Good News! Blog No 6 – 2018

The text from Gloria read “Had a rush trip by train (to Melbourne), this morning with Karen. Left at 8am back on the 11:17am, she is going to China and had to get a copy of her Marriage certificate and a visa.” I responded, “Wow! We will have something to talk about when we meet. I will look forward to hearing all the Goss.”  It wasn’t actually Gossip, just some great, good news that I had no inkling of previously. I think we say Goss because we want to hear all the ins and outs of the situation. We were meeting up in a couple of day’s time so I looked forward to hearing all about it.

Every year Gloria gives me a friendship calendar. The March 2018 verse reads ‘Friendship is a cosy shelter from life’s rainy days.’ How true that is. Especially in Ballarat which is universally reputed to have inclement weather. I have such lovely memories of sitting cosily with my friend sharing a coffee and a chat while the rain poured down outside. By the way, since coming to live in Melbourne I have coined a phrase when someone is reticent about going out in the rain. I laugh and say, “We come from Ballarat; we don’t dissolve in the rain”.

Thinking back about the China news I realize there is a bonding that takes place when we share our good news and talk about the people who mean so much to us. It only becomes a problem when we start sharing the sort of information that is no business of ours at all. I’m so blessed that none of my coffee friends are into talking about other people.

Did you know the word Gossip was originally Godsibb? From God + sib “relative” (see sibling) it was extended in the mid 14th century to mean any familiar acquaintance. From there it went on to describe anyone engaging in familiar or idle talk. By the 1600s it had become a verb also, meaning ‘to talk idly about the affairs of others’. It was all downhill from there.

Many years ago we used to sing a chorus straight from the Psalms, some of the lyrics were. ‘Let the words of my mouth and the Meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight Oh Lord!’

The living bible actually says; ‘May my spoken words and my unspoken thoughts be pleasing unto you, O Lord my rock and my redeemer.’ Psalm 19:14.

I like the concept that God might find our words pleasing. May it always be so.

Gloria

Having coffee with Gloria (right) in the Begonia House – Ballarat Botanical Gardens

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Ancestry? Blog no 5 – 2018

Doug’s sister Nancy told him that the Nowell’s descended from the Huguenots who fled France for England back in the sixteenth century. If you watched ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ last week you will have seen that Derek Jacobi  is descended from the Huguenots on his mother’s side of the Family. Hence, we were extremely interested to watch and learn.

Enter stage right – The edict of Nantes: it was a promise of religious toleration granted in 1598 to the French Protestants in a predominantly Catholic France. However, Louis X1V revoked the edict in 1685 and persecution broke out which killed over 100,000 Huguenots. – Exit stage left 400.000 French Protestants to England for refuge. (Thought to be the first time the word refugee was used).

However, the French shot themselves in the foot, actually both feet. The hardworking Huguenots were not only the country’s most prosperous citizens but even though they had to leave behind their possessions, they took their skills and crafts with them. They taught the enemy their specialized techniques of silk-work, lace making, weaving and hat-making.

Derek Jacobi’s ancestor who fled France was Joseph De Laplaigne,  a wealthy Financier in the court of Louis X1V in Versailles.  (Financiers raised money for the monarchs to keep up their lavish lifestyles). Whether Doug is descended from prosperous Huguenots we cannot prove. However, it is documented that one of those first two Nowell brothers who jumped ship in Geelong and headed for the goldfields misbehaved. He was tarred and feathered! Now that’s some ancestral claim not many could make.

The good news is we can all make an amazing ancestral claim. Specifically: Our Father is the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, (1 Tim 1:17) who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps 50:10) and we are adopted into his family. (Eph 1:5.NLT).  In the words of the Apostle Paul, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ”.

The choice is ours!

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Derek Jacobi

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Found! Blog No 4 -2018

Where are you, I’ve been Looking everywhere for you?’ I could hear the anxiety in her voice. “We were just across the road at the Doctors.” I nonchalantly responded.

The day had started well having been to the shops we had returned home before going to the Doctors. (The shops are only 300 Metres from our corner and the Doctors’ surgery is even closer.) While at home I quickly sent a text to Yvette at school stating that I had picked up the steak she wanted. Big mistake!

I used the microphone to dictate the message, “Bought your red meat” but when Yvette read the text it was quite threatening, it started with an expletive “@#$%^&*( you’re red meat”. After trying to reach us she immediately rang her sister. “I just got the strangest message from Mum, something’s wrong, she doesn’t use swear words. She’s been hacked or lost her phone or something and I can’t get hold of her.” Meredith tried ringing and with no answer she drove over to our house. (We had inadvertently left my phone on the kitchen bench.)

Not finding us at home Meredith drove to our shopping centre, then on to Waverley Gardens. Remembering that it was a Thursday she went to Wellington Village where I meet my friend Rosalie each fortnight. Meanwhile, Doug wanted to go for a coffee but on leaving the Doctors surgery we discovered my phone was missing and went straight home to get it, just in case someone was trying to contact us. I’m so glad we did!

Meredith was starting to get really concerned that something had happened to us and kept telling herself not to panic, to stay calm and just keep looking. She was about to head to Stud Park when I rang her.

Once Meredith knew we were home the relief in her voice was almost tangible.  “I’m coming back to your place. I have to see you for myself and make sure you are both okay.” There was much rejoicing when she arrived and after hugs and apologies the three of us we went for a coffee to celebrate.

I am reminded of the joy and relief the father of the prodigal son felt. After looking out for his boy for many days, he was so overjoyed to see him. He said and I quote “we must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has returned to life! He was lost and is found.” Jesus told this story to illustrate the sort of joy there is in heaven when one lost sinner is found. Luke 15 Living Bible.

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The father running to the prodigal

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‘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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