Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday - The lens of The Word

I started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp again before Easter. It’s a very good Easter book to read. Kathy Keller recommended this book in her talk on Flourishing Faith in Dangerous Place of the Soul, in the section on suffering, with an hilarious little disclaimer that included something about “purple prose”, but recommend it she did, and I cheered on the inside because I think it’s such a helpful little book (and if there’s a theologically-educated, straight-talking, insightful and intelligent woman out there, Kathy Keller is one of them). I think it’s one of those books I am going to come back to time and time again. So today, here is a little section from a chapter called What in the world, in all this world, is grace?, which might be my favourite chapter:
To read His message in moments, I’ll need to read His passion on the page; wear the lens of the Word, to read His writing in the world. Only the Word is the answer to rightly reading the world, because The Word has nail-scarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ache, and whisper, “I know. I know.” The passion on the page is a Person, and the lens I wear of the Word is not abstract idea but the eyes of the God-Man who came and knows the pain.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An olive-harvesting afternoon in the country

While I am about making my life look beautiful, I went out into the country for a little olive harvesting on Monday.

Some folks from the church I have been attending here have a little farm just over the border, and invited the whole congregation out to pick olives for the afternoon. This sounded like my idea of fun, so I went along. Then in the evening, when the fading light forced us all out of the olive groves and back to the house, they provided a magnificent dinner feast for all. I was gob-smacked by the vast quantities of scrumptious food that kept coming my way, till I couldn’t eat another thing. At one moment in the evening I was trying to make myself useful, so I was cutting up fruit salad in the farmhouse kitchen with some of the ladies, where I could hardly get a word in edgewise for the chatter and laughter, and it felt so very nostalgic. It reminded me of childhood days in Tamworth, where many of the church folks had farms and we’d go out to them for a spot of farming and a get-together. Good times then and now.

(These are mostly a selection of photos in which you can't really distinguish faces, as I didn't know whether I should put folks on the internet.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

A life update

It seems to have taken me an age to actually write this post, but I am pleased to say that I now have myself a job in Canberra, and am going to end the crazy commute to Sydney. I only just made it within the deadline I set myself last year, when, realising that the route I was taking to walk from work to Balmain was not going to be overly sensible in the dark, I said to my colleague, I have to have stopped this by the time daylight saving ends, and decided that was the time-frame I was giving myself. So, I had the new job before daylight saving ended, and I just had to work out my notice for a couple of weeks after it.

Strangely, the logistics of the Sydney commuting, rather than getting easier with time, were actually getting more and more complicated. First I was staying in a house in Balmain where I basically had my own room, and could leave belongings in it, and was going there with my work colleague in her car. But then the lady who owned the house got inspired and turned her house into an Air BnB, so I had to start carrying my sheets and towel etc backwards and forwards with me as other people used the room, then my colleague started staying with a friend where it was cheaper, so I needed to get to Balmain and back again with my stuff on my own, and then often the house was full of random BnB guests (eg the other week there was a lady and her son from London in the front bedroom, a guy I never actually set eyes on in the next room, me in the back room, a visiting Irish niece and boyfriend sleeping in the lounge room, and the lady who owned the house sleeping in the dining room – and one bathroom and me trying not to keep them all awake with that rotten cough I had), which, on one hand, was all part of the adventure and I have met some interesting people there, but on the another, after getting up at 5.30 am and travelling and going to work all day, it can be hard work having to meet and greet and share house with strangers. The whole thing was becoming a big effort, and because I didn’t have my car with me, and Balmain isn’t great for public transport, I wasn’t really making the most of the time in Sydney to do other things either, as that just involved more effort, and it was well and truly time to stop.

