Australia is the best country in the world…?

I love my country. Sometimes I marvel at how I’ve won the lottery of life, being born here in the lucky country, the land of opportunity.

When I started travelling, I realised that my passport is one of my most precious possessions. Wherever I go in the world, I carry the golden ticket: a document saying I belong in Australia – that they will always let me come home.

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But recently something has changed.

I was talking to a new friend who grew up in Iran. As a teenager, he left a war-torn country, having witnessed unbelievable horrors, for a new life in Australia.

He worked hard to overcome barriers of language and culture. He studied late into the night, earned a degree, and won a government job. You’d think he’d had it made, but it broke my heart when he said that if he ever had children, he wouldn’t raise them here. He’d rather take them back to the war-torn Middle East than put them through the daily racism he faces. After twelve years, he still feels like an outsider – ignored, bullied, excluded, slapped with religious slurs – even though he’s never been Muslim. For the first time, I felt ashamed to be Australian.

I look at our indigenous people, who, according to the UN, have the second worst quality of life in the world, and I wonder about our lucky country.

Australia is the best country in the world… for me. But I’m not the only one who lives here.

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No offense… but I’m about to say something really offensive

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Do you get nervous when someone starts their sentence with ‘no offense?’ I do. It’s like the perfect guilt-free segue into something truly offensive.

It was rife when I was a teenager, and I cringe to hear that it’s still around.

No offense, but that jumper looks way better on her.

No offense, but your life is pretty boring

No offense, but it’s not like you’re that smart

Woah, you probably shouldn’t be eating that… but, like, no offense

No offense, but I don’t think he’d go for you. Sorry, just saying…

Well maybe just don’t say. Because your ‘sorry not sorry’ isn’t working for me. Or for anyone for that matter.

So, before you throw out a casual ‘no offense,’ think about what you’re actually saying: “I want to say whatever horrible thing comes into my mind, but before I feel bad about it, I’ll qualify it and erase my guilt. Cos, I mean, it’s not my fault if you got offended when I told you not to!”

 Honey, we all want you to know something: You’re offensive. And your attempts at masking it aren’t working.

7 Ways You Can Help People Welcome You Into Their Church

welcomeStarting at a new church is undoubtedly tough, but there are definitely challenges on both sides.

No one doubts the importance of being a welcoming church, but what about being an easily ‘welcomable’ person?

Here are a few things that really make it easier for a church to embrace you!

  1. Come consistently. If someone sees you several weeks in a row, they’ll start to realize that you’re serious about connecting.
  2. Don’t leave as soon as the service ends.  If you want people to be welcoming, you need to be available.
  3. Say yes to invites. People who say no give the vibe that they’re not interested. It can be nerve-wracking for someone to extend an invitation to someone they don’t know. Getting a no can feel like rejection and makes them less inclined to ask again.
  4. Join a small group or Bible study. This is how people in big churches get to know each other. If you’re not in one, don’t be surprised if you feel out of the loop.
  5. Get involved in ministry. This is one of the best ways for you to connect with people and sends a message that you’re actually planning to stick around
  6. Make yourself known! There’s nothing wrong with going up to someone and letting them know you’re new. Especially in a big church, people can be afraid to ask in case you’ve been coming for a long time!
  7. Realize that good friendships take time to cultivate.

Paying it Forward

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Several years ago I really wrestled with having some friends who were able to offer me so much more than I could offer them. They were a young couple who had an abundance of gifts and abilities. The wife used to get me hugely discounted designer clothes, and sew up couture items for me. She’d do my waxing at cost price and buy my hair products from the wholesaler. When I moved out of home, she went through her kitchen and stocked me up with utensils, appliances and a fry pan. I was always welcome in their home, and the husband did electrical work for me, fixed my car, and installed my CD player.

I was overwhelmed by their friendship and generosity and I was discouraged as I looked at my own skills: Teaching. Writing. Reading. What could I possibly do for them? This never bothered them, they just appreciated my friendship, but it bothered me, until I spoke to dad.

He reflected on a couple who was able to help him when he was younger. He was never able to repay them, but, down the track, he was in a position to help others when they had need. Effectively, he paid it forward.

In recent years, I have had many opportunities to help others in various ways. When they say they ‘owe me,’ I remember the friends who did so much for me, and I tell them they owe me nothing; that one day they can pay it forward.

The Lighter side of Singleness

I am so blessed to have an array of fabulous single friends to do life with. On occasion we get a laugh out of sharing memes which celebrate the awesome side of singleness, and make us laugh at the depressing side. I hope you all get a kick out of these.
P.S. If you’re NOT single, PLEASE tread carefully before sending these to a single person!! It’s kinda like being black… there are certain things you can only say to each other!

single-friendship-ecard-someecardsI have a couple of friends I’d like to send this one to… let’s just say, I haven’t yet!

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facebook_-1636470038I love this one ONLY because I don’t like cats and have no intentions of becoming the ‘crazy cat lady’ that friends like to tease me about.
If you do, however, fall into the ‘crazy cat lady’ basket, I hold no animosity towards you or your cats.

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married-single-fun-party-weekend-ecards-someecardsAhh the married people who constantly remind you how fortunate you are to be single… bless them.

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facebook_-3881639111This theory gets 100x more disturbing when you’re a school teacher…

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facebook_-514669080This is one of my favourites. I know all you parents love having your kids. But I really love not having them!

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begin-awkward-friendship-ecard-someecards*

what-do-smart-girls-getA lovely (or perhaps not so lovely depending on my mood) male friend sent this one to me. Well at least he think’s I’m smart.

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MjAxMi01YmFmMGUzMDM4ZjU1NTAy_516f0d83937efYou know, believe it or not, despite the ups and downs and difficulties of being single, sometimes this one really does ring true.

Being single isn’t always easy, but it’s a unique, blessed and precious stage of life. If you’re living it, have a laugh and enjoy it while you can, because chances are, one day someone will come along who will interfere with it!