Biblical Heroes!

Here is a list of people in the Bible who have inspired me (in chronological order).  I have not put in Jesus – kind of goes without saying really and is probably a whole other category.

Jacob/Israel –  I mainly just like the part where Jacob wrestles with God.  I guess I have struggled and wrestled with faith too and I find this little story helpful.

Joseph – As a child I loved the story of Joseph although I think more than anything I liked his coloured coat.   Jacob could have perhaps been a little more humble about his coat and his dreams but he strikes me as kind and compassionate.  He was kind to the prisoners, to those who came looking for food during the famine and finally he shows mercy to his brothers.

Ruth – Nine years ago Martin and I were trying to make a decision about if we would bring his mum out for the wedding.  On the day we had decided not to we heard Jane preach on the story of Ruth at St John’s.  I am sure it was God speaking directly to me through Ruth and Jane.  Ruth’s faithfulness inspired me at that time and continues to inspire me today in what is not always an easy relationship.

Esther –  Esther was another story I loved as a child.  Esther is a courageous woman.  She makes a decision to stand up for her people even if it could cost her life.  We need more people like that.  Esther’s courage inspired me at a time when I needed to make a decision that needed courage, although certainly not as much as hers.

Hosea – There were a few prophets who I could have put on this list but I guess I chose Hosea for the obvious reason of his faithfulness to his unfaithful wife.  This beautiful example of God’s love for us is irresistible.  While, sometimes I find the prophets and their messages of doom, destruction and judgement a little heavy going Hosea shows with action more than words that God loves us first and foremost.  I also do admire that Hosea, (like the all the prophets) is not afraid to speak the hard truths of God, to call people back to a more just, honest, faithful and less greedy life.

John the Baptist – John was a radical.  I don’t think he would have fitted into the system at all.  I like that.  He wasn’t trying to win a popularity contest and he too spoke the hard truths to people about the need to change their lives.  He was also humble.  Never trying to seek the credit for himself but pointing people to God.

Mary Magdalene – I find the story of the women going to Jesus’ grave after his death to put spices on his body very inspiring.  They were faithful at a time when things were pretty uncertain and trusting in Jesus wasn’t working out as people had thought and hoped.   This faithfulness was also risky, all the males disciples were hiding and denying they ever knew Jesus, but these women went to the grave anyway out of love.  Not only is this very moving but I think it speaks volumes of the role of women in the church.






Turning 30

I’m going to jump ahead a little bit on my list to the topic of turning 30.  As today is my birthday and I am turning 30 it’s make sense.

I am in Chiclayo, about 3 hours south of Piura.  It’s not a particularly beautiful city but I didn’t really want to go far, travelling with Nina can be hard.  However, just out of Chiclayo there is a pretty impressive tomb that is about 1800 years old that we visited today.  They found about 16 graves buried there og lords, priests and warriors buried with numerous impressive ceramics and jewellries not to mention sacrifices.  It was pretty fascinating.  We also splashed out a little bit on the hotel to mark the occasion .  The room even has a spa bath which I enjoyed bathing in tonight as well relaxing with the welcome drink on the balcony.

I have to say it’s quite a big deal turning 30 and I am glad we have been able to get away, relax and do something special to acknowledge the ocaasion.  Of course thirty is not old but once you are thirty you are not youth either.  I have the feeling that if I am not fully living my life by now I better start.

I have a real sense of sadness to be saying farewell to my twenties.  I have loved my twenties.  I hated my teens but the twenties were great, filled with lots of adventures, fun, visions, idealism and friendship (I will especially remember the friendships of this time).  As well as lots of learning.  While I still have a lot more to learn I do like myself a lot more now than I did when I turned 20.

However, I have lived my twenties a little bit in the future.  Always planning the next step,  eg when I was at uni what I would do when I finished.  I have especially thought about this move to Peru and what we do when we got here.  I regret that a little bit.  I wish I had been a bit more present.

