Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I'm a girl and I can sulk if I want to

 Apparantly when we come up against conflict, the human instinct is fight or flight. I'm not so sure if this is God's instinct which is more likely to involve such things as Grace, compassion and forgiveness. Since I'm "me" however, I can choose to do one of the former, and since I'm a woman, I can do both. So when Beloved innocently pushes the wrong buttons - I say "innocently" because he is just a man who hasn't fully worked out how complex the female mind actually is - it's perfectly logical to offer a piece of my mind before hitting the metal in the van and screeching up the street at a full 40 kms/ph (hey, just because I'm moody doesn't make me a law breaker).  I'm getting quite clever now because in the early days of our marriage I used to take off on foot, sometimes in barefeet and often without my handbag. I'm older and wiser now and take transport and a cardi.

I found myself hooning up the road the other evening. What normally takes place during one of my drives shall remain my secret because I'm mysterious and enigmatic. On this occasion though, I noticed that the sun was setting so I headed for the beach to watch. I sat at the waterfront feeling sorry for myself and told God that while I appreciate His cool artistic talents in making a pretty sunset, I wasn't listening and was going to put my ipod in my ears, so there!

Some how All American Reject's "Hope It Gives You Hell" wasn't lifting my mood so I flicked forward and came across Evie. And it wasn't even downloaded illegally from the internet (as if I would!). About a year ago the lovely Evie Karlsson mailed me a couple of her CDs herself in response to the fan page I set up on Facebook. So Evie came through with one of my favourite songs.  I think God wanted me to hear this:

He never said you'd only see sunshine.
He never said there'd be no rain.
He only promised us a heart full of singing.
At the very thing that once caused pain.

Give them all...
Give them all...
Give them all to Jesus
Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys.
Give then all...
Give them all...
Give them all to Jesus
And He will turn your sorrow into joy.

Errrm, thanks Lord. Nice sunset by the way :-)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow

Errrrmmm....Church Christmas Production is on the 19th December. I'm on the "team" that is producing said of the of the writers.  Ummm...Lord is it okay that my bits aren't exactly fully written yet? After all, I still have eight days until show time.

It's not that I'm putting things off. I'm simply planning my schedule.  I wonder if procrastination is a sin. I should imagine it is, since it's something I do so well. I just read in Proverbs that "the hand of the diligent shall rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labour." Hmmm....You rule R, Siborg and Kez (the other team members who are far better organised than me)! And this clearly explains why I am put to forced labour cleaning toilets, doing washing and cleaning up cat poo on a daily basis.  For this reason, I WILL get the 70s and 90s scenes written TODAY! Or maybe tomorrow.

But I DO have the costumes organised! I got onto that pretty quickly.  Last year's production was planned entirely around my top notch Santa suit. Praise the Lord for Santa.

There is one thing I'm glad I didn't put off in my life. When Jesus was knocking on the door of my heart, I just let Him in. Mind you, 36 years later (don't do the Maths!) I still haven't exactly tidied up in there and cleared a space for Him to sit on the couch without wondering what that squelchy thing is that He just sat on. I really should get around to it instead of just leaving it for Him to clean up.

As for the production, "it'll be all right on the night" (or in this case, morning). Not knowing exactly what I'm doing and yet somehow it all comes together year after year once everyone else knows what they're doing - it's exhilerating! Meanwhile, has anyone noticed that I turned my laptop on about an hour ago to get started on tweaking my script? I haven't actually looked at that this morning because I got sidetracked looking at procrastination cartoons and then decided to share some of them here. 

This is what it's like living inside my life. I live on the edge of risk-taking and danger - or I would if I could be bothered getting out of bed on a Saturday morning. It's how I roll...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ha ha God. Very funny!

I love Angels and Mortals week at work. Everyone involved gives an anonymous little treat to two people twice a week. Just something to spoil them - a present, a good deed - nice idea, huh? I love doing all that secret squirrel stuff and get a warm fuzzy glow when I spot someone enjoying something I discreetly left in their pidgeon hole. I like most people. Even those EGR (Extra Grace Required) types have good points that I can generally appreciate. But God, what WERE You thinking when You assigned me the only person out of a staff of 150 odd people that I really struggle Nice one Lord. I'll bet You had the angels rolling about on the golden paving slabs when you pulled this one out of Your hat.

Really Lord, are you SERIOUSLY asking me to do THIS?
So, I admit it, someone stung me a while back and I've avoided them ever since. So initially I wasn't too happy about being their secret angel. Smiley and Lill thought it was hilarious when they got a peek at my covert orders. Bet you were laughing too, huh God.

Ummm...does this not-liking-everyone mean I'm not a nice person? Possibly, but I prefer to go with the notion that God actually considers me important enough to take a little lesson from Him.  Maybe He can see potential in me to become someone more like Him...eventually... Well since there's still a heck of a lot of work to do, that's probably going to take a I guess training starts now.

Hey, I'm only human...good thing God's a lot bigger than me :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

So this is the weekend...

