Friends with Benefits

Is your spouse your friend? He or she may have been once. But things have changed. Career, family, finances, travel, ambition, fear, discontentment, illness. Sometimes life seems to get in the way. We stand shoulder to shoulder to get through a season of hardship or change. We make decisions that don’t support our friendship. We believe lies about our future. And before we know it we are journeying in our marriage so far from face to face, eye to eye.
To be married is to have a lover and a friend. Friendship is crucial. This series on marriage is so very helpful. If you long to be friends with your spouse, if you long for a new marriage with the same spouse avail yourself to the Real Marriage series from Mars Hill.  Read it, listen to it, view it together. Download it to your iPod, listen to it as you travel. Choose to make it real, and redeem your friendship.

On the Street….

all images:

Do you follow Scott Shuman’s work, aka The Sartorialist? His website chronicles amazing images of people on the street, how they dress and interpret fashion and design in their local context. Here you can view all sorts of street savvy fashionistas, from New York, Berlin, London and Paris.

As I watch the people walking and doing life in my local context I have often cause to admire a look, an outfit, the use of colour or an ensemble. But somehow it would seem strange to ask these people, many of whom I know, to take their picture. I have a friend who has great boots, another who sports fabulous coats, the odd Mama who pulls together a “school run” look in such style, a hint of colour to feel fabulous, some jewellery, a great leather bag. A new hair cut or colour.
Check out these images: fun hair, great big bags, colour but just a bit and great scarves. Have fun creating your look today.

Is doing good always ‘good’?

Paris doing good?

Doing good and making the right choice is commendable. I would suggest it is how I hope I am raising my children and what I hope and expect from my friends. Advocating for good for humankind. But sometimes we do good for the sake of it, we don’t ask the hard questions. Our ‘do good’ mentality has become a quick fix in our society. We give to charities when a representative knocks on our door or asks for a donation at a traffic light. We volunteer at the soup kitchen, give of our time, pass on our unwanted clothing and household items and we feel like we have made a contribution.
 Likewise, the church has been caught up in doing good. This is after all following Jesus’ example of helping the poor and needy, welcoming the unlovely into your home and to your table. But the church has become distracted by causes and doing and less astute at asking the hard questions. I heard Bob Lupton speak at the Verge 2012 conference. He suggested that charity has become toxic and that the church is on the verge of a major paradigm shift. Amongst many stories of charity and good, he revealed a common scenario of a local church sending people on ‘mission’ to paint an orphanage in the third world. The money spent  coordinating and investing in taking a team of westerners to an overseas location to perform a task, they were not professionally trained to do so could have been used to give work to two local professional painters, employ a couple of full time teachers at the school and provide complete new uniforms for the entire student body. Have we not asked the hard questions? The mission trip was good for ‘me’ but really it didn’t offer long term change for my brothers and sisters in need.

Mission needs to be authentic. Our good needs to offer real outcomes. Lupton is advocating a paradigm shift. It is worth asking yourself is doing good always ‘good’?

Once Upon a time….

I don’t regard myself as a great story teller. I am not the one who holds court at a party with some great yarn to tell. But this doesn’t mean I don’t have stories to tell. I do, we all do.

My man and I have been considering this notion of “storytelling”as integral to how we do life together in a community. When we meet people, catch up with friends for a coffee or over a meal we tell each other stories. The story of what you have been doing, how the kids are fairing at school, how you got on with that difficult colleague at work, the story of getting more rest over the last week. Our stories are often pedestrian and we assume they don’t have a narrative highlight or turning point, so others may not be interested. But our life is one big story. God’s story and good news sets the scene and our own tale is intertwined into that one; sometimes we resist, rebel and sometimes our story is one of reconciliation and contrition. Making our story more in tune with His.

In the last few days I have heard stories of marriage hardship, of addiction to work, of temptation with porn, of sickness, bad judgement, hope and hilarity. Stories about new purchases, new ideas, travel and the imminent death of a grandmother. Tales of a poor diagnoses, of bullying, new friendships and people making new connections. Others have stories of melancholy, of restlessness, discontent and fatigue. Our stories all intersect. We gather, we share and we connect and hopefully reflect His story in it all.

