Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas! 2009

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to JESUS!
Happy birthday to you.

Merry Christmas
to all our friends and family,
love from Joshua, Anna, Abigail and Samuel
And for our northern friends,
we hope you enjoy your snow!
(And Merry Christmas from me too.)

Sunday, 6 December 2009

This Blogger is TEMPORARILY not Blogging

Hi to all of you wonderful regular readers of my blog!

Due to a sudden and unexpected - and delightful - turn of events, I have a pressing need to direct my writing energies elsewhere for a while, and maybe even the next few months. (If you want a hint, check out my tags for this post.) For that reason, I won't be posting on Equip Academy at least for the next fortnight, and probably (God willing!) until around mid-February 2010.

If it makes you feel any better, I'm giving up TV as well. Even though The Office is showing two nights a week at a manageable time starting this week!

Please keep me in your prayers. I look forward to writing for you again in 2010.

Grace, peace and love in Christ,
Sharon

PS If you are hanging out for something else to read online, you might like to check out these blogs, which I will also be reading (some more frequently than others):

Amy Edward's blog Veritas at Home - an American homeschooling mum of four + one in-utero, who loves BSF like me and is a faithful Christian. (Did I mention Amy's blog shares a "birthday" with mine, and we have become great blogging buddies since we met online?)

Meredith's blog The Key to the Door - a fellow Perthite whose husband is a graduate of the same Theological College as mine, Meredith shares insights from her Bible reading and on Christian living.

John Granger's blog Forks High School Professor - for those who share with me a fascination in the deeper meanings buried in by Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga.

Kellie's blog Blue House Academy - another Christian homeschooler, whose American family is "touched by Austism".

For other recommendations, please check out the "Blogs I enjoy" and "Friends who blog" links in my left hand sidebar.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Philippians 2 Song: Do Everything Without Complaining

Paul and Timothy wrote to the church in Philippi
(Links to: Philippians 1 kids' stuff, Philippians 2 kids' stuff, Philippians 3 kids' stuff and Philippians 4 kids's stuff.)

Do Everything Without Complaining: Philippians 2:14-16
Words and Tune copyright 2008 Sharon Jackson
Arrangement Andrea Lim

Do everything without complaining,
Do everything without arguing,
So you might shine like stars in the universe
As you hold out the word of life.

Philippians 4 kids' story & colouring picture

Paul and Timothy wrote to the church in Philippi
(Links to: Philippians 1 kids' stuff, Philippians 2 kids' stuff, Philippians 3 kids' stuff.)
Paul was thankful for the Philippians' kind gifts to him - Philippians 4
[This illustration is an original drawing by my dear friend "Chrissie D", one of the ladies from our church fellowship. Isn't she talented? I have only uploaded a 200x313pixel image, because although I think her drawing is wonderful, she owns the copyright, not me. If you love it and would like to use it with your own children or in a church kids ministry, please leave a comment. I'll ask "Chrissie D" if she wants to allow a full image to be available for download to interested parties, and get back to you.]

Do you remember the letter that Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi?

In the letter, Paul told the Christians about how they should live. Paul also thanked them for all that they had been doing, especially the help that the Philippians had given to him.

Do you remember how Paul was in chains in jail?

People who are in jail are stuck in one place. Paul couldn’t get out of jail to go to the shops for a loaf of bread, some meat, fruit, or vegetables if he was hungry. Paul couldn’t leave the jail to buy new clothes when his clothes were worn out, or to buy blankets to keep him warm, either. And with all the letters Paul wrote while he was in jail, he needed paper and writing tools as well!

So because Paul couldn’t go to the shops, Paul’s friends, like Timothy, had to buy these things for him. Paul’s friends brought the things he needed to Paul while he was in jail.

But because Paul was in jail, he couldn’t work to earn any money! So once again, Paul’s friends helped him, by giving him gifts that probably included money to buy what he needed.

It wasn’t just Paul’s friends who were nearby who helped him, either. The Philippian church had helped Paul in the past, when he had travelled to a place called Thessalonica, to tell people there about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And now the Philippians had helped Paul again! Even though Paul was in jail a long way away from Philippi, the church had known that Paul would need help. They had made a collection of gifts, and given them to a man named Epaphroditus to take to Paul. Epaphroditus had travelled a long way to get to Paul, and he had become very sick on the way. But in the end, Epaphroditus had reached Paul at the jail, and given Paul all the gifts from the Philippians.

Paul was very grateful for the gifts Epaphroditus had brought. He wrote in his letter to the Philippians how thankful he was that God had supplied everything he needed, through their generous gifts. Paul wrote his letter to say thank you to the Philippians for all they had done for him, and to tell them that God would surely give them all they needed as well.

