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

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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)

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

 

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“You only have to ask!” Blog 14-2017

Yesterday morning Doug and I were at our daughter’s home early to do the school run. Andrew, who is three years old called out to me from the opposite side of the room. He was standing on a bench behind their dining table. “Grandma! Grandma! He demanded in a loud voice to get my attention. Looking up I saw he was holding a supermarket catalogue with one hand and using the other to stab at the page with his index finger. “We need this grandma!” He exclaimed.” We have to have this.” Doug quickly enquired, “What is it son, what do you have to have?”  With an angelic smile that only a three year old can produce Andrew answered. “It’s ice-cream, we need ice-cream”. In fact he wanted chocolate coated strawberry ice cream.

What did I do? What did I say? I said the same thing that you would say if you were a grandma, the same thing that grandmas have been saying down through the years. “Well if you need ice-cream son, you shall have ice-cream!” Thinking about him indulgently later I contemplated the fact that he only had to ask and my every wish is his command.

It reminds me of Blog no.10 which I wrote recently titled “I no like the jumpy castle”. In it I refer to a Pastor who speculated that although we speak of God’s unconditional love as the ‘Father Heart of God’ maybe we should call it the ‘Grandmother heart of God.”

John Wesley once said, “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer.” Andrew asked me for ice-cream believing (expecting) I would say yes it wasn’t a pious prayer just a simple request. That is all God requires of us, just to come to Him as a simple child and ask.        (see James 4:3 which says in effect….. “You do not have because you do not ask”)

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Andrew

Blog No 10 Can be read on my Facebook Page – Veronica Nowell – Author)

 

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Little Boy Lost Blog 13-2017

Some time ago our six year old grandson came to stay and when it was time to go to bed he wanted his Mummy so we drove him home again. Today I was thinking about this and asked Doug how he felt after losing his Mum at the age of six. “Did you wish you could have her back?” I questioned. “I knew my Mum had passed away,” he responded, “I saw her funeral procession but I don’t think it dawned on me that this was a forever thing. I guess I felt lost, I didn’t have a family anymore and somehow was a bit disassociated from everything.”

Doug was starting to reminisce and I was all ears, I knew at times like this I often learn some little morsel of information which I have not heard before. He continued, “I was twelve when my father returned from Melbourne after the war and I was so pleased that I was going to live with him again. It wasn’t until one day when we, Dad, Nancy and Lillian were sitting around the fire toasting crumpets that I suddenly realised Mum wasn’t there and never would be again and I burst into tears. It had taken me six years to get to that stage. Later, when I was an adult and my sisters had moved away, Dad would tell me stories about Mum and I wished that I could meet someone like her.

Doug continued, “My sister Nancy and her husband Jim returned to Maryborough when I was twenty six and I was so thrilled. They brought two beautiful little girls with them and soon after a baby boy joined us, I felt at last that I had a proper family.”  The reminiscing was over, subject closed.

There isn’t much for me to add except that two years after Nancy and Jim returned to Maryborough my family arrived on the scene and even though he didn’t like this city girl in the beginning Doug and I ended up getting married. The years have come and gone we have been blessed with four beautiful daughters and 14 grandchildren including a new batch of little boys to whom he is devoted. He’s no longer a little boy lost, in fact he found Jesus too, so he is doubly not a little boy lost.

kevs pics724 Douglas

The only boyhood photo we have of Doug – about nine years old

Doug’s story can be read in my book ‘icecreams’ message me on Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Boy Lost Blog 13-2017

Veronica Nowell - Author

Some time ago our six year old grandson came to stay and when it was time to go to bed he wanted his Mummy so we drove him home again. Today I was thinking about this and asked Doug how he felt after losing his Mum at the age of six. “Did you wish you could have her back?” I questioned. “I knew my Mum had passed away,” he responded, “I saw her funeral procession but I don’t think it dawned on me that this was a forever thing. I guess I felt lost, I didn’t have a family anymore and somehow was a bit disassociated from everything.”

Doug was starting to reminisce and I was all ears, I knew at times like this I often learn some little morsel of information which I have not heard before. He continued, “I was twelve when my father returned from Melbourne after…

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Little Boy Lost Blog 13-2017

Some time ago our six year old grandson came to stay and when it was time to go to bed he wanted his Mummy so we drove him home again. Today I was thinking about this and asked Doug how he felt after losing his Mum at the age of six. “Did you wish you could have her back?” I questioned. “I knew my Mum had passed away,” he responded, “I saw her funeral procession but I don’t think it dawned on me that this was a forever thing. I guess I felt lost, I didn’t have a family anymore and somehow was a bit disassociated from everything.”

