Thursday, 23 November 2017

... All that.

I have had the lurgy.  It has not been good. My sleeping patterns have become even more erratic than usual.  So unable to focus I was scrolling through the t.v programming without much hope ~ Australian t.v being what it is; you know, reality t.v, like I need more reality in my life!

What I like, when I can get it, is British detective series, or British spy movies, [they do these better than the Yanks] or historical stuff ~ if there's not too many inaccuracies, but after a week of lying on the couch doing the dying swan act & watching all our old dvds  I was feeling more than a little jaded.  What I found, all I found, was The Last of Europe's Warrior Kings.

I thought we might be looking at pre~Christian Europe, which I know something about, spasmodically, with some rather largish gaps.  We were not. We were bang in the Middle Ages, a period of history I particularly dislike.  It was brutal, grubby & incredibly ignorant & I confess I have never understood what drove the dynasty wars.

What was worse is that of all that dark & grubby period I particularly dislike the Norman invasion of England because, true to form, I had read something of William, an incredibly nasty man with an overinflated ego, who brutalised the north of England & came to a justifiably ugly end, his bloated body too short for the sarcophagus so that when the monks tried to force it, his bowels exploded causing an unimaginable stink.  He was rather hurriedly disposed of despite a local peasant declaring the land the church was built on had been stolen by William & no way was William going to be buried on land he owned!  Wow.

It is the period before William I know something about: Alfred's Britain because Alfred managed to unite Wessex with Mercia, making them a force to reckon with  a rather large Northumbria & leaving all the little eastern kingdoms along the seaboard to eventually, one assumes,  be swallowed up by the larger & more powerful kingdoms. There is no England.  The Pictish kingdom of eastern Scotland is long gone.  Cornwall is part of Wales. In a weird sort of way it was still a rather Celtic landscape ~ or Saxon, they operated along similar lines ~ local *kings* who ruled all the territory brute force could hold but moving more into the tangled political hotbed that is England's history.  Think *Danelaw*.

The bit I don't understand was the over~riding urge to fight each other over bits of land, establish dynasties that were uncertain & generally short~lived. Let's face it, about all I knew of the Norman invasion was stray bits of poetry:

William the first was the first of our kings 
Not counting the Ethelreds, Egberts and things.
He had himself crowned and anointed and blessed 
In ten-sixty - I needn't tell you the rest.

In other words I knew zilch. Oh a stray maybe fact regarding arrows but naturally the whole sorry tale is a good deal more sordid & family feudish & waaay more fascinating. One wonders what might have happened if Edward the Confessor had actually clearly named a successor though one suspects that would not have stopped Tostig [how does one spell that name?] ~ or William for that matter~ both of whom were rather obsessed with becoming king & none of whom were closest in line of succession but as that was a boy...

I do find the visualisation of history makes it easier to remember.  One of the joys of the modern age. It always makes me wonder though, what was wrong with living simply with beautiful things: trees & flowers & animals & the good earth to till?  Why the urge to kill & destroy & accumulate? That is the total sum of human history.  Such a waste & nothing to show for all that angst in the end.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Are you Listening?

When we began our church ~ something I did not want to do ~ our biggest problem was how we were going to outreach because the ways that people generally do this were not for us. 

Being me, I said, *no can do* & promptly forgot all about it because  ~ well, people... I do get the whole deal is about people but I tend not to do people well.  Small talk, generalities, the mundane tend to leave me floundering & I'm pretty sure people have names for how I come across: arrogant; unapproachable; weird...honestly, I don't know.  The harder I try the worse it is & so I generally leave it to the MOTH to break the fallow ground.  Like anyone else I can operate really well in the flesh...

The MOTH is made of hardier stuff ~ & far more likely to wrestle with a problem I will ignore.  Wrestle he did.  Eventually he suggested open air preaching.  I promptly burst into tears.  I knew in my spirit that this is what God wanted but everything in me quailed.  As a general thing I do not like drawing attention to myself ~ & this was likely to draw lots of attention, not all of it good.  I don't like being asked to stand up & be counted.  I loath controversy; ask my friends.

For nearly 5 years we have done Church~in~the~Park. While I wouldn't say I was ever thrilled to bits, it did get easier. I feel for Timothy.  Paul's: *Do the work of an evangelist* , to a man who was not an evangelist, was a monumental ask. I wonder what sort of conversations he had with God...?

