Friday, May 30, 2008

come holy god: evolution of a song part 3

[continued from a couple of posts below]

This verse has been bugging me all day. I'm torn between wanting some response stuff in there and not wanting to move to move too far away from my opening thoughts. Here's where I'm at now:

all burdens gone! my guilt he bore
sin's shadow haunts my soul no more!
Like gold refined, my conscience pure
and I will rest in him forevermore
and I will rest in him forevermore

I like the b-g, g-b in the first line, but I think the word 'bore' is ugly. 'Burdens' is too. Maybe it's the letter 'b' that's unattractive. I like the second line. In the third line I'm trying to link in with the image in the first verse. Not sure how well. The final line feels like a filler - but it wasn't intended to be.

Three verses is pretty short for this metre. Perhaps the addition of some sort of simple chorus/b section would help? Maybe the response stuff could be in there? Something like...

'come holy god' - draft 3

come holy god and cleanse my soul
touch lips and heart with burning coals
your altar's fire can purify
this wretched sinner who for mercy cries
this wretched sinner who for mercy cries.

a crown of thorns, a body bruised
his outstretched arms embrace the world
my sin and yours within his sight
by grace this wrong will make all others right
by grace this wrong will make all others right

thank you jesus
yeah yeah yeah
thank you jesus

all burdens gone! my guilt he bore
sin's shadow haunts my soul no more!
like gold refined, my conscience pure
and I will rest in him forevermore
and I will rest in him forevermore

thank you jesus
yeah yeah yeah
thank you jesus

sar 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

come hear the angels sing

The new emu cd 'come hear the angels sing' will be available next week. A few samples are up on the emu site now. Philip Percival and I wrote tracks 4 (You are our God - see sample) and 8 (Exalted Evermore). If you're not an emu-plus member, become one and get the cd at a reduced price.

I've just listened to the title track (written by Micheal Morrow - who's a star!) - it is brilliant. Communicates such joy that you can't help smiling. Tune and lyric match is amazing. Theologically rich. I particularly like the ideas in the first verse:

come hear the angels sing
'worthy is the lamb that was slain'
gathering round the throne
'hail the son of man, hail the son of man.'
not for their sin he died
it was no angel crucified
and yet they hold him in their sight
and live to praise their Lord.'

But the rest just goes on and gets better and better. Have a listen.

come holy god: evolution of a song part 2

[continued from post below]

Thanks for putting up with these posts. Next week I'm running a lyric writing workshop at twist. I think I'm going to use this song as an example of editing.

I showed the first draft of my lyric 'come holy god' to Andrew last night. He didn't like it. He had a few side criticisms like those I listed below, but his main issue was that it sounds like one of the very forgettable hymns in our 'Rejoice' church hymn books. You know the type? Unoffensive, unmoving. The sort you hope you never sing. I think he's right. It all feels kind of arms length. So, in view of all the blog-world I thought I'd do a re-write.

Not ready to give up the metre yet.

I think I can happily discard the first and last verses. So that leaves me with four lines:

come holy god, and cleanse our souls
touch lips and hearts with burning coals
your altar's fire can purify
the blackest sinner who for mercy cries

I'd like to make it cut a little more. Might change the us/our to me/my and personalise the last line. How's this?

come holy god and cleanse my soul
touch lips and heart with burning coals
your altar's fire can purify
this wretched sinner who for mercy cries

'Wretched' may be a bit old fashioned. Not sure. Leave it for a while and see. I think I need to draw a stronger line between our purification and Jesus' death than I did yesterday. How about an explicit cross verse?

A crown of thorns, a body bruised
His outstretched arms embrace the world
My sin and yours within his sight
By grace this wrong will make all others right

I like the half rhyme between 'bruised' and 'world'. A full rhyme at this point would be too ... rhymey. I'm not sure if it sounds a bit universalist. When I've finished I'll need to look at the lyric as a whole to see if comes across that way. Not sure about the last line. Is it clear enough?

Two verses so far. Maybe two more? I'd like at least one of them to be about our response. Will think about it tonight. (I have other work that I have to do, so I expect to be brimming over with ideas for this!) Also thinking a repeated last line may work.