Doug was starting to reminisce and I was all ears, I knew at times like this I often learn some little morsel of information which I have not heard before. He continued, “I was twelve when my father returned from Melbourne after the war and I was so pleased that I was going to live with him again. It wasn’t until one day when we, Dad, Nancy and Lillian were sitting around the fire toasting crumpets that I suddenly realised Mum wasn’t there and never would be again and I burst into tears. Later, when I was an adult and my sisters had moved away, Dad would tell me stories about Mum and I wished that I could meet someone like her.

Doug continued, “My sister Nancy and her husband Jim returned to Maryborough when I was twenty six and I was so thrilled. They brought two beautiful little girls with them and soon after a baby boy joined us, I felt at last that I had a proper family.”  The reminiscing was over, subject closed.

There isn’t much for me to add except that two years after Nancy and Jim returned to Maryborough my family arrived on the scene and even though he didn’t like this city girl in the beginning Doug and I ended up getting married. The years have come and gone we have been blessed with four beautiful daughters and 14 grandchildren including a new batch of little boys to whom he is devoted. He’s no longer a little boy lost in fact he found Jesus too so he is doubly not a little boy lost .kevs pics724 Douglas

The only picture we have of Doug about 9 years old

Doug’s story can be read in my book ‘icecreams’ a trilogy – contact me via Facebook

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That special touch. Blog 12-2017

After filling the cotton ball container in my bathroom the other day I was surprised to find it empty when I went to cleanse my face. It was then I recalled that our three year old grandson had been with us in the morning. Steven is a great explorer; he has to investigate the whole place every time he comes to visit. I looked in the drawers and the cupboards and finally concluded that said cotton balls must have been flushed.

Many years ago I read that once a child is six years old their sensory abilities are fully developed and he/she knows instinctively the texture and feel of something without the need to touch it. How then does that apply to adults who on seeing a ‘wet paint’ sign can’t resist touching the paint to find out if it is indeed wet? Does their curiosity get the better of their knowledge?

When visiting the V & A in London back in 2013 I noted a sign on what might have been Queen Victoria’s Bed. It read something like ‘Do not touch’ and I interpreted that to mean don’t sit or lie on the bed. But that’s not what it said. Clearly, do not touch, meant exactly that. When I gave the bed a little prod to see if it was hard or soft the loudest of sirens sounded. Oh dear! How embarrassing.

‘Touch’ is one of the five ‘love languages’. Physical touch, Gifts, Words of affirmation, Acts of service and Quality time. My primary love language is Quality time, so have a coffee with me and a nice chat and I feel really good. However, I have to remember Doug’s love language is   Physical Touch; he likes to hold hands, have a hug and feels really loved if I take the time to put  sunscreen on his face or a band-aid on a cut.

The gospels record Jesus as touching many whom He healed, including the untouchable leper.  I think one of the loveliest stories about touch is the one about the woman who had a haemorrhage for twelve years. (Luke chapter 8) This woman couldn’t get near Jesus for the crowd but she thought that if she only could touch the hem of his garment she would be healed.  When Jesus felt the healing power leave Him he asked “Who touched me?”  Trembling she fell down on her knees and confessed. “Daughter your faith has healed you.” Jesus said, “Go in peace.” Twelve years of misery wiped away with one touch. One special touch!

Cotton Balls

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Good! Blog 11- 2017

The other Sunday I walked into church and saw ‘He is Good’ on the back wall of the stage. I loved it, as I thought about the truth of the statement later, I pondered on the word ‘good.’ Have you ever thought about the number of times we use the word ‘good’ and in how many contexts? The marvellous thing is that one always knows what someone means when they say it.

If we say someone is good we are thinking, that the person is decent, moral, and generally of good character. Someone we hold in high standing. If something is ‘good’ it is of superior quality, well made, maybe sturdy or pleasing to the eye. When we say a movie is good we might mean enjoyable, delightful, a good storyline or well filmed. We often say someone is good at their job and anyone we are speaking to understands that this ‘good’ actually means skilled, capable and competent.

