things above

Parents-studying-money, treasures and JOY August 29, 2009


I really didn’t think I would have people reading my last blog. But I checked and less than a day after I posted my first blog and I have 150 views for my blog (that actually excites me :D), so hopefully some of them stayed for the partay and read the RICE blog. I also didn’t know that this blogging gig could take up so much time. I spent two nights writing the blog and another whole night publishing it and figuring out how to use WordPress, only because I’m just THAT good with technology. Yeah, it’s quite the time suck. I’ll see how frequently I can pump out these blogs but this one will probably take me a few days to finish again because I’m great!

At the moment, I plan for this to be a blog about HSC trials and the way in which we and our parents treat exams and school and things but we’ll see how that goes. Again, let’s get the small talk out of the way first. I realise half way (no idea if it actually IS half way) through writing this blog it will be INSANELY LONG. I have a lot to say about these things. Please take the time to read it, even though it is long. I’ll update this paragraph with a word count (if I remember) of this blog after I’m done typing it up. Okay: 3226 words. You readers got screwed. 😛

The chit chat

Public Enemies

Watched this on Wednesday, since it was after trials and partay time had commenced. I won’t spoil it. I’ll just say I didn’t enjoy it that much. The movie had quite some potential with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale being the two main actors. I thought that some parts of the movie were pretty cool and Johnny Depp’s character was cocky beyond belief, it was great. Ending was extraordinarily disappointing but what can you do it’s a historical film… But then they made the ending of the movie worse than what happened in history in my opinion, which was just… stupid. Hopefully when I watch Inglourious Basterds next week I come out not feeling cheated of $14.

Australian Idol

Haven’t followed this year as closely as other years but from what I’ve seen, it seems like the country is out of good idol contestants. Singing is mediocre for everyone and everyone in the top whatever isn’t unique in any way. They’re all just inferior replicas of previous contestants or existing artists. And they refuse to sing songs that weren’t written in the last ten or so years. They just sing Kings of Leon and Coldplay so I’m really not interested or impressed in the slightest. But I hear there’s some dude who did Bohemian Rhapsody well, so I guess I’ll check this guy out some day. Otherwise, mediocre. I’m sippin’ on that haterade.

YouTube (I think I’ll put about 3-5 videos per post from now)

Some day I’m going to go through all my YouTube favourites on my blog. But here are just a few:

TMNT – Donatello gets screwed. I particularly liked this because I had always wondered why Donatello was the ugliest colour and why he had the odd name out of everyone and how he ended up with a stick as a weapon (although it is quite a strong stick which can withstand hits from swords. Yep, I’m a nerd). And I thought Master Splinter was done awesomely in the video hehe (warning: video is very rude and crude if you’re not in the mood)

Everyone has probably watched this by now, but after so long I still can’t get over its awesomeness, especially since I really can’t listen to Taylor Swift without gagging.

And the brand new one of it, which is probably even better.

HSC English creative writing tasks? Agreed.

Japanese game show. Ten ten. Ten ten ten ten ten ten …….

One of my favourite YouTube music artists. Man-crush-worthy, I’d say. You had me at “‘ello”.

Music (don’t know, I might decide to do proper album reviews some day if I’m that good at procrastinating)

Still in a CD-buying drought. I may quite possibly come out of it soon.

But I am loving Radiohead right now, especially “The Bends” (the most recent Radiohead album I bought). Great album with quite a few big hits (High And Dry, Fake Plastic Trees, Just). And this band is just that much cooler since they released “In Rainbows” for free a while back.

Blog: Act I, Scene ii

Parents&studying – what is important in life, HSC Trials review,  and JOY (very briefly – TBC in a later entry)

Okay. Well, after doing what I thought would be the first half of this blog, It ended up with almost 3000 words and if I went on any longer this blog would probably be unreadable (it’s probably already very difficult), so to save everyone from further pain, I’ll review HSC trials and continue on joy in my next entry, unless I go off on a tangent again like this time. 😀

My intro into my own experiences with “studying”

Week after HSC trials finished. I’m writing this now, the day that I presented my English speech, the last ever James Ruse HSC assessment task I’ll ever have to do. Now, just the HSC to go, which is about… 7 or so weeks away? Plenty plenty time to procrastinate now (by writing blogs).

Before doing the trials, I had always been told that it would be the MOST STRESSFUL TIME of my entire school life and I had been dreading it because I had already felt the effects of stress from some exams in year 11 and 12 (before that I never got around to studying for exams). To be honest, I consider myself to be quite a lazy Ruse student. I’ve never been a person who completes all their homework every night and who finishes assignments earlier than the night before due date. Before year 11, I never really studied. In year 11 I studied but I couldn’t be bothered for some exams, particularly because they love organising exam timetables so that I finish exams after the rest of the world and by the end of exam period everyone else would be celebrating, so I just couldn’t find the motivation to study.

