Life is full of seasons. You enjoy many of the same for a long while and then you hit your twenties and it starts to change. People get married. People buy houses. People have kids. Me? I chose to run move away. My friends? My Instagram feed is evidence enough: weddings + babies…or those delaying either/or = travel. I had a bit of a crew through my late-teens and early 20s. I was innocent, overconfident and opinionated. They were good to me (read:patient). But most were Christians and so they married young…and then bought houses. We had a place to hang out. Win! But two years ago, just before I was drawn in to the (sun)light, the first couple had an adorable baby. And in the two years I’ve been gone, the procreation has continued. Last week I spent a few days with 6 married couples and 4 babies under 2 (+ few extras). I abandoned plans to travel to Scandinavia ($15k on travel in 12 months is probably a bit too much) and instead took annual leave to spend time with 15 adults + 4 children + 1 teenager under 1 roof. And it wasn’t that chaotic. Although some things have changed. Because holidays (including those involving 2000km) = thinking time, and my friends love to feature in my little corner of the inter webs… here’s my not so comprehensive list of what happens when your friends have kids. New titles. Everyone becomes an Aunty or Uncle. You ignore your friends and greet their miniature humans first. Detailed bowel movement discussions. Birth stories. “Is that yours or mine?” is not referring to a mobile phone but baby monitor. You see the traits/personalities of your friends in minature form Movies are turned off half way. Surprisingly even babies can discern Jurassic Park isn’t as rosy the Peppa Pig farmyard. Noise travels. Noise matters. Driveways are filled with soccer mum mini SUVs instead of mum’s old, hand-me-down dinged early 2000s hatchbacks P plates parks are now pram park ups An afternoon where all 4 children were asleep at once was like all the planets aligning in a once-in-century occasion PDA is everpresent in kisses, hugs and sniffing nappies. You see patience in practice. Discipline in action. You get endless cuddles but freedom to hand them back when they poop, scream or fight you off. You’re watching who’s drinking to see who’s preggers on the sly. Baby line ups are mandatory. Along with ridiculous attempts to get all children looking remotely in the direction of the camera. Time schedules are fluid. Departures can be timed to either keep the baby awake, but also to ensure the baby sleeps. “How did you sleep?” will be answered as if this were the question: “how did <insert child’s name> sleep?” Did you say Wiggles? Yep, kid tunes reign. Of course they could most certainly comment on the child-less life too. I willingly woke early to exercise. I enjoy abs still joined at the centre. And my car was sans extensive miniature person paraphernalia. Moving away isn’t the easiest. I’ve missed pretty much all the baby showers, first birthdays, dedications etc – often by only a week. And being the single, childless one is often the topic of discussion (It took a grand total of 3.5 hours before I was asked about my dating life). The above is a list of largely funny takeouts from a relaxing week away. But really it’s a privilege to see my friends turn into parents. Life is best done together. I took joy recieving a face covered of saliva care of new raspberry blowing skills. And they enjoyed the extra set of hands. The village life. 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)
Today would have been my Grandpa’s 90th birthday. As a kid I thought my grandpa would live forever, perhaps not forever, but his death seemed a long way off. He worked as a doctor until he was 80, travelled to Thailand twice during his final decade, drove across Sydney for committee meetings and chauffeuring his friends to doctor’s appointments, he dabbled in Facebook and ensured he always had a working printer so he could (first print, then) read his emails. He was invincible to me, as a child and then as an adult. As he neared the milestone, we started thinking about how we could celebrate such an occasion. Unfortunately we celebrated his life a few weeks ago at a thanksgiving service, without him. It’s a shame all those who came gathered in his absence, what a joy it would have been for him to have everyone in one place. It’s widely known I’m not a feelings person, but truth is I am. I am just absolutely terrible at expressing and processing them, so supressing them is just the easier option. This afternoon I listened to a recording my cousin made of one of his last conversations with Grandpa. I had had it for almost 6 weeks, but I wasn’t ready to hear his voice, his laugh. It was hard to listen to. I’m thankful I live in a suburb people regularly walk the streets with an absent mind. Listening to Grandpa speak about this life on the recording, and hearing others speak of his life at his thanksgiving service (and the recording we’ve been pulling together), I look up to him. I place him on a Philippians 2 pedestal, one of his favourite passages of scripture. In his 70-year medical career, 15 years in the Thai mission field, and then near 60 years as a Father and near 30 as a Grandfather, he exemplified humility and gentleness. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests by each of you to the interests of others.” As I child I remember his devotion to the Word, reading it in bed before he rose for the day. His affection for my Grandmother was evident in each reference to her as “Darling” (even when expressed in haste). He watched sporting games, sat through countless awards ceremonies and graduations. He was the calm spirit standing on the edge of the room, looking and befriending the outsider. He gave Christmas gifts to the one who was forgotten. I wonder if I got any part of his genes, knowing full well I got an overdose of initiative and tenacity from my paternal grandmother. Reflecting on his life make me reflect on my own, although I have not reached even a third of the length walked this earth for. But I also see the peril in placing Grandpa on such a pedestal. And I know he would loathe such a thing. In the recording he went so far as to share a story of how he wasn’t supposed to get into Sydney Uni’s medical school. The rules changed and and extra 150 students snuck in without meeting the minimum requirements. He also shared he would have failed his gynaecology exam, should not a fellow student had told him answer as they passed in the hallways prior to the exam. He admitted he wasn’t good enough. I also know from my own father their relationship wasn’t perfect. He was a flawed man, like us all, but he has now been made perfect in Christ. Grandpa is now with Jesus in the highest place. Although he lived nearly 90 years on this earth, what feels like eternity for a even me at 26, he is now truly living eternally. I’m thankful we have the recording, as hard as it was to hear his laugh knowing he’s no longer here. I’m sad I didn’t take time to ask more questions. How comforting it was hear him breakdown as he shared the love, peace and joy found in the Spirit. One of the last times I saw Grandpa I had flown to Sydney on a whim. I sat in his hospital room while he slept. Eventually it came time to leave. Although plagued with delusion in his final days, he broke free from it to pass on the ‘Lord’s travelling mercies’ before apologising: “I’m sorry I wasn’t better company”. Grandpa, you were wonderful company. Happy (earthly) birthday, but what a wonderful everlasting life I know you’re now enjoying. At his thanksgiving service last month, I said the following prayer on behalf of his 17 grandchildren. I stand by it. Heavenly father, We give you great thanks that you are good and your love endures forever. Thank you for giving life to your son and our grandfather Arthur and your grace and mercy shown to him at the cross. Thank you that as we remember the life he had here and give thanks, we know he is now home and at rest with you. We know the love of you as our Heavenly Father from the example he was to us. As young ones we knew love from endless supplies of ice cream and sausages in summer and a forgiving spirit when more water was outside the swimming pool than in. As adults we remember his wit, but also his wisdom shared and constant support for our endeavours. We remember and give thanks for his humility and faithfulness. A man of prayer and devotion – he was always quick to share his indebtedness to you and your blessings on his life with us. Thank you for your spirit at work in his heart. Many of us are now embarking on our own adventures of marriage. We thank you for the 50-plus years of love and sacrifice Grandpa showed our Grandma, particularly in her final years of illness. In times of struggle and pain, he loved her in everyway – with patience and gentleness. We praise you for the steadfast love and generosity he had and the model it was for us. As we now grieve the loss of his gentle and witty presence with us, we turn our eyes to Jesus, the one his life pointed to. Grandpa is now free from pain and spared from the brokenness of this world. Thank you for holding him in your care for nearly 90 years. But while we remember, love and give thanks for the faithful man he was, we acknowledge he was not perfect but made perfect in your son, Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. We have joy that he is now at home in your presence because he sought after you. We look forward to the day when the world would be made new and those who call upon your Son’s name will be saved. We long for Jesus to return to make all things new and to be reunited with our Grandfather but ultimately you, our heavenly father. To you be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.           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)
