Another Extraordinary Woman! Blog 21-2019

“You have to read this article Diana posted.” I urged Doug this afternoon. Diana is a Facebook friend whom I discovered when I joined the ‘Ten Pound Poms’ group. Although we have never met, we travelled to Australia on the same ship many years ago. The article Diana shared was from the New York Post inviting us to ‘Meet the female Schindler who saved 2,500 kids by posing them as gentiles.’

During World War 11 Irena Sendler was a young social worker who took incredible risks to save Jewish children in Nazi occupied Poland. Jews had lived in Poland since the Middle Ages and by the 1920’s they made up between a quarter to half of the population in Poland’s larger cities. Warsaw was no exception. Poles and Jews spoke each other’s languages and interacted in markets and on the streets.

Part of Warsaw had been turned into a ghetto and was sealed off with bricks, barbed wire and guards. This confined 400.000 Jews behind its walls. Irena who was a Catholic started to realize the fate that was awaiting these families. She helped to establish an underground network ferrying starving Jewish children from the Ghetto and resettling them with gentile families. Birth certificates were forged reinventing Jewish children as Aryans.

When a Christian child died in an orphanage the death was not reported and the name and registry number were passed along to give a new identity to a Jewish foundling. With the help of her co-workers and tradesmen they used coffins, toolboxes and any means they could find to ferry the children to Polish homes. Each child was given a Polish name and Irena records which she buried in bottles under a tree in a friend’s backyard. This was to enable the children to be re-united with their families after the war. Sadly, 98% of the children’s parents died in the Treblinka extermination camp.

In October 1943 Irena was arrested, tortured and sentenced to death. However, on the day of her execution an officer was bribed to let her go. She spent the rest of the War in hiding. Tilar J Mazzeo the author of her story says “She thought she was saving one life but in fact she was saving all of these people that didn’t exist yet.” Irena lived till she was 98 and passed away in 2008. Needless to say, I have ordered a copy of her story (Irena’s Children).

Irena knew she risked summary execution if she was caught (millions of Poles also lost their lives at this time). Yet she and her helpers were prepared to take that risk. Any courageous act that may be required of us pales in comparison. So, it behoves us all to step out, be brave and do what we have to do. Solomon writes “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might”. Ecclesiastes 9:10

Irena Sendler2

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Remember, remember Blog 20-2019

“Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta! “The answer is Gamma.” I recited as I walked into the lounge room. Doug was watching ‘Hot Seat’ on the TV and the question was, what is the third letter of the Greek alphabet?

As I write the memories come flooding back. In my last place of employment, I had to change my password weekly.  So, running out of words I decided to use the Greek alphabet. Every Monday when I switched my computer on, I would replace the pass word with the next letter. Thinking it was an opportunity to learn this alphabet I would repeat the previous weeks passwords until I finally knew the lot. Now in the lounge room I was bragging. I continued. “Alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon zeta, eta, theta iota…” Oops! I was stuck. It was one of those occasions when I had forgotten more than I remembered.

Do you recall the times tables we had to recite interminably when we were kids? I remember every one of them. I am sure our teacher used to buy time by making us start at the two times table and keep going to the twelve. It was so frustratingly boring. Then of course we all remember the Nursery Rhymes and the poems which the whole class recited together. I recall ‘Daffodils’ by William Wordsworth (only the first verse though!) After I arrived in Australia it was ‘My Country’ by Dorothea Mackellar. (Of the six verses I can only manage the first two verses and one of the latter ones.)

Doug laughed at my ‘oops’ moment and reminded me that he did know Omega the last letter in the Greek alphabet. Actually, that’s something we could never forget. Ever since I first read the book of Revelation, I can picture Jesus as described by the apostle John saying “I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. Don’t be afraid I was dead but now I am alive forever and ever.’ And, He’s still saying that today, “I am the beginning and the end don’t be afraid. I am the one who is and was and is coming again, The Almighty”

Greek Alphabet

 

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Mutilating Homiletics Blog 19 – 2019

“Mutilating Homiletics?” We both laughed. “Well I suppose we did a bit of that too!” I grinned. We had just listened to our ‘Word for Today’ message where the author was talking about his early when he was a theology student.  He was off preaching on a Sunday whilst his friend and fellow student refused to preach until he got his PhD. This led to us having a conversation on the subject while on our morning walk.

When we were in college many years ago, we studied homiletics. We wrote and practiced the different styles of preaching and were told that we would probably end up favouring one of them. Or, end up with a style of our own which was a combination of them. Doug did become a ‘Running Commentary’ preacher. (He could get so much out of a few verses!)  Me? I became an ‘Analysis by Questioning’ girl, (it made sense to me). Looking back, I marvel at the patience of the congregations as we turned up Sunday after Sunday to practice on them.

