How to Love…

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I’ve had an idea! A cute one.  Want to see?

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-1-22-18-pm

We had a family meeting, and I asked everyone to list the things that make them feel loved. My family are very tolerant of my goal-setting, list-making, live-on-purpose crazy ol’ ideas, so they got right down to it.

There were a few surprises in there, and I’m excited that we can display this little list and start consciously checking that we are all doing the things that make others in the family feel loved.

This is not the ACTUAL list, obviously, because I didn’t want a mutiny when I posted everyone’s private stuff on the internet.  But examples of the things I wrote include; being greeted at the door, having cups of tea made for me, being listened to, hearing “thanks” for things done for others, offers to carry things, and .. there’s a thing the Chicklette does when I’m really undone and beyond consolation. She melts dark chocolate and brings it to me in a bowl with a spoon and a mini spatula. I wrote this on the list of things that make me feel loved, and I’m thinking about going over it with one of those fluro highlighters..

I created the doc in Pages, but I’ve put it here as a Word doc as I’m guessing it will be more accessible. If you download it, you should be able to insert names instead of “Child one”, and fill in the proper list of what your people come up with. If you have boys, go up to  “edit” when your file is open, scroll to the bottom of the options, click “emoji and symbols” and choose something that excites them more than a pink flower 🙂 🐲🐳🍭🍕⚾️🎸🎯🎨🚜⚓️

Let me know if you try this with your crew 🙂

how-to-love

A Secret, O.F.Walton, and a Timely Reminder About Things I’m Inclined To Forget

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A very dear friend, Amy, shared a little secret recently that gave me pause for thought.  It was not long before I left for holidays (a time notorious for allowing a person to think about the deeper issues of life) that this matter was bought to my attention.  It was the answer to one of life’s great questions: but  I’ll let you wander over to Amy’s blog to discover for yourself just what that secret was – but folks…it was disturbing!

my little corner, o.f.waltonAnother Amy, Mrs O.F.Walton, back in 1872 wrote “My Little Corner”, which  I was pre-reading  for my daughter while I was away.    I have read many of her writings, and all previously have been about children, for children.  Imagine my surprise when the narrator of the story, also the protagonist, was a married woman with children.  The story was a vehicle, if you will, for the writer to share her thoughts on being a wife, mother, and Christian with her readers in a fictional setting.

In the beginning of the story the narrator tells how she fell into poor habits of wasting time gossiping with neighbours, to the neglect of her children, husband and house work.  She is brought to a place of reform after her neglect of her duty results in a very tragic loss.  While the story at that point was a little dramatic, and I am not in the habit of neglecting my children’s physical safety, none the less it caused me to ask myself if I am doing my best for my family?

I am prone to wasting time doing things.  None of the activities are of themselves evil, be it reading, playing on my computer, taking photographs, exercising, selling books, or even the (shocking but true) occasional bouts of domesticity that result in the family living in fear of messing up my clean house.  But at these times I am absent.

I need to find joy in making my activities more serving oriented, and  I need to be more emotionally available.  This is my new “home from holidays” challenge!

While I was away, my friend from India sent me a song to listen to. I don’t have the skill to upload just the song, so I will share the youtube version with you.  The man is actually singing about his father, but the question “is there someone you are loving while taking for granted?” begs asking.  I think I love my whole world in that manner.  It’s not that I have the emotional energy to love everyone as though it may be my last day with them (that’s fatiguing just to think of!) but, I could stand to be more thoughtful, gentle, and to make more of an effort to express my love for those I love!

I’ll leave you with this offering from the 70’s…

Spotlighting, Prison Breaks, and I’ll take a Slice of Humble Pie, Thanks.

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plumed-egret

I’m not sure what it is about driving around the country shining lights in the eyes of unsuspecting wildlife, but I love doing it.  This past weekend  it had been wet, so we didn’t want to go too far off the beaten track.

I remembered a patch of bush maybe forty minutes drive from our house, which would enable us to stay on sealed roads. It just so happens that there was a prison nearby.

On realizing this, my husband was reluctant to let us spotlight.  The conversation went something like this:

“See, I told you there was a great patch of bush here.”

“You can’t spotlight here: there’s a prison across the road.”

“So?”

“There’s a prison across the road!”

