Monday, December 31, 2007

what a wonderful wedding weekend!

"I think it's only fair to warn you that today you may see a side of me that you don't approve of. However, please don't judge me. Everything I say or do today will have a purpose."

I then hopped out of the car to meet our passengers at the airport.

Somehow we found each other without the aid of my nifty sign. Disappointed, I asked if they wouldn't mind if we re-staged the meeting so I could use the sign.

G. and L. Baulch (G. being a founder and coordinator of a film festival in which films from different worldviews are presented) were more than happy to indulge my silly, odd request.

When Mike pulled up in the car, we all piled in, ready for the drive down to Port Arthur.

A number of weeks ago, I was asked to be the rehearsal coordinator for my friends Christina Sonnemann and Peirce Baehr. This was to be the wedding of the season. Friends and family from all corners of the earth were to be present.

The festivities began this past Thursday with a kitchen tea with Christina's friends all donning hats and gloves. At the party I was able to meet Christina's Matron-of-honor, Rachel and her sweet baby girl Elenore (who has the most lovely little elfin ears). At Rachel's own wedding, she honored Christina by directly placing her bouquet in Christina's hands rather than the traditional haphazard toss over the shoulder to all the desperate single women present. Rachel is a lovely, tall woman and we became quick friends.

On Friday, I was called to duty at Hobart's St. David's Cathedral. Arriving early, I sat there quietly waiting for the others to arrive for the rehearsal. I thought that my title of rehearsal coordinator was entirely honorary holding little actual responsibility, but still quite happy to be a part of everything. But the moment the bishop arrived it dawned on me that my role was much larger than I began to imagine.

Essentially, I became the bride's advocate other than just making notes of where people needed to be, when they needed to be there, and what they needed to do once they were there. During the process of the rehearsal, there were numerous breakdowns in communication. Christina and Peirce had a clear vision of what they wanted their wedding to be ... some present were having difficulty "hearing" that vision so it was up to me to communicate the couple's desires so they did not feel trampled on.

During one particular breakdown, Peirce seeing that Christina was visibly distressed took her by the hand and simply began to dance with her, effectively taking her mind off of the situation. While chaos surrounded them, there they were in their own world practicing the steps to their dance for the wedding reception. Rachel and I looked at each other and knew that the sight before us was yet another example of why Christina and Peirce were so wonderful for each other.

During the drive down to Port Arthur the following day for another brief run-through and rehearsal dinner, I warned Mike that my methods of organizing people might seem a bit militant ... but then again I am Maj. Hnat's daughter.

It was a lovely drive with wonderful company. The Blauchs were a marvelous older couple passionate about the gospel and reaching our culture with the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. They were incredibly encouraging to Mike and me.

As we arrived, Mike admitted to feeling a bit squeamish. He had not been to Port Arthur since the massacre.

Port Arthur's event coordinator team was fabulous. As I kept the wedding party punctual and organized, they were always 5 steps ahead having each event ready and waiting for us. I was so pleased that Christina and her mother, Margaret, had asked me to take this responsibility off of their shoulders so they could relax and enjoy themselves.

(I highly recommend having a wedding coordinator if you get married! The advice I've given to multiple brides-to-be after my own recent wedding [6 months and 2 days ago] is: DELEGATE DELEGATE DELEGATE!)

Sunday afternoon, I arrived at the cathedral early to take care of minor details as well as to make some minor changes on behalf of the bride and groom (which involved my removing the unity candle from the stage which may not sound like much to you but there's a long story behind it).

All in all, the wedding went smoothly. My job was complete and I enjoyed getting to know some of the interesting guests that had come from long distances for this joyous occasion. Many I now call friends who I never dreamed that I would have had the opportunity to meet until Heaven.

The charming Douglas Gresham was not only a dairy farmer in Tasmania for a number of years but is the step-son of the late C.S. Lewis and co-producer of the 2005 Narnia film, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. This classic fellow was incredibly easy to talk to. Unlike others who never hear a word you're saying and always seem to thinking about what they are going to say next, Mr. Gresham is a genuine listener and marvelous conversationalist. His wife is easily one of the sweetest women on the planet.

Dr. Ted Baehr, (snicker) the father of the goom, is another man known for taking Christianity to the surrounding culture. Based in Los Angeles, he ministers to those in the world of media. Dr. Baehr's personailty is larger than life and his wife, Lily, is beauty and glamor personified.

Following the ceremony, invited guests were welcomed on The Peppermint Bay II for a cruise down the river to the location of the reception. We were entertained by a traditional bush band that led the guests in traditional bush dance throughout the evening.

My heart leaped inside of me when I noticed the old copy of the book Blue Castle (can be read online here) on our assigned table. It is that very book that essentially brought Christina and I into friendship when I decided to test this young woman on the extent of her love for all books by the Canadian author.

"If you're as much of a fan of L. M. Montgomery as you say you are, tell me the plotline of Blue Castle." I was sure I had her. Few people had even heard of that fabulous book.

Heard of it?! Christina had written a screenplay for it and was delighted that I loved it as much as she did.

Late in the evening, Peirce whisked Christina Baehr away to a secret honeymoon destination and the guests boarded the ship to return to Hobart.

What a fun whirlwind this past weekend has been!

More pictures here at Mike's blog.

Friday, December 21, 2007

an interview with a blocked writer

With men, you are met with facial-foliage, bathrobe, glazed eyes, the sound of emo music and the smell of filth.

With women, you are more likely to be met with the sight of pajama pants, sweatshirt complete with ice cream stains, hair pulled back in a pony tail, the sound of Hugh Grant (gag!) fumbling his way through some sort of apology that leaves the woman shrugging (knowing FULL WELL that he'll only hurt her again and again) and taking him back, and the smell of bleach.

These are the sights and sounds (and smells) that you might expect of someone with writer's block. But when she opens the door, you see she's not alone. She's got company. Books are scattered across the coffeetable. The comical lyrics of the Ditty Bops pour into the hallway.

You mention that you noticed no activity on her blog for the past ... oh ... 2 months! She laughs it off and changes the subject. Still ... you're concerned. You ask what she has been doing with herself over the last couple of months.

Apparently she's been to Sydney and back with her husband. And then while he was away at a conference she's fought boredom by inviting friends over for movie nights and meeting friends for tea in the afternoon. Her days are filled with work and her evenings with her husband.

She seems to be fine and yet you are somehow hurt. Did she not get all the messages from concerned friends? For a fleeting moment you think you see remorse despite her superficial smile.

She hesitates.

She wrings her hands.

"I ... I ... wanted to write. Truly I did. I still do! But I just don't know what! Occasionally an idea will come to mind while I'm out with friends but when I get home, that idea that once seemed so brilliant has become dull and uninteresting ... who would want to read it anyway. I've stopped answering the emails because I have no hope to give them. I began to fill my time in the kitchen concocting bizarre culinary experiments (hmm ... curried onion baclava ... could be good ... [WARNING! do not make!]). I invited friends over for tea and have gotten to know so many people on such a deeper level. I've been reading books and contemplating a future Bible study with women in my church. In some ways I thank God for this 'block' and yet ... I know I have let down those that I call friends who read my blog and pray for me and encourage me through their comments. I am ashamed. What do I do?"

She looks at you pleading for answers.

You suggest something she could write about.

She shakes her head. "I thank you for your suggestion. But others have tried to help me in a similar way. I'm afraid I gave them false hope by my polite responses only to disappoint them when they clicked onto my blog later in the evening to find ... nothing."

You begin to throw out the usual topics ... women, men, marriage, relationships ... what about the series she began about submission?!!

She leans back and closes her eyes and lets out a deep breath. "It seems as if I have so much to say. But is it truth? Or merely experience? Am I better off learning in humility and keeping my big mouth shut? God forbid I pass something off as truth and cause a sister to stumble. I feel instead that I have so much to learn and had best learn in silence."

You can now see the battle she is fighting in her mind. You sense the responsibility she feels. You ask her to share some of her experiences.

She recounts a conversation she had with a newly married man at church. "As we discussed the high expectations wives place on themselves in marriage, he responded that he would much rather have a relaxed, stress-free wife minus a kitchen garden, minus spotless windows, minus gourmet meals, minus a headache and sore feet. He'd be happy to have none of those as long as he could have a wife that is happy to see him come home, has the time to sit down and talk with him, and the energy to allow him to express his love to her in the evening."

She looked down at her hands. "I remember for years before I was married placing expectations on myself concerning what I had to be and do in order to become the perfect wife for my future husband. I don't think men put themselves through the mental torture women do ... although I could be wrong. Over the past two months, as I read more of Scripture and learn more of grace, I have seen the pitfall of trying to achieve perfection of my own merit rather than leaning on the saving work of Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit working in me to conform to the image of God's Son."

"When I punish myself for not living up to my own imagined standard, I am often punishing myself that not only does God not expect of me but neither does my husband."

You ask her why she hasn't written about this?

"I feel so unqualified. I have so much to learn of God's grace. In the past I feel that I came to God with songs and sacrifices when he merely wanted obedience. My pride showed in my writing ... look at what I was achieving! look at how great my marriage is! If I should boast, let it be in Christ ... not me. It was Christ that brought Mike and I together and it is Christ who continues to make us a holy union ... NOT my cooking skills, not my cleaning skills, etc."

You're a bit confused. As a reader of her blog you hadn't sensed any pride. Oh sure, others had commented that perhaps she was too honest in her approach. But you generally found her insights helpful. Perhaps she's merely rambling and hasn't got all her thoughts together on the matter yet.

You try a different tactic. Glancing at some of the books strewn across the coffee table you ask if she's read anything good lately.

She leans forward excitedly, "Actually, while on holiday in Sydney, I read an entire book cover to cover. I'd read the same book when I was 16 but had greatly disliked it ... I don't even think I finished it. But while visiting a friend, I noticed the book Stepping Heavenward on her bookshelf. I read it every spare moment I got while Mike was reading the paper, watching the news, or reading blogs online. As I read, I began to see my own ongoing journey towards Christian maturity in the fictional journal of Katy.

"I remember being 16 and reading of the people in Katy's life who lovingly came alongside her encouraging her towards holy living. I was frustrated and indignant. Thinking that everyone ought to just back off. She was trying her best. However, my eyes widened weeks ago as I read the book again and realized the impact marriage has on shaping a person in holiness and grace.

"My own experiences matched Katy's as I seek to please God despite my faults, selfishness, and failure to live up to what I think I ought to be. With hope, I look forward to continue in my growth in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

"I once viewed Katy's frustration over her own sins as unnecessary and extreme. But now I pray that God will grant me a more tender heart towards my sin and eyes to see my loving Savior who knows my sin and enables me to repent and rejoice in His salvation. Stepping Heavenward gives me great hope that God might even use my "journaling" to encourage others as they see themselves in my experiences."

You smirk, "So you'll continue writing?"

She seems surprised at her own admission ... and yet wanting to be realistic she makes no promises.

You stay for a bit longer and she tells you jokingly how she and her husband discovered how to have a holiday that both of them enjoyed. She has plenty to say but still seems hesitant to write any of it down.

After you leave, she checks her email thinking about everything you'd talked about.

She reads, "Laura says, Oh bah. What is the point of checking even?"

She panics.

She writes.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Mike day

Saturday is Mike's birthday!

I know that one of his greatest concerns is to raise enough support as he works full-time for FOCUS at the University of Tasmania. (Uni students aren't exactly the most affluent individuals.)

So, I got the idea to surprise (hush hush) Mike by helping him raise some of the support he needs.

My idea is that if everyone gave a minimum of $5 each that it would take care of a good chunk of his support.

Would you please consider donating $5 to his work?

You can make your donation here. Be sure to select Mike Jolly in the "worker" field.

Also, if you'd like to keep up with his work you can check for regular updates at ... recently, he has posted a number of posts containing the vision for FOCUS next year. Exciting stuff.

Remember ... shhhhh!

Note: If you are overseas and the form doesn't work for you (might not work if you have a Visa card), you can download a form linked at the top of the donation page and mail in a contribution.

Thanks so much for making Mike's birthday special for me!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

don't believe Mike

When he tells you I'm messy.

That's me lying on the bed ... if you look closely you can see the outline of my body ... I sort of blend in. Just look at my wardrobe ... brown ... green ... blue ...

Sorry, I haven't been responding to comments all week ... or updating my blog. Having worked full-time all week ... the evenings left me EXHAUSTED. I haven't been able to prepare our evening meals with the well-thought-through care that I'm used to. The first night I came home and prepared dinner, Mike said the sweetest thing after I dumped a jar of sweet and sour on some chicken and frozen veg.

(Just after taking a bite) "I like it better when you prepare your meals."

For me, it was a very sweet complement about my cooking.*

*I really enjoy making my meals from scratch. It was good for me to know Mike appreciates the effort I've gone through to make nice healthy meals for us.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

submission, part 2

I’d read what the Bible had said about submission. I’d read all the books about Christian marriage. I was emotionally and mentally prepared. I’d come to the conclusion that should Mike and I disagree on a matter … oh, say, something like whether or not we ought to move to Sydney or Nepal … I would behave as an Executive Vice President … after having thoroughly voiced my point of view, then praying about the matter, and finally, finding that we still disagreed, I would then submit to his decision. No problem!
Read the rest of my post here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

what's happened to me?!!

The day before our wedding during a rehearsal dinner game Mike was asked what his favorite characteristic of mine was. And I was meant to guess his answer. I hadn't a clue ... like many of the other answers, really ... my height? my hair? ... "Um, I don't know ... my eyes?" ... I know ... LAME! ... especially since my eyes are probably my least striking feature.

"No, silly. I told you the other day what it was."

I had another think ... nup, nothing.

"Your skin! Your beautiful smooth flawless skin."

ohhhhh ...

Red flags went up ... "Um, you know that my skin won't always be like this ... I'm certain wrinkles will come along."

"Oh, sweetheart. I know that. I love you no matter what your skin is like."

Hmph ... wrinkles ... I knew those would come ... but I definitely was NOT prepared for the onslaught of acne.

Ugh! It's rabid! I'd never had it this bad. Sure, an occasional zit here or there ... but never massive clumps of painful red irritation.

I had a good cry about it last night ... especially since I'd gone to the shop for the weeks shopping and had run into FIVE people I knew. I'd ventured out of the house ... not feeling particularly well yesterday anyway ... without any make-up to cover my blotchiness. It was very humbling ... five people I knew ... one, a minister at a nearby Presbyterian church stopped and had a chat with me in the checkout line ... saw me in my humbling state. But it wasn't just the encounters that brought on the tears, it seems to be out of my control. Mike loved my smooth skin and I could do nothing to bring it back.

I've looked at skin complexion diets and what I eat on a daily basis definitely lines up with everything. Is it my latex pillow? Is it ... gasp ... Mike ... oh, no! I'm allergic to Mike!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

submission is a dirty word

I'm beginning a new series of posts on submission here at Babble.

While I have much material already prepared, what would you like to see covered? Please answer here on this post.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

don't start knitting baby booties yet

Yesterday, Mike and I found out that we will soon be "parents" ... of a couple hundred college students at a local residence for University students. Not only will we get free room and board, but we will have such amazing opportunities to be right there among the students and minister to them in unique ways.

In the meantime,
  1. I've been searching for employment. Tomorrow morning I begin working at a craft store much like the large craft and fabric stores in the US.
  2. I overheard an employee at Fullers Bookshop in town make a phone call to a customer, "Hello, Mrs. X? Your book order has arrived. If you like, I can drop it by your home on my way home from work this evening. No, it's fine. It's on my way home, anyway. I just thought that you might like to save on the postage. Good, I'll see you this evening then." And that's why Fullers is my favorite.
  3. After some needed encouragement from Mike, the movers are speeding things up and I should have my shipment here in a few days... maybe. Who wants to celebrate Christmas with me a few months early?!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

do not applaud me

I was always that friend. You know … that friend who friends went to talk to about their relationships. That friend who the guys hung out with because there was no danger of our friendship ever getting complicated with feelings. That friend who usually ends up as always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

I was the friend. I was the shoulder to cry on. I was the ear that listened. I was the heart that empathized.

Other people fell in love. Not me. And that’s the way I liked it.
Read my first Babble of the Sexes post here.

*Ack! I can't figure out how to do a double space between paragraphs on Wordpress!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

no introductions needed for you ...

... but a larger chunk of the world has just been introduced to yours truly.

Over the past week, I've been invited to become a blogger on Babble of the Sexes. There I will write the same tantalizingly controversial posts that you're accustomed to reading here.

I hope you enjoy the silly bio I wrote.

Please stop over here, and introduce others to me in the comments section. It could be anything and everything ... like:

"She's not all there."

"Um, I dunno, she's tall...?"

"She used to post heaps of pictures, but I'm not sure what happened."


"Great blog! You might like to know that you can get 1/2 off on patio furniture here."

Lol ... whatever you want.

Monday, October 15, 2007

did i mention people?

Last week in desperation I applied for a job and was called in for an interview.

The vibe was relaxed and friendly. My interviewer had all sorts of questions for me about all the places I've lived. Oddly enough, he was fascinated by the southern states in the US. "Is it really as crazy as they say?"

"Um, well, it depends on where you go."

All the chit-chat now completed, he got down to the questions. We were rolling through them without a hitch.

"What is it that you want to achieve from your work?"

"I love working with people: meeting their needs, interacting with them, achieving common goals together."

"What would your family and friends say about you?"

"That I'm a good listener and that I would go out of my way to help someone."

"What is an area in your life that could use some working on?"

"Um ... err ..." Which do I say? "Can we come back to that one?"

As he asked me other questions, I answered "People, Customer Service, People ... Did I mention people?"

"Ok, now back to the question we skipped. What is an area in your life that could use some working on?"

"Um ... well ... perhaps ... (I should have thrown in a Miss Teen South Carolina 'such as') err ... (Oh! and then it occurred to me!) Administration! I could grow more administratively ... (gasp! my eyes got big with the realization of it all. I laughed out loud.) That's bad, isn't it? (laughter) This is an administrative job I'm applying for, after all."

I left the interview laughing and shaking my head. Ah, sure I could type in data from invoices all day as well as anyone else, but I wasn't fooling anyone, that job just wasn't meant for me. How much will I laugh if I actually get hired for it?!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

latest news

our newsletter update:

part one

part two


I have been meditating this week on criticism, confrontation, repentance, and restoration.

I had become weary of criticism. Like this quote from The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment I was worn down and began to dread the comments (public and private) of a few.
You think it much if you have a friend who always makes bad interpretations of your ways towards him; you would take that badly. If you should converse with people with whom you cannot speak a word, but they are ready to make a bad interpretation of it, and to take it in an ill sense, you would think their company very tedious to you. ~ Jeremiah Burroughs
I have received criticism over the time that I have been blogging. These include such claims as:
  1. that I lack years of experience,
  2. that I share too much,
  3. that I share too little,
  4. that I acquiesce to the whingers, etc.
Last week I gave much prayerful thought to setting my blog aside (indefinitely) so that I might grow in knowledge and wisdom and experience. Who am I that I think I have anything to contribute to the lives of others?

I take criticism very seriously and used this past week to pray, search the Scriptures, and examine myself and my past writing.

I've seen how God has used this medium, especially the interaction with commentors, to grow me in so many ways. I have been humbled and corrected and encouraged. Some were thoughtful, gracious, and loving, while others were tactless and blunt ... but I heeded them all desiring the truth they spoke into my life, not resenting them for the correction they offered.

As I contemplated letting this blog go, I did so with dry eyes. Perhaps, i'd rather laugh than cry had served its purpose. It had run its course and like so many other blogs out there would die off into the cold cruel world of Google caches. I do not cling to the url in desperation, fearing my life force would be drained away if I do not blog. I could use the time to read more, memorize Scripture, open my home to other women, etc.

My husband was opposed to my throwing in the towel. Mike pointed out that as I share my life with others they have been blessed and encouraged and convicted. Has this been my mission? No. Please don't think me cold-hearted, but I imagine that if anyone has been encouraged through my writing that it has been by the grace of God working in their life.

I thought of my blogging as a conversation with friends and strangers. Sharing my life, thoughts, experiences, and opinions ... and I suppose in that sense anyone can be challenged and blessed, as I have been by reading of your own lives, thoughts, experiences, and opinions.

I do not view it as a platform to be heard ... as if I am somehow a prophet of all things right and true. "Be like me and you will live!" (I doubt anyone would read this blog anyway if I did have such an attitude.) I hope you do not have that view of me. Instead, I hope that as I share "Hey, look at what I learned!" you will grow with me.

I've never thought of this as a ministry. But perhaps God has used it that way in the lives of some.

God has used this blog as a tool to grow me spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. I doubt he's through with it yet. Be gracious with me, friend and stranger, as I try to heed your insights and wisdom. Come to me with the grace God has shown you.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

my spidey senses tell me ...

Mike and I were watching Spiderman III with some friends this weekend and I think we were making donkeys of ourselves cuz Mike kept piping up ... "Ugh! He's not LISTENING to her! Dude! Don't give her ADVICE ... she needs CUDDLES!" (I can honestly say that I am well-cuddled.)

Me: "If you've got relationship issues, don't go hang out with your best guy pal. You'll end up KISSING him!" (I was right.)

It is easy when newly married to assume you are an expert on all things pertaining to love and ignore your own issues. Mike and I goof up but I will say that both of us are sensitive to the other's needs and are determined to make things right.

In the film M.J. did not feel Peter Parker listened to her or valued her feelings. She became quiet and internalized her disappointment. With the tension building, she sought release in a guy friend.

It's so easy to give your husband the silent treatment.

Mike can tell you that I often become silent. He's learned to read my face. When I think that I have successfully planted a blank expression on my countenance, he points out that it's my angry face. (I should really practice in a mirror.)

But I'm not silent to punish Mike.

If I'm quiet or reserved more often than not I am thinking of my own sin. And what I personally can do to make the situation better. I'm not in a bad mood. I'm just concerned. I may not even be able to communicate my thoughts much less what it actually is that is bothering me at that point.

Mike, longing to right any wrongs, is quick to list off possible reasons I might be troubled. No ... no ... no ... yes, maybe, I suppose you're right.

Then we are able to work through the problem. We apologize to each other for specific wrongs we've done to each other and come up with a concrete plan to fix the situation. Too often people merely say "Sorry" and leave it at that. What are you sorry for? What will you do to make it right?

It's not my job to play the Holy Spirit for Mike nor is it his responsibility to play the role for me. I made the decision before I got married that I will not nag Mike. Many commentors have balked at my choice to not make my blog a venue to reprimand husbands for their failures.

Are you the type who apologizes by saying, "Honey, because you've been such a hard person to live with and because of your many bad habits, I have not been a good wife."?

Can you not recognize your own sin?

Linda Dillow, author of Creative Counterpart admonishes wives to :
  1. Learn to totally accept your husband. You, too, are a sinner. Christ accepted you.
  2. Get rid of the plank in your own eye.
    Matthew 7:3-5 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
  3. Give your rights to God.
    Ruth Graham wrote: I pity the married couple who expect too much from one another. It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ can be: always ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under an impossible strain.
  4. Discern positive qualities.
    Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
  5. Ask your husband's forgiveness.
    Matthew 5:23-24 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
  6. Verbalize your acceptance. -
    Ephesians 5:33 (Amplified) And let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband--that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates and esteems him: and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly!"
For those who desire to speak the truth in love to your spouse if you know he is in sin, I recommend part III of The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. The entire section is about submission. We know our husbands are imperfect (and so are we), so how can we as women who long to honor the Word of God in all areas of our life respond to the sin in our husbands' lives and yet maintain a disposition of respect?

Monday, October 1, 2007

quirky award

Mark from had to laugh when he was included in's weekly roundup.

Me: Lol! I didn't realize you were in the "t" camp.

Mark: I still have trouble remembering which is which. Is emerging the one with the dodgy theology or is it emergent?

Me: I use the Music Man equation.

Mark: Do tell!

Me: Pool which starts with P which rhymes with T which stands for TROUBLE! ... So emergenT = trouble

Mark: Congratulations on receiving my "quirky" award of the day!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007


Rhett and Link are the type of guys you wish you went to College with. Link's third grade music teacher must be sooo proud that he's kept up with playing the recorder.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

just friends (married edition)

The post just friends below has morphed into a discussion on the phenomenon of married individuals catching a cup of coffee with a close friend of the opposite gender.

So we'll transform this post into an arena to have a go at discussing this topic.

here's a bit of what's occurred so far:

Angus:I would think catching up with a good friend of the opposite sex, as long as you and your partner trusted each other, wouldn't be a problem. Of course, it all depends on the particular couple and what everyone is comfortable with I suppose.

Me: Angus, I read that and so many red flags fly up ...
i believe that generally it is not so much a matter of trusting one's partner as it is a matter of wisdom.

Swil: But why is that limited to cross-gender friendships? UST* is not the only element that can make a friendship dangerous to a married couple. Does this mean the couple should not have any friends outside the relationship, because it might be dangerous? Of course not. It just requires wisdom, spent on a per-friendship level rather than on a blanket rule level.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

just friends

Tonight, I was asked to put this scenario before you in order to get feedback.

Man: (hangs head) I got turned down by someone. I was interested in her and thought I was going about it the right way, however, through a friend I heard that she was a bit unsure of my intentions. So, I decided to make them known.

Me: And she turned you down?

Man: Well, she sort of freaked out and gave me the "friend" spiel.

Me: (eyes wide) Oh, no. I'm so sorry. ... (pause) ... may I ask how old she was? 19 ... 20?

Man: (a bit nervous ... had I guessed her identity) What?!

Me: (Content with that answer) Well, I only asked because that's the sort of reaction I would have given when I was 19/20.

Me: (continued ...) At that age it wouldn't have mattered how absolutely amazing you are. I would be just so unsure about so many things in life that I'd be more comfortable with not thinking about you in a complex way.

Man: So how should I respond?

Me: Well, when you let your intentions be known you obviously had planned on investing a lot of time and energy into making this relationship go somewhere, yes? Is it worth maintaining a friendship with her when you know there will be no return? You could always stick around and be her pal and bring it up again later ... but if that's too painful for you or you see it as a waste of time, just let her go.

Man: So, I should say (tongue in cheek) "Sorry, your loss."?

Me: Ha ha ... well, to put it more tactfully, you could say ...

How should he respond?

not tonight, honey ... i have a headache

The ladies of Mars Hill's women's ministry blog have written a blessing of an article. They share that there are many reasons why a wife may not desire sexual intimacy with her husband. Those reasons include:

1. lack of desire
2. hormonal fluctuations
3. abuse
4. physically exhausted
5. no reason

However, they encourage women to move past these things and begin by seeking the Lord.

Make sex a priority, rearranging whatever is necessary in life until you have given it the proper place; remember, it’s a priority in God’s eyes and an entire book of the Bible is devoted to it! (Heb. 13:4)

The entire article is well worth the read.

from Reforming the Feminine

i married wonder woman ... now what?

Wow! I'm so curious about THIS book.