JJ Abrams the famous Hollywood producer’s career started when he was eight years old. He convinced his parents to lend him their Super 8 camera so he could make a movie. The rest as they say is history. Henry Ford was sixteen when, not being interested in farming, he left the farm and walked to Detroit to get work labouring as a machinist, in Thomas Edison’s DTE company.  I love the story of Billy Graham who at 18 years of age preached his first sermon which went for a whole eight minutes. After the service was over one of the men of the church came up and told him, “Boy you’d better go back to school and get a lot more education because you’re not gonna make it.”

Back to mutilating homiletics. Bob Gass the author of our ‘Word for Today’ went on to a world-wide ministry. His friend who refused to preach until he graduated never did preach. In the late seventies I worked for the evangelist Cliff Beard. When preaching on faith, (trusting God for guidance) I remember him saying more than once. “Don’t do nothing, do something.” I was never too sure if it was grammatically correct but I understood the sentiment. We have to start somewhere, whatever our age, it’s up to us. So, whatever it is, give it a go! Zechariah 4:10 “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.”

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A young Billy Graham

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The Debt is Paid! Blog 18 -2019

“That’s pretty amazing!” I remarked to Doug after the announcement on the lunchtime news. “It will be such a relief for so many people.” We had just heard that the Government of Victoria would be picking up the tab for the cladding disaster that haunts our state and country and I guess our world.

The terror of the Grenfell Tower disaster in North Kensington (UK) was flashed to horrified TV viewers globally. Seventy-two people lost their lives and many were injured. It was the worst residential fire in the UK since the war. It is now two years since that nightmare of a fire which opened up a pandora’s box here in Australia as many buildings have been identified with flammable cladding.

In February this year there was a fire in a High-Rise block in Melbourne’s Spencer Street. This Building was discovered to be clad with the same cladding as the Grenfell tower. (There was also a fire which raced up the Lacrosse tower in Docklands in 2014 which had flammable aluminium cladding.)

We have heard such heart-breaking stories recently of distressed people of all ages who have sunk their money into apartments in such buildings. They have been despairing because, unless someone steps in, they can never find the cash to replace the cladding. So, to them this must be such a relief from what has been a nightmare. I can just visualize them hugging each other with joy because their debt is going to be paid.

After I posted my blog on Random acts of kindness last week, I realized that not only was Jesus the perfect example of kindness but he performed the kindest act of all. He paid a debt that he did not owe. He paid our debt. He saved us from eternal death! Being totally sinless he was qualified to pay the price for every man and woman who has lived or will live on this earth. We had sinned and the punishment was death. We were judged guilty and Jesus went before the Eternal Judge (God Himself) and offered to take our punishment so we could go free. Whenever I think of it, I am filled with amazement and thankfulness.

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A Random Act of Kindness Blog 18 – 2019

“It was only this time last week you know!” I stated to Doug, still finding it a little hard to believe myself. Not waiting for an answer, I kept on with my musing. Last Wednesday Yvette had taken our grandson Michael out for breakfast to Celebrate his 13th Birthday. They went to a restaurant called the Hatter and the Hare some suburbs north of here, Doug and I went along with them to share the experience.

The Hatter and the Hare is a Café, patisserie and event venue with, (as the name suggests) an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme. We all enjoyed ourselves immensely. Later Yvette went over to collect the bill which we planned to split. She seemed to be taking a long time and I wondered if she was trying to work it out so I went over to suggest we just pay 50/50 to make things easy.

However, this was not the problem at all, the staff could not find the breakfast details on the computer, only the Coffee and cake we had towards the end. Finally, they called over the waiter who served us and he told them that two hours previously a woman had come up and said she knew the lady on our table and wanted to pay the bill.

Our eyes widened as we looked at each other. Someone had paid our bill, a random act of kindness, how amazing was that! We had heard of this type of generosity happening to others before but it had never happened to us.

It took more than 24 hours for us to stop pinching ourselves, what a blessing! We knew it was God. Whoever this lady was we were sure that God had prompted her to reach out to us in this generous way. Now one week later we are still none the wiser but very thrilled that it happened to us.

It made me think that we all have the opportunity to perform random acts of kindness even if we don’t have a spare $100 or so. Help a neighbour, send a ‘thinking of you note’ or write a letter. Pay it forward at your coffee shop. If you don’t have spare cash a smile and word of encouragement cost nothing. I for one am going to look out for opportunities to be extra kind.

