‘Elvis has left the building!’ Blog 3-2018

We popped into our Shopping Centre at Endeavour Hills on Saturday morning only to find that it was extremely busy and noisy. While we had a coffee everyone around us was talking so loudly that we could not hear ourselves think let alone have a conversation. Consequently I missed five phone calls because I didn’t hear my phone. We were at a loss to know why there was such a crowd.

Later we were at the supermarket checkout when the singing started. It was loud and I remarked to the checkout girl that the PA system was a bit overwhelming. “That’s not a recording, that’s live.” She remarked. “He’s a famous Elvis impersonator.” I stopped to listen as he sang ‘The wonder of you’. “Wow! he is good.” I observed, then we both burst into laughter as we stated simultaneously, “He does Elvis better than Elvis.” The next day all was quiet again. Elvis had left the building.

However, Elvis may have gone but the words of the song have been buzzing around my brain ever since, both day and night. Then yesterday it dawned on me, it was like an epiphany! My goodness I thought ,this could be us singing to God about the amazing relationship we have with Him. Someone has probably made this analogy before but it was a light-bulb moment for me.

You can imagine my surprise when I checked the correct words of the song for this blog only to find that I had the first four lines and three of the last lines running through my mind. So, I’m taking a bit of licence in quoting it here.

When no-one else can understand me

When everything I do is wrong

You give me hope and consolation

You give me strength to carry on

I guess I’ll never know the reason why

You love me like you do

That’s the wonder, the wonder of you.

We’ll never know the reason why He loves us so; we know He gave His own son because of His great love for us. We are told that God is love personified. I’m not sure how much of that we comprehend. But we do know that when no-one understands us, He does! When we get it wrong, He gives us hope and consolation and strength and keeps on loving us.  That’s an amazing relationship. That’s the wonder, the wonder of it all.

elvis

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Anyone for Wensleydale? Blog 2 -2018

“The worst cheese I ever ate was when I was out rabbiting with Dad and Mick Rowe near Lake Cargelligo back in the fifties.” Doug grimaced! “The rabbit buyer brought supplies out to us which included some very hard cheese.” This made me think of my own childhood. My dad loved Gorgonzola which he shared with us (he called it stinking cheese).  The exception was my sister Celia, she never did like cheese in any form unless it was toasted in a ham and cheese sandwich.

Thinking of the many varieties of cheese there are, I googled and found that the French alone produce over 1000 different varieties and the English even more. It’s thanks to Wallace and Gromit that there is one English cheese we all know about. Wensleydale!

Cheese dates back many thousands of years. In 2012 the BBC announced that 34 perforated pottery vessels or cheese strainers had been excavated in Poland dating back 7500 years. When King David was a youth (pre Goliath) he is recorded as taking 10 cuts of cheese to the Commander of the Israelite Army. This was probably coagulated buttermilk dried till it became very hard and possibly quite salty. (1 Sam: 17)

There is nothing better than a platter of cheese varieties and maybe some pâté and crusty bread. This reminds me of the lines we have coined from the great English poet. “Variety’s the very spice of life that gives it all its flavour. (William Cowper Published in 1785)

Variety is indeed the spice of life! What a variety we are! Like cheeses we come in many varieties, salty or sweet, soft or hard, smooth or wrinkled, nutty or fruity, even mature or mouldy.

We all belong to the one family of which God is the father. He created us and He loves us all. He doesn’t love the Christians and hate the heathen or love the good and hate the bad, His love is immutable.

The Apostle Paul said, “For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can’t, and life cant. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are – high above the sky or in the deepest ocean -nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when He died for us.” (Romans 8:38 & 39 Living Bible)

It’s up to us to acknowledge that truth.

Cheese Picture

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Great Expectations Blog 1 – 2018

After their long summer holidays all the children are back to school here in Australia. When our three grandsons picked up their supplies their 4 year old brothers, Steven and Andrew wanted to know where their books and pencils were. They were quite disappointed but brightened up when we explained that as they were going to Preschool/Kindergarten they did not need any supplies. In fact we told them that the following day they would be going to Kinda to register. They had great expectations and had been looking forward to going for some time.