There are so many books out there that God is using to transform the lives of women that I've often wondered ... how must the man feel when his wife morphs into a woman clothed in godliness and humble beauty.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

worship links

a fabulous list of links from Sojourn's music website.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

fruit and veg night

Two weeks ago, Mike preached a sermon from Titus 1 in which he really challenged the guys at FOCUS to "stand up and step up". While the girls were encouraged by this and were challenged themselves to look for such characteristics in their future husbands, they still felt a wee little bit jipped. "What about us?"

But just as Mike finished his sermon and someone prayed, I jumped up and promptly invited the women to come around to our place in a week's time and we'd have a chat amongst ourselves about what God desires for women.

A few men scoffed that women could possibly have fun together minus the presence of chocolate ... but tonight we proved them wrong.

As the girls from FOCUS arrived (bringing news of the fire in Hobart), we chopped veggies and juiced fruit and got to know one another better.

Later, in the evening we read through 1 Peter 2:13-3:12.

We discussed that a godly woman

1. hopes in God (not in self, or husbands, or looks), which leads to
2. fearlessness, which leads to
3. an inner tranquility (gentle and quiet spirit), which leads to being able to
4. humbly submit to one's husband's leadership ...

for the glory of God and the sake of the Gospel.

John Piper defines submission as "the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts" in his sermon The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission.

Next month we're going Op-shopping (thrift store shopping)!

Friday, September 21, 2007

$2500 later

I am now the proud owner of a (temporary*) Spouse Visa.

*In two years time our relationship will be re-assessed by the government (to be sure it's genuine and ongoing), at which time I will then be a permanent resident.

how to fight with a friend

click here

from Reforming the Feminine (Mars Hill)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

when you're learning a lot, sometimes you think you know it all

I would like to publicly retract the word "selfish" from this previous post.

Below is a comment in response from the welcomed criticism of a good friend (from the comment section).
I've come to realize through correspondence over the past week that "selfish" is the wrong word.

Every woman is unique and in a unique relationship.

My advice would do very little to help a woman who is a virgin, finds it very easy to communicate with her fiance, and looks forward to the journey (whatever that may be ... whether laughing the first night because they JUST can't figure it out or enjoying each other passionately).

On the other hand, many women are afraid of the unknown. Should the woman afraid of the penetration of needles much less the thought of her husband penetrating her remain in her fear? No, this would be an example of a woman who ought to speak with a woman she trusts and respects and visit a doctor to be assured that her body will survive a wedding night.

Is she selfish if she does not go to a doctor ... no, just fearfully ignorant. Not the bliss you described.

2 women, 2 expectations, neither selfish.

Those who are afraid do not need to remain in fear. They can speak frankly with their fiance about their fear and seek reassurance and understanding from him. They can speak to a trusted woman that can disciple them in placing their trust in God and his purpose for marriage and advise them on what to expect. And they can seek out medical advice about their own anatomy whether from a book or a physician.

Like I said [before], in many situations just having sex is not the answer. But there are many underlying fears and expectations that need to be communicated (like Shiloh recommended above, as well) before being married.

Love and communication.


I would still recommend women visit a physician beforehand but from now on my advice would definitely lack the edge of pressure with the risk of labeling a friend "selfish" ... God forbid I harbor a mentality that communicates "If you don't do what I do, then you're wrong."

I have been amazed and humbled by the public and private response to this topic. I now understand that to use such judgmental language as selfish is indeed uncharitable, and I am sorry and apologize to those I offended.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

reforming the feminine

A fabulous list of links of Mars Hill talks especially relevant for women.

Check out the audio resource links in the sidebar of i'd rather laugh than cry.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

when ignorance is fearful

WARNING: may be controversial but definitely worth thinking about. (Male readers may find this post uncomfortable.)

I love my husband.

Before I married him I knew that it was important for me to go see a doctor. (At this point some men [if they are reading] may break out into a cold sweat and close the window.) I was blissfully ignorant of sexual intimacy and yet looked forward to that new expression of love that Mike and I would soon share. The doctor, a kind Christian man, asked me if I was afraid.


Afraid of what?

Hundreds and thousands of women underwent this sort of examination on a yearly basis. Surely, there was nothing to be afraid of.

But women are afraid.

And many of them blissfully ignorant.

Sexual intimacy for a virgin often contains a fantastic world of unknowns. But this fantasy world has its ogres. There are tales of pain, blood, tears, embarrassment.

After an unsuccessful attempt to examine my body, my doctor was very frank with me.

Christine, do you love your fiance? Do you wish to express that love to him on your honeymoon?

Yes, of course I do!

Then listen to me. If you remain as you are you will be miserable on your honeymoon. You will not enjoy sexual intimacy and nor will your husband. As things are now, you will not even experience penetration. Even if you did, it would bring both you AND your husband pain. But it doesn't have to be that way.

He began to explain to me what I could do months in advance so that I could enjoy wonderful intimacy with my husband. Did he explain various sexual positions that Mike and I could try to keep the romance alive? No. But he did instruct me very honestly concerning various exercises I could do so that there would be little or no pain and much enjoyment for both Mike and me.

I took his admonition very seriously. I was not afraid of sex because I knew that it did not have to involve tears or a great amount of pain. I love Mike. And to selfishly hold back sex from him when it was in my power to make it a joyful experience was not an option. So everyday for two weeks I did as the doctor told me, and returned to his office to hear the glad news that I could now expect a blissful honeymoon (which we did).