At the start of year 12, I said to myself  that I HAD TO STUDY for the final year of school, when it would actually count. It went well for probably the first term, in which I’m quite sure I worked hard. I got stressed about exams, which was probably good for my marks, since a little pressure is needed for optimal performance (as well as optimal arousal levels for the specific task, for you PE students playing along). My parents had always been lenient in my entire school life and they never put any unnecessary pressure on me. They had never forced me into doing tutoring or into doing subjects I didn’t want to and most importantly, they had never put any pressure on me to perform. It’s not that they don’t care: I think that they realise (unlike many many parents, especially the James Ruse variety) that good marks aren’t everything in life (my story of HSC trials to be continued in next blog).

Many other parents look at the welfare of their child this way from birth (may be exaggerated):

  1. Child is born: I hope this child has no mental disabilities.
  2. Formative years: it is important for the child to learn plenty now, so they will begin school on top of everyone.
  3. Primary school: help the child with school work as much as possible so that they don’t fall behind.
  4. Year 3-4: send child to OC preparation so that they get into the OC (not the TV show: the Opportunity Class), so their learning is “accelerated”.
  5. Year 5-6: child made it to the OC or didn’t. Either way, the child has to do selective test preparation. This is WAY more important than OC prep, as it determines the high school they will attend and if this isn’t one of the top high schools in the state, they will fall behind (completely false).
  6. Year 7-11: if child is not in desired school, they must work extraordinarily hard in order to be considered for a transfer to a “better” school in year 9 onwards. If child is in desired school… they STILL have to work hard. It is important for the child to be on top of their studies from the start and the child must develop good study habits.
  7. Year 12: this is crunch time. This child must spend as much time as possible studying, using the study habits and skills learnt from previous years in order to dominate exams and peers. This is the MOST IMPORTANT time for the child, as it will determine the next 60 or so years left they have to live on this earth. High marks will get you a high ATAR (UAI or maybe even TER for you older than year 12 folk), which will get you into whichever course at university you want (or what the parents want in some cases).
  8. Uni, work, marriage, work, having children, retirement: The child becomes independent of the parents and the parents are at the age where they will retire and eventually pass away. The parents want the best for their child and have apparently achieved this if their child makes a lot of money and finds a spouse, but especially the making a lot of money part. Hopefully this child can pass this way of thinking onto their own kids so that they will also be “happy”, since they can make money.

Money – what is it worth?

Sorry, parents who think this way, I have to completely disagree with this way of thinking (above). These parents are trapped in the idea that their role on this earth is to form a super child who will be able to make money, since this will make them happy and will secure their future. Does money make you happy? Maybe in the short term because with it you can buy all sorts of stuff, depending on who you are and what you want. Maybe that is a PS3, maybe clothes, shoes, a car, a house. You can flaunt it to get ladies like in Public Enemies (*cough* yeah, right *cough*). But will any of that bring you any lasting joy? NO! It might bring you a little spark of happiness for a limited time because you have a shiny new toy to play with. But it will become obsolete. Technology and inventions progress so fast now that whatever you bought for so much will probably become worthless in a couple years. You’ll just want a newer toy to play with when the time comes, which will of course, need more money for you to spend.

Everyone who has money wants more, no matter how rich they are. Why do billionaires have so much money? Most likely it is because they’re greedy and good at making money. If they weren’t so greedy, they would have given much of it to charity and to help others and they WOULDN’T be billionaires any more, would they? They just keep making money. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

So why do so many of these parents follow the way of thinking above and believe that money will bring satisfaction to their child?

Well, for many, this small amount of satisfaction is all the “joy” they think this world has to offer. Well, it IS all the “joy” this world has to offer. THIS world. For Christians, earth is the closest to hell they will ever get, while for those who don’t believe in Christ, earth is the closest to heaven they will ever get (props to Jeff and Kitty for this, my Sunday school teachers). If they find they have nothing substantial to look forward to, other than “enjoying life”, of course money is going to seem THAT attractive. Many think that money also serves to “secure the future”. If you have money, you can get whatever this world has to offer and if you accumulate enough of it, you can spend more years in retirement. BUT WHAT IF YOU DIE TOMORROW? There are many passages in the Bible which come to mind on the topic of storing treasures on earth: the second half of Matthew 19 (sadface rich man who couldn’t leave possessions behind to follow God), Matthew 6 (storing up treasures in heaven. rather than earth) and especially Luke 12 – all of these are worth a read, as is the whole Bible ;). So I think that parents (this might be you later on) shouldn’t be equipping their children so that they have the means to be rich later on but rather, should be equipping their children to be rich towards God. This isn’t necessarily sending them to church and youth group every week (you can’t FORCE someone into being a Christian) but I think that like evangelism, it works best through demonstration and leading by example. The parent should be able to show God’s love through their own actions. I’m quite a bit off being a parent myself so I don’t have any experience with this but I hope that when I do have children some day that I’ll be able to remember what I said here and that I will put it into action.

