Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wedding 5

I'm slowly getting to the end of posting about the 2007 wedding season.

The fifth wedding I went to this year was the wedding of Clayton and Elza. Clayton is Duncan's (third?) cousin - very confusing, especially since Duncan's brother is also called Clayton. This wedding was held on the 28th July at Dalwallinu Baptist Church and was followed by an afternoon tea reception at the Dalwallinu Recreation Centre. Duncan had the job of driving the four bridesmaids around so I went along for the ride.

Dunc and his big bro
Photos in the local park

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Duncan's First Christmas.....

.........with these crazy people!
These photos were taken on Mum's birthday back on the 3rd October.
Merry Christmas y'all!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Albany in October

Duncan and I head to Albs tomorrow so I thought it's high time I showed you the pics from last time we were there in October.

We also had the pleasant surprise of bumping into fellow blogger and ex-Albanyite Middo at church while we were there.
Me watching TV wearing a dressing gown. I had no idea Duncan was taking this pic until I saw it on his camera - sneaky, sneaky!

View from Mt Clarence

Princess Royal Harbour

Dunc and I at the lookout.

Me striking a pose...not a very good one!

My handsome Duncan

View over Middleton Beach

Those steps are a bit of a climb

This was Duncan's first Facebook profile photo ;)

It took a while to get our steps posing photos just right ;)
Nah, it was just that the beach was jolly cold.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why I've Been Away.....

This is why I've been missing from the blogosphere for almost a week.

Picture is from

I've had random spots appearing since the middle of last week but I put it down to the stress of moving house.

Then on Sunday, a friend at church reckoned I had chicken pox.

I've never had it before but was vaccinated against it years ago. Everyone immediately gave me the wide berth and I've spent the last few days at home (my new home) without internet access and in peace and quiet.

On Tuesday I went to the doctor to see what he thought. I explained that I had a few random spots appearing (but not many) and that I'd been feeling a bit sick off and on. My skin feels quite itchy most of the time even though there's not much visible evidence about why this should be the case.

He didn't even mention chicken pox, he seems to think it's an allergy of some sort. After eliminating animals, washing powder and diet as possible causes, we're still no closer to determining what's causing it. I'm taking an antihistamine and if it doesn't work, I have to go back to the doctor.

Today I'm back at work and after explaining that it's unlikely to be chicken pox or anything contagious, I've stopped getting wary looks and they've been very sympathetic. I'm just glad to be back on the net and not treated like a leper.

Thank goodness I've had no spots on my face.

As to what's causing this, well the mystery continues.........

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Room With A View

As many of you know, I have been working four days a week this year as a librarian and have been spending Wednesdays at home, writing my first novel. In this post I did last year, I mentioned that going from full-time to part-time had been a six month battle with the big wigs at the library I work at. Then at the end of last year, I finally got my wish. Then in this post a couple of months ago I said how disappointed I was to learn my 'writing day' has been taken away for next year. As of January, I will return to work full-time.

Work-wise it has been a great year. I found working full-time in 2006 extremely frustrating due to the lack of variety and with not being able to spend time writing which is what I studied for my undergraduate degree and what I love. I'm the kind of person who is suited to two part-time jobs as it breaks up the week and stops my enthusiasm waning. I couldn't be a full-time writer either as the lack of people contact would be too much. I might even forget how to speak...actually, no maybe not!

At the start of the year, I was moved away from the desk I'd sat at in the library for the past two years since starting as a graduate. This desk faced the wall and was pretty much a dingy, dark hole so my boss decided that after two years, a window seat might make a nice change for me. I loved being able to look out the window while I worked (okay I was prone to daydreaming) and seeing students scurry across the university grounds.

And of course, on Wednesdays I had another room with a view - my study at home. This just looked out on the back courtyard and clothes line but that was good enough for me.

A lot of you are probably wondering what my book is about; a question I've been asked so many times that if I were charging I'd be a very rich woman. Nah, it's okay, I don't mind being asked but I'm not going to announce it on the net. You'll have to wait and see (and buy a copy). I'll give you a hint - it's about one of my great loves (and it's fiction).