The mouth of the Pike River Mine
It's been a funny old weekend. We've had a couple of extra fosties, which has kept me on my toes. I'll probably write more on that next week. It's odd sometimes how we hang out for Friday afternoons to bring in the weekend and then something bizaare can happen which throws a spanner into the whole thing. As if having a major earthquake (right where my eldest daughter lives) wasn't enough to test the resilience of our little country, an exploding mine in Greymouth has given us something else to talk to our Majestical Bestie about. As I'm writing this, up to thirty men are missing underground, with their loved ones not knowing if they're living or not, while explosive gases are delaying the rescue effort. It seems like such a copycat disaster, considering the fame of the Chilean mine...but I don't think it's deliberate.  New Zealand already has a foot in the door of the movie industry but Chile's example can offer us some hope that things just might turn out all right.

So something crazy can happen and still the weekend continues. Meanwhile, someone might tell a cracking good joke and we start laughing. It's strange having life carry on when something so awful is happening. Am I the only one who feels guilty for it? I don't think that's the way Jesus wants us to be but hey, I'm human. Major disasters take their toll emotionally and if I were to add up every catastrophe around the globe, I think it would blow my brains and yet somehow God has managed to take every bit of it onto His own shoulders. Don't ask me how - I guess that's why God is God and I'm...just human. My job is to talk to Him about it - and to keep living and loving the people in my life, which means that it's probably okay to smile and go about my usual business. Maybe that's sort of how we're made. Hitching a ride to Greymouth on Jetstar just to stand at the mouth of the mine won't help. I'm not sure sure any miner would want mine to be the first face they see after being trapped underground without food, water or Facebook for days on end. I'd probably be all hysterical and get in the way anyway. Kind of makes you feel ineffective really. But we're not totally without clout. We can pray. If you happen to be someone who doesn't really believe in this God stuff, fair enough. But even the most hardcore atheist would have to agree that it's better than doing nothing. Praying is doing SOMETHING. And in my opinion, it's doing something freaking awesome.

To be honest, I'm a terrible pray-er. I never know quite what words to use and I'm not very clued up on all that thee and thou stuff. Thankfully, God doesn't expect me to go all Shakespearean on Him. Any way that I can find to talk with Him is just fine.

Yup, it's been a funny sort of weekend. As our pastor puts it, we had a "good dunking" at church this morning, which almost sounds like what they used to do to witches a few hundred years ago. Mind you, the beautiful young woman being baptised is the furthest thing from a witch, and our pastor, to the best of my knowledge, is nothing like a Salem executioner. Another cool thing about the baptism is that while Beloved went up the front with the kids so they could have a poolside view, I was able to sneak a couple of Tic Tacs in my mouth without having to share with the whole family. I'm thinking that the good Lord was right in that tank of water smiling with joy as He watched His little girl, the apple of His eye, get dunked this morning. And even at the same time, I think He was cuddling up to all those frightened and distraught people in the South Island and feeling every bit of anxiety that they feel. That's not an easy concept for little human me to get my tiny wee head around. So I'm glad that God is God and I'm...just me.
UPDATE 24th November 2010: Sadly at about 2:30pm today, five days after the initial explosion and collapse, there was an even bigger explosion at the mine. It's now believed that no-one could havepossibly survived it. 29 men have lost their lives. The youngest had only just turned 17. 
Early Miner's Candle

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thank you Uncle Arthur

My 6 year old, C, is a deep thinker. Today she asked me "How did God get born?", which pretty much amounts to that age old question that has bugged mankind for thousands of years: "Who made God?".
I thought I had an answer that would satisfy most normal kids who still watch Kidzone on telly, "Well, Jesus was born and Mary was His Mum". It didn't satisfy her.
"But before then. How was GOD born? Jesus' Dad?"
I think she gave up on me so she came up with a plan "I'll type it into the computer."
She disappeared downstairs for a while. Eventually she ran back up, out of breath with excitement.
"Mum, you have to carry ALL my Bibles downstairs! I have to show you something!"
She was doing her best to be patient with me but decided the only way to get me to understand was to grab my arm and drag me into her room, where I found all ten volumes of Arthur S Maxwell's "The Bible Story" spread out on her bed. She commissioned me to carry all ten of the books the computer. So that's what had been keeping her quiet for so long. My clever 6 year old had followed her mum's example and when she couldn't find a satisfactory answer to her question she decided to ask Mr Google. She can type? I didn't know that. Smart kid! On screen was a powerpoint display with some of the very same pictures featured in her Bible Story books. Don't ask me how she'd come up with that!
C has this picture on her bedroom wall. We like to pretend that the children with our Bestie are members of our family. That's C, sitting on His lap, M is sitting on the grass, Zeeb is wearing the blue dress and (since our family is pretty big at times) everyone else must be playing hide and seek behind the lillies.

I tried to help C find the answer to her question and asked Mr Google myself but I didn't come up with anything nearly as good - just a lot of dry, theological ramblings that I didn't understand. In the end I think I mumbled something to C about God always being there right from before time even began. I'm just not too bright on heavy doctrinal stuff - I just believe what I know in my heart and the guts of that (oooh, lots of organs and body parts being mentioned now!) is that Jesus thinks I'm something special and because I'm His kid, that's good enough for me. Somehow my rambling seemed enough for her and she was delighted to watch the powerpoint display Mr Google had given her, but if anybody can come up with something better please post it in the comments below and I'll pass it on to her. Or maybe one day C will come up with the answer herself and she'll tell me - then I can pass it on to you.

