Tuesday, 27 December 2016

December's End.

 After a week of lowering skies & thunder the sky flared with mare's tails, hot & muggy as Queensland summers are meant to be.  We are burning mosquito coils because the mosquitoes have arrived with the summer weather in black clouds so that it is impossible to work outdoors.

As the MOTH & I gave plants as gifts this year I had to go & dig & water, the hose waving wildly as I swatted bities.

Our garden is something of a mish~mash.  Like so much else it was begun before the MOTH broke his back & ground to a halt through the years we struggled from day to day & week to week to get him back on his feet, functioning, but only able to work from home.

I got our canopy in ~ essential as our west cooks, baking the ground like cement.  The canopy reduced our outside temp by about 15 degrees! I picked at the garden over the years but never really had the money to go for it full on, nor the time to devote to it while I was running all over Brisbane with the ODD. That has now changed.
 Some things remain unchanged.  We will never do much with the waterfront & embankment.  This harbours our wildlife & is rapidly becoming the final sanctuary for birds & beasts alike. The birds are cluey.  They know we have cats & there is always a watchman on guard duty at the birdbath.  Even so, the young birds are vulnerable.  They have not yet learned to be wary even of doey Marlow & just this morning I had to prise Marlow's jaws open to release a young friar bird ~ & you have to be pretty dopey to be caught by Marlow!

The half acre or so around the house is another matter, & good for the sort of arguments that break marriages.  The MOTH is a trained horticulturalist ~ a scientist, a specialist & a planner.  I am a gardener, unscientific & prone to produce chaos.  The bush house, the air plants & orchids are anathema to a soul that delights is abundance, lush greenness, wildness. Compromise has to be the name of the game we are neither of us good at!

Just the same we have begun under our northern windows with what we could agree on: azaleas!  I love their abundance of flower as much as I mourn their lack of fragrance but I seem to have finally convinced the MOTH that not all gingers will run rampant through the whole garden & we will get the most glorious fragrance!

Then there is the food! Latkes for Hanukkah ~ & I do love me some latkes, but apparently I drowned the sponge instead of soaking it so the trifle was exhorbitantly alcoholic for a family who rarely drinks anything stronger than butter beer ~ yes it is a thing though where ODD actually got the recipe I have no idea! Ours is a *tropical trifle* ~ or at least my version of it because nothing would induce me to add pineapple to something as wonderful as trifle. The alcohol is meant to be cointreau though any orange flavoured alcohol will do ~ & does as the cost of a bottle of cointreau is more than I am willing to pay! It won't be touched until next year either ~ & perhaps not even then.  It depends who's home.  Not all of mine like their trifle alcoholic.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Done & Dusted.

The nicest Christmas we ever had was the first year we did Hanukkah instead. It was relaxed, stress free & Christ centred. Ever since stuff has conspired to turn this into the 3 ring flea circus that is Christmas in Australia, further complicated by the fact our kids didn't grow up as PK's but now they are. *sigh*

As it turned out I wasn't even consulted this year.  The CG arrived home with baubles & strings of tinsel & fairy lights & proceeded to decorate ~ a proceeding promptly destroyed by Marlow who found the tree in his favourite napping place & sent it flying so he could, well, sprawl. Twice.  So the girl had to hide it practically behind the t.v set where both cats are still eyeing off the hanging baubles.

I put my Hanukkah candles in the kitchen window.  Not being Jewish I feel no need to have a *proper* menorah.  I just choose some pretty coloured candles & nice glass wax catchers & I found a lovely menorah card decoration on~line that I could size to fit behind each candle with the day's covenant reminder & bible reading & I just flip it over come sunset when I light the candles.  I was happy to be just me but surprisingly the MOTH has wanted to join me for the bible readings & has appreciated the candles, which he has deemed pretty & attractive lined up along the windowsill with all the greenery behind them.

So it's been a mix & muddle sort of year with different flavours but our kids are big & we only had two home so the pressure to conform is not there.  Libby, just wanted to enjoy her first Christmas @ home in 5 years, even going overseas for her church's carol night despite a burgeoning migraine.  I just wanted the least stress possible.

 I went nowhere, not even to the island carol night, for the first time ever.  I have been unhappy with the carol night the past few years.  The godly lady who began it & ran it died several years ago & since then it has degenerated into something I wouldn't want to take a small child to with questionable & suggestive songs & costuming. It is such a pity but another example of the secularisation of our society & the pagan influences driving the Christmas phenomenon.

Meanwhile ODD has been working 15 & 16 hour days from one performance event to another, & was in Toowoomba for Christmas Eve, singing in the mall.  She is welcome.  Absolute madness. T1 was in S.A with his wife's family but the OT arrived bearing a BBQ all prepared to set up for the big day only we woke to thunder & lightening & torrential rain so that was never happening.

Done & dusted for another year & I can't say I am sorry.  Wondering how many pieces people will have to put back together in the coming days, all in the name of a God they don't believe in.

Friday, 16 December 2016

One Fire Raging.

We went to the mainland Thursday: CG, Rabqa, me.  Mostly we were doing a hit & run on Koorong to pick up some teaching materials for next year but as we returned to the jetty, this is what we saw!

Only 2 options: Either it was Straddie or it was us.  It was us.  Huge fire in the middle of the island with a long front & spot fires happening as a wind gusting to 40+ knots fanned the flames. Ugh.

In 30 plus years here we have never seen a fire like this.  Being subtropical we tend to be more dampish during the fire season but this year has been both hot & dry with very strong winds that have blown nearly constantly.

Poor Rabqa arrived after they closed the roads with her cat locked in at home & both she & I praying like mad he would be safe.  I did feel the Lord say all was good but it was 7.30pm before they let those not in the fires immediate path through & then, much later that night, the fire came to within 150m of her place.  Much excitement we could all have done without with fire crews arriving from the mainland, bulletins coming up on what to do & evacuation centres, heaps of boys in blue, the IGA staying open till past midnight just in case ofs & an extra ambulance...

