All posts tagged: faith

Reading the raunchiest book in the Bible.

I’ve been reading Song of Songs these past few days. I wanted to better understand the concept of my faith being a romance with Jesus. Reading this short book of the Bible always made me feel uncomfortable, confused even. Like watching a steamy love scene in a movie with your parents sitting on the couch beside you.

The Year in Books (2016)

This post is more a personal record than anything else. A look back at the books I’ve read in 2016, the learnings from them, and the way God has used them to expand my Christian worldview. I’ve explained before that I am part of a book club. We call ourselves The Romans 12:2 Project, meet every five weeks or so, and read books that will expand our understanding of God, faith and what it is to be a Christian today. These are the books we read this year… of course, I did read beyond this selection, a few leisure reads (Maeve Binchy, Paullina Simons and even Lee Childs!) and additional recommendations from friends and family (Annette Mace’s book, and I can highly recommend The Grace Outpouring too, by David Roberts and Roy Godwin). But these are the books we discussed: The Gift of Being Yourself by David G. Benner Love, Tears and Autism by Cecily Paterson The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller Farewell Four Waters by Kate …

I Never Thought I was a Cynic… Until I Read This Book.

A Praying Life (Connecting with God in a distracting world) by Paul E. Miller NavPress, 2009 Every so often you read a book that completely reboots the way you think. A Praying Life has been that kind of book for me. Don’t be turned off by the title – or the cover for that matter. This is a book with the potential to change your perspective on every level, not just the few minutes you grab with God each day, running through a list of pleases and thank yous in your head. Paul begins by defining prayer as “interconnected with all of life”. Such an important distinction right there. He continues, “Because prayer is all about relationship, we can’t work on prayer as an isolated part of life. That would be like going to the gym and working out just on your left arm.” With an easy turn of phrase, Paul grounds his teaching with stories, many from his own family including the trials and triumphs of his daughter Kim who has autism and developmental delay. Paul and …

The Focus of a Dancer

When I was a slender young thing in pink ballet tights and pastel leotards, my dance teacher taught me about balance. Holding the body with poise and presence is as much a discipline as flexibility, turnout, musicality and strength. With a leg in arabesque – that is, high as possible, straight as possible in the air behind me – she would say, “Claire, imagine there are strings attached to your fingers on both hands, to the top of your head and to the big toe of the foot you have lifted. Those strings are pulling with equal force.” Imagining the invisible forces at work, I would stretch my arms further, elongate my neck and straighten my head, push that leg a little higher and plant the heel of my supporting leg firmer into the floor. Then, with a calm that belied the screams of a thousand muscles, I would lower into a fondu or chasse, arms soft, face serene. Sigh. How I miss those dancing days! I recognise this same tension in my life today. Invisible …

Why We’re So Intrigued By Injury

Every parent knows that a Bandaid on a child is so much more than an adhesive strip to mop up blood and keep dirt out of a scrape. The power of these magical stickers should never be underestimated. What’s more, the colourful cartoon characters printed on the more expensive varieties are a novelty du force. The humble Bandaid is a gallant defender of the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ maxim that most parents cling to. Have you noticed how the fine motor skills required to tear open the packet, peel away the fiddly leaves and then smooth the apparatus across the lesion without touching the site of grief brings a beautiful distraction from the trauma of the incident itself? Wonderful invention. But the most perplexing result is observed beyond adult supervision, in the playground, with another little mate seated beside. They are peeling the Bandaid away to, “Come look!” and “Awww!” and to boast “I cut it on dad’s fishing lure!” Yep. There’s the little blubbering mess suddenly dry-eyed, ripping off the dressing to show …

The NY Resolution that Exceeded Expectation.

Flicking to my journal entries from this time last year was a deflating exercise – not only because there were so few pages to flick through, but because the scribblings under the heading New Years Resolutions were largely unrealised. I made some feeble initial efforts, but life shouldered in on these well-intentioned plans to build character, skill and achievement. Oh well, there’s always 2016! But I want to tell you about the one aspiration that did become a reality – and so much better than I could have anticipated. I love reading. For me, the holiday sensation comes when I am diving headlong into fiction narrative – from the comfort of an armchair, banana lounge or hammock. I read to escape. Which is why, pre-2015, were you to espouse the merits of so-and-so’s latest autobiography, self-help book or account of lifechange, my eyes would have glazed over. I wanted to like those books. I wanted to allow my life to be altered by them. I wanted to rave with friends over the way those books had opened …

Saved from the Snare of Addiction

Life began badly for Anna.

“I was awakened to things no child should when I was between the ages of five and eight, so that played a huge part in being promiscuous from a really early age,” she shares.

Anna was sexually abused by her stepfather.

“That changed the course of my life because I was always seeking guys’ approval.”

8 Ways to Cope with Grief at Christmas

This guest post is by Launceston author Karen Mace, who is also a counsellor, writing therapist and the director of Healing Place. Karen’s book Healing Begins in the Heart (Balboa Press, 2014) is an honest account of her trials, tragedies and ultimate victories after a deep crisis of faith that lasted many years after the deaths of two of her daughters. Karen and her husband Ross were serving as missionaries in Ecuador when Ileana and Sarah died suddenly and tragically, aged three and twelve. In her book (and more briefly in this post) Karen shares how she lives with grief and her ongoing experience of God’s loving care. Just a few weeks ago another anniversary came around of the day our girls died. November 20th is not too far from Christmas, and very close to the time things begin to be a little ‘crazy’. It’s a time when I am more aware of families doing things together, and although it is quite a few years since Ileana and Sarah died, every year I wonder… What would they be like? …

Pack These Words for the Journey

We were sitting around on the grass under the lovely Spring sun, her face splashing all over us while, within eyesight, the kids squawked and imagined other worlds and pushed little bums down slides. Drinking up the bliss of adult company, we were a rabble of mothers comparing notes on parenting. Conversations like these lurch erratically from behavioural woes and toilet-training mishaps to school uniform orders and an amicable if somewhat competitive exchange of sentences that begin with, “My darling did the cutest thing…” This day, we were navigating the topic of sleep deprivation. Some of us have had a bad go thanks to certain munchkins who don’t understand the division of night and day – years after their entry. Others (myself included) have brains that fail to take the hint of lights out and body in horizontal position. The tips to counter insomnia were predictable: count sheep, think of the colour blue, take some sleeping tablets or do some, er, strenuous exercise before shut-eye time. But Kristy had a new one. “I tell myself …

Jesus has a Response to #FOMO

“Wonder and perish,” the line says. Reading the passage in my timeworn Bible, it entered my head like this: Bla, bla, bla, WONDER AND PERISH, bla, bla, bla… Did the highlighter fairy flutter some fluorescence on that line in the night? But it was all black and white, text on paper, no lairy yellow or green. My eyes were drawn to those words because God was showing me something. That’s what he does. Dreams, whispers, a friend’s timely visit, the balm of nature – and words that leap from the page, grab hold of the eyeballs and brand themselves on the brain. “Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you,” Acts 13:41 flared at me. Life is short and fragile. Death is undiscerning and impatient. What do we do with this knowledge? Christian or atheist, we agree on these points surely, it’s what we do with the information that sees us travel different paths. We all grapple with the, “What’s this all …