Anyway, I was like, okay, you want me to preach then preach I will ~ 'cause, you know, Holy Spirit ~ but as soon as I put that microphone down I wanted to be out of there.  Actually engaging with people...nope.  Not gonna happen.  There is a reason I like ideas... *sigh. 

I think God likes a challenge.  Really.  I mean He could just hit me over the head & compel me but no!  No, He likes wooing me, trying to convince me I like doing this! Does that *great cloud of witnesses* lean over the heavenly wall & giggle madly at the antics down below?

So my attitude pretty much stank.  Sad because the MOTH loves doing the park & we have a dear sister who also loves doing the park & I was the stinky fly in the ointment.  A stinky attitude is not a good thing to have even when you are being obedient but God is so gracious He worked with that.

So we had done this for years & never really been hassled ~ & we knew by the Spirit that we were impacting our community so even though we weren't seeing much for our efforts we weren't discouraged.  I preached what the Spirit gave me, the MOTH & Sister C talked to people & we called the park our second church because we knew there were people coming regularly to hear what God wanted to say.

And then everything changed.

We got rained off.  That was a huge shock.  All the years & years we'd been doing this we had only ever got rained off once.  Then it happened again.  Then it got bitterly cold.  The wind howled & whined through the speaker. Then the aggro started.  We had our electricity lead pulled out.  We were verbally abused.  We were threatened.  Council was dragged in.  I got sick.  The MOTH got sick.  We missed Sundays.  I was getting a *stop* in my spirit but so long as the other 2 wanted to continue I was in.  I wasn't saying anything because my aversion was well known & in all honesty I though it was just me being me.

Then we got the lady who hogged both power points & threatened us & got a full on sermon all for her very own self because she was so set on being mean & rarely have I felt the Holy Spirit get so het about making sure someone got His message! When timid little me gets bold you know the Holy Spirit is at work.

We haven't been back.  For one thing the MOTH got really sick while the weather turned nasty & in the meantime the MOTH got in prayer to end the park.  The insurance was too much plus the man is going to bible school next year.  It is for a season only.

Now here is the weird part.  That last lady apparently began drumming up a group to attack us ~ which the MOTH got in prayer  ~ & something peculiar happened. The people we had been ministering too, the ones frightened off by the aggro lot, the crowd that lingered on the fringes week after week, turned on her & gave her an absolute earful about how we have been here forever; we are not newcomers; we have done the park for years & she shouldn't have threatened us because there are lots of us who wanted them there & enjoyed what they were doing!  We got this straight from one of the ladies who did the telling [& very put out she is that we are no longer in the park!].  The *Silent Sea* has spoken.  Not to us.  Perish the thought!  But the blessing has been removed & they are not happy.

The man has been told in prayer that we are not to resume the park till the end of next year.  Yay!  I get a breather. I feel this is right & the Lord is not only regrouping us but He wants the MOTH better equipped.  However we have been taken for granted.  Now that people have tasted & seen that the Lord is good, He wants them hungry.  There will be a season without.  We are expecting great things when we go back in.

The MOTH often says that the Lord asks: Are you listening? So important because nothing remains the same forever.  Everything is in a constant state of flux & that includes the things the Lord has called us to do.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Prayer's in Session.

Each year we go to Toowoomba for the Rhema Church up there when they hold their prayer conference.

We do this for lots & lots of reasons: Patsy Cameneti is a world renowned speaker on prayer; we are a small church on a small island, small in the eyes of the world ~ for us to come together with so many other spirit filled Christians in prayer is a blessing & a joy; We want to come together in prayer with the Rhema people pastoring this area as this is where I went to uni, we married & our 3 sons were born [ our girls are islanders through & through!] so we know the area & understand the sort of spiritual problems that afflict it; it refreshes us in ways that other ministries don't so it is our ministry of choice when we are considering the conferences we can attend.

It is never a big gathering; the tongues speakers frighten everyone else off, but it is generally a very intense day.  Not only does Patsy teach on prayer but she makes sure we practice what she is instructing on, which means we work very hard indeed.  Anyone who thinks prayer isn't hard work has never really prayed!  Over the 5 or so hours we probably pray for @ least 2 of those ~ possibly more.  I've never actually added it up as such & it's not all @ once either.

Toowoomba is a large central country town.  As such it has loads of schools that serve the surrounding country districts, including big boarding schools, & the university campus ~ & it has loads of churches, including a large catholic population. It also means the areas around it are full of big farms & tiny towns with even tinier church populations.  If you aren't used to it, it's weird. 

The Lockier Valley, which we drive through on our way into Toowoomba, is Queensland's fruit & veg bread basket. The sky is big & the paddocks roll away under acres of corn & lettuce, potatoes, carrots, alfalfa & every so often, in amongst the rows of corn or lettuce or carrots, there will be a ramshakle row of buildings selling icecream, antiques, designer dresses, or suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge tin shed will appear with trucks & tractors & the sort of big farm equipment I have no idea about, or maybe a huge brick structure advertising furniture, & standing lonely in a paddock all by itself in the middle of nowhere a little white weatherboard church with it's steeple & bell tower, usually either Anglican or Catholic, & more often than not without a minister because the centralised church is cutting costs & no~one wants to minister in the middle of no~where, leaving whole congregations with nowhere to go.

Now I watched a church die out Eumundi way ~ which was in town & should have been ok.  It was full of elderly Anglicans & their minister was actually retired... huh! As the congregants died off or went into homes the powers that be shut the place down & all these people who could no longer travel & who's church home was that little old weatherboard building were abandoned. They did not do what one congregation out west did.  Finding themselves without a minister & locked out of their own church building each congregant brought a chair from home & they met under their highset building. So I get a little thingy for small churches, small congregations, who are not financially viable in the scheme of centralised mega churches but who are non~the~less important to God. Hence Toowoomba, where Rhema is ministering to the small outlying districts as well as in town.

We have done this for 4 or 5 years now, since we started up our own church, the body of Christ coming together to pray in the work of Christ, but this year was different.  Every year has been wonderful but this year we were absolutely blessed.

We left the island about 5ish ~ a good time for travelling but also earlier than usual so we weren't rushed as we normally are ~ & walked straight into the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  Both the MOTH & I noticed.  Talking about it afterwards I said, well, they've been doing this for 8 years now.  That's 8 years of instruction in prayer, 8 years of practicing prayer, so the regulars should be getting better @ it! lol The thing is though, the anointing grows. Patsy didn't have to instruct everyone to bring the anointing down.  She could move straight into building on that ~ & she did!

The thing for me is when the Spirit starts moving like that I invariably weep ~ & it can get pretty bad.  Patsy had me in college so I'm a sort of barometer for her... *sigh* Oh, look. Ganeida's weeping like a fountain. On track... hmmm. And so much, while not only for us, was also most especially for us: small dynamite powers that God hides away in remote rural places [we had this word from the Lord but unconfirmed so confirmation was wonderful!]; something I saw in the Spirit years ago about *spot fires* of spirit filled Christians up & down our east coast, then the bonfire sweeping into central Australia ~ confirmed; ...just so much about what & how we pray ratified.

Perhaps the most helpful thing was something that has been driving the MOTH a little round the twist because he cops the brunt of it. I have been suffering intermittently from what I have been calling depression: a deep dark well it has been impossible for me to climb out of & it has affected me really badly, tapping into a whole heap of fears & insecurities & trust issues & negativity that I do not generally suffer from. 

On the whole I'm a pretty optimistic sort of a person even though I am also introverted & quiet. Like many introverts I can appear extremely extroverted.  The cost is high. However Pasty was saying what we have been experiencing [the MOTH gets it too though without the super emotional powder keg] is the Spirit leading to intercession for the world.  My spirit immediately confirmed this as it is sensed as a weight that doesn't belong to me.  I missed it because I have sensed those times when I know I've been called to intercession for individuals very differently! Very differently. I have a good enough relationship with the Holy Spirit that I can run with this even though Pasty didn't have time to teach on intercession.  I mightn't get it 100% but I know I can ask the Holy Spirit & I will be told! ☺

And the picture is a doozy! I like the outside because I wave my arms around a lot when I talk.  Nothing changes just because I am talking to God.  People in my immediate vicinity get clobbered! The MOTH is used to me & gives me plenty of space. I sat down shortly after this pic was taken.  For one thing I was already holding onto the chair in front to ensure I stayed on my feet. For another, holding onto a chair meant my other hand wasn't free & what I was talking about required both hands!!! The MOTH is much more sedate.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Not About Books.

I do not remember a time when I did not know a version of Tam Lin.  It is not a children's story &, strictly speaking, it is not a fairy tale. Rather it is that peculiar thing ~ a 16th century Scottish Ballad.  It does, however, fulfill all the requirements of faery...


when I came across Pamela Dean's retelling of this well known tale I grabbed it.  I love it for all the reasons most people hate it.  It quotes everyone that was ever anyone in English Literature [as does Eliot too & also why I like him!] & then it starts in on The Ancient Greeks.  It is like having a prolonged after lecture discussion & depending on your mood, or who you happen to be reading yourself, reveals hidden delights at each re~reading.