'come holy god' - draft 2

come holy god and cleanse my soul
touch lips and heart with burning coals
your altar's fire can purify
this wretched sinner who for mercy cries
this wretched sinner who for mercy cries.

A crown of thorns, a body bruised
His outstretched arms embrace the world
My sin and yours within his sight
By grace this wrong will make all others right
By grace this wrong will make all others right


sar 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

come holy god: evolution of a song part 1

Wrote this today.

come holy god

come holy god, and speak your word
in chaos let your voice be heard
call through the dark, dispel the night
come holy god and draw us to your light

come holy god, and cleanse our souls
touch lips and hearts with burning coals
your altar's fire can purify
the blackest sinner who for mercy cries

come holy god, ignite your fire
descend and capture our desire
consume us in your powerful love
and ever fix our thoughts on heav'n above

sar 2008

It's an experiment in a new metre (8 8 8 10) which I'm borrowing from Mark P. For those who care (anyone? anyone?) the metre is iambic (de dum) 4+4, 8, 4+4, 10 and I'm after slow and meditative for lines one and three, building in line 2 and 4.

Overall, I'm not sold on it.

Verse one... Yeah, whatever. I'd like it to build to the word 'heard' but in terms of it's sound, 'heard' is the softest word in the line (ironic?). Hard to compete with a hard 'c'. Never used the word 'chaos' before. What do you think?

Verse 2 is where the song started for me. I'm taken with the Isaiah 6 image. Coal to lips is poetry. But how does this type of purification relate to the christian? Surely coal can't make sin go away! I'm thinking that the point is that the coal comes from the altar fire. So it's actually a sacrifice that's bringing forgiveness.

Verse 3 is a rewrite of a much better lyric* I wrote last year. The rhyme pattern is a bit trite - 'love' and and 'above' has been done before.

Overall, I think its biggest flaw** is that the final line in each verse is the weakest. The extra 2 syllables makes the fourth line the most important - but they read as a bit of an after thought. So... I think this lyric can join its many brothers and sisters -- the ones that didn't make it (90% of what I write). Oh well.

Thanks for enduring through all of that (if, indeed you did endure!) A bit of analysis is good for the soul... and helpful for my twist prep!

* (my facebook friends can find the original lyric here. If you're not one of my fb friends, become one!). This better lyric hasn't gone anywhere because I used a dud metre (just so you know... 6686 is a dud. Don't waste your time with it!)

** Andrew thinks its biggest flaw is that it talks about holiness without talking explicitly about Jesus. Hmm.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

sayings to live by

'This too shall pass'

Honoria mentioned this saying in the comments section of Jean's blog post: 'the seasons of life'. Here's the legend behind it...

"King Solomon once searched for a cure against depression. He assembled his wise men together. They meditated for a long time and gave him the following advice: Make yourself a ring and have thereon engraved the words 'This too will pass.' The King carried out the advice. He had the ring made and wore it constantly. Every time he felt sad and depressed, he looked at the ring, whereon his mood would change and he would feel cheerful" -(Israel Folklore Archive # 126) (from wiki)
I like it. And not just as a cure for depression - in times of ease, of joy, of wealth, of strength, of nappies, of homework, of church crisis's, of temptation... we do well to remember it and stay patient and humble. On this side of eternity, life is transitory. This too will pass.

Here's another phrase I like. Thought alot on the idea a couple of years ago.

'This, too, is grace'

Everything. Happiness, ill health, that slow driver in front of you... This, too, is our loving father's sovereign care of us.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I have a new nephew!

Little James* Rayner was born in Hong Kong on Friday afternoon.

He is my sister's third child. They also have a 3 year old girl and an 18 month old boy.

My sister checked herself out of hospital yesterday so as not to miss her daughter's ballet class. Guess what they did today? Went to Ocean Park (think Dreamworld!) - forty hours after giving birth... With a two day old baby, a toddler and a 3 year old. Craziness!

* name may change...

One Month Old!

Hey guys! My little blog is one month old!

Thanks for reading and commenting.

sar xo.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

don’t close your eyes

[to be released later this year on cd 'Never Alone']

reaching down from the sky
earth embraced in mercy
love from heaven: a child
born one winter’s night

angels praise from on high
nations gather round him
rich and poor at his feet
kneeling by his crib

don’t close your eyes
creation’s hope fulfilled this day
heaven and earth collide
god is by our side
don’t close your eyes
hold every moment, come what may
prophets and kings of old
this day foretold

oh humble, watch and wonder!
oh humble, watch and wonder!

princes, lay down your crowns
let your towers tumble
join your hands with the poor
christ the Lord is here

god has shown us his way
toppling thrones and kingdoms
lifting lowly up high
joyfully they sing!

sar 2007

a prayer

Save me, Father!

I feel my soul a pillar of salt.

My neck strains.
Fix my eyes forward

to you.

sar 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Teachers Meme

Nicole tagged me for this teachers meme (which Michael started). I need to name my five favourite teachers and say what made them great.

Ms Theideke read Wordsworth's 'Daffodils' to us. I sat up and listened. She read the 'Lucy Poems' and I lost my heart.

Mrs Ghetzel taught me maths from year 10-12. She showed me the beauty of a quadratic equation and taught me that it's okay to be passionate about anything. I haven't seen her for 15 years and can't imagine that she's still alive. She lived on cigarettes and coffee.

Mr Cummings was my instrumental music (trumpet) teacher from year 6 to 12. He was ex-army and a great concert band conductor. Under his leadership, our lowly state school band could beat the GPS schools in competitions. But more than that, he would patiently listen to my prattle hour after hour, week after week, year after year...

To this day I'd acknowledge Keith Birchley as my most influential teacher. I met him in my first week of uni - a young christian from a non-Xn family, hungry for the word - and he patiently, passionately and skillfully taught me the bible. He also showed me how God works in weakness and that the desperate state of my heart is no obstacle for God.

Hmm. Last one. Mark Baddeley almost got a look in - he was a fantastic doctrine teacher even at uni. But I guess I have to put down my Mum. Mum's a legend. Taught me most things: to live, to walk, to speak (no small task, I've got some bad genes), to write, to construct an argument...

So thanks to all of you.

That was fun. I tag: ben, craig, jo and you if you like!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

sin and 'honesty'

Honoria's recent post on confessing our sins (the devil loves secrecy) got me thinking. I'm a fairly open person and don't find it all that difficult to share my struggles (not sharing... now there's a challenge!) but I'm thinking increasingly that it's unhelpful to talk about some sins. If I confess that I am struggling with, say, hateful thoughts, and everyone else in my bible study group says 'yeah, me too', I stop thinking that hate is such a dreadful thing. It's been normalised. Unless there is a very godly woman in my group who will take us to a passage and show us that murderers etc will not inherit the kingdom and then ask us all to repent and bring the gospel to us, nothing good has been gained.

Bonhoeffer wrote about this kind of thing. Men in his prison were talking openly about how scarred they were during air-raids. Bonhoeffer thought fear was sin and ought to be concealed. I think his point has applications for other sins. What do you think?

"I've been thinking again over what I wrote to you recently about our own fear. I think that here, under the guise of honesty, something is being passed off as 'natural' that is at bottom a symptom of sin; it is really quite analogous to talking openly about sexual matters. After all, 'truthfulness' does not mean uncovering everything that exists. God himself made clothes for men; and that means in statu corruptionis many things in human life ought to remain covered, and that evil, even though it cannot be eradicated, ought at least to be concealed. Exposure is cynical, and although the cynic prides himself on his exceptional honesty, or claims to want truth at all costs, he misses the crucial fact that since the fall there must be reticence and secrecy."
Deitrich Bonhoeffer Letter and Papers from Prison p.41

how many brown skirts are enough?

I have three that I regularly wear. Four now. Bought a new one today. And there's another in Colorado that I'd like. I'll watch the price drop over the next few months then get it.

