Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas is coming

Emma recently made this creation all on her own as she was caught up with the surrounding decorations in our shopping malls etc. How do we celebrate Christmas, you may wonder? Do we have Santa/Father Christmas? What is the point of it all? Is it just a fun family time?

Christmas is coming and we always enjoy celebrating our Lord's birth as a family at this time of the year. So why don't you take a peek at our new blog "Christmas with Christ" and see what we do at this time of the year. See or go to my profile to find my other blogs, actually two of them belong to two of our children.....take a peek. Erica shares her happy birthday yesterday. And Jo our Master Chef is planning to give you some recipes soon!

Here is my first posting!
For many around the world Christmas is not about Christ... Santa, candy, traditional foods, present giving, beautifully decorated trees etc, etc crowd our lives as commercialism takes over in the bid to make more money out of our silly sentimentalism. Many go into debt, feel lonely and despairing at this time of the year. And quite honestly don't get the point of it all because really there is no point to Christmas with these traditions alone.

As for me Christ is central to Christmas- there is no point in Christmas without Christ and that includes not only his birth but gruesome death too! Just as Christ is the pivotal person in History, so too does Christmas pivot around Christ himself.

Christmas came to us when Christians reacted to heathen traditions and celebrations around them and turned around the course of history around by providing an opportunity to celebrate Christ in a special way. At Christmas we remember the birth of Christ.

I know there are Christians these days who won't celebrate Christmas and I can respect that they are uncomfortable with the way in which Christmas came about. But as for me I love any opportunity to indulge in my love for Christ and to encourage my family to do the same. So not only is Christmas for me a time set aside other things and to draw close to God, it is a time for making memories for my family too. My aim is to bring Christ so close to them that when they are adults and away form home they will see something 'Christmassy' and remember Christ. Remember family and love and warmth and celebrate too, yes. But most of all that they would love Christ. And infuse their children's lives with the love of Christ.

Come with us this year and enjoy our journey as we celebrate Christ!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The greatest artist ever...

I wonder who you think the greatest artist is? Whenever we look at art, go to an art gallery, or an art shop etc we have a family tradition of each person chosing their favourite artist and then explaining why they like that artist best!

Our favourite art gallery here in Brisbane is in Landsborough on the Sunshine Coast. As a contemporary Australian artist, I like Donald Waters best...his art is happy  and full of people. And being a 'people person' I like the characters he portrays. He has a cultural ethnic vibe that I used to feel in NZ and South Africa, but that I don't often feel here. See

Jessica likes Greg Postle the bird artist who often has a twist of humour. And she also finds Brian Wood interesting and enjoys Susan Smidt

Erica likes Robert Hagan's horse pictures and in terms of being a brilliant artist, he truly is the best!

For me though the greatest artist of all time and of all the world is God himself...look around you and see His beautiful creation! See His daily sunrise/sunset, see the new flower bud on a tree, new fruits. Because we are made in His image I think we are able to enjoy beauty and should take pleasure in creating beautiful things too. Now although I enjoy crafts I could not paint to save my life....unless I was 'colouring in' with paint as in folk art painting. But we don't have to be artists to be artstic.


Erica captured this image of the one of the art pieces of our never ending great artist, God. Where ever you look you can find a piece of art if you look hard enough for it. Even in the darkest cell, there is art within our souls and imaginations.

I like Edith Shaeffer's book the Hidden Art of Homemaking. . I have not read it in years and years, I must look at it again. But in principal she sugests that we make our home beautiful at very litttle expense. With 8 children believe you me we fight clutter and mess constantly....CONSTANTLY!

But I am trying to make something beautiful out of everyday things all the time and take pleasure in making things pretty for a moment...I like to make a nice brightly coloured swiss roll stack out of my towels, or I take pleasure in beautifully folded fresh smelling washing. I enjoy a bunch of leaves or flower picked while on a walk to decorate a table or refresh my kitchen with a differnt look. I enjoy litle niknacks that fill little corners with pleasure. Recently I have bought some salt and pepper cellars and thoroughly enjoy them..a cupcakes set, a set of cows and a rooster and hen.

Of course I have enjoyed doing landscape quilting recently too but don't be deterred by this seemingly grand activity....any one can place a few pretty cushions in the right spot or tie back a curtain with the 'just right ' tie back. Everyone has the potential to be artistic in our own way as we reflect the most wonderous creator of all...God!

Here is an interesting and inspring blog post on this topic.


Our society is fascinated with fit and healthy, not to mention skinny. We encourage our kids not to be couch potatoes! We are also busy and seldom eat family meals together three times a day. I believe these cultural ways of living can mask symptoms of Anorexia. Sometimes it is too late before we realise how serious the problem is.

Anorexia is not what we believed it to be last century. Here are some brilliant web sites explaining how we should view Anorexia. I believe every one of us should have a good understanding of it, not just professionals who have to deal with it. Even with my social work background there are big chunks of information that I missed or research that now supports different thinking. Please take the time to look at these web sites. You never know when someone close to you or your family may need you to understand this condition.

Both web sites are really interesting, give it a go!

Do people eat penguin eggs?

11 & 13 Park Road c.1980

My Grandfather Kerkham's book will give you the answer to this question. He tells of the history of early Cape Town, South Africa as he tells his family history of the family coming to Cape Town from England and life in this magnificent city. See . I remember going to photograph the house above with my grandfather as a little girl. Notice Table Mountain just behind! I have very happy memories of picnics in the same spots as mentioned in his book. I also visited Tamberskloof School as a little girl as my uncle was principal there.

I miss having a history and background like this to pass onto my children. It is one of the many sacrifices one makes in the process of immigrating. I will always love Cape Town- it is one of the loveliest cities in the world, if not the loveliest!


Mother at Ye Old Rocky Tree ( my great grandmother)

Father's Clyno Tourer ( My great grandfather)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Getting Political Over Private Midwifery Care in Oz

The government in Australia is not supportive of private midwifery- unlike countries like the UK and NZ. Here is a letter I wrote to go with a group of women tomorrow to meet Julia Gillard. I would have loved to have gone with, unfortunately I have a school trip arranged that cannot be changed.

The Honourable Julia Gillard, MP, Deputy Prime Minister

Dear Ms Gillard
Please let me introduce myself to you, and tell you why I am asking you to amend your government’s legislation, and ensure that midwives are enabled to practise midwifery privately.
I am a mother of 8 children. And have a degree in Social Work, with particular interest in Child Care. I have trained Nannies in partnership with the NZ Polytechnicon and have worked in homes for children in South Africa.

My first two children were born in South Africa, the next four in NZ and two here in Australia. My first child was born in a hospital in very distressing circumstances...extremely rude staff and a male chauvinist doctor, who made it obvious he would rather be home enjoying his weekend. I was stripped of all dignity and respect. The second child was in a private hospital under the care of a private midwife in the most serene and relaxing of circumstances. My labour was cut in half due to my body relaxing with appropriate emotional support.

I then went on to have 4 home births in NZ where the private midwives who, as in the UK, are well respected and have an excellent reputation for exceptional work within medical circles. With each new child my husband and I researched the statistics and medical information for home births and made an educated choice to birth at home as it is a very safe option for healthy Mums.

One of the best aspects of having a private midwife in NZ was that I was so exceptionally well supported in after care. I was one of the fortunate mothers who was surrounded by an excellent support group. But for many mothers in NZ, their post natal care is a life line! Not only was I visited by my community nurse but as soon after my baby was born I was visited on numerous occasions by my midwives and I cannot speak highly enough of this as a preventative program for training inexperienced mothers as well as having the added opportunity they have to seek out and find parenting problems before they can escalate to crisis proportions. When training for Social Work it was drummed into us, “Prevention is Better than Cure” But so often social work these days is putting the ‘band aid’ on after things have gone horribly wrong. Preventative programs not only save families and protect children but in the long run it saves the government time and money as fewer programs are needed for ‘mop up’ work.

Private midwifery is therefore not only about ensuring safe and healthy deliveries, it is about encouraging excellent parenting skills, being close enough to a woman to see warning signs and refer a woman for help if it is needed. This cannot be done with the present state health system. It puts many children at long term risk, I believe. As far as I know there are no community nurses who can visit a mother and baby in their home where there are no know problems....there is no chance of seeing a mother working with her own child in the home environment, unless a problem has already presented- prevention is therefore not a possibility.

For my seventh baby, I was a few weeks short of due date when I arrived in Australia having again had private maternity care in NZ. (Please note that all private midwifery care is free in NZ as it is seen as a basic right for mothers who chose this form of care. The NZ government pays for two private midwives to come to attend a birth. ) When arriving in Australia, I was very; very lucky to get into the Royal Women’s Natural Birthing Unit….it is the next best thing to having a private midwife. There was zero chance of finding a private midwife as I discovered when phoning around.

For my eighth baby I was also booked with the Natural Birthing Unit ( I had passed the screening tests and struck gold in the “ lotto system” of choosing clients, they literally draw your name out of a hat, as so many women vie for this option) Again at the last minute I was left to find new care as I was told that the two midwives who were looking after me were leaving the hospital ( one was retiring and another had personal family reasons for taking long term leave) and I could no longer remain in their care. I was only left with a 'State Hospital Option' as the private hospitals and private obstetricians felt it was too late to take me on. I was devastated as a few months prior a best friend nearly lost her baby in the usual State Hospital System, due to a foreign midwife not understanding the seriousness of her complications. If she had not returned in persistence to the hospital later that day she and her baby could have died, fortunately she saw a better midwife this time and she was rushed in for an Emergency Caesar. I was facing the hurdle of going to the same hospital and hoping I would not receive the same midwife.

Hospitals are for sick and dying people and for me personally not for birthing, unless there is a particular need in pregnancy or labour, or postnatal care. I had tried and tried at the beginning of the last pregnancy to find a private midwife - to no avail. The next best choice of a Natural Birthing Unit came to me by luck of the draw but was taken from me due the lack of midwives supported in this role. I should have taken this matter to a higher level at the time!

There are too few private midwives due to unnecessary government pressure. By a miracle at a fairly late stage in my last pregnancy again, I found Sonya Beutel, a private midwife in Toomoomba. I cannot speak highly enough of her professional manner and abilities! She is the most outstanding midwife I have ever had. It is the likes of her that you are intending to cut short in their professional medical ability to care way above averagely well for mothers and in their overall excellent professional service. Sonya Beutel even came with me to the Ipswich Hospital to talk with the obstetricians about our plans to homebirth and they gave us their consent, reassuring us they could help at any stage if we needed them. If your own state health care obstetricians can support your private midwives – why does our government not support them? I had my best ever labour with Sonya, as I was so very relaxed and happy. Again her follow up support was excellent and easily as good as the New Zealand system.

To compare this to your present screening process here in the Australian state system: when I wanted to go to Royal Woman’s Natural Birthing Unit, I had to go through their usual system for screening first. The midwives were inexperienced, unable to find the babies heartbeat due to the position of the baby and they hurt me during examination. They treated me unnecessarily like I was a social work case, rather than the social worker in their screening process for finding Mum's with problems, their process is excruciatingly clumsy and undignified, they do not have good people skills or counselling skills....and certainly the process is not conducive with any sensible mother with problems confiding in them with their superficial attempts to help. Again, I should have taken matters further at the time. How can you possibly compare this type of superficial screening and preventative program with the excellent, real relationship program our private midwives already provide! Instead of cutting back on private midwifery, more effort should be put into training midwifes well so they are capable of such excellent standard of care.

As an older and experienced mother, who has fought for human rights as a qualified social worker, I value the freedom of choice….medical and birthing choices is one of the most basic of human rights. I would be devastated to see this right disappearing for our future generation. I see it as medical regression, when so many first world governments support and encourage their private midwives in their excellent medical work.

My husband has a number of degrees in chemical engineering and mathematical modelling and has been totally supportive of the educated decision I have made to have a private midwife wherever possible. It not only takes a great midwife to deliver babies safely, but a relaxed and content mother. We need to have this choice given back to us as part of our basic dignity and respect needed as woman! It is a call for a basic human right!

Yours sincerely,
Joy Murray.