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!

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Great is Your faithfulness! Wednesday, Aug 27 2008 

Blake asked me to marry him last night.

I’ve been looking forward to the time when I could do this post on my blog. Not so I can tell you all how excited I am (although I most certainly am!) but because now I get to share with you some of the ways God has been incredibly faithful to Blake and I on this whole journey.

From the start of our relationship, Blake has always been the committed one and a lot of the time it felt like his feelings for me were stronger than mine were for him. Over the December/January period my feelings changed a lot. I started to become a lot more attached to him. At about the same time, lots of people I knew were getting engaged or married and it made me long for that too (in an unhealthy way). In fact, I would say I was jealous of those people.

Blake and I had marriage as our goal, but we hadn’t talked about time frames and I was desperate for that security.

So I found ways to bring it up and eventually we did talk about it openly.

But it didn’t go well. We both ended up with hurt feelings: I felt like Blake didn’t want to be with me and Blake felt pressured by my demands that he work out a time frame for marriage. We agreed not to discuss it anymore, at least for a while.

I turned to God in prayer, asking for patience for myself, for guidance and wisdom for Blake and that I would be able to trust God’s leading through Blake. Blake was also praying that he would know when would be a good time for us to get married.

I settled down. I was still praying about it, but it was becoming easier to trust God.

A few months ago, on a walk, Blake told me that he was thinking that mid-2009 would be a good time for us to get married and that’s what he would like to work towards.

Needless to say I was overjoyed and extremely thankful to God for answering both of our prayers for help. In reflection, I think it is an example of what’s described in Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

What can I do but praise him?

And that’s only the first part of what I wanted to tell you…

Once we knew the time frame for marriage that we were planning for, a problem arose as to where I would live for the first half of 09. I currently live in a place called Flo Harris Lodge, run by my church, Petersham Baptist Church. They generally don’t like people to stay for only 6 months because it’s so hard to find replacements mid-year. So that was only going to be a last resort. I wanted to move out, but I also didn’t think it would be fair to move out with a bunch of people from Flo at the end of the year, because they would also have the difficulty of finding a replacement for me 6 months in.

I was talking to my Mum about it last time I was home and she had a few suggestions. The first was that I live with my cousins in the Western Suburbs and commute to uni. But I didn’t like that idea because it would mean seeing Blake a lot less and probably leaving my church. Her other idea was to live with a young family from church and pay board. That idea seemed okay, but I’d never really considered it.

The other idea I had was to find an already established share house in the church that would have a vacancy next year.

While I was thinking and praying over this issue, I thought that I probably wouldn’t go about seeking options seriously until we were engaged, or it might seem a bit weird to be talking definitely about wedding plans.

However, I started to get a little anxious. The share houses I had my eyes on seemed to already have filled their vacancies or would be dissolving at the start of 09. I kept praying that God would provide a place for me to live next year and that he would help me to trust him.

I was liking the sound of living with a family more and more. I would be able to learn lots about how families (other than my own) function and I would be able to cook and clean and mind kids (all things I love to do!). But I was still keen not to formally start looking until it was official.

A couple of weeks ago Fiona (the book-keeper for Flo and a young mother from church) called me into the office and asked if I had found somewhere to live next year (I had asked her months before about whether I would get my bond back if I stayed at Flo for only 6 months). I said I hadn’t yet, but I was thinking of living with a young family from church.

She said, “Oh, that’s really strange. We’re going to be looking for someone next year and I was just going to ask you.”

So after a few more logistical conversations, it was decided that I will be living with Fiona and her family next year.

And all this before I’m even engaged!

To me it was an amazing example of how God had it all under control to begin with. And how he leads us to pray for certain things so that he is all the more glorified when he brings them into being.
As we plan for the marriage ahead of us I am hopeful that I will see (and share!) many more examples of God’s amazing faithfulness.

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.”

Standing up for Jesus Friday, Aug 1 2008 

…can be tough, especially at uni.

I think something I struggle with is having humility and grace in my conversations with non-Christians (in or out of class).

But I’ve realised that I need to be daily spending time with God, reading the Bible and praying, if I’m going to be humble and gracious. Without that continued relationship with God, everything I say becomes dry and intellectual (or hypocritical and arrogant).

I want those around me to see the effect that a relationship with the Living God has on my life.

Hope Wednesday, Jul 30 2008 

Sin is a constant struggle; a plague on this life.

It ruins so much, and spoils innocent things.

Recently I’ve been so comforted in the knowledge that not only will it all come to an end one day, but that God is working in me now to remove my sinfulness and make me more like Christ.

It’s great to have hope that I am being renewed each day, that the sin is being drained out of my heart so I can enjoy God more fully.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16

Makes Me Smile Wednesday, Jun 18 2008 

Due to the fact I’m on holidays, I’ve been trying to catch up on my reading. Glancing over my bookshelf, pulling out the unread material, I remember a funny conversation that occurred awhile ago with Blake.

