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Bullied and teased to the point of despair

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Here, Aaron Summers shares a snippet of his story. Throughout my school years, life was tough. I was teased and called many names; ugly, freak, you get the picture. I was a bully myself at times too. At the root of it was a constant struggle with self image. I didn’t feel I was good enough for anything or anyone. I felt that no one wanted to hang out with me, and that I was always on the outer. I remember tearing up my leavers dinner photos because I felt so ugly and down on myself. Depression got a hold of me and I was in a very dark place, in and out of church at Summerhill Baptist and Door of Hope. My mum encouraged me to keep coming along to church. It was a hard time for her, seeing me go through this, but she kept spurring me on. I was going home most days from school turning the lights off and going to bed. I’d just basically given up. …

I didn’t know what MTB meant. Now I’m doing it.

We pause at the top of the track, checking tyres, shoelaces, helmet straps – but mostly – checking our resolve. Straddling the aluminium frame, my toes barely touch the dirt. The bike’s not mine. It belongs to a friend who’s about a metre taller. And we push away, coasting along the gentle beginning of a track that quickly hacks like the pattern on a heart rate monitor. My face is a muddle of adrenaline-fed joy and white fear, my mouth’s smile-scream catching the dust clouding around us. The Lego block tread of my tyres propels me over cobbled rocks, some splintered and sharp. Around the sweeping berms*. Over tree roots. A quick veer to avoid a blue-tongue sunning himself mid-track. Grasses and ferns lash at my legs. A joey darts ahead. The perfume of Peppermint Gum is intoxicating. Cicada song and the screech of rosellas compete with the whir of gears and our sporadic squeals as we hurtle along the rugged track. This is our first ride. My long-time friend and I thought we’d give …

Here’s how I’m shopping in 2018

Hello twenty-eighteen in all your glorious summer splendour! I must admit, from afar you looked like that glamorous mum at the playground the other day. Her skin was the colour of almonds and she wore a fitted knee-length skirt, milk-white cami and tan sandals that wound around her long, slim ankles. Her hair was swept into a ponytail, silky and caramel to just below her shoulders. I watched her, as I watched you, out of the corner of my eye, hoping she wouldn’t judge me in my ripped denim, thongs and t-shirt. I was intimidated by you. But then something happened. We talked. And she was sweet and she looked into my eyes and commented kindly of my children and we laughed together and I walked away chiding myself for being so shallow. So as I have eyed this new year, like a tray of 12 ice-blocks ready to plonk into the cocktail that is life, I’ve shed the fears. Because I didn’t achieve everything I hoped to last year, you know? I got disappointed …

The year in books (2017)

Once again I’m going to tell you just how marvellous it is to be part of a book club. We call ourselves The Romans 12:2 Project, because we’re all keen for this “renewing of the mind” business. Especially when it comes to seeking God’s will for our lives. We’re a rabble of women, meeting every five weeks or so, spurring each other on as we sink our teeth into a feast of words, glorious words! Here are the books I’ve read this year. Not in any particular order. Healing Begins in the Heart, by Karen Mace. Moving Mountains, by John Eldredge. The Sacred Year, by Michael Yankoski. Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist. Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity, by Kerri Wyatt Kent. Revealing Heaven, by Kat Kerr. Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The Passion of Dolssa, by Julie Berry. Wearing God, by Lauren F. Winner. My Seventh Monsoon, by Naomi Reed. (I also read Congo Dawn by Tasmanian author Katherine Scholes, which was a great fiction novel! Good for holiday escapism!) The exercise of writing …

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 …