The Body- truth and lies

I need to value things as God values them. I need to view my self, my identity, body, family and life in light of the Gospel. But as a woman living in a body obsessed culture it is hard not to make the body a focus. As we shower, dress, polish, pluck, brush and feed out bodies we are thinking all the time about how we present. And I would argue a whole lot more to boot. Have you ever stopped to think what you really believe about your body and how you care for it? What lies might be lurking behind some of your motives ?

Here are some ideas from Jen Wilkin about the lies we may believe about out bodies:

  • Lie #1: Your body is decorative. It should be used to attract the attention of men and the envy of women. What matters most is how it looks.
  • Truth: Your body is useful. It should be used to accomplish the good works that God ordained for you to do. What matters most is what it does.

  • Lie #2: Your body’s appearance is flawed but fixable. You are not the right size, shape or color. But you can (and should) go to enormous effort and expense to change that.
  • Truth: Your body’s appearance is designed by God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, according to a plan. Because God is a God of infinite creativity, people come in many different sizes, shapes and colors.

  • Lie #3: Your body is a source of power. It can and should be trained, toned and preserved from all signs of age. Its level of attractiveness or strength can and should be leveraged to give you dominance over and independence from others.
  • Truth: Your body has a set of limits. It succumbs to hunger, fatigue, exposure, injury, illness and age. Its fragility and fleeting vigor should point you toward submission to and dependence on a strong and eternal God.

  • Lie #4: Your body is yours. You are its owner. You may neglect it, obsess over it, indulge it, punish it, pamper it or alter it as you wish.
  • Truth: Your body is not yours. You are its steward. Because you were bought with a price, all decisions about and behaviors toward your body must be run through the filter of, “Does this glorify God in my body?”

  • Lie #5: Transforming the outside will fix the inside. By making changes to your body, you can change the condition of your heart. You can have more self-confidence, better self-esteem and greater happiness.
  • Truth: Transforming the inside will make peace with the outside. A mind being progressively transformed by the gospel rejects the worship of self and the futile pursuit of happiness. By pursuing holiness, your attitude toward your body will change, as you learn to love it as a good gift from God.

Out attitude towards all that our body does – work, play, care for friends and family will change when we adopt a GOD perspective of life and the body. Clean eating, hair colouring, gym workouts or a new pair of jeans won’t transform your heart. But the lies may consume you. 

Wants and Needs

Today I would love go out alone and grab a quiet coffee, with my journal, diary and my own thoughts. But I have a couple of sick little people who have moved from bed to couch to bathroom and back again. So even though I want to take time out for a coffee I am confined to home because that is where I am needed. My role is to love my family, serve them when they are sick, soothe a brow, wipe a face and hold them close. And in those moments new thoughts come – what a gift it is to be able to love my family. Each day a promise of learning something new. Take hold of all that your day throws at you. Lest we forget what is important in this life.

Good things IN

Today I am really aware of the stuff that I am feeding myself. No this is not a post about food, the super foods and low sugar stuff that is making headlines in mainstream media. This is a simple reflection that somehow in the last 6 months I have been feeding myself more and more eye candy. In spite the fact that I have not bought a single home deco magazine in over 12 months, my crafty and deceitful heart has found other ways to devour home deco porn. Friend’s magazine collections, waiting rooms, the magazine aisle in the supermarket. And more recently I have discovered the ‘eye candy heaven’ of pinterest and yes, instagram. In these social media feeds I can tailor my interests and likes so that I am fed instantly all the stuff that my eyes want to see. Beautiful homes, styled spaces, gorgeous colours, fashion, foodie spreads, healthy lifestyles, living abroad, house tours, travel home wares, books, films and the like. All these things help to shape my appetite and create in me a desire for things, for a certain way of life, to look a particular way. And I feel as though I have been force fed. I am dissatisfied with what I have.

Perhaps I need a new sofa, longer legs, a new car, a travel adventure or a new life. It is the stuff that the world is built upon today. The advertising giants play to our weaknesses and I could blame them, but here it is me, creating my own catch 22. I am force feeding myself. And all that glitters is not gold because what I am being fed makes me jealous, discontent, envious and and ugly. 

So I am determined to change. Good things IN. But what are these good things you ask? 

Easter Baking

 We all love chocolate but sometimes it is good to offer something a bit different at Easter. These little bunnies are fun. Nigella Lawson’s butter biscuit recipe, a few silver pearls and they are bundled up with eggs and some decorations. Here is the basic recipe if you want to get baking. Add your own decorations and icing.

Nigella Lawson’s Cut-Out Cookies

  • 90 g unsalted butter
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 1 large eggs
  • 0.50 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 0.50 teaspoon baking powder
  • 0.50 teaspoon salt
  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and moving towards moussiness, then beat in the egg and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and eggs, and mix gently but surely. If you
  • Sprinkle a suitable surface with flour, place disk of dough on it, and sprinkle a little more flour on top of that. Then roll it out to a thickness of about 1/2 cm. Cut into shapes, dipping the cutter into flour as you go, and place the cookies a little a
  • Bake for 8 to 12 minutes; obviously it depends on the shape you’re using and whether they are on the upper or lower shelf, though you can swap them around after about 5 minutes. When they’re ready expect them to be tinged a pronounced gold around the edge
  • Remove the cookies with a flat, preferably flexible, spatula to a wire rack. 