My friend Sherrin recently posted about the joys of being ignorant concerning things sexual. A commmentor shared about her own experience at the doctor:
[My doctor] had offered to have an honest conversation with me about s*x and give me some info about methods that would make it easier for me. I was of the opinion that this stuff was wrong and refused it. . Then I had a horrific honeymoon and wish I had taken her advice. I did a lot of book reading an internet serfing to try to figure out what in the world my problem was only to find that this was very normal for virgins.

My husband and I are sad that we never really had a honeymoon. I am still very upset that that time was stolen from me.

Sherrin follows up this post with When Ignorance Is Not Bliss in which she discusses the importance of open communication between the soon-to-be-married couple and a couple they trust to counsel them on what lies ahead.

Some might think, "Oh, I'm willing to put up with a month or two of discomfort in order to avoid seeing a doctor. I intend to go into the honeymoon with both a virgin mind and body."

You can keep your thoughts from lust and yet still understand the biology and ability of your body. Holding onto your ignorance in the name of purity is depriving your husband (and yourself) of a great joy meant to be experienced in matrimony. Beware, your ignorance may inadvertently breed frustration and discontent in the man who loves you more than anyone else and desires to show you that love with his body.

Take for example the anonymous comment on Mike's post (one of the many) about his pet peeve.

UPDATE: Sherrin linked to this excellent article on Boundless titled Prep for the Wedding Night.


clicking heels in the air

Not only am I pumped for the upcoming release of the book Vintage Jesus but I actually shouted for joy when I read THIS from the Resurgence site:

Also coming in 2008 will be the book Practical Theology for Women written by my friend and deacon in our church, Wendy Alsup. Her book will address how women can and should be theologically informed. Curiously, she is a strong Reformed complementarian and stay-at-home mom with a degree in mathematics who is also a college professor.

Friday, September 7, 2007


Oh, what an amount of discontent is there between man and wife! If they are crossed in their possessions at land, or have bad news from across the seas, or if those whom they trusted are ruined and the like, or perhaps something in the family causes strife between man and wife, in reference to the children or servants, and there is nothing but quarrelling and discontent among them, now they are many times burdened with their own discontent; and perhaps will say one to another, It is very uncomfortable for us to live so discontented as we do. But have you ever tried this way, husband and wife? Have you ever got alone and said, 'Come, Oh let us go and humble our souls before God together, let us go into our chamber and humble our souls before God for our sin, by which we have abused those mercies that God has taken away from us, and we have provoked God against us. Oh let us charge ourselves with our sin, and be humbled before the Lord together.'? Have you tried such a way as this? Oh you would find that the cloud would be taken away, and the sun would shine in upon you, and you would have a great deal more contentment than ever you had.

I cannot recommend the book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs enough!

The entire book may be read here.

my wild island home

Yesterday Mike and I arrived back home in Hobart after spending three days exploring the island we live on. Tasmania has it's small cities, cute country towns, and middle-of-no-where settlements. But it is also still quite wild.

Here's a map of the route we took.

And here are pictures from the trip.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

i may not be a church-planter's wife but ...

I found this audio clip very helpful as a wife and a helper as a reminder to ask Mike what he needs.

our first weekend apart

It's 5 a.m. and I wake up snarking and coughing. Mike pulls me close.

"Do you really think you ought to go to the conference?"

I didn't even waste time trying to be strong to the point of rationalizing my going on an early morning 3 1/2 hour drive up to the north of the island and two days of reelingly fascinating talks and meetings while sniffing, sneezing, coughing, and blowing my nose. What would everybody think of Mike, "Hmph. What kind of husband is he?! Making his wife come up here when she's obviously too sick!"

"No. Will you be ok without me?"

"No. But I guess I'll have to be."

The day before Mike took care of me most of the day, making sure I was well hydrated, slicing apples spreading them with peanut butter, and keeping me company in the evening when he could have gone out with friends.

I think the past two days, however, I've watched too much television.

Why is it on cartoons and sitcoms that when there are two partners (one a man and one a woman) that the man is always an idiot. The woman never trusts him and always has to work behind the scenes so that everything turns out okay despite her partner's blunders?

So, today I'm catching up on some reading.

Have you read this marvelous book?

Speaking of ... I just made a wishlist.

I think you can tell a lot about a person by their books (or the books they want). When I was first getting to know Mike, he sent me a photo of his room. I zoomed in on his bookshelf and was quite pleased with what I found there. "Hmm, yes. I think we're compatible."

And why was I not surprised to find that my friend Laura was listed on LibraryThing as having a similar library to my own. (Those books listed are only the books I have with me right now ... I'll have heaps more when my shipment from the US arrives.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

it's wednesday and i'm glad i'm not medieval

A flowchart instructing medieval couples when it is not appropriate to have sexual intercourse:

Click on image to view.

h/t Angie


Because I have not yet received my shipment from the States (which includes my cookbooks), I've been enjoying Bron's cooking magazines that she left behind for me.

What are the best online recipe sites?

I'm specifically wondering if there is one out there about seasonal recipes in Australia.

Monday, August 20, 2007

unconditional commitment

A few days ago a friend asked me my opinion on a matter.

"What are your thoughts on unconditional commitment?"

I had never heard of the term. Sure, many of us are aware of the idea of unconditional election but what was unconditional commitment?

In order to gain time to form an opinion I asked him, "Um, in what context?" Pulling random scenarios out of the air, I added, "In a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship? engaged? married? God/man?"

"Um, I dunno ... in general, I guess."

ha ha ha. Well, no help there. I sat there for a bit, gathered my thoughts together, took a deep breath, and before I could start my friend chimed in:

"For instance, it is difficult for humans to engage in commitment to one another because unlike God we change. God, however, is unchanging and constant."