At this point Mr BB explained to his (apparently) slow witted wife that the prison security would think it was very suspicious that a 4WD was travelling slowly along the road shining spotlights into the bush.  I argued that it is highly unlikely that if I was planning to bust my criminal buddies out of jail, that I would bring along my four little girls and announce my presence to the world by shining spotlights into the bush across the road.  Seriously. (rolls her eyes in derision)

It was not a busy road, I had no intention of aiding or abetting a fugitive of the law, and I really thought it would be a great place to spot for owls, so this argument, ah,  discussion went on for the entire length of the prison property. I would consider myself a normally mild mannered, submissive wife (cough!) but in this instance, I really felt Mr BB was being a little pedantic.

That is, until we were pulled over by security.  Did I mention that I finally wore Mr BB down?  He was protesting even as we began to search the bush just beyond the borders of the prison property, when we were stopped by a man with a torch and a gun.  Yes, a gun.

Who would have thought?

Poor Mr BB.  How I laughed!  I am a terrible wife, but the take home lesson was that sometimes, just sometimes, when I am convinced I am right and that he is being just plain silly, there’s a good chance that…I’m wrong! 😛

Because he is such a generous soul, he talked us out of that rather embarrassing situation, and even consented to take the advice of the security guard concerning a likely place to try spotlighting.  We did see a lovely Nightjar and some roosting Egrets, but it’s the real lesson that I won’t forget in a hurry.

tawyn-frog-mouth

Nature Study, and Other, More Important Lessons

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Koala

Koala

Spontaneous. Just the word makes me nervous.

My husband works twelve to fourteen hour days, often six days a week, and rarely uses his annual leave.  Out of the blue on Monday, he announced he wasn’t going to work.

What? (I was too shocked to be more gracious in my speech)

He spent the morning downstairs recording (using garage band) with our daughters.  At 11am, he announced that a day at the beach would be good.

WHAT? (too shocked and incredulous to think of a new way of expressing my shock and incredulity!)

I am a plan-aholic. A hyper planner, if you will.  With four children, I consider intentions to perform an outing to the beach require two days notice in writing. Normally I would have protested, become mildly flustered, and generally expressed that the day would have been a lot better spent if I had been given notice that the man of the house had wild plans to ditch Algebra, Latin, Music practice, and (almost more importantly) laundry: Monday is washing day!  I could have re-scheduled my week, could have…blah, blah, blah….

But I am aiming to grow old with my husband. This time, just for something fresh and unusual, I held my tongue. (I could show you the bite marks, but that wouldn’t be lady like 😉 )

An hour later we were all packed with picnic supplies, baby stuff, togs, and such essential items.  En route to the beach, it occurred to me that we would be going past a particularly interesting area of state forest.  Without so much as blinking an eye, my husband agreed to the plan, and bush exploring it was.

wallaby-and-joey1

Wallaby and Joey

 

After a couple of hours exploring the reserve, it was off to the beach. In the course of the day, we observed koalas, wallabies, kookaburras, grandmother’s cloak moths, soldier crabs, ibis, terns and sea gulls.  But by far the most important observation for me was that spontaneity is not as evil as I once thought it; that as a result of my husband’s off the cuff decision to head out for the day, we all had a glorious time.  I observed how generously my husband agreed to deviate from the original suggestion of heading directly to the beach, and contrasted it to what would have been my reaction if the plans had changed so suddenly (hint: it wouldn’t be pretty 😉 )

I have previously equated spontaneity with disorganization –  which is almost akin to grave moral depravity 😉  Would the day have turned out better if I had known of the plans sooner and had more time to prepare?  I can’t imagine it would have made the slightest difference.

 

Big sister introduces baby to the joys of scuttling, crunchy, soldier crabs.

Big sister introduces baby to the joys of scuttling, crunchy, soldier crabs.

Are Therapists Just Expensive Friends?

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Here is a little something to think about if you are considering paying large sums of money for the privilege of professional counselling.

“The Case Against Psychotherapy,” by Lawrence Stevens, J.D.

“What we need are more kindly friends and fewer professionals.”

– Jeffrey Masson, Ph.D., his book Against Therapy (Atheneum, 1988, p. XV)The best person to talk with about your problems in life usually is a good friend. It has been said, “Therapists are expensive friends.” Likewise, friends are inexpensive “therapists”.

Contrary to popular belief, and contrary to propaganda by mental health professionals, the training of psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals does little or nothing to make them better equipped as counselors or “therapists”. It might seem logical for formal credentials like a Ph.D. in psychology or a psychiatrist’s M.D. or D.O. degree or a social worker’s M.S.W. degree to suggest a certain amount of competence on his or her part. The truth, however, is more often the opposite:

In general, the less a person who is offering his or her services as a counselor has in the way of formal credentials, the more likely he or she is to be a good counselor, since such a counselor has only competence (not credentials) to stand on.

Generally, the best person for you to talk with is a person who has worked himself or herself through the same problems you face in the nitty-gritty of life. You usually will benefit if you avoid the “professionals” who claim their value comes from their years of academic study or professional training.
When I asked a licensed social worker with a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) degree who shortly before had been employed in a psychiatric hospital whether she thought the psychiatrists she worked with had any special insight into people or their problems her answer was a resounding no. I asked the same question of a judge who had extensive experience with psychiatrists in his courtroom, and he gave me the same answer and made the point just as emphatically. Similarly, I sought an opinion from a high school teacher who worked as a counselor helping young people overcome addiction or habituation to pleasure drugs who both as a teacher and as a drug counselor had considerable experience with psychiatrists and people who consult them. I asked him if he felt psychiatrists have more understanding of human nature or human problems than himself or other people who are not mental health professionals. He thought a few moments and then replied, “No, as a matter of fact, I don’t.”

In his book Against Therapy, a critique of psychotherapy published in 1988, psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson, Ph.D., speaks of what he calls “The myth of training” of psychotherapists. He says: “Therapists usually boast of their ‘expertise,’ the ‘elaborate training’ they have undergone. When discussing competence, one often hears phrases like ‘he has been well trained,’ or ‘he has had specialized training.’ People are rather vague about the nature of psychotherapy training, and therapists rarely encourage their patients to ask in any detail. They don’t for a good reason: often their training is very modest. … The most elaborate and lengthy training programs are the classic psychoanalytic ones, but this is not because of the amount of material that has to be covered. I spent eight years in my psychoanalytic training. In retrospect, I feel I could have learned the basic ideas in about eight hours of concentrated reading” (Atheneum/Macmillan Co., p. 248).

Sometimes even psychiatrists and psychologists themselves will admit they have no particular expertise. Some of these admissions have come from people I have known as friends who happened to be practicing psychologists. Illustrative are the remarks of one Ph.D. psychologist who told me how amazed members of his family were that people would pay him $50 an hour just to discuss their problems with him. He admitted it really didn’t make any sense, since they could do the same thing with lots of other people for free. “Of course,” he said, “I’m still going to go to my office tomorrow and collect $50 an hour for talking with people.” Due to inflation, today the cost is usually higher than $50 per hour.

In his book The Reign of Error, published in 1984, psychiatrist Lee Coleman, M.D., says “psychiatrists have no valid scientific tools or expertise” (Beacon Press, p. ix).

Garth Wood, M.D., a British psychiatrist, included the following statements in his book The Myth of Neurosis published in 1986: “Popularly it is believed that psychiatrists have the ability to ‘see into our minds,’ to understand the workings of the psyche, and possibly even to predict our future behavior. In reality, of course, they possess no such skills. … In truth there are very few illnesses in psychiatry, and even fewer successful treatments … in the postulating of hypothetical psychological and biochemical causative processes, psychiatrists have tended to lay a smokescreen over the indubitable fact that in the real world it is not hard either to recognize or to treat the large majority of psychiatric illnesses. It would take the intelligent layman a long weekend to learn how to do it” (Harper & Row, 1986, p. 28-30; emphasis in original).

A cover article in Time magazine in 1979 titled “Psychiatry’s Depression” made this observation: “Psychiatrists themselves acknowledge that their profession often smacks of modern alchemy – full of jargon, obfuscation and mystification, but precious little real knowledge” (“Psychiatry on the Couch”, Time magazine, April 2, 1979, p. 74).

I once asked a social worker employed as a counselor for troubled adolescents whose background included individual and family counselling if she felt the training and education she received as part of her M.S.W. degree made her more qualified to do her job than she would have been without it. She told me a part of her wanted to say yes, because after all, she had put a lot of time and effort into her education and training. She also mentioned a few minor benefits of having received the training. She concluded, however, “Most of the things I’ve done I think I could have done without the education.”

Most mental health professionals however have an understandable emotional or mental block when it comes to admitting they have devoted, actually wasted, several years of their lives in graduate or professional education and are no more able to understand or help people than they were when they started. Many know it and won’t, or will only rarely, admit it to others. Some cannot even admit it to themselves.

Hans J. Eysenck, Ph.D., is a psychology professor at the University of London. In the December 1988 issue of Psychology Today magazine, the magazine’s senior editor described Dr. Eysenck as “one of the world’s best-known and most respected psychologists” (p. 27). This highly regarded psychologist states this conclusion about psychotherapy: “I have argued in the past and quoted numerous experiments in support of these arguments, that there is little evidence for the practical efficacy of psychotherapy…the evidence on which these views are based is quite strong and is growing in strength every year” (“Learning Theory and Behavior Therapy”, in Behavior Therapy and the Neuroses, Pergamon Press, 1960, p. 4). Dr. Eysenck said that in 1960. In 1983 he said this: “The effectiveness of psychotherapy has always been the specter at the wedding feast, where thousands of psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, clinical psychologists, social workers, and others celebrate the happy event and pay no heed to the need for evidence for the premature crystallization of their spurious orthodoxies” (“The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy: The Specter at the Feast”, The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 6, p. 290).

In The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth About the New Psychology, (Crossway Books, 1985) William Kirk Kilpatrick, a professor of educational psychology at Boston College, argues that we have attributed expertise to psychologists that they do not possess.

In 1983 three psychology professors at Wesleyan University in Connecticut published an article in The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, a professional journal, titled “An analysis of psychotherapy versus placebo studies”. The abstract of the article ends with these words: “…there is no evidence that the benefits of psychotherapy are greater than those of placebo treatment” (Leslie Prioleau, et al., Vol. 6, p. 275).

George R. Bach, Ph.D., a psychologist, and coauthor Ronald M. Deutsch, in their book Pairing, make this observation: “There are not enough therapists to listen even to a tiny fraction of these couples, and, besides, the therapy is not too successful. Popular impression to the contrary, when therapists, such as marriage counselors, hold meetings, one primary topic almost invariably is: why is their therapy effective in only a minority of cases?” (Peter H. Wyden, Inc., 1970, p. 9; emphasis in original).

In his book What’s Wrong With the Mental Health Movement, K. Edward Renner, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana, makes this observation in his chapter titled “Psychotherapy”: “When control groups are included, those patients recover to the same extent as those patients receiving treatment. …The enthusiastic belief expressed by therapists about their effectiveness, in spite of the negative results, illustrates the problem of the therapist who must make important human decisions many times each day. He is in a very awkward position unless he believes in what he is doing” (Nelson-Hall Publishers, 1975, pp. 138-139; emphasis in original).

An example of this occurred at the psychiatric clinic at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Oakland, California. Of 150 persons who sought psychotherapy, all were placed in psychotherapy except for 23 who were placed on a waiting list. After six months, doctors checked on those placed on the waiting list to see how much better the people receiving psychotherapy were doing than those receiving none. Instead, the authors of the study found that “The therapy patients did not improve significantly more than did the waiting list controls” (Martin L. Gross, The Psychological Society, Random House, 1978, p. 18).

In the second edition of his book Is Alcoholism Hereditary?, published in 1988, Donald W. Goodwin, M.D., says “There is hardly any scientific evidence that psychotherapy for alcoholism or any other condition helps anyone” (Ballantine Books, 1988, p. 180).

British psychiatrist Garth Wood, M.D., criticizes modern day “psychotherapy” in his book The Myth of Neurosis published in 1986 with these words: “These misguided myth-makers have encouraged us to believe that the infinite mysteries of the mind are as amenable to their professed expertise as plumbing or an automobile engine. This is rubbish. In fact these talk therapists, practitioners of cosmetic psychiatry, have no relevant training or skills in the art of living life. It is remarkable that they have fooled us for so long. … Cowed by their status as men of science, deferring to their academic titles, bewitched by the initials after their names, we, the gullible, lap up their pretentious nonsense as if it were the gospel truth. We must learn to recognize them for what they are – possessors of no special knowledge of the human psyche, who have, nonetheless, chosen to earn their living from the dissemination of the myth that they do indeed know how the mind works” (pp. 2-3).