Mum bought me a book this past Christmas called “500 Time-Saving Hints for Every Woman”.

Blake picked it up from my shelf one day and, after scanning the blurb, asked, “Why is it just for women?”.

I encouraged him to flick through and take a look.

He opened a page and read aloud:

“The Do’s and Don’ts of Wrapping Paper.

Don’t: use ribbon and paper with clashing colours.

Do: try to mix things up a little – try using polkadots with stripes.”

Upon reading this excerpt, he looked over at me, and said, “Oh, I see now”, and put the book back on my shelf.

We both laughed hysterically.

Now I can’t look at that book without chuckling to myself.

Jesus and Leviticus Sunday, Jun 15 2008 

I’ve recently started reading through Leviticus, the third book in the Old Testament. I’m hoping to read through the whole OT this year, but I’m not going very well so far.

When I started reading Leviticus, I kinda thought, “Great, now I have to read through lists and lists of boring rules. Can’t wait til this is over with!”

But I half-heartedly prayed that God would use it to reveal more of himself to me. So I just wanted to let you know what God has been showing me so far.

I’m only up to about chapter 7. It’s been all about offerings (animal sacrifices) so far: the Sin Offering, the Guilt Offering, the Fellowship Offering, etc. It gives descriptions of which offerings should be made and how the priests are to make them.

Whenever it describes the right type of animal to offer, it will say “a young bull without defect” or “an animal without defect”. That was a point I kind of skimmed over as I read, but last week in church, we sung the song “Consider Christ”. Part of the song goes:

Consider Christ, the source of our salvation

that he should take the penalty for me.

Though he was pure, a lamb without a blemish,

he took my sins and nailed them to the tree.

It’s that part about Jesus being a “lamb without a blemish” that really jumped out at me after reading through Leviticus.

Jesus is the sacrifice that atones for our sins: he had to be “without defect” for the sacrifice to be acceptable to God.

The second thing that God has shown me through Leviticus is about His amazing mercy.

In Leviticus, God tells the people that they need to make sacrifices to pay the price for their sins, because they are his people.

One thing that surprised me is that the people could sin even if they weren’t aware. A common phrase I have come across is:

If a person sins and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, even though he does not know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible. -Leviticus 5:17

That sounds a bit harsh at first, but consider that it is God who chose the Isrealites, and he certainly had the right to set down rules for them if they were to be his people.

Anyway, tonight in church, someone mentioned the following verse:

When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” -Luke 23:33-34

In Jesus asking God to forgive the soldiers for a sin (killing God) that they did not know they were committing, he is revealing amazing, unprecedented mercy.

God had every right to judge them, even if they didn’t know it was wrong at the time. But Jesus, the very one whom they are killing, speaks up on their behalf to God. He is the sacrifice for the sins they are committing unintentionally.

Those are just some of the things I’ve been thinking about in Leviticus. Hopefully God will continue to teach me, even if I am a reluctant student at times.

Access All Areas Monday, May 26 2008 

Over the weekend, I attended the Christians in the Media Access All Areas (for some reason, the content isn’t available without logging in… hopefully this will change) conference. The conference drew Christian media workers from all over Australia and South East Asia.

I found the weekend really encouraging and thought-provoking as a young journalist.

Here’s just some of the things I’ll take away from the weekend:

– In an industry characterised by opinion and arrogance, it’s important to approach stories with humility and be willing to listen more than we talk.

– Sharing the gospel at work starts with working hard and being the best you can be at your job.

– We should be flexible with the culture we live in, to some extent, but should know where to draw the line and not compromise our godliness.

– As Christians and journalists, we are called to testify to the truth, and we shouldn’t take that calling lightly.

– What are my motives for wanting to be a journalist? Am I in it for my own glory, or for the Lord’s?

As you can probably imagine, there were so many more helpful things I learnt over the weekend. It was so worthwhile, and I will hopefully be going to the next one in a few years time.

The other great thing was meeting and connecting with media workers from all over the world. It’s so great to know I’m not alone in this (in more ways than one), and to have my gaze lifted from myself.

A New Conviction Monday, May 26 2008 

Lately God has really been driving home to me the point that I need to love others out of obedience to him.

I tend more towards the selfish, “rewards-based” kind of love. That is, I’m more likely to be loving when I am being loved by others.

It sounds logical. It sounds fair. And it is both of those, but it’s not right.

What happens is that I end up on a roller-coaster, going up and down depending on how others treat me.

I’ve particularly seen this in my relationship with Blake lately. He will be his normal, wonderful self and we have a great time together. I treat him well for a while, riding on that high. But then as soon as he gets a bit worn out (you know, like humans do) and misses a beat, I suddenly withdraw my affections.

I can’t keep going like this. It’s not kind to Blake, and it’s certainly not acknowledging God’s constant, unwavering love in my life.

In all my relationships, I need to treat others well out of love for and obedience to God, not out of some vain expectation that they will treat me well back.

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

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