Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Renovating Rel????

When I first read Sharon Hinck's The Secret Life of Becky Miller I began to wonder if she had super-dooper telescope with which she peered into my windows in Melbourne, Australia to find inspiration for her story! That is Sharon on the left here, not me! Sharon tells me that is not so but I am still wondering with the release of Renovating Becky Miller which continues the tale of a dedicated mum, trying to meet all the expectations placed on her and a few more things too.......

Sharon decided to turn the tables on this blog tour and asked me (a mum with 3 kids, hubby doing job search, leader of women's ministry and a recently completed renovation...understand my concerns about a telescope?!) to answer some of her questions! Please note I am making generalisations here! So here goes:~

Sharon ~ One of my writing profs drilled in to me to write specifics, not generalities. So when I wrote The Secret Life of Becky Miller, the character was a very specific Midwestern, North American mom. Yet I’ve heard from people who’ve read the book in South Africa, the Philippines, and of course, Australia. It raises the question for me—which aspects of Becky’s lifestyle feel “foreign” and are unique to her culture?

Rel ~ A paid women's ministry role-ha! I laughed that it was contemplated at all :) Aside from the very few mega-churches all such roles are done on a volunteer basis. I think also what we would see as Becky's "over the top" approach to that ministry ~ all the extra bits and pieces Becky did to make the retreat and stall special and decorating homes for the significant holidays, just isn't usual here.

Which elements of her day-to-day life felt universal to you?

The real mum (I can spell! That is Mom here!) stuff - rushing around for the kids, wanting the house to be clean, trying to do too much, worrying, maintaining friendships, cooking, searching for purpose......

Are those of us in the U.S.A. more obsessed with doing too much and fixing everything than women in other cultures?

Mmm...I would have to say that it would seem Aussie women are more relaxed as a whole. Plenty of us try to do too much but there are just as many who won't buy into that which is good. The down side can be that we can be apathetic about important issues.

In Renovating Becky Miller, we see Becky and her colleagues at her church confronted with questions about church growth, effectiveness, workaholism. Do you see the same drivenness to “make a difference in a big way” in the church body in Australia?

Yes and no! There are always people who have "driven" personalities but as a general rule our churches are much smaller say on average 100-500 people and that impacts what can be achieved in a financial sense. Churches still want to have an impact but on a smaller scale, in their community.

Are churches Down Under also wrestling with issues of which ways a church can minister effectively in the modern world?

Most definitely! We struggle with indifference, we don't have a church "culture" so to speak. The vast majority of Australians do not attend church, it isn't the expected thing to do do if you attend church in any capacity you are an oddity in the sense of being very different to most others in the community.

Among my circle of friends, many have experienced several of the issues faced by the Miller family in Renovating Becky Miller . . . Overscheduling, financial stress, remodeling a home, caring for an aging parent, marriage roles. When you gather with a group of women friend in Australia, what are some of the key struggles you and your friends end up talking about?

Our kids ~ how they are going at school, what high school to send them to, do they mix well with their friends, what activities they do. (Homeschooling is very rare, most kids attend their local government school which provide a good education but many want to send their kids to a private school for the high school years - the status of these schools is somewhat different to private schools in the US) Also our husbands ~ what they have or haven't done right!!!! And families, parents etc. I am constantly amazed by how many of my friends have fractured relationships with either their parents or in-laws. And, of course, what might happen next on Lost!

What are some of the key battles young moms in Australia face?

Tiredness ~ the number of other areas of our lives this impacts is huge including dealing with our husbands and kids, our emotional state and ability to cope with the all the tasks of being a mum.

Work/life balance ~ many women need to return to work with the higher cost of living and finding something that can work around the children is always difficult. Childcare is expensive and not always available which causes a lot of pressure. And often those of us who choose to stay at home feel looked down upon by others and that to be a contributing member of society we need to be in some form of paid employment!

Image ~ while this is not to the extent it seems to be in the States (most of my friends whack on a bit of lippy (lipstick) and that is it and no one thinks they are underdone)! It is more the need to look like we have everything under control and communicate to others that all is good even when underneath it might be a disaster (just like Becky).

Thanks so much Sharon for stopping by ~ hope this gives a little bit of insight into the life of an Aussie mum :)

Be sure to check out both of Sharon's books - you will laugh, cry, be entertained and above all you will finish them with a smile on your face :)


Sharon Hinck said...

Thanks, Rel!
This was awesome!
I'm so grateful for this glimpse into the ways an Aussie mum and a U.S. mom are struggling with the same battles as we try to live for Christ amid the challenges of our societies.

Now if only I could do a book tour that's NOT virtual someday. I would love to visit in person. :-)
Hugs, Sharon

Jill said...

Intriguing inverted interviews. As a Midwestern Mom myself, I enjoyed the insights into Aussie culture.

Camy Tang said...

What a cute interview! Thanks, Rel and Sharon!

Cee Cee said...

Thanks Rel and Sharon for giving us the insights into Aussie culture...not much differnce.

Rel said...

Thanks girls for posting! You are right Cee Cee there isn't a great deal of difference in the things that matter. Although I think if you came and lived in Australia you would notice a lot of little things that are different and would take adjusting to :)

Rel said...

BTW would love to show off Australia if you ever do visit, Sharon :) Save those pennies!!

Becky said...

Very fun interview. Lots of insight into another culture but within the context of the issues the book deals with. Love it!

Becky (the real one)

Anonymous said...

Great interview! I loved how the table was turned! And I loved learning about another culture. We aren't so different afterall. Are we?

Amy Wallace said...

Very fun interview! Well done, ladies!


Anonymous said...

Cute interview. *grin*

C.J. Darlington said...

Just found this interview, Rel. How cool! I love hearing about how others in different countries lead their lives. It's cool that we're all the same in some ways, but different in others. (Lippy? I love Aussie slang!)

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