A friend thinks brown and blue are the colours of presbyterian women (conservative and a little dull?) I don't do blue, but I love brown. Understated. Subtle. Surely it's a colour a woman with a gentle and quiet spirit should be wearing!


... the different ways men and women prepare for guests.

Me, I do all the normal stuff - tidy up, get rid of clutter, sweep the floor. Most of my prep (apart from food prep, of course) has got to do with getting rid of things. Clearing stuff away.

Andrew, he has completely different priorities. He delights in getting things out. Amplifiers, data projectors, electronic equipment aaaahhh! We have some guys coming over to watch the state of origin tonight and our house looks like a workshop. There are leads everywhere. Power chords running across the floor in all directions.

Is a small screen and normal tv sound really that bad?

Monday, May 19, 2008

an experiment

The other day I wrote a post that mentioned head lice. It wasn't about head lice, it just mentioned the little critters in passing. Pretty soon a comment appeared advising me that chemical lice treatments are evil and cause seizures in children etc etc etc and that nits are best removed in a sauna blah blah blah with a link. I deleted it.

Just an experiment. Can I make that comment appear in this post too? Maybe I'll just mention head lice again. And once more, just to be sure. Head lice. Don't you love 'em? Come on lice nazis. Hit me with a comment!

I'm a princess, sweet and fair...

I've just read Kerri Newmarch's very thorough article 'Look at me! I'm a Princess' (thanks Ali) which analyses princess culture* both in and outside the church. The article concludes by advising us to be cautious in using princess themes in our ministries to children.

It's got me thinking. I wonder if my little song 'I'm a knight' (from J is for Jesus) is leading kids astray. For the uninitiated, here it is:

I'm a Knight

I’m a knight from long ago
If you’re in trouble, let me know.
I’m brave as brave and strong as strong
I ride my horse and sing my song

La, la, la. La, la, la.
I’m a knight from long ago
La, la, la. La, la, la.
If you’re in trouble, let me know.

I’m a princess sweet and fair
With sparkling eyes and golden hair
I’m kind and loving all day long
I dance around and sing my song.

La, la, la. La, la, la.
I'm a princess sweet and fair,
La, la, la. La, la, la.
With sparkling eyes and golden hair.

But Jesus is the best of all
He heals the sick and helps the small
He’s brave and strong, he is our king
He loves us more than anything

La, la, la. La, la, la.
Jesus is the best of all.
La, la, la. La, la, la.
He heals the sick and helps the small. **

© 2007 Simone Richardson

We've used it quite a bit in school RE ('scripture' for those in NSW), play group, and kids club, but always with my very un-princessey theology surrounding it. I've never told any little girl that she's God's princess. We do knight and princess dress ups, tell a few heroic stories, and then explain that Jesus is far better than any of that.

But the song is out there now. I wonder if it's being used to promote ideas that I don't share. Not that there's much I can do...

* Basically, 'princess culture' is telling little girls (and grown women too) that they are God's princesses. So special, beautiful etc etc. Kerri Newmarch argues that it promotes vanity and narcissism. I agree.

** I wrote another verse for this song which I sometimes use, even though the big and mean emu management :-) wouldn't let it go on the cd (for the feeble reason that it's got nothing to do with Jesus!) Here it is for anyone who's interested:

I’m a dragon from the mire,
My claws are sharp, my breath is fire
I’m sad and lonely as you see,
‘Cause everyone’s afraid of me!

La, la, la. La, la, la (etc)

Education Standards

Today's Australian had an opinion piece about the declining standards of education in Australia. There were many of the same old arguments trotted out (it's the teachers' fault - they can't control their classes!) but perhaps slightly more nuanced than usual.
"The deeper reason for the decline in standards is a complex set of circumstances that have led to reduced teacher effectiveness and a lack of public esteem for teachers and the education system. The latter, in turn, has dramatically worsened student behaviour to the extent that learning outcomes are severely affected in most classrooms."
It gets to me when education problems all get blamed on the teachers. From their first year in school, kids are more difficult to manage than they used to be. I think the writer is onto something when he talks about a 'lack of public esteem for teachers'. Kids don't respect teachers because the newspapers don't, the tv doesn't and their parents don't. On top of that, often school admins don't. I do supply work in many schools and often hear teachers whinging about how their principals and deputies won't back them up in discipline issues. They prefer to give the students the benefit of the doubt. Schools where this happens are very difficult to work in.