As for Arthur S Maxwell - aka Uncle Arthur - he's the one who taught me about Jesus in the first place. Somewhere along the line, my mum had bought the set of books and when I was about 11 years old, with a smidge of Methodist Sunday School under my belt, I took it upon myself to read every single volume. The books were written in the 1950s and were old fashioned even for the 1970s, but the story in the books is relevant and life changing to any heart that's open to it. The illustrations are gorgeous too.
Note: Not actual picture of actual "Me" reading actual Bible Story books. Cute though, eh?

So thanks Uncle Arthur for telling me all the stuff I needed to know when I was 11. I don't know where I'd be today without you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hang In There

Now that the dust has settled with one of our fosties moving on, I've taken a moment to reflect. Just hours before life got turned upside down - umm...actually, it was desks being turned upside down but I wasn't to know that it was happening at the time - I was our having lunch with a friend.

Shhhh! Don't tell those that had to deal with our boy while he was running amok. It was my day off work and I was blissfully unaware of what was happening.

Anyway, I was having lunch with a friend at a local shopping mall. We were wandering around some of the shops and my friend bought a card for my wallet. She really is a sweetie. Althought I read it at the time, the words didn't really sink in until I needed them to. It was so well-timed and significant that I thought I'd pop the card's message on here:

"Hang In There
If you get discouraged, remember I am thinking of you...believing in you...and hoping you know that no matter how big a problem seems or how hopeless you feel, you are never alone, as God's grace is only one request away!"

The first thing I love about it is the use of ellipses (I think that's what they're called). I have a fondness for you can see. I used

Another cool thing about the card is that at the very moment my friend innocently placed it into my hand, our fostie was creating havoc in his classroom, which ultimately resulted in the previous sad post ("Please Say Amen"). I've just happened to catch sight of that card my wallet a few times during the last couple of weeks and it's been like a gentle pat on the shoulder (if I was a more demonstrative person I'd say a hug, but I'm not into all that touchy, feely stuff).  I'll be meeting my friend for a much-needed banana split tonight so I really must tell her that she has fabulous timing.  Do you suppose God gave her a nudge to get it for me? Am I really that special? It's nice to know that He knew what was happening in Room 12 at G Intermediate School, even though we didn't have a clue at the time.  I guess He really is in control. Things didn't turn out the way I would have planned but I'm not in charge of this messy world - thankfully - so I'm just going to hand it over the my Majestic Bestie and let Him take care of things.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I am a chicken midwife

I'm practically a nana. Or maybe I'm more of a chicken midwife. I have no idea how chickens have been doing it for all these years, but I have single-handedly hatched some eggs - with the help of two hens and my husband who bought the fertile eggs off Trademe. But it feels like I did all the work. I'm the one who went out there and poked the hens every day and I'm the one who picked them up each day so that I could hold all the eggs in my eager hands. See? How did they ever do it before I was around to help?

 It started when our two frizzles, Pepsi and Cola, got broody and Beloved got soft. Believe it or not, it was actually his idea to find them some fertile eggs (on account of not having a rooster). I learned something very funny about Beloved then. It turns out that he had no idea how the mummy chicken and the daddy chicken reproduce! Seriously, he'd assumed that after the hen laid her egg, the rooster just strutted on over and dropped some magic chicken dust on it to make it turn into a baby chick. I asked him if he'd ever seen the sparrows on the powerlines giving each other...errm..."piggy backs". Apparrantly, that was news to him.

So, while we were getting around to buying some eggs on Trademe, I decided to slip some free range supermarket eggs under the hens; we'd been given earlier in the week. We got some new araucana eggs the next day so I replaced all but two of the old eggs and put them back in the fridge for omelettes. Long story (about 21 days long) short, those two eggs I left under Pepsi and Cola were the first to hatch - that was a surprise! I couldn't face cooking up their unhatched siblings so I threw them in the compost. The next day, under very close scrutiny by yours truly, three more babies hatched. I was beside myself with joy and excitement. One of my lovely friends even gave me a card congratulating me on my new "grandchickees".
Peekaboo! (or should that be "Peck-aboo?)

I'd heard about God being like a mother hen sheltering her chicks under her wing and had always assumed that she just kinda stretched it out like an umbrella. But I've been watching this modern family closely ("modern" because there are two mums and no dad) and have noticed that those chickees climb right up inside all that plumage. I even thought I'd lost them a few times until I picked up Pepsi, the more maternal of the two birds, and all these babies just fell out of her feathers with a disgruntled peep. I just hope that they're not all little itty bitty roosters because we're not allowed to keep roosters in suburbia and we'd have to find an alternative home for them if they are - and we all know what that means! About 180 degrees celsius in a roasting dish should do it...*ulp!*

This one hatched out of one of the eating eggs. I shall name it "Omelette"
(come to think of it, "Omelette and his/her sibling have extra toes so I might call them Tennessee and Marilyn)
Aunty Poppy
 My dog, Poppy, has taken quite an interest too. I'm not sure if it's the good kind or not but Pepsi's having none of it. She makes quite a fuss and will lunge at Poppy, placing herself at risk to protect her babies.

So that's what it means to shelter under God's wings. It's not just sitting around waiting for a supernatural brollie to pop up over our heads, it's about nestling in close - hiding ourselves in Him. I like it!

Where can I get a pattern for this chicken jersey?
Now, about those eagle wings that we're supposed to soar on. I really think I'll have to look into that a little more because I'm very scared of heights. I wonder if it's legal to have pet eagles in suburban South Auckland...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunsets and "Stuff"

I was doing some busy, grown up "stuff" this evening when my six year old started calling out for me. She sounded pretty excited but I had to do my stuff. Thankfully she didn't give up on me "Come and look at the sunset Mum!" I looked at the stuff that I was doing and had a mini-epiphany right there in the lounge. Years from now, is my little girl going to remember that I got stuff done, or will she remember that I sat and watched a sunset with her? To tell the truth, I was a bit reluctant to give up my valuable time but figured that it wouldn't be too much skin off my nose if I left my stuff alone for five minutes or so.

I have to admit, it was a pretty impressive sunset. My little one was full of Ooohs! and Ahhhhs! and "isn't God clever?!"  I had to agree. There was gold, and orange, and pink, and purple, and blue...and even though we felt we were watching the whole time, we couldn't actually detect the colours moving, yet it was all constantly changing.
"How does God do that?"
I wasn't sure how to explain, "With his Godly Godliness" she seemed satisfied with that.
"He must be a really good artist!"
I nodded.
"You should thank God for the sunset."
So I did.
"And you should thank Jesus for helping Him."
I did.
There was a moment's silence, then an awed whisper: "It's a miracle!"

And that was it. I'm so glad I left my stuff to look at the sunset with my little girl. When I grow up I want to be just like her...

"Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Jesus Van Gogh

I've been sitting in the "Bucket" a lot lately (see for further explanation) and I have to admit that it's quite nice to be out there alone, in the dark, staring up at the moon and the stars. It gives me that quiet time that busy mothers crave and sets the cogs in my brain turning. I think God really is clever. I also think he's a bit arty farty. That old hymn with the words: "Hands that flung stars into space..." rolls around in my head. It all sounds so easy for Him, a bit like a child scattering a some glitter onto a collage. Child's play. The hymn goes on to mention how those same powerful hands succommed to having nails driven through them, which sets me thinking on a whole other tangent. But for now I'll focus on how clever God is to put all those planets and stars in the right place and the skill it must have involved to get everything just right on each of their surfaces.  Looking up at the moon on a clear night (in otherwords, when it's not raining and I'm not sitting in the "bucket" holding a sheet of polystyrene over my head - which wasn't too bright because Beloved found the evidence of little beads of polystyrene in the water, threatening to block the filters)...looking up at the moon, I can sometimes see that crooked face that started the legend of the moon being its own person. God's being a bit frivolous with his sense of humour there I think. It looks like a cartoon.

Wow. It's all so big! All those stars, the sun, the moon, the Milky Way, black starts to blow my mind a little. And what if there really ARE other civilizations out there? That's something I don't get because if there were, would they be completely perfect and without sin, or would God have to send His son to their home planets as well to live among them, die on their behalf and be resurrected so that they can also commune with Him? That's a huge question that makes my head explode so I try not to dwell on that one too much. If it is true, I bet Jesus might be starting to get a bit fed up with it all and wondering exactly how many times He has to keep doing this:

That is, unless the other planets have been a little more welcoming than ours was:

 It does make me think that whatever is going on "out there" must make God really busy! And then I go and iterrupt Him with my silly ramblings about what's going on in my tiny little life.

But wait! God is infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent and a lot of other powerful omni-stuff! The hands that flung stars into space formed me in secret when I was just a twinkle in my mother's eye. He made this:

(I'm not really sure what a pituitary gland actually does but I've heard it's something very, very important even though it's very, very tiny)

And he made this:
That's a strand of human hair and evidently God has counted each and every one of them on each and every one of our heads (I don't suppose mine looks quite like this one any more though because I've turned it to cotton wool with all the chemicals I've slapped on there).

I think God is very clever and very very artistic...and I don't think He's too busy for little me at all :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Got beef with God?

There's been a lot of talk about natural disasters here in New Zealand and we've all been checking our emergency survival kits and water supplies. My daughter is in Christchurch and I don't appreciate that Mother Nature is still rattling my baby with her aftershocks. I really should get CYFs onto it because these days everyone should know that you should never, ever shake a baby - especially mine.

When it first happened our country was amazed that there were no fatalities. If the 7.1 upheaval had occurred just a few hours later, New Zealand would have been a nation in grief.  Although it later transpired that a woman had suffered a fatal heart attack during the initial quake, the fact that the loss of life is so minimal is phenomenal. Miraculous even.  I don't know about all the other mums and dads out there who were relieved that they still had their children to post presents to at Christmas time, but I got on my knees and gave a big thumbs up to my Majestic Bestie.

Not everyone shared my gratitude. It wasn't long before comments began to appear on public internet pages, pointing the finger at God Himself.  Apparantly He was solely responsible for bringing about the destruction to one of our biggest cities, causing countless families to be homeless and penniless. He also caused starvation in India and the war in the Middle East.  Folk were pretty ticked off about it too and wanted to let the good Lord and all His believers know it. Some God of love He turned out to be.
Good for them I say! God's made a few comments in His memoirs about wanting people to be either hot or cold towards Him. He's a passionate Guy and doesn't go for any of this wishy-washy, tepid, new-agey stuff. He'd rather watch a dog eat its own vomit than have people pussy-foot around His feelings.

I've been mad with God before. I've been mad with my Beloved and my kids and even my dog. I have a real relationship with all these characters which is probably why it's such a roller coaster ride sometimes. I wear my heart on my sleeve, which means they know when I'm happy, scared, sad...the dog is slightly more aware than Beloved but he's getting there.

I reckon it's okay to let the ones who love you know how you're feeling. There's no point trying to hide it. So be angry with God if you need to be. To be honest, I have no idea why God "allows suffering" but one thing I do know is that He's neither delicate nor fragile so He can handle your anger.  Shake your fists at him, stamp your feet and have a tantie if you must, just be sure that you COMMUNICATE with Him.

But like any great relationship, just don't stay mad - He doesn't.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Shaken but not stirred

It’s been quite a week in this little country of ours. Firstly there were dramas on the home front. I can’t give too much away when other people could be at risk but let’s just say I’m going to have to retouch those grey roots on my Beloved’s head, and quite possibly my own.

Another thing that did set us off onto a bit of a tizz was an e-mail from our social worker explaining that “whanau” (meaning family) had come forward and will “care for the boys”. We’ve had our fosties with us for a year and the thought of sending them back into circumstances that had generated so much hurt in their lives was enough to rip my nighty. We got some prayer warriors onto immediate sentry duty while a few phone calls and e-mails were made. There were some who even prayed without even knowing exactly what they were praying for. Isn’t it cool when people are prepared to do that? And even more impressive considering that whole nail gun thing a couple of weeks ago.  I’m pleased to report that we’ve since heard that the situation has been downgraded to allowing their birth mother to have supervised access with the boys on a fortnightly basis. Watch this space...

Having settled our nerves after a worrisome week, we were able to cosy up for a peaceful night’s sleep. That plan worked well until I was woken by a text message at 5:15am yesterda: “Hiya, how r u? We had an earthquake and aftershocks”. When you’re half asleep a message like that doesn’t quite register so I snuggled back under the covers and closed my eyes while my brain attempted to unscramble what was happening as the worlds of slumber and reality collided.  Umm..better just check that again.  It was a message from my 22 y/o daughter in Christchurch who had been woken by the earth shaking when her drawers collapsed and smashed her TV. I woke up real quick!  When we spoke to her she sounded dazed - even more so than usual - the ground was still splitting around her but she was safe. 

I think God had a whole lot of ear bending sent His way yesterday. Not just from me this time, but from an entire nation. This quake was big and I’m delighted to say that He was paying attention. Mother Nature had let her kids out of control and South Canterbury was getting stomped all over. Yet not one person was killed. Only two serious injuries were reported and those guys seem to be pulling through. The structural damage has been phenomenal and my baby is now living in a disaster zone. It could have been the darkest day in New Zealand’s history but for today I’ll rejoice that my baby is alive and well and has enough bottled water to see her through for the next few days. Speaking of which, I’ve just refilled my own 24 litres with fresh water and a teensy bit of bleach - just in case.

It seems to me that somewhere along the line, shattering experiences can bring out the best in a few people. Like this guy who opened his corner shop really early so that he could give away supplies to needy people:

Anyway, today I’m giving a big thumbs up to my Majestic Bestie for keeping our loved ones safe, both locally and at the other end of our special little country. And also to John Key, our Prime Minister, who was on a flight to Christchurch the same day to walk around the city and see what needs to be done...and to our engineer friend who flew down yesterday to work voluntarily help assess the damage...”Shot Guys!”

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Just checking...

Hmmm....lots of hits here and no comments. How do I know if I'm theologically on track????

Although I go to a Baptist church I feel the need to do a slightly Catholic thing and make "Confession". A man fell asleep behind me in the back row this morning and I giggled when I heard him snoring.
I know I should have been paying more attention to what was going on at the front but I allowed myself to be distracted and am forced to admit that I was jealous that he was asleep and I wasn't. I also ate two Tic Tacs and read through my text messages. "Forgive me Father for I have sinned..."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'll show you mine if you show me yours

This week I opened a magazine and spotted an interesting competition. Take a picture of a scar, explain how you got it and be in for a thousand bucks if your story is the most interesting. Sounds like fun. I considered it briefly before deciding that none of my scars are in any fit position for public photography. But it got me thinking…by and large people are always keen to talk about medical mishaps, dental issues and scars. Personally, I don’t especially gain any pleasure from hearing all the ins and outs on the removal of ingrown toenails or root canals but I must admit that I do find disfigurement a little more intriguing. I’m not big on carbuncles oozing pus or anything too messy but when my mum’s friend had a leg operation, I found the titanic staples running up her limb horrifically breathtaking.

My friend Smiley (I’m really going to have to think of a better name for her but she really does have the most terrific smile) had one of those pacemaker thingees fitted not so long ago which was good news on two counts. Firstly because she is now keeping much better health and isn’t scaring us with her dizzy spells any more, and secondly because she has the coolest scar on her chest. Naturally she’d happily flash it around for anyone who would look and considering she has amazing cleavage, plenty of people have been willing to have a squiz at it. Not to mention that being partially bionic is really cool.

