Sunday, 22 January 2012

How things change

“What happened to your forearms, they look like a meat packers arms,” my father stated, 
“You used to have thin arms like me but you got fat.” I looked at him blankly. 
I am the come back queen, three weeks after the event. What I should have said was, “So you admit that you have girly arms?” or “Your waist aint what it used to be either.” Instead I just stared at my Popeye forearms and agreed that they had become more muscular since the baby was born.
Motherhood has changed me in many ways, apart from the power arms, I used to pour over gossip magazines like a nun seeking sainthood. I would memorize names, up and coming TV shows and be enthralled by the drama of people’s bad days. However since the baby was born I’ve lost interest in drama, the sleepless nights and interfering entourage that motherhood has wrought keeps me occupied without needing to read about other people’s bad days. 
In the last two weeks I have purchased two magazines, Australian Good Food and Super Food Ideas. I’ve been combing through the magazines like a death row inmate choosing their last meal. Home cooked meals have become a rare occurrence in the last 22 months. If we get 3-4 home cooked meals a week that is a good week. That leaves a lot of take out meals to fill in the blanks. That has led my waist line to become a circle.
I’m hoping that the quick meals in the magazines are indeed quick. While Munchie loves to  help throw herbs all around the pot and help taste all the meals I cook, she needs to be on my hip the whole time. Hence the thick sailor arms from holding the baby like a resistant weight dumbbell. 
Despite the Schwarzenegger forearms, the excess junk food and my obsession with gourmet magazines, I wouldn’t change a thing. Motherhood has been so rewarding and I’m growing less selfish daily. I may be as fast as a beached whale in come backs, but my life is moving forward and I’m loving it. 
Changes may be coming at you like punches to a boxer against the ropes, but you have the power to embrace the new person you are becoming and find the joy in your situation. The meeting of ones thighs indicates the blessedness of living in a nation with abundant food. The greying of ones hair is an indicator of time passing and the blessing of years of life. Wrinkles are a sign that you have laughed and cried, which are the signs of truly living. The thickening of ones forearms is a sign that I have held true beauty in my arms. May you find true beauty in your arms today.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

About over thinking

My daughters second birthday is at the end of March and I've already begun planning the party. I'm working out the theme, coordinating the guest list so every child has a friend and crafting a menu to please most the guests. In the back of my head there's a voice asking if all the work is really worth it. 
We could just as easily have a family only meal in a restaurant for a third of the cost, or fly to my parents place for a week for what I've budgeted for her birthday do. 
I'm not sure if I'm planning such a huge party as penance for the guilt I feel for being completely unprepared for motherhood.  Or maybe it's an apology for all the yelling I've done during her second revolution of the sun. I’ve felt like an automated service yelling, "Take that out of your mouth," "Get off the cat he's not a horse!" “Take that out of your mouth,” "Look with your eyes, not your hands," and did I mention, "Take that out of your mouth!!!!" Or maybe I just want to celebrate that I have made it two years without sleep and we are still alive.
Maybe I want such a big party because I really love my little girl and want her to have an amazing second birthday. She loves to be around other kids and having a house full of them always brings her great joy, so a big party would be perfect for her.
I’ve spent ten days turning ten different themes into one, “Munchie’s favorite things.” It could have just as easily been a penguin, balloon, shoe, cars, beach, ice cream, strawberry or pizza theme party, but favorite things covered them all.
I’ve spent a lot of time working out the details, but also weighing up my motives so that I do the right thing for Munchie on her birthday.
I once read a quote that said, “A life unexamined is a life unlived,” but I’ve got to state that “A life over examined is a frustrated life.” 
Over thinking can be more toxic then not thinking at all. Over contemplating what decision to make next, what subject to study or whether to proceed or not can paralyze an individual causing them to become immobile. I’ve often been afraid of making the wrong decision or doing the wrong thing but I’ve discovered that doing nothing can be worse than the two afore mentioned actions. 
Don’t get me started on over thinking about other people’s words or actions. Thinking too much about what someone said, or what someone did, trying to ascertain someones motives is like trying to lick the small of your own back. It’s never going to end well. 
As a general rule, I assume that everyone likes me and is genuinely kind and nice. That way if someone says something nasty, I assume that it’s a misunderstanding or they didn’t mean it the way it sounded. If it’s someone close to me, I may ask them what they meant, but being in pastoral ministry for almost a decade has taught me to not to over analyze what someone says.
When I was a teenager, my girlfriends and I would spend hours trying to work out what a boy meant by what he had said to us. 
For example, “He said, like, he wanted to play basketball with his friends on the weekend.” Then the analysis would begin. 
“I think that he is totally playing hard to get,” one helpful girl would state.
“Totally!” another would agree, “he’s like showing you that he likes you but he can, like, maintain other relationships too. He’s like totally into you.”
“I think he’s confused,” another girl would quip, “he’s like hot and cold, like he’s into you but he’s like trying to be cool with his mates, so he’s gotta play basketball on the weekend because he doesn’t want to show them how into you he is.”
It would go on for hours, the smaller the statement from the guy, the longer these analysis sessions would go. What no one ever said was, “He’s a teenage boy with the same higher functions as a baboon in the wild, he just wants to play basketball, he probably hasn’t thought about you since he told you he was going to hang with his mates and he probably won’t think about you again till he sees you Monday morning. Not because he doesn’t care, but because he’s just not over analyzing the universe like a teenage girl!”
My point is this, there is a time for everything under the sun, there is a time to analyze and a time to accept at face value, there is a time to think and a time to act and our job as humans is to determine when to do what. To celebrate our victories and to not beat ourselves up excessively when we fail.
Life is amazing and it is best experienced with adequate thoughtfulness and impulse, love and withdrawal, acceptance and analysis, fear and bravery. 
So if your thought patterns are making you miserable, retrain your thinking. The prophet Isaiah said, “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. (Isaiah 43:18)” The only person who has any control over your feelings and thoughts is you, so take hold of them and bend them to your will. It’s not the circumstances of our lives that make us feel the way we do, it’s the thoughts we use to evaluate our circumstances. So reevaluate your circumstances. Look for the good in all things, and forgive those who have hurt you, set yourself free. 
I’m going to enjoy Munchie’s birthday party and I’m going to enjoy the planning process. I’m going to stop analyzing the why and celebrate that our family continues to grow in love daily. Life may not be perfect but our life is pretty great. 
I hope you find what is great in your world today.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