Did you know that Jesus was always performing random acts of kindness? Showing compassion to the suffering, spending time with the rejected and touching the untouchable. He epitomised the instruction written by Micah the prophet some 740 years before his birth. “He has told you, O man what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do Justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah Chapter 6 verse 8)65724772_2687391761290552_8651162623569559552_n

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‘Remarkable!’ Blog 16 – 2019

“This woman was yet one more amazing woman that I had never heard of till now.” I exclaimed to Doug as I waved the magazine toward him. “She certainly was!” He commented, having read the article too. Regular readers of my blogs will know that I have over time featured quite a few women and men who have lived extraordinary lives. Mostly because I find them inspiring and because there is always something to learn from them.

Born in France and married to an Englishman Odette Sansom was the mother of three young daughters when in 1942 she was deployed to France as a spy. She was the most highly decorated secret agent in World War 2 and the only woman to receive the George Cross while still alive. With her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill, she completed many missions with the French Resistance until they were caught by the Gestapo.

Odette told the Gestapo that she was the circuit organizer to deflect attention from Peter. For this she was brutally tortured and eventually sent to Ravensbruck (the Nazis’ death camp for women) where she was placed in solitary confinement. When interviewed her granddaughters pointed out that she never expressed any bitterness towards her torturers. Odette actually told the girls that her interrogators made the mistake of placing her facing the window when they questioned her. Through the window she could see the trees and was able to focus on their beauty. Odette felt that while she could see them, she would not be broken.

Later I couldn’t help thinking of Jesus and how He took our place and was brutally tortured for our wrongdoings. How He stayed focused and kept in mind the victory that would be His (and ours) in the end. He did not blame his accusers but asked the Father to forgive them.

So, I see here a lesson for me. To be forgiving, to be thankful that Jesus took my place and no matter how tough life gets to keep my eyes on the prize.  Hebrew 12:2 “So let us fix our eyes on Jesus…..who for the joy set before him endured the cross.”

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Odette Sansom 1946

The most decorated Spy of any gender during WW11

You can read her story in the book ‘Code Name Lise’ By Larry Loftus, Mirror Books

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‘Keep off the grass!’ Blog 15-2019

“Get off the grass child!” Miss Edith Fryer called from the first floor window as my mother walked to the entrance of the building. This was mums introduction to Dartford County High school for girls, which also took younger girls. Edith Fryer was the Head Mistress and at 195cms (6’6”) she was the biggest woman my mother had ever seen. Now trembling with fright my mother entered the doors of her new school. She was only eight years of age.

This memory came back to me as I saw a ‘Keep off the grass!’ sign the other day. I remembered my mother being sent unaccompanied to register herself, not to mention the fiasco that took place after the above incident.

When we visited Oxford a few years ago we discovered that the University Colleges we visited had the same rules. Everyone was required to take the paths that skirted around the immaculate squares of green lawn.  Apparently it’s the same at Cambridge University. In fact I read the other day that it is illegal to walk on the grass at Cambridge, unless, a) you are a Fellow, b) you are talking to a fellow, c) you are a duck.

As quite a young child my mum was always getting into trouble. Cutting her long hair with the sewing scissors, taking off with a gypsy caravan to Hampstead Heath, getting intoxicated with what she thought was ginger beer and then, later, walking on the grass.

My mother survived the London blitz and later saved my brother and I when our house was bombed in Kent. She was passionate, impatient and always on the go, from the days of her childhood living with her grandmother in London, to her old age in Tasmania. People were always her priority. She would dash around the retirement home where she lived without her walker, even though she could hardly see (and getting into trouble for it). Mum regularly went to visit ‘her ladies’ as she called the residents in the Dementia ward.

Little Pattie Symes was born on the 7th June 1919 and is one hundred years old today. She has been in heaven for the past thirteen years, enjoying the angel choir and the company of her loved ones. I’m sure she is holding her face up to the sunshine, loving the beauty all around and most of all enjoying being in the presence of her Redeemer. One thing I know without a doubt is that no one will be bellowing ‘Keep off the grass!’

Happy Birthday Mum!

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‘A light bulb moment’ Blog 14-2019

“Hey look there’s a full moon!” I exclaimed as we stood staring into the top of beautiful old Gum tree. “No it’s not, it’s a waning moon!” Doug retorted. “Well it’s almost a full moon.” I responded, not wanting to be outdone. And that’s how our discussion began.

We recalled how Doug insisted that the roller blind went up as soon as we were settled in bed at night when we were first married. He did not want to miss the first rays of light in the morning. Me? I just wanted to sleep in as dark a room as possible. As we walked I wondered whether this might have something to do with his childhood love for the night sky.

Doug’s mother passed away when he was only six years of age. He initially lived with a family who would lock him outside when they went visiting at night. Doug was afraid of being alone in the dark at first but as time went by the night sky became his friend. The house where he stayed had no electricity and we talked further about candles, gaslight and Thomas Edison and his light bulb.