:: God uses Christians to help other Christians, supplying all we need.

> We can help other Christians.
> We can pray for Christians in trouble.
> We can send gifts to help Christians in need.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Yes, Anna has asthma as well

That's six out of six.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Philippians 3 kids' story & colouring picture

Paul and Timothy wrote to the church in Philippi
(Links to: Philippians 1 kids' stuff, Philippians 2 kids' stuff.)
Paul forgot what was behind and pressed on heavenward in Christ Jesus - Philippians 3
[This illustration is an original drawing by my dear friend "Chrissie D", one of the ladies from our church fellowship. Isn't she talented? I have only uploaded a 200x283pixel image, because although I think her drawing is wonderful, she owns the copyright, not me. If you love it and would like to use it with your own children or in a church kids ministry, please leave a comment. I'll ask "Chrissie D" if she wants to allow a full image to be available for download to interested parties, and get back to you.]

Do you remember the letter that Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi?

In the letter, Paul told the Philippians how they should live. He also told them all about how he was living. Paul told the Philippians what he thought about his past, and how much he was looking forward to his future with Jesus.

Paul told the Philippians that before he became a Christian, he had put his trust in all sorts of things. Paul was an Israelite (that is, a Jew), and he had been well known for his passion for keeping the Jewish Law. Back then, Paul had thought the important thing was to be the son of a son of a son of a long line of sons descended from the first fathers of Israel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Paul thought that was the only way to be one of God’s chosen people.

But now that Paul knew about Jesus Christ, Paul didn’t think those things were important any more. He knew there is only one way to belong to God’s chosen people. It isn’t anything to do with things we might think make a person important. Having lots of money or even treasure doesn’t make you important to God. Being very clever, or very beautiful, or being able to tell the best stories or run the fastest in a race doesn’t make God love you.

God loves Christians, who believe and trust in Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

Paul knew that being a Jew wasn’t important any longer, even though it had been in the past. What the Jews had been looking forward to, all the years they had lived in and out of the Promised Land, had now come true! God had sent His Son Jesus to be our Saviour. Being a follower of Jesus Christ will always be important in God’s opinion.

So Paul told the Philippians he wasn’t paying attention to all those things he had thought were important before. Paul said he forgot what was behind him.

Paul wrote to the Philippians that the only thing that was important to him now, was how fantastic it was to know that Jesus was his Lord and King. Paul wrote that he pressed onward to take hold of Jesus’ promises. He wrote that he stretched forward towards heaven, where he knew Jesus was waiting for him. Paul knew that Jesus would keep His promise to return one day and make all Christians perfect and glorious.

Paul told the Philippians to follow his example. And we should, as well.

:: God wants Christians to focus on Jesus and the promised glories of heaven.

> We can forget about the things other people think are important.
> We can look forward to being with Jesus and pleasing Him.

WG Bible Study Philippians 4

Questions for Home Study

Friday: Paul gives advice on living in the peace of God

1. Read Philippians 4:2-7.

a) Context (4:3) What had Euodia, Syntyche and Clement done in the past?


b) Context (4:2) What were Euodia and Syntyche doing at the moment?


c) (4:2-3) What did Paul want Syzygus (“loyal yokefellow” to do about the women’s problem?



d) (4:4-5a) What two pieces of advice did Paul give Euodia, Syntyche and Syzygus?



e) (4:5b-7) How does knowing that Jesus is near, and praying to God, help our hearts and minds to be guarded against disagreements and division by God’s peace?



f) Connect What relationship do you need to pray about? So pray!




Saturday: Paul writes of good thoughts, his good example, and God’s presence

2. Read Philippians 4:8-9.

a) (4:8) Think about all you have learned about the gospel this year. What is true and right?



b) (4:8) Think about all you have learnt about holiness this year. What is pure, noble or admirable?



c) (4:8) Think about all you have learnt about godliness this year. What is lovely or excellent?



d) (4:8-9) Think about the example of Paul and the other apostles, such as Peter, that we have learnt about this year. What is praiseworthy?



e) Connect How can you “put into practice” any of this in your own life, knowing the God of peace will be with you?




Sunday: Church!

3. How did the teaching or preaching you listened to today complement what you are learning from Philippians this week?





Monday: Paul is content in all situations

4. Read Philippians 4:10-13.

a) Context (4:10) Also read Philippians 4:18. What is Paul rejoicing and thankful for?


b) (4:11-12) What does Paul say about his own contentment?



c) Connect What areas of your life do you need to be more content?




d) (4:13) What is “the secret” of Paul’s contentment?



e) Connect How can Paul’s “secret” and his advice in Philippians 4:6 help you to be content?




