Sunday, November 26, 2006

We're celebrating..

The wedding of Nathan and Kirsty on Saturday November 25. A very special couple!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Life lesson 25436

When an email comes round at work saying the water is being turned off you really should remember that fact - especially before and not after you have liberally soaped you hands with liquid soap and have turned the tap on expecting water to be gushing out!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Where am I in the scene?

As the scripture about the children being brought to Jesus and the disciples rebuking those who had brought them was being read in church on Sunday I suddenly had a very vivid scene of this in my mind - almost like a page from a children's Bible Story book.

I am looking at the scene and there is this insistent question that keeps being asked of me "Which one are you?" I look at each part of the scene and I wonder:-

Am I one of those who are bringing "little children" to Christ to be prayed for and His hand placed on them?

Am I one of those "little children" who are brought to Christ by others to be prayed for and His hand placed on me?

Am I one of those "disciples" who rank people and categorize and rebuke those who love and nurture and want the "little children" to be blessed and know the hand of Christ on their life?

Am I the voice and hands of Jesus praying and touching the lives of "little children"?

Or am I one of the crowd who stands by and does nothing as the "little children" and those who love them and care for them are being held back from having the opportunity to get up close with Christ?

It is a question that I will ponder on for a long time.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Women who inspire me

I was fortunate to go to a Women's Conference through work. Two speakers in particular inspired me and I have thought a lot this week about what they said.

The first was Celia Lashlie. Every time I have either read an article about her or heard her on radio or TV I have been impressed with what she has had to say. One of the reasons I respect her is because she is not afraid to say what she thinks. She spoke of her concern for this country - for what she sees as the lack of moral courage and lack of leadership.

She is passionate about improving the lot of women in NZ prisons and tackling the reasons why so many of these women are in prison. When the women were asked what was the hardest part about being released from prison they said going to the supermarket - they could see the condemnation on people's faces. All they ask for is a smile - for them it is incredibly powerful and reassuring.

She then went on to talk about her latest project where she spent time in high schools talking with adolescent boys trying to define what makes a good man. She shared many insights - one in particular explained why one of my boys was often up late finishing assignments . The boys told her that the reason they don't do homework until the night before it is due in is because the school might burn down before then and then they would've done all that work for nothing! Male logic - I will never understand it!

Although she calls herself a feminist she never in any way put men down. In fact she issued a warning to the women not to dishonour men and manhood in the pursuit of equality. She had much more to say, and much more to tell women on how the male mind works.

She spoke for nearly 2 hours without notes - and yet she had everyone engrossed. One woman at work was so inspired by her that she has applied to become a child mentor.

The other woman who really inspired me was Susan Devoy. She too spoke without notes and held everyone's attention. I liked her for her honesty - for her willingness to talk about the tough times as well as the good times. She spoke about having to start over again when her husband's business was bankrupted through someone stealing money from it - of moving her boys from a Decile 10 school in Remuera to a large intermediate in Tauranga.
I was really surprised when she admitted how insecure she felt because she had no formal qualifications - and yet she had been so successful in her squash career.

She spoke of the huge support she had from her parents as her sporting career took off and of the incredible woman who mentored her as she learnt the ropes in a new job. She spoke candidly too, of some of the nasty comments made to her by other women!

I came away with the feeling that for these two women life would never be mediocre and whatever they did would be done with 100% effort and 100% passion. They are just ordinary women and yet they are prepared to take risks, to not stick to the safe road all the time.

It made me think about what I am passionate about and my level of committment versus my need for security and safety.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Unforgettable sermons #1

I wonder if there is anyone else who, like me, have heard sermons that stick in your mind forever.

Mostly they are because God used them to impact my Christian walk in an unforgettable way.

I remember two from my teens - one because for the first time it helped me understand that forgiveness of sin does not always mean that you don't have to face the consequences of sin. i.e. if you are in jail for stealing and ask for forgiveness for that sin, if doesn't mean you get let off the rest of your jail sentence - you still have to face the consequences.

The other I remember for not so good reasons - a guest speaker who preached that unconfessed sin put your salvation in doubt. ( Now, on reflection, I suspect he was working up to an altar call that no one could refuse to respond to.) What I remember most is my father having the courage to stand up against a very popular "man of the times" and refute that claim backing it up with scripture.

It is not that every sermon does not impact me in some way, just that some stand out as defining moments for me.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

What is prayer?

I heard an announcer the other day ask people to ring in and share answers to prayer and it got me thinking - why are they the only sorts of prayer that should be shared?

Doesn't it give people a wrong perception that conversations with God are only to be on a needs basis?

Some of the most significant moments in my christian journey have been the "Be still and know that I am God" type prayer times.

There have been other times when it hits me anew some aspect of God's grace and great love for me and then my prayers can only be full of thanks, wonder awe and praise.

I also like praying just talking to God, sharing stuff with Him, hopes and dreams and disappointments.

There are also times when I definitely do ask for Him to act - but that is only a part of my prayer life and I hope that I never accidentally imply to anyone that prayer requests are all that there is to praying.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Things you need to know

I feel the need to put everyone straight about what happened at Koru on Friday night.

1. I did not get lost - the detour was intentional. We were just filling in time so we didn't have to wait too long for the rest of the cars to arrive.

2. I am a very skilled driver - that is why I could back right up to the barrier and have only a 5 cm gap between the Terrano and the post. Really, I just don't see why Stephen turned white and yelled at me and Jess very quietly said from the back seat "You might want to stop".

3. My husband will let me use his car again.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Cell phones

There has been heaps of texting going on at the Sunday night services - most of it legit as part of Digestion.

It struck me as I was watching those who are just slightly younger than me how much I haven't yet discovered of what my cell phone can do and what all the features on it mean. I have skipped over the technical bits and the bits I don't understand I have not asked for help with. Although I have been aware of others making better use of their phone I have been content to stay with the knowledge I have and not try to learn more.

I bought a cell phone because I wanted to keep in contact with my kids and make it easy to send and receive messages from them (when I remember to check) and so that is all I have used it for and yet it is capable of so much more.

It seemed to me that it is a bit like what God was saying to me last year . That to be content to be in the same place in my christian faith was to be missing out on so much that could be of benefit to me. That it was necessary to ask for help and to learn from those who have the knowledge (i.e. Bible College) and that by doing so I would be opening myself up to so much more.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Does Ijit count?

I am rushing to the supermarket in my lunch hour and as I am trying to find a parking space an old lady is walking right in the middle of the car park lane, fiddling with her hearing aid and completely oblivious to the fact that she is reducing me and those behind me to crawling along at about 2 kms an hour.

"Silly old idiot" I mutter to myself and then am reminded of Steve's sermon on Sunday morning. about calling a brother an idiot and that words can kill.

So then I mutter "silly old ijit" under my breath! That doesn't work either. Still feel guilty.

One moral of the story:- Never think when you hear something on Sunday morning that it doesn't apply to you, as you will very quickly find out that it does.

Another moral of the story:- Stress and time pressure can affect our attitudes and how we see other people.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A sad saga!

I'm a prisoner in my own home, trapped inside until Alastair comes home from work.

You see there's a dead chook in the chookhouse and I'm terrified of dead things.

I come home from work, go down to the chookhouse to let the chooks out and there, right by the door is a dead chook! I didn't stop to inspect it closely - I just went rushing inside to text Alastair hoping he would come home straight away to put me out of my misery.

And now I don't want to go outside. I don't want to go and hang some clothes on the clothesline because that is next to the chook house. And I definitely don't want to be thinking about that poor pathetic looking bundle of feathers lying on the floor, right in the way of the other chooks getting out so that they had to walk over it to get out - Yuk and double yuk!

And I keep looking out of the kitchen window - counting the remaining chooks in the chook run to make sure no others have keeled over - not that I am going to go rushing out and do anything about it if one did keel over on me.

Chicken is off the menu for quite a while in this household!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Exam results

I got a B!

Yes, I got a "B" in Old Testament Survey A and I am rapt! A "C" would've been okay but a B is what I was secretly hoping for. A "B" means you passed well, if I had got a "C" I would've wondered if I had only just scraped in.

And I got flowers and chocolates and "well done" from my family.

And I got a B! - just in case you missed it first time round.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The house is alive to the sound of ....

Since our return from Oz, the house has been alive to the sounds of ... Inspector Clouseau - as only Peter Sellers can play him!

Yes, while on holiday we found the original Pink Panther series on DVD. (That was before the self-denial sermon really started intruding into my consciousness!)

Even my kids commented that the original series (especially the latter ones) were funnier than the remake. The fight scenes with Cato... the hunchback disguise ... the Toulouse Le Trec disguise... I could go on!

So, we had great fun watching them at night and I think Alastair has pretty much got the accent down pat. Just have to get the kids trained up now!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I need this holiday!

Thursday I am at work, getting ready to hand over to the person who will be doing my job while I am away. I have spent hours on training and writing notes on how to make products, including screen snaps etc.

While I am explaining some things he starts complaining about how hot it is, then he goes totally white, talks about chest pains and collapses on the floor in my office.

It was a really horrible situation - here is a person having a heart attack, I need to be leaving so I can catch the plane to Brisbane, I am totally useless at first aid, and so there is this tension going on for me - thank goodness others appeared to who knew more than more and took over the medical care - still an awful situation to be in - what to do? sacrifice your holiday? As it worked out I didn't need to but I was reminded of the good samaritan parable - when you are in that situation it isn't as cut and dried as you think it would be.

I have since heard that he has had a stent put in and is recovering.

Now I am at the Gold Coast in mid 20 degree heat and having to conserve water as they are in the middle of a drought - so opposite to what Christchurch is experiencing.

Thought briefly about the Self Denial sermon on the way to Harbour Town Shopping Centre in the bus - decided I wouldn't buy lunch out but make it back at the apartment. Will only buy stuff that has "Sale" on the Price tag.

Have to go - I hear the shops calling my name, telling me there are bargains, just for me ... or could it be the money on the internet is running out!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Holidays and Self Denial Appeals don't mix!

It's been an interesting morning at church for me.

First there was the speaker - his text was from Amos and normally my heart would sink thinking "Yet another one of THOSE sermons". But as he gave a brief outline of the events leading up to Amos, I was thinking "YES! I know this stuff, I can follow it, I understand it", and a feeling of surprise as I thought "I'm actually looking forward to hearing this passage expanded upon"- all the hard slog of learning I have done in the Old Testament class at Bible College is really helping me to make more sense and understand better the Bible and who God is.

But then the whole sermon was tied up with the Self Denial Appeal. Not a sermon you want to hear when you are about to head off to the Gold Coast on holiday!! Especially when the Gold Coast is home to one of the largest malls in Australasia!! But I also know that God has a sense of humour and I sensed he was laughing with me as I put it all into perspective.

Yes, I will take on board the message of Self Denial, I do believe with all my heart that God is passionately concerned with poverty and oppression, and yes, I do believe that I can make a difference by contributing to this appeal.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Exam time

The books are spread out on the table, the TV is turned off, the study schedule is written out, the coffee consumption has reached an all time high, and the food which once was regarded as detrimental to my health and to be avoided at all costs has suddenly become my friend, and my support crew.
Yes, it can mean only one thing - less than a week till my exam and still so much study to go!!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Assignment - the journey is as important as the result

Today I received my assignment back from Bible College. It was a good feeling to know that I had passed - a B! - but in some ways the feeling I had when I handed the assignment in to be marked was just as important for me.

I found the writing of the assignment incredibly difficult - not because of the topic or the lecturer, but because I had to face some "ghosts" from the past.

For lots of reasons high school was not "the best years of my life" and I left at the end of 5th form glad to be gone from the place and glad to be earning an income. I did leave however, not feeling that I had achieved academically and with echoes of very negative comments from teachers and classmates alike.

So to undertake a subject at Bible College this year has been very risky for me and has definitely been outside my comfort zone. I decided to take it as a credit course (which means I sit the tests, do the assignments and the exam at the end of the semester) rather than do it as an audit course (where you just go to the lectures and get a copy of the notes) because I knew I wouldn't put as much time into it or be as dedicated in my study if I didn't have to have my learning examined.

Many times I wished I had only done it as an audit course, especially when it came to the assignment. I wrote, rewrote, deleted, altered, rewrote again, and agonised over whether I had written intelligently or not. Thank you Alastair, Janette Busch, Amy and Warwick for patiently letting me "pick your brains" on writing assignments.

I have had a tendency in the past if I felt something was too difficult to just give up, and the temptation to do that again was very strong, yet all the time I knew that doing Bible College is part of God's preparing and equipping me for both now and the future and I knew that there were lessons I was learning about persevering, persistence and prayer that was as important to learn as the life of Abraham.

There was also the not wanting to let my family down, both Alastair and the children have sacrificed much so that I could make this dream happen - and they have also had to put up with a stressed mother!

So to finally hand in a completed assignment was a major milestone for me - but it is not over yet - the exam is yet to come!!

I also have a lot more respect for those who are studying full time at Bible College!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A definition of frustration

Frustration is when you wait impatiently for your old, "how much longer before this collapses" clothesline to be replaced by a new duo plus folding clothesline, only to have it rain for the next three days - and then the first day it is fine you are running late for work and haven't got time to hang the washing out. To top it off the forecast is for rain tomorrow! Aaaaaaagh!

Monday, May 08, 2006

An exciting week ahead

This morning I begin a live-in course for 5 days, training to become a State School Chaplain. This is a voluntary position for 4 hours a week, and is something I have been aware of God calling me to do for a long time.

It doesn't mean I am not nervous about it, wondering how I will cope, and because this is something I am doing in obedience to God I have this little voice that occasionally whispers "You'd better not let God down either!". I know where this comes from - and it is not from God.

I am trying not to go with any preconceived ideas, but rather I see this as an equipping week, a learning week, and a confirming week.

That fact that I don't have to cook meals for 5 days has nothing to do with my sense of excitement!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Out of the mouths of babes!

Cute 4 year old visitor: "Can I have some of that chocolate?" pointing to a box of chocolate bars our family is selling as a fund raiser for Stedfast Band.

Me: "If you have $2.00 you can, you have to pay before you can have some."

Older brothers front up with $2.00 and wave their chocolate bars around.
Cute 4 year old does the normal "but I want some", "why can't I have some" routine that 4 year olds do. Realising that it is not going to work he delivers one final argument.

Cute, chocolateless 4 year old:"Well anyhow, this isn't a shop, this is a house and you don't pay for food in a house!!"

Me: Can't say anything cos I'm too busy laughing!!!!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Impressions of Easