Thursday, May 04, 2017

God as Provider

what if... God's  got a jar of chocolates for you to last your entire earthly life, until the day you die. He doles them out at the right times, and there's enough for each season in life, right until the last day. Nobody can steal any from that jar, it's in God's posession and only God doles the chocolates out at His discretion, in His timing. You can't see how much is left in the jar, you only have God's character to rely on.

would I worry about His provision? would I be afraid that there wouldn't be enough? would I stress about other people stealing it from me?

The chocolates represent God's provision of earthly needs, whether financial, opportunities, spiritual strength, mental clarity, comfort, encouragement,emotional resource and anything really, that we need to run this race on this side of eternity. I wonder how I would live if I really believed that God provides everything i need!

I know that God's caused birds to bring food to someone when he needed it, or even food to fall from heaven. He's caused bread and fish to multiple to feed a crowd, caused fishermen to catch a load of fish where they previously had none. Certainly we know all these laws of nature bend to His divine will! Because He's set those laws. So why is it hard to believe that God will provide when we can't see exactly how it's going to happen?  It's easy to believe it when there's a job lined up, when there's money in the bank but if we can't see HOW it's going to happen...we struggle to believe it.


Luke 12:22-34New International Version (NIV)

Do Not Worry

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Monday, December 19, 2016

parenting advice! from my younger self (all these were written before i became a parent] to me today

-do not ever compare your child to another
-when you're wrong, say you're sorry
-let them help around the house from young, divide chores equally
-encourage and inspire them, not scold and nag. praise them. Dont belittle them.
-do not yell. children learn by example.
-Educate your children about finances

-dont say "that's the sort of person you are" when they do smtg wrong

Thursday, August 18, 2016

On being a stay at home mum/homemaker

I always find it awkward when people ask me when I'm going "back" to work, presuming that I'm going to do so! When I tell them I'm a homemaker, they always say "oh but he's starting school soon isn't he?" Yes..but school is only 5 hours a day [until it becomes 6 hours a day and so on] what about the rest of the time? Even when he's in old enough, I don't want him coming home to an empty house on a regular basis during his growing up years.  Also, it's not just the kid - the home and family [including the husband] need caring for and nurturing, which is a full time job. In any case, why do I have to defend my decision? (Titus 2:3-5) is my guiding principle on this.

We all make our choices based on our individual circumstances, I don't dictate what model of car my neighbour should buy as i don't know their budget/needs/circumstances. Whether one should splurge on first class tickets to Amsterdam tomorrow depends on their bank account balance, how long they're gonna live for, whether they have family there or whatever. As much as some people can't afford to be stay at home mums, some can't afford not to.

In short, there are pros and cons of both working outside the home, and being a homemaker, and for our family's [unique!] goals and needs, we deem my being a homemaker is the best way to achieve them.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.    Why don’t you want to go to back to work?

Staying at home to raise my son furnishes the highest practicable chance for him to turn out to be holistically well adjusted in as many possible senses of the word, and have a deeply meaningful relationship with his parents both now and into adulthood.

2.    Everyone leaves their children in care but they turned out well.

Indeed, I know that many children of career mums can and do achieve many great things. However from observation and personal experience, on balance children raised by mothers at home appear to have greater core emotional stability, resilience, and ability to relate to others. To me, these are the most important metrics of success that override others such as professional achievement, as important as they are. Some children of career women appear to be resilient and relate well to others too, but I am responsible to provide Jo the best chance in life within the resources I have. Certainly, I do not judge others by their choices as I can’t know all the details of their circumstances – they may have other resources such as grandparents to that end, or there may be overriding financial reasons for their choice to continue as career mothers.

3.    What about your own self-worth and personal development?

There is no denying pursuing a career outside the home can have a positive effect on a woman’s personal development and sense of worth. However I have come to see my domestic career as a career path in its own right. Contemporary mainstream thought seems to see home makers as ignorant and slothful women, but the reality is that as the world grows in complexity and challenges, so must the home maker rise to the challenge. Just as work outside the home has largely transitioned from menial labour and repetitive administrative tasks to creative and relational endeavours, with modern technology replacing much of the traditional manual tasks at home the modern and thinking home maker’s job is becoming more and more about management, administration and conceptual development. This is intrinsically beneficial to my personal development and sense of worth. Of course, we do not live in a vacuum and which average person would not welcome society’s approval? However with mainstream thought putting negative pressure on home makers it can be a lonely road – that is the price to pay for those who go against the grain but I am comforted by the thought that throughout history the people who made things really great were the ones who dared to see things ahead of others.