Tuesday: Paul thanks the Philippians for their gifts sent through Epaphroditus

5. Read Philippians 4:14-23.

a) Context (4:14-16) What have the Philippians done in the past (and again now) to help Paul?


b) (4:17-18) What is Paul looking forward to on the Philippian’s behalf?



c) (4:19,20-23) How does Paul reassure the Philippians?



d) Connect How does Paul’s reassurance inspire your confidence in God for your situation?




e) (4:20) What is the ultimate aim of Paul’s letter to the Philippians?



Wednesday: Review

6. Re-read Philippians 3.

a) What was the main thing you learnt from Philippians 4 this week about how you, as a Christian, should live?





b) What was the main thing you learnt from Philippians 4 this week about the God of peace?





Thursday: Women’s Gathering!

7. In your Prayer Triplet: Pray that our lives will reflect the peace God has given us. Pray also that we will be content in our circumstances and ready to help others in their circumstances.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Tony Abbott the new Leader of the Opposition

For the first time in my memory, Australia has a parliamentary leader - albeit in opposition -who is a loud and proud Christian. Abbott is unlike previous and current leaders who are nominal Christians, publicly acknowledging their faith, but seeming to choose to limit the way this affects their political decisions (as with PM Kevin Rudd and ex-PM John Howard). Abbott is a professing Christian (he is a practicing Catholic) who is very open about the impact his faith has on his life and political direction.

Thank You God for this unexpected news! Please use Tony Abbott as a voice for Your will and purpose in the Australian parliament. And is it too much to ask that the next Prime Minister of Australia might be this man, that he may uphold the glory of your Name among the nations? Amem.

Just bragging... and a health update

As of this morning, I have lost over 20kg in just over a year, since I began my quest to return to the weight I was before I gave birth to four children in four years. That's 44 pounds, for my friends in the US. My weight has been hovering up and down for the last few months, but I have finally broken the barrier of my previous weight loss low. *Doing a happy dance*

Although, while I am on the topic of health, yesterday Jeff was diagnosed with mild asthma (he had juvenile asthma as a child) and Abigail was diagnosed with "yes, that's definitely an asthma wheeze". (And I was prescribed a course of prednisolone to help my preventer medication to work better.) So the current status is 5 out of 6 of our family members have been diagnosed with asthma in the last three months. 4 out of 6 have non-mild (but still readily manageable) asthma. Now we just have to get Anna to the doctor, as I suspect she has it as well.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Meyer and her Plain Folks

And while we're on the topic of propaganda, has anyone noticed how blatant Stephenie Meyer is in her use of the Plain Folks technique? She's been using it from the beginning to the end of these books, in comments such as these:
"A huge thank you to... my online family, the talented staff and writers at fansofrealitytv.com..." (from Twilight's Acknowledgements page.)
"And thanks also to my favourite band, the very aptly named Muse, for providing a saga's worth of inspiration." (from Breaking Dawn's Dedication page.)
Not to mention in her (now removed) MySpace site and her ringing endorsement of fansites such as TwilightLexicon.com.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

The TwiSaga: a pre-evangelistic treatise for Mormonism?

***Edit: This post seems to be generating a steady stream of interest, now almost a year after I wrote it. If you are interested in LDS connections to these books, you might be interested in reading some of my other posts on the Twilight books (click on the TWILIGHT SAGA tag at the end of this post), or you may wish to visit the Hogwarts Professor's Twilight category of posts. If you are looking for a great deal more detail, particularly if you are planning to teach on the topic, can I suggest you read Spotlight: A close-up look at the artistry and meaning of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga by John Granger (the aforementioned "Hogwarts Professor"). Sandra L Gravett's short book from Twilight to Breaking Dawn: Religious themes in the Twilight Saga is also helpful, although it deals mainly with broader Christian metaphorical typing and allusion, with little reference to the specifically LDS perspectives. Both books are available through Amazon and other retailers.***


***Edit: You might be interested to know that the author of the article I am responding to in this post has commented, and I have responded below her comment.***

Aha! The secret has become public! A Mormon has written an article for The West Australian newspaper's "Agenda" segment today explaining some of the most obvious Mormonisms of the Twilight series: "Being a vampire means being powerful, strong and beautiful, with a generous helping of unearned wealth. For Meyer's family of vampires, it also offers a number of payoffs offered by religion, in particular, the Mormon brand: Eternal Life, Eternal Family and Eternal Love." Nothing like sparing use of the propaganda technique of Transfer, is there?

Not only that, the article's author actually went so far as to use Twilight's Mormonisms as a hook to invite readers who can't get enough of the books to "pop in one Sunday to your local Mormon church. They won't bite."

The last two paragraphs in full:
"And while women are beyond exactly placing themselves in Bella's shoes, Edward is the man they want for their husband/boyfriend/ next internet date. Danger arises when, without another Twilight book to read, life begins to feel empty. Readers want to prolong the experience but I believe Stephenie Meyer will resist the temptation to extend the story.
She'll leave Bella and Edward where they belong, deep in the dream of Happily Ever After. Escape your ordinary world in other ways - see the film of New Moon, read the fanfiction on Twilighted.net, or pop in one Sunday to your local Mormon church. They won't bite."
Anyone looking for an exemplar of the Lesser of Two Evils propaganda technique?

I've been waiting for this moment to arrive since I first read the comment below on a Normal Mormon Husbands blog post (it is currently the first of 153 comments on that post). Sandy wrote [my emphasis]:
"Do you think that would work as a missionary line? 'We would like to tell you about a wonderful plan for your family to be together forever...and you DON'T even have to suck their blood! Would you like to hear more?'"

It seems the New Moon movie was just popular enough for Mormons to start deciding they should capitalise on the pre-evangelistic treatise that the Twilight Saga may provide. Or given the imminent release of John Granger's book Spotlight, which will expose and explain many of the Mormon metaphors in the Twilight books next month, perhaps certain LDS members feel they should take what evangelistic opportunities they can before Meyer's insistence that the books have nothing to do with her Mormon faith is shown to be complete codswallop.

Or... could the article be a one-off that just somehow managed to get past The West's editors since they needed something to publish in response to the phenomenal box office achievements of New Moon and someone just happened to hand them this piece? I can't work it out. The West's website can't find the article for me, no matter which way I search. The author "Melissa O'Shea", who is apparently real enough for Bill Hatto to photograph her for the piece, is curiously unable to be found by google. (The piece's photographer Bill Hatto is on google. Even I am on google! How in all the sticky wwweb can someone be published in a state newspaper and have a PhD and remain hidden from google???) And while we are on the topic of PhDs, who (according to the author bio at the end of the two-page article) "has a PhD in writing" from an unspecified university?

Perhaps the LDS church aren't so ready to admit to Twilight's religious metaphors after all...

Since it is so mysteriously missing from online sources elsewhere, I am going to include a scan of the piece here, for your elucidation:(Click on the image and then zoom in to read the text yourself.)

[I use "Mormon" in this post because that is the word that was used in the article I am commenting on. Stephenie Meyer is a Latter-day Saint, or "LDS", a member of the largest church that, together with other groups tracing their religious roots back to Joseph Smith Jr, are collectively are known as Mormons.]

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Philippians 2 kids' story & colouring picture

Paul and Timothy wrote to the church in Philippi
(Link to: Philippians 1 kids' stuff)
Paul wanted Christians to work together in love, without complaining - Philippians 2
[This illustration is an original drawing by my dear friend "Chrissie D", one of the ladies from our church fellowship. Isn't she talented? I have only uploaded a 200x235pixel image, because although I think her drawing is wonderful, she owns the copyright, not me. If you love it and would like to use it with your own children or in a church kids ministry, please leave a comment. I'll ask "Chrissie D" if she wants to allow a full image to be available for download to interested parties, and get back to you.]

Do you remember the letter that Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi?

In the letter, Paul told the Philippians how they should live. He didn’t tell them all the things they should do in one big list. He didn’t tell them, “Get dressed each morning and then make your beds before you have breakfast.” Oh no! Paul knew that the Philippians already knew to do all those sorts of things.

But Paul wanted to teach the Philippians about the way they should treat other Christians, Paul wrote to the Philippians about how they should behave towards each other.

One of the things Paul wrote was that the Philippian Christians should be “like-minded”. Paul didn’t want them to argue. Paul wanted Christians to believe the same things about God, so that they would agree about other things. Then Christians would work together. Paul wrote that the Holy Spirit would help them to be united, to work together as one.
What do you do together with your friends? Do you argue, or try to agree?

Paul also wrote that the Philippian Christians should have the same love. Paul meant that they should all love God, our Father in Heaven. And they should all love Jesus Christ, God’s Son. And they should also love all the other Christians. That’s a lot of love! Paul knew that if Christians love God with all their hearts, then they also love each other.
Who do you love? How do you show them you love them?

Paul wrote one more thing. Paul didn’t want Christians to be selfish. Paul wrote that the Philippian Christians should always be thinking about other people, and what was good for them. Paul wanted the Christians to be like Jesus Christ! Paul told the Philippians Christians that they should not complain, nor whinge, nor grumble. Paul told them something amazing. He wrote that when other people saw how they didn’t complain, it would be as if they were shining like stars! Their love for each other would shine out, and other people would praise God because of it.
What could you do instead of complaining?

:: God wants Christians to work together in love, without complaining.

> We can choose to agree, rather than arguing.
> We can love God and love each other.
> When we think of others and don’t complain, we will be like shining stars!

WG Bible Study Philippians 3

Links to previous questions: Philippians 1 & Philippians 2.

Questions for Home Study

Friday: Paul’s confidence did not come from what he had done

1. Read Philippians 4:1, 3:1-6

a) Context (4:1) Given the “therefore” in Philippians 4:1, what is Philippians 3 there for?

b) Context (3:1) Why did Paul decide to repeat what he had already written to the Philippians?


c) (3:2) Who does Paul warn the Philippians to watch out for?



d) Can you relate this to the account of the Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-32)?



e) (3:3-6) How is the confidence of Christians different to those who rely upon their own obedience to the Law?



f) Connect What gives you confidence of your salvation?




Saturday: Paul considered what he had lost, and all that Christ has won

2. Read Philippians 3:7-11.

a) (3:7-8) What did Paul consider worthless? What is of utmost importance?



b) Connect What have you given up, because knowing Jesus left no room for it in your life?




c) (3:9) Where (or Who) does righteousness come from?



d) (3:10-11) What did Paul hope for and desire?



e) Connect What Christian blessings do you look forward to receiving?


Sunday: Church!

3. How did the teaching or preaching you listened to today complement what you are learning from Philippians this week?





Monday: Paul presses on

4. Read Philippians 3:12-17.

a) (3:12-14) Also read Philippians 2:12-13. Paul knows he cannot win salvation for himself, and he knows that Christ has already won his salvation. Yet he still presses on. Why?



b) Connect What do you do to “press on toward the goal … heavenward”?




c) (3:15) Considering all that Paul has written in Philippians 3:1-14, what “view of things” should those who are mature take?



d) (3:16-17) What three pieces of advice does Paul give, in these verses, for standing firm?



e) Connect Who would be a good - godly - example for you to follow?




Tuesday: Paul contrasted the enemies of the cross with citizens of heaven

5. Read Philippians 3:18-21.

a) (3:18) How does relying upon obedience to the Law make a person an enemy of the cross?



b) (3:19) How did Paul describe the enemies of the cross? (Use your own words.)



c) (3:20-21) In contrast, what did Paul say about citizens of heaven?



d) Connect How are you living: as an enemy of the cross, or a citizen of heaven?


Wednesday: Review

6. Re-read Philippians 3.

a) What was the main thing you learnt from Philippians 3 this week about how you, as a Christian, should live?





b) What was the main thing you learnt from Philippians 3 this week about resurrection from death, or about heaven?





Thursday: Women’s Gathering!

7. In your Prayer Triplet: Pray that we will know that Jesus Christ has done all that is necessary for our salvation, and that we will do all that is possible for our sanctification.

Toilet Training Sammy

I know it is not going to fascinate everyone who reads this blog, but I want to record how Sam's toilet training is progressing for posterity. Please feel free to ignore this post if the intricacies of toilet training do not appeal.

I've been waiting for a good time to begin, and this week, now Anna is at away-school and the weather is warming back up again, seems as good a time as any.

Tuesday
We began with the frequent trips to the toile, mini chocolate rewards for dry and clean undies, and a further reward for wee in the toilet. Sam began the day with three accidents in his brand new (well, second hand) bog boy undies. The fourth time he got as far as the toilet room before weeing on the floor. I count that as a success. After that, from 9:30am onwards, Sam was dry all day, with all wee in the toilet. Including being dry through his afternoon nap! This was a completely unexpected development, as it has never happened before.

Wednesday
After one accident first thing after breakfast, I took Sam on the school run to drop off Joshua and Anna. He made it all the way there and through a short trip to the shops to buy nappy undies before wetting his pants on the 2min drive to mainly music at church. Alas! After transferring Sam into a new pair of nappy undies, we joined in the mainly music program, to Sam's delight. (Normally we are at BSF on Wednesday mornings, so we miss out.) Sam stayed dry throughout the morning, including asking me to take him to the church toilet and even taking himself on one occasion. Actually, Sam stayed dry throughout almost the entire day, including his nap, again. After his nap, he astonished me with doing a poo in the toilet as well. Hooray! We took Sam to the shops for the requisite donut reward (a family tradition since Josh struggled so much with doing poos anywhere other than his undies). Sam had one accident in the evening, but it seemed like he was going very well.