It is also beautifully written, one of those delightful books that is deceptively easy to read yet deeper than it first appears. Yet despite this, & my love of fantastical fiction, I have never read another Pamela Dean. I may rectify this in the near future ~ but then again, I may not. Is there a moral obligation to not support someone with such a peculiar moral compass? Which I do not want to discuss!

I was checking recently that I had remembered right, from when I first did my research on Pamela Dean, because I have just re~read Tam Lin [an easy reread when babysitting when a book is constantly being picked up & put down again & you really don't want to get caught with a new book full of suspense at just the wrong moment] & Tam Lin has become, apparently, one of those strange cult books.  I have grown cautious.

And Amazon, being the rather peculiar on~line place it is, decided to suggest all these other fantasy authors that I, apparently, am just dying to read. Uh~huh. In the process I stumbled across Seanan McGuire.  With a name like that & the information that she also wrote filk music how could I resist?

I had no idea what filk music was.  Even after an afternoon listening to it [because it is gorgeous] I am not sure I am any wiser.  It seems to be folk music only with themes more along the lines of horror, anime, cartoons, steampunk...not my sort of thing @ all.

I always have trouble understanding the lyrics because so often the music over~rides the vocals so having decided I really liked the music I decided I needed to understand what I was actually listening to. Here is Wicked Girls [& here are the lyrics if you need them].  I was not ok with the lyrics, not once I'd read them through properly & absorbed the implication but DearGina
[lyrics]I actually found deeply disturbing ~ more because nothing is specifically stated than anything else.

What is surprising, or maybe not, is that I have never come across this before. Folk music for me is not what came out of the '60's, or the political stuff before it, nor even the medieval ballads.  It is those old Irish & Scots songs in mournful Gaelic & minor keys that are as old as the countries they originated in.  Tam Lin was old before it was ever written down & there are numerous versions. Steeleye Span & Fairport Convention both covered it but it's roots are deep in Celtic mythology. 

I have been known to spend a lot of time on you tube being haunted by the old Celtic songs but I have also noticed something because, you know, Enya...there has been a resurgence of pagan music & now it seems to have circled back to that something much, much darker @ its core.  At its heart there is a self destructive streak that reminds me of Invictus [William Ernest Henley] whose closing lines so remind me of Lucifer's I wills:

...I am the master of my fate, 
      I am the captain of my soul

And that is what I heard in Wicked Girls ~ the arrogant assertion of self will. Dear Gina is even darker.

Now it is not the themes that I am finding  disturbing. Alexander Pope declared in his An Essay on Man:

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
The proper study of Mankind is Man....
though I don't agree with him at all.  Rather the proper study of mankind is God.  Just the same God is pretty blunt about where unregenerate mankind takes itself.  The difference lies in the attitude & basic premise of the author.  God never glorifies sin ~ especially pride.  There is a subtle crossing of a line here where what is being portrayed as brave, courageous, , glorious is quite simply defiance for defiance sake & where that leads is nowhere good. 

 I expect it has always been there in popular music but as I never really was into popular I must have missed most of it.  As I said, what I like is folk.  What attracted me in the filk was the folk sound.  Sadly I don't think I will be returning. Horror has always been a no go zone for me & I have zero interest in defying my creator ~ @ least to that extent.


Monday, 30 October 2017

One koel, two koel, three koel, more...

A lot of our birds are migratory ~ like the koels.  We haven't seen them for a number of years but they are back! They are big, beautiful birds with a loud, distinctive call.

We have seen a pair over the last week.  The glossy black male with a satiny sheen to his feathers was seen @ the birdbath while the spotted female was in the large soap tree partway down our hill.
Despite the name, & their resemblance to pheasants they are a parasitic brood cuckoo. Lots of people don't like them for that reason but seriously...lots of our birds have really grotty habits. I once watched a pair of butcher birds retrieve a large & very dead rat Kirby had brought me & drag it away to hang in their *larder*, so I have to admit koels seem pretty tame by comparison.

Butter wouldn't melt.

I've got 2 cats.  There is the *couch potato* aka Fat Cat [he's not really, we just call him that] aka Marlow  &  then there is Kirby. 

Kirby is a most beautiful cat.  Photogenic.  Adorable.  Loving.  Quirky.  It is the quirky that is the problem.