The lights are twinkling on my Christmas tree like 500 multicolored fireflies, the fairies are smiling and the purple and silver ornaments are reflecting the light. I’m loath to take it down, it’s so beautiful. 
I really hate change. I wish I could say that I only hate negative change, but that would be a lie. I hate change full stop. When work told us that we were being moved to Coffs Harbor, arguably one of the most beautiful seaside villages in Australia, I was crushed. I was sad to be moving another 600kms from my parents, 1800kms is a long way from the only free baby sitters we know. But I was excited about living near the sea, and living full time in the place where people go on holiday.
If you live in a holiday destination does that mean that your life is a permanent holiday? I keep trying to convince my husband that even work is a holiday here. He’s response is that if you are away from your family over ten hours a day, that is not a holiday. He’s got a point, but where we live is still really great.
I love living here, it’s my favorite place yet, we are ten minutes walk to the beach. We live in a lovely calder sack where the kids ride their rip sticks up and down the street and they all look after each other. They even include my toddler in their out door sports. We have intermittent block parties and I know most of our neighbors. Moving here was one of the best changes we have ever made.
Change can be scary and take effort that we may not have the inclination to exert. Yet change is inevitable and beneficial. Changing our thinking about a situation may take effort, but it could also give us a more joyful existence. Changing our diet may be boring, time consuming or even just plain distasteful but it can give us a fuller and longer life. Changing our tires can be costly but being safer on the road is priceless. Moving and starting a new life may be daunting but the adventure of starting over can be a blessing.
Life feels like a coin sometimes, you don’t know if you’re going to get the a nod from the head or a tail in your face. Either way, we have the power to change every situation with the way that we choose to perceive it. The way we decide to thing about the change is what will determine whether it becomes a positive or negative force in our lives.
Shortly I will have to take down the Christmas tree with all its twinkling lights and festive bling, but it’s place will not remain bare long. As the weather becomes wetter (not cooler) I’ll need that spot for the clothes horse, I may even hang a couple of fairies on it, to remind myself that change is not bad, it’s just different. 

By Susan Magaitis

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

Monday, 16 January 2012

The fountain of youth

Munchie received  her first fishy, whiskered seal kiss today. She couldn't take her eyes off the seal kissing everyone, then it was her turn. She was scared, the seal must seem like a giant monster to a toddler, but she was keen to meet it too. The picture reveals that she moved her head and the seal planted the kiss on the back of her head. However, the fishy scent smeared from her cheek to ear suggested that Munchie's assertion that the 'woof woof' (she thinks seals are sea dogs) kissed her cheek was a fact. She has limited vocabulary but we know exactly what she's talking about. The seal kiss and the peacock which flew onto the roof were hot topics during bath time tonight.
After a big day of seals, dolphins, fairy penguins, peacocks and giant sea turtles she drifted off to a happy, peaceful sleep. 
I remember watching an Oprah show about staying young and she had a guest who said she would do something that scared her every year for her birthday to stay young. 
Obviously, if Munch were any younger she’d be a zygote, but her experiences today really animated her and gave her a spark that I hadn’t seen for a while. Watching her experience the dolphin’s arial show and clapping with delight, ignited a spark of wonder in me that I hadn’t felt for a while either. 
My tip for the day is, do something that frightens you or watch a child experience something for the first time. Delight is a truly freeing feeling, and come to think of it, I do feel younger.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Staying on course

