Sunday, 14 May 2017

Some Mothers Do 'Ave Them.

I have been blogging for a long time & for a good bit of that time I was a homeschooling mama with an elite sportsman & an elite musician still living @ home.  I ran.  If I wasn't @ a soccer game I was enroute to Brisbane for rehearsals or a concert. If I wasn't doing that I was scrabbling to finish school work before the end of term & there were never enough hours in any given day & I was fraught.  Brisbane is not my most favourite place.

Almost overnight that all changed.  My girls grew up.  Once ODD was fully licensed my services were no longer needed & my life became much quieter ~ much, much quieter than I ever expected while I was running. It revolves slowly around church & cats.  I am pretty sedentary because my work now involves a lot of study & while I don't miss the running & the time constraints & the angst I do miss the music & just being with my girls.

CG, of course, is not here, being in Chile & all that but ODD is only across the water on the mainland & she organised for me to come over on Friday so she could take DIL & I out for brunch to celebrate Mother's Day.

She chose the Arabica ~ which we know quite well having first discovered it when ODD was singing @ a local church & we needed a quick, light meal in between performances. It does really good cafe meals for a reasonable price & we have always been very happy with our meals there.  The service can be a bit dodgy as it is popular & when they are busy, as they were Saturday morning, they are definitely understaffed & our meals came in relays.  We didn't linger, as we otherwise might have done, as people were starting to queue up for a table & rain was threatening.

ODD & I have always been quite dreadful when we go out.  We generally eat reasonably healthily if @ home but out we can almost be guaranteed to choose the unhealthiest option on the menu ~ in this case freshly made waffles with icecream, cream & maple syrup.  Definitely yum!

 Bonus was spending some time with the Little Man, sort of crawling now & full of smiles. His hair is dark but it has a real ginger tinge to it & with big, dark blue eyes he is rather striking looking.
 My DIL had sent over a Mother's Day present early.  I suspect ODD helped choose as the socks have been very welcome as our days chill.  The cup is exquisite.  I love the colour, the shape & the feel but it is a little big for every day use. MOTH refers to it as *The Bucket*.

Meanwhile the girl added Googly to my surprise.  Seriously? Love the colour but not sure what to do with him.  I'm not a nick~nack person.  Dust collectors are way too much work.
 As just about everyone in our family is involved in some sort of ministry on Sundays everybody was celebrating Saturday.  ODD got left holding the baby ~ literally.  I had to get back to the island so I was on hand for Sunday & T1 was taking DIL out for dinner in Southbank.  Am wondering how that went as it rained & they were training.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

One boat, absent owner.

My sons have left home... so why was I paddling round our waterfront in pouring rain bailing out a *tinnie* I don't own before it submerged with someone else's motor attached?

I have instructions for the morrow too ~ because the deluge continues & the boat refuses to self~empty.  A mere 2" of freeboard had prompted a call to my son & that lovely panic when the tide has still to peak, he can't do anything & he's not sure his mother is competent.  Easy I was told:wait till the tide recedes, lift the right floor board; the bung has a string attached... Uh~huh...

First there is the mud to deal with ~ black, sticky mud that wraps lovingly around gumboots & seeks a death hold on them. Then there was getting out of the mud & into the boat.

What I wasn't told was the water was putrid.  Bits of old prawn & crab swirled in the bilge. Black mud had turned the water inky & it sloshed above the floorboards. I  fumbled reluctantly with the submerged floor ~ no string. I removed one partition @ the back.  No string.  The other side had all sorts of things attached but I had seen enough to know I would be operating by feel with goodness knows what so I began bailing... while the rain came down. Eventually the water cleared enough for me to see the string & undo the bung, whereupon I stood & watched the slow gurgle of water exit the bunghole. *sigh*

I grew up with boats.  I can manage most things if I have to but there is a reason I don't own a boat.  They are hard work ~ especially in the rain. I'm not sure why one has been left on my waterfront.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Down amongst the mangroves.