4.    Don’t you want to achieve financial independence then?

First up, true financial independence is the domain of investors and businesspeople who have made it big. For our generation and the foreseeable future, employees will never achieve that. It would not matter whether our family were on a single or double income.

5.    What about paying off your home loan early?

It is certainly an important thing to be debt free, and my working outside the home could certainly help pay off the home loan earlier. However with the cost of extra child care and hidden overheads arising from external employment it is not quite as big a financial impact as it initially appears. The question is whether the financial reward of working outside the home outweighs the parental intimacy that staying at home makes more probable, and in my estimation and in my particular situation, the answer is no.

6.    What will you do when Jo’s at school?

The first two years of school, namely kindergarten and prep do not involve hours long enough to be encapsulated within a typical work week. This especially true in Tasmania, where most if not all schools hold kindergarten sessions for only three days in a week. This would make juggling an office position very difficult, let alone shift work. While some people are able to negotiate work arrangements that suit their family needs, my career had not progressed to such a level of bargaining power. In any case, the consensus among developmental psychologists is that a person’s character is especially influenced by his or her experiences up to the age of six, and I certainly want to pay my full attention on my son whilst he is within this age.
As for the later years, I would certainly contend that it would be beneficial for my son to have a mother who is always there for him while he is growing up. Most if not all men of my generation whom I regard as emotionally stable, resilient, and well-adjusted have been raised by mothers who had stayed at home for the most part. Of course, there is the question of taking care of my husband’s needs and my staying at home puts me in a better position to fulfil that role. Even from a purely economic perspective, my full attention on domestic management is crucial in optimising resources and minimising wastage. Cooking food at home represents a huge cost saving relative to eating out regularly, in addition to its health benefits.

7.    Aren’t you being some oppressed, sad, pathetic woman? Is your husband sexist?

The matter of being sad and pathetic is a subjective feeling that changes depending on circumstances, and is by no means exclusive to women working in the home. Certainly the repetitive bullying of home makers on the part of the media and other intellectual elite of society can be a cause of feelings of sadness and oppression. However, the office can also be a source of oppression and sadness. Anyone denying that must either be inexperienced in the workplace, or is experiencing selective amnesia simply because the current discussion is being centred on a controversial topic.
The suggestion that by working in the home I am an oppressed woman due to society’s historical treatment of women is largely moot in my context because the expectations around me are such that I am expected to work outside the home. It is important that we do not get hung up on the issues of the past, and as some say, the problem with many armies is that they had only prepared for yesterday’s war. As for my husband being sexist, the fact is that like many men of his generation he does his share of the work in the house, and was raised thinking that this is the normal and right thing to do. Throughout his career so far he has always had positive working relationships with the women he has worked with, so there is nothing to suggest that he has misogynist tendencies. My choice of working at home rather than pursuing a career outside it is my own. He supports me in this choice, as any husband in a healthy spousal relationship would.

8.    Aren’t you wasting your degree/talents/brains?

For the record, I had already earned more than enough money to recoup the financial investments made to obtain my degree. To think of waste in terms of loss of potential financial income, one needs to definite what one’s priorities are. Personally, my life’s goals are more about meaningful relationships and finding out the essential nature of reality rather than to experience delights of the hedonistic variety (no pejorative insinuation intended). Making more money than what my husband already provides would not bring me any further in that pursuit.
The utilisation of one’s talents are not necessarily confined to professions that elicit a monetary exchange. As such I do not think that my degree, talents or brains are wasted by working at home, because they have given me some tools to deal with our world’s ever increasing complexity and changes. Just as professional life is now much more about intellectual and relational endeavours than menial labour and repetitive tasks, in my context the home maker’s job has a substantial intellectual and conceptual development component to it. My intellectual life is as vibrant now as it had ever been, so I do not think my career choice has wasted my brains – in fact it has given me the opportunity to explore a wider ranging and encompassing body of knowledge than if I had to devote to a career outside the home.

