is no dating, courtship, engagement. There’s single and there’s married, and there’s ways we’re supposed to behave in either situation.

Often I find myself thinking that certain problems would just go away if I was married to Blake. Common thoughts include “We wouldn’t struggle sexually if we were married” and “If I knew we were going to be married, I could be more committed to solving arguments.”

But Paul advocates something different. He says to be content with where we are. To not wish we were somewhere else.

However, I think there is a difference between contentment and passivity.

The content person actively seeks God and how they can please him, no matter what the situation.

The passive person lives in fear that their life is not pleasing to God and, therefore, doesn’t actually achieve much.

I guess this is still an idea I’m wrestling with. I just know I used to think that desiring marriage and even pursuing it would be considered wrong as if it was somehow an indication of discontent. I’m seeing that contentment doesn’t mean standing still and living in fear. It means making choices and trusting God to guide you. It means knowing that your future is secure in Christ and feeling free to live life to the full.

Car food Wednesday, Jul 11 2007 

On Friday I’m heading to my friend’s place, on the way back to Sydney. It’ll be about a 5 hour car ride (I’m still on my red Ps), and the first one I’ve done alone.

Any ideas for snack food I should take?