 Everywhere  you walk along the edge of the mangroves at a certain time of the year you will find the taffeta flowers of the wild hibiscus. The tallish, rather scraggly trees grow right on the landward edge of the mangroves, their branches hooping as they bow towards the water.
 The flowers are pretty enough if rather insipid & the trees themselves often a mess. For a while there was a rather splendid specimen on the next block but a gum has since crashed through the centre of it squashing it rather & spoiling its splendour.
 They really aren't much to look at but they have one undeniable attraction: for some reason mangrove honeyeaters like to nest in them.  I discovered this by chance one year because honeyeaters are fairly aggressive birds, even the tiny ones & they are hugely territorial.  Round here the males stake their territory by perching at the top of a Red Mangrove [one of our tall mangroves] & announcing himself with a series of bravo calls. These perches also make good watch perches & you will hear alarm calls if a predator is spotted.

In mating season you will hear mated pairs calling to each other & of course I always look around me to see if I can spot a nest.  Personally I think they are quite mad because what I found was particularly insane for a species not renowned for its smarts.

A foot or so above what would be high water the female had pulled together a bunch of hibiscus leaves live & still attached to the tree, all gummied together with spiderweb & a little cup nest of pine needles & twigs nestled in the middle with 2 of the tiniest eggs ever!

Apparently this is something they do & no~one seems to have any idea why.  However I thought it was fantastic & rounded up the kids with clear instructions as to being quiet, not disturbing the mother & only looking at the eggs if she left the nest & never, ever touch!  Nor do we ever share our finds.  Not everyone is as fascinated & careful.

We were able to monitor the eggs & saw the newly hatched chicks, & later just before they flew.  One day they just weren't there & the next season we had huge king tides so there has never been another nest in that particular spot.

However it is not breeding season at the moment so all I saw was the pale crepey flowers of the Wild Hibiscus.
Just above the tide mark I found several tiny downey feathers just touched with blue at the tips ~ breast feathers perhaps & the sort of blue that belongs to a rosella. It was odd.  Rosellas are flock birds & feathers like that aren't usually dropped casually about.  We've occasionally found corpses of sea birds that a large fish or turtle has had a chop on but even those are rare.  Bird bones dissolve fast.

Due to storm damage & someone's bright idea to build an eco~resort that never materialized there is now a huge amount of fallen timber all along the foreshore & places where you have to choose between scrambling up the bank or heading for the mud. Today I chose to go up the bank ~ & found a bird skeleton.  Nothing left to say what it had once been but we have plenty of raptors about like the Brahminy Kite I saw today.

Osprey, like the kites & sea eagles are mostly scavengers & prefer the easy pickings they can scrounge along the mud rather than actually hunting for a meal. Falcons are different.  They are fast & they are killers. One of the lads once got showered in blood & feathers while coming through the door as a raptor snavelled a pigeon right above his head! And when we first moved here a hawk shot under my moving car to snatch a kill on the other side.

Just the same I love having so many raptors about.  Like so many other animals they sometimes do things just for the sheer pleasure of it ~ because they can. The mangroves are almost always still.  The wind doesn't penetrate into their depths but you will hear the raptors scream & when you look up through a break in the mangroves they are riding the thermals for the sheer joy of flight. It gives me such pleasure.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Walking it Out.

My friend, Seeking, recently wrote a blog post about a distance between herself & God & I began thinking, that if we were brutally honest, we all have those times.

I do ~ because I have trouble maintaining relationships, full stop.  They exhaust me ~ even good ones, ones I like & enjoy, people I love, people I actually want to spend time with.  That I still have a marriage in the light of this is something of a miracle!

My relationship with God also suffers from this & is further complicated by unhealed emotional wounds that satan likes to grab hold of to torment. It has nothing to do with faith or belief.  I decided a long time ago that even if someone could prove absolutely, beyond all reasonable doubt, that God was a fake & the turgid manifestation of someone's overactive imagination, I would still believe in Him because that is a far, far better option than a world without Him.  Without Him we have only ourselves & that is a truly horrifying thought. Left to our own devices we turn our world into a living nightmare. We do.  Not God. The world God made was good.  It functioned as it ought.  We were the ones who made the choice to change that.

So I was perfectly happy to chug along having my personal relationship with God & all was well, & all was well. I actually got to the point where I was no longer freaking out anytime God spoke to me ~ & then that all changed. He called me into ministry.

Now the weird thing about all this is that in many ways I had been in ministry for years & years ~ only we never called it that & it never really shoved me out of my comfort zone because all my training was in literature & words & even going to bible college didn't really change that.

 I never envisioned anything more than blogging away with the occasional preaching spot just to keep me on my toes.  What's more God never told me He wanted me to start a church.  He told the MOTH that & I got dragged along because as the MOTH pointed out caustically, He hasn't said no, has He? No He hadn't, but I have suffered constantly from the feeling God has made the most enormous mistake ~ please, I do know God doesn't make mistakes.  I didn't say my feelings were right or logical or anything but what they are: my feelings.

My feelings scream I'm the most wrong person for this sort of work ever.  Who in their right mind would ask a people shy introvert to step into a job that involves more people contact than most? I could bleat that it's just downright cruel. I feel absolutely inadequate for the job I have been asked to do & because I feel like I'm doing such a lousy job, letting God down, my flesh get in the way, yadda, yadda because we all know where that's coming from, don't we? it affects my relationship with my Father.

Now I know, just as you do, that this is all absolute nonsense.  I can sprook all the right bible verses ~ & plenty of them~ but the battle is real.   Satan has plenty of ammunition: other churches, other Christians, other people, friends & family hitting against an inherent weakness because he has been trying hard to take me out & in all honesty the only reason he hasn't managed to do that is because the MOTH is absolutely convinced I'm where God wants me.

All of which, surprise, surprise, sends me into covert. Satan is sneaky.  He points out our small numbers.  He points out how much we are gossiped about.  He points out the people who come & go like a revolving door.  He tries to point out that we have no voice, & make no conceivable difference.

I'm a person who likes things to be clear & understandable so not understanding why God chose me, out of all the people available to Him, all of whom I'm quite sure could do a much, much better job has devastated me. After all...see previous paragraph.

I was perfectly happy to have God show me the things He was going to do, to give me insight & revelation about scripture, to pray.  I was far less happy to be asked to act on all that! Are you ready for the crunch?

When God called me, He called me as a prophet.  I don't call myself that.  What the Church means by *prophet*, & what I understand God to mean by that term are 2 very different things. It has created a great deal of confusion & I am only now just starting to unravel the muddle because I wasn't raised charismatic & I have had to learn all this on the fly.

There are 3 aspects to this muddle.

The first is a series of things I saw in prayer while in Bible college & they were to do with a Great Awakening in Australia. I'm a Big Picture thinker & that's how I saw this so there is nothing specific.  No dates.  No times.  No places. I saw it multiple times in 2 different ways & years later I have been reading confirmation from others who have seen the same thing.

The 2nd thing was a vision I saw.  It was very clear, very specific & confirmed later by both the MOTH & Rabqa, who saw nearly the identical thing.  We thought God was showing us something about our church.  I now believe this is wrong & the why of that is the 3rd thing.

Preachers, like other occupations, have specialties.  Evangelists preach salvation; healers, healing; worshippers, worship, givers, giving.   I got holiness & the Holy Spirit.  Yes, I preach on other things but I constantly default to holiness & the Holy Spirit.

Some time back I got from the Spirit to preach on the Glory of God ~ which I did.  I'm no expert but I did my research, listened to revivalists, read my scripture.  Among the things that God turned up for me was this quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon: "It would be very easy to prove that revivals of religion have usually been accompanied, if not caused, by a considerable amount of preaching out of doors, or in unusual places."

What I now think we were shown was revival/awakening, rather than our church per se. It explains a lot of the other stuff that keeps coming at us ~ & why we are doing the open air preaching: we were obedient to the call. It explains why satan is so desperate to try & grow distance between me & God ~ & all I can say to that is he never learns from his mistakes.  Every time he's taken on God he's lost, & lost badly.

So I'm doing what I always do: regroup.  I do get it is about doing what I'm called to do ~ I just get grumpy that it is so hard to do what is necessary & right.  I can't say I wasn't warned though.  As Jesus pointed out, If they hated me, they will hate you.  I'd best get used to it.


Talking the Garden.

I have talked about the kitchen because the kitchen [or lack thereof] is driving me crazy.  We are camped out in our living room & the mess is rising around us like a tidal wave because our home businesses [yes, we have 2] & our ministry & the need to eat sometimes has not ceased just because our kitchen is unusable. 

It is getting there. We have runners on drawers & doors on cupboards & next time OT is over he will cut out the sink hole & oven top spaces & if we are lucky get the benchtop on & as it is costing us nothing for his labour we do not complain.  We are very grateful ~ though we do think the lad has an ulterior motive regarding youth groups & young adults but so long as I can leave home when the hordes descend I am all good with that.

Meanwhile the MOTH & I have been working on the garden ~ & trust me, that takes the negotiation of the whole U.N council & then some!  We have very different ideas about what a garden should be & as I say, the man has the certificates in horticulture; I just garden.

Over the years our garden became quite a muddle because I wasn't the only one gardening in it.  All the kids, bar ODD, put in their 2 dibs worth at some time or another & as none of us ever had any money things were done from bits & pieces left over from when we first built & it could look like the local scrap yard in winter, when everything was bare & empty.  Now the MOTH is on the job that is changing rapidly.
 First things first.  The star pickets, rusty foundation gridiron, wonky wire were removed from around the veggie garden & the old oyster sticks holding all our really good soil in were pulled apart. While I was happily babysitting the MOTH put in our new raised bed.  It is slightly bigger than the old bed so we need to import soil & I won't be planting any time soon. You have NOOO idea how thrilled I am!

I was less happy about the ginormous bush house the man built but as he points out, he cannot garden normally due to a broken back; this he can do: air plants, orchids, & now established on boards outside, staghorns [which I like & make the atrocity less so] & a variety of tree ferns.
 The tree ferns arrive as frondless stumps requiring tender loving care & at least one is destined for the next raised bed which we are in the process of putting together along one side of the driveway. The man has 3 different sorts of tree ferns & a crows nest he wants to put in here ~ yes, I am happy with that ☺~but in thinking about it I decided there was room to shove a zillion or so freesias in as well.  I do love me some freesias & the man is in agreement so that is another section done.  Behind that we will have multiple bird baths.
 It is all a bit of a shermozzle at present with rubbish destined for the tip accumulating at a truly alarming rate & the tree ferns rapidly growing large fronds.  Aren't they pretty?

The garden itself seems a little confused.  I know Azaleas will spot flower throughout the year here but ours seem to have totally lost the plot & as soon as our super hot weather stopped they began to flower ~ & flower~ & flower... Um, spring, guys.  Spring.


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Sunday.

Those who know me know I don't do people ~ not unless I know you, & know you well.  Strangers leave me tongue~tied.  The inanities of casual conversation make my eyes glaze over & while I am insatiably curious about all sorts of things they tend to be the sort of things that don't interest most people while those things that do interest them I know nothing about: fashion; current music; most politics...sport...

Most evangelism entails people contact. No surprise that I am very bad at it. So was my co~preacher. As a church, people were not our strength.  Obviously this is not good news when you want to reach people with the gospel. However the Holy Spirit, being the cluey person He is, gave us a way round our inadequacies.  He gave us Church in the Park & for the best part of 4 years we turned up with music & a message, prepared to pray for anyone unfortunate enough to stray our way. In all that time we missed just one Sunday when we should have been there.  It was just too cold & wet & as a church body we mutinied.

Then suddenly a whole heap of events conspired against us.  We started getting badly harassed;our co~preacher disappeared, whisked away to family; Cyclone Debbie bucketed Queensland in flooding rain; the park power inexplicably disappeared & despite repeated phone calls to council did not reappear.

At first all I felt was relief.  The MOTH & most everyone else enjoys the park outreach.  I do not.  Despite the presence of the Holy Spirit & the knowledge God definitely wants this to happen it has always been an act of obedience for me, not one of enjoyment. Having a legitimate excuse to abstain was wonderful! I didn't feel guilty.  No power & wet enough to drown a duck. Sadly it did not last.  Guilt arrived with a vengeance!

The MOTH continued to ring council.  I grew guiltier by the week ~ & just for good measure, to ensure I understood how Contrary Mary I could be, one of the other churches announced they would be using the park early on Resurrection Sunday.  I was appalled.  Their teaching walks a fine line to heresy.  Besides, the park was ours.  God gave us that ministry & having someone try & ride on our coat~tails got my dander up.  Not Pauline in my outlook~  No indeedy. After all the trouble we'd had, having someone else stir the pot infuriated me. However, as there was still no power it looked like neither of us would be able to use it.

One of my problems with the park is simply, despite being a garrulous sort of a person, I am introverted & quite reserved & I don't like feeling I am getting in people's faces because I don't like it when it is done to me. So I was caught between a rock & a hard place when the MOTH returned from a foray into the park on Friday & announced we had power!

