All posts tagged: God

Let Your Soul Sing

I glance to my left and see a line of puffed-up chests. Chins are lifted, eyes the same, or squeezed shut. The chests, they puff with words and breath that climb in a collective up-current like those that catch sheets on clothes lines or carry dandelion seeds away. Me, I struggle to squeeze the words out my suddenly-swollen throat. All the voices: the young ones, the old ones, the tenors, the sopranos, the soft ones, the bellowy ones, the gifted ones, the tone-deaf ones; they all muddle to make one magnificent noise, one hallowed space. We could be anywhere. Anywhere they sing – at the footy, in a choir, at the Olympics, at a state event, at a concert, at a rally or at church. We could be singing anything: the national anthem, a team song, a chart-topper, a ballad or a hymn. Singing releases endorphins (the pleasure hormone) and oxytocin, the hormone that both reduces stress and strengthens feelings of trust and connection. Countless studies vouch for the benefits of singing – particularly collective singing – …

CREATIVE: It Should be on Everyone’s CV

Adult colouring-in. It’s a thing, and let’s not poo-poo it until we’ve tried it for ourselves, deal? Sales of colouring-in books for the post-childhood demographic have soared as people take to drawing within the lines to relieve stress and invigorate creativity. These popular publications ditch Thomas and Peppa in favour of intricate patterns akin to those adorning Persian rugs and Moroccan tiles. It’s very tempting! There’s no doubt I would enjoy pulling out the tin of Derwent pencils my parents gave me for Christmas when I still had a fringe and braces. I love sitting down with my four-year-old to help colour a picture. His are of dinosaurs and monster trucks, but the effect is the same. We get in The Zone where the silence is only disrupted for a “pass the blue, please” or “don’t bump, Mum!” Why does scratching a pencil back and forth over paper feel so therapeutic? The calming yet industrious feeling it calls up is similar to what happens when I bake a scrummy cake, snap photos with my SLR or write …

Proof of God.

You know those moments in life you wish you could bottle? The ones that make your synapses zing and your nerve endings tingle? The fleeting moment when you stand in awe of just how precious life is. – When winter light falls on our city just shy of dusk and, from an elevated view, houses seem to drink of it until their windows glow. Within, people are busy cooking dinner, bathing kids, debriefing after a long day, getting schoolwork done, lighting the fire, laughing at the dog. The tender motions of normal. – When you’re right and he’s wrong and the verbiage flies back and forth like a tennis match, only the projectile is heaving with increased breadth and ugliness, gaining speed and venom until you don’t remember the point you were trying to make, let alone what started the argument in the first place. You rub the palms of your hands down your jeans as if the friction might reignite your angry passion but instead, stealing a glance at your forever and always, you both start …

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, …

The God of ALWAYS and NEVER

“Always” and “never” are adverbs most at home in the angst of an argument. “You NEVER help with the chores!” “You’re ALWAYS nagging!” Perhaps you’re incredibly civilised and don’t partake in domestic mud slinging, but for those of us who do, “always” and “never” conversations are commonplace. “Why do you ALWAYS say that?” “Why is it that you NEVER make time for me, but you have no end of time for your friends?” Aside from the fact that such statements are pretty much “always” untrue, they’re also pretty much “never” useful. They also demonstrate our humanity; the fact that we’re imperfect beings yearning for perfection. We are trying to fill our ALWAYS and NEVER desires with flawed people. Square peg, round hole. In reality, I can only trust the “always” and “never” conversations of one being. God. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,” he promises (Hebrews 13:5). “I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” Jesus affirms again in Matthew 28:20. These are promises that no man …

“To Make An End Is To Make A Beginning”

Why is time divvied up into all the relevant portions? Centuries and decades and years and months and weeks and days and hours and minutes and seconds. Of course there’s the importance of measuring time for recording purposes. But time has been measured before we had instruments to measure it with. Nature measures time through seasons, life cycles, tides and shifting sands. You can measure the age of a tree by counting the rings in a cross-section of its trunk, a horse by the length of its teeth. Time propels us forward – the hands of the clock keep cycling, pushing us to the next and the next and the next. I believe there is a spiritual reason for the measures of time locked within nature. Humanity has borrowed these calculations to construct the rigid framework we build our lives around. But perhaps we forget their more organic purpose. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17. The pattern of God’s love …

A Humble Birth With A Grand Response

Bit proud of myself. I made my own nativity scene – after many years trying to find something that, A) isn’t a ludicrously-coloured kids’ version, and B) doesn’t cost a month’s pay. I raided the kids’ toy box for some animal figurines: a few lambs, a sheep and a donkey. A bird’s nest made the manger, a bit of creative folding of a length of bandage for baby Jesus, a hessian star – all whacked under a glass cloche (Masterchef eat your heart out!), and voila!   The idea featured in the December issue of a certain home decorating magazine. Er, the idea I copied that is… So our modest little nativity scene (sans Mary and Joseph – still working on them!) is sitting on a side table in our lounge room. Behind it looms the Christmas tree, laden with tinsel, shiny baubles, be-glittered ornaments, twinkling lights and all manner of gaudy Christmas objects. I love it. But the juxtaposition of my humble nativity scene with that other leafy celebration of Christmas was poignant. For …

Where Ordinary and Extraordinary Collide

“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.” – William Martin. We were sitting on the lounge room floor shelling broad beans, my son and I. He was engrossed, tongue hanging out the corner of his mouth as he manoeuvred each bean from its pod. We talked about how some were big and some were small – how the smaller ones were sweeter. But mostly we just shelled beans, my three-year-old and I. They were probably the most peace-filled moments of the day. I noticed things; like the downy lining of each broad bean pod and that whoever designed these things …

“I Want to Live the Kind of Life He Lived” (A Daughter To Her Dad)

Loved ones come and loved ones go. It is a reality of life that there comes an end point. Whether they meet death fresh-faced with barely a day to their name or as a sage with decades of experience and wisdom, one point remains true: life is precious. Here, Christine bravely lays bare her grief in homage to her dad who died a few months back; a man whose 82 years were lived with the kind of dignity and faith that has left the sweet kiss of legacy on those who remain. Another This Little Life story… “The hymn beautifully expressed what had been on our hearts during the 12 weeks of our dearly loved father’s hospital stay. When peace like a river flows all through my life, When sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot you have taught me to say: It is well, it is well with my soul. It was evening as the family gathered one last time to farewell Pieter, our Dad and Opa. I got the call just after …

Keeping Prayer Simple, Immediate and Relevant.

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s widely expected that eyes be closed tight during prayer, just listen to the attempts of a three-year-old flouting the rule. “Thank you Jesus for the food and please keep us safe and thank you for mummy and daddy and… thank you for the window and the rubbish bin and dinosaurs and…” It’s at about this point that Master Three’s roving eyes meet mine and he finishes with a hurried “amen” and a cheeky grin. Gotta love him! Heads bowed, eyes closed and hands clasped aren’t such bad instructions, if a little tight-laced. To be honest, I can never find my authoritative mummy voice to reprimand our little man at prayer time. He’s talking to God and God deserves our respect, but we forget too often that faith is a relationship of many dimensions, including humour. The Lord’s Prayer is a particular difficulty for kids and I’ve heard some stellar mispronunciations: “Our Father who art in heaven, Howard by they name” or “How’d you know my name?” “Give us this …