I replied:

"Indeed. And what a wonderful picture we have of God's unconditional commitment to his chosen people ... whether it was to the people of Israel despite their fickle disregard for their God or to New Testament believers like us who frequently regard self more highly than God. In the Old Testament, Hosea was called on to be a visual representation of God's commitment to his covenant despite his wife's unfaithfulness. In the New Testament, Paul makes the comparison between Christ/husbands and the church/wives.

"Before my father would consent to marry Mike and I, he asked us both to seriously consider: Is there anything that the other could do that would make me want to dissolve my marriage commitment? If either of us answered 'yes', the wedding would be called off.

"What if Mike should decide at some point that he didn't love me anymore? Would that annul me of any responsibility I had toward him? (Many secular vows today replace 'till death do us part' with 'till our love dissolves'. ) What if he somehow changed drastically ... even to the point of forsaking God?

"What we need to remember is that before we were united to Christ, we were enemies of God: in the position of the harlot before Hosea took her to be his wife.

Romans 5:6-8
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:10-11
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

"God in his great love redeemed us when we were his enemies, calls us his own, and has given the world a picture of his great love through marriage. Christ gave himself up for us, sanctifies us, cleanses us through his Word, so that he might present us to God on the last day as pure. When a husband follows the command to be as Christ to the wife he has chosen for himself, his aim is his wife's godliness.

"Marriage is a three-way commitment between a man, a woman, and God. One is always faithful and shows unconditional commitment ... even when the man and woman do not. Our commitment to each other ought to be out of reverence for Christ and for the sake of the gospel and for the other's growth in godliness. When times are hard and your spouse seems unlovable or even unwilling to receive your love, for the sake of the GOSPEL love your spouse even as God loves you!"

Let us out of reverence for Christ always be quick to forgive and grow in godliness as we learn to commit to each other.

Friday, August 17, 2007

please join us through your support/prayer

Please pray as we sort out how to best honor God through our situation. Pray that God would direct us to share our need with the right people. Pray that we will not be too proud to ask people to join in our ministry through their finances and prayer. Pray that we will be content in our current state and not covet.

Donations can be made online here. Select "Mike Jolly" from the pull down menu on the AFES donation page. AFES manages the donations by receiving the funds and then redirecting it into our account.

Below is our most recent supporters' update:

Dear friends

It's not often that I feel the need to beg. Work this year has been a tremendously humbling experience, having to ask people for money in order to live and get by. So many people have been amazingly generous to me in providing the majority of my salary. But as the year hurtles towards its end I'm again asking for support. I'm approximately $5000 short of my target for the year.

As many of you may know I got married over the mid-semester break in Germany to the lovely Christine. I enjoyed the break from work and being able to get away from the worries and pressures of ministry. We arrived back from our honeymoon just in time for FOCUS' annual Mid Year Conference. This was an amazing time of spiritual renewal for both the students and us.

With married life now thrown into the mix I've realized just how little the MTS wage is. Christine and I look set to have real financial troubles over the next year and half, even with my full wage. Please keep Christine and I in your prayers as we work through this most difficult part of marriage. She is currently not able to work until her visa is approved (a massive process).

The semester began with a bang as we ran the worldview survey in week 3. The first couple of weeks were spent recovering from MYC and preparing the students for the survey. The worldview survey is, in my view, one of the best evangelistic tools out there. Students answer multiple choice questions before being analysed by a computer which tells them their worldview. This then leads to evangelistic conversations as the Christian explains the ins and outs of various worldviews. I spent 3 hours talking non-stop in just one day and had some awesome conversations. I don't say this to boast but to demonstrate just how effective a tool it really is.

I've also been excited by the prospect of running an evangelistic small group up at Jane Franklin Hall. This has flowed out of a small group that I started there in the middle of last semester (with help from others). It's been encouraging to see students in this group growing and being challenged in their faith.

I'll be preaching on Titus later in the semester. Please keep me in your prayers as it will be a struggle to get these talks completed in time. On top of all this Christine and I have recently moved to a new flat and continue to settle into sharing a home for the first time.

Although there are challenges ahead for the year we have every confidence in God and his ability to provide for us. Please feel free to check out my blog for updates on my progress (the link is below). You can also now donate to me online via my blog. May God Bless you especially through his son Jesus.

Mike and Christine Jolly

Monday, August 13, 2007

the quirky side of germany (my homeland)

The following articles are from the online site of the German magazine, Spiegel. From my own experience I was appalled/amused when a German woman explained to me that Lower Saxony locals took offense to being smiled at when walking by (as if you were laughing at them). !?! And apparently sitting in the dark with no lights on is considered "gemuetlich" (comfortable/cozy).

German Men: Hunky, Handsome, Wimpy and Weak
At first glance, the blond six-foot hunks populating Germany make the place seem like a heaven for women. Until you start dating. German men are much more difficult than you might think.

Scoring a German: Flirting with Fräuleins, Hunting for Herren
Interested in bagging a German? It's not quite as easy as you might hope. Flirting here is different and much more subtle. And it's taken very seriously.

The Dark Side: Optimists Are Idiots
Nobody can beat the Germans when it comes to pessimism. And forget about being happy -- here it's merely a sign of stupidity.

Draftophobia: Blown Away by the Fear of Air
A lot of Germans don't like drafts. Some even seem to have an irrational fear of moving air, believing it can cause pneumonia, flu, colds, clogged arteries and just about every malady imaginable.

You Have What?: Mysterious Illness in Germany
Germans get sick like everybody else. But some of the diseases they come down with are often only to be found in Germany. Combined with an aversion to medication, it's no wonder the German population is dropping.