9.    Why are you judging working mums, you Judgy McJudgerson!

If I do sound judgmental at all, I do apologise as this is not my intention. I do not claim to know everything about other mothers and their circumstances. They could have absolutely legitimate and even admirable reasons to work outside their homes, and I acknowledge that many of the good things we enjoy in life today are made possible by working mothers. However, a distinction must be made between judging people and judging ideas. I do not wish to judge people because this is a very complex question that can only be done properly by someone who has all the facts, but I believe it is important to stand for what I am convinced is right. I stand by my belief that on balance children raised by mothers at home have greater core emotional stability, resilience, and ability to relate to others – and that a mother’s primary responsibility is to facilitate these outcomes to the best of her abilities/resources. To those who disagree with me, may we disagree with each other respectfully, bearing in mind that our finite minds cannot possibly have everything figured out.

To conclude, I think it's very important that we don't find ourselves at the end of life succeeding in the things that didn't matter. Seek God's face, and His will - If He guides us to something-He'll provide the means for it. [I'm learning this lesson every single day...and i keep having to relearn again!] If we're not provided something, perhaps it's because we didn't need it, after all doesn't He say He'll provide all our needs? Salvation is not found through our own works - so we needn't kill ourselves trying to live a certain way to justify ourselves. Only by coming to God can we find the answer to life's biggest questions.

Friday, January 29, 2016

the death sentence - some jumbled up thoughts

Just recently I was having a chat with a neighbour about the 15 yr old teenager who stole a car, drove it at 150kph, evading police, then mowing down a pregnant mum, killing her. The most likely outcome of "justice" here would be a slap on the wrist, as even the mass shooting port arthur murderer was only given life imprisonment [where they're given mixed grill for dinner, dessert twice a day, their own toilet, tv and free drugs, free GP visits, free dental] 

"he should be charged with murder!" 

" he should be sentenced to death!" said I. 
Which prompted a lot of deep thinking on my part. Should Christians support the death penalty? After all only God can take a life, right? But what if a person could only ever commit more murder if we let them live? If someone had a chance to kill Hitler, should they?

God is merciful - yet just. We aren't Him.

What if - the only reason we haven't committed murder is only by the grace of God? What if, our sinful nature already predisposes us to murder, and we have already sinned as much as a murderer, in the eyes of God? 

What if we're no better than a mass murderer in the eyes of God? [it's hard to imagine or comprehend, but in terms of salvation, we're all the same. it's only the degree of sin that we're allowed to commit that differs among each individual] 

God wants us "to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8, NIV). 

I'm not always sure what this looks like in practical terms. 
But I'm reminded that I need to first be humble and thank God for His grace and fear Him first. Not trying to take revenge because revenge is His [Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. ROM 12:19]

Looking upon the perpetrator as who he really is - a sinner, made by God, loved by God, who needs salvation as much as I do. I'm only trying to align my thinking to reality, not distort it into something pretty or popular. Also looking at myself as who I really am - a sinner, made by God, loved by God, redeemed by His blood, whose life and destiny are in His hands. Knowing that God is sovereign and loves me extravagantly. With these in mind, should i fear what other humans can do to me?

Paul was realistic enough to admit that he was the worst of sinners. "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." 1 Tim 1:15 

Am I able to admit that about myself? 

that robbed-at-gunpoint scene in "the War Room" where Ms Clara defiantly resisted the gunman made me wonder what i'd do if it were me. I probably would've handed over my money but if we truly believed that God was in control and we needn't fear man, how she reacted is logical. If she'd gotten killed it would've been God's allowing anyway, which renders it good since God is good. In any case, she would've been at God's mercy, not the gunman's. [by that logic!] 

These issues have been at the forefront of my thoughts lately as it's been demonstrated that how I see others is coloured by how I see myself. If I see myself as being righteous on my own merits, I'll see others [druggies, welfare dependents, school dropouts, criminals] as trash, conversely if I see myself as one of the worst of sinners, needing God's grace, redeemed by His blood, loved extravagantly by the Almighty God - I'd see them as the same. 

In Philemon, Paul encourages a master to be reconciled to his runaway slave, who is now a brother to him because of their faith in Christ. 

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." -Gal 3:28 

How should we receive another - even if they are a druggie/murderer/bad person? 
[bearing in mind that Paul himself was a murderer! and if I've ever hated another, i am too!] 