Thursday
This morning was hectic; I woke up at 6:50am realising that both of the kids' school uniforms were still wet (albeit clean) in the washing machine since I forgot to hang them up last night. So I began the morning taking care of that (it was sunny & the uniforms dried in the hour before the kids had to leave) and forgot Sam's toilet training with the rest of the pre-school rush. (Ugh!) Sam had four accidents before I was able to give him enough attention to get him back on track. And then he was in with the other kids at Women's Gathering this morning of course, happily in nappy undies since he did not keep them dry. I took him home for lunch and since then he has stayed dry, including his nap and another trip to school to pick up the bigger kids. A little bit of my attention to frequency of his trips to the "littlest room" and he seems to be able to keep the ball rolling, so to speak.

But tomorrow is another day. At least we will be at home all day. We'll see how Sam continues. He has already chosen a Batman dress up costume for his 3 Days Completely Dry and Clean Reward, whenever he earns it.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A New Moon rises

The movie of Stephenie Meyer's novel New Moon hit cinemas this weekend and created an awfully big crater, by all accounts. Not everyone was expecting the first night's box office to break even Perth boy Heath Ledger's posthumous Dark Knight takings. But it happened. New Moon took $72.7million in its domestic market in the first night of showing, which of course doesn't include the $10 that yours truly paid to see it Saturday night, two nights after it was released here in Australia.

I went to see the movie with two friends who have also read all four of Meyer's Twilight novels. So what do I think?

I was impressed that the script stayed fairly close to the books, and the places where it differed were generally not important to the story line or the several levels of interpretation one may see in it. I liked it more than the Twilight Movie for that reason, although cramming 500+ pages of novel into a two-and-a-quarter hour movie did leave me feeling a bit like I’d been run over by a Mack truck. I suspect if I hadn’t read the books several times, I’d have been as mystified by the reason for the romance(s) as I was when I saw Twilight for the first time (at that stage, I hadn’t read the books).

I have to say, Pattison’s eyebrow furrowings didn’t impress me in the first movie, and they frustrated me even more in New Moon. Does the man know of no other way of portraying emotion? He needs to watch a few episodes of Lie to Me!

There were at least four references to Romeo and Juliet, the classic that Meyer has said she based her second novel upon. They included the initial quote from the book’s epigraph, as a voice over at the beginning; Bella waking with the book on her pillow; and a scene where her English class watched the movie (not just Eddie and Bells at the Swan residence as in the book – one of the differences where the book story was changed but not significantly).Edward not only mentions his envy of Romeo but also, when called upon by the teacher, quotes pertinent lines from Romeo extensively. Weitz, the director, has obviously noted the importance of the literary references throughout the TwiSaga.

All four of Bella’s falls are portrayed, although the fall into the subterranean passage leading to the Volturi stronghold is minimised. No “Edward let me fall. … Alice’s waiting arms caught me.” (p458) There is an precious uncomfortable & awkward scene in an elevator instead – one of the best acted mini-scenes in the movie, I felt.

The heart-wrenching agony that Bella suffers is portrayed, but lacks depth and believability because while Kristen Stewart’s acting has improved since Twilight, it hasn’t improved nearly enough to inspire any level of pathos, or even empathy. It consists mostly of Bella thrashing around on her bed tortured by nightmares (no sobbing, just sudden hysterical screams) or staring blankly out of windows. The latter would have portrayed Bella’s zombie-state hole-in-the-heart nicely if it wasn’t for her apparent ability to narrate one-sided conversations with Alice and send them to Alice’s no-longer-useable email address. If only Stewart’s acting was as good as her makeup!
Lautner’s portrayal of Jacob – an overgrown teenager with a boyish face but the body of a man – seems fitting, if lacking the polish of more experienced actors. Jacob’s tortured “I’m not good” echoes Edward’s “What if I’m the bad guy?” sufficiently to illuminate their parallels.
The mystery of Victoria is resolved far too quickly. I guess they had to skip over something to keep the movie from taking longer to watch than the book does to read.

The vampires were well portrayed. Obviously someone had read Breaking Dawn and some of Meyer’s backstory explanations provided for fans, because the different personalities of the Triumvirate were clear. If anything, the throne room set was not gothic enough.Dakota Fanning, who plays Jane, is immaculate in her characterisation. The scene where she attempts to inflict pain on Bella’s shielded mind shows a masterful use of minimal facial expression – especially in contrast to Pattison’s pervasive eyebrow theatrics.

