Christian Fellowship

…In the Christian scriptures, the highest word, the most virtuous form of love, is not agape, but koinonia, the mutual, reciprocal, committed, and celebrative love of intimate relationship, authentic community, and responsive fellowship.

Augsburger, David (2006-06-01). Dissident Discipleship: A Spirituality of Self-Surrender, Love of God, and Love of Neighbor Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Dissident-Discipleship-David-W-AugsburgerFriendship is an essential part of being human. In my reading about adult attachment  (and neuro-biology), such authors  as Stan Tatkin, Diane Poole Heller, Daniel Siegel , David Wallin and this conference on “Attachment theory: Anabaptist tradition and the science of love“, as well as drinking in the rich writing of Jean Vanier on what it means to be human, highlighted again to me the important of fellowship/friendship. We physically wired for mutual, reciprocal, committed relationships with other human beings.





Do not judge

This is one of my favourite quotes from CS Lewis.

“Human beings judge one another by their external actions. God judges them by their moral choices. When a neurotic who has a pathological horror of cats forces himself to pick up a cat for some good reason, it is quite possible that in God’s eyes he has shown more courage than a healthy man may have shown in winning the V.C. When a man who has been perverted from his youth and taught that cruelty is the right thing does dome tiny little kindness, or refrains from some cruelty he might have committed, and thereby, perhaps, risks being sneered at by his companions, he may, in God’s eyes, be doing more than you and I would do if we gave up life itself for a friend.

It is as well to put this the other way round. Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as fiends. Can we be quite certain how we should have behaved if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with the bad upbringing, and then with the power, say, of Himmler? That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man’s psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises.”


“But psychoanalysis itself, apart from all the philosophical additions that Freud and others have made to it, is not in the least contradictory to Christianity. It’s technique overlaps with Christian morality at some point and it would not be a bad thing if every person knew something about it; but it does not run the same course all the way, for the two techniques are doing rather different things…
Chapter 4, Book 4 Mere Christianity by C . S. Lewis

“I have been asked to tell you what Christians believe, and I am going to begin by telling you one thing that Christian do not need to believe. If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all the way through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that in those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view” Chapter 1 Book 2 Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis was the book that most influenced me to take another look at Christianity. I regret leaving it behind too quickly. I latched on to advice and views that did not have such liberal views of truth. It was my own weakness that attracted me to well defined narrow ways of being and doing, simplistic, quick fix solutions, that also have/had truth in them but closed me off to growth and to seeing wider and fuller. How quickly I became ensnared. Beware my children!

All truth is God’s truth.

You will find much good advice and healing from those that seek to understand the human condition. There is no need to reject it all because of any philosophical additions. Learn to sieve truth.

You are also quite free to see truth in places you do not expect.

Jesus brings freedom, do not be quick to think all truth is only found in one book or a single teacher or tradition.


Grief is a Journey

I was constantly comparing Jim Elliot to Addison Leach. Jim could do a lot of things Ad couldn’t do, Ad could do things Jim couldn’t do, Lars could do a lot of things that Ad and Jim couldn’t do, and so I was making these odious comparisons, and I opened my Bible and, lo and behold, it was staring me in the face – “men have different gifts, but it is the same Lord who accomplishes his purposes through them all.”

from by Elisabeth Elliot

Funny when I remarried I did not expect to be plunged again into grief. At first I didn’t realize what was going on: Dirk was giving me a fresh appreciation for Dave and I grieved again for all that was gone to me. It went the other way too. If I hadn’t married Dave I would  not appreciate Dirk as much as I do. They are both very different men and I love them both. Sometimes I wonder at the resurrection, when they meet, how they will laugh together and share stories of what it was like to live with my quirks!

Grief is a journey and it does not stop when one remarries. Dirk is not a substitute for Dave and it would be a mistake to marry for that reason. I felt ready to live and love again. It wasn’t that I was ready to move on, I’ll never move on in that sense. It was that I was gaining my sanity again, so I felt able to consider entering into a relationship. There is a reason people tell you to wait a year before making major decisions. God has been so very gracious to provide. I can think of no person in the world that I would rather love than Dirk.

Fishing and Downloading:-)

My wonderful husband has introduced me to fishing. I love it! He felt I needed rescuing, and he was right 🙂

It is so wonderful to sit on the shore and watch the sunset and the moon rise. The first time I went fishing I listened to my ipod. This last time I didn’t, all I wanted was a pen and paper. And I sat quietly and “downloaded” my RAM. You know, all those things that were bugging me:things I needed to do, or change, feelings I needed to process ( I getting better at acknowledging my feelings). I recorded any action steps in ” to do” lists in my notebook.  As a mum of 8, times are scare when you have time to think beyond just getting through the next meal. Once I had those “to do” things on paper, backed up in long term storage, thoughts of plans I wanted to make beyond what is for dinner, prayers I wanted to say, things I was grateful for, came flooding out. So so good!

It’s important to take time to be quiet.

Oh and I even caught a fish!


It grieves me that I was a serious follower of the Growing Kids God’s Way program for the first 5 years of my parenting. It was not too dissimilar to how I was raised. Why didn’t the similarity didn’t freak me out? Part of the answer lies in the above article.

 By the age of three, the following tasks should be mastered:

  1. The ability to be emotionally attached to others, yet without giving up a sense of self and one’s freedom to be apart.
  2. The ability to say appropriate no’s to others without fear of the loss of love.
  3. The ability to take appropriate no’s from others without withdrawing emotionally. (Boundaries, p. 73)

These tasks are, once again, consistent throughout the literature of cognitive, moral and psychological development as being the model for the foundations of adult maturity and interdependence….

There is simply no recourse; the child must obey first time, every time in a way that is “immediate, complete and without complaint or challenge” (GKGW, p. 256); to take it even further, the child is expected to unfailingly do so cheerfully and with a smile!

I was raised to do what my parents wanted and to be happy about it. If you were not happy about it, you were considered an awkward and difficult child. Therefore you learned to ignore your internal state ie a child isn’t integrated.

My childhood was also difficult because I was the “scape goat”.

So I developed 2 coping strategies which I oscillated between:

  • trying to please which often results in feeling deep rejection if I know I haven’t, or a sense of disconnect from myself
  • knowing that I can’t please so not even trying or being deliberately awkward, which isn’t integrative either, it’s reactionary

Aren’t good girls supposed to be happy all the time with whatever happens to them, and so are good Christians. And if they are not happy it is because they are bad girls ie they are not content. They are being selfish. The idea that my feelings are something I should consider is a foreign concept. They are something to be dealt with, they are to be brought into submission, something to ignore. And it is VERY scary to start considering them.

Of course there are times when they become so unruly they have to considered but again they causes a great deal of stress for those around me 😦 Which reinforces the evilness of bad feelings. Being numb to life is much simpler. But I don’t want to be numb anymore.

The solution is found in finding wholeness. Is wholeness found in the following?

  1. The ability to be emotionally attached to others, yet without giving up a sense of self and one’s freedom to be apart.
  2. The ability to say appropriate no’s to others without fear of the loss of love.
  3. The ability to take appropriate no’s from others without withdrawing emotionally.

And how does that fit with the gospel which talks so much about self control, beating the body etc

Perhaps the key lies in the word “appropriate”. What is an appropriate “no”? This is a question not only for myself but also what is an appropriate “no” to accept from my child.

Community and Church

I subscribe to Edward Fudge’s GracEmail. I have been especially appreciating the current topic: RANDOM THOUGHTS: INDIVIDUALS NOT INSTITUTION

Here is part 5:

“The ekklesia/church consists of individuals but it is not about individualism. New Testament writers emphasize the togetherness, the “one-anotherness” of the ekklesia/church. God did not send Moses door to door in Egypt, distributing maps with instructions on how to escape slavery one person at a time. God rescued all the Hebrews and all non-Israelites associated with them, in a single, mighty work of deliverance. Jesus does not rescue the world from sin by a succession of single-person saving events. He accomplished redemption once for all–and once done, it will never need doing again.

Jesus calls us through the gospel to a different way of life. We become living, organic members of the body of Christ. We are living stones in a spiritual building, joint citizens of a holy nation, fellow priests in a holy priesthood. Baptism is not an escape hatch to a place of individualized existence, where we are concerned with our own interests and indifferent to the needs and welfare of others. No, baptism is the gateway to a life with others. As redeemed people, we are part of a People — interdependent and not independent, gifted as God sees fit, with gifts to use in serving each other.

The fruit of the Spirit presuppose community. Christian graces are useless in a corner by oneself. And when we reach the end of the story, we do not dissolve into impersonal “soul” or become generic spirit. We are raised to immortality in individual bodies to join God and all the redeemed in everlasting community.”

It reminded me that one of the purposes of the local church is to be the body of Christ on earth. But it is also an example of the already not yet theology:  One of the greatest joy’s on this earth for me is when I am able to be used by God as part of a community of believers all working together for His glory.  When  our interactions with each other are characterized by the fruit of the Spirit and we are able to exercise our gifts together to do something that is much greater than the individual parts. At those times we communicate a fuller expression of who God is, than we could do alone. At other times our communication seems characteristed by conflicts and sin. And we are not able to serve or reflect God in any way that I can see. And one despairs.
When I, a professing atheist,  came to faith at university, I received a multifaceted reflection of who Jesus was and is through a number of Christian friends/ministries: There was the reflection of Jesus through a church ministry  providing very cheap lunches for students once a week, including homemade soup and baking.  There were books, given by a Christian friend to make me think and gave me a defense of the Christian faith. There was the challenge of a radical lifestyle lived out before me. And there were examples of going the extra mile by a couple of Christian co-workers at my part time place of work and the example of a Christian  caring for her not easy to please elderly parents. All these together and others, God used to bring me to a point when I was prepared to look at the gospel that I had rejected in my teens.