Scars are undeniably worth taking a look at and I would say that a competition in their honour is long overdue. I’m looking forward to seeing some real doozies and reading some grisly details about how they came about. I don’t think it would be fair for Jesus to enter the competition though because He would win hands down and it’s only right that He gives someone else a shot at that thousand bucks. Those scars on His hands, His feet, His head and His side have a story behind them that will outdo any kind of misadventure or surgery that I can think of. It even beats the time I tried to express my cat’s bladder after she’d had an accident. There was a lot of blood that day – mine.

It seems to me that Jesus is holding His hands out for anyone who wants to take a look. He held them out when His disciple Thomas doubted that He was back in the land of the living. He’s been inviting us to come in for a closer look and to listen to His story ever since. And He's very interested in taking a look at the scars we might be carrying, including the ones on our hearts. Any nasty infections, any hurts, He's willing to take them from us and add them to His own.  All He's asking from us is that we come, look at His hands and listen to His story.  How can I resist!

Incidentally, there’s nothing wrong with my cat’s bladder now. As I sit here with my daughter’s dinky e-book I can smell something very funky nearby. There is definitely a puddle on the carpet in the proximity of where I’m sitting but I’m not sure where…

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dear God...

Please let our lap top get fixed soon so that I can lie in bed and write my next inspirational blog on something a little more comfortable than my daughter's piddly e-book (for which I am eternally grateful). I know that it would be a character-building test of faith to sit at the kids' computer in the cold room downstairs but I'm pretty certain that the alternative arrangement of "prostrating" myself before you, albeit in a comfortable bed, is so much more spiritually satisfying for all concerned. This also ensures fewer typing errors (You remember what happened when I was e-mailing my former mother-in-law about her son's night shifts when the "f" got accidentally ommitted from "shift").

Please and thank you very much

PS while you're at it, could my 6 year old please stop trying to sing Justin Bieber songs in Pidgeon-Maori? I didn't even know that language existed and I'm really over "Baby"

Thank you again

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Two plus two equals....FIVE???

I was delighted when I heard that my former mother-in-law had been hospitalized with septicaemia! Don’t get me wrong, I adore my F-M-I-L (does being “former” make her my mother-out-law?) and we get along famously. The thing is, that when one of my young’uns initially received the news over the phone, she had misheard and thought that Grandma had Leukaemia. Of course I blame technology - crackly Telecom phone lines and all that. Believing that my favourite M-I-L had just been handed down a death sentence, I contacted the church Prayer Chain co-ordinator right away - who just happens to be my own mum. Then I sent a few urgent e-mails to others on the chain with the prayer request. Within moments a dozen prayer stalwarts were wearing out their carpets with their knees.

Once my Beloved had given me a few soothing hugs, he came up with an impressive plan: Let’s call F-I-L and find out more from the horse’s mouth. That’s when the prognosis was downgraded from terminal to pretty-bad-but-will-get-better. M-I-L was indeed sick, but she was doing well under the circumstances and on the road to recovery.  So it was with relief, and possibly a little awkwardness, that I sent word that things weren’t quite as dire as they had originally seemed.

You’d think I would have learned to check details before sounding alarm bells but I did it again tonight.  A highly reputable acquaintance of mine had received a shocking prayer request about a toddler who’d been injured with a nail gun.  I said it before and I’ll say it again: I blame technology. It was a darn internet hoax! Naturally I didn’t find that bit out until all the troops were worried sick and on full prayer duty.  Swallowing embarrassment, I headed my next e-mail: “That was a quick answer” and with a side serving of humble pie, took back what I’d originally asked for. There was no kid with a nail embedded in his heart.  Come to think of it, I really should have twigged earlier. How would a 22 month old get hold of a nail gun in the first place? Yeesh, colour me green behind the ears.

After I hit “send” a thought came to me. Why be embarrassed? It might have been a mistake but when it seemed that something dreadful had happened, the first notion in my head was to tell God all about it, and I wanted my friends to talk to Him about it too. I’m not embarrassed about that at all.  In fact, I don’t think it’s ever a mistake to have a natter with my Majestic Bestie no matter what it’s about, so that’s what I’ll keep doing.

Meanwhile, M is competing in the inter-school Mathex competition tomorrow. Would it be wrong to ask God if our humble low-decile school could please grind the posh decile-ten school competitors into the dirt?  I might just have a chat to Him about that but just to be on the safe side, I don’t think I’ll feed it to the Prayer Chain this time.

Friday, August 6, 2010

If the shirt fits...

A friend returned from Australia recently and mentioned that he was tempted to bring home a gift for me (he didn’t  because he’s a tightwad, a truth which was verified when he recounted the electrifying museum tour he gate-crashed without paying).  He’d spotted a tee shirt at the markets  and for some reason it reminded him of me - but he wasn’t sure how I’d take it:


Perhaps it’s because I resemble the picture? I am a bit skinny and I do have a long thin nose, I go red in the sun, I had my head shaved once and I can look pretty evil when I’m mad. Hang on, I don’t remember giving my permission for them to use my image on that shirt! On the other hand, he knows that I’m “religious” - *shudder* his word, not mine - so maybe he just saw the word “God” and thought of me. Most likely he simply assumes that I have a whacking good sense of humour and would be able to see the irony in the statement the shirt makes.

IMHO (that’s net-natter for “in my humble opinion” because I’m so up to date with the tech scene) God’s never too busy to spend time with His kids. Unfortunately some folks have tried to put Him in a box with human limitations and think that He’s just not up to the task of keeping track of everything that’s going on. Pffft! Piddlestacks! He IS God for God’s sake!