That is one of my hopes for my thirties.  That I will be much more present.  My other hope is that I will be a lot more stable.  I have moved around a lot during my twenties – Hornsby, Peru, Enmore, Glebe, Alice Springs and now Peru again.  It’s been a great experience but I am finally ready to settle a little, I guess it is fairly normal for this to coincide with turning 30 although probably more to do with having a baby.  As we will be heading back to Australia at the end of the year and probably settling in Alice for awhile with no particular thoughts about the next step I am hoping it won’t be to hard to achieve these two goals.  Although right now I am really trying to be very present in this place too.  I have dreamed about it a lot and I want to cherish every moment.

In saying that I hope I don’t settle so much that I will lose all the idealism and values of community, simplicity and risk of my twenties.  I hope I will not become closed to any challenges that God may call us to in the future.  I am lucky to have my community around me to hold me accountable I suppose.


A lot of people I know have closed their facebook profiles. I sometimes think I should do the same. Facebook can be unbelievable sucker of my time. I get on to just read a message and half an hour later I still haven’t read the message but have managed to read a whole lot of status updates which mostly say nothing. I also struggle sometimes with the fact I don’t feel I am being totally real on Facebook. I don’t put a lot on facebook and what I do post I am very careful to only show a certain version of my life, the good parts I suppose. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in life there are many different social situations and we share different parts of ourselves depending on what is appropriate and I don’t feel facebook is a safe or appropriate place for sharing intimately about my struggles but this means a fairly shallow version of me is presented on facebook. Occasionally, I also do a little bit of facebook stalking. Facebook stalking is not very good for my soul. It feels a little bit like gossiping. I guess people choose to put it up there but I still feel like I may be intruding or something. It can also bring out the little green monster in me. I know most people are doing what I am doing and only putting up the good aspects of their life but sometimes I feel like some of my friends spend all their lives at really fun parties or on lovely beach holidays and always look so perfect too.

In saying all that I do value facebook for lots of reasons too. I have lots of friends and family in other countries who I really like been able to stay in touch with. It may not be a deep intimate relationship but that’s okay sometimes too. Having acquintances isn’t a bad thing. I like knowing if someone I went to school with or volunteered with had a baby or got married and that I can wish them well. I like knowing that if I ever did end up in Canada or the US or Europe I could easily get in touch with them and catch up. I like been able to wish people a Happy Birthday whose birthdays I would never remember without facebook. And it’s not that I don’t care about them it’s that who can remember all those birthdays. I like that I can share photos of Nina and our life here in Chulu with friends who don’t read my blog. I like having a little more contact with my cousins and aunts and uncles. So at this stage I will stick with my facebook. In fact I may get on now. But no stalking.

Doubts I have about my faith

I have questions and doubts about almost everything to do with my faith. Even when I was a regular church goer I was never very good at saying the creeds.  Not only because I think a lot of it is irrelevant and unhelpful but to be honest I don’t think I could claim that I am 100% sure of anything.  Sometimes I envy people when they confidently claim they have no problems believing this or that when I have questions about almost everything. Despite this I journey on in the Christian faith.  I read the Bible, pray, and try to live my life in response to Jesus and trust that God is with me despite all these questions and doubts.

So I don’t think I will go into all my doubts individually in this post.  Not only are there too many but I am probably at a place where I no longer wish to seek answers to everything anyway.  I imagine a lot of the things I doubt are fairly irrelevant and I have found some fairly unconventional answers to most of the other questions that mostly suffice and the rest is just part of the great mystery of God.

I will say though probably the biggest question I have regarding my faith is “what does all the suffering in the world say about God?”.  I know it’s not very original and lots of people have tried in different ways to answer this question.  I have my own ways of answering it that make sense to me sometimes but there are other times I hear some people’s stories of one terrible tragedy after another, after another and I do wonder what trust in God means.  And often, here in Peru surrounded by so much poverty and the injustice of it, none of the explanations make sense.  But there are moments when I feel God’s presence very near and mostly they are when I am suffering or with people who are suffering and I guess that answers a bit of my question.  But not of all it.


Books that have influenced me greatly

I love reading and I am grateful to my mum and my dad, whose love of reading probably inspired my own.  In fact I could probably thank my whole family for my love of reading.  For many years during my childhood my grandparents would hire a place in Shoal Bay for a week around Christmas.  My grandparents, parents, aunt and uncle would all go and everyone would bring a book, often a book they had been given at Christmas, always a popular present.  I have memories of everyone sitting around reading a lot during those holidays.  Book in general have influenced me but here a list of a few I can think of that have greatly influenced me.

