27 Aug 2015


This free app should carry some sort of warning. It is not free at all. It costs you hours and hours of your life. I have downloaded then scrubbed it from my phone on 4 separate occasions. It is an OCDers dream slash nightmare.

Remember Tetris? It's just like that, but without gravity. You place blocks within a 10x10 square grid, then once a row or line of 10 is complete, it disappears. If you are smart / lucky, you can clear multiple rows or columns at once eg:

L: Orange block is placed in bottom right corner
R: Both the completed horizontal and vertical lines disappear at once. Boom!

After realising the true cost of this game I repent, screenshot my current high score*, scrub it off my phone, then a few months later I cave and download it again because:
• we are planning a long trip in the car
• I get the flu
• I kid myself I am now mature enough to make sound gaming decisions
• Some other flimsy rationale
And the whole cycle starts again.

I like tidying up actual things that you can touch and read and trip up over. I enjoy putting things away where they belong or reorganising them so the space in the room works better. This character trait is the nearest thing I have to explaining why 1010 affects me the way it does. It's like tidying up a never ending supply of pixels in the most minimalistic way possible. I have this fantastic notion that if I manage to clear the game board completely the blocks will stop appearing. Although this has actually happened twice and the blocks did not stop. This made me anxious.

And now I have the flu and have ingested many over the counter drugs and am dreaming about a constant stream of objects which need to be tidied up. It's quite exhausting. The virus is totally messing with my brain and the blocks represent real tasks that need to get done- like food shopping and updating a website and taking a shower and answering emails and reading to the kids and some other stuff I can't remember the details of, but in the dream it's really important to do them all.

Sometimes the blocks are so difficult to place I'll struggle for ages thinking I've lost in real life - then suddenly a space is there and wayhey! a whole row disappears and the game plays on. Until I wake up exhausted and sweating and coughing and reaching for the brufen before I've opened my eyes.

But it works out in the end. Both when dreaming and awake. Despite the odds - which makes me think that the block order is not random, but divinely purposed in order that a solution is always possible. Sometimes the blocks are a pure GIFT - the next one fitting in exactly the same spot I was focussed on and clearing 3 lines and 3 columns in one move. Bam! The block giver knew what was needed and gave it. Other times it's far more congested and scary and things are really tight and I think this may be the last round, but I've got to just not panic and remember that gravity has been suspended. Like bullet time in the Matrix, there's time to look around. And even a poor decision now can be overturned with the next set of blocks which will offer an alternative. The game is rigged so I win.

These life lessons are interesting, but not worth it on balance. I should scrub this game off my phone again... after the flu goes...


16 Aug 2015

Distractions and dress code

We are creating a culture of distraction (Joe Kraus)

Unless I'm at the beach or away with work I pretty much live in denim. My jeans are assigned their very own drawer and I wear them in rotation to prevent jealousy in the ranks and maintain an evenness of wear and tear. Slouch, boyfriend, bootleg.... I love them all - jeans are comfy, can be accessorised up or down (mostly down) and don't show the dirt.

Like all things denim, churches come in different varieties too. And like my oldest, comfiest jeans with the hole in the left knee and enough give in the waist to be pulled on / off without undoing the zip, you get comfortable with what you know. There's an expectation and familiarity with favourite jeans. I know how they fit and find comfort in the way my phone fits in the back pocket without either digging into my bum when I sit down or threatning to tumble onto a tiled bathroom floor when I pull them below my knees.

Jeans just work, you know?

But, like wearing a bikini at the beach or a trouser suit while on conference, it's appropriate to wear something different on occasion. And it's probably good to NOT go to your own church on occasion too. Different can be good. Different can teach you what familiarity can't. Having been away from home for 5 weekends in a row and mixing with a wider selection of God-type people than I normally do, I have (re) discovered the following:

• Worship is about glorifying God, not about my preferences

• Lack of responsibility for any part of the meeting is quite liberating

• Even when most elements of a church service are not familiar, the unchanging nature and goodness of God is

• It's quite hard to offend genuine followers of Jesus who welcome honest enquiry

• If God's family can be so diverse within the limited expression of church that I can experience in my teeny tiny lifetime within a finite cross-section of Christendom, then heaven will be indescribably eclectic. (I can just about get my head around people from every tribe, tongue and nation, but talking / singing lifeforms with wings and lots of eyeballs may be a bit distracting for a while).

• I am too easily distracted

Expanding further on this final point (because it's an increasingly prevalent first world problem, plus 5 weeks away gave me lots of material), here are some of the distractions that might get in the way. There are lots more. Please feel free to add your own. The sharing of knowledge is power and all that.

• Unfamiliarity with whole thing
Stupid stuff that regular attenders take for granted can make a visitor feel like an observer rather than a participant. Is there a dress code? What's the order of the service? What expectations or limitations are there that are different to what I'm used to - not because God is limiting or expecting anything necessarily, but the culture within a church is shaped by encouraging / normalising certain things. Or not. Also, under normal circumstances I can plan a sneaky coffee / pee break according to what's coming up next, but as a newbie this is not possible. 

• Feeling conspicuous as a visitor
Especially as several members of our extended family belong here and as such, lots of people already know who I am and some want to speak to me afterwards and I can't remember ANY of their names. That's a fair bit of pressure if you think about it too much. So I don't.

• Arrive late and end up sitting at the front
Rookie mistake. Visiting AND sitting at the front? Forget the bikini- you might as well be naked.

• Worship songs are from a bygone era
This awakens childhood memories, both good and bad, of services dominated by counting the ceiling tiles, doodling flower patterns on the notice sheet and trying to make one packet of wine gums last the whole sermon.

• The worship material contains lyrics which raise theological ponderings
Hmmm - Do I believe in singing to Mary? And if not then is the polite response to sing anyway, not sing at all or just mouth the words? That last one seems like a lie really, so I don't.

• Songs presented in a different style than whe one I am accustomed to 
I shall build my church and it shall involve drum and bass or one of those little church karaoke machines or an 80's electric organ or re-worded Abba lyrics or one man and his acoustic guitar. Oh yes.

• Songs presented by the tone deaf a musician of lower ability
But that's Ok - Make a joyful noise to the Lord. Even if you're at the front. With a mic. And singing in a different key to everyone else in the room. That's absolutely fine.

• No words on the screen for whole songs at a time
Did Windows decide to update just before we got started? Or was this one chosen at the last minute and the techie can't type it in fast enough? Or maybe he's asleep, slumped over the desk at the back. Sometimes it's because the song actually finished a while ago, but the musicians are engaged in free worship between themselves and the first 3 rows. Either way, regular guys here know what's going on but newbie's mind is wandering now...

• And I'm feeling anxious that all the roller blinds down one wall are at different lengths. And the one behind the speaker is squint...
I am not obsessive. I am not obsessive. I am not obsessive.

• Working / hovering at back of big top with radio and ear piece so I can instruct the stewards on when to open which doors or help the medics reach anyone having a panic attack, if required.
So now I'm being paid to be distracted. How do pastors get through a Sunday morning with all these balls in the air?

• Those nearby messing around / not singing / chatting to each other
OK - this affects both home and away games. Rightly or wrongly I am distracted by the behaviour of others. We can help each other to connect with God or make it more difficult for them. Our willingness / unwillingness to engage with what's going on impacts those around us.

• There are no kids in this church and therefore no kids session. And I've brought 2 of mine today. Including the fidgeter.
Oh dear. As the minutes tick by they are increasingly bored and restless. One of them is blowing spit bubbles. I can't work out if it's more distracting to allow this to continue or to ask her to stop. I let it continue as I'm kind of mesmerised by them. Some take ages to pop.

• There IS a kids session (Yay!!) and even though it happens next door, there's colouring in and games at the back of the room from the start.
And kids can access it whenever they want. And they are. No one has to sit with a parent if they don't want to. Kids older than mine are chattering loudly and colouring in and my youngest is distracted herself as she wants to join them. So now I'm distracted because she is.

Missing my church family. I've been in unfamiliar clothes too long and need my jeans with the hole in the knee. (But good to know the bikini still fits).

11 Aug 2015


Post lunch time. We ate in the garden today because it was so gloriously HOT. Table outside has been cleared but kitchen is still a work in progress. Suddenly realise everyone has left me washing up.

Me: Hey - what's going on?
(All 3 of them turn round with lollies in their hands)
E: Madi said that you said we could have ice pops when we'd cleared the table!
Me: No - I said when we'd cleared up. Like in here as well.
(Scowling at Madi and picking up dishcloth): Get it right or you get people into trouble!
Me: Babe - It's fine. She misunderstood, that's all.
E: But now you're annoyed at me because I wasn't given proper information!
Me: I'm not annoyed with you - I'm correcting you because I'm allowed to do that - and you're annoyed at being corrected.
E: (Thinks about this) I'm... not annoyed.
Me: Great - You want to tell your face?