A ‘good’ friend is someone who is reliable, trustworthy and a joy to be with. A good day generally means the weather is fine, pleasant, mild or sunny. We tell our children they are good when they are polite, well behaved and obedient or when they have achieved a certain goal. If we say something is good for us we mean advantageous, beneficial or of help. I could go on and on but I think you get my drift. I have never been asked, “What do you mean by ‘good’?”

The first line of a Hillsong Worship song reads:- “You are good, you are good, when there’s nothing good in me,” it’s true on both counts. It’s undeniable that God is always good. His attributes include all of the ‘above’ and so, so much more. He is totally wisdom and knowledge; He is faithful and true, gracious and full of Mercy. His love knows no bounds. He never changes and though He knows all about us and the times we are anything but good He continues to love us.

It would be ‘good’ for us to remember this Easter that our Good God has done it all. He sent his Son to pay the price for our sins and all He requires of us is to acknowledge this, say we’re sorry and embrace the love He offers.

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‘I no like the Jumpy Castle’ Blog 10-2017

The other day while cleaning up some of the icons on my desktop I came across the enclosed photo. It was taken a few years ago at the Royal Melbourne Show. It was taken by Yvette and is of Peter, Daniel and Michael on the Ferris wheel. While Peter looks fairly unconcerned Daniel is not feeling at all safe or secure. In fact his look is one of trepidation. The picture pulls at my heart strings and I want to grab Daniel and hold him close.

This reminds me of the time we were at a market and the boys were anxious to get to the Jumping Castle. As we hurried across the lawn Daniel, who was not quite three years old said in a plaintive little voice. “I no like the jumpy castle”. My heart melted. This was not a ‘toughen up’ time, or a time to show him what fun he could have, or how safe it was. I just stopped and looked at him and whispered. “Sweetheart, if you don’t want to go on the ‘jumpy castle’ you don’t have to.

Many years ago we heard a Pastor remark when reflecting on how we talk about the ‘Father Heart’ of God, that maybe we should call it the ‘grandmother heart’ of God. He related how his daughters went to their grandmother’s house for a sleepover. She allowed them to wreck the bedroom, carry the mattresses through to the dining room and set up a tent under the dining room table, where they all camped overnight. He suggested that only a grandmother would allow  that and not consider how much work would be involved in putting it all back together the next day.

If God was physically walking around this earth today I am sure He would have compassion on a little boy who feared a ‘jumpy Castle’ and allow young girls to spend the night camping under the table regardless of the workload it created. Our great God has such a heart for us that His compassion is never ending and He would do anything for us. The fact is he did. He gave his only son as a sacrifice to set us free so that we could live with Him forever. In 2 Corinthians 1:3 Paul says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” Niv.

PS: Two Saturdays ago we went to a children’s day at one of the garden centres nearby and Daniel now a seven year old couldn’t wait to get to the Jumping Castle.

Baby Twins Peter Daniel and Michael

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A box of Derwent pencils Blog 9-2017

The other night the programme ‘Great British Railway Journeys’ visited the Derwent Cumberland Pencil Company in Lillyhall, Cumbria. Later I got on to YouTube and it was fascinating watching the pencils being made. Did you know that for a long time this area was the only place in the world where graphite was mined? These days the factory produces one million pencils a week and exports to between seventy and eighty countries around the world. But I digress.

A number of girls at my high school had Derwent pencils and I thought they were the best pencils ever. My mother could not afford Derwent’s’ which did not worry me, though I did decide that one day when I had money of my own I would buy myself a packet.

I was about sixteen years of age when I bought a box of 72 Derwent pencils.  As I remember they cost £7.96 which is roughly $105.00 in today’s money. These pencils were my pride and joy; I guarded them with my life. The only person allowed near them was my sister, Celia. She revered them nearly as much as I and one day bought her own box also.

When I say I guarded them with my life, I mean until my daughters came along. Fiona our first daughter was very careful with them but gradually as the other girls arrived the pencils were lost along the way. Part of the problem was that priorities change and the Derwent’s had been replaced,  my pride and joy was now my little girls.

You can imagine how thrilled I was when a parcel arrived from Fiona some time back. Inside was a tin of Derwent pencils and a couple of colouring books. In Luke Chapter six Jesus is quoted as saying, “Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over….”

I didn’t really give my Derwent’s away they were just replaced with something of greater value but as they say ‘what goes around comes around’ and here I am a good fifty years later with a box of Derwent pencils.

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A 1960’s box of 72  Derwent’s

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