And after all that the firies did a super job.  No lives lost, no homes burnt.  The worst was a couple of sheds incinerated.  Meanwhile it wasn't affecting us at all as we are at the other end of the island, right out of harm's way, but the kids kept ringing [think they were peeved to be missing all the excitement] & I rang my mother before she saw the news & panicked.  Then I rang a lady we know in a wheelchair to make sure she was ok & I counted up how many beds we could conjure up just in case we got refugees.

It burnt out of control through the night but then the wind dropped, the fire got contained & we are now more or less back to normal.

The sad part is it was probably arson.  The bad fires usually are but what sort of a maniac thinks fires raging out of control burning everything in their path are fun?  Meanwhile I eyed my gutters full of leaves knowing full well we have so many trees that my gutter are the least of my concerns & they never stay clear anyway. Christmas in Australia.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Little Birds Flown.

The one thing you can say about life is that it never stays the same.  When you have as many children as we do it gets a little quirkier than most.

Those of you who have known me for years have heard me rant about the vagaries of Queensland roads [& Brisbane in particular] as we geared up for yet another concert in some inaccessible corner of Brisbane.  I do not miss that amount of stress in my life. The ODD is all on her own now but next year she should be employed full time in the music industry so has given up her teacher aide position on the island.  They have no~one else to teach instrument & voice so there goes another schools initiative program.  As a side note the inadequacies of the Qld ed music program, music being considered a *soft option* which must make anyone who has actually studied music howl with laughter, is one reason we homeschooled to the bitter end.

So the girl rounded up her music students for an end of career recital ~ to which I was invited.  Many, many moons ago ODD began her music career in the little island school band & choir, a big fish in a very tiny pond because in our house we took music seriously & if I was paying for instruments & lessons then by golly~gosh! that child was going to practise ~ & a child who practises their instrument will easily outshine all the children who don't. In our wonderful state system mostly they don't.

I had been deployed to pick up some goodies from the shops to feed the 1/2 dozen or so parents who might have been expected to show up.  No~one did.  I was it. With only weeks to go before summer break lessons are already winding down.  Why Qld schools insist on keeping every one in class while the thermometer threatens to go through it's top & the humidity reduces everyone to melting puddles of sweat I do not know, but they do.

One of the senior grades & I sat on hard benches to listen to a small repertoire from flutes, drums & ukuleles. I was amused. Firstly the girl was professionally outfitted in a little black dress. Secondly, aka Alison, each group was self~conducting.  Interesting as most of them seemed to have trouble with their counting & of course some were much better than others & some could actually read their music while others could not.

Just the same ODD seems to have done a pretty decent job with her flutes.  It is not a particularly easy instrument to get a decent sound out of & even the early fingering is quite difficult. Kudos to the girls.

As for the drums, ODD certainly doesn't play them & I had no idea she was teaching them but though the segments were short they also did ok.

The ukuleles were interesting.  Several of the children had only been learning for one or two weeks so some of the children got lost, some played one thing while the rest played something else entirely & only one child actually had the courage to sing along.  Interesting.  I applauded with aplomb.

ODD rounded up her various bits & pieces & that was that.  Nothing about her experience with public education makes her regret being homeschooled. End of an Era.

However T1 looks set to be returning to Brisbane in the new year.  He would be local, though not on the island, which would mean I will see a great deal more of my grandson than I have to date.  Waiting hopefully to hear if the job opening eventuates. It would seem that even once they are gone my children have a wonderful capacity for disrupting my life.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Insight & Revelation.

One reason I am charismatic today, despite the wackier elements giving the rest of us a bad name & giving the reformationists reason to denounce our theology, is I actually read my bible.

That sounds arrogant because reformationists read their bibles too ~ along with Anglicans & some Catholics & we have all ended up in very different places.  I was raised Anglican & for the life of me I have never understood why anyone stays in that church.  It is neither unabashedly catholic nor unashamedly reformed, just this strange mongrel mix but the thing that sent me from the church was my bible.

Starting with Genesis all the way through to Revelation the God you read about in the bible acts with power & might & majesty ~ none of which filtered through to the congregation in a tangible way. Oh, lip service, sure ~ but actual power? Nope.  Not a skerik. My bible told me that where God was there was power so either the bible was true [as it claimed to be] or the whole thing was a gigantic hoax, as I seriously suspected.

So being me, I asked.  I was told all my life that prayer was talking to God so why couldn't He talk back?  If He was real, as I was constantly told, then I could expect an answer.  That was only reasonable. Probably no~one was more surprised than I was to get an answer.

The hows, the whys, the what happends are not the purpose of my meanderings here. In His own way & time God proved beyond reasonable doubt that His charismatic gifts are alive & well for the purpose of allowing His saints to serve a hurting world. So far, so good.

However changing denominations simply raises a new set of questions ~ for which, quite often, there seems to be no reasonable explanation & I really, really, really hate being told something inane like It's the will of God.  I don't believe God is a sadist.  I don't believe He tortures those who believe in Him with sickness, debility, depression etc but charismatics have their own set of foibilles & I had heard By His stripes you were healed until I wondered if these people even heard themselves? I had heard: Stand in faith until healing manifests...but hope deferred makes the heart sick... or as the message puts it Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around. 

So what was I meant to think when I didn't see healing manifest?  When I prayed & nothing happened? It bugged me, you know. I know what the word says.  I believe the word is true. I also know we are in a spiritual war zone where most of the time we can't even see the enemy. And I know I often don't see the obvious, the stuff right under my very nose, the things I think I know inside out & upside down & back to front.

Sometimes all it takes is for someone to phrase something slightly differently & the lights, all the lights go on at once.  I had that happen last week & it has so totally impacted my faith: what I think, how I think it & how strong I am about what I believe.

Rabqa & I are our bible study just at present. Our other lady is away & the MOTH generally listens rather than participates. We came away from our last prayer seminar with a number of things we planned on using for our study times.  One of those was a set of Larry Hutton cds: I Believe: Why No Results? Yes indeed!

Bek & I have had this training & so we use things like this to build ourselves up & as a reminder to speak the word, believe the word, do the word.  However Larry said one thing that impacted me enormously.  He was speaking about healing & put it like this:  My body hurts~ that's a fact. But a fact is not the Truth.  The bible says Your word is Truth [john 17:17] & the word says By His stripes you were healed. Lightbulb moment!!!! 