The superiority of conversation with friends over professional psychotherapy is illustrated in the remarks of a woman interviewed by Barbara Gordon in a book published in 1988: “For Francesca, psychotherapy was a mixed blessing. ‘It helps, but not nearly as much as a few intense, good friends,’ she said. ‘…I pay a therapist to listen to me, and at the end of forty-five minutes he says, ‘That’s all the time we have; we’ll continue next week.’ A friend, on the other hand, you can call any hour and say, ‘I need to talk to you.’ They’re there, and they really love you and want to help.” In an interview with another woman on the same page of the same book, Ms. Gordon was told this, referring to pain from losing a husband: “Good shrinks can probably deal with it; the two I went to didn’t help” (Barbara Gordon, Jennifer Fever, Harper & Row, 1988, p. 132).

The June 1986 issue of Science 86 magazine included an article by Bernie Zilbergeld, a psychologist, suggesting that “we’re hooked on therapy when talking to a friend might do as well.” He cited a Vanderbilt University study that compared professional “psychotherapy” with discussing one’s problems with interested but untrained persons: “Young men with garden variety neuroses were assigned to one of two groups of therapists. The first consisted of the best professional psychotherapists in the area, with an average 23 years of experience; the second group was made up of college professors with reputations of being good people to talk to but with no training in psychotherapy. Therapists and professors saw their clients for no more than 25 hours. The results: “Patients undergoing psychotherapy with college professors showed … quantitatively as much improvement as patients treated by experienced professional psychotherapists” (p. 48). Zilbergeld pointed out that “the Vanderbilt study mentioned earlier is far from the only one debunking the claims of professional superiority” (ibid, p. 50).

Martin L. Gross, a member of the faculty of The New School For Social Research and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Social History at New York University, has argued that “the concept that a man who is trained in medicine or a Ph.D. in psychology has a special insight into human nature is false” (quoted in “And ACLU Chimes In: Psychiatric Treatment May Be Valueless”, Behavior Today, June 12, 1978, p. 3).

Implicit in the idea of “psychotherapy” is the belief that “psychotherapists” have special skills and special knowledge that are not possessed by other people. In making this argument against “psychotherapy”, I am arguing only that conversation with psychotherapists is no better than conversation with other people. In his defense of psychotherapy in a book published in 1986, psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey makes this argument: “Saying that psychotherapy does not work is like saying that prostitution does not work; those enjoying the benefits of these personal transactions will continue doing so, regardless of what the experts and researchers have to say” (Witchdoctors and Psychiatrists: The Common Roots of Psychotherapy and Its Future, Jason Aronson, Inc., p. 198). If you really are desperate for someone to talk to, then “psychotherapy” may in fact be enjoyable. However, if you have a good network of friends or family who will talk to you confidentially and with your best interests at heart, there is no need for “psychotherapy”. Just as a happily married man or a man with a good sexually intimate relationship with a steady girlfriend is unlikely to have reason to hire a prostitute, people with good friendships with other people are unlikely to need “psychotherapy”.

What if you need information about how to solve a problem your family and friends can’t help you with? In that case usually the best person for you to talk to is someone who has lived through or is living through the same problem you face. Sometimes a good way to find such people is attending meetings of a group organized to deal with the kind of problem you have. Examples (alphabetically) are Alcoholics Anonymous, Alzheimer’s Support groups, Agoraphobia Self-Help groups, Al-Anon (for relatives of alcoholics), Amputee Support groups, Anorexia/Bulimia support groups, The Aphasia Group, Arthritics Caring Together, Children of Alcoholics, Coping With Cancer, Debtors Anonymous, divorce adjustment groups, father’s rights associations (for divorced men), Gamblers Anonymous, herpes support and social groups such as HELP, Mothers Without Custody, Nar-Anon (for relatives of narcotics abusers), Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Parents Anonymous, Parents in Shared Custodies, Parents Without Partners, Potsmokers Anonymous, Resolve, Inc., (a support group that deals with the problems of infertility and miscarriage), Shopaholics Ltd., singles groups, Smokers Anonymous, The Stuttering Support Group, women’s groups, and unwed mothers assistance organizations.

Local newspapers often have listings of meetings of such organizations. Someone who is a comrade with problems similar to yours and who has accordingly spent much of his or her life trying to find solutions for those problems is far more likely to know the best way for you to deal with your situation than a “professional” who supposedly is an expert at solving all kinds of problems for all kinds of people. The myth of professional psychotherapy training and skill is so widespread, however, that you may find people you meet in self-help groups will recommend or refer you to a particular psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker. If you hear this, remember what you read (above) in this pamphlet and disregard these recommendations and referrals and get whatever counselling you need from nonprofessional people in the group who have direct experience in their own lives with the kind of problem that troubles you. You will probably get better advice and – importantly – you will avoid psychiatric stigma.