Reactions have varied between smiles and "Oh wow, I can't wait to read that", to simple nods and sometimes muffled giggles and raised eyebrows. But I don't care. I happen to love my book, even if that's incredibly biased. No book is ever going to appeal to everyone. I'm sure that if it ever gets published, some people I know will pick it to bits or laugh at it - especially those over-critical, analysing types. But that's up to them. It's not meant to be taken really seriously.

Writing is not a cruisy job/hobby, even though it's perceived to be. A lot of writers struggle with writer's block although I don't thankfully. I do, however, struggle with laziness and lack of motivation. At the start of the year, I was basically averaging a chapter per writing day. As the year went on, my drive started to wane and tiredness and busyness crept in. It's always a temptation to use that day for errands. When Emma lived with me and wasn't working on Wednesdays, I had someone to keep me accountable. When her work hours increased and she later got married and moved out, I started to struggle to complete a chapter every few weeks. It's a bit like really have to be motivated and self-disciplined.

I first got the idea for this book back in Year 10 (1998) and since then it's undergone a lot of editing and reshaping in my mind. I started a first draft back then but after re-reading decided it basically sucked and I ditched it. In January 2005, when I was a jobless new graduate I started again. I was in Chapter 7 when I began my 'writing day' this year and now I've nearly finished Chapter 23. It's an epic so it's probably going to have about 40 chapters (if I'd had a dollar every time I'd been asked how many chapters its going to have, I'd be even richer).

A lot of people were astounded when they discovered that's why I went part-time this year. Some were full of encouragement, some were worried about how I'd go with a day's less money. That wasn't a problem until I was without a housemate for a month and had to pay full rent. That hurt! But God has looked out for me.

Sadly I'll be losing both my window seats next year. No longer will I be writing regularly but I'll be losing my window seat at work. The library is being renovated and I'll be turfed back onto the middle of the floor with the rest of the serfs while one of the library gurus gets my beloved seat. Oh well...

As to why I want to be a writer.......well I'll answer that question in a forthcoming post :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wedding 4

Well I'm finally getting around to blogging about all the weddings I've been to this year - seven to be exact! They're all over now.

The fourth wedding I went to this year was that of Mick and Corinne. Both go to my church. I first met Mick through the Christian group at uni back in 2001 (before I was even a Christian) and we discovered that we were both from Albany.

Their wedding was on the 7th July which turned out to be a popular date around the world - 07/07/07. Despite being the middle of winter, the weather was fantastic. The ceremony was held at Balga Aboriginal Evangelical Church and was followed by a cocktail reception at Bell's Function Centre near the belltower.

It was also exactly one week before Dunc proposed.......

I guessed Mick would be wearing a kilt but he wouldn't admit it beforehand. His kilt was actually from his family's clan and he even had a dagger in his sock (it probably has a special name but I can't remember it).

A friend, Jill, put my hair in rags the night before but I stupidly brushed it in the morning and it went quite frizzy!

The newlyweds all smiles

And a pic of us!

Check out my Photobucket album for more wedding pics.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Forgiveness: Have I Really Forgiven Them?

As I've mentioned before, part of the problem with thinking forgiveness is a feeling is that one day you may feel forgiving towards someone and the next day you may not.

Here are some questions I ask myself when I think I've forgiven someone:
  • Am I bitching/gossiping about them to others?
  • Do I constantly keep talking about the incident?
  • How would I react if good things are happening to them?
  • How would I react if bad things are happening to them?
  • Am I secretly hoping they get what they deserve?
  • Am I still angry and bitter?
  • Do I feel more comfortable/peaceful?

Forgiveness is a process so if you think you've forgiven someone but then find you're still angry, bitter and hoping they get what they deserve - don't panic. Keep asking God to help you forgive this person. Make the decision to forgive and your feelings will follow.

Sometimes we're the forgiver. Sometimes we're the ones needing to be forgiven.

Either way, forgiveness sets you free.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Forgiveness: The Aftermath

Regular readers at the Sedshed may have realised I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness and its consequences after this comment I left on my Invitation Politics post in June.