Some time ago I applied for three jobs in the space of a few days, the first of which was with a Christian organisation. I was offered an interview for this one. Maybe I shouldn’t write this on the internet, but after thinking about it, before the interview I had more or less decided that I wouldn’t be able to accept the job, if offered it, mainly because it was classified as “administration”, and so I knew the salary wouldn’t be grand (just because I know that award isn’t grand, not because I thought the organisation wouldn’t be paying what they should) and I thought it wouldn’t be heading in any direction I thought I ought to be going in (but I had applied for it because, while I know there are pros and cons to this too, I did like the idea of working for and with a Christian organisation again). But then I had the interview, which went for an hour, I really liked the people and felt like there was a good rapport with them, and I liked what they told me of the work, which included two days of one thing, two days of another thing, and the fifth day is a bit of a surprise till I begin, and I came away thinking I would actually really like the job. But then the next day, before I had heard anything from that position, I was invited for an interview for another one of the jobs I applied for, a rather more “advanced” position at the Australian National University, so of course I said I would go to that interview at that point. But then the day after that I was offered the first job, which I gladly accepted. Then I was in a conundrum about attending the second interview, which was over a week later, but decided I should go along anyway to see what happened, though was rather hoping I wouldn’t be put in the position of having to decide (as it would have been difficult to say no, in one respect, as the salary and conditions were so far beyond the other position). Well, after that interview I knew there wasn’t much danger of that, because that was one of those interviews where you just know it’s not going well, and while the position title had “editor” in it, it turns out it was more project management work, which is not altogether my cup of tea. I’d also found out in the interim that they had called someone else I know in for an interview, who didn’t actually apply for that position but had applied for a different one earlier at ANU, and knowing their experience I couldn’t see that I would outshine them in any way. But I actually think I was out with the first old chestnut of a question of “where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”. I mean, what are you supposed to say? Are you supposed to look at the superior interviewing you and say “I’d like your job”? I don’t think I’ve ever had a satisfactory answer ready for that question. I feel like saying, I’m an INFJ, I don’t make five-year plans, and I’m not actually even interested in five-year plans ...

So, while I am excited about the position I have accepted (I’m one of those people who is still wary of putting where I go to work every day on the world-wide web, which is why I am not naming it, so you know), I admit to having had moments of panic about the “administration” thing, and what sort of trajectory I am putting myself on, plus the salary and the limitations that might come with it. It has sent me off philosophising about work, and what it’s for, and what should motivate one to do it. I actually went to Sydney for a conference, mainly featuring Kathy Keller, after accepting the job but before the second interview, and really appreciated the talk by Katherine Leary Alsdorf on Faith and Work, which I added into the pondering (and relevant blog posts kept strangely appearing while I was considering all this also). And I’ve realised that, being that INFJ personality, it inspires me in work if I both believe in the cause, and have good relationships with the people around me, which this new job holds some potential to fulfill. I was dissatisfied with the sense of working to make profits to fill the pockets of the shareholders in my previous work, and with how many steps there were between what I did and where that benefitted the human race in any way. So I’m looking forward to the new role. To deal with some of my concerns I’ve implemented a plan to keep doing some freelance editing from the company I now work for, on the products on I had responsibility for until my replacement is up to speed, and then with another section that has a more constant and voluminous supply of freelance work, both a) because it will be good to keep the skills up, and it’s always good to have something you can do from home and b) because it will also supplement the new income. I’m hoping it will all work out nicely.

And that is life from the last few weeks. I am pleased to have it all sorted, and to have come out the other end of my last week of work in Sydney. I’d been with that company for eight and a half years, so there was lots to sort out (and you should have seen my desk drawers – my goodness!) and farewells to be said. I don’t think you can ever really appreciate what it’s going to be like to not be going back to a place till you’re not going back to a place. I now start the new job on Tuesday. I would have liked to have a holiday in between, but I had to give four weeks’ notice to my old workplace, and they wanted me to start as soon as I could at the new, so I will plan a holiday for some other time, and it’s been great to have the Easter weekend in between.