But I think the problem is broader than just children not respecting their teachers. Kids also seem to have more problems respecting their parents than they used to. And, come to think of it, mum and dad don't seem so good at respecting each other either.

I think our school system is actually quite a good reflection of general society.

Really, how much learning can happen when 30 disrespectful people are put into a room together?

Air Force One

I watched bits of this silly movie the other night. I've seen it before. It hasn't aged particularly well.

I wonder if in centuries to come, movies like this will be used as evidence that 20th century Americans engaged in president worship. This film could be seen as an exploration of the divine characteristics of the president.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Horrible Harry

I always said I wouldn't blog about my kids. But I can't help myself. It seems unnatural not to talk about what I spend most of each day doing. Faithful readers (all six of you!) don't feel under any compulsion to read these posts.

Our second son, Joel (age 6.75), has always required more intense parenting than our other two boys. Perhaps because of this, and because he is a middle child like me and because he resembles members of my family, I feel a strong affinity to him.

School has not been easy for Joel. He has a learning issue which is slight compared to what many children have to battle, but significant enough to give me many anxious moments and load up the time I need to spend teaching him at home. One of the more amusing things we work on is story writing. I thought I'd share a couple of his latest. Note Joel's use of repetition and alliteration.

Harry is horrible

Harry is horrible.
He hates his granny.
He hates heather.
He hates everything.
He has head lice.
He has hot hits.
He loves the most disgusting word in the English language.

Horrible Harry's Dog

Harry's dog's name was Horrible. Horrible dug up the backyard and put dynamite into the holes. Harry was happy because the backyard was blown up.

"Hooray!" said Harry.

[over page]

"Irrrrr!" said Horrible.

What I've passed onto my first son

1. A dimple in the left cheek

2. Big eyes

3. Enthusiasm for the things he's into

4. Fear of reading new books

5. Love of re-reading old books

6. Irrational fear of new movies

7. Love of the familiar, generally

8. Ability to talk

9. Ability to keep on talking

10. Love for computers

11. General dislike of animals

12. Speech issues (resolved now, but expensive...)

13. Extroverted personality

14. Faith in Jesus

Friday, May 16, 2008


Twist music ministry conference in on soon. Dominic Steele is teaching. The music is always great. There will be a free 'J is for Jesus' concert for the kids. It will be a fantastic weekend.

I'm running three of the many workshops: Music for preschoolers (Saturday), Changing the musical culture of your church (Sunday) and Lyric Writing (Monday). I've done the first two for the last couple of years, but lyric writing is brand new. I'm quite excited about it. I'll be talking about things I love: rhyme (in all its wonderful forms), meter, fresh expression, biblical teaching that engages the emotions, processing and theologising our experiences of God so that they can edify others.... Is it just me, or do others find this stuff exciting too?

Andy Judd from Garage Hymnal offered me this little rhyme to use to explain the significance of iambic metre. Read it out loud stressing the capital letters and you'll understand.

i WANT to BE a SYLL –a- BLE,

with EM -pha- SIS on TWO;

but IF you SHOULD put STRESS on ONE:

the LINES will SOUND like POO.

Now try it the other way round…

I want TO be A syll –A- ble,

WITH em -PHA- sis ON two;

BUT if YOU should PUT stress ON one:

THE lines WILL sound LIKE poo.

Cute, hey? Come to Twist and learn to write like that!

Anyone planning to be there?

the power of my love

Women often complain that men try to fix things. We tell them how we're feeling about something, and they come up with a 3 point plan to solve the problem. But that's not what we want. We just want somebody to listen and understand.

But it's not just men who have a tendency to try to fix things. I think we women are just as likely to be Miss or Mrs. Fixit as our husbands and brothers are to be Mr. Fixit - only we don't offer a three point plan as the solution, we offer our love.