About the death sentence - that teenaged thief who killed another does deserve it. For the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) but then... so do I. And everyone else. (Rom 3:23)

but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Thank God for this wonderful gift! It just fills me with awe and gratefulness. It brings tears to my eyes. That He would love us and want us! 
That He would take up the death sentence for us - because He loves us that much. His death  - means life for us! 

I'll end with this beautiful verse:

"The Lord appeared to us in the past,[a] saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." 

Jer 31:3

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Hobart Synagogue and Greek food

 Hobart Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Australia, built in 1845 - its architecture is described to be Egyptian Revival, presumably because they've "revived" ancient Egyptian motifs such as the leaf design on its pillars?

 It was beautiful to look at, just amazing how well preserved everything is!

 Here's the front part where they keep the Torah scrolls.
 All of these scrolls are hand copied!

 This back bit with names of people who've contributed to it reminds me of Brethren churches from that same era.

Our guide was really knowledgeable and answered all our questions on the building, Judaism, even the history of the Jewish people in Tasmania and Australia. This is certainly worth a visit even if you're not Jewish!

More information here.

Filos at Elizabeth St mall

This Greek restaurant/cafe is excellent! Greek guitar music playing in the background, warm service, makes you feel like you're eating as a guest in a Greek home!
That it's a family run business adds to the feeling of authenticity, along with the photos of Greek scenes on the walls.

The menu items included quite a few lesser known Greek dishes, such as dakos and Kokkinisto, as well as the well known Moussakas and souvlakis. 

 The wide array of desserts made it so tempting! there was even Greek baklawa and kourobiedes [nut biscuits] What I loved most about this place is that it's so unpretentious and affordable, with a relaxed atmosphere. Coffee was great too!

We went for the grilled meat platter for one, below, very tasty and moist marinated chicken and lamb, which went perfectly well with the tzaziki yoghurt sauce and flatbreads.
and below, the mousakka - cheesy, creamy, eggplanty and meaty. Loved it!
I'd love to come back to try all the other menu items. a must visit if you like meat or Mediterranean food.

some Greek language trivia:

How are you? - dikanis

good! - galah

very good! - polygalah

FILOS Cafe Restaurant
39 Elizabeth St, in the mall
Hobart – Tasmania
Tel: (03)62001758

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Sri Lankan gem in the northern suburbs, and an excellent middle eastern cafe in Caulfield

How would tourists ever find good restaurants nowadays without smartphones? We merely had to search for "sri lankan" and "near me" to find an exquisite gem in Thomastown! 
Elephant Lane is a Sri Lankan restaurant recommended to us by a lady at a Sri Lankan grocery in Bundoora. 

Below, the yellow rice with lamb curry, fried eggplant chips and pineapple pickle was so good, we cleaned the plate! [$10.90]
 this chicken kottu roti $11.90 was really tasty too, and the serving was so huge that we had to take home more than half of it which made an excellent breakfast the next day. It's essentially like fried rice, but with chopped up roti in place of the rice, with lots of spices, veggies and egg.

The service was excellent as well, and they have buffet nights every friday and sat with hoppers.
This place really reminded us of Malaysia, with a relaxed [as opposed to overly formal and stuffy] environment where a bunch of friends might congregate after a soccer game to eat and chat late into the night.

    44 Mahoneys Rd, Thomastown VIC 3074

Tavlin, Middle Eastern Restaurant, Caulfield

now this, this was so so so so excellent that we did not regret the 50 minute drive there, [and back!] in fact we wished we'd stayed closer to Caulfield just so we could have eaten here every day!

We had the shakshouka, hummus with pine nuts and lamb mince with green tahini, pickles and a chilli paste on the side.

 All of these were eaten with a puffy, fragrant hot bread called "laffa".
 The eggs were cooked to perfection - with runny creamy yolk, and flavoursome tomatoey sauce.
 I'd never had such smooth, creamy, flavourful hummus. Was it the olive oil that made it special? or the herbs and spices in the lamb?
 We pretty much cleaned every dish of food.

The service was excellent, and you could tell that it has many regulars.
I would definitely want to come here again to try other menu items.