In all honestly the only thing that has changed is how I see what is happening around me.  I pray & sometimes I see something immediately & sometimes I don't.  That is a fact.  The *Truth* is what the word says & the word says they are healed. Seeing fact V Truth has helped me enormously & really helped my faith.  I stop looking for all the things I might be doing wrong.  I don't doubt myself, our prayers, or think I've failed to connect with God or that God, for whatever reason, has chosen not to answer this particular prayer in the affirmative, because facts are not necessarily Truth! I have no trouble with a concept expressed in this particular way.  In fact it has cleared up a lot of muck for me & made things very, very clear.  There are facts & then there is the truth.  They are not necessarily the same thing!  Such freedom!

Don't you love how the Holy Spirit works to clear your thinking up so you think right?  Yep, I sure do appreciate it!

Doing the crazy jive.

 Sometimes life does crazy more than usual. At least now I am not the one driving the crazy.  However ODD was performing.  End of year recital/Christmas gig/charity event ~ &  the girl was hassling to get me along, which proved to be unusually difficult.  Of all the cars I might have borrowed not one was available.  I was considering the all day bus/train event for a couple of hours of afternoon matinee when CG &CB decided they would like to come along, so I had a lift.

I've done these events for years.  And I have the ODD.  There are things I know are difficult; showcase pieces that leave me cold not matter how well performed they may be & then there are things like the Lux that  I shouldn't enjoy but absolutely adore. High sopranos so not my thing. Alison's soprano for this has sweetness as well as clarity & she sounds absolutely effortless & ethereal.

Exaudi lined both aisles to sing this so surround sound.  Enough to reduce me to a flood of tears. *sigh* Still I'd rather that any day than carol of the bells, which I truly loath.  It sounds so very harsh to me & the timing annoys me. Yep, I have unusual tastes in music too ~ as testified by newbies at church who wanted to know who they were singing as they had heard none of it before. *sigh*
 My girl has no idea how gorgeous she is & getting pictures is always something of a drama these days.  Having CG & CB along helped. We abandoned ODD & headed into Southbank. CG has crammed so much into a week CB may never recover.  Each & every day was full to the brim but she was determined to show him how much her local area has to offer.  She included both the Sunshine & Gold Coasts ~ & a jolly good thing as I consider Brisbane about the dullest & most boring city I've ever been to & the absolute hardest to get around in.

CB was wonderful as everything delighted him & CG just said Santiago is a cement jungle so Southbank with it's green spaces, swimming pools, eateries, giant ferris wheel, & brown flowing river was a novelty. Years of rehearsals has made me a bit jaded I think.  I associate Southbank with work, late nights & sheer exhaustion rather than somewhere one goes for pleasure & from choice.
That being so I've never done a proper Brisbane restaurant. Things like the Chocolateria, yes, the pancake parlour or Max Brenner's but food, real food, no.  We ended up doing a vietnamese sidewalk cafe & again CB impressed me by embracing the unknown & being willing to try something new.  So long as there was a vegetarian option I couldn't have cared less as I will eat most cuisines & as it happened I made a great choice for me: coconut pumpkin with sweet potato chips.  It was really, really nice & I can probably duplicate it at home.  CG opted for a green papaya salad [we did a trade as she wanted to taste mine & I was curious about hers] & that was light & fresh & quite spicy though I wouldn't have wanted it as a main, just as a side. CB tried a traditional & hearty soup & we came out under AUD$50 for the 3 of us.

I was back on the island by 9.30 hunting both my cats who had found an escape route & gone AWOL.  I never have this trouble but they alway misbehave for the MOTH. It's their way of protesting my absence but I don't appreciate it when I'm tired & just want to go to bed.


Sunday, 20 November 2016

A Smiling Visitor.

 So our multi~cultural family is expanding.  This week we welcomed CG's Chilean friend [to be known as Chile Boy or CB for short].  As an engineer he actually works for an Australian company & seeing he was in Perth for work he decided a week's leave was in order so he could pop across to Brissie & meet us all.
 We took the Grand's & had lunch at the Courthouse.  Because of work CB's English is very good though parts of the menu defeated him & the subtleties of Aussie humour were more than he could always manage.

 I think he likes Oz.  He seems to be enjoying his time here anyway.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Post Traumatic.

“Pops added,"you know, they say if you don't vote, you get the government you deserve."

"And if you do, you never get the results you expected," (Katherine) replied.” ~ E.A. Bucchianeri

I have been rather quiet lately ~ & not just because the American election has consumed so much time. Like many other countries America's choice affects us & we already have the pundits calling for a recession from American influence.  Thankfully they are no longer in politics & their views will not affect policy so saner heads are likely to prevail.

I am quietly hopeful.  Trump is at least seen to be willing to listen to the Christian right & has publically stated Christian influence cannot be allowed to wane in America.  This gives hope to those of us in a much more openly secular country that our frantic paddling below water & fervent prayers are being heard & we will not go down the path of secular humanism to destruction ~ or at least not immediately.

We were called to prayer in unusual ways & as intercessors in the weeks prior to the election & felt that Trump was God's choice & a reprieve for Americans if they are willing.  It should be a wake up call to the left that in trying to get your agenda in place you cannot ignore large segments of your population.  They will rise up at some point & scream Foul! We saw it with Brexit in England.  We saw it with One Nation here in Australia.  We are seeing it in France & Germany, Sweden & Norway.

And as surely we see *love & tolerance* fly out the window when the love & tolerance crowd does not get it's own way.  Tolerant of everyone & everything except those who disagree with their *tolerance*. *sigh* The irony kills me, though really, it should not be a laughing matter.

So we did our thing in the park on Sunday & as we were coming home from the shops discovered flames leaping out of the CG's bedroom window.  She had been burning candles prior to getting in the shower but swears they were out [which I believe to be true.] The phone she has been using was in the middle of her bed & that is where the hottest part of the fire was & where it appears to have started; the phone is a molten mess.  Praise the Lord we were able to put it out just before it really took hold & have a few scorched walls, ruined bed linen, molten curtains but no structural damage. Her new computer, passport, & Chile identification were all saved though she must replace her Blue card, bank card, driver's license, & transport card.