When the kids were little and they hurt themselves, I'd say "Come here, sweetie, Mummy'll kiss it better." It (mostly) worked. My kisses had healing power! My love was able to fix their troubles! What power!

It was a sad day when our youngest declared "kisses don't make it better!" At two years of age he'd stopped believing in the power of my love. But to this day, I'm still a believer. Yesterday, our almost 7 year old told me how a boy at school doesn't like him. My immediate answer was to say "I like you!" He looked at me as if I'd just changed the topic (as I had). I wanted my love to fix his problem, but while it may have helped him bear it, it didn't actually provide a solution.

I don't think it's just kids we try to 'fix'. Before we were married, how many of us thought that love would be able to fix problems in our husbands? Jane Eyre (it's always a good time for a J.E. illustration!) believed that her love for Rochester would heal his deep childhood hurts and cure him of his dissipated lifestyle. In novel-land, of course, it could - but in real life? Unlikely.

When I think about it, the power-of-my-love is an awfully arrogant thing to believe in. Yet I persist in believing in it. Why?

Perhaps because it's kind-of true. There is comfort in being loved. When we love our husbands, kids and friends it does beef them up a little to endure the difficulties that come their way. But does it fix things? Not really. Our love is just balm on the skin.

God's love is, of course, the true fix-it offering deep healing and the hope of new bodies which will no longer be hurt.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

love like houses

who needs a mansion
when dreams within
these four walls
are just as sweet?

who fears tomorrow
when today walks forward
so proudly?

who feels the cold
when held within a heart's core?

love like houses holds me.
warm caresses close my eyes

and I sleep.

sar 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I did 40 minutes of boxing this morning in my circuit class.

10 hours later, both hands are still shaking. Is this normal?

(Can't wait to do it again!)

One Movie Meme

Ben at Faith and Theology just started this meme. I'm not really a movie person, but thought I'd give it a go anyway...

1. One movie that made you laugh

Bride and Prejudice

2. One movie that made you cry
I don't cry in movies. If I feel like crying, I switch off. Cold and prickly?

3. One movie you loved when you were a child

Dot and the Kangaroo

4. One movie you’ve seen more than once

As Good As It Gets

5. One movie you loved, but were embarrassed to admit it

Paperback Hero

6. One movie you hated

(So many... which to choose?) 9 months

7. One movie that scared you

I find most movies scary - so scary that I won't watch them. Much rather a nice tv series.

8. One movie that bored you

9. One movie that made you happy

Annie Get Your Gun

10. One movie that made you miserable

Beaches. So I switched it off.

11. One movie you weren’t brave enough to see

Atonement (Andrew watched it last night. I wouldn't.)

12. One movie character you’ve fallen in love with

Aragorn (Lord of the Rings)

13. The last movie you saw

Hairspray (but I fell asleep half way through)

14. The next movie you hope to see
Prince Caspian

15. Now tag five people:
I tag: Alison and Craig and Jo - and you if you'd like to be tagged! (I'd tag all five of my readers, but then others might not have people to tag.)

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I love Sophie Hannah's poems. I don't know if I'm allowed to post one of her poems here. Is it legal? If it isn't, I'll erase... But why doesn't everyone pop on over to her site and buy one of her books? Anyway, here's one of my favorites. A moving sonnet from 'Love Me Slender'.


For the first time I find it quite unnerving
That people's names are handed on to things.
No bench, so far, has proved itself deserving
Enough to bear your name. No hospice wings
Or students' union buildings will inherit,
If it has anything to do with me,
A name no other man could even merit
Let alone any slice of brick or tree.
I could be Lord Mayor with a town to listen
To my new street names; you would still be gone.
Now, as myself, with power to rechristen
No roads, there's still a tribute going on:
Though I call nothing by your name, I do
Practically nothing but call after you.

Sophie Hannah

Saturday, May 10, 2008

some wisdom

"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." Proverbs 10:19

So why am I blogging?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

married-people songs

As I said in the last post, one day I would like to be able to write a poem or song lyric about joyful, faithful, married love. I've tried before, but find it really hard.