Anonymous, that's exactly what I'm struggling with. What does forgiveness look like? Forgiveness is hard enough in itself and it is costly (look what Jesus had to go through) - God doesn't take sin lightly. Yet once you've forgiven the perpetrator, does that mean you have to let them back into your life again and everything goes back to how it was before? What if the person does not give two hoots about whether you've forgiven them or not and continues to behave in a hurtful manner? Is there not a place for distancing yourself in order to protect yourself from further harm? I know God continues to forgive us even though we continue to sin against him. Yet, as a sinful human myself, I often struggle to reconcile relationships with other sinful humans. This is coming from someone who used to push people in arguments to reconcile with each other immediately. There's nothing wrong with this but I've since discovered that it's not this easy textbook formula that I made it out to be. Forgiveness and trust are different. I might, by God's grace, be able to forgive someone but whether I trust them again is a completely different matter.

It's a fair question and dilemma I think. Once we've forgiven, what next?

After forgiving a relatively minor offense, chances are the relationship can remain at the same level of closeness it had before. Some people find resolving conflict even draws them closer.

But what if the offense is major? You forgiven them by God's grace but can things ever return to how they were? I'm convinced that forgiveness and trust are two completely different things. God asks us to forgive - but not necessarily to trust everyone. He asks us to trust him. Here are some examples of incidents which forgiveness may be able to be achieved but trust is much harder.
  • Adultery
  • Domestic violence
  • Slander/gossip

You might by God's grace be able to forgive someone who has cheated on you, assaulted you or spread a hurtful rumour about you. They may indeed be genuinely repentant but I admit I'd find it very hard to trust them again. I'd constantly be suspicious and watchful, wondering if they'd again betray my trust. And I'd find it just as hard to open up and share a deeper part of myself. This must be especially difficult in marriage where we are commanded to seek reconciliation rather than divorce.

The world is full of 'disposable relationships' where if someone hurts you, it is your right to cut them off completely. You might forgive but you'd be a fool to be friends with them again so we are supposed to ignore them. Does God say to do that? Does he say forgive then you can ignore them? Does ignoring show you haven't really forgiven?

I admit I'm one for ignoring people I'm annoyed at. It has its merits in that it can allow you to cool down, get some space and work through stuff before trying to repair the relationship. But it's not a long term solution as I've discovered. For one thing, when I'm trying to ignore them I find I'm constantly aware of where that person is in the room. I have to be careful to avoid places where they are, even taking longer routes to get out of that awkward face-to-face meeting. Ignoring someone does not work.

So what does 'post forgiveness' look like? We must forgive, no question, whether we tell that person that we've forgiven them or do it in the quiet of our heart. But how do we rebuild shattered trust?

Sometimes I don't think relationships can be fully restored to how they were before. I know there's been times where I've been hurt too bad and although I'm on speaking terms with that person, we don't have to be close friends. God calls us to live in peace with each other but we don't have to be best friends. That was some of the best advice I've heard this year.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)

We can only do what we can to be peacemakers. The rest depends on the other person which brings me to my next point....

It's easier to for a broken relationship to return to its previous standing when the perpetrator is repentant. But what if they're not? What if, like in my comment above, 'they do not give two hoots about whether you've forgiven them or not and continue to behave in a hurtful manner'? They might think their bad treatment of you is completely warranted. What now? One incident I've of is the (now ended) marriage of Shane and Simone Warne. He keeps cheating on her, she keeps taking him back. It doesn't look like he'll ever learn his lesson. She's remained on good terms with him but does that mean she needs to keep subjecting herself to adultery? It's a tough situation.

Obviously you can't make that other person want peace, you can only do what you can. Part of this is trusting God by not taking revenge yourself. But does that mean you need to let yourself be physically and emotionally harmed, lie down and be a doormat? A lot of Christians will tell you 'yes' and they'll base that view on Jesus' words in Matthew 5:38-42.

But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

I don't know what to make of those verses. Some will say they're about religious persecution so you don't have to do it just because someone has 'issues' and likes mistreating you. Romans 12:20 says the following:

On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

We can show love to our enemies, radical love, that will hopefully shame them. We can be peacemakers from our end, but we can only do so much. But as for allowing ourselves to be in harm's way, well Paul does talk about 'church discipline' in 1 Corinthians indicating we are to care about each other's behaviour and godliness and rebuke where necessary (especially if the perpetrator is a fellow Christian and they remain unrepentant).