As Bella, Edward and Alice exit the Volturi throne room, the "food" arrives in what I thought was a missed moment. Two kids were in the group, a shocking inclusion (for me, anyway being a mum to four small kids) that owes nothing to Meyer. And absent was the confused woman gripping the rosary (p482). She is the one necessary inclusion in the group in the book because she clarifies the allegorical connection between the Volturi and the Catholic church, manifesting the LDS position that Catholics are apostate (& therefore their religion will only lead their naive followers to eternal death).

I've only touched on some of the symbolism inherent in the books here. You can find my previous TwiSaga posts under the Twilight Saga label. I'd like to post more, but I'll never make promises. So if you want to read more intelligent discussion about the TwiSaga and New Moon, enough to understand the movie & novel as something more than a love triangle between Plain Jane, a Vampire and a Werewolf, you need to check out what John Granger, the Forks High School Professor has to say. He's rapidly becoming my hero with regard to plumbing the literary depths of the TwiSaga.

So what do you think of New Moon?

An afternoon of quotes

Abgaili: "Anna, If you give me some of your money I will give you some of my money and ... you can marry Billy* Batman."

Later, Samuel: "I want be Abi's Super Hero."

*Name changed to protect the innocent...

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Asthma update

Since Joshua was diagnosed with asthma in the winter of this year, Samuel has been as well. He was having strong coughing fits that made him go red in the face, early in the morning and late at night, which the doctor said were classic asthma symptoms in kids. Since Sam has been taking a preventer puffer and a reliever occasionally, he has had much less coughing, and no huge red-in-the-face attacks.

So I have been reading here and there about asthma in kids. Last week I read an article that warned that changes in weather (such as sudden downpours of rain after a series of warm sunny days) and high levels of pollen in Spring can be an asthma trigger for kids and adults as well. I've been watching for the symptoms in the girls... and beginning to wonder if the intermittent coughing I have had along with Josh, Sam and Abi this last week were all signs of Spring asthma.
Two nights ago, I woke up with a prolonged heavy coughing fit. I have a slight stuffy nose at the moment that might be hayfever or a cold. So I asked Jeff to get me the boys’ puffer, reasoning that ventolin wouldn't work if my coughing wasn't asthma-related, but it would work a lot faster or better than cough medicine if it was asthma. I had six puffs (Josh’s basic dose for when he is having an attack) and only coughed twice after that. I could feel my lungs filling better even as I inhaled from the puffer! I figured that was a convincing evidence I do have it.

Then yesterday morning I got home after taking Anna and Josh to school, and started to play tickles with Abi and Sam, only to find myself out of breath and panting after a ridiculously short time. It’s not like tickling my kids is a very strenuous activity – it’s them wriggling and struggling not to laugh, not me. I stopped the tickling to sit down thinking I might be having an asthma attack and I should rest. But within seconds I went from a little pant to totally struggling for breath. Jeff came in just then and realised I was motioning to him for the puffer – I could scarcely get the words out through heaving breaths – and he got it for me. Four deep puffs and I could breathe completely normally again. What a relief!

All that morning I felt a bit shaky, but I think that was the after affects of the adrenalin from the attack. It made me cry at the time. I know it is the adrenalin, but knowing doesn’t help with dealing with its after-effects! Then all yesterday I was fairly out of it with a light-sensitive headache (perhaps related to a low level of oxygen to my brain?) and general weakness and fragility. Jeff had to come and work from home to let me recover, so the kids wouldn't overwhelm me with their enthusiasm for life.

I went to our GP in the afternoon and he prescribed a Flixotide preventer (the boys have a Seretide preventer) with 2 puffs taken twice a day. I should also take the same Asmol reliever as the boys have, up to four times a day as I need it. At least I can take it straight from the puffer without needing to carry a spacer everywhere with me.

I am so glad that Joshua was diagnosed with asthma right when he was sick with the flu and we took him in to hospital for that. I can’t imagine how we would have dealt with his “classic” attack a fortnight ago or my attack yesterday if we had not already know about the presence of asthma in our family and had the reliever medication right here. I might not have appreciated our seven (!!) visits to PMH emergency this year at the time, but at least I know that God has protected us from something much worse.