Your treasure – On earth? Or in Heaven?

Luke 12 is the parable of the rich dude who stored up lots of stuff for himself on earth so that he could take life easy and enjoy it bu God calls him a fool because his life would be demanded from him that night. What would he have left? Then the passage goes on to say “This is how it will be for anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God”. Ouch. No matter how much stuff you save up on earth, you’ll have absolutely NONE of it when you die. So what’s the point of it? You become a millionaire… then you die. In the end it’s all the same; whether you die rich or poor, you’ll still be dead. BUT the passage after (vs 22-34) gives us hope. Jesus tells his disciples to NOT WORRY about things of the earth and to seek first God’s kingdom and our needs will be provided for. If you place your trust in God and “invest” in Him rather than in money, we have the treasure of eternal life stored up for us in Heaven.

Sure, money can be looked at as a blessing from God. We can use it for many things, pleasing to ourselves and pleasing to God. But money can also be a curse. If we had no money, I’d take a wild stab and say we wouldn’t be as likely to place it over God. We would be more thankful for survival and basic necessities, rather than longing for material possessions. Again, Matthew 19 comes up (mentioned before), as it is so so hard for a rich man to enter God’s kingdom. If we seem to “have it all” on earth, Heaven all of a sudden doesn’t look as attractive, does it? Even though it is far better than earth, many rich people can’t see this, since they love the world so much. Just a thought.

Colossians 3 talks about how we should live: we should set our mind on things above, not on earthly things. These passages aren’t saying that we’re not allowed to have ANY part in the world. Of course we can still earn and spend money on things and enjoy them, since God DID give us this world to live in, after all. BUT do you love creation more than the Creator? That’s when it becomes wrong, as we are setting out minds on earthly things. That, in biblical terms, is idolatry, which is sinning against God. This is a sin that I find much less noticeable than other ones but a good way to see if you are putting anything above God is considering how you allocate your time and energy in terms of what you think about and what you do and how you spend your money. I believe that this is something all Christians struggle with to a huge extent. How much time do we spend praying and reading the Bible and thinking about God, compared to the time we spend thinking about the opposite sex, studying and playing XBox and computer? Where is your heart (Luke 12:34)?

I know that for me, God doesn’t occupy nearly as much time as He deserves. When I drift off in thought (which I do very very often), very often God doesn’t feature in it. Prayer and Bible reading are in many instances, done unwillingly or not at all. A lot of the time, it is not a priority and is shoved in at the end of the night (or early morning…) when I’m way too tired to think clearly. It’s something which I’ve been trying to work at lately, to have God as not only number one as a priority but the centre of my life, with everything else in life having God in the middle. Of course, no matter how hard I try, I am still very far off when it comes to loving God as much as I should and living life the way that He intended.

If we really aren’t worrying about earthly things that should mean we should have all the time in the world for God. But we’re human, so we really suck at this. I have often felt unmotivated because I think that the “standard” for being a Christian is too high: “I can’t read the Bible every day”, “I can’t pray every second of the day”, “I can’t go to church every week”, “I can’t stop sinning”. Even though I feel like I’m not living as a Christian should, I still feel encouraged: the great thing is that being saved by Christ is not based on our own works (because we would all fall very short in this regard) but it is based entirely on God’s grace and our faith in Jesus. There is no amount of Bible reading and Prayer and going to church that can save us. It is faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-10) that saves us and places us in God’s kingdom. Nothing on this earth is able to save us. Nothing is able to provide us with security and lasting joy. The “joy” we get in this world is temporary, just as this world is temporary and everything in it. But the joy we have in eternal life with God is everlasting.

Applying it (this is what I’ve been thinking about lately)

  • Have a think about what you spend your money, thoughts and time on. Where does God fit into all of this? Do you idolise anything/anyone?
  • When you’re “doing Christian things” like praying and reading the Bible, what is your attitude towards it? Obligation or love for God?
  • Are you worried about the future? If you are, think about why you are worried and if you really should be worried.
  • Think: do you treasure this earth or God who created this earth? Do you treasure this earth or Heaven?
  • Make a change

So how will you be investing your life?