Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Christian Charter

I can't deny it.  I love church history, but at the moment I am struggling with church.  To be more specific, churches that have turned into businesses.  I am unable to reconcile my faith with church that is run like a marketplace.  Enough already...what I really wanted to talk about here was how I want to live.  What I want to be known for.

I want to be know by my actions.  Francis of Assisi once said "The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today."  He also famously said "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words." 

I made the 'wordle' above to define what I actually stand for and how I want to live.  I don't proclaim to be perfect and sin free, but God, please help me to be all these things that you are.

Survivor of the week - CATHERINE OF ARAGON

Dear Catherine of Aragon,

When life doesn't go the way I planned, or things seem miserably unfair, I often think of you and marvel at your courage and strength.  In fact, I have often wondered why the Catholic Church hasn't sainted you, because clearly if anyone is deserving of such a title it has to be you.

Born into the most powerful European Monarchy at the time, extremely well educated, fluent in many languages and armed with a number of perfected domestic skills - you were the medieval equivalent of home coming queen.

But, poor Catherine.  Betrothed to an English prince.  Married and widowed within 4 months.  A pawn between 2 bickering Kings. Spending many years in limbo neither here nor there, and loosing your mother in between...thus loosing your value as a good export.  Finally your prince in shining armour swept you up and finally you were married (again).

Oh dear Catherine, things were looking up for you but not for long.  If only you had produced a healthy male heir rather than giving birth to a living baby girl.  

Your courage and strength is beyond measure. I know for sure I would have fallen like a pack of cards at the roar of a King's demand for divorce.  Yet, your conscience...your beliefs kept you strong.  I pray that when it comes to the crunch I will have as much faithfulness and determination as you.

You are a survivor beyond doubt.  You married the King and you died as his legal wife despite every pressure put on you to renounce this claim.  You may have lost everything; your earthly comforts, your friends, your ladies, your wealth, your health, but you kept your dignity and when all is said and done...you won. 

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Perfect Massaman Curry - the best recipe

Photography by Louise Lister

I've recently joined a foodie group (even though I hate the word foodie).  We meet once a month and take turns hosting it.  Everyone cooks and brings a dish or two from the designated cuisine we are exploring that month.

Last Saturday night was once again an amazing experience hosted by my newly acquainted, lovely friend Denise.  The theme was Thai and Denise is an absolute expert in Thai cuisine having travelled there and also trained in the art of Thai cooking.  Naturally, the dishes Denise cooked were absolutely DIVINE.  The rest of us cooked well, but Denise supplied the star dishes of the evening.  Anyhow, I digress.

What I wanted to share was the recipe I used for Massaman Curry.  I usually just use a paste and add coconut milk, but this time I decided to go the extra mile and the results were perfect.  I highly recommend this recipe.  Have a go.  It is beautiful: Perfect Beef Massaman Curry at taste.com.au

And, if you're feeling in an authentic mood can I suggest you cook some coconut rice to accompany your Massaman.  This is a really good recipe too. Yum!

PS...I hate peanuts so I left them out of the curry.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Love is a many splendid thing...

image by weheartit.com
I'm not totally enthralled by valentines day.  In fact, I hate it.  I resent the fact that it is boxed into romantic love.  I love, love, but wish the occasion was used to celebrate all kinds of love.

We all have many different loves.  There is of course Eros Love - the intimate kind of love that results in sensual, passionate love.  Too bad if come Valentines Day you are not engaged in this kind of love.  Please look the other way while paired up people fill the restaurants and movie theatres on February 14th with their eyes and mouths locked on each other.  What about agape, philia or storge types of love?  Are these not worth celebrating too?

I love how in the movie Love Actually they showcase a little of these types of love.  Think about Laura Linney's character; Sarah who defers her own wants and needs for the sake of her sick brother.  That is sacrificial and great love.  That is the kind of love I want celebrate.  Then how about friendship love?  Think Billy Mac & Joe.  The kind of friendship that sticks with you and sees you through thick and thin...celebrates your triumphs and holds you close through heartbreaks and failures? 