Dinosaur Park

Hmm.   Felt a bit buggered today.  Maybe I overdid the running over the last couple of days.  
Today was the big ‘Dinosaur Park’ excursion.  My day began, though, with Maddy coming in to my room at about 6.45am to talk to her sisters.  She’s been missing them, and it was great to see everybody on the small screen of my iPhone via Facetime.  
In many ways it was a perfect day for a visit to a theme park – 25 degrees and sunny.  They may actually have some dinosaur fossil exhibits at this Dinosaur Park.  One of the information signs implied that they do.  The sign also explained that a boffin in the Department of Minerals and Science in this Capitalist Autocracy of China decided that the best way to get people to learn about dinosaurs would be to build an amusement park around the museum.  
When Jakob was here the big roller coaster was broken. It’s fixed now, and it is amazing.  The kids spent the whole day on rides or consuming food and drink.  I don’t believe a genuine fossil was seen, and I’m pretty sure that nobody learnt anything about dinosaurs. 
They seemed to have a great time.  
I, however, found a quiet corner, sat down with my snack pack and iPad, and read for about 4 hours straight.  
This is my top 5 reasons why that was a good decision:
  1. The queue for the most spectacular ride was about 90 minutes;
  2. The duration of the most spectacular ride was about 90 seconds; 
  3. Nothing is sadder, or stranger than a middle aged bloke going on rides at a theme park without his family;
  4. Although I was not dressed like ‘Mini Dino’, whenever I roamed Chinese people kept approaching and asking to have their photo taken with me.  I must be displaying a bit of my inner Indiana Jones after a week without a beard trim;
  5. Most of the rides discouraged people with back or neck problems from participating.  After my humiliating ‘thumbs down’ from the Chinese masseur the other day, I wasn’t sure I should risk exacerbating whatever spinal condition I may be suffering from. 

Two more sleeps for me, then the long trip home. 

Travel Notes from my Man

Whole School Gathering
I’ve been running. 
Yesterday, and again today, I ran about ten kilometres – to the Canal, along it to the ‘Gaoyou Canal Number two bridge’ – over the bridge to Gaoyou Lake, and back again.  The run was a bit longer yesterday, due to my getting lost.  I haven’t been able to find the number one bridge. 
I offered to take a group of kids running today.  If any of them wanted to come.  No-one did. 
I haven’t really run for over 6 months, and it is a cause of some wonder to me that I am fit enough to do so here.  I haven’t had this much time on my hands for years.  I don’t have to wake any kids up in the morning, walk any dogs, set up or clear away any meals, put any youngsters to bed, read anyone stories.  I’m not consulting patient after patient all day.    
I’m walking a lot. I found and ordered a good coffee today – with the assistance of Google Translate.  I’m talking to my wife a lot, thanks to a generous roaming data allowance and Facetime Audio.  
I’m working a bit.  It’s easy for me to create a VPN with my work server and keep on top of paperwork and results, which will mean more time with Suse and the other kids, and less time working, when I get home this weekend.  I’m also able to log on to Deakin and keep up with my study.  
I tried to find the Gaoyou Tourist Information Centre today.  Googled it.  Didn’t find one.  Found several ‘local’ sites on, some with a Chinese language review.  Google translate helped me read the reviews. None of them really seemed worth visiting. 
I also tried to find a ‘church’ on Apple maps.  The closest official church seems to be about 14km away, in Wuzhuang.  There are none in Gaoyou.  According to Apple.  And I suppose they’d know. 

I’d like the kids to stop shouting at each other all the time.  And stop bouncing basket-balls whenever they have spare time.  But I know that’s too much to hope.  Blood noses, migraines, ingrown toenails added to the catalogue of minor ailments today. 

Cake Pops

Cake Pops. Now who thought of that one? Our most lovely Aunty A sent a cake pop set to Miss L for her birthday and this week we have had the pleasure of trying to make a lollypop styled cake. They are great fun and super easy to use the silicon moulds. In fact the kids did it all by themselves. I think they enjoyed the decorations the most. Each pop is groaning under the weight of chocolate, icing and coloured sugar ornaments as you can see. It makes each cake pop all that little bit special.

Street Food

The students spent a day with ‘host families’ today.  This meant that the staff had a free day. 
I walked for an hour from 6.30am, through food markets that were already busy.  Chickens and ducks being slaughtered, pork laid out on wooden boards in the sun.  Bamboo steamers piled high full of dumplings.  Fish and eel languishing in big plastic dishes.  Sun shining.  A near silent peak-hour of bicycles and electric scooters was building.  
One of the staff had booked in for a massage at ten.  The masseur was able to accommodate a ring-in, so I tagged along.  This staff member is a celebrity in this joint.   A poster sized picture of him, resplendent in his  College Gaoyou uniform, alongside the masseur, adorns the front room of the establishment.  No English was spoken.  A forceful, and at times painful, probing of muscle groups was briefly interrupted by some cupping, some hot incense, a head massage. Much disconcerting cracking down the left side of my cervical spine under the masseur’s strong thumbs. At the end of the session thumbs were raised to the other staff member.  This gesture was presumed to affirm excellent spinal alignment and general muscle relaxation. They were, sadly, not raised to me.      
To comfort myself in the face of this confirmation of my frailty, and for the first time since our Salmonella/Shigella tour of Indonesia in the early 1990s, I ate street food in an Asian country.   Delicious, really delicious, dumplings and steamed pork buns – which we call Pows in our family.  These were amazingly flavoursome, and I’m sure had nothing to do with the increasingly frequent rumbling of my tummy through the afternoon. 
My daughter, Maddy, was worried about her host-family visit.  She was going with her good friend Bridie, but for some reason felt that she would have liked for them to have a boy in their group. 

These two are wonderful girls, and I’m pleased they were paired up and went without a male student. They can hold their own.  They’re the last group back tonight, still not in as I write this at 8.30pm.  I hope they’ve had a great time.  The others seem to be buzzing with conversations about what they’ve done, and mainly about what they’ve eaten.  Everyone seems in reasonably good shape, although the need for repeated doses of Aquium hand sanitizer is bringing out some contact dermatitis in a couple of the kids.