Marlow has all the wonderful attributes of a ragdoll: big, heavy, gentle, floppy & generally underfoot.  He is very attached without needing to be on you & he is the sort of self~confident, plumy~tailed, beautiful cat that attracts comments like: Gosh!  Isn't he gorgeous!  And he knows it!  With his *Cleopatra eyes* & outgoing personality he is the cat my friends smooch over.  It is never Marlow interrupting prayer meeting with yowls of:  I've got a present for youuuuu...

This was Kirby the day we brought him home.  While Marlow was hiding & quivering with fright, Kirby was mesmerized by what he could see outside the window  & he could not wait to get out & investigate. And that is the problem!

At some point or other Kirby has managed to destroy every flyscreen in the house. Initially he just went straight through them but Kirby is probably the smartest cat I've ever owned & eventually he just perched innocently on the windowsill & gradually worked the rubber free until he could squeeze through.

Lots of people would probably just let the cat rip but we are responsible owners & our cats are in at night.  Apart from anything else I don't like being brought snakes & rodents & that is what happens when Kirby goes night hunting.

Last summer we sweltered.  The only way to keep Kirby in was to shut every window in the house & I can assure you no~one enjoyed that during a Queensland summer!  As fast as I could mend the screens Kirby was through them until they were no longer worth the mending.

The MOTH has finally conceded that regular screens are not going to keep Kirby in where he belongs. He has bought me a roll of aluminium screen wire.  It is not the special pet wire, which costs a fortune & then some, but it seems to have done the trick.  I have been working my way round the downstairs windows redoing the screens, though I have taken the precaution of putting them in backwards so the temptation to try removing the rubber is removed. Not that he hasn't tried!  Each window has been thoroughly inspected ~ & tested!  So far, so good!

Meanwhile Queensland has started its summer with a huge bang.  Each afternoon the thunderstorms roll in with booms & flashes but while Kirby is hiding safely under one of our big lounge chairs Marlow is perched on a windowsill with his nose pressed up hard against the screen watching the world light up.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

It was Interesting...

 October is our month for birthdays ~ not that we fuss overmuch but a nice meal out, off~island, is usually a good way to go. So as it was my birthday I got to choose. *sigh*

You know, you can be rainbow coloured & all the letters of the alphabet but finding vegetarian options on anyone's menu round here is harder than finding a needle in a haystack.  If you are lucky the restaurant in question will offer one: one entree, one main. And then they don't ever change their menu.  I cook better & more interesting vegetarian @ home. So knowing this, & knowing how very much my man likes to use my birthday as an excuse to eat out, I began looking early, scrolling through the on~line menus of the local restaurants. I opted for The Lighthouse even though their specialty is seafood.  They @ least change their vegetarian option regularly & the view is wonderful.

It turned out to be a really, really bad option.  The MOTH's meal was lovely ~ but he eats seafood.
There are lots of things to like about the Lighthouse.  They have a huge outside dining area that is spectacular & gets the sea breeze but on  Sunday it was super crowded & unbelievably noisy ~ a huge negative for me.  I don't like crowds & huge amounts of noise make me anxious & irritable ~ but birthday treat so I'm prepared to be accommodating.  They also do signature cocktails.  I hardly ever drink so these are always an experience as I never know what it is likely to taste like.  This was a *Blush Blast*.  Interesting.
The vegetarian option was pappardelle [with shiitake mushrooms, spinach & pine nuts] ~ which I had no idea was pasta. I'm not a huge pasta fan but whatever...About halfway through something cut the inside of my mouth & I spat out a huge chunk of mussel shell. Gag. Absolutely gross ~ apart from the pain. Nothing like trolling through your meal in public in search of other nasty surprises.

I remember my mother telling T1, after he'd ordered a particularly awful meal when eating out as a child & was hugely disappointed, that the dining experience was always about taking risks: win some, lose some ~ & sometimes your experience will be less than optimum. Well, mine was less than optimum!
Dessert was fun.  I ordered affogato ~ because I'd never had it before & it sounded interesting.  It was! I had no idea how one was supposed to tackle this but had a vague idea one was supposed to pour one's shots over one's icecream ~ so I did.  Apparently that is correct. Hmmmm.  Not sure what the attraction is....

We took ourselves round to the kids' place for coffee where the Little Man, who is experiencing his first day care & church creche, took exception to our appearance.  All in all it was an interesting day & a huge relief to arrive home!