Courtship, adultery and lust pose no real writing problems (though some moral ones). Plenty of angst there and well trodden formulas work quite nicely. But marriage? Angst, yes, but of a different order. My fears and joys are almost too deep to feel, let alone write about.

A couple of years ago, I tried to capture something of married love in a lyric based on the Song of Songs (my sister in law posted it on her blog as part of a series on the Song. Warning! It's a little explicit!). Except I don't think the Song is actually about married love - rather, it's about the experience of desire in courtship.

Anyone have ideas on what a married-people song would be like?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"A sovereign nation sleeps beside me..."

I am very much looking forward to the release of the dailies new cd - currently in production. Their last was brilliant - have a listen here.

"A sovereign nation sleeps beside me..."

How good is that line? The guy who wrote the song describes it as a love song about married people.

When I grow up I'd like to write married people songs. Much too hard for me yet.


Has anybody heard of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganisation? Check it out. It's for real! The group offers facts sheets, seminars, professional development, mentoring... I had no idea that I could get my own P.O. (professional organiser)! But the more I look through their stuff, the more I realise I am not Chronically Disorganised. I have a method of reducing junk (if it doesn't have a home or it gets on my nerves, I throw it away) and an effective filing system (put it in an email and it will never be lost).

Are you Chronically Disorganised? Take the test and see.

I might not be chronically disorganised, but I do procrastinate. Here's a few suggestions for people like me (I like #7) :


Tips for Overcoming Procrastination for the Chronically Disorganized Individual or Household

Chronically disorganized individuals often are challenged with procrastination. Procrastination is a habit and not a fatal flaw. Most of us do not welcome change easily but we will benefit greatly from becoming willing to develop new habits to overcome procrastination. Below are just a few ideas to help with this challenge.

1. Remember that it is motivation that gets you started and habits that keep you going. Resolve to get started.

2. Put your professional and personal goals in writing. Prioritize them.

3. Write out a plan for yourself and make a realistic schedule.

4. What is delayed is often forgotten.

5. Delay until you have enough information but not all the information. Have the courage to make decisions with less than 80% of the facts.

6. Break up your projects into small pieces and avoid “all or nothing” thinking.

7. Procrastination often comes from perfectionism. We often procrastinate because we are challenged with doing things perfectly. “Perfection is the worst enemy of good enough.”
~ Anonymous

© 2004 NSGCD — This fact sheet may be reproduced for educational purposes only; copyright must be noted.
Fact sheets and other informational material may be obtained from the NSGCD website at

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Schooling Options

In this clip, Josh Harris encourages us not to look down on others for the choices they've made about how to educate their kids. It's good stuff. Preached passionately and as smoothly as you'd expect.

We are blessed to have great options for schooling in our area. A couple of really good state schools and a few very adequate ones nearby, a decent Xn school down the road and multiple private schools. And of course we could have homeschooled. Our kids go to the state school nearest our church.

We made our decision based on political convictions (I believe in public education), a desire to have non-Xn friends, my inability to handle private school culture, and my 'need' to get rid of the kids for a few hours each day!

I think we made the right decision for our kids, but I'm seeing more and more the attraction of the other options. Being a supply teacher you get to see how much time is wasted in schools. It just takes a couple of troubled kids in each class to severely limit what everyone else is taught . And is so much time really needed to celebrate Bindi Irwin's birthday? Apart from that, in a class of 20+ it's really difficult for the teacher to cater for the individual needs of each student. One of our kids has a (relatively minor) learning issue and I need to spend quite a bit of time working with him at home to make sure he doesn't get behind. I always swore I'd never homeschool, but if I did I think we could achieve an entire day's work in a couple of hours! (I'd also go mad...)