The moral of this story is that often things are never as they first appear.  We had a rocky ride for a few weeks with a small minority working overtime to try & get us shut down.  They harassed the council.  They harassed other islanders.  They harassed the police. They got in our faces & abused us.  A lot of my energy got expended dealing with it. *sigh*

Then for 6 weeks straight we had no power & that was that. No~one had to be upset about us being in the park preaching Christ & Him crucified.  No~one had to put up with Christian music. No~one had those crazy Christians in their faces. Everyone should have been happy, right?  Not so.  As the MOTH wended his way back to the car after a power check he was confronted with: They haven't chased you away, have they?  Why aren't you in the park?  You will be back, won't you?

Yes, we are back. And round the perimeters where our second church has always hidden itself, the people gathered.  What's more, there seems to be a second lot of teaching going on with regulars instructing the curious about who we are, what we do & what we teach.

And because it was Resurrection Sunday & not about Easter eggs we did Communion in the park ~ & that was a show stopper! As for the other church, I have no idea. Their track record indicates they haven't the stamina to go long distance so it was probably a one~off. It shouldn't matter & the silly thing is I am perfectly happy to preach.  I'd just be happier if it didn't involve people.

Our Little Man.

 Our Little Man is growing up.  He has been rolling all around the floor for some time; now we are about to crawl & life will change forever.

I was asked over to help out for a few days ~ though in reality they have so many extra hands in the house I don't really think they need mine.  Mind you everyone else works ~ even ODD though she keeps extremely odd hours. The bonus is I do tend to be an early riser.  I can do early & I can do late; it's the inbetween daylight hours I have trouble staying awake, so I got the Little Man as the menfolk left for work.

I had never considered what sort of a grandmother I would be but I don't seem to be the doting sort. I do seem to be the *Let's get out of here* sort but that may be just because I find suburbia so dreadfully confining & it's awful to still wake early without the compensation of a splendid sunrise.
 So it was into the stroller for an early morning walk ~ not brisk.  I do not walk for exercise. I walk so I can gawk at other people's gardens [like the strange concoction of sand & grasses dotted with cut off poles & trailing mooring rope miles from the water ~ kudos for at least being original], & get my bearings in strange environments.

Like so much of our area this was once farmland ~ market gardens mostly but not now.  What farms there are  have horses.  Now it is broken into small allotments with boring modern houses. Lots of brick, a paltry excuse for vegetation & a great swath of green lawn to gobble up your water allowance in the dry.  House after house with not an original idea between them & yappy dogs throwing themselves at the fences as we passed. Ick.

But in amongst the red tiles & solar panels we found acres of green corridors that the MOTH had put in when he was in charge of Parks & Gardens & small playgrounds with a swing or two, verdant spaces of wild that the Little Man & I can explore together when he gets bigger because I don't think I'm a neat & clean & everything in it's place grandmother either. Let's face it, I wasn't that sort of a mother.  

My mother tells this story of my first holiday away from home.  When we returned I marched around the house declaring: My bed! My chair! My table! I still dislike the sense of dislocation that comes from being in a strange environment. Where do they keep the bread? The sugar?  The COFFEE!!! How does the gas work? Whose bathroom can I use? Is it rude to nap because I don't sleep well at night with all the cars & trucks hooting down the highway, the trains, & the street lights seeping through the shutters?  I miss my dopey cats & the cry of curlews under the moon, the plop of fish & the strong tang of salt in the air. 

 And I have this terrible aversion to conservative suburbia, so neat & tidy & conforming.  It always makes me think of My Brother Jack [George Johnstone] ~most of which I don't remember having read it only once a terribly long time ago, but there is one unforgettable segment.  Davey Meredith, drowning in urban ennui, plants a blue gum out the front of his place knowing perfectly well it is big, fast growing & destructive.  It is his way of thumbing his nose at his neighbours as that tree pushes up the cement footpath, invades the drains, drops limbs on roofs & leaves in pools until ultimately council forcibly cuts it down. I understand what drove him to plant that tree.

To say nothing of the fact I leave my computer behind & plowed through a rather strange book: Lake of Sorrows, which ODD picked up for sixpence at the thrift shop one year expressly for me & which I had never read. Now I have.  I wonder why?