My mind is adrift today, the pounding between my temples is not helping my  concentration levels either.
I'm ready for bed, but as per usual my daughter is not. I wish I could take a sick day or a holiday from motherhood on days like today. Every person has a limit and mine is 22 months without sleep, will this child ever sleep through the night? At this point I would settle for her going to sleep before 10pm. The only thing getting me through is the thought that this is not forever. In not time she will be at school and this sleep depravation will be forgotten and I will be back at work, pining for the days when I would wake with her smothering me in a bear hug.
There are so many beautiful parts of this age. The way she says Mymmi, instead of Mummy. The fact that every scrape and bump can be cured with a kiss and a cuddle. Music is always an invitation to dance whether in the living room, shopping centre or church. There is nothing warmer then her cuddles, or cuter then her kisses, or sharper then her teeth! Her excitement is uncontainable and oddly expressed at times, she will see our cat and squeal with delight before kissing, cuddling and licking him, finally she will leave him with a parting kick (we are encouraging patting instead of the other behavior but are yet to see success in this area). She is a little extrovert and everyone at the local shopping centre knows her and if they don't she will introduce herself and maybe even do a little happy dance of welcome.
She's my heart walking around outside my body. She's an amazing little person.
Despite feeling unfocused and adrift, Munchie keeps me on course and God keeps me anchored. Hope you find your inspiration today.

By Susan Magaitis
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.Proverbs 3:5,6

Friday, 13 January 2012

A time to rest

I'm winding down. For the last ten years, Friday afternoon was the second most stressful time of the week, only second to Saturday morning when I'd present the weekly homily. Friday I'd clean the house, contact the worship coordinators, finish any work left from the week and make sure my sermon was complete. Many Saturday mornings I would see sunrise before I saw sleep so that my sermon would be perfect come 11am. Everyone would comment what a lovely day of rest and restoration Saturday was for them, but From 7am till 10pm I would be on the go.
Im on leave for the next fifty weeks. So Im going to really rest on my Sabbath. For the next 24 hours I don't have to worry about cooking or cleaning. I don't have to think about what I'm going to blog or who needs what from me. The next 24 hours are dedicated to spending time with God and my family.
It's my favorite day of the week, I can do as much or as little as I want. I can even skip church, something that is generally frowned on when you're the minister.
I'm turning off the TV, unplugging my laptop and tuning into some internal reflection. When the Munchkin goes down for her nap, my household goddess duties are on hold, I can do whatever feeds my soul, I could even sleep.
In this hectic rush around world, rest is in short supply, yet we need it more then ever. We need a break from the deluge of life to be with the ones we love.
As you wind down for the weekend, take time to love, laugh and reflect on living.
by Susan Magaitis

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Bagging a bargain

The only thing I like about the end of the festive season is the sales. I'm a sucker for a bargain. On Monday I bagged a kilo of assorted cadbury chocolates in a roll taller than my daughter for $12! That's a saving of $18. Not only did I get the yummy choccies but Munchie will use the oversized tube to batter her uncle John. She loves the sound of the tube reverberating off his rotund physique, the two of them giggle like they've won the lottery through the whole “assault”. 
I also bought a fancy complete box of Christmas cupcake mix for $5. Though I’m  experiencing some buyers remorse about the cupcake mix, it was an impulse purchase. Sure it was a bargain $15 saving, but I have come up with some rules for myself to curtail my spending, and minimize my buyers guilt.
First, I ask myself, “Can this fit into my budget or will I be overextending it?”
Second, I only buy things that I really really really love.
Third, I only buy things that I know I will use (ie, it has to fit. I bought a dress on a whim seven years ago because it was a bargain and I figured I’d lose enough weight eventually to fit into it, the only time it’s left my closet was when we moved. It still has its tags. I’m now fatter then I’ve ever been so I don’t see myself wearing it any time soon).
Lastly, I rarely buy things without thinking about it overnight first.
Even if all I spend is $5, if I don't love it then I won't use it and if I don't use it, then that's $5 wasted. $5 I could put toward shoes or a block of chocolate which would be used.
The last time I made cupcakes was 16 years ago, I’m really hoping that there might be a repeat episode before the fancy cupcake mix expires.
Hope that your bargain shopping is fruitful in the post Christmas sales, I hope you can afford what you buy and that you love and use whatever you invest in. Bag a bargain, and giggle like you’ve won the lottery as you share it with others.

By Susan Magaitis

Ec 2:26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness.