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Engagement-6

“Getting engaged is a bit like tandem skydiving. You take a leap, and if your partner isn’t with you at the end then you know things have gone very badly.”

I just searched the internet for quotes about getting engaged because I thought that’d be a good way to start a blog post about getting engaged. I couldn’t find any that weren’t just really mushy, so I made one up ’cause I don’t like mushy. Of course if you can’t be mushy about getting engaged, when can you be? I’ll keep considering that one. For now, let me tell how it all came about.

You may remember that last year I got a girlfriend. This was pretty darn exciting. Emily is her name and she’s lovely and beautiful. How’s that for mushy?

Within about 10 hours of officially beginning our relationship I said to her, “You know this relationship is either going to end in us breaking up, or getting married, so let’s date in a way that we can do both well.” Or something like that. I stole that idea from a Christian book I read as a teenager about how evil dating is. It was probably one of it’s few pieces of advice I thought worth remembering. So we decided to date in a way that one way or another we leave the other person better than we found them. It also meant that right from the get-go marriage was on the cards just as much as breaking-up was. Talk about high stakes dating. We did however make a decision not to actually talk seriously about marriage for at least six months.

We lasted five and a half.

Life planning forced us to have the conversation a little early, but happily, we both were keen to work towards marriage. We started doing things that might help us know if we actually should get married: prayer, talking to wise people, marriage preparation surveys and mentoring, budgets, and stuff like that. We even went and bought a ring. This led to our most tense day ever, but we got through it with careful conversations and McDonald’s. This is probably going to be the key to our future success as a couple.

After all our pre-engagement preparation we still liked each other, so all that was needed now was to actually get engaged.

On New Years Eve I made an appointment to see Emily’s dad. It was so important an occasion I put on a collared shirt. I was a little nervous, as evidenced by the video I recorded just before I went it:

I was planning on making more videos during the process but I never got around to it.

Happily the collared shirt worked and he said “Yes”. Actually it was more like “I can’t stop you” which is a vote of confidence if ever I’ve heard one.

It was time to find a day to get engaged. I started making plans which meant a little bit of Googling and then giving up and thinking “I’ll just take the first opportunity I see.”

I saw the first opportunity the next day. We had decided to go and take photos of some sandstone bridges in the Blue Mountains. I thought I’d find some excuse to set up my camera in a nice spot, make it start taking photos automatically, and then I’d propose. It was going to be grand.

We headed up the mountains, found our first stone bridge. It was small, and there was another couple there, who may have just got engaged, or may have just smoked a bong. It was hard to tell. We decided to not to hang around, I decided not to propose there.

We went in search of lunch. It was New Years Day, so nothing was open. We had to go hungry, and sometimes hungry equals grumpy.

We went off looking for another bridge I’d heard about, a big, tall, sandstone bridge. We found it. It was quite lovely. It was part of an old, closed road. It looked kinda post-apocalyptic, which is my favourite look, for pretty much anything. I suggested we might want to get a few photos on top of the bridge later, I thought I should plant the idea just in case I decided to propose up there.

We found our way under the bridge, it was tall and magnificent, but I didn’t get many good photos.

Tall Bridge, but no romance in that weed infested base.

Tall Bridge, but no romance in that weed infested base.

Under the bridge there were no good places for proposing. At least not with the camera clicking away. I decided on top of the bridge was probably best.

I suggested we set up the camera to take some photos and then run down the bridge looking terrified. Later on Em, seeing as she’s a photoshop boss, could photoshop in some zombies. It’d be totally cool. I set up the camera, slipped the ring in my pocket and then we tried the zombie run.

Just add zombies

Just add zombies

We did the run a few times and each time I thought “I have to ask her now” and then I’d get scared and not do it. After about five runs down the bridge Em was getting pretty sick of it. She said “Alright, this is the last time.”

I thought “Bugger. I have to do it now!”

So when we got to the end of the bridge, I got down on my knees, grabbed her hand and said “Emily, my darling, I have loved you since the day we met. Your heart is like a precious jewel, you words are like a symphony, your face is like sunshine. I cannot live without you. I want to spend eternity with you. Will you marry me?”

The moment she realised what was happening.

The moment she realised what was happening.

Actually I didn’t. I got down on one knee, and then two, because I was nervous and couldn’t remember what I was meant to do with my knees. I then grabbed the wrong hand, and said something like “Um, I was wondering, if you might be willing to marry me?” It wasn’t a great speech.

She said something like “What? No. This isn’t happening now. Oh my goodness.”

I responded with “I have a ring I think you might like.”

She said “You have the wrong hand.”

Then I offered her the ring.

She was impressed by the bling.

She was impressed by the box.

She said a lot of other stuff, which neither of us can remember. But somewhere in there she said “Yes.”

I put the ring on her finger.

Engagement-11

Then we hugged and kissed and were happy. It was beautiful.

Hugging, kissing and being happy.

Hugging, kissing and being happy.

After that I would like to say we basked in the joy of choosing to spend the rest of our lives together. We did, for maybe five minutes. We then started discussing how to put our pre-planned social media campaign into action.

We took a photo to SMS to our friends and family:

Borded at Engagement

Borded at Engagement

We then took a few more photos, then decided to go back to my place to call and SMS our loved ones, and film our announcement video. We may also have hugged and kissed and giggled a few more times.

Back at my house we made some phone calls, shot the video, the headed out as we had a dinner to get to. We were meeting a bunch of friends to have dinner before going to see The Hobbit. The dinner got turned into an impromptu engagement party. It was lovely to have a bunch of people I love around to celebrate with.

We headed off to the film, then went back to Em’s to edit the video and get it ready for uploading it in the morning. This is what we came up with:

We finished the night praying together, which, for me, was one of the most special parts of the day. As much as I love that Em loves me, and as much as I love so many things about her, what I love most is that she loves Jesus more than she loves me. So for us to pray together, for our engagement, for our wedding, and for our marriage that was excellent. She is amazing, Jesus is better. I’m so very thankful for it all.

I drove home tired, happy, and determined never to get engaged again.

School Life

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I spend so much of my life in schools. Sometimes it has some excellent moments. Sometimes less excellent, mostly because I say stupid things. Here are some highlights of “skool lyf”:

- I get called “Sir” all the time these days. I’m definitely not a sir but I’ll take it.
- On Tuesday as I was walking into a school a kid who knew me saw and said “There he is! What a serial killer!” I’m not sure if that was a compliment or a comment that I’m a creepy man who hangs around schools.
- Today I was giving a talk and I was talking about dreams I said “I don’t know about you but I don’t often have dreams that make sense. Like I often dream that I turn up to school naked, and I don’t even go to school.” This sounded less illegal in my head.
- I love it that in primary school kids run everywhere. There is no reason to run, but they always run. And then the teachers shout at them and tell them to stop running. I think I should spend more of my life running places with unnecessary haste. It seems fun.
- I sit through more school assemblies than any person should once they’ve left school. Mothers love to take photos of their children receiving merit awards on their smart phones or with their SLR. I can’t imagine any of these photos are ever worth looking at again. I think they should just watch their kid get their award with own eyes, smile and clap. That seems more encouraging for the child than seeing their parent turn up be not be present because their too focused on useless photography.
- Turns out teachers are real people. School taught me many things but it never really taught me that.
- Sometimes I see teachers in their academic gowns. It always excites me. I should get some, and a wand. Then I’d be awesome.

My Church is Real! It has a Website!

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recom website banner

So I’ve been slaving away in 30 minute segments, here and there, for the last few months to get a website happening for Recom, my church.

Now, finally, it is done! Recom.org.au

You can look at the pretty photos taken by Mark White. You can read some blog posts about how the church has begun, or how I got a parking fine the other day, it’s thrilling.

You should go have a look. Then send it to your friends, especially the ones who are looking for a church in North-West Sydney.

Oh and while you’re at it, go like us on Facebook. It all helps.

God commits Electoral Fraud

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So I’m getting excited about the upcoming election. If only because I like voting. Just filling out voting forms and putting them in the cardboard boxes is fun.

Unfortunately this year, as every year, my vote isn’t going to count. Not really. ‘Cause I’m pretty sure, in the end, God is in charge and I’m not going to vote for God. Not that I wouldn’t vote for God, he’s just not on the ballot. Even though there are Christian parties, I am quite sure that voting for the Christian parties is not a vote for God.

What does give me hope is that whoever wins tomorrow, even if the country goes down the toilet, which is a distinct possibility it seems (I’ve been paying attention to all those electoral ads), God still gets his job done. He has an agenda, and no political party is going to screw it up for him. If he can keep building his kingdom in anti-religious authoritarian states, and he can keep calling people to himself in selfish, rich western democracies, then I’m pretty sure he can make any political situation work for himself.

So while I’m not too excited about my voting options tomorrow, I’m pretty happy that my ideal candidate has already used his overwhelming influence to steal the election.

Who is your favourite Bible character?

Jesus. Obviously.

However, seeing as Jesus is obvious, I’ll tell you about my second favourite.

Ehud.

You can read about him in Judges 3:12-30.

I love Ehud for a number of reasons, but mainly because he’s like an action hero. He is a tricky left-handed man who liberates his country when things are going badly. Israel is being ruled over by a fat, foreign king. Ehud, while paying tribute to the king, uses the opportunity to get the king alone with the promise of secrets, and then stab the king in his fat belly. The king, responds to this extreme invasion of his personal space by simultaneously dying and pooing himself. Ehud locks the king’s doors and then escapes through the porch. The kings servants can smell the poo and think the king is just dropping a big one, giving Ehud time to escape before his assassination is discovered. Ehud then leads an army to free Israel from their foreign oppressors.

It’s a great story made up of two of my favourite things in stories, action and poo jokes. That is why Ehud is my favourite character.

If you’re interested in hearing me preach on Ehud, you can go to this post from my preaching blog and you’ll be able to hear it all (the link to the audio is at the bottom). There are many juvenile jokes in that sermon, plus you can see why Ehud is pretty much Jesus.

This is post is part of the Blogging by Request series. To make your suggestion of what I should blog about, go here.

I’m a Racist

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I don’t know if you’re like me, but I’m a racist.

Emily likes to call me a racist sometimes. Like I’ll say something in an absurd Asian accent and she’ll have a go at me for being racist. Personally I think I’m just celebrating the accents of the world. But you can side with her if you want.

On the other hand, I do catch myself having racist thoughts. Not like “I hate the Japanese”. I don’t. I like the Japanese.

My racism is more like this: I’ll find myself enjoying some music by a person “of colour” and I’ll think to myself “Ahh, Tom, you are enjoying music from some black people. You are so obviously not racist.” Which of course is racist. Were I not a racist, I wouldn’t need to congratulate myself for being so open minded.

Or I’ll see some bad driving, notice the driver is Asian, (Are they also of colour? That doesn’t work because everyone who is not white is of colour, which seems racist to me) and I’ll think to myself “Their driving is terrible, they are also Asian, but it’s probably not because they’re Asian that their driving is terrible, I bet there are Asians who drive well also.” Racist!

I have noticed bad driving from non-Asians before and I haven’t thought to myself “Their driving is terrible, they’re also white…” I just think “What did you do that for, idiot?!”

I’m so racist that I even congratulate myself for not discriminating against myself for my Jewish heritage. Many people over the years have hated on the Jews, but I don’t. I’m so open minded and loving of all people that I even love the quarter of myself that is Jewish.

I haven’t quite figured out how to stop being a racist. Because I want to keep loving races. Running races, and political races, but mainly human races, who are, you know, part of the human race. It’d be silly to pretend that all races are the same, and that Pacific Islanders aren’t generally built to play rugby better than say, me. Or that Asian babies aren’t often very cute, or that Latinos can’t dance better than me and it may be because of their DNA (I’m sure that’s science).

I don’t want to be so politically correct that I don’t care about what colour people are. I do care what colour a person is, because colours are good. I would rather a person’s race, or colour, or background, or gender, or sexual orientation were not seen as an opportunity for me to congratulate myself on how I treat people who appear to be different to me. I would prefer to just enjoy all the ways their differences make the world richer, because their differences are not about me.

But I may never learn how to do that, because I’m a racist.

Sappy New Love

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I wrote this a few weeks ago and have been sitting on it. Probably not to overwhelm my readers with too many posts. Now however, you get to read my sappy new love post.

I know that a few of you (women readers) have requested a sappy love post. Which I guess I’m willing to oblige. But only because I’m currently in the early stages of romance, and willing to do stupid things that my future cynical self will regret.

However I’m not really all that keen on telling you everything there is to know about my lady friend and how we got together. That may be a story for another day. But probably it’ll just be a story for real life.

But I will tell you what I’m finding interesting about being in a new relationship.

A lot of what I’m finding interesting is how much singleness tempered my view of my life. Somewhere along the way I moved from being reluctantly willing to be single if it was God’s will, to being willing to be single, to planning my life and shaping my relationship to the world around my singleness.

I spent less and less time preparing myself for being in a relationship, and more and more time training myself to be content in Jesus. Which is a worthy pursuit for any person really. But I was doing it especially in regards to relationships. I would remind myself of the benefits to God’s kingdom of singleness. And would think about how to be a productive single in the world, especially where most Christians my age are married and procreating and managing their procreations.

All this means that now I’m in a relationship, it’s taken me completely by surprise. Usually any voluntary significant life shift is preceded by thinking, planning, deciding and committing. This felt more like “There’s a girl, she’s great, we like each other, we’re gonna go out, we’re going out, wahoo! Oh, I’m not single anymore.” Now I’m left trying to sort out how you do this relationship thing when I’ve spent the past few years of my life trying to do the singleness thing.

However while I say I hadn’t thought much about being in a relationship I had spent a lot of time thinking about marriage. Over the past few years I’ve done a lot of sermons on sex, I’ve preached at a lot of weddings, and I’ve done a few bits and pieces on singleness. This has meant that I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage. How does one do marriage? What’s its purpose in God’s plan? Is it good? How do you celebrate marriage as a single person?

Seeing as I’ve had that also in my head, I now see that a lot of my paradigm for dating comes out of my view of marriage. If the role of the man in marriage is to love his wife as Christ loves the church then my role in dating is to mirror that love in an appropriate way. To serve my girlfriend as Christ has served me.

Right now, it’s not too hard. At least it seems to go alright from my end. I’m so excited about her that I’ll do anything. Nothing is a chore. Everything is an honour. And she can do almost no wrong. So serving, and loving, they’re easy.

I know that this state of new love though will not last. Unless we’re the most extraordinary couple in the history of the world, things are going to get harder at some point. So I’m excited about establishing the habits of love and service now that will find their true worth when my selfishness is trying to assert itself in the relationship.

The danger in all this thinking about dating through the lens of marriage is that dating is not marriage. In many ways that’s obvious. But I’m sure the temptation when thinking about dating this way is that you can hold on to a dating relationship tighter than you should. The commitment of dating is not till death do us part. And it shouldn’t even be till the person I’m dating becomes someone I don’t want to date anymore. It should be, at least for the Christian, till it is better for our love of Christ and our service of his Kingdom that we are apart.

I’m sure that sounds terribly unromantic, that the needs of the Kingdom should trump the desires of the couple, but Christ always comes first.

When getting into this relationship, I had one or two minor freak-outs about losing my effectiveness in the kingdom because I got into a relationship. I started saying to myself regularly: “Christ my sufficiency; the kingdom my priority.” I wanted to remind myself that the sufficiency in Jesus that I was seeking in singleness is the same sufficiency I’m seeing when in a relationship. The same commitment to the kingdom I was cultivating by myself, needs to characterise my dating relationship.

If we can both work on our Christ sufficiency and kingdom priority, then hopefully we will both emerge from the other end of this, married or single, more complete in Christ and more committed to his work than we were when we entered. If that happens then this will have been a fruitful relationship.

She’s great. Christ is better. Building our relationship is excellent. Building the kingdom is better.

Christ our sufficiency, the kingdom our priority.

May

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Last time I had a month where I didn’t blog, I gave you iPhone photos. Let’s try that again.

Here’s what I did in May. In photos.

May01

In May I learnt what Cinco de Mayo was all about. This, obviously.

May02

I also got a cake. I enjoyed it but did a poor job of eating it as I live by myself and people rarely visit me. Not complaining. Just a fact that makes cake consumption hard.

May03

I went to a preaching conference. It was pretty good. We sat in the sun and ate lunch. But most of the time we sat inside and learnt how to teach the Bible well. I learnt stuff. Like on of the the best ways to learn the meaning of a passage is to apply it to your life, then you will discover more of what it means. Simple, yet brillent. Also I don’t need to know Greek to live out the teaching of then Bible. Though, arguably, living the teaching is harder than learning Greek.

May04

I ate some excellent meals, thanks to Aldi.

May05

The lady friend and I tried to get up the mountains to take photos of the sunrise on multiple occasions. We didn’t make it. We made it for sunset though. This causes her to look good and me to look creepy.

May06

I saw this sign in the shops.

May07

I saw this sunrise and felt like I should have been up the mountains with my girlfriend looking creepy and not on my way to work.

May08

I found an abandoned unicorn and emotirubbished it.

May09

I took a selfie in some women’s glasses.

May10

I spoke on a camp up the mountains. It was quite cold. But I talked about Jesus and he is quite excellent.

May11

I took a selfie in some guy’s hair.

May12

I stood on some carpet.

May13

I found some escalators, and photographed them.

May14

I got some text messages.

May15

I poured a can of Solo into an easter egg. For work. Because my job is awesome.

May16

I went to Westfield and ate lunch next to some fake grass with some real sun.

And there you have it. That’s May. It was one of the best months I’ve had in a while. Thanks for watching.

Not Single

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So I got a girlfriend the other day. That was a good day.

I want to save you all the sappy “new love” stuff, so let’s just skip straight to the relationship gripes.

The worst thing about having a girlfriend is that my entire repertoire of sad, creepy, single man humour is lost to me. I’d been developing that for years. Now all I have is inadequate, newbie boyfriend humour, and that won’t last long. Then I have inadequate medium/long-term boyfriend humour, and that’s pretty much every non-single man’s joke bread-and-butter.

They say relationships are about sacrifice, but I totally forgot to count the cost to my comedy routines.

If you’re wondering, the best thing about having a girlfriend is she’s awesome. I would have liked to have been able to add that the best thing is also that we get to sync calendars, but she uses a paper diary and you can’t sync them with anyone. Still it’s probably for the best. It’s way too early to be syncing calendars. That’s a level of intimacy our relationship is not yet ready for. I think syncing calendars is probably up there with pet names, hosting dinner parties, and public fights in the shops, and we’re not ready for any of them.

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