Posts Tagged ‘family’

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Sometimes I feel a bit redundant

September 27, 2010

Yeah, what the heading said.

So, I’m in this weird state of mind where I look at what the people in my husband’s family do (career wise, spiritually, educationally, etcetera) and I wonder what on Earth I’m doing there. I don’t belong there. Everything that I have considered unique about me, or specific to my self identity, has already been taken up by other people there. Strange that it should bother me so much, but here we are!

I used to be an obsessive musician. Granted, I was never a virtuoso, but many people remarked on my innate gift for music. I was even the inaugural music captain at my high school (13 years ago, that was!). Then I moved to the suburbs, joined a brilliant mega-church, and discovered that good musicians are a dime-a-dozen. So, I gave up my music. Oh, I occasionally strum the guitar and I can help my kids with their own piano studies, but I feel like a part of me has died a very painful death in giving up music. Listening to the Karnivool album ‘Sound Awake’ this afternoon, I had to admit that putting my beloved 5-string bass guitar in its case and stuffing it away behind the chest-of-drawers in my bedroom was a terrible, terrible thing. I really should dust the poor neglected guitars off and play, even if just for my own sanity.

Perhaps I’m just in a low point in my life. I look at the high-flying, high-achieving 20-somethings around me and compare myself to them. I’m in my late 20s and what do I have to show for it? A still as-yet-incomplete uni course on the go, no job, no music. I struggle with the things I love, art and writing. I just have to keep reminding myself that other Australian women my age often aren’t married with children like I am, and it feels good thinking that my youngest will be finishing high school when I’m 40 years old!

In all the self-loathing and moaning and carrying on, I have neglected my Bible study. So, in order to combat this, today I spent an hour scouring a Bible study website to begin a word study on the “elements”: earth, wind, fire, and water. Talk about a massive topic! It should keep me occupied for some time.

Hopefully, as I pour myself into God and into the bigger picture, I will begin to regain my confidence and strength. I hope that one day I can create something beautiful and worthwhile.

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Article: “An Equal-Opportunity Destroyer”

September 22, 2010

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/september/24.71.html

Extract:

“If you’ve heard the word porn in church recently, in a small group or from the pulpit, chances are you hardly blinked. Thanks to ministries like Promise Keepers and Operation Integrity, the research of sex addiction expert Patrick Carnes and neuroscientist William Struthers, and individuals courageous enough to admit they have a problem, American churches have squarely faced porn’s destructive and tragic effects. We know porn is highly addictive, and we have more tools than ever to break its stranglehold. Praise God.” Read More.

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The Awesome Song of Songs + a lament on self-righteous singles

May 12, 2010

Reading this on facebook? Please view and comment at the original post!

*Warning: big generalisations

Gledhill, T. (1994) The Message of the Song of Songs. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press.

Koorong Books

If you read only one Bible study on Song of Songs, make it this one. It covers a lot of detail and is a positive read. It is so refreshing to read a Bible study text that affirms sexuality, rather than treating it as something to be dissected, abhorred and feared.

Today I read an article on a Christian website that seemed to characterise marriage as God’s ‘back-up’ plan for the Christian who has no self-control. It appeared to be a simplistic dichotomy between married versus unmarried. The single Christian is perceived as somehow superior to the married Christian.

Usually I find the articles on that site as being high quality and excellent; but this particular article really did come across as the poorly thought-out. Perhaps I misunderstood it. The author is clearly writing as a single man – there is a peculiar kind of arrogance (for want of a better word) that a lot of young single Christian men seem to have regarding their lifestyle / lifestage.

These foolish attitudes ignore the original created very goodness of marriage (Genesis 1 and 2). It also implies that somehow God sees the single as greater  than the married. Yet, as I repeatedly tell my peers, marriage is what has transformed me – it is through marriage and parenthood that I came to know Christ, that I shed much selfishness, that I have had to learn grace, patience, endurance, forgiveness and generosity. I have had to learn self-sacrifice. I can no longer go out to drunken parties and sleep in late and do what I feel like, because it is not about me. I can’t just buy what I want – the money is not mine but ours. Everything I do impacts on the lives of other people. I am an individual, yes, but I am a social being who exists within the context of family and community. Not that I consider myself communitarian, but we are more than just our individuality – we are all social creatures, designed in the image of a Triune God, purposed for LOVE, and love can only exist when we realise that ‘I’ is not the centre of the universe. (Yes, obviously single people are capable of love so please don’t think I somehow characterise “them” as the “Other” or as soulless robots.)

Now, I have read other articles by the same author that I have found useful and insightful. However, I must admit that these days I find little substance in Christian preaching that comes from young, unmarried, determinedly and self-righteously single (as opposed to those who are genuinely called by God and gifted to walk in celibacy / singleness). It simply rarely applies to my life stage. I am in my 20s and trying to discover who I am and where I am meant to go, as a woman, as a wife, as a mother and daughter and sister and cousin and niece, as a student and in my future career, and as a member of a local community of followers of Christ. There is a level of annoyance that I experience when unmarried Christians my own age start preaching on the benefits of what appears to be a generally self-absorbed life style. Singleness does not equal greater devotion to God. When I am scraping together money to pay another set of bills, trying to keep my kids in private Christian school, when I really would rather just have that money to buy myself some new jeans, or I’m trying to be patient towards my husband, trying to ignore my own convenience to serve my family, well – that’s when God comes in. Because only He can give me the grace, strength and energy that I need to get through these challenges. Only He can provide when the bills cost more than our income. Only He can help me create a healthy marriage.

I understand that many young Christians may be called to a time of singleness, but I think some unnecessarily inflate their pride by assuming that they are too good for marriage, that marriage is God’s Plan B. It also ignores the practical realities of marriage and parenthood in the Christian context – leave it too late and biology will have its way: the human female body is, I have heard, designed to reach peak child-bearing age in the mid-20s. It all goes downhill from there. A young woman who ever wants the possibility of having a family will need to bear this in mind before it is too late.

Gledhill’s Song of Songs is an excellent study that shows that sex really is designed by God as part of the whole human experience. I mean, it really does become a thing of beauty when considered through God’s eyes. It is a well-written and balanced text and I certainly recommend it, particularly to married or almost-married Christians. I for one would love to see Christians, in general, shed their bizarre hang ups and legalistic ideas regarding sex. I do get tired of the Christian marriage books (usually American, it seems to me) that treat sex in marriage as a series of “do nots” but miss out on the glorious complexity of the human being and the marriage relationship.

I also get tired of reading complicated manuals on dating, etc. Really, is it that complex?All this stuff on ‘the girl should not ask a guy out’, ‘you should have your first chaperoned date by age 15’, ‘some kinds of sex between a man and wife are sinful’… blegh. Whatever. If we spend all our time constructing these difficult and complicated and not-in-the-Bible rules, we’re going to miss out on the glorious full and abundant life God has for us. That extends to making up some rules, based on half-read Bible verses, about how God is disappointed every time a Christian gets married. Because He’s not disappointed. Marriage is given as an example of the love Christ has for His church. It is by no means an inferior state of being.

*Disclaimer – I am not trying to bag single Christians. I do not believe that married or unmarried is the argument or debate here. We are all unique and we need to ask God to open our eyes to what He would have us do.

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Visit To The Farm

May 17, 2008

Copyright F. Lokot 2008

Sunday 17 February 2008 – 7.45 pm (approx)

Yesterday, spent the day the day at the family farm. It was so wonderful to return there. I miss it so much. I used to go there every weekend.

(tractor shed)

(old dairy)

(paddock for sick calves)

(various aunts and uncles)

(new farm house)

(orchard – plums are ripe)

(Dad, mowing the lawn)

(… to major tourist road)

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Life Just Keeps Moving On…

February 18, 2008

Farm Doormat
Photography by Matt.

This photo was taken at the old family farm. We went there last week for a visit to my relatives. I miss that place so much, where most Saturdays I’d go there to help out. It was a dairy farm for the most parts, but at times also ran beef cattle and other assorted livestock.

The family lives in a newly built house a little way down the front paddock, but this photo is of the doormat at the entrance to the old house. It hasn’t been that many years since they moved into the new house, so I was amazed to see just how quickly the garden moved in to overtake the house. The once clear view from the lounge room window is now obscured by masses of trees. Ferny tendrils have pushed in under windowsills.

The sight of the doormat really affected me. Perhaps it’s because I remember it as a fully intact mat. I’m pretty sure it used to say, “Love is… a warm welcome,” with a cutesy image of two naked people hugging. An innocent image, not smutty – just to clarify that! Now here it was, ripped in half, in tatters, obscured by the leaves and plants that encroached on the old house.

How many times had I once crossed over that mat, stepped indoors – without knocking on the door – and run down to greet my grandparents in there? Like I said, I was usually there on a weekly basis through my childhood. We had grown up in the town just 15 or 20 minutes’ drive away. Now, here I was, only six or seven years since I last stepped inside that particular house, and feeling just how quickly things had moved on. The day prior to last week’s farm visit would’ve been my grandfather’s 87 th birthday – but he passed away in September 2007. It really hit me – he wasn’t there anymore. Because I had become quite ill shortly after his death, I had not spent time grieving. Now, it was beginning to well up within me, this immeasurable sense of loss.

In the last few years since I first moved out of my parents’ home, I have lost both my grandfathers. It is still astoundingly painful, at times, when I reflect on their loss. They were such an integral part of my life, and now there is this gaping spiritual hole where they once were.

This grandad, the one from the farm, was a big part of my life. How grateful I was to have him in my life for almost 26 years. Not only did we see him regularly at the farm, he was sports teacher at my school, and a swimming coach at the local swimming pool. I often attended mass with him on a Sunday morning, where he’d always buy me a large bag of mixed lollies. We would often talk, and I’d listen to his tales of fighting in the Second World War.

My other grandad, the one who lived just around the corner in our country town, was the local public school principal (I went to the Catholic school). He would often take us on day trips to various sights, whether impromptu visits to the beach (about 20 minutes away), to movies, or tourist attractions. He helped me develop a thirst for learning that he demonstrated throughout his life. He passed away when I was barely 20 years old, and I’m so grateful that one of the last few times I saw him alive was at my wedding, the first day in a long time that I had seen him outside hospital. He died relatively young, in his 60s, and it was a tragic and unexpected passing.

I can’t explain how much I miss my grandfathers. I feel so sad that my own children never really got to know their great-grandfathers. I was pregnant with my eldest when the first grandfather passed away. My children did get to meet farm grandad, though, something for which I am grateful. Their great-grandfathers on their father’s side had died many years ago, well before I met my husband.

It often strikes me just how quickly time moves on. It reminds me of that C.S. Lewis quote, where he says that the only reason we ought to be surprised at time is if, ultimately, we’re called to be eternal beings.

From the Bible:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.


(Today’s New International Version, from http://bible.crosswalk.com/)

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