Writer’s Block

Rainy days, grey skies and constant muddy footprints on newly washed floorboards. Extra layers of wool on skin, covering hands and head. Warming soup and hot milky drinks to take away the “blues”. Tired eyes first thing in the morning, late nights, warm beds, dreaming spring is sooner than it really is. Grumpy kids, disagreements, the stress of exams, special day trips, fair-weather friends, extra meetings. The silence from a friend, forgiveness, hope and a new day.  A new coat, birthday gifts to buy, a friend to visit who is nursing twins, sickness strikes and plans change. The Japanese maple, red and yellow. Book club, new people, new ideas, reading…reading. Need more time to read, to reflect, to soak up the essence of today and the hope of forever that each moment is built upon. New wool waiting in paper bags, needles to go…click clack, click clack. Soup to make, large dinners to coordinate. Make food, tell stories and build community. These things are all stopping me from writing what I want to write here. But this has been my days of last. This is my story.


Have you heard the buzz about Copious? A new place to sell, buy and love. This online market hall for selected goodness and design will ignite your interest and curiosity. Using Facebook and Pinterest as an entry point you can list, sell, buy and/or browse. Move over ebay. The only problem is that they are not shipping internationally, yet. The marketing department assure me it is only a matter of time, so I should keep browsing and “loving” what I see. In the meantime it is time to de-clutter the copious items of clothing, shoes and jewellery and and take some pretty pics on instagram for sale time. Are you there?

Lose your find your…peace

I have been really struggling with giving up control of one very important transaction in our family day. Making the school lunch. We have tried so many different approaches in recent years, I make, they make, we make but inevitably what happens is that I go back to creating their lunches in lightening speed to hurry things along each morning. But what happens, without fail is that each one will files past the kitchen bench, grabs their box and proceeds to open each compartment, making unhappy noises about a sandwich filling, or choice of fruit.
“I don’t like ham Mum”. “Can you take the banana out?”” I don’t really like muffins unless they are hot from the oven.” ” Is that grain bread? Hhmmmm.”

By this time I am meeting each comment and query with a tense, high pitched voice on the verge of nervous breakdown. So…..I went to the supermarket and stocked up on some fillings and lunchbox staples and have handed over the responsibility to them. And today the lunch making went off ok. There was a bit more chaos, slightly more mess, but generally happy kids. Some had made soup for their thermos, most had made use of the dips – hummus.spicy pumpkin and olive dip – and their was choice of bread, wraps or crackers. There are rules though, one healthy main, a piece of fruit, a snack and one sweet treat. So let’s monitor the change and hope as I lose my control we will find peace in the morning rush.

At our table

Once upon a time I would regularly post about the food at our table.

We still eat, and prepare meals. Some weeks it is not the focus.

Finding food that is easy to prepare and accommodating to our busy after school schedule, food that is seasonal and nutritious and food that all five children enjoy is quite a challenge. The smaller mouths want soft meat and are usually too tired by the time we sit to eat as a family around 6pm. I think they could have their meal an hour earlier, but this would break the family meal tradition, which is not negotiable I think.

Our menu this week has looked like this:

Bolognese with Penne
Roasted Spicy Beef Sirloin with Roasted Vegetable Salad (Beetroot and Jerusalem artichoke from a community garden)
Chicken and Cashew Nut Stir Fry with Rice
A ‘Jamie’ Inspired Sausage Bake with Cous Cous
Roasted Lamb with Tzatziki, Salad andWraps

Of these meals I think one was cooked early in the day, the roast is best prepared and then cooked while we are out and about being busy. I realised that I cook less stir frys at the moment because it all has to be done at the last minute and family life doesn’t allow for this each day. But the rice cooker is a blessing – perfect rice every time. I had not planned this menu in advance, but it evolved as I took my cues from the weather, what we had in the fridge and pantry that needed using and what would suit the activities of the day ahead.

There has been much bread baking and soup making as well this week. Two staples that keep us sorted for school lunches and breakfast bread. What did your family eat this week?