All posts filed under: Keeping the Faith

Life: A Dangerous Topic

Forty-three years ago, photographer Robert Wolfe snapped a photo of a living, two-month-gestation baby. A golden droplet the size of a mandarin segment encases the undeniably human embryo. Head, eyes, arms and fingers are evident in exquisite detail. The fingers of the doctor or nurse hover below, giving scale to the dot of life they are about to grasp. The photo was taken during surgery for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy at the University of Minnesota in 1972. The doctor who administered the anaesthetic beheld, “what I believe was the smallest living human ever seen.” This is what he described: “The embryo sac was intact and transparent. Within the sac was a tiny human male swimming extremely vigorously in the amniotic fluid, while attached to the wall by the umbilical cord. The tiny human was perfectly developed, with long, tapering fingers, feet and toes. It was transparent, as regards the skin, and the delicate arteries and veins were prominent to the ends of the fingers. The baby was extremely alive and did not look at all like …

Mustard Seed Faith and Fish Sarnies for Lunch

The understated, two-tiered fountain is a familiar part of my home city’s CBD streetscape. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve walked past it. We wind our way by en route to the best lolly shop in town. My son likes to sprint around it in giddy glee as I stand in the sun nearby, letting him run off some energy. We have peered into the water, looking for coins and other treasure. We have laughed at bubbles foaming from its brim the day after some teenager tried that familiar gag with the dishwashing liquid. The historic little fountain in Launceston’s Quadrant Mall is so much a part of the furniture to a local that it almost disappears. So, when I strolled past it for the umpteenth time, a stone’s throw from the deli, just beyond the optometrist and the florist, on my way to the gift shop, it was same old, same old. Until I looked up. Right at the top of that modest little fountain is a bronze statue of a boy …

I’m a Christian and I Have Doubted God

I’m a Christian and I have doubted God. Allow me to peel off the shiny veneer of my faith and reveal to you the raw reality that many a follower of Jesus has taken to their deathbed. Christians doubt. Rarely will you hear such a thing articulated by the churched populace. Because a Christian who reveals their doubts is like a salesman beginning his pitch with the product’s weaknesses. We want you to see the wondrous things of faith first; overcoming addiction, freedom from unforgiveness, healing, joy, release from the chains of materialism, hope and the promise of eternity. I’m sorry to burst the proverbial bubble of the good-little-Christian persona, but doubt is as much a part of believing as it is in any relationship treading the tangible soils of this earth. Self doubt plagues the best of us, but it doesn’t diminish our value. Doubt is present in the most robust marriages and friendships, but many will attest to overcoming spells of doubt in various forms. “Do you love me?” “Can we make this …

Here is an Orphanage Giving to the Needy of Nepal

“We head off today. I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous. Scared even. I don’t know quite what to expect. I have driven a fair bit through Nepal and the mountain roads are sketchy at the best of times – add an earthquake and I imagine it’s going to be a ride to remember!” This was penned by a guy I know who last week helped deliver 500 relief packages to people affected by the earthquakes in Nepal. He delivered them from the orphanage he runs with his father in Banbasa, India. An orphanage helping the Nepalese. The needy helping the needy. If ever there was a picture of the generosity that Jesus calls us to, this is it. Giving selflessly, even painfully, because the need cannot be ignored – not just giving out of duty or overflow. Clifton Shipway is the grandson of Maxton D. Strong, the founder of The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission. He moved there from Launceston as a 19-year-old to help. He’s still there today, working as the deputy director of …

Australia Shows Poor Form in Supporting the Poor

One billion dollars. I find it hard to get my head around that figure when most transactions in my household are less than three figures. In case you’re right now trying to count how many zeros come after the one in 1 billion – it’s nine. One billion dollars is a ten-figure quantity. When I (logically) asked my four-year-old what he could buy for $1 billion, he said, “A Stegosaurus. A big one. And a plant.” I don’t doubt that. If a paleontologist stumbled on the last living Stegosaurus and wanted to make some cash, maybe $1 billion would be a reasonable price tag (perhaps they’d throw in the plant for free). A T-Rex fossil affectionately known as Sue sold back in 1997 for a record $8.36 million. Can’t say I was much enlightened (or surprised) by my son’s response. He has ODD… Obsessive Dinosaur Disorder. He’s a prehistoric fanatic, and they tell me it’s a phase… So, I turned to Google and found an image of the sum. One billion dollars in $100 notes …

There’s a Difference Between Humility and Self-Deprecation. Just Sayin’…

My mum sent me a text last week. It made me feel twice my height and warmed me from the chest outwards. I guess I’m going to have to share it with you now… (Sorry mum, I know it was intended for my eyes only!) “Hey Claire, I want to express how I see you as a beautiful, stunning, gorgeous woman with beautiful long flowing golden hair, such incredible blue sparkling eyes and milky skin – which are all your assets. Enjoy being you, as you are perfect the way you are!” Gah! Did I mention it also made me a little teary? A funny thing happened when I sat down to write this piece. I wanted to share the beautiful message my mum sent me, to show how wonderful she is, but there was a reticence to include those descriptions of how she sees me. “Wouldn’t that be big-noting yourself?” the voice in my head said. How are you at taking compliments? Me? Rubbish. Someone says, “I love your outfit!” and I’m reflexively muttering, …

Where Chan & Sukumaran Found Grace

Do you know the words of the hymn that Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran sang before gunfire quieted their voices? It was Amazing Grace, penned by John Newton in 1748. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see. Grace is a characteristic of such exquisite beauty. When you know people who clothe themselves in grace, you want some for yourself. These people seem to live on a different plane. The blows don’t bruise, the hooks don’t snag. They are quick to forgive, they refuse to take offence, they love first (not only in response) and they can quickly navigate to the core of a person – the reason for their behaviour and attitudes. They are like a long exposure image of water running over rocks and branches: all soft and fluid lines, the sharp edges blunted. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear The hour …

What If You Have a Bellyache And You Don’t Even Know It?

The pros and cons of moving house. Pros: you get to live in a new house. Cons: you pack your life into cardboard boxes small enough to lift. You relocate only to spend the next few weeks unpacking things you don’t know why you have. No matter how much careful labeling, you still lose things. You WILL end up cleaning two houses. If you have small children, multiply the inconvenience by the number of their sticky little, into-everything fingers. In following months you will field a mass of queries from household members beginning with, “Where’s the…” And there’s that strange period of time when you just don’t know which house to call home. Moving house, hey! What upheaval! But then, when you’ve found a spot for your toothbrush, you’ve tested the water pressure, sat to a few meals and listened to the calls of birds in this neck of the woods, there comes that satisfied sigh at the end of one thing and the beginning of another. That’s where I’m at. Can I just say, …

God Doesn’t Wear Camouflage

ANZAC Day is arguably the most spiritual day of the year. For many Australians, listening to a bugle call during a dawn service will be their most spiritual experience. The dew underfoot. The huddle of community. The warming rum. The dark. And the long unwavering notes of The Last Post that peal into the reverent air. We stand there in the throng and remember the savagery of war, the sacrifice for our freedom and the scars our country bears, acknowledged on the breasts of generation after generation. It’s a church service for war, sacrifice and tragedy. What I love are the stories that surface of men and women of faith who served our country. As they served, God served their needs – in the trenches, on hospital stretchers, in their darkest hours. This year The Bible Society has released a book and website that tells profound true stories of service men and women who relied on God through the grisly bits. They all died – some during and some after the respective battles. Most were …

Just Call Me OH&S Officer on Steroids

I am Mother. And I am Risk Assessment Officer. As mum to an adventurous toddler and his equally daring baby sister, I have discovered a habit that I’ve yet to decide whether is newly acquired or some kind of primal maternal behavior. Perhaps it’s just plain evidence of madness. In every context where my children are present (or will be), my mind darts ahead, scanning for hazards. You may as well just hand me one of those risk assessment forms – although I feel certain my process would be more thorough. An example? Hubby and I were going to bed – clearing the benches and switching lights off – when I noticed a packet of lollies on the table. I picked it up and stashed it in a cupboard up high so the first thing consumed the next morning wouldn’t be the equivalent of 48 teaspoons of sugar. Then the RAO in me took over. What if our capable toddler pulls a stool over to the cupboard? What if he stands on that stool, and …