“Looking for Alibrandi” by Melina Marchetta and “The Power of One” and “Tandia” by Bryce Courtney”

I put these books first as during my teenage years I remember reading these books over and over so they probably heavily influenced my joy of reading.  Especially, Looking for Alibrandi which I am sure I read at least once per year at high school.  I can’t remember much about it but I know I loved it.  I also read the The Power of One and its less well known sequel, Tandia a few times.  I was totally in love with the main character PK.  I didn’t know you could fall in love with book characters til then.

“Christianarchy” by Dave Andrews

It’s been awhile since I read this book so I am not sure I can really articulate clearly what it is about and who knows if it would have the same effect now but the first time I read it felt like coming home. At a time when I was feeling that perhaps Christianity wasn’t for me this book made me feel it was. Christianarchy talks about a very radical Jesus. A Jesus that was inclusive, passionate about the poor and a grace that meets us where we are and is truly unconditional. It pushes us to also live like this.

“The Colour Purple” by Alice Walker

The title of the book comes from a scene in the story when the main character is talking to a woman of “questionable morals”.  They are talking about sin and the woman points to the magnificant field of purple flowers they are walking past at the time and says, “I think it pisses God off when you walk by the colour purple in a field and don’t notice it.” It’s probably been over ten years since I read this book but I still think about the line when I see the colour purple.  I use the colour purple as a reminder to be in the present moment and to give thanks for all of God’s blessings.

“God of small things” by Arundhati Roy

This book is truly is rare. Perhaps not in it’s themes, no it looks at the univeral themes of love across boundaries and family and death and being on the outside but almost every sentence in a feast. The way she puts things together is truly extraordinary. It would creaet a passion for language in anyone I reckon.

“Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Friere

This was one of the first books I read when I began studying adult education and it very much influenced the huge passion I have for my work. It certainly got me through some of the much drier, uninspiring texts we had to read and is still what I come to back to now for inspiration in my work. I have talked about this before but this book is written in a Latin American context and calls educators to use education to liberate people rather than oppress them.

“Passionate Marriage” by David Schnarch

I think I have probably read this book or parts of it every year since I got married and I still get something out each time. The main theme of this book is differentiation which is about holding onto yourself in close relationships. Quite contrary to popular cultures idea of romance and intimacy, this book argues that we need to validate ourselves and our own sharing in our relationships not expect that from someone else. When things go wrong in our relationships, especially our marriage, we like to blame the other person and spend most of our time trying to change them. Passionate Marriage puts the focus on us. If we want the sort of marriage we want we need to create ourselves not expect it from another person.

“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak and “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini

I read both these books after a bit of a dry spell of good novels and I loved them.  They are engaging stories and beautifully written.  People sometimes criticise novels as not been true.  They say if you really want to learn something you should read non-fiction.  But one of the reasons I love novels is they can teach us so much about the world, about universal truths, in much more interesting ways than text books.  When I read the Kite Runner I realised I had such the wrong of impression of Afghanistan as been dry, ugly and always troubled whose people were all fairly extremist.  This book revealed my prejudice and taught me so much about the history of Afghanistan.  At the time I had two Afghani students and I was grateful to the book for helping me understand a little more of their context.  Despite hearing so much about Nazi Germany the Book Thief made me feel a compassion for the situation more than anything else I had ever read.

“The good news according to Luke” by Richard Rohr

I mentioned in the last post I am reading this again for proabably the third time.  Each time it re-excites me about the gospels and the story of Jesus.   This book honours the truth and sacredness of the Bible beyond the literal. It encourages me that I can still come to the Bible even if I don’t come to it as most Christians do, that God is bigger than all our limited understandings.

“The Curly Pyjama Letters” by Michael Luenig

There had to be a Leunig book in there and I think this would be one of my favourites. I love the way Leunig points out the extraordinary in the ordinary. He makes me feel like life is filled with wonder in all that is mundane. Whenever I read this book or any Luenig prayer or thought I am overwhelmed with a desire to give thanks or to dance or just bask in the sunshine.