Born in 1847 Thomas was experimenting even as a child. He patented his first invention when he was 21. We were wrong to think that he invented the light bulb. There were twenty three different light bulbs and fifty odd years of experimentation by various inventors before Thomas hit the Jackpot at the age of 33. His successful light bulb was the first commercially viable one.

Finally our discussion lead to the first light ever created. In chapter one of the book of Genesis  we read: ‘and God said “Let there be light!” And the light appeared.’ No years of experimenting, no dismal failures, no tragic fires, just a simple command from our great Creator and there was light. Just like when we walk into a dark room at home and flick the switch there was an instant change from darkness to light.

It’s exactly the same when we commit our lives to God and ask for his forgiveness. In that split second we get changed from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. The apostle Peter says. “out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9) Now that is a light bulb moment!

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‘Who do you think you are?’ Blog 13-2019

“Well that was an amazing message.” I said to Doug as I climbed into the back seat of Yvette’s car late last Sunday morning. “Yeah!” Doug replied. “It took me a while to figure out who the preacher was. I recognized him but couldn’t put a name to him.”

Being Mothers day we went with our daughters and grandsons to their church some suburbs away, so we could all be together. We had no idea who would be preaching until Pastor Alan Meyer started his sermon titled ‘Stories of the unashamed God’

Commencing with the genealogy of Jesus in the first chapter of Matthew Ps. Alan shared how the record had taken great care to mention certain women in the Messiah’s line. These were women he said whom Jesus was not ashamed to call mother. He outlined the story of Tamar, (who was more sinned against than sinning). Then he shared the story of Rahab, (the prostitute of Jericho) and Ruth the Moabite (who had suffered much loss). This was followed by Bathsheba whose husband was murdered by none other than the King.

All through the sermon came the message of Grace, of all the women God could have chosen he picked these four. God didn’t use human logic when planning this He didn’t pick women of wealth or status to be ancestors of Jesus because he wasn’t looking at them with our eyes.

We love to watch the series “Who do you think you are!” It’s exciting when these people find out their five times great grandfather was related to Royalty or some famous character in history. But God was not looking for any of that because he see’s us through eyes of love, whether we are rich, poor, famous or unknown, sinner or saint. Maybe He even picked them to prove a point.

After that sermon I don’t think I will ever look at someone with the same eyes again. I want to use Gods eyes and see everyone as a person of unimaginable worth. Regardless of what they may or may not have done with their life.  I have also discovered that God sees me with those same eyes of love and I am reminded that His grace cannot be measured. It goes on and on and on.

iWho

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‘Paddy’s Market’ Blog 12 – 2019

“Do you remember a lady named Marie whom we met when we were in Sydney last year?”I asked Douglas this afternoon. “She told us the story of her miracle dress, which came from Paddy’s market many years ago?” I added. He looked up at me grinning, “I do! Maybe you should share it.” he responded, knowing that I was planning to write a blog.

Paddy’s Market has existed in Sydney since the early 1800’s and although it has a newer location now, much of it was still out in the open at the time of Marie’s miracle. Paddy’s market was known for its bargains and its pigeons.

Marie’s mother had ten children and each Christmas the girls would receive a new dress and a pair of shoes. Those were tough times and money was scarce. This particular Christmas Marie and her mother went to Paddy’s Market to look for a dress. They had prayed that God would help them buy a really nice one within their price range. Soon after arriving Marie saw the prettiest dress she had ever seen but it was beyond their means. Her mother tried to barter but the stall holder was quite emphatic; she would not reduce the price of the dress.  After a fruitless search around the market they decided to go back to the stall and sure enough, the dress was still there. Marie badly wanted this dress and once again her mother tried cut a deal but to no avail.

Just then something happened to change everything. You guessed it! A pigeon flew over and soiled the dress. The stall owner was distraught and immediately withdrew the dress from sale. Marie’s mother suggested that if the dress was sponged clean she would be prepared to purchase it at a reduced price. After much pleading the stall holder agreed but the mark could not be totally removed.

In the end they bought the dress for the exact money they had and Mum took it home to wash. The dress came up as good as new and was Marie’s all time favourite dress. She was convinced and still is to this day that God orchestrated this miracle, just for her.

Why do I share this story? Because I thought it would bring a smile to your face and remind you that God is in the business of miracles both large and small. Whether it’s taking five loaves and two small fish to feed a multitude; rolling back the red sea; or seeing that a young girl received the dress she so desperately wanted for Christmas.

(Matthew 14:13-21 Exodus 14:21)

Paddys Market

Ladies shopping at Paddy’s Market in 1909

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