Then we had a massive storm election night with thunder & lightening & torrential summer rain only to find someone had turned our garden hose on full bore & flooded our yard ~ not any of us.  We keep the head on & do not leave the hose where it was found.

Then CG had to fly down to Melbourne for her debrief on the Monday morning, completely rattled & upset by the fire, only to have a security leak on her home flight.  We have been getting more & more of these *attacks* but we are being wonderfully protected by our Lord & saviour.

I need to get off the emotional rollercoaster  but the unfolding drama I see all around me is rather addictive.  People are peculiar creatures & their choices often befuddle me but the reality is not my circus, not my monkeys. I belong to another Kingdom & thankfully it is ruled by a righteous King who does not show partiality.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Happy to Rant.

I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. L.M. Montgomery

I loved being an October baby. In Sydney it is the best month: just warming up for summer but the morning rich with scents & just cool enough.  It is a green month, the waters of bays & Harbour, river & inlet a deep jeweled sapphire & the sunshine glows amber amongst the tree leaves. 

I have a late birthday so it meant Exams were nearly over & the long summer holidays almost here.  I pitied those who had birthdays in June or July, the depths of winter, or hot summer babies, beet red in the heat.  Even in Queensland, October has always been a pleasant month until now.

Things began to change about 10 years ago.  There would be a knock at the door & some random child in a witch's hat & ghoulish mask demanding candy ~ here in Australia where October is not fall & Halloween cannot possibly be a fall festival.

They don't come any more. I never have candy but I can give them a history lesson they never wanted.  I guess word's got out...

I hate Halloween with a passion.  I hate the Americanisation of my country.  I hate that people want to dress ugly, scary, demonised. I understand, as most Australians don't, the symbols they are using. The carved pumpkins that seem so cute?  Left by wiccans to acknowledge you have agreed with satan.  That is a spiritual doorway.  It gives satan a right & an access to your family, your home, your life.  People laugh but there is nothing funny about the end results of cavorting with the devil.

Reclaim for Christ, cry some sadly misguided Christians. I'm sorry but there is no way you can reclaim this for Christ.  You cannot make holy that which is intrinsically unholy. Halloween was originally a festival dedicated to the Old Celtic gods ~ & they were dedicated to 2 things: sex & death. Now consider the majority of halloween costumes; they are either sexy or deathly. Those *fun* halloween games: fertility rites!  The trick or treating? A tithe to hell, one way or another.

Exodus 23:13

Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard: & do not mention the name of other gods, nor let[them] be heard from your mouth.

Exodus 23:24

Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.

Again & again & again God told Israel not to follow in the traditions of the pagan peoples who surrounded them.  Again & again & again they did ~ with dire consequences. Which bit of utterly overthrow them & break down their images do Christians not understand?  Which bit of nor do after their works is incomprehensible? 

I am sad beyond measure to see more & more children each year given to satan like this.  I am devastated well meaning parents allow it.  I am angry that greed is seeing this advertised on tv & so it is becoming a *thing* with the next generation of Australian children. 

I have problems with other *Christian* holidays as well.  Essentially there is nothing Christian about them & so I am not surprised that they have become commercialised.  They were always satans.  He's just taking back what was always his.

I think it should be compulsory reading for every Christian parent to read or listen to the testimonies of ex~pagans about the meaning & the symbolism of halloween.  They understand.  They get it.  When they get saved they utterly reject it ~ & they can't understand why Christians don't.  Jesus is coming back for a Church without spot or stain.  It is past time to repent of worldly ways & wash our robes clean in the blood of Christ!

Walking with Marlow.

"Cat people are different, to the extent that they generally are not conformists. How could they be, with a cat running their lives?" ~Louis J.

I like the wild.  It is why even the prettiest of cities holds no real attraction for me.  I am drawn to the green, to the quiet of birdsong, to the empty spaces.

I love where I live ~ though in all honesty I could do without my neighbours.  They are nice enough~ but why would I have people when I can have curlews crying under a harvest moon, crazy cats, & the wild shy creatures of bush & sky.

The wild is not orderly but it does have rhythm.  It quiets my soul.  This is what I understand God to have meant when He rested on the 7th day, looked around at what he had created & declared:  It is good.  Cats just make it better!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

A Little Road Trip.

So on Saturday we went to Toowoomba for the annual Rhema Prayer seminar.  For your entertainment here is the final stage of the climb up the Toowoomba range into the Great Divide.

It is much improved since I lived here.  It used to be an absolute nightmare, particularly in fog.  I drove when CG was playing soccer out here but had only just got her license.  Her father was much relieved as it has an infamous reputation.
This comes at the end of a two hour drive & begins the trip home but while the views are lovely it can be an awful experience, especially in heavy traffic.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Two, Four, Six, Eight...

People who love to eat are always the best people.– Julia Child

 This is the Old Cleveland Courthouse. Some enterprising soul has turned it into an extraordinary restaurant though it began life as a colonial cottage in 1853 & was Cleveland's first place of worship. This makes it one of the oldest buildings in the area as Cleveland wasn't settled until 1851 & the building is heritage listed.
The Courthouse is one of those places you drive past all the time yet never go to ~ or at least we never had.  From the road it looks sort of tiny so having arrived a little early for lunch & wandered down to the park at the end of the road we were surprised to see a small but beautiful garden & a patio of little tables with thick white clothes looking immaculate in the warm spring sunshine.  Much larger than we had expected though tablecloths like that always remind me of our last night in London...
 The MOTH & Rabqa, CG & I were celebrating: that CG was home, 2 birthdays, a day out for our church leadership.
 We were escorted through a maze of dim rooms with their high Queensland ceilings & onto the patio for lunch. The view is lovely.  I imagine it makes for spectacular weddings.

Sometimes life surprises you. The Courthouse had not been my first choice for a celebratory meal.  Last year we had been to the Lighthouse ~ a little further out along the point.  It had been blustery & I had not been overly happy with my meal because most places round here only give one vegetarian option. Dessert was wonderful & their liqueurs were to die for, a dessert in a glass & far too sweet to be seriously considered alcoholic. So I had begun looking early this year & had chosen the Siromet Winery.