Thank You God for your grace to me in this!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Post #555

Ahem... This post is Number 555. It was going to be #500 but that just didn't happen. So in honour of the occasion, I am revealing five things about me that you probably didn't know and may never have guessed. Here we go:

First Thing About Me
I once liked eating mud.
Second Thing About Me
I wrote poetry as a teenager, and one of my poems was published in real poetry anthology, which was even named after my poem! Mind you, it was published a dozen years ago now and I can't find it for sale anywhere online... I can only find it on ISBNDB. Very disappointing. Well, someone has it for sale on ebay, if you want a copy. I have one already, gratis.Just in case you'd like a teaser... I Like Doing Bombers off the Jetty is a "breath length poem", so you need to take a deep breath and read the first stanza all at once without pausing to take a breath, if you can. Here are the first two stanzas, my favourites:

I like doing bombers off the jetty when the tide's right & the day's hot & the water's cold & a small school of white bait has just swum under the jetty & into the sun so I can land on top of them & scatter all the fish & when I bob up all I can see through lids closed to keep out the salt sea sting is white froth & bubbles everywhere.
I also like the minister's son.


Third Thing About Me
I caught the bouquet at a wedding where I was chief bridesmaid (thanks Inara!) and was married within nine months to a man I had never met before catching the bouquet. Sometimes old wives' tales do come true!Err... just in case you are wondering, that new man in my life was Jeff, the father of our four children, to whom I have now been married for nine years.This photo was taken shortly after we were engaged, seven weeks after we met.
(And in a pleasant addition to this memory, I now wear this same dress to church, since having lost so much weight over the last year, it now fits me again for the first time in most of our marriage.)

Fourth Thing About Me
I have a Graduate Diploma of Education.I worked teaching kids maths, science and even IT in secondary school for six years before I "retired" to mother my own class-ful.

Fifth Thing About Me
I also have a tattoo. When my father first saw it - on the day of my wedding - his first comment was, "Good thing you're going to be his problem from now on!" And I once had my tongue pierced. Now you know why my father made that comment!For the record, I took the stud out shortly before Jeff and I were married. Three reasons:
(1) In playing with the stud, I found that I was knocking it against my teeth a lot, and eventually I managed to chip one or two.
(2) Having something large and rigid stuck through the middle of your tongue changes the way you speak. I found that I was developing a somewhat physiologically-, somewhat psychologically-influenced stutter, which was getting worse. I have had the stud out for ten times longer than I had it in now, but I still stutter once in a blue moon, and I never did before I had it in.
(3) Since Jeff was the only person I'd be kissing (or at least, to use a word I learnt in the schoolyard, "pashing") from now on, I asked him whether he preferred it in or out. Jeff voted for out. So it went.
The tattoo remains.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Philippians 1 kids' story & colouring picture

Paul and Timothy wrote to the church in Philippi
Paul was in prison, but he could still tell people about Jesus - Philippians 1
[This illustration is an original drawing by my dear friend "Chrissie D", one of the ladies from our church fellowship. Isn't she talented? I have only uploaded a 200x267pixel image, because although I think her drawing is wonderful, she owns the copyright, not me. If you love it and would like to use it with your own children or in a church kids ministry, please leave a comment. I'll ask "Chrissie D" if she wants to allow a full image to be available for download to interested parties, and get back to you.]

Do you remember the Philippians who Paul, Timothy, Silas and Luke told about Jesus?

Paul met Lydia by the river, and when she heard the good news about Jesus, she told her whole household, and they became Christians as well!

Later, Paul and Silas were in jail, and the jailer asked them how he could be saved. When the jailer heard the way to be saved through faith in Jesus, he told his whole family. All of the jailer’s family became Christians too!

It was a long time later that Paul was in prison again. This time he was in Rome, and he was being kept in chains. The chains kept Paul from going where he wanted. The chains kept Paul from seeing or talking to whomever he liked. But Paul was still thinking about telling people about Jesus.

While he was in prison, Paul remembered how the Philippians had been his partners in telling people about Jesus. As soon as Paul had told the Philippians about Jesus, they had told other people, and the good news about Jesus had spread and spread.
So Paul wrote a letter to the Philippians, letting them know he was thinking of them. Paul told them how he prayed thanking God for them. Paul thanked God for them telling others about Jesus.

But Paul knew that the Philippians might be frightened if they heard he was in prison again. So he wrote to encourage them to have joy. Paul told the Philippians that even though he was in prison, he could still tell people about Jesus. Paul couldn’t talk to people outside the prison, but the guards had to stay near to him, so he was able to talk to them about Jesus all the time! And they knew that it was because of his work for Jesus that Paul was in prison.

Paul wrote to let the Philippians know that when other people found out that Paul was in prison, they became braver and told even more people about Jesus! They were not frightened that they might be put in prison. Instead, Paul said these people were courageous and fearless.

Paul was filled with joy at the thought that so many people were hearing about Jesus, even though he was in prison.

:: Even when a bad thing happens, God can make good come out of it.

> We can try to see the good that God is bringing, just like Paul did.
> We can always tell people about Jesus, no matter what!
> Then we can thank God and have real joy.