All posts tagged: community

“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 …

“You Disappear When You Get Old,” She Said.

It was a mild autumn afternoon by the river, the water still and the light all toffee and caramel. We were ambling along the water’s edge when an elderly lady came walking her puppy – a silky terrier no larger than a rodent. The pup made instant friends with our two-year-old. There were giggles and face-licking, shrill yapping and shivers of excitement. So it was that I got chatting to a complete stranger. The elegant lady shared openly of her life, a story of immense sorrow and high joys. Her journey was intriguing – I was captivated. I must have stood there with this woman for 20 minutes, until she became self-conscious, realising she had interrupted our stroll. We exchanged names, shook hands and walked our separate ways. In all that she said, there was one sentence that resounded – because it wasn’t the first time I’d heard it. “You disappear when you get old,” she said sadly. My friend (let’s call her Liz), now in her 80s, said those very words no more than a week …

Can You Teach Compassion?

My almost-four-year-old has a sponsor child with the grandiose name of Giovanni. Giovanni Gonzalez Velasquez. He’s from Mexico and is the same age, which was strategic. I want them to grow up together. I want my privileged, white, Anglo, middle class boy to be aware that his lot is not the status quo. That just as he had no control over the fact he was born into a family rated in the top 10 per cent of the world’s wealth (Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook, 2014), Giovanni had no control over the fact he was born into poverty. I know. These are grand concepts for a toddler, but that’s the great thing about sponsoring a child – it’s a journey. Here are two boys who will learn about each other and themselves during that impressionable conduit to adulthood. Giovanni’s photo is propped beside my son’s bed and we talk about him, explain the differences in culture as well as the similarities in interests, and we pray for him; for health, safety, provision, family and faith. …

My Two Cents Worth on the 2014 Federal Budget: Entitlement & Opportunity

“The age of entitlement is over. It has to be replaced, not with an age of austerity, but with an age of opportunity.”  Treasurer Joe Hockey in his budget address on Tuesday night. “Yes!” I wanted to bellow from my lounge-chair arena, like some footy head on a Friday night.  At the risk of opening a can of worms here, I will say that it’s been real interesting listening to the roar of dissent from different corners of the community. It was going to happen. No budget satisfies everyone. And we all have our bugbears, our causes and our unique circumstances. Those key words again… Entitlement. Austerity. Opportunity. If we would believe Hockey’s bold words, handouts are kaput, not to be replaced with any kind of severe governance but rather to uphold opportunity as the individual and corporate way forward. Sounds good. But cutting Australia’s aid budget by a whopping $7.6 billion over five years sure makes me uncomfortable. That means that cuts to aid (1.2 per cent of Federal Government expenditure) will provide 20 …

Maybe, Just Maybe, the Lord’s Prayer no Longer has a Place in Parliament

Perhaps the Lord’s Prayer should be scrapped from parliament.  This issue rears its head with as much regularity, it seems, as the debate around changing the date of Australia Day.  Acting Greens Leader, Senator Richard de Natale is responsible for the latest call. Personally, I’d like to see the Lord’s Prayer remain. But is the greater evil that a bunch of pollies are paying lip service only to the lines of a prayer that the Christian faith community upholds as a holy blueprint for communication with our Heavenly Father?  Words like sacrilege, hypocrisy and disrespect have been used for lesser offences. And, as author, historian and Centre for Public Christianity director John Dickson wrote recently in an article for ABC’s The Drum, “The Christian love of prayer is more than matched by the Bible’s aversion to hypocrisy” (Letting go of the Lord’s Prayer in Parliament, January 19). The prayer in question goes like this – and I quote from a modern version, the Good News Translation. “Our Father in heaven: 
 May your holy name be honoured; …

Don’t Read This if You’re Squeamish About Blood and Head Wounds

One of my readers told me this true story. It was a Thursday like any other and the main characters in this tale, let’s call them John and Jane, were pottering about their home.  The retired couple, although in their early 80s, are fit and healthy and relish staying active, so it was not unusual for them to be up at the break of day.  It was unusual, however, when John came back from collecting the newspaper calling Jane’s name with a blood-soaked handkerchief held to his head. “I’ve had a dreadful accident,” he said. When John lost his footing, his cranium made contact with a terracotta pot, lacerating his temple artery and causing a jagged gash to his crown.  The blood flow would not be stemmed, so their son rushed the couple to the hospital’s emergency section for some stitches and a check over (before proceeding to take photos on his iPhone and sending the grisly shots to his siblings, I might add!). They were home by 10am and Jane picked up an Australia …

Letter to the Prime Minister

26 August, 2013   Dear Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott,   In less than two weeks time one of you will be elected Prime Minister. You are educated men, determined men, thinking men. You have worked hard to reach your privileged positions and now, more than ever, your days are as long as your pressures are heavy. To the considerations of a politician in election mode, I add this letter. I will be brief. No jibes here on funding promises, policy unveilings and slur campaigns – just a memento of the strangled heartbeat at the core of community. There are two things foundational to any society: marriage and family. When these two things are crumpled and broken, split and repaired, Band-Aid slapped on top of bloodied Band-Aid, redefined, renamed and ripped open; brokenness becomes us. This is our reality. We exist in a culture that accepts brokenness as the norm. We are the broken culture. And brokenness begets brokenness. You both (appear to be) happily married. You both have (what appear to be) happy families. …

Are You a Vashti Feminist or an Esther Feminist (or neither)?

Friday is International Women’s Day, an occasion to peer back through history and say, “Gosh, we’ve come a long way!” I guess it’s a day to say thanks fellas, for letting us vote, wear trousers and earn a decent wage. You’re so good to us (sorry, I couldn’t resist). But it’s also worth considering what feminism means, now that we’ve got a woman as PM, not to mention Governor General and our own Premier (tick), women can serve in frontline combat roles (tick), and workplaces are being encouraged to provide flexible work arrangements so that mum can carry on with her career (tick). We’ve got it good in Australia – still lots to be done in places like India, the spate of horrific rape-murder cases being the most chilling kind of reminder. But what is feminism? What’s it mean to you? We’re not likely to agree on this one, probably because women’s liberation in Australia is no longer about tangible imperatives like the right to vote and access to a fair pay. Today it’s about …

Euthanasia Case Doubly Concerning

Two things happened last week concerning twins that made headlines. Our own, Tassie-born Princess Mary of Denmark was dubbed the international patron of the Australian and Danish twin registries. Her lovely face will promote twin research in both countries. The new role is particularly poignant for our princess as she is a mother of twins herself – two-year-olds Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine, the youngest of four. I wonder what Princess Mary thought when she read of the other ‘twin’ story that made headlines. South of her Copenhagen home, a hop over Germany, a skip over Holland and a jump into Belgium, 45-year-old twins Marc and Eddy Verbessem opted to take their own lives. Nothing particularly alarming there – euthanasia is legal in many countries. But Marc and Eddy were not in any physical pain. They felt they had nothing to live for and chose euthanasia by lethal injection (legal in Belgium). Therein lies the tragedy. No denying that these guys had a tough life. They were both born deaf, suffered spinal and heart disease and were about to …

Giving a bit of LIP

Hey friends! Just thought I’d share something I’ve just had published at Lip Magazine online. Lip is a feminist mag or, as the website explains, “the magazine for girls who think, feel, create, speak out, live”. It has some pretty good foot traffic: 3,538 hits in the past 24 hours, nearly 24,000 in the last seven days and 94,600 in the past month. Here’s the read… The Regeneration of Communities: The Aftermath of the Tasmanian Bushfires How many times have you considered the question, `If your house was burning down, what one thing would you save?’ Sadly, the piles of ash and ruins in towns like Dunalley in Tasmania’s South tell us that more than 100 households were likely faced with that very question recently. How heart-wrenching it has been to watch grown men weep, to see couples staring numbly at where their house once stood, footage of livestock limping in blackened wool and livelihoods reduced to embers. I think we’re all grieving somewhat for the pretty little towns we remember. Our hearts are breaking with …