So I missed two days.  Friday was a really big day of running from one thing to another .  I went out to Campanas in the morning to visit the women who I am going to support in birth.  I found out one of them actually had her baby a few days earlier.  They decided to give her a Caesarean as she had previously had one and she had to go to Piura so she didn’t bother calling me.  While I wouldn’t have been able to go with her as I don’t have a relationship with the hospital there and there is not much doulas can really do during Caesareans I told her I still would’ve liked to know.  I am very disappointed for her and for me too.  That’s the second birth I was supposed to support that ended up having a Caesarean in Piura.  While the first had pre-eclampsia so it was probably needed I think this birth wasn’t.  Vaginal Births after Caesareans are totally possible and happen all the time.  Anyway, we had a bit of chat about and she seems okay about it but she’s uncomfortable.  The baby is so cute so it was nice to spend some time there.  I am hoping the next ones won’t be Caesarean, one woman in particular is really keen for a vaginal birth.  I had a class after that which was a disaster and then our 5 year old niece was here for the night so we had to look after her which is a lot of energy. When she finally went down we left the sleeping children and headed to a friend’s place for a few drinks.  It turned into a bit of a late night.  Well just before one but that’s really late for us these days.

Then yesterday and today we were in Piura all day.  Yesterday we had a 15th birthday party to go to for one of our nieces (daughter of a cousin but in Peru that makes her a niece).  In Peru 15th are a really big deal.  They don’t have formals at the school like we do so this is the opportunity to get really dressed up etc etc.  These parties cost a fortune for the parents but they are very important especially for the girls.  We had a nice time catching up with family who live in Piura who we don’t see that much. I also went out with one of my sister in laws for a drink in the evening.  I am not a huge fan of Piura these days, as I have said, but it does have a pretty nice happening vibe at night and some cool places to go. Reminded me of all the reasons I loved it when I was first here and went out at night a lot.  Stupidly it became another later night than I am used to.

Then today was Father’s Day here so we spent the day with Martin’s brother and 4 of his kids.  Martin’s brother is building a house so we spent the day on his construction site.  Lucky there is some grassy areas too where we could sit and the kids could run around. Nina really loves her cousins.  I will be sad when she has to say goodbye to them.  It was pretty sunny and dusty though and keeping Nina off the construction stuff was tiring.

So the next topic is “books that have influenced me greatly”.  I logged on to write about it but I just decided not to. I think that is a topic that requires a bit of thought and effort and right now I am just too tired.

A Bible verse (or two) that have moved me lately

Luke 12: 29-34  “and do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.  For the pagan world runs after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  But seek His Kingdom and these things will be given to you.  Do not be afraid little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you His Kingdom.  Sell your possessions and give to the poor.  Provide purses for yourself that will not wear out , a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief come near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

I have in the past struggled with this passage.  I still do in some ways as I see people daily  whose most basic needs are not being met and I don’t fully know what that means.  But I have decided that I don’t think this should stop me from being grateful for all that I have.   For acknowledging that in the few times in my life, especially now, when I have sought God’s kingdom first everything I have needed has come to me plus more.  And that running after material wealth does not in the end make me happy and worry and fear bring no benefits at all.  Richard Rohr’s whose commentary on Luke, “The Good News according to Luke” I am reading again (prob the third time) puts in this way,  “That’s why the call is to faith, to believe.  Such faith is the opposite of anxiety.  Without faith you’re necessarily going to be concerned with security questions.  If God isn’t for you, you must be self-preoccupied.  When you stop believing in a loving God, you revert to yourself.  The Gospel has freed us from grovellig before God or trying to gain God’s approval.  We have it.  God loves us unconditionally.”  