We don't just have to 'cop it', just don't sin against them. Sometimes I think keeping your distance for a bit may be necessary. Peacemaking doesn't mean you have to deeply trust the person. I know when someone's blabbed something I told them in confidence, I can forgive the person, they may even still be my friend. But the relationship has changed, some trust has been lost. I may be able to trust them again in time but I'm not obligated to tell them all of my deepest darkest secrets again.

Writing about the 'aftermath' of forgiveness has definitely been the toughest post. It's not easy but I don't have to do it alone. Amongst all the conflicting opinions and advice, God is with me. I'm still working through this stuff.

I would love it if you could share your thoughts, opinions or experiences by leaving a comment.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Forgiveness: Why Do It?

When I've been wronged by someone, I often ask God, "Do I have to forgive them?"
Behind this question is my attitude of not wanting to forgive, to make them pay and to hold onto my anger. I'm really hoping that God will say that I don't have to forgive them and that there is a limit of how many times I have to forgive someone before I can turn to them and say "Sorry, no more. You've had your chances. Now I'm cutting you off for good. Goodbye."

In short, the answer to the question, "Do we have to forgive?" is yes. Why?

I think there are two reasons:
1. God says so.
2. There are benefits for both the forgiver and the forgiven.

Why does God insist we forgive others who hurt us? Basically because he forgave us.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

God has graciously forgiven us through what Jesus did for us on the cross. Therefore, we have no right to remain unforgiving towards another person when God has forgiven us for our rebellion against him, for rejecting him as God, for living our own lives our own way as if we don't need him, for ignoring him, for disobeying how we wants us to live, treating others and the rest of God's creation in a shocking way. There are many horrific things which we humans do to each other - rape, assault, theft, fraud, adultery, murder.... I'm not trying to downplay the magnitude of these offenses. But no matter how badly someone has treated you...we have treated God much worse. And we cannot accept God's forgiveness yet continue to remain hateful and unforgiving towards another person. It's hard, that's for sure - but I cannot see any way around it.

Jesus gave us the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:23-35

"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.
"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

How may times do I need to keep forgiving one who sins against me? Jesus pretty much answers my question in Matthew 18:21-22

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

We know it's not a literal 77 times. It's not saying that on the 78th time you can stop forgiving and start hating and resenting. 77 times just means a lot so basically forgive....and keep forgiving. Don't keep count.

How can I not count that person's sins against them? Ultimately their sin is more against God than it is against me and God is only one who can forgive sins. So if God has forgiven then I cannot claim to be holier than God and withhold forgiveness. I know I cannot forgive perfectly as God does. But that doesn't mean I can use it as an excuse to get out of it. As I said in the first post, forgiveness takes both God and me.

Even people who profess no faith in God know that forgiveness is a good thing. For one thing it has benefits for both the forgiver and the perpetrator. At first, it felt great not forgiving someone. I was making sure they knew just how much they'd hurt and angered me, that they knew the magnitude of their actions and that they'd feel bad....really bad. I had a right to stew in my anger. I was the hurt one, the victim.

But unforgiveness is like a eats away at the soul. There are many incidents where the perpetrator has long moved on but the victim cannot. Their anger and unforgiveness is torturing them. I know I've felt like that - replaying the incident over and over, dwelling on it, thinking about it...and the hurt and rage just didn't go away. That's one reason why it's often said that forgiveness can be more for the forgiver than for the forgiven. Christian or not, very few people want conflict and broken relationships. I think I can fairly safely say we all want peace and reconciliation.

Forgiveness also benefits the one being forgiven. I'm sure we've all wronged someone in our lifetime and know the relief when that person graciously forgives us. It's like we've been liberated from our chains of guilt.

Forgiveness is not magic. But it is the first step to moving on, that despite hurt and injustice that God has everything under control, he is the one who will ultimately judge, he will right all wrongs. That's not saying we shouldn't step in when we see someone treating another person badly. There is a difference between justice and revenge.