One way Lebanese Bakery, Lalor
    Address: 348 Station St, Lalor VIC 3075
opening hours - 7-7 weekdays, 7-5 weekends

This place we discovered using googlemaps - and how glad we were!
After reading about Manoushe, also called Lebanese pizza, I was really keen to try it, especially here made by authentic Lebanese bakers [I'm assuming so!]

It's typically eaten for breakfast, and most people in the villages didn't normally have their own ovens or make their own, so the communal bakery was where it all happened everyday.

This sujuk and cheese one was so delicious, hot off the oven. We also had a veggie and meat one, and some middle eastern sweets such as baklawa, mamoul and semolina biscuits. All were excellent. The best thing is that everything was so affordable! School kids could come here with their pocket money and enjoy a good after school snack.

They also have excellent coffee - made by smiling servers! This place is definitely a must visit for middle eastern food lovers. Some other interesting items on their menu include fatayer [spinach pie, similar to spanakopita but made with bread rather than pastry] and pashmak [persian fairy floss].

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Forgiveness - what is it?

Ask 10 people what forgiveness is and you'll get 11 different answers.

Some popular answers are:

- when you don't feel hurt or angry anymore
- deciding not to take revenge
- telling the person who wronged you "it's okay"
- cancelling the "debt"
- reconciling with the perpetrator
- saying to them "i forgive you" [but not necessarily knowing what it means!]

the forgiveness that occurs between friends might be different from what might occur between siblings, family members or between a stranger and another stranger.

Does man's forgiveness toward fellow man require repentance? if so, then it's impossible if the perpetrator's dead/no longer in contact with us/doesn't acknowledge their wrong/continues to harm or hurt us.

Should forgiveness be synonymous with reconciliation ?

can forgiveness go hand in hand with justice?

Does God's forgiveness toward us have some aspects that are different from our forgiveness toward fellow man?
I think so! God's forgiveness offers us eternal salvation, whereas our forgiveness can't do that!
May I add at this juncture that not telling anybody what the perpetrator's done to you cannot necessarily be a sign of forgiveness. Hiding/denying the truth about what happened is nothing short of untruthful! Imagine if we advised a rape victim not to report the crime. or all the holocaust survivors not to educate the world about what happened.

I don't want to repeat all the other arguments from billions of other sources so here're my own thoughts on it. Forgiveness.. in light of the gospel is:

  • wanting God's will for the perpetrator[s]. Which can only happen when we look to God.
  • an expression and overflow of our worship to God
  • not a task or an event, but an ongoing posture of wanting God's will for that person.
  • not to be confused with reconciliation, which can only occur if the other person has sought forgiveness and willingness to reconcile 

I don't have to say :God's best. because God is good, what He wants can never be anything but.

Some of my other thoughts:

-God is just and knows everything, therefore people who sin against us are ultimately accountable to Him anyway. So, our forgiveness of them does not let them off the hook [God's].

- no effort must be made to punish them [personally] knowing full well that God will [in the most just manner]  Romans 12:19 However this doesn't preclude reporting crimes to the authorities-this is more to fight the sin committed, to prevent it from happening to others. Also removing oneself from a emotionally/physically dangerous situation in self defence is not an effort to punish them personally, to protect oneself! Same goes with not continuing business with a corrupt business partner if they embezzled money, etc. To prevent further atta

- trusting in God, [His justice and goodness]  knowing full well His sovereignty and deep, everlasting  love for us frees us to want His will for them, knowing that they can't take anything from us [since God is our portion and more than enough]

- God doesn't hate anyone, He hates sin. So, we can hate the sin [the sin they committed against us] but not hate them.

About whether forgiveness requires repentance to occur - there're several views on it.

Some people think that it doesn't require repentance. if so, then the forgiveness required of us is not the same as God's forgiveness in that respect because God's forgiveness requires our repentance. So if we have to forgive even where there's not been repentance, then we're asked to do more than what God does in forgiving.

In the parable of the debtor [Matthew 18:21-35 ] the debtor's debtee did fall at his feet and beg for mercy.  

 Luke 17:3 says If your brother or sister[a] sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.
does this mean that God only requires us to forgive where there's been repentance?

I don't claim to know the answer to that, but all I know is that we can want God's will for 
them even if they don't acknowledge their sin or ask forgiveness. so defined that way, we can forgive.