I might find myself blogging more often again, though with doing the freelance work as well I will have to see how time plays out. These days I don’t set goals or make plans for blogging either ... :)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Autumn streets

I took a little walk up my street and around my neighbourhood this afternoon, just to get out and enjoy the sunshine, and I snapped away, just because it looks so beautiful.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Our wordless tearless dumbness of distress

It's been too long, and sometimes you simply need some Christina. So here are a few stanzas from Later Life: A Double Sonnet of Sonnets (the poem featured in my header) that I have not posted before. Oh how I love Christina. Herein lies permission for all our floundering, and a prayer for the way out.

Image from Wikimedia commons.


Thou Who didst make and knowest whereof we are made,
   Oh bear in mind our dust and nothingness,
    Our wordless tearless dumbness of distress:
Bear Thou in mind the burden Thou hast laid
Upon us, and our feebleness unstayed
   Except Thou stay us: for the long long race
   Which stretches far and far before our face
Thou knowest,--remember Thou whereof we are made.
If making makes us Thine, then Thine we are;
   And if redemption, we are twice Thine own:
If once Thou didst come down from heaven afar
      To seek us and to find us, how not save?
Comfort us, save us, leave us not alone,
      Thou Who didst die our death and fill our grave.


So tired am I, so weary of today,
   So unrefreshed from foregone weariness,
   So overburdened by foreseen distress,
So lagging and so stumbling on my way,
I scarce can rouse myself to watch or pray,
    To hope, or aim, or toil for more or less,--
    Ah, always less and less, even while I press
Forward and toil and aim as best I may.
Half-starved of soul and heartsick utterly,
   Yet lift I up my heart and soul and eyes
   (Which fail in looking upward) toward the prize:
Me, Lord, Thou seest though I see not Thee;
  Me now as once the Thief in Paradise,
Even me, O Lord my Lord, remember me.


Lord, Thou Thyself art Love and only Thou;
    Yet I who am not love would fain love Thee;
    But Thou alone being Love canst furnish me
With that same love my heart is craving now.
Allow my plea! for if Thou disallow,
    No second fountain can I find but Thee;
    No second hope or help is left to me,
No second anything, but only Thou.
O Love accept, according my request;
    O Love exhaust, fulfilling my desire:
    Uphold me with the strength that cannot tire,
Nerve me to labor till Thou bid me rest,
    Kindle my fire from Thine unkindled fire,
And charm the willing heart from out my breast.

Friday, April 04, 2014

A teenager's selfie

Maybe I shouldn't encourage my niece and nephew in the taking of selfies, but how cute is this? It looks like my nephew was getting into the whole thing actually.

(They look quite similar, these two, I think.)

Some little things of beauty

It’s been one of those weeks in which I feel like I deserve a medal just for showing up. At the risk of too much detail, I got up on Monday morning after that last post, went out for a jog in a thick fog, and no sooner walked in the door of home than I felt rather terrible, and felt steadily more terrible as the day went on, with a raging sore throat and cough developing. So I tried going to bed early again prior to the early-morning commute North, only to wake up at 2 am with a pain all around my head that result in throwing-up; a result of some kind of migraine/tension headache. I did my best with that, then went back to bed before getting up at 5.30 am for Sydney. Then the rest of the week contained a cough in which every involuntary heave was a small agony (never have I had a cough that hurt so badly), which did its best to keep me awake at night, and general exhaustion and unwellness. But here I am.

So for Friday, I just thought I might show you my new pot plants. I am excited to have some nice plants. I have a little courtyard, and I wanted something in it that would stay green all year, so these are some petite camellias. I had been to Bunnings twice after a particular pot, and they didn’t have any of the matching saucers both times, so I just picked another pot, which I like, but only when I got them home did I realise the pots were exactly the same colour as my fence. Oh well.

I'm stuck with the orange lattice unfortunately (I really dislike orange, I must say) and the rusting fence isn't my responsibility either. My old friend the concrete duck may or may not stay there.

The plants came with promising buds.

And I now have lovely flowers.