I couldn’t help laughing when their Mum related what happened. Having been to 3 year old Kindergarten last year they were sure they knew the procedure. So, when their mother tried to usher them to the car they really ‘cracked it’ she said. (For those who don’t know the term, ‘cracked it’ in this sense means to be angry and upset, stubborn and unlikely to come around)

“No mum, you don’t understand!” They kept repeating. “We can’t go without our lunch boxes and some fruit, and a bottle of water, we have to take them.” They were really getting frustrated with Mum and were not hearing her when she tried to explain that they were only going to Kinda to register. After all; if you are going to Kinda, then you are going to Kinda. Finally they were in the car and on their way, and it seems, still not really understanding, almost sure she was mistaken.

During the registration they went off and played happily in their quite familiar surroundings, that was until it she was about to take them home.  Once again they were perplexed. “No Mum we don’t go home with you.” They declared vehemently. “We stay to play and you go home.” After about five minutes of this exchange Miss Michelle their teacher convinced them that there was no Kindergarten session as such and she would see them next week.

It may be hard for us to admit but we are sometimes a bit like that with God. We have it all sorted in our minds the way things should happen but He seems not to be listening. Because we can’t see the big picture we can easily think He’s mistaken. Just like children have to trust that their earthly parents know what’s best so we have to trust our Heavenly Parent. Job said, despite all his afflictions.”Though He slay me yet will I trust him.” Now! that is trust.

Twins

Two expectant little boys in 2015

 

 

 

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Spoiler Alert- Hampstead Blog 21-2017

I have wanted to blog about going to see the movie Hampstead ever since it was in the Cinema’s recently. However, because I did not desire to spoil the movie for anyone I have waited till it was no longer being screened.

Hampstead is the Village where my mother was born and I was so looking forward to visiting the streets where she lived via the Movie. In my imagination I could see it all. My expectations were unlimited. What was I thinking? I should have known better. The movie scenes were lovely but of course they were mostly filmed in the surrounding district. Hampstead in the movie was a  mishmash, a pastiche of the best of the district.

The story was an enjoyable one of mans triumph over might, however (spoiler alert) there was no romantic ending with a little cottage by the river or a canal barge on the Thames. Although a happy ending, it was a bit of a fantasy. Any original narrative had been Holywoodized.

The real tale is so much better than the movie. Harry Hallowes made history in 2007 when he was given the deeds to some woodland next to Hampstead Heath. He had claimed squatter’s rights having lived there for twelve years. It was a real David and Goliath struggle and he beat the big time developers. Harry continued to live in his makeshift home for nearly another decade and was in his eighties when he passed away. He bequeathed his now $3.5 million estate to two homeless charities. Amazing!

There are lots of times in life when we are disappointed because things are not what we expected them to be. I have great expectations of heaven because of what the Bible tells me. There is no need to warn of a spoiler alert because we can all read the end of the story before we get there. (Rev: 21 & 22)

Harry Hallowes

The real Harry Hallowes

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‘Deepest, Darkest, Africa’ Blog 20-2017

When I was a girl, I was always worried that God would call me to be a missionary in deepest, darkest, Africa. I knew I couldn’t possibly be brave like David Livingstone or Mary Slessor who was known as the White Queen of Calabar. Nor for that matter could I be as courageous as any of those other Victorian Missionaries we heard about in Sunday School. Being a bit of an internalizer I didn’t tell anyone of my fears and therefore I didn’t know Gods calling is integrally linked to your own unique vision, passion and gifting.

I made sure my own daughters understood about Gods Call and I had to laugh the other day when texting my second daughter, Anita. She was bemoaning the heat in Sydney (37deg in Spring). One of the reasons for her being in Sydney is her passion for teaching children who might otherwise fall through the cracks.  The weather there is a far cry from Victoria’s mild climate and I jokingly texted “you really are a missionary” to which she responded ‘lol, forget deepest darkest Africa’

This morning Doug mentioned the passion of one of our missionaries to Cambodia and I remembered how I felt as a child and teenager. God was not in the least bit interested in calling me to Africa. I really wanted to work in an office especially with figures and I had a heart for helping people who are disadvantaged in some way. Amongst other things, I daydreamed about having a column in a magazine where I would talk about all sorts of topics and include thoughts about my faith. In those days there were no such things as PC’s and blogging was not even a word in the dictionary. It was not until 1997 that the word ‘weblog’ was coined. The thought of blogging didn’t enter my mind until 2013 when I was advised by the publishers of ‘Ice creams’ to start a blog. So I finally had my own column.

