Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Travel Blog

I am briefly reviving this very neglected and confused blog for the purposes of reflecting on this particularly stressful time in my life.  Perhaps I should say *exciting* rather than stressful?

Luke is in the thick of a bunch of crazy busy-ness.  He is writing multiple essays for his presbyterian studies with Christ College, Sydney.  He is preaching weekly for Montrose, a series in Mark which he is writing for the first time.  Lastly, we are flying to two separate locations in two weeks to interview for Luke to be their minister - a process I don't fully understand but involves preaching, meeting the elders and answering questions and spending some social time with the congregation and in the area.

The first interview is in Horsham, a 1 hour flight to Melbourne and 3.5 hour drive from our place.  The second is in the Atherton tablelands, a 2 hour flight to Sydney, 3 hour wait and then another 3 hour flight from Sydney to Cairns, followed by a 1.5 hour drive to Atherton.

Luke's Sydney trip is fairly common for us, he has been doing them to attend intensives since I was pregnant with Solomon, who is 2 now.  It was hairy when he was a newborn and I found them unbearably stressful and glad when they were done, now I have found a rhythm and the children enjoy the greater flexibility and increased mummy time ( and screen time ;)).

The other trips are entirely new, I have not flown with kids in tow since our first was 5-6 months old! I am excited, our kids are at a good age to enjoy things, a nap is not strictly necessary, they like to learn new things and they are good friends who play well together mostly.  On the other hand, not sleeping in cars and therefore on planes will probably mean cranky/overtired small people with relentless questioning and need for entertainment.

Gearing up for being 'needed' a lot, but also looking forward to being somewhere new.  Glad to not have to keep the home fires burning, my usual role, but knowing I will still need to miss conversations or other enjoyable things in strange homes that belong to other people while I take care of the kids so Luke can focus on the interview.

Praying for a good attitude, a good imagination and tired kids that conk out at the end of the day.:)

Also, in the immortal words of Wayne in Wayne's World -  "Fishy ears!!!!!"

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Christians and Discernment

I am a research assistant for a dental researcher.  While seeking to learn more about informatics and data mining, my boss said he was skeptical about data mining as he felt that people sometimes just 'punch in the numbers and believe anything that falls out the bottom'.

Now, librarians are all about using data properly, so this misconception struck me as important.  If we are using data 'science' and retrieving data and packaging it, we may expect that whatever we find is 'right' and true. However, data science does not work in isolation.  Mined data is not more intelligent that surveyed data just because it is mined and collected by intelligent systems, it still takes an intelligent brain ( or more importantly, a well trained brain) to assimilate that data and use it wisely.  If there are 'unscientific' people in research devouring data without the skills to digest and understand it, this is a real problem.  Intelligence is more than receiving, remembering and regurgitating data, it is critically assessing, analysing, questioning and applying data appropriately in a given context.

Bachelor students can be guilty of only learning 'whats on the exam', not learning for the sheer joy and enrichment of learning.  Learning to think takes more than attending lectures and reading course notes.  It takes an imaginative, innovative approach to the information they receive.

Christians, too, can be guilty of this failure.  1 Corinthians talks about wise and foolish people, intelligent people are frustrated by the gospel, its very simplicity and lunacy does not require great intelligence to understand - it is for everyone.

However the wisdom of the Holy Spirit is with every Christian, and it is the Christians' responsibility to wrestle with, analyse, enjoy and digest Christian teaching.  Acts says they 'devoted themselves to the apostles teaching'.  They could not wait to be together, to hear preaching, to discuss how to serve God in their lives, to share their griefs and joys.

The Bereans listened to the apsotle Paul's teaching and tested and analysed the scriptures to make sure that what Paul said made sense. They did not just give up their Jewish lifestyles, wholus bolus, at the first mention of Jesus.  They tested his claims against scriptures, and I imagine their joy in receiving Jesus was even greater as a result of it.

We can be guilty of going to church to 'have our batteries recharged' and sit in the pews, absorbing preaching into our cells like anenomies, instead of seeking out Christians afterwards to break down and digest the meal we give thanks for.  Some churches also unwittingly fall into a 'complacent acceptance is next to godliness' model where the preacher or elders are sensitive about feedback, criticism or challenge, rather than letting discussion be promoted by the teaching they provide.

Of course, we must also be wary of a congregation that continually complains about the kind of food they get dished up, like children who were hoping for pizza and got apricot chicken (again).  Yet turning a wary and fussy church member into a lover of vegetables will not be achieved through giving a double helping and refusing to explain what the funny looking green bits are.

I pray that church members grow in loving discernment and delectation of the gospel, all the better to share it boldly, being confident that it is so very good and worth enjoying again and again with everyone who will receive it.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Lovely Bones

'The Lovely Bones' by Alice Sebold has been on my list to read for some time.  I had read a review that intrigued me but I thought that it might also irritate or upset me so in the end I didn't make a big effort to find it.  Finding it in Shiploads for $3 made it less effort to pick it up than leave it on the shelf.