Anyway, all is grace. We pray we make the right decisions and trust God to work it all out in the end.

parenting formulas

Child Minding Capability Formulas for Mums
n = number of children you have

Number of children easy to look after = n-1

Number of children you can care for in a creche situation = 2n + 1

Number of children you are capable of looking after for an extended period (ie. a day) = 2n

Time Out For Mum Formulas

Dad takes the kids out for an adventure. When should he return?

time when Mum is not ready to see husband and kids again = eta - x (when x > 10 minutes)

time when Mum is sort of ready to see husband and kids = eta

time when Mum will want to see husband and kids = eta + 3 hours *

time when Mum will really want to see husband and kids = eta + 6 hours *

time when Mum will be desperate to see husband and kids
= eta + 2 hours ** OR
= eta + 8 hours*

* assuming there has been assurance that everyone is safe and that bedtime has not been compromised
** assuming NO phone contact

[Attempts have been made to calculate Dad formulas, but there seems to be too wide a variance in results to compile meaningful data at this stage.]

Sunday, May 4, 2008


If it were possible to ingest one's own foot
I'd have done it.
My soapbox against your latest passion,
Claims that pants like that are out of fashion.
I forgot your birthday, called your mum a cow.
If feet were smaller, I'd have swallowed one by now.

Clueless doesn't nearly sum it up.
I'm the friend you can trust to say
the One Wrong Thing.
Call for winter weather in the spring,
Suggest the cake you've eaten is enough,
I deliver insults off the cuff.

Tact is not my gift.
Diplomacy, poise all escape me
and toenails scratch my heart.
Still, as I make thoughtlessness an art,
know that this is true:
My thoughts are never far away from you.

SAR 2008

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Women and Judgement

Today I ran a music workshop for the Chinese Christian Church. It was a good thing to do, but I felt very unqualified to do it! They have perhaps the most efficient music co-ordinator I've ever come across. She has chosen 'team leaders' for each music team, job descriptions for each member, dress codes, permanent practice schedules, prayer meetings ... Seven years ago she was the church's only musician. There were 25 people at the training day today. Wow!

Before we got our instruments out, I talked for a while about what the bible says about music. We started by talking about songs in the bible eg. Moses' song (Ex 15), Hannah's song (1 Sam 2), Mary's song (Luke 2), Revelation, Psalms etc. In preparing, I noticed a couple of interesting things that I hadn't thought of before:
  • We hear women's voices more in song than in regular speech in the bible. Deborah, Hannah and Mary get verses and verses! And don't forget the Song of Songs where the female voice is given half the book!
So is it okay for women to teach men - as long as they do it in verse? (As a sometimes-lyricist, this idea has appeal!)
  • God's judgment of his enemies is a major theme in all of the biblical songs. And God's people seem to bask in it.
Should it be a more prominent theme of our songs?

What do you think?

It's amazing... quickly an idea can become an obsession.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I just watched Kate and Leopold...

Really. After that horse ride through Central Park there was no where else for the plot to go.

More Joy

For the last few days I've been thinking about joy. I know all of the regular definitions but the state that they describe seems somewhat elusive. Right now I'm thinking it's a combination of thankfulness and contentment. I'm looking forward to reading Jerry Bridges ideas in his book The Fruitful Life (thanks Jean).

But here's what I'm thinking about in the mean-time. During his earthly life, how did Jesus experience/express joy?

Any ideas?

As You Go

It's funny how we cannot say goodbye
You laugh, agree to send the latest news
I say I'll write but know that it's a lie
Who cares for worn out socks or outgrown shoes?

Our friends all look on, curious for clues
Presuming truth is told from eye to eye
But smiles attest, no hearts have blown a fuse
It's funny how we cannot say goodbye.

You say the final boarding call is nigh
I say, in leaving nobody can lose
The season comes, and birds will surely fly
You laugh, agree to send the latest news.

Like Noah, we march into the ark in twos
Before the clouds form heavy in the sky
If I had my way who knows what I would choose?
I say I'll write, but know that it's a lie.

The sun will set, come morning it will rise
It's not like heaven's choir has lost its muse
A holding glance, in unison a sigh
Who cares for worn out socks or outgrown shoes?

It's funny how we cannot say goodbye
Though smiles attest no hearts have blown a fuse
And though the final boarding call is nigh
Wrapped up to keep, a box of worn out shoes.

SAR 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Joy is an island surrounded by a sea of fear.


why oh why...

... can't I just get on and do the work I need to do?