There are so many more examples of love other than eros I could give...such as the love and affection a parent feels for their child, or the close bond that goes beyond friendship between siblings.

What about the love for something that isn't flesh or blood?  A moment in time? A place?  A song?

There is a place for me that I am bound to with much love and affection.   It is somewhere that holds amazing memories.  Breathtaking scenery, dear friendships, special moments, growth and understanding, even the welcome of a new addition to our family.  Physically speaking I can return there, but emotionally speaking I will never be able to return to that place with those moments.  That love....that is held in my heart forever.  Even though it hurt to leave and say goodbye I would live that love again over and over and over!  Now that is true love!

So, what love are you celebrating this Valentines Day?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Bystander Effect

So, what do you know about the Bystander Effect?  I know nothing, or shall I say knew nothing until I looked it up after viewing this clip a friend of mine forwarded:

I have been guilty many times of being a bystander....but, a child that is crying out for help yelling 'you're not my dad' would certainly get my attention!  I know I couldn't take the perp on physically, but bet your bottom dollar I would get help! 

Ok, so here's another one:

I am so guilty of this kind of thing...especially in London where God knows there are all types.  Fear of being spat on, kicked or hit are the top 3 things going through my mind when I catch the tube let alone being presented with this situation!  But really....I have to ask myself (let me add, after weighing up the possible real dangers) how do these things pale with the reality of actually helping someone?  It would have cost zero to stop and check if the people (in the clip) slumped on the steps of Liverpool Street Station were ok.  Are we really that busy, that self involved and cellular that in the light of day with no real apparent danger we cannot stop and check if a fellow human being is ok?

After seeing these videos, it has become my fervent prayer to stop being a bystander and to become a helper of people.  Physically speaking, we are all we've got.  We've gotta learn to love and help one another.  Speaking of which, the words of  Jackie DeShannon could never be more true...

Look at your fellow man, lend him a helping hand.  Put a little love in your heart, and the world will be a better place.  Amen to that!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Mummy Toy

Image from weheartit.com
So, to be sure I am not talking about movie merchandise, but rather an interesting topic of  conversation that has been going down at mamamia recently about playing with your kids.  You can read Mia's article here.

Ewww, the vitriol that is going down after that article is monumental!  There are parents who declare their undying commitment to playing with their kids, while others in humility offer they don't like doing it just like the washing or ironing, but see it as chore - something that has to be done.  Then there are people like me. 

I am not my child's play thing or play mate.  To be clear I spend a lot of time with my kids.  A LOT of time...quantity time. Life time. Chatting, cooking, colouring in together, reading and watching DVD's together.  Together as a family we go on picnics, go to the park, ride bikes and all that other stuff kids like to do.

I am the teacher and instructor of my children (not their peer) and while I may get a lot of criticism I would also like to say it is not my job to make my child happy. And before the ranting starts, please just sit for a moment and think about what answer a child would give if you were to ask them what would make them happy.  Ice cream?  Willy Wonka's chocolate factory?  Unless they are deprived of your company and attention, I can guarantee playing with you is not going to be on their list! 

I guess I'm just bored and tired of the army that rises when someone is honest enough to say they don't like doing a certain part of motherhood.  I am positive the reality is we all don't love doing it 100% of the time.  It would be helpful for new mothers if seasoned mothers didn't make out that motherhood is a walk in the park.

It is my opinion that children need to learn to play with other children and they also need to learn to amuse themselves.  That's not to say when I'm sitting at my computer or reading a book and my children involve me in a game of pretend restaurants I don't get involved and gladly sip up my pretend cup of tea they have just served me.  It just means when I am busy doing the housework or paying bills I don't sit on the floor and play Barbies with my five year old, or play the companion of Dr Who! 

I am really sad for the generation that is being raised to expect adults will drop everything and do what they request. I feel equally sorry for their future teachers and employers!