I do want to say that over the years I have met some incredible people, who are totally unfocused on self or material wealth, who do not have a faith in God so I don’t know if this is true for everyone but it is for me.  The truth is for me “where my treasure is there will be my heart also” and thus I want my heart sent on the eternal things of God, on love and trust, family and community and all the things that really matter. Again, as Richard Rohr puts it, “Live on earth, what matters in eternity.  The focus of your time and your money will tell you what you God is and what’s important in your life”

Matthew 5: 42  “give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

I decided a few weeks back to give this ago.  One afternoon an elderly man put his hand out to me and I refused.  I had told myself numerous times that I could not give to everyone who asked and thus this man missed out.  As he walked away head bowed low these words came to me.  I went home and found the passage in Matthew and I felt a strong sense it was God rebuking me.  I decided to test out if I could give to everyone who asks.  Perhaps I cannot give to everyone exactly what they ask for but I think I can give something.  As people have been very generous to us in supporting our projects perhaps I could do the same.  And thus far it seems I can.  I have actually realised that I do not encounter beggars as much as I thought I did and usually they are not asking for much.  A coin or two at the most, not even one AUD.  I have only really been tested once and I tried to follow this principle.  Who knows if it was right or what I will do if it happens again but for now I have been moved by this passage.

What makes me angry!

I don’t really know if anger is a good thing or a bad thing.  Perhaps anger itself is neither but what we do with that anger.  If it moves us to change ourselves and take action against some kind of injustice it is a good thing.  If it just makes us bitter then it is not.  Anger towards someone who is not treating us okay can tell us that we need to try to fix that relationship or perhaps get a lot of distance from it in some circumstances and that is a good thing.  However, if we just let it well up and it makes us unfairly unkind to them or to others then it probably isn’t.

There are lots of things that make me angry.  And sometimes it leads to good things but probably more often if doesn’t.  I can be very unfair when I am angry and don’t always make wise decisions.  I hope and pray that I can use my anger towards these things to better myself rather than become bitter.  Anyway here are some, I have decided to limit it to ten things.

At the moment something that makes me angry a lot is machismo.  It is everywhere in the world but very bad here in Peru.  I am angry at how little men help in the raising of their children and in the care of their homes.  I am angry at how often they are unfaithful to their wives or violent towards them or unfairly jealous and controlling while they do whatever they please.  I am also angry that women still don’t have the right to chose the way they wish to birth their children but I have said that often enough.  Not to mention when men whistle crudely from their cars at women including me I so often want to stick up my finger.  I haven’t yet but I think it will happen.

The kids at the primary school make me angry when they are violent with each other.   I got really angry one day when they were violent towards a lizard that had made it’s way into the classroom.  I also get pretty frustrated when they don’t listen to the instructions and then keep asking me what to do over and over.

Sometimes I get angry at Nina too which I don’t feel good about.  Mostly it is when I ask her not to go into the kitchen or not to put something in her mouth eg sand or dirt or something else she has picked up off the ground and then she does it anyway even when she has totally understood me.

I get angry at hypocrisy.  When people say one thing about themselves and then do the total opposite it makes me very mad.  It makes me mad on a world scale and on a daily basis I get angry at people in my own life’s hypocrisy.  I get especially angry at my own hypocrisy.

Injustice of course is infuriating and racism.  When I see people with so much ripping off people with so little it makes me angry.  It happens a lot in the whole world of course but I see it fist hand here in Peru and it is seriously ugly.

I get angry when people are late.  Of course five or ten minutes is not a big deal but people here often leave others waiting for hours.  The school had a presentation for Mother’s Day and it started 1.5 hours late.  I was very cross.

I also get angry at Martin much much more than I should.  There are times when it tells me I need to deal with something but I often behave very badly when I do.  It seems when I am angry my reptilian brain takes over.  I want to learn to control my words more when I get angry rather than saying mean things that aren’t really true.  Lucky for me he is wonderful and very forgiving but that doesn’t make it okay.

I so often find myself stark raving mad when I have to deal with some organisation eg Centrelink or the bank or the phone service and they leave me waiting for hours then send me here or there and then back to where I started and still have not sorted my problem.

Unkindness makes me very angry too.

I hate been patronised.  I feel very angry when it happens.  It doesn’t happen a lot to me thankfully although some people get patronised a lot.  I should do more about it.