When I first looked at the Siromet menu their vegetarian choices were mouth watering but when I checked before booking I found they had changed their menu &....well, Ick! What can I say?

The courthouse only offers 1 entree & 1 main if you happen to be vegetarian but the entree happened to be deep fried camembert.  I am very partial to deep fried camembert & most places will happily turn an entree into a main if you ask.  The MOTH was rather keen to return to the Lighthouse but he also is rather partial to the camembert.

As it turned out his Tasmanian Oysters [mornayed] were freshly opened, which is what you want with something like oysters. He says they were scrumptious... Rabqa & CG chose different options from the *Meal of the Day*:Cone Bay saltwater barramundi, macadamia nut crust, lemon & chive sauce for Rabqa & Slow cooked Angus beef cheeks braised in rich red wine & beef stock, roast root vegetables and creamy mash for CG.

However, as anyone who knows me knows, the most important part of any meal is the dessert! Rabqa & I chose a Brandy snap basket filled with raspberry sorbet, topped with seasonal berries.
It was very yummy.

We will be back in a few weeks when CG's friend from Chile arrives.  A much safer bet than my cooking!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Of Sermons & Strings & Other Things.

Even the preachers get preached by life” Alok Jagawat 

Last week was a sermon week. There is a reason I don't enjoy preaching every week!

The good news is we have to have a short [under 200 words] piece ready each month which invariably falls to me & which just as invariably I have completely forgotten about until the reminder arrives & then it is Panic Stations!  All Hands to the Pumps!  We're Going DOWN....which stresses me no end. Not this month!  I had my thought ready, prepared & all good to send immediately.  My self satisfied smirk lasted a whole 5 minutes.

I suffer from procrastination. It's why I game. It's why I blog.  It gives me something to do besides knuckle down to writing a sermon. Then I found this wonderful little article on why pastors procrastinate when it comes to the weekly sermon. I was amused.  He likened it to having a baby.  Ummm, I've had 5 babies & I can assure you, there's NO resemblance! Poor man.  I guess he's never had to push 8lbs of immovable mass out of his body. It's not even that it's hard work ~ sermonising, not producing babies.  Sometimes it's impossible but let's face it, to do this you are gifted to start with.  The problem arises because self discipline does not come with the gift! *sigh*

Besides, I like research.  I can research forever. Research means I can avoid people.  I do understand people are the point but I am not always either reasonable or logical. Then I wander round vaguely with spiritual indigestion & an overload of information.  Putting thoughts in order while in this state is a waking nightmare.  However this chappie, one Brian Jones, said something I know all too well... because we’re good at preaching, we’ll do it at the last minute.

I can't tell you how much that barb hit home.  Not that I'm the world's greatest preacher or anything like that but let's face it, I am lit trained.  I can pull an essay together in my sleep.  I focus best when I am running out of time.  It concentrates the mind wonderfully! Besides, it's all there you know, sitting behind my eyelids in the dim, dark recesses of my mind & it just seems like so much wasted effort to put it down on paper even though I know perfectly well I have a mind like a sieve when it comes to numbers.

I've known for several weeks my next lot of sermons would be on the Holy Spirit.  I was delighted.  I love the Holy Spirit.  I can rabbit on about Him forever & so... I left it & left it because I was so sure, you know...

Silly, silly me.  Oh, I started with a bang ~ till I hit my first brick wall.  It seems God & I did not have the same idea about where this was going at all.  I huffed & I puffed & I blew my cheeks out.  I procrastinated some more.  Days in fact.  Nothing like having more scriptures than you can possibly use but we were not moving forward.

Now I know ~ & you know ~ what I needed to do & I did eventually get around to asking the Holy Spirit where we were going with this ~ & yes, He told me because He's very good to me that way but I went happily rabbiting along the trail only to find I'd well & truly run out of steam with miles to go before I could sleep.

Bear in mind I am a Lit Major.  My subject was The Holy Spirit ~ & HE gave me a salvation message!  No wonder I was growing confused.  Our congregation is small.  We are all saved.  Still there was the Park...

The Holy Spirit is brave: I am not. The hecklers come out & all my defences go up.  In point of fact, I think, most of the mockery was aimed at the MOTH. And as I pointed out in retrospect, they did get a straightforward & simple explanation of how to get saved & why they needed the Holy Spirit in it all but things like that just leave me feeling mauled.  I know.  I know.  It's not about me.  Paul had it heaps worse.  The persecuted church has it worse. And seriously, I get their point.  They were all settled in for a drinking & smoking session & we rock up with our talk of God & holiness & sin & the need to be saved & rain all over their party. 

Sometimes I just want to be like everybody else ~ unnoticed.  Rock up on Sunday, sing my 3 hymns, give the nice 3 point sermon, have my cuppa & head home for an after church nap. I don't want to be that crazy God lady in the park. 

There is a really sad aspect to this.  I had a prolonged period where I wasn't preaching & I really thought I was all good with that because, you know, women preachers & all that but Jeremiah 20:9...*sigh*

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Here a Little, There a Little.

No sort of defense is needed for preaching out of doors, but it would need very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has never preached beyond the walls of his meeting-house. Charles Spurgeon

It would be fair to say that when we first began preaching in the park none of us had any idea.  We were totally clueless ~ & at least two of us were incredibly nervous.

We've tackled it a number of different ways: preaching & prayer.  All music. Straight salvation message.  Reading through the scriptures. Any or all of these get God's word out to people. At present we are simply transposing the morning service down to the park.

There is a reason for this.  It takes the burden off the preacher.  We have done a dry run.  We finish with prayer & this is a good place for the MOTH to give the salvation call as part of the closing prayer.

When we began 3 years ago there was hardly ever anyone in the park.  Those who were around bolted as soon as they realised it was a religious activity. *sigh*  Made us feel soooo wanted but at least no~one was attempting to toss us off cliffs.  I have so much more respect for Paul these days!

