Author: Claire van Ryn

When you forget the sound of your own name

I don’t often hear my name spoken. There’s a lot of “Mummycomewipemybottoooom!” (full volume, echoing into the neighbourhood!) There’s “Aw, mu-um, pleeease can I watch the iPad until I make Oscar the Grouch look like a sweet little kitten?” Oh, and there’s “Go ask your mum,” and “Want a cuppa Mummy?” because even hubby has it on default. I love being a mum. LOVE it. And I love being called “Mummy,” “Mum,” “Mama,” and even “Mumazella” (my son’s invention). But I cannot deny that when I hear my name spoken by loved ones, the one written on my birth certificate, a shock wave travels up my spine. It takes a little moment to subconsciously remind myself that the arrangement of those letters just uttered, that single syllable, belongs to me. Claire. Is this sounding strange? It could be a mum thing. Or maybe people in positions of leadership get it too – when you’re so used to honorifics of Mr, Mrs, Dr, Sir and so on that your own name sounds foreign. Perhaps people who have …

I am not just another consumer

It’s been more than nine months since I started this no-new-clothes-for-a-year New Year’s resolution. Sounds like an AA declaration and, in many ways, I think it’s a good comparison. Fashion binging is a nasty habit that I’ve kicked. And what a fitting time to be telling you what’s been born from this experiment. Nine months (closer to 10 months actually) has been the gestation time for delivering a me that no longer identifies as a consumer. I still buy stuff. Too much stuff. But not to keep up, to feel good or for something to occupy idle mind and hands. I consume out of a measured need or desire. The pangs of, “I want!” still clamour but there is a new inner voice that counters, “Do you need it?” “Will it make you feel better?” “Look at your already-bulging wardrobe!” When I have a spare Saturday afternoon (I know, as ludicrous as it sounds, it happens every so often), my mind doesn’t dart greedily to time rifling through clothes racks for that fashion item that …

“I collapsed and died in the hospital ward”

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Here, Noel Towns of Launceston shares a snippet of his story. I put my faith in Christ at the very young age of eight years and have felt His guidance throughout my journey, maintaining regular times of Bible reading and prayer. I have wrestled with the challenges and tensions between my faith and real world experience in both personal and business spheres for my entire life. Over a 40-year real estate career I often experienced my faith values intersecting and informing appropriate ethical behaviour in the work place. Our faith also led my wife ‘Chris’ and I to adopt four Ethiopian siblings to add to our family of five biological children. This has been an exciting and rewarding experience and an ongoing journey. We now have 25 grandchildren and still counting! A major turning point in my life occurred in August 2016 when I was raced to hospital with a septic gallbladder, which needed to be removed. Before that happened though, I collapsed and died in the hospital ward due …

“Indescribable peace” in the midst of cancer battle

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Here, Matt Kuipers of Launceston shares some of his story. Being a Christian, I always thought I was a pretty ‘good’ person, who contributes well to society. As far as I can remember I have always been assured of belonging to God’s family, which gives me comfort and assurance in a life after death. However my faith had never really been significantly challenged. In December 2016 I was diagnosed with rectal cancer at the age of 34. After many scans it became apparent that the cancer had spread to my liver upgrading it to stage four. Through chemoradiation and surgery the cancer was successfully removed from my rectum but the tumours in my liver continued to grow in both size and number. Throughout the whole crazy journey, including diagnosis, never have I questioned my faith. I do not put this down to having a really strong, well-developed faith. In fact, I think the opposite is true. To sit there in total peace while one of your doctors is telling you that …

“I was pregnant with our 3rd child when my husband died”

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Here, Melissa Lubke of Launceston shares a snippet of her story. I was 11 weeks pregnant with our third child when my husband died. I drove to the church barbecue down the road, while Andrew rode his motorbike shortly after. Half an hour passed, mingling with people, and a friend said, “Where’s Andrew?” Then it clicked. Where’s Andrew? What are all those sirens? Andrew used to joke that I jump to conclusions, but this time I was right, honey. I went to see. It was less than a kilometre away and they were turning cars around. I kept going. I just knew. I kept driving closer to the police car and I wound my window down and said, “Is it a motorbike?” And she said yes. I’d seen people come off motorbikes on TV and they were fine. So at that stage I imagined it would mean a lot of bed-ridden rehabilitation. I rang our friends and asked them to pray before following him to hospital in another ambulance. That night, …

Beyond the brink of anorexia and back

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Here, Susan Brown of Launceston shares a snippet of her story. As a teenager, I had a number of supposedly trustworthy men and guys try to seduce me. Fear and shame cast a shadow over my life, warping my view of males and changing the way I saw myself. No longer was I a girl with many valuable qualities. Instead, at least to guys, I was ‘just a body’. Most people didn’t realise what had happened to me. Years passed. I finished school, took a gap year then started uni. All the while a storm brewed silently inside me. When I was 20, my sister suddenly got engaged. She and her fiancée were planning to marry in a few months time and settle an hour away from our home. I felt like I was losing my closest friend. My grief was overwhelming but I stuffed it down, not wanting to dampen my sister’s joy. Seeing her so happy only intensified my longing to be loved – maybe if I had someone …

This is how I’m voting. And Olaf.

What more can be said? That has been my defence for saying precisely nothing about the upcoming postal plebiscite on marriage here in The Great Southland. And then I remembered Olaf. Olaf is the endearing snowman character in the Disney movie, Frozen. I know this because both my children are enchanted by the film and invariably ask me to play various YouTube clips from it daily. Often more than once. And there’s this one tune where Olaf waxes lyrical about his long-held desire to experience Summer. “A drink in my hand My snow up against the burning sand Prob’ly getting gorgeously tanned In summer!” Olaf sings this – the snowman who’s made of ice that melts and all. Seeing that charming, smiling character waltzing to his own demise made me think of Australians who are blindly accepting the yes vote because “love is love”.  No thought to repercussions that other countries are already experiencing. And then there’s the Kristoffs and Annas (you need to watch the clip!) who are withholding their voice, their information, their …

“For 13 years after our girls died, I tried hard to have little to do with God.”

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Say hello to Karen Mace of Launceston. It was a Saturday evening in November. We were expecting people from church over for dinner and I was preparing my dish for the evening. Miriam had already left to babysit for a couple coming to dinner, Ross was at a concert practice, and Sarah said she would bath Ileana. I noticed a sudden, sharp pain in the chest as the thought that Sarah and Ileana were taking too long popped into my head. I walked to the bathroom and noticed the silence, the sense that I was walking in dense fog, the feeling of panic rising up in me. That night my still-uncertain faith was snatched from me and shaken so hard I could no longer recognise it. For 13 years after our girls died I tried hard to have little to do with God. I kept my back to Him and my hands over my ears. Despite this I knew he was there, and I sensed Him intervening in things at times, …