Movies I can watch over and over

Films that you can watch over and over are certainly a different category to favourite films or films you think are the best films.  While I do really like serious, sad and heavy going dramas for me to be able to watch a film over and over it cannot be any of these things but it certainly cannot be stupid or too light either.  Anyway, here are the films I can think of right now:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  I love these films.  I have tried reading the books but cannot get into them.  However, the films, I just adore.  This is totally unlike me, normally it’s the opposite.  I feel like I shouldn’t like them this much.  I wouldn’t say I am that into fantasy and they are very “good vs evil” and totally dominated by typical male heroes who worship royalty which also isn’t my thing but they are such a good adventure story and I still notice new little details when I watch them.  Set in New Zealand they are very beautiful and a number of the actors are too.  Like many people I would say the ending of the last film goes on way to long.  I think it should end when Aragorn is made king or at least with the Hobbitts return to “The Shire.”  But you know who am I really to decide that. 

Harry Potter.  Just recently Martin and I finished watching all these films again.  Last time we did was just before we went and saw the last one at the cinema which was only a year ago.  Like Lord of the Rings they are such a good adventure story and I notice new little details each time.  They are also very beautiful.  I especially love Hogwarts.  I love seeing the kids get older, the characters develop, the relationships form and that they get darker each time.  I am not convinced the last ones really should be called children’s films.  I often do think in real life Harry Potter would be totally messed up but I guess there are lots of things about Harry Potter that are not real life and that element of total escapism is probably what makes them possible to watch a lot.

Love Actually.  I am not usually a huge fan of romantic comedies but I do really like this one.  Unlike most I think it is genuinely funny and apart from pouty Keira Knightley I think the actors are fantastic.  It’s light so possible to watch over and over but it’s not stupid or crass at all and has some more serious moments.  I think I quite like that style of a number of different stories going on and interweaving in different ways.  It honours lots of different stages and types of love, not just “falling in love” which most movies tend to focus on.  There is falling in love of course but there is also long term marriage, unrequited love, love of children and friends and the cross culture/language relationship which of course if my favourite.

Dirty Dancing.  Obvious really why one can watch this over and over.  The dancing, the music and Patrick Swayze.   It always reminds me of being 15.  Not that that was an age I particularly liked but this film makes me nostalgic for the few good things about it.  I know I deserved to be teased for loving this film so much, it is as cheesy as it gets, but I don’t care, I do love it.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert.  This film makes me laugh out loud, still.  It has some of the best lines ever I reckon and the actors do them so well.  Again I think it’s a beautiful film and having now made that drive myself a few times I think even more so.  I love the Australianess of it too.  While it does have its more serious moments it really is just so much fun especially the music.

Blogging Topics

Like a number of other’s on the feed I would like to blog more.  I would also like my posts to be more interesting.  My blog often bores me.  However, again like other’s I often struggle to come up with something to blog about.

Thus, I have come up with my only little scheme to get blogging more and perhaps more interestingly.  I have made a list of the next 31 topics that I will blog about (31 as that is the amount of days there are in most months of the year).  I am going to try to blog everyday for the next 31 days but I reserve the right not to if I am away or too tired or whatever else.  The topics mainly come from the suggestions people made on Tom’s, Lesley’s or Gemma’s blogging by request series or something someone has blogged about that I wanted to respond to.  A few topics are also things I have often thought I’d like to blog about but never got to.  Some I have even started and have been sitting in my drafts for awhile.  The last one was a request by Martin (although I do often blog about her anyway I am sure I could always write more).

Anyway, here are the 31 topics:

  1. Movies I can watch over and over
  2. What makes me angry
  3. A Bible verse that has moved me lately
  4. Books that have influenced me greatly
  5. Doubts I have about my faith
  6. Facebook
  7. Biblical heroes.  Who and Why
  8. What fascinates me
  9. Grandparents
  10. Vulnerability
  11. Sleep
  12. Friendship
  13. Something that inspired me today
  14. Happiness
  15. What I love about living in Chulucanas
  16. What I don’t like about living in Chulucanas
  17. Hope
  18. A photo I love
  19. Family
  20. Turning 30
  21. Grace and healing
  22. 3 people and foods if I was stuck on a desert island
  23. What’s old that I am still enjoying
  24. What makes God real to me, rather than an elusive idea
  25. Eating together
  26. Work
  27. Memory
  28. Soccer
  29. Sin
  30. How God was present in my life today
  31. Nina

I would love it if people would make others suggestions of things I could blog about when these 31 days is over (no pressure I know I have already taken most of the topics) but please keep suggestions to one or two otherwise I’ll get overwhelmed.

I am looking forward to this.