Sadly, lots of people do end up checking out what ol’ Hairy Legs has on offer instead. We live in an age of instant gratification and a hedonistic lifestyle is just irresistible for some of us. I reckon that Hairy's the fiend who came up with the tee shirt slogan in the first place. I don’t know about you but I don’t trust a thing that swindler has to say. God's busy? Don't believe it!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

If you find yourself standing in doody, clean it up.

A couple of years ago we found ourselves unexpectedly babysitting someone’s dog. She was a golden lab of advanced years (the dog, not the owner - although she was once mistaken for a senior citizen at Happy Days which can almost count as being old). Initially, when Beloved brought her home, I hoped that she may be able teach my little yapper a thing or two about doggie decorum. But by the next morning the novelty had worn off.  My affection was fading fast when it was apparent that this dog was not housetrained. Admittedly, I should have known better than to wander half-asleep into the living room with bare feet. Even though I don’t drink coffee, that’s what I’d much rather have as a wakeup call than to find myself standing in a pile of poop.  What impressed me most was the sheer magnitude of it. Just how big is a Labrador’s butt anyway? It looked like Burma the elephant had been caught short in front of my 29” Panasonic.

Other than that, she was a very nice dog - until later that afternoon. That’s when she had got into some dodgy rubbish bags and decided to refurnish our downstairs carpet with her vomit. Again with the quantity! I know these details are difficult to stomach but I suffered in looking after this dog and I don’t like to suffer alone so you’ll just have to tolerate it. I had to use TWO dishpans and a pile of newspaper to pick the stuff up because it was sloshy and squidgy and very very gross.  The situation was worsened because this vile creature kept trying to push in and EAT HER OWN SICK!  Even so, there was still something engaging about this beast and every time she came up for a tummy rub I’d give it to her.

Of course, no human being in their right mind would do anything so gross, right?  Oh right, there’s that proverb in the Bible that says “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” Hmmm...I guess that’s something along the lines of going back to the stupid stuff we do that we know we shouldn’t do, the kind of stuff that hurts ourselves or people around us.  And because none of us is perfect on this side of Heaven, we ALL do it!  Eeeyew! How DOES God put up with us when we do that? When I saw that dog trying to scoff its own puke I grimaced like a Cockney in a gurning competition. I darn near heaved up my own lunch. Thank goodness God doesn’t treat us with the same kind of disdain. He sees the endearing qualities in us and just keeps on loving us and teaching us how we can do better next time.

Come January, I’m making a New Year’s Resolution (again!): I won't return to my own vomit of carrot-chunkiness. No, I will NOT! Really...I’ll try very hard not to.  Okay, I possibly will lick my own chunder once in a while, but I’ll really REALLY try to stay away from it...really! Well, maybe if I do stuff up and fall off the wagon, I’ll go right up to that throne of Grace and ask God to forgive me.  He will, and I think He might even give me a scratch behind my ears because He just loves me anyway. Hey, be patient. I’m still in training and God hasn’t finished with me yet.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Feel like some good news today?

Zeeb is always up with the latest news and it’s usually bad. It was Zeeb who told me that Gary Coleman had died. She also told me about Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger and it was even Zeeb who was first with the news when Princess Diana had been killed.  When she burst into my room over the weekend asking if I’d heard about our friends I was a little apprehensive. Thankfully her beaming face implied that something amazing had happened. Our friends, who had been childless for so many years, had adopted a 2 week old baby. We were over the moon for them. Even though this little one has Downs Syndrome, to his new mum and dad he’s just perfect. With all that love being poured out on him, this little guy has so much potential. He’s been a much longed for baby and Zeeb and I RAN to the car to get to the shops. We felt like the wise men shopping for baby Jesus.

Do you suppose there was as much excitement in Heaven when I was born? I would guess to the angels I seem disadvantaged: “Oooh, poor wee thing. She has no wings. She’ll never fly!” But I like to think that God took one look at me and declared that I was just what He wanted.
“I’ve been making this kid for 9 months and I planned her long before her parents even thought about being...”frolicsome”.  As I grew up He might even have been thinking, “Gee I love how her hair frizzes at the ends and the way she’s so goofy. I love this kid of mine!”

Actually, I was a sickly youngster and one of the terrible side effects of my health was a bladder with a will of its own. At six years old I was belted by a harridan of a teacher and in front of 20 or so kids, I wet my pants in terror. Any self-confidence I may have been born with was dripping down my leg along with the wee and lying in a puddle at my feet. I wish someone could have told me that day what I now know: I am “fearfully and wonderfully made”.

I believe it’s the same for each of us. It’s Party Central in Heaven whenever someone turns to Jesus because each of us is special.  Some babies aren’t planned. Some babies aren’t perfect in the eyes of others. But I’ll tell you something and you’d better listen up: God loves you just as you are. He loves you if you’re short, tall, ugly, pretty, gay, straight, dishonest, kind, black, white, pink or blue, or even if you’re standing in a puddle with pee running down your leg.  Love is awesome but when I think about it with my human noggin, I don’t always like the people I love. “Like” means that I enjoy them, I want to be around them.
So right where you are today, God loves you, He thinks you’re lovely and he LIKES you

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wish for a sure thing

Have you ever wondered what you would wish for if you knew you could choose just one thing? I think about it sometimes and having gotten over the Alladin's Lamp Syndrome, I think I have it figured out.  My biggest wish ever - and I hope this doesn't sound too corny - is to see Jesus smiling at me.  Well, that and a Chicken Costume, but I could only choose one wish for the time being.

I just want to have that special look that says, "Hey Ange, I'm pleased with you. I've always loved you but as well as that, I want you to know that you make me smile because I like you."

Knowing that Jesus loves me is pretty academic. A lot of us are told that from songs we may have heard during childhood. Do you hear strains of "Jesus loves me..." running through your mind? But I think that knowing that He likes me is just that little bit more personal and special. We've all had times when we've been made to feel pretty crappy, especially when we were kids. Whether it was a put down from a teacher or the other kids mocking us. Experiences like that can really knock your confidence and have those doubts sneaking in about whether or not you're really worth anything.  Since God sent Jesus, he must obviously think we're worth a lot more than we give ourselves credit for.  I don't think Jesus would take any of it back.  Even though I'm a dork and I stuff up on a daily basis, he still wants me to hang out with Him.
So I think my wish might just come true because Jesus likes me this I know!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blood and guts

I’m the squeamish sort. I don’t like blood and gore. I like nice stories about princesses, true love and fluffy kittens. You’d think Bible stories would be safe with all that love and kindness towards our fellow man stuff going on. But there’s one Bible story about a grisly assassination that I can’t resist because it’s so gross. I’m not one to make fun of others’ misfortunes but this story has some great fodder for bullies.

I went to primary school with a boy named Paul who I remember well because he was a lefty. It must have sucked to be Paul. The teacher was constantly walloping his knuckles with the ruler for smudging his work and kids always figured he must have been a bit of a handicap for being different. Not that my handwriting was much better and I also had my knuckles rapped a few times (never my fault! Honest!!). Some teachers were just plain mean back in the day.
 So anyway, Eglon and Ehud...If you haven’t heard of this story you’ve got to check it out in Judges. It’s a crack up. Ehud the hero, was a southpaw.  Some versions of the story say that he was “hindered” in his right hand. Cool! My imagination runs away at this point and conjures up images of Ehud’s withered appendage just dangling off his right shoulder. It makes it a little more dramatic, don’t you think? Mind you, I suspect the hindrance was more to do with what others’ felt about his disparity.

Meanwhile, Israel was being tormented by King Eglon. He was a nasty pasty, which was reason enough to have everyone bawling out for someone valiant enough to rescue them from this guy’s dictatorship. Yeesh, people are such whingers when they’re being browbeaten and demoralized. I’d tell them to harden up but this guy was MEAN! For 18 years they’d had this guy making things very ugly for them. And to make things worse, while the people were struggling to get by, Eggie was gorging himself on anything and everything. I’ll bet he stole candy from babies too. He was a self-satisfying, selfish, morbidly obese hog. Although I’m sure he preferred to call himself “big boned with a thyroid problem”, Eglon was so fat that the world really did revolve around him.

So here’s the scenario: Of all people, God sent Ehud to snuff out the gargantuan elephant. The Israelites probably took one look at Lefty Loosey and thought God was having them on. But I love how God often picks underdogs and people who are a bit different. He can even turn their disadvantages into a good thing. Even nutters like me can be useful to Him sometimes.

Ehud managed to make himself a flash little sword and had the audacity to march right up to the king’s attendants with a message to pass on for the portly monarch. He didn’t even try to sneak in. They would have frisked him down of course (ooer!) but most people reckon that they only searched one side of him and they didn't even wear latex gloves. Imagine if they worked at the airport. We'd get elk horns and all sorts smuggled into the country. He even got himself a private audience with His Obese Majesty in the private throne room. You know...the...ummm...”other” throne room (where private things take place).  It appears Eglon had taken quite a liking to Ehud because he didn’t even flinch when Ehud reached under his robe with his left hand and lean in to pass on a secret message. I don’t know exactly what Eglon was expecting but when Ehud plunged his blade into the king’s belly, he sure did get the point! 

It gets really nasty about here. Ehud’s in Eglon’s “private throne room”, his sword has just gone into his guts...and it just kept on going. I’ll bet it went through his intestines as the fat gulped it in.  Lord knows what Eglon had been eating that day but I can imagine that skewered intestines don't smell too fragrant. I had to change an old lady’s colonoscopy bag once so I know what kind of goop comes out of there. Eeyew, gross! Hopefully Ehud's mum had taught him to always wash his hands after being in the bathroom.

With the carnage complete, Ehud got his ninja-thing on and locked the door before melting away to do battle another day.  Maybe he got out through a window or the sewerage system but I think that however he did it he was very stealth-like and clever.  Meanwhile, Eglon’s servants were thinking things like, “Hmmm...the king’s been in there a long time, hasn’t he?” and “It must have been that vindaloo he ate last night.” Yeesh! Where’d he get those whiz kids from?

I don’t normally make fun of obesity but I can see how Eglon can seem like flesh out of control: self-indulgent and selfish. A bit like me sometimes. Don’t tell the kids, but I have a secret stash of chocolate in my side drawer.  It was supposed to be going to work with me to share for morning tea this morning know how it goes.  Fortunately I don’t have a “thyroid problem”.