In their book A New Guide To Rational Living, Albert Ellis, Ph.D., a New York City psychologist, and Robert A. Harper, Ph.D., say they follow “an educational rather than a psychodynamic or a medical model of psychotherapy” (Wilshire Book Co., 1975, p. 219). In his book Get Ready, Get Set…Prepare to Make Psychotherapy A Successful Experience For You, psychotherapist and psychology professor Harvey L. Saxton, Ph.D., writes: “What is psychotherapy? Psychotherapy is simply a matter of reeducation. Reeducation implies letting go of the outmoded and learning the new and workable. Patients, in one sense, are like students; they need the capacity and willingness to engage in the process of relearning” (University Press of America, 1993, p. 1). In their book When Talk Is Not Cheap, Or How To Find the Right Therapist When You Don’t Know Where To Begin, psychotherapist Mandy Aftel, M.A., and Professor Robin Lakoff, Ph.D., say “Therapy…is a form of education” (Warner Books, 1985, p. 29).

Since so-called psychotherapy is a form of education, not therapy, you need not a doctor or therapist but a person who is qualified to educate in the area of living in which you are having difficulty. The place to look for someone to talk to is where you are likely to find someone who has this knowledge. Someone whose claim to expertise is a “professional” psychotherapy training program rarely if ever is the person who can best advise you.

THE AUTHOR, Lawrence Stevens, is a lawyer whose practice has included representing psychiatric “patients”. His pamphlets are not copyrighted. You are invited to make copies for distribution to those who you think will benefit.

The Accolade

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Painted by Edmond Blair Leighton in 1901, The Accolade is one picture it could take me a long time to tire of viewing. If I owned the original, I may never leave the house again.

I am not given to great introspection regarding the why’s of my taste in art, but in describing my enjoyment of this picture to a friend recently, the question has continued to plague me.  Why do I like it so much?

My original suspicion was that I have not conquered my delight in all things “girl power”, and the idea of having men kneel to a woman in authority was still appealing.  On further thought, a contrary line of reasoning presented.

What I actually like about it, is the picture of chivalry.  After all, is he not pledging to serve and protect? To lay down his life if need arises? What I desire from the picture is not the power to rule over the man, but the freely offered, potential sacrifice of his life. Who doesn’t want that kind of devotion? What greater love is there?  I would chose it over arbitrary power any day of the week.

 

King of the castle

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Homeschoolers have a thing about homesteading. Maybe it is because we are home to enjoy all that space, maybe it’s because we are prone to being a little alternative (there’s a surprise, eh?) or perhaps we really do have that bunker mentality we are sometimes accused of.

Whichever the case, I have long been one of those who hanker after land. My husband is challenged to understand why I drool over 200 acre properties in the middle of nowhere. “What would you do with it all?” he asks, bemused.

Well..? Roll on it, lie on it, throw my arms out and shout, “It’s mine, mine mine!”

Yes, I am that mature.

A recent conversation with two friends made me think again. Friend A asked me if I was still looking for a larger property? ” Yes,” I replied, “but not holding out too much hope.”

I don’t want to ask my husband to go into enormous debt to satisfy my land hunger, neither do I want to live in a rundown old shack (my sense of adventure is waning as I approach my dotage).

“Oh,” she exclaims, “You need to pray the prayer of Jabez”. This followed by an explanation of how specifically I should be praying for God to give me more.

Friend B quietly turned to me and said, “I am so glad to have a house.” She elaborated. Living in Germany, the best she could hope for was to rent a tiny apartment. When they arrived in Australia and settled in Sydney, it was a stretch to rent a three bedroom unit.

At just a few years older than me, this dear woman had purchased her first house, a small, modest house by most standards, but it has a yard, and it is hers (and her husbands!), somewhere her five children can live and grow.

In the same gentle way she shared with me that although there were aspects of the home that were far from perfect, it didn’t really matter. After all, as a Christian, this was not her real home. It was just for a little while.

How humbled I was to listen to this voice of Godly wisdom. While there are times I think life without a verandah is a burden indeed, and I cringe when we have guests and they have to stand three deep in our tiny lounge room, my house is by no means unlivable. In fact some parts of it are quite lovely.

While I could follow the seemingly Christian advice of friend A to pray for bigger and better, I think the still, small voice was in the gentle reminder to be grateful for what I have now.

What a blessing that friend was to me.