I believe that God works through different people in different ways. There is a place for every type of personality in the church and ministry. Have you found yours?


Procrastination: “the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of lower priority, or doing something from which one derives enjoyment, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time”.

Procrastination used to be a permanent habit. I remember writing one university assignment all night, finishing it just in time to drive into university to deliver it at 9am.There was a certain stress level that had to build up inside before I would feel compelled to begin a task that I didn’t like. It’s a habit I hate in myself and have sort to conquer with varying success over the years. I hate that I will frequently expend more energy stressing over the task than it would actually take to do the job:-( And frequently the task becomes more difficult if left undone for longer.

Here are a couple of things I do to avoid the procrastination trap.
The above approach is quite clever and I use a modified version of it when I am really struggling.

If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.

Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.

Because my life is filled with many different tasks in many different areas, I am able to used structured procrastination to make myself reasonable productive.  I will often do housework, tasks urgent and important to avoid working in my home business, tasks also urgent and important. Then when I have finished all the important and urgent housework tasks, I often think of all the important but not so urgent housework I should be doing, that I don’t feel like doing. Then I will happily go to my website work to avoid them and round it goes.

This is a last resort strategy because it doesn’t actually deal with the bad habit of trying to avoid unpleasant tasks.

The second strategy is to cultivate the habit of ” just to do it”. This is the most effective method. I don’t even think about putting it off to later:

For example when I pick up my mail from the PO Box. I open it and throw out all the stuff I don’t need in the rubbish bin at the post office. I pay any bills online as soon as I get in the door and I answer any letters straight away. Gosh it feels good! I had a stage when I kept notepaper, envelopes and stamps in my handbag so I could write and post the letters right then and there at the post office. I don’t do that anymore:-(

I know that if I fill the sink with hot soapy water before I serve the meal, that as we clear the table at the end of the meal that it is easy to wash and put them in the dishwasher. But if I leave a stack of dirty dishes beside the sink it takes so much more emotional energy to do the dishes.

PS. Having a loved one with cancer was one of things that inspired me most to fight procrastination in my life. Some of the most important things in life will never be “urgent”. Life’s pressures would never force me to do these most important things.

You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.
Are your besetting sins as attractive as they were before you had cancer? If so you are wasting your cancer. Cancer is designed to destroy the appetite for sin. Pride, greed, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, impatience, laziness, procrastination—all these are the adversaries that cancer is meant to attack. Don’t just think of battling against cancer. Also think of battling with cancer. All these things are worse enemies than cancer. Don’t waste the power of cancer to crush these foes. Let the presence of eternity make the sins of time look as futile as they really are. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25).

There will always be more work than I can do. I must choose the most important, often non urgent things.

Christian Hedonism

Psalm 16:11 “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
I don’t think the Christian should be pursuing happiness as an end in itself. But we should be finding deep satisfying joy in God. Alternatively if we are not happy, it is God who has the answers, and it perhaps it is a call for us to come to Him.
CS Lewis from The Weight of Glory

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and to earnestly hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I suggest that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

At the moment I am reading Charles Spurgeon’s sermon “The Joy of the Lord is my strength”



The trouble with the average man (sic) is not that he neglects to make resolutions. The trouble is that he makes far too many resolutions. Making resolutions is sometimes his principal daily occupation. He is forever forgetting or breaking them, and that is why he has to make them all over again.
You, O reader, have probably been through this experience, so often that you dislike to be reminded of it. It is probably your consciousness of past events that has tempted you to read this book.
Now there is something to be said for you. You realize your imperfections. You are splendidly dissatisfied with your present habits, your present mode of loving, your present station in life. You say to yourself, “This will never do.” (from The Way to Will Power Chapter 5 pg 27)

LOL! Isn’t this so true? In the last day or so I have made many resolutions. I probably can not remember them all! But here are a few of them

  1. Getting up at 5:00am during the week
  2. Making the school lunches the night before not in the morning
  3. Getting Ruth and Tim to lay out their clothes for the next day school day
  4. Getting Ruth and Tim to make their beds in the morning before they leave for school/preschool

There are probably more but those 4 came to mind, and I am only thinking of resolutions to do with getting up and getting ready for the school morning.I am sure there are numerous resolutions about other parts of the day. Then there are old habits that I feel I am falling out of doing 😦 that I want to resolve to get back into doing or to be more consistent! No wonder I am failing! I have spread my resolve over too many things at once.

So the first habit is not to make so many resolutions! I have started using to track a few.

The moral of all this is that you should make fewer resolutions and keep more. The foolish resolution is the resolution made in a moment of passion and self-disgust. It is well that you should have such moments. It is of such moments that great achievements are born. But before you make a resolve that you seriously mean to execute, look at it coldly and completely. Think not alone of the benefits of keeping it, but of the disadvantages. from pg 30

As Jesus said, I must count the cost before beginning.