Dearest Elizabeth, Happy birthday! Thank you for inviting me to celebrate your birthday. Unfortunately business here prevents me from joining with you physically, however please know I am celebrating in spirit here.  Late nights, slow mornings, socialising with friends, a quiet blanket and book and guilt-free afternoons binge watching TV series; I am incredibly joyful. Your generosity in granting a day to celebrate you is appreciated, however I must confess I don’t always remember your birthday. The pick-me-up of a long weekend on the horizon is exactly what I need to interrupt the humdrum of working life, however with four under our belts this year, the significance of each begins to wane. Particularly so with this one – your birthday. See Lizzie, we’ve celebrated Australia Day, Easter, ANZAC Day – all significant days in our history. But then you come up, I can never remember if it’s Labor Day or your birthday, only it’s the beginning of the ski season – although there’s never any snow, also the beginning of the epic mid-season sales and finally brings back memories of travelling around the state for Netball NSW State Championships. Your birthday is being exploited, and I’m certainly guilty. But see Lizzie, no one remembers you. When it was my birthday earlier this year I organised a small party. Before sending out invitations of the Facebook variety, I had conducted pre-checks with the important people to ensure I wouldn’t sit in a bar alone. Having one’s birthday forgotten is devastating, and this is exactly what we, Australians, are doing to you. We’ve moved it to a more convenient time for us, acknowledging the anniversary of your birth is actually 21 April, because June just works a little better for us, you know? Even more so, I’m celebrating other birthdays this weekend – a total of six people: Teagan, Bek, James, Roslyn, Kimjeng and Lisa. I’m celebrating with them because I value their friendship. I’m not celebrating with them out of obligation. In primary school I was invited to the birthday party of that weird boy, well me and every other kid in the class. See with no specificity in who you invite to celebrate with you, the whole affair becomes a little impersonal. And so Lizzie, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I overlook your birthday in selfish pursuit of a day away from the office. I’m sorry I neglect you from my thinking, forgetting the monarchial leader from a far away land symbolically overlooking our affairs and not being thankful. But in reality, we’ve had enough.  We are young and we truly want to be free. Yours sincerely in sovereignty – our sovereignty, Melanie   ps. I for one think June is a great time of year for Independence Day. #justsaying Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
63 years on I found this photo of my Grandpa on his graduation day in January 1951 a few years back and pulled it out again last week.  I showed my Grandpa who had little to no memory of the day, thinking his mother hadn’t attended as the only photo he had was of his father and him. What a joy it was to show him this one and then restage it. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
“…those were the days.” We’ve all heard it before; your time at university is some of the best days of your life. Yesterday I graduated and upon reflection on the past five years, I can confidently say it has been. But University was more than the passport stamps I collected (not that they even give you those anymore), the High Distinctions Distinctions on my essays and the wealth of theories learnt some of which I quickly dismissed in order to take on whoever’s the next semester’s subjects held. University is more than the experiences you have, memories acquired and friends made. It took me five years after enrolling in four universities to complete three majors in two countries, but here’s what studying my Bachelor of Arts (Media & Communications, Sociology and Marketing) taught me: Jesus Christ is indeed Lord I made the decision to follow Christ several years prior to commencing university, but it wasn’t until then that my views were challenged. In tutorials, Christians were belittled and mocked. During walk-up evangelism, Jesus was called anything from a lunatic to mythical, prophetic or just a great historic figure. At Sydney University Evangelical Union Public Meetings, conferences, bible studies and seminars, I was confronted by my simplistic and lackadaisical faith. Each week brothers and sisters poured out teaching and wisdom, taking time to invest in me, listening and provoking me to think. It’s not about me I had two undisclosed objectives for my time at university. One, land a job that would be my first step to becoming an uber-successful businesswoman and two, find a husband. I failed at both. Instead, I studied the inequalities present in Australia, I listened first-hand to individuals who shared their struggles and sadness with me and I came to accept promoting insurance nor competing for awesome stories of which a byline would attribute Melanie Pennington would fulfill me. My life is not for me to make my name great, but to faithfully profess Jesus Christ is Lord. My life isn’t to make a luxury for myself, but to self-sacrificially serve others. While looking beyond the things that matter to me remains difficult and listening involves a conscious decision to do so upon entering a conversation, I endeavour to put squash the pride that so easily overcomes me. Determination It happened more times