Catrina – ‘raise up a child’?

Last night I watched an excellent episode of Compass – one which I also found incredibly infuriating and nauseating.

It was a lesson in how not to raise a child in a Christian home.

It was the study of one family’s life as their teenage daughter grew from 16 to 22 and sought to discover her own identity while also trying to break free from the grip of a controlling and manipulative insecure father.

Despite her desire to be an actor or artist, her father shoved her into a teaching degree, which not surprisingly, she failed. He frowned on her artsy ways and sought to crowbar her into his worldview at every turn.

It didn’t work.

It was a disturbing doco as you watched a young girl seeking to discover her own identity and yet at the same time love and honour her father, who severed contact with her on 3 separate occasions during the time. It was sad watching the internal battle she went thru to be true to herself and yet not do the wrong thing by her dad – who in my humble opinion was a pompous turkey – and completely blind to his turkeyness.

So much of the manipulation and control revolved around absolute conformity to his understanding of Christian behavior. Her tattoo was an example. Frowned on by dad, she eventually had it removed to please him – or appease him. But she never could get it right… no matter what she tried.

I went to sleep last night praying for this girl and others like her who have been victims of religious manipulation by the people who love them the most.

No doubt Catrina was not an easy kid to raise because she challenged the status quo, but I’d have to say Keith (her dad) simply couldn’t cope with anyone who challenged his authority or disagree with him.

You can download it here

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. It is well worth watching if you want to avoid the same mistakes.

Grrr… still seething…

Not Holding my Breath…

holding_breath.jpg If you’ve followed this blog for a while then you’d know that it started as a way of documenting the journey we have been on as suburban missionaries, exploring different ways to express church and mission.

It was a way of trying to help those from our old church stay in touch. But I don’t think anyone ever read it! Along the way it just became a place for me to reflect, vent and do the occasional brain-dump.

So for those who care, here’s the latest in the Upstream story…

As you may know not much has turned out as we had hoped or intended. I was talking with a friend yesterday about this and we both agreed strongly that in spite of where it has taken us we feel it has been an incredibly rich and valuable time. The talk of success and failure always surrounds our analysis.

I am very conscious that we have not achieved what we set out to achieve – to see lots of people become Christians and formed into a community. I’d say that is failure. We simply weren’t able to do what we thought we could. I’m not particularly happy about that because I value achievement, but along the way I have also learnt that we set some goals over which we had no control whatsover and that was pretty dumb.

As much as we haven’t achieved what we came here for, I’d say God has been able to accomplish a fair bit, sometimes because of us and often in spite of us. We can look back at many fantastic moments and many very significant achievements. They weren’t what we expected, but I do think we had a very narrow perspective in the first few years of being here.

I know the story of the boy who shot the arrow and then drew a bullseye around it, so I’m cautious of sounding like that. But I do sense God has been at work in many ways even though I have struggled with disappointment at not achieving our initial goals. As I sit here tonight I feel quite released from those pressures. I don’t lament this ‘failure’ the way I used to, yet I still long for people to meet Jesus and follow him. I guess I’m just so much aware of how little real influence I have over that.

So after last year being a difficult time as we saw 2 core families move on, we were just settling into a healthy pattern this year when we discovered that Mike & Heidi are going to off in 2 months to Broome with a work transfer. They have been fantastic friends and brilliant team members, but they are tired and in need of a rest so as this opportunity presents itself it feels right that they take it.

Our team is getting smaller… again…Effectively it leaves Gav & Helen & Danelle and I as the ‘team’.

And… you know who’s heading off next year for 9 months of travel?…

So where does that leave us then?…

Yes, we do ask the question ‘is it time to call it quits and re-think how we do life and church and mission?’ Yet in spite of the constantly shrinking team that doesn’t seem to be where God is taking us.

We all love living where we do, amongst the people around here and life feels pretty right.

I am actually quite open to finishing what we are doing and re-forming, or even moving on if need be, but as odd it may seem none of really feels drawn in that direction at this point in time. Maybe we will be in a different place in 12 or 24 months, but right now, its business as usual.

Someone asked me the other day what would make me really happy and enthused and I found myself answering straight back, ‘I’d be a pig in mud if we were able to find another two or three families to join our team.’ As I said it reminded me that my heart is very much in the work God has called us to here, but at times it does get a bit lonely and a few other people to work with would be my dream.

But given that very little else has gone to plan I am not holding my breath!sophie s choice movie

Seeking Signs

After Ellie restated her disbelief in God last night she began asking us for proof. We went back over the ground we had been before, but she wanted concrete evidence.

Hmmm… tricky…

Then she came up with an idea of her own.

‘Hey remember that story in the Bible where the guy hung out a sheep’s fleece?’


‘Well let’s do that. We’ll put it under cover tonight and if its wet then God is real. Then the next day we will put it on the lawn and if its dry then that’s proof too’

‘Okay’ I said half wondering myself if God might just humour her.

This morning she was up bright and early and checked the towel we left on the table. Her face said it all. She felt the towel all over, but it was dry as a bone.

Clearly God does not exist.

She was very disappointed.

The journey continues… and I sense it may be a journey that rolls for a long time. She is a determined little girl and has stopped swallowing easy answers, but is not yet capable of the existential arguments that may offer her some satisfaction.

Before You Complain – Part II


I sit in a cafe in Leederville this morning reading part II of Phil’s adventures in Afghanistan. (Part I is here

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I am very glad for my Leederville cafe workplace.

I am also inspired by and grateful for people like Phil & his family who keep going in places others wouldn’t even give a second thought to.

As entertaining as these accounts are I could feel my bum clenching in frustration and madness.

Starting a Mega-church

I was chatting with a friend last night and in our frivolity we discussed planting a ‘mega-church’. I have been pondering the idea further…

It got me wondering what would happen if:

– we set aside a couple of million dollars for seed capital, (this was the first obstacle 🙂 )

– hired a team of brilliant professional musicians

– embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign thru every newspaper in the state as well as TV and radio

– hired the sweetest most comfortable venue in the city

– planned 6 months of absolutely sensational inspirational church services with state of the art technology and amazing comunicators

– hired professional caterers and greeters (hey Bunnings do it!)

You get the idea.

I genuinely wonder what would happen if we threw everything we had into a project like that what would develop…

What do you think would be the outcome?

Would people come?

Of course the other temptation for me would be to run the marketing campaign, try and pull as many people in as possible and then on that first grand Sunday simply stand up and tell them all to get back home to their current church and stop being seduced by the next great thing.

If money motivates

The bloke who started selling his life yesterday is going to be very well set by the time he walks out the door!

The auction is up to $2 200 000.00 already with 5 days to go.

For a house and contents in Wellard, as well as vehicles and not a heap else I reckon he’d done the deal of a lifetime. Insane…

Clever boy… Silly purchasers…