Unwisely, I began this novel at around 8pm in the evening, I tried to start earlier, but my children can sniff out mummy enjoying something they cannot very quickly and I managed less than half a page from the afternoon.  Despite sensibly going to bed around 9:30, I was still unable to put it down until around 11, around which time the emotions stirred up by the story were still charging through me and sleep was unthinkable.

Despite my intentions for an early night, I got up and devoured the rest of the book, gulping it a little too fast to deliberate over the latter chapters, as at this stage I was eager to get a little sleep. Spectres of the well drawn characters hovered around my mind until I managed to cleanse them away by googling technical facts about the filming of the story by Peter Jackson.

Although the structure and narration is not necessarily unique stylistically, I found myself completely drawn in by the story of a young girl, raped and murdered and in a ghostly presence, watching her beloved family and despised murderer living out their lives over the next years. She watches somewhat dispassionately, although at times she mentions her love or hate, we see details of the murderer's history as mildly as we see our heroine's back story, building up to who she is, although more than the sum of her parts.

It is a philosophical novel, a secular, semi moralised meta comment on evil, justice and human nature.  It is a visceral and wistful exploration of sensations; of the emotions, mind and body.  As the title suggests, the novel is concerned with the fate of her body, her blood leaves its mark in places, traces of her bones mark her story, and a few meagre traces of the lively, imaginative and precious girl she was are discarded or treasured by her destroyer at his whim. As with Abel, what was happened cannot fade away, despite the murderer's cover up.  Her blood cries out from the ground. Is justice achieved? Where does she go?  How does the rest of the family's stories conclude?  Am I satisfied by the resolution?  What of God? Is He watching?

This book is not for those who are disturbed by explicitly violent content, I am not usually one who can tolerate such scenes, but the righteous anger at the event fuels the story and guides the reader, like a helpless detective, to watch the story as it plays out, praying and longing for justice.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

So, what are we here for anyway?

I've had this blog for a long time now.  It has undergone a few deaths and at least one resurrection after a drive-by slanging in my comments.  Now, about 10 years later I'm still not quite sure what my purpose in blogging here is.

I started blogging as a way of letting off steam, reflect on life, my work, study and personal insights.  Then I felt that this was inappropriate and that I lacked the emotional strength to cope with the criticism or feedback that goes with a public blog. Add to this that my life contained a fascination and interaction with many other people, whose private experiences were not mine to voice. This required a restraint and perpetually bitten tongue, that, given the lack of natural subtlety in my communication, took a lot of careful wording and was not particularly cathartic.

Then came Facebook and networked blogs and it seemed that, now a mum with kids and limited time, composing a soundbite was preferable to the time spent writing, proofreading and editing my work.  I felt that blogs still had a place in our more networked social lives, but my own had little to add to what was already out there.  After all, was I a Christian blogger?  a Mummy blogger?  A cooking  blogger or profound insight blogger? Well, at once all and none.  Did I have shiny photos or catchy posts with guests and funny drawings or videos?  Well I like to think I sometimes had the former, but seldom the latter.

Now I find myself, tired of the soundbite and longing for a chance to write and engage more, whether or not I know what my purpose in writing is.  Then I realise that this is my purpose, to reflect and clarify my thoughts as Christian, Ministry wife, Mum, Pragmatic Philosopher and reader of diverse books, articles, blogs, soundbites and more.

I am a librarian who wishes to order the internet more systematically, a ministry wife who needs to learn from raw experience to be a comfort, sounding board and nurturer.  A mum who is pretty stretched most of the time and needs a place to think beyond the next meal, nappy change or discipline of the next tantrum.  I am a philosopher of sorts, who wants to find the meaning in the twisted and interesting world I live in, a reader who needs to reflect on the many things I read.

If you read back over my archives, some have been destroyed and others may not make sense, that's because they are the unprocessed writings that need to a cleaner mind.  Sorry about the dirt.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Definitions: 'Cry Method'

This is a method of teaching a baby to fall asleep without the help of their parents.  'Cry' methods are usually aimed at avoiding 'sleep associations' like breastfeeding, cuddling, rocking or patting to sleep so that babies can 'self-settle'.  Some methods encourage leaving the room until the baby falls asleep, this is called 'extinction' ( not a nice connotation!).  Other methods are called 'controlled crying' 'controlled comforting' or 'crying to settle'.  These can vary from staying in the room talking to and touching the baby, staying in the room and avoiding eye contact, touch and speaking, or leaving the room for longer and longer intervals with brief comfort in the form of touch, verbal reassurance etc.  The baby is not picked up, fed or otherwise interacted with, Typically, the baby is fed, changed and made comfortable before the crying method is implemented.