Three years down the track it is a very different story.  I don't think either Rabqa or I are ever going to love doing this but we are far more competent & far less nervous. We're not the *get up close & personal* sorts so this is better suited to us than one~on~one evangelism.

We chose this little park for a reason: absolutely everyone coming or going on the island must go by this park! During our couple of hours each Sunday we see 2 barges & 3 boats collect & deposit islanders & at high tide there will be swimmers & the dog bathers as well.  Captive audience ~ but they can still swim, swing the kids, bbq their sausages.

I think the thing that has attracted people more than anything is the music;  I'm an old hippy so my choice in music tends to the folk/rock & Celtic but we have had absolute hords of compliments on the music even though we are not live. For many I think it is the first time they have heard Christian music they can relate to: not the old, unsingable hymns; not the psalms in strange metres, just music you could dance to, clap your hands to & sing along to without much effort.

And what happens is very, very strange. This is a transition point so numbers fluctuate wildly.  Some people watch for a few minutes out of curiosity.  Some stay for the music. But there are the hard core lot too & their numbers are growing.  Heaven forfend they should actually be caught live at church so they huddle in the bus shelter & the taxi rank, perch on the stairs on either side of the road, wind down their windows in their cars as they wait for the barge, hide amongst the parked cars & pretend they aren't listening, occupy the seats...

We are no longer doing a straight salvation message.  We are teaching the same message we do inside the building on: Our Authority in Christ; the Power of the Holy Spirit in Our Lives; the Healing Power of Christ...& Rabqa & I both tend to be scripture heavy.  We define our terms & do word studies. We teach as much as preach because salvation is one thing but discipleship is what we are told to do.  It is not the sort of theology most are used to hearing.  It is not the sort of music they associate with church.  It does people's heads in.

The Anglican minister comes over twice a month by boat.  He literally crab walked down the hill his eyes bugging out of his head & he stood under the bus shelter till his boat came hardly believing his ears.  Not only was there open air preaching, it was a woman doing it!!!  Poor man.

Because we aren't aggressively approaching people it would be easy to think that nothing is happening but nothing could be further from the truth.  Of the group of teens who came to mock & flaunt their demonic powers 2 were saved & we see them regularly amongst those who come to listen & one came & asked specifically for healing prayer.  There was the young backslider who spent a lot of time talking to the MOTH & recommitted his life to Christ. There was the foster mum who asked for prayer & whom we see regularly.

This week it was a Christian man who [again]spent a lot of time chatting to the MOTH because the Holy Spirit was directing him to us but like so many others he has heard the gossip & back~stabbing & was quizzing the MOTH on what we actually believe & teach. Scripture says the Lord watches over His word to perform it so one of Rabqa's & my consistent prayers is that the Lord never allow us to teach or preach what is wrong.

Then there were the barge cars... & this made me sad because those parked up the hill could hear us but not see us & so, of course, there were some curious stares as the barge loaded but there were 2 different cars where someone was straining to catch the last of the salvation message as they boarded.  We must trust the Holy Spirit for the rest & that is one of the drawbacks of doing things this way.

Week after week, here a little there a little because the harvest is ripe but the workers are few.  I understand. As the MOTH says; everything we are as a church is completely exposed in the park.  You can't hide. If you don't believe what you're saying it shows. And as has been happening consistently, which is aggravating rather than flattering, another church has followed our lead ~ sort of.  They have set up camp but speaking publically in the public domain, rather than in the safe confines of a church building, is daunting & so they are remarkably silent for people who are supposed to be witnessing.  Those who mock our low numbers in a building need to open their spiritual eyes & see the 10,000 we are ministering to in the park each week.

We need our churches.  They are meant to equip the saints for the work of God but in this regard the church has been pretty disobedient for centuries & thus we find ourselves in dire straits at the end of the age.  It is time to do what we have been called to do.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

A Little Shopping in My Life...

We cannot know. But sometimes there is kindness, and sometimes there is love.” ~ Guy Gavriel Kay: Children of Earth & Sky.

So the CG had a birthday & accumulated a vast amount of cash to be redeemed at Koorong, the big Christian bookstore.  Since she was going I rounded up Rabqa with an eye to next year's bible study ~ & bummed out.  What passes as a study mostly drives me nutty as I find them shallow, mostly reformed in theology [though I was super pleased to see Bethel had a couple of things on the shelves], & so superficial I wonder that anyone, anywhere, gets anything out of them.  As Rabqa pointed out we are used to getting the best of the best.

I'm not a super great teacher.  What I am super great at is facilitating.  I am happy to wade through heaps & heaps of material in order to find teaching that will be really useful & helpful.  A lot of that is actually from on~line preaching & I can assure you that  if you can't handle strong meat our studies are not for you.  That's just how it is. 

Actually, we may use one of the Bethel studies so I have bought the handbook & Rabqa & I will have a look & see if we want to pursue it.  I wanted to look at Bevere's The Bait of Satan but everything, including the workbook, had sold out so will have to try again.  I did order Cahn's newest one & walked out with a book on evangelism for one of our members as she has asked for teaching & I just feel very inadequate to give her the instruction she needs.  I grinned at Rabqa as I payed & admitted I was actually spending my clothing allowance on books but they will wear better & last longer & give me far greater pleasure than any item of clothing could.  I think she was rather appalled.  As I have no clothes sense my aversion to clothes is understandable.

I did, however,  organise with ODD to go clothes shopping on Saturday.  I walked into the first shop & despaired.  The choice was overwhelming but I liked nothing I could see & what I might have liked caused immediate tactile issues.  I cannot abide anything that itches, scratches, rubs, droops, drops, rustles etc.  It has to be pretty soft.  It has to be utterly comfortable.  It has to be something I think is pretty.  Preferably it will be in a natural [or near natural] fabric. I am incredibly fussy & yep, I like odd things so I am not easy to buy for.  After 10 minutes I was ready to head home without a single item of clothing.  ODD rolled her eyes ~ but hey, I have shopped with her for years & you have NO idea!

So, said ODD, if I choose some things you have to at least try them on.  Agreed.  She found 2 of the 3 tops I eventually bought.  I did find some sandals I can abide & which almost fit. Trying to look respectable as well as comfortable for church is exceedingly hard work when you are something of a slob & have no clothes sense whatsoever!  The bonus is we finally, finally, finally found the girl bras that fit:10Gs!!!! At least now she knows where to look next time she needs them.

To compensate for having to torture myself in the name of decency we detoured at the book shop on the way out & I have indulged myself.  I adore Guy Gavriel Kay.  He's not to everyone's taste.  He sort of writes history.  He sort of writes fantasy.  The elixir is a heady mix.  He writes in a High Bardic style: beautiful, poetic, whimsical.  His latest offering is nearly 6" thick.  I am in heaven.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Muster your Arguments.

Chile Girl is the debater in this house.  She likes nothing better than to sink her teeth into a good argument.  Any tendencies I had that way are long gone. Far too often the need to win the argument over~rides kindness, gentleness & mercy.  The ability to present an argument [or refute an argument] dispassionately, clearly & detachedly seems to be a lost ability ~ & nowhere is this clearer than in our Parliament.

Two things:

  • The MOTH likes listening to the televised broadcast of our parliament sittings.
  • As part of our English course in the upper grades both my girls did a study on what makes a good debate & how to debate well.
Listening to our parliament sit drives me to distraction.  There are rules to debating & the order of government is along the lines of if you want to do something, change something, create something that has to go through parliament you present your argument to parliament.  Both houses look at the proposition & present their arguments as to why this is a good idea or a lousy idea. What you are not supposed to do is name call; insult; be condescending; use bad language; attack people personally.  Parliament needs to go back to school & relearn the basics. Seriously.  I can't stand it.

What drives me into a complete frenzy is the mad lot who can't stick to the point & drag an argument all over the place.  This may be a great deflection from their ignorance & inability to defend their position but it it does nothing to clarify a situation & bring about the best resolution. It is all about winning ~ & only winning.  At any cost.  It has nothing to do with what is actually best for our country. It is about power; keeping power; staying in power; denying power to your opponent.  Too sad making. This is not government.

So we haven't quite descended to the level of an all out brawl [as happened in one of the Asian parliaments not  so long ago] but the sledging is not debate.  Name calling is not debate.

It appalls me that these are the people who are meant to be governing our country. The whole lot should be sacked.  At the very least, as a friend of mine suggested, no polly should be allowed to make policy on poverty unless they have first lived for a year on the amount of money a welfare recipient recieves [& only that amount of money!].  That'll larn 'em!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest. – By Larry Lorenzoni

 Five years ago our Chile Girl answered the call God had placed on her life to serve the abused & disadvantaged children of Chile.  She was just 21. We joked about how she would stand in the middle of Brisbane & ring home: Mum, I'm on the corner of... & I need to get to... Google & tell me how to get there...

For 5 years she has celebrated her birthday in Chile.  They have been wonderful birthdays with people who know how to celebrate but they are not home.  This year she was home. The parcels have gone in reverse.
She asked for our really delux carrot cake ~ the cake everyone asks for on birthdays but I don't have an oven at present.  The white ants have created havoc in our kitchen & bathroom & we are in the process of saving to sort out the mess so it was just our deluxe, no bake cheese cake. Yum. There's still some left if you want to pop over.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

How will you take your poison?

 “One of they key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don’t go into government.” ~ Donald Trump

If you're American you probably don't want to read this post.  

The ugly truth is that other nations have never thought as highly of America as Americans have thought of themselves.  As a general thing.  Individual Americans may be globally aware but generally they have appeared not.  Rather they have appeared arrogant, brash, & woefully ignorant, even of their own history, let alone anyone else's.

For years the MOTH & I laughed about the American couple in our carriage as we climbed the Jungfrau.  He was small & mousey.  She was big & loud.  Amongst the Japanese rushing from side to side with their multiple cameras [yep, there's a reason for these cultural stereotypes!] they stood out.  Her voice rose above the clacking wheels & the rattling trundle of carriages swaying up a steep Swiss mountainside with a nasal twang: Peter, take a picture of this. Peter, take a picture... If you were American it was excruciatingly embarrassing.  Everyone else was both highly entertained or embarrassed for them.  It merely confirmed our worst opinions of Americans. 

The really sad part is what happened later. I might have considered Peter & his bride a sad anomaly except for the young man I met outside the Australian embassy in London.  He had been on the continent for several years & had completely lost whatever accent he had once had.  His accent was so unaccented it was impossible to even hazard a guess as to what part of the world he had originated from. For someone so completely introverted I have a wonderful coping mechanism in these situations: I am never going to see these people again in my life so I can afford to be open & chatty & curious.  So I asked ~ & was completely flummoxed when he slithered away from my questions. Eventually I garnered he had learned the hard way that Americans are not so highly regarded by many people as they like to think.  His lesson was so thorough he had worked super hard to loose anything that identified him as American & was embarrassed to have to admit he was American ~ though he had not stooped to identifying as Canadian as so many others I met did.

So American politics at present is giving the rest of the world a huge laugh.  Australia got Pauline Hanson for our sins; America got both Trump & Clinton.

I have many, many American friends ~ though I may have a good many fewer after this post~ who are smart, & funny, & educated & nearly all of them have been temporarily blocked on my FB page until after their election.  I have been distressed that people I thought were calm, reasonable, articulate human beings have reverted to being rabid name~callers over differences of opinions  in this electoral campaign. Some sugar coat their opinions but not enough that their opinion of those that differ is that that are idiots about to send their country down the gurgler.

I was appalled enough by our own politics this election.  For the first time ever I had to pay more than cursory attention to all candidates because for a Christian the stakes were incredibly high. Sadly I have been subjected to a deluge of American politics as well ~ & so I have formed an opinion.  

Frankly, I think both candidates are disgraceful. One is crude, rude & vulgar.  The other is an unindicted criminal. That being said I think the choice is actually fairly simple for Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus ~ actually anyone of faith at all & anyone at all who values freedom of thought & speech because Clinton is on record as stating she wants religious beliefs changed. Here is the quote:

All the laws we've passed don't count for much if they're not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.