I received 6 years of public school education, 7 years of private school education and 5 years of tertiary education. I hold a degree from one of Australia’s most prestigious universities, paid for by partially scholarships and the remaining with government loans. I chose to start working casually at 16 and I had a fulltime job within a week of graduating university. I am paid on par with my male colleagues and I have access, should I need it, to a range of paid leave. I have requested and received pay increases and I negotiated my pay when I started my current role. I walk past the homeless on my walk home to my clean, spacious apartment in a safe neighbourhood. I worship my God and Saviour Jesus without any fear each week. I have access to subsidised healthcare and the ability to pay for it when my largely healthy body fails me. I could go on. So why do I care about International Women’s Day? Because although the taste of inequality or the voices that I hear to combat it pale in comparison to other women in Australia and around the world, it’s a taste nonetheless. Inequality as a privileged white woman:   From a well-meaning housemate: “You really shouldn’t run that late, particularly around that area. You know what happened [at that bridge], right?” From the guy walking passed me on the street: “Hey, why so sad? You’re beautiful. Smile for me. I’ll make it worth your while.” From the book on my bookshelf and from the stage at conferences: “Don’t let the first salary offer be the one you take. Challenge it. Ask for a rise when you think you add more value to the company than you’re currently receiving in your pay packet.” From the conservative church: “We’d love your help on this…Great idea, please allow us [men] to take it from here.” From the tech in travel conference website: *List of 40 names, 36 men, 4 women* Inequality in Australia and the world: While I’ve experienced ‘cat calls’ and uninvited propositions, the reality is there was a 25% chance one of the women I sat beside in classes at university would be sexually assaulted, harassed or receive unwanted behaviour while studying. But statistically, if she tragically experienced it and courageously reported it, she’d join a whopping <1.5%. Outside those sandstone walls, we have women sexually assaulted in their homes and women forced into prostitution. (2016, The University of Sydney) While I receive equal pay thanks to enterprise bargaining, I share a house with a woman in a very similar role + industry who does not. Queensland women receive 16% less than men as an average of weekly earnings (2017, Workplace Gender Equality Agency). Globally, women are disproportionally represented in low-paying, insecure and undervalued household work (2015, UN Women) While I have the luxury to work in an professional field with a high proportion women, I live in a country where the proportion of women in management drops from 37% in any management role to 16.3% in the C-suite (2015, AFR). Should we jump across to our political scene, women make up only 29% of Australian parliaments (2015, The Guardian). Globally? 23%. (2016, World Bank) While I have a pastor who is willing to boldly speak up for change in the church and society, the Christian church has historically upheld patriarchal structures in their attempt to interpret and practice scripture. It is not uncommon for Australian churches to have little to no women involved in church services or have paid roles within the church at large. Outside Australia and the Christian faith, women are taught to practice more faith-based gender protocols than men. Women are segregated during religious services, restricted from entering particular places of worship or perhaps during menstruation, and unable to take up leadership or instructing roles. Further, practices, largely taught and regulated by men of faith, can involve physical mutilation, non-consensual youth marriage or excommunication for failing to adhere to discriminatory gender-specific teachings. So despite being a privileged white woman, and knowing it’s not just about me, I’m motivated and passionate about this singular day and on the 364 that follow it. Men and women are all made in the image of God and intricately different from each other. However discrimination, harassment and inequality continues to prevail. Today is public reminder of my privilege and reminder to be bold for change.
Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. And with the rising of the sun streaming through the curtains came a new year – a new year of the Lord’s unfailing love and mercy. A year of blessings and no doubt pain. A year of adventure and memory making. A year of patience but also one of yearning for a time to come.  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)
  Twelve months on and I’m in exactly the same place I was last year – a Surfers Paradise beachfront apartment. I’m even with the same four friends. We are again front and centre for the New Year fireworks. But although I’m physically in the same place, a year on I’m very much in a different place to where I was last year. 2015 was a tough year. But 2016 has been a year of restoration. It was also year of new friendships, adventures and learning. Here’s to the year that was: 1. A newfound love of dancing I was the girl who sat on the outskirts of the room as soon as the dancing began. But this year, I decided I didn’t care what I looked like I was going to enjoy dancing. And like that, I now do. The Melanie of 2015 would not have danced the night away in a Cuban Government run bar in rural Vinales with two sweaty, hands-y Cuban men with gorgeous blue eyes that melted my heart. 2. A nostalgia for my long locks but the excitement of short hair Oh how lovely it was…10% of the time. 3. A love of running Two years ago I couldn’t run 2km, but this year I ran 14km (on a swollen bruised ankle because I wasn’t giving up!). I push myself to get to a weekly community running group and once there I’m pushed to keep running. The burn of my legs is soon forgotten on reflection and achievement of the distance they’ve carried me. 4. A Growth Group who point each other to Jesus We become a conglomerate of the people we hang out with and I’m thankful for my gospel-focussed community. Over delicious food and vino, we’ve talked pride, elections, sex, and supported each other through illness, homesickness, death, farewells and welcome together. Thank you for pointing me to the grace and hope found in Christ. 5. A new church I arrived at Creek Road with a pretty rocky foundation and trust in ‘church’. But this year, through transparent and empowering pastors and persistent prayer, by grace the brokenness and hurt is healed. I look forward to church. 6. New friends New friendships formed over mutual love of TV shows + good food + wine (Did I hear you say ‘Tapas and Tequila Tuesday?’) 7. A patience with professional work I had 4 managers in 2016. I also had 9 team members in my immediate 3-4 person team. Change is constant and with patience and persistence I’ve learnt to push myself forward, learning from all those around me – whoever it is. Work life is a jungle gym and it’s the adventure and the challenge climbing it that brings contentment. 8. Appreciation for solo time (but still a craving for people) A perfect Friday night is either drinking and laughing with friends at a great bar in town or enjoying a glass of vino on the couch watching Netflix. I enjoy both equally and I have no qualms choosing one over the other. I’ve come to enjoy the small moments of solitude. 9. My family history In May I visited Bundaberg and toured my great, great grandparents house. I later started reading my family history book going back to the 18th Century. Through trials and successes, generations have gone forward putting Christ at the centre of their lives. However, it also served as a reminder for how quickly a generation can slip from the faith and serve their own interests. 10. Friendship with sisters For the first time in five years, Jen was in the same city as me. Weekend BBQs, Monday night netball, shopping adventures. As for Laura, we enjoyed another negative temperature snuggle session in Jindy and wrestling matches that now end with me begging for mercy. 11. The rejuvenation of weekend adventures Until October, it has been 1.5 years since I’d had more than 3 days away (a week off for the rite of passage: wisdom teeth doesn’t count). Here’s to weekends at Cabarita Beach, Straddie, Rainbow Beach, Kangaroo Valley, Bundaberg, Lady Musgrave Island, Perisher, Springbrook NP, Lamington NP, Tamborine NP, Glasshouse Mountains, Gold Coast. 12. BNE visitors Shout out to Lanes + Sutherlands, Lisa, Rachel + Lydia, USYD gang, Kelsey, Laura, Anna, Ashleigh for visiting. 13. Home? I drove home from 2 weeks in Sydney this week. It had been 6 months since I’d visited and I longed for it. But visiting and then driving back, I’ve realised Sydney doesn’t feel like home anymore. But I’m not sure Brisbane is yet either? 14. World travels  “Why Cuba?” they asked. “Be safe,” they said. “Why not?” I said. “How much,” I didn’t ask. It was an expensive holiday, but it’s a huge reward to plan, save, book and then escape to a far away land. And Cuba, well it’s just a fascinating place. As for Mexico, take me back. Tomorrow. 15. Dyson There’s a point in life when you realise you’re getting old. That moment for me has come. In addition to my growing family of kitchen appliances, washing machine and a comfortable (brand) new couch, I really want a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Preferably one of those stand up cordless ones. 16. “So I guess we’ll be in touch” Thanks to 2016 I have learnt some good ways and some bad ways to end a first date. And “So I guess we’ll be in touch” is not favourable. And with that, and the Tweed Heads fireworks in the background #daylightsavings, I say thank you and good bye 2016!     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)