There are no excuses with forgiveness. I could think of many I've come up with to fit different circumstances but God has gently rebuked me each time. Maybe the perpetrator is dead so you cannot go to them and say "I forgive you." Maybe you don't know where they are or how to contact them. Maybe they don't care less whether you've forgiven them or not and continue to believe they're in their right to hurt you. Whether or not we can speak words of forgiveness to someone, we still must forgive them from our heart.

This all raises the question I will attempt to answer in my next post - what should the relationship look like after you've forgiven them? Should everything be back to a bed of roses, just like it was before? Or, despite forgiveness, is the person still continuing to hurt you, causing immense damage to you physically, emotionally or spiritually? Can we still forgive but change a relationship?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Forgiveness: What It's Not

In many ways, this post is more important than my previous one. There's only so much I could say on what I (and the dictionary) think forgiveness is. I'm going to say much more on what forgiveness is NOT.

This is important because so many people have a faulty understanding on what is required when forgiving someone. This includes myself and it is only due to the counsel of some very wise people that I can now somewhat see the difference. Wrong views of forgiveness are not only prevalent in Christian circles but among secular people too. Many Christians say that forgiveness is letting people walk all over us - and this is what we should do. Meanwhile the world screams that forgiveness is a sign of weakness, that we don't have to do it and, if we do, then we should only give someone one chance. I realise not all Christians or secular people hold to these views - they are just some opinions I have heard in my lifetime.

Forgiveness is not forgetting. I reckon a lot of us think The Corrs got it right in their song, 'Forgiven Not Forgotten'. We are not expected to forget the incident ever happened. It may be very doable with minor incidents (many which I've forgotten over the years) but when a major grievance has occurred, this seems impossible. Forgiveness is not wiping your memory blank - it is moving on.
  • Forgiveness is not necessarily a one-off action. It can be something we have to do constantly and we may need to forgive the same person for the same hurt over and over again.
  • Forgiveness is not deserved. No-one deserves forgiveness. It is an act of grace. Nor can we use forgiveness as a bargaining weapon - "I'll forgive you when you change." We forgive even if the person never changes and continues to hurt us (obviously this is a major problem and I'll blog about this in Forgiveness: The aftermath).
  • Forgiveness is not removing the pain. The pain may lessen when you forgive and move on but you may still experience emotional pain in the future. It is not magic.
  • Forgiveness is not a feeling - it is a conscious decision. The problem with 'feeling' forgiving towards someone is that you may wake up the next morning and find the anger, hurt and bitterness are still there (been there). The action comes before the emotions.
  • Forgiveness is not an invitation for the other person to continue to hurt you. You need to have boundaries.
  • Forgiveness is not surrendering and saying the other person was right. Just because you've forgiven someone doesn't mean you were wrong and they were right. You can forgive but still hold onto the truth in that situation.

So once you know what forgiveness is and what it's not, it's worth asking the question, do we have to do it?

More tomorrow....

Monday, December 03, 2007

Forgiveness: What It Is

This is my latest series. It's something I've been pondering over and struggling with for much of this year. Therefore, you can be assured that I'm going to do my best not to make it an academic exercise of what forgiveness is. These are thoughts that are still circling in my head and it's an issue which affects all of us. All of us will need to forgive another at some stage in our lives. If we didn't, then we wouldn't be sinners.

Over the next few days (yes, I'm going to blog every day this working week!), I'm going to explore the topic of forgiveness and ask for your thoughts.
  • Forgiveness: What it is
  • Forgiveness: What it's not
  • Forgiveness: Why do it?
  • Forgiveness: The aftermath
  • Forgiveness: Have I really forgiven them?

1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
3. to grant pardon to (a person).
4. to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one's enemies.
5. to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.
(definition taken from

Many questions have been plaguing me this year. It's one thing to grant pardon to someone, but how do I cease to feel resentment? Time does play a part in healing wounds but we are called by God to forgive our enemies. How can I forgive as God does?

Forgiveness means no longer seeing the perpetrator as indebted to you. It requires all of God's strength and love to be able to do this, something he has taught me recently. Forgiveness is letting go of the past and moving on. It is making a conscious decision to forgive - not relying on 'feelings'. It is freely given - not with strings attached.

Forgiveness takes both God and me.