Now here I am in my latter years so blessed that I have done it all. I still have opportunity to work with the disadvantaged in our community and my blog gets read in any number of countries. Anita was right; forget deepest, darkest Africa I am quite fulfilled here.

Colossians 3.23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, (New Living translation)

livingstone

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Is it all about rules? Blog 19-2017

This morning on the news we heard about little four year old Prince George going to Nursery School. We were told that even at this age there were certain rules that needed to be adhered to. One was that he was not to be encouraged to have a special friend as all children were expected to be friendly with each other. The other was that birthday party invitations were not to be issued at school to avoid other children feeling left out.

The fact is that the whole of our lives are governed by rules. Though many would be a matter of common courtesy rather than rules per-se. The Rule of Law in our society is based on the original Ten Commandments issued over three thousand of years ago. All Religions have their rules and codes of conduct to live by.

However, there is one difference with Christianity, it is not about keeping the rules, about trying to be good or about any pious effort to please our God. Christianity is about God reaching down to man and saying in effect, I don’t want you to just keep a set of rules because I know you can’t or won’t keep them.  Accept my Son Jesus and I will do it all for you. In fact it is already done.

Try as we might to clean up our act we won’t succeed unless we not only ask Him for His help but ask Him into our lives.  Within seconds of our confession of sin He will not only forgive us but He will do the cleaning up Himself. (Gal 2:19, 3:24-25)

You see the difference between Christianity and other Religions is not a set of rules but the fact that Christianity provides a Saviour.  And all I can say is, “Thank God for that!”

Prince George

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Dual Citizenship? Blog 18 – 2017

I couldn’t resist blogging about today’s subject as it seemed to be handed to me on a platter. Well, what a saga! Those of you from overseas who read my blogs may not realize what has been happening over here. During the past few weeks one after the other of our politicians have been discovered to have Dual Citizenship. The law in Australia requires that you only have one allegiance when you enter politics and that is to the Commonwealth of Australia.

This was of course un-intentional, it just so happens that most of these politicians were born in Australia and thought they were singularly Aussie citizens. However, because they have a parent of another nationality they have been discovered to have dual citizenship. We have one politician whose mother is of Italian decent; she made her son an Italian citizen and did not tell him. Now it seems that our Deputy PM has the second highest votes for New Zealander of the year. Obviously the Kiwis have a good sense of humour. As I understand it we are waiting on the High Court of Australia to make a ruling regarding these unfortunate folks.

I am actually still a British citizen even though you would never know it by listening to my very Australian accent. I speak ‘Strine’ with the best of them. When the subject arose the other day we discovered that our granddaughter Caitlin didn’t realize she was eligible for a work permit in Britain because her grandmother was English. She threatened to be on the next flight.

Of course if you are a Christian you also have dual citizenship. You are a citizen of heaven as well as earth. Our heavenly citizenship does not start when we die it, starts as soon as we join the family of God. How does that happen? When we are born again by faith in Jesus Christ we are born into the Kingdom of Heaven. We become citizens of an eternal Kingdom and God our Father becomes our King. We are no longer foreigners and strangers but fellow citizens with Gods people and members of his household.  We are citizens of heaven with work permits on earth.

Citizens

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To your Credit. Blog 17-2017

I laughed the other day when Doug said, “Well we‘d better get a move on, this won’t buy the baby a new dress or pay for the one she’s wearing.” I haven’t heard this for a long time. In fact the first time I heard it was from Douglas himself many years ago. “Where did you get that from?” I questioned. “I don’t know.” He responded shrugging his shoulders.  We decided that it was unlikely to be his Mum as she passed away when he was six years old, so I suggested that maybe it was his Dad. “No, I don’t think so.” He responded. “It’s more likely to be Joe (Doug’s Cousin) maybe he said it when we were out rabbiting back in the day.”

It’s an interesting saying because in those years credit as we know it today didn’t exist. Although you could probably get things on ‘tick’ I guess. Or maybe store accounts.  In fact, when I heard about Americans buying everything on credit in my early teens I was amazed. I couldn’t imagine having a card that allowed you to purchase without paying, how it would work or why you would buy stuff you couldn’t afford to pay for. It’s all history now of course; very few people operate without Credit Cards. As I write I am reminded of the proverb which says in effect “Don’t say you will pay tomorrow when you have the money to pay today.” (Proverbs 3:28)

Last Friday at Food-bank someone asked me where in the Bible do you find the exhortation “Neither a borrower or lender be.” To my surprise, even though the Bible has a lot to say about borrowing and lending, this statement actually comes from Shakespeare and was spoken by Polonius. (Hamlet Act 1 Scene 3.) At the time the play was staged (around 1600) borrowing was epidemic among the gentry. Some landowners would sell their estates piece by piece to maintain their ostentatious life in London.

The term ‘to their credit’ is often used when someone does something noble or noteworthy. The Bible tells us that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. (Romans 4:3) And talking to the Church at Ephesus in the book of Revelation Jesus said “You have left your first love but to your credit you hate the Nicolaitans. (They believed in destructive heresies and licentious living.)

All I can add is the words of the Apostle Paul who said, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” Romans 13:8

Polonius

Polonius played by Oliver Ford Davies

 

 

 

 

 

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Last Man Standing. Blog 16-2017

Yesterday was my late brother’s birthday and it got me thinking about being the last sibling left in the family. Both Doug and I are the ‘last man standing’ (or woman as the case may be). It reminds me of a story I heard recently which was shared in our Anzac service at Church.

Vivian Bullwinkel was the last woman standing. Like me you may never have heard of this World War 2 heroine. Nurse Bullwinkel was captured when the Japanese sank the hospital ship SS Vyner Brooke after the fall of Singapore. She, along with other nurses spent 24 hours clinging to a life boat before they struggled ashore with other survivors. Although it was apparent that these nurses were non-combatants, the Japanese marched all 22 of them into the sea on Banka Island. The head nurse instructed them to hold their heads high and shoulders back.  They were machine-gunned and fell one by one.

Vivian, who was badly injured, feigned death and eventually got back to the now empty beach. Some days later she would have to give herself up and endure the atrocities of a POW camp. Vivian told no one of the massacre and was determined to survive. She planned to return to Australia and tell the story of these brave nurses to their families. Victory in the Pacific finally gave her this opportunity. When she returned she did as she had promised. Vivian continued to serve her country both in Military and civilian nursing for the rest of her life.

The account is told of the great prophet Elijah who at one stage said. “I even I only am left.” He had a moment of doubt thinking he was the last man standing. God reminded him that there were still seven thousand people in Israel who had not bowed down to the idol Baal. (1 Kings 19)

There are many circumstances in life where we can indeed feel like we are the last man/woman standing.  But we do well to remember that there is no need to be alone unless we choose to be. Jesus said, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt: 28.20

Vivian_Bullwinkel

Vivian Bullwinkel AO,MBE,ARRC,ED,FNM 1915-2000

 

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‘I’ve been there!’ Blog no 15-2017

‘I’ve been there’, is a phrase that we are all familiar with, we have all watched travel shows or documentaries and exclaimed, “I’ve been there!” At the movies the other day they showed the preview for the movie ‘Hampstead’. I could not resist leaning over and whispering to Doug and Yvette, “I’ve been there!” Actually, we had all been there, we went to check out the place where my mother was born and lived. On occasions like these we are easily transported and can feel the atmosphere, the sounds and smells of the place once more.   Even for those of us who have never travelled internationally there are still places and towns of interest in our own amazing countries that we identify with and end up remarking, “I’ve been there!”

Sometimes we can have that ‘I’ve been there’ feeling when someone is sharing their experiences with us. Whether funny or sad, good or bad we find ourselves exchanging similar stories. Furthermore being able to genuinely empathize is a wonderful way to share someone’s grief or sadness and if we really care we don’t actually need to have been there to identify with them.

There can be occasions when life and relationships seem too hard, it can even feel like God is not listening or responding when we pray. At times like this we do well to remember that Jesus understands completely because He’s been there. He was lied about, hated, beaten, had family issues and was betrayed. He knew what it was like to have no bed to go home to or where the next meal was coming from. On top of all this His friends let him down badly. He knew what it was like to feel God was not even there when he cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” The Bible says we can trust God to answer because ‘He’s been there!’ (Hebrews 4:15 The Message Bible)

80 heath St 2

  80 Heath St Hampstead (my great grandmothers shop) where my mother lived

 

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