than I care to remember. Usually in the early hours of the morning when you realize you can get hungry at 3am and the dark silence is haunting knowing everyone else is asleep. You wonder how you’ll ever make the word limit. You rethink your entire thesis statement. You question the worth of your entire degree. Another hour goes by and you still have thousands of words to go. How did I get here again? You tell yourself you won’t procrastinate again. The stress. The anguish. The self-pity. You have two choices in that moment: give up and go to sleep or suck it up and press on. And so I would press on. It became harder as the semesters passed. The time constraints increased as I took on more work and other commitments. The self-applied pressure to do better than a credit overwhelmed me. My motivation was tried again and again. And so, six months after submitting my final assignment, attired in a huge black robe, silly hat, furry hood I awkwardly curtsied, saluted twice, made small talk on stage with a figure head of which I had and never will meet again, I walked down the steps of the Great Hall rostrum and turned my tassel. University has been some of the best days of my life, and with all those that remain I hope to remember all that I have learnt, seeking to serve Jesus Christ with a determination to put Him first and not myself – until He returns or takes me home. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
Last weekend I was taken by surprise. I turned up at a meeting before church under the pretence it was about becoming “more welcoming.” I brought along notes, I even brought along hot chips. It was a conversation I was ready for. But as I looked around the room, the people I had expected to be there weren’t and the whole thing just felt a little odd. And then it begun. Senior Minister: “It has come to our attention that some single adults…” [ability to listen abruptly ends] And there it was, it was a meeting of single people. The meeting continued and I shared my disagreement at the claim put forward: I think we can be more welcoming in general, but I disagree with the suggestion it is linked to relationship status. The meeting ended and we went up to church. Feeling uneasy about the whole situation I flicked off an email to the three ministers in attendance at the meeting and attached my notes for the meeting I thought we were having before I went to bed. But as the week went on, I continued to feel uneasy. Then last night when I met my assistant minister’s wife for the first time (after 18 months! eek!) I realised why I was uneasy. The conversation went a little like: Me: “Hello, I don’t think we’ve met before – I’m Melanie.” “Ah yes, i’ve heard a lot about you and see your emails come through — another one for Trent.” Then from nearby a dear friend hollered: “She’s the outspoken single adult at church.” In my standard response in situations of nervousness, I laughed. The moment passed and we went on conversing. I was thinking as I drove home last night why the comment hit a chord. I know my friend meant nothing by it as I give as much as I take from him. But today I completed a survey for Witchery in order to get a $10 voucher. One of the first questions was this one: It exemplifies the reality – society is about relationships. Indeed, this world is about relationships. But so often we are defined by our relation to a significant other.  I really don’t have any resolve for this thought, only that it seems we are all guilty of applying labels and making assumptions – precisely the reason Witchery has asked the question. No doubt, I, as an adult not in a relationship with a significant other, spend more on clothes at Witchery than someone married/living with another sharing resources, discussing and settling on an amount that one should spent on new clothes. Perhaps I’m just more sensitive because I don’t have a significant other and it seems to bring with it particular stigmas – point being I’m the ‘outspoken’ one. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
As I waited in the shadows for two guys, a truck and a tree, I saw her. Unbeknown to the stress her visit caused my 9.5 hour day, she glanced up from her phone as she took a few more steps toward me. As the tree was lowered to the ground from the truck tray, she passed me. No acknowledgment – and none expected. As she wandered on up the hill, the two guys adjusted the tree into place. Five lowly minutes – in the end that’s all it was. Today was one of my more stressful days. It started off well, a final briefing meeting and a few deliveries — what could go wrong? Little did i know a lot could in the 24 hours prior to launch event #1 of one of the largest investments of infrastructure in the university’s history. From a tree not fitting on a truck, plastic ‘pledge’ tags slipping under a hole punch, tshirts seemingly vanishing and a last minute visit from Michelle Bridges, it was an odd day. But a few hours on, I can stop and look back. We can draw attention to anything: a centre, a person, a partnership or a product. We work long hours when a tree doesn’t fit on a truck, we run to newsagencies for white cardboard when you can’t print a pledge card for a VIP and you indian give t shirts to your colleagues so people you don’t know can feel important on their special day. No, we’re not the guys up on stage, but we sure help those guys look good. Marketing is the activity that happens in the shadows.   Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)