The context was the keynote address at the annual Women in the World Summit in New York City & yes, the woman was addressing numerous issues that affect women. However I find her thought process incredibly frightening.  In effect she believes in controlling what people think, how they think it & what they do with that thinking. Do I agree with much of what happens to women in this world? Absolutely not!  Do I think changing our laws is going to change that?  Nope! People will continue to do as they think.  This is incredibly evident in Western areas with large muslim populations: Burkas, Sharia, polygamy, child brides...all happen though the laws of the country forbid it all. People change from the inside out or nothing really changes & this is, in fact, what Christianity teaches.

It would also seem Clinton is less liberal  than she would have people believe: Link

Sadly, whether I like it or not, the person my American friends elect in November becomes the unofficial leader of the Western world.  It seems to have come down to which poison you will drink yet from a Christian viewpoint I remember that Lot was promised that for 10 righteous men God would spare Sodom. Sodom did not have 10 righteous men ~ but I believe America does. It's time to stop leaning on our own understanding & actually ask God who He has chosen & what He wants us to do about that. And for the record we pray fervently for America & the American people: that God will give you wisdom & insight, courage & strength for the fight.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Walking with Cats.

“I regard cats as one of the great joys in the world. I see them as a gift of highest order.”  ~Trisha McCagh
I am, unabashedly, a cat lover. I am completely indifferent to dogs. Dog lovers who rave about the qualities of their canine friends have never known the love of a good cat because I believe animals become what you believe them to be & so I have been adored by cats, protected by cats & loved by cats my entire life.  I consider it a privilege.  Cats are discriminating.

Mind you, nearly all our cats would have been relegated to the funny farm if they were humans.  The present pair are no exception. They are, from all appearances, mostly rag doll.  They were so slow to mature I suspected them of brain damage.

 Most kittens are just about fully mature by 6 months ~ in attitude if not physically.  Not our dopey two. Six months is what they were when we took them out of foster care.  Granted it was a stinking hot day the day we collected them & a 2 hour car ride, then the boat...water... & they were understandably terrified but they drove my house crazy crying any time they lost sight of me. They still tend to be pretty neurotic.  Kirby won't come for anyone but me so the MOTH has a terrible time with him if I'm away while Marlow pines.  Too sad making.

With behaviours like that you would think they'd be terrified of their own shadows but in fact both cats enjoy coming for walks with me.  They don't need a harness & it's not something I would ever do in suburbia but here they simply follow after me as I head off & keep within a couple of feet, unlike Gyver, who would happily pad after the boys when they headed of fishing, then  needed to be fetched home at dinner time.

They have very different personalities when it comes to walking with me.  Kirby has a very clear idea of where my boundaries are.  He gets upset if I wander too far from my designated position. He's a chatterer too, commenting on everything he hears & sees.  Marlow is quieter, only calling if I suddenly get lost behind a mangrove & he likes to make these mad dashes, rushing past at a frantic speed to surprise & impress me with his manly prowess. I'm impressed that anything with a tummy that swings as wildly as Marlow's does can move at all!

For a while we thought Kirby was one of those stand~offish cats; very independent.  It was Marlow who was always underfoot; Marlow twining around ankles; Marlow on my desk or the arm of my chair; Marlow purring any time anyone at all looked at him; Marlow who slept with his great lumpen body draped over me like a rug. He quite overshadowed his brother who is just as desirous of affection but goes about it quite differently. 

 We call Kirby our hard lovin' man. Kirby is the one I have to watch.  He is likely to launch himself suddenly from his perch onto a shoulder, or preferably into waiting arms.  From thence he does long chin rubs, head butts, & if not deterred will begin a grooming session or snuggle into my neck & begin to knead.

Like many dogs they are tuned to my movements.  Wherever I go about the house & yard, within moments a cat will appear, madly interested in keeping me company & commenting on my activities.  At the least threat to my person whichever cat is around goes straight into protective mode, which we tend to find terribly funny because they are all fur & purr ~ though the local dogs know to keep their distance ~ but the MOTH, who suffers chronic pain & often wanders about the house at all hours of the night, has commented on the dual sphinxes who stand watch over me all night long.  Apparently my guardian angels wear fur. 

Friday, 7 October 2016

In the Mangroves.

“If there are no mangroves, then the sea will have no meaning. It is like having a tree without roots, for the mangroves are the roots of the sea…”Words of a Thai fisher from the Andaman Coast

I have a penchant for walking through our mangroves but this is an activity that can only be accomplished at low tide & it has its drawbacks: my cats.  Last time it was Kirby who spotted me slinking off alone into the mangroves.  This time is was Marlow.  Kirby is raucous.  Marlow can barely be heard but he is persistent. As you can see his tail was well down & he is a cat who almost always carries his tail high & proud.
As I headed down the hill, a distressed Marlow wailing in my wake, we flushed the red~necked wallaby & her joey. She leapt out from almost under my feet, her joey in hot pursuit, & they fled up the hill into the safety  of 50 acres of light timber & grassland. I was so thrilled. Yeah, I know, but little things give me great joy.

Hopeful I might spot them again I headed into their sanctuary but they were not to be seen.  All we did was upset the butcher birds who squawked up a storm & took dives at Marlow, who is neither brave nor a hunter, & cowered at my feet.

I was peeved when the point got fenced off.  It is a lovely walk & the view towards Karra at the end is pleasant. The plus is it has quickly become a wildlife sanctuary, unofficial though it may be, & one is likely to see all sorts of things not to be seen elsewhere like this birdswing butterfly.  The left wing was a little crumpled so perhaps this one was newly out of its chrysalis.
There was a snake bird on the point ~ not nearly as common as the cormorants & not at all happy to see me.  The only pictures I got were the ripple left as he dived underwater for cover.
There were jellyfish too, unusual for here, & such a pretty blue.
Then this pretty little crab
As we neared the steps back up to the houses there was a great whomping & splashing to be heard: the YOB cast netting for bait. Now the sound of the bait pump is throbbing through the house keeping his bait alive for tonight & Marlow has collapsed in an exhausted heap. Meanwhile Kirby has taken up residence beside me on the desk in case I decide to wander of again without him.