All posts tagged: family

Why we will never forget the first night of our caravan holiday

We never start holidays well. On Monday July 9 we embarked on a three-month caravanning adventure from our home in Launceston, Tasmania, to Cairns and possibly beyond. By “we” I mean myself, hubby Phill, and our kiddos Roman (7) and Adelaide (4). The first night was spent in the NSW country town of Yass. We’d been ejected from the big Bass Strait ferry bleary eyed and sea legged, done our time navigating as hapless Tassie tourists out of Australia’s second-largest city, and journeyed 650+ kilometres – all before 4pm. The kids were extremely good. Some credit to the built-in DVD player in the new truck . . . er . . . four-wheel-drive. Drives like a truck in my opinion, compared with our usual wheels. So there we were: tired, hungry, ready to settle down for our first night. The plan was to hit the road early the next day for another big highway day munching up the distance between us and the warmer weather. Let’s stay somewhere cheap, he said. There’s this place at …

“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 …

Five ways to keep Easter real

Easter is the most important time on the Christian calendar, right? Which explains why I get to this time of the year and fret over how I can give Easter its due weight of significance. God gave so much for us – how can I appropriately acknowledge that? Not in a religious way, mind, but in a way that focuses my thinking and gives new revelation of Easter’s gift. With two little ones in the fold, I’m also conscious of the way we do Easter for them. I’m not opposed to a good old Easter egg hunt, but I want them to grow up with a clear understanding that this time of the year is more about Jesus than chocolate. Which is why I sat down and wrote these five things I’ll be focusing on this Easter to keep it real. ONE. Attend a gathering of some description. It could be a church service or an Easter parade, a festival, feast or mass. The important thing is to be part of a throng of like-minded people. …

Thank You to the Abortionist Who Had a Plane to Catch

You walk into the clinic and take a seat beside your boyfriend.
Three other women are seated in the cramped waiting room, one with her mother.
A stack of magazines sits untouched.
There is no music.

The four women waiting for an abortion that day are deathly silent. They look at the floor, at their hands, at the walls. The hush amplifies the voice of the receptionist as she makes phone calls. When a doctor strides in and tells her that appointments must be cancelled that day, his voice is as clear as a heartbeat. Those waiting lean in.

I Was Pregnant at 16 – And My Life Didn’t “Go Down The Drain”

“I was scared to tell people I was pregnant.”

Lucy sits comfortably beside Evie who is asleep, nestled against her hip. The blonde-haired toddler will be two in June. Lucy contentedly strokes her daughter’s hair and begins to share candidly about how she came to be a mother at the age of 16.

“I was finishing year 10 at Queechy High School,” she says.

That’s when she first had suspicions that her expanding belly was more than a bit of bloating. Still, the softly spoken teen stayed tight-lipped until her stepfather noticed the changes and bought her a pregnancy test.

“I already knew what the result would be – I was 19 weeks pregnant!” Lucy laughs.

Putting the Brakes on Generational Cycles

There’s a statistic I recall from one of those lose-weight-quick, boot-camp-style television shows that shocked me: obese parents are 80 per cent more likely to have obese children. The show was about breaking cycles of obesity in families. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at that figure (the numerical one). We see similar patterns perpetuated in other nasties – abuse, divorce, poverty, alcoholism and so on. Parents who unwittingly pass bad habits onto their children. “I’m gonna be like you, dad, you know I’m gonna be like you,” Harry Chapin sings in that ‘70s hit, Cat’s in the Cradle. We know from experience that parents don’t intentionally set out to bestow their weaknesses on their children. We want the best for our kids. Yet the cycles continue. It’s what the Bible calls a curse: a generational curse. One of the Ten Commandments has some pretty stern words on the matter. “…I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of …

Come Back to the Table

Our dining table was bought at an auction – Baltic pine top with turned wooden legs painted gloss black. People say it has character. Maybe that’s just a nice way of saying it’s old and tired, but I don’t mind. What appealed to me as I circumnavigated the eight-seater on the concrete floor of the auction house was the raw timber marked with knots, scratches, nail heads and indentations. It was like looking at the flotsam of many meals shared. I liked the thought that we could add our own marks to this table – and we have. There’s a splotch of red paint from the time my son loaded his brush to outline a fierce dinosaur on butchers paper. There are subtle impressions from the many times I have written shopping lists and letters. There are crumbs in the cracks and circular watermarks, coffee marks, wine marks. Secretly, I hope our kids will engrave their initials in it someday. Of all the pieces of furniture in the home, the table is perhaps the most …

Surrogacy Exploits Women and Deprives the Rights of the Child

Should we be concerned with a growing demand for rent-a-womb pregnancies?  The accepted term, of course, is ‘surrogacy’, but I wonder if this is just a neat, clinical way of referring to baby trade. Surrogacy has always made me uncomfortable and not only because I am a Christian, whose beliefs hinge on the inherent value of human life and the traditional family unit. Surrogacy is a transaction that reinforces the divide between the Haves and the Have-Nots.  Infertile or gay or image-conscious Western couples can buy a baby.  Even in altruistic surrogacy, there is a disregard for the intimate bond a baby and mother stitch together in the nine months before delivery. Commercial surrogacy is illegal in Australia, however, as the recent case of baby Gammy has highlighted, Australian couples are free to access overseas surrogacy services and bring their baby home. It’s still early days for Tasmania where laws changed in 2012 to allow altruistic surrogacy.  In Queensland, however, this change happened in 2010.  Of the three surrogacy arrangements since, two have ended up …

FREE “Relationship Vouchers”

Is your marriage on the rocks?  Are you about to get hitched?  Does your relationship have a few niggles that keep popping up?  Or do you just love a freebie?  As of tomorrow, Aussie couples can apply for $200 ‘relationship vouchers’ to subsidise counselling. You can thank Federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews for the initiative, which he designed to “help couples achieve a greater degree of happiness and stability and thereby a better environment for their children.” The first 100,000 couples to apply in the $20 million trial’s first year will be able to take the voucher to an approved provider for “marriage and relationship education and counselling, including components of parenting education, conflict resolution and financial management education.” And it’s not only the married-and-resigned-to-divorce types that are eligible. These relationship spruce-up tickets are for long-time married couples, honeymooning couples, engaged couples, unmarried (and with no plans to marry) couples and same-sex couples.  Couples with kids, couples who’ve received their diamond anniversary letter from the Queen, couples who believe marriage is a trap and …

Man-up. Take Responsibility. We Need You.

Did you know that the sperm carries the architectural drawings for a baby’s first home? One of America’s most prominent forensic specialists, Frederick T. Zugibe (1928-2013) – who has so many letters after his name that I’d do my word limit with them alone – wrote about it in his paper The Code for Human Life. “Recent studies show that the membranes that enclose the conceptus is derived from information encoded in the spermatozoa which provides for separation of the conceptus from the mother otherwise the mother’s immune system would destroy the conceptus.” Capiche? If you can get past the medical jargon, you will see that this is a rather lyrical illustration of the male role in family: that of security and provision. It made me think of the Emily’s Voice ad running at the moment. Teen boy meets teen girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Girl falls pregnant. What next? “I had to man-up and take responsibility,” the young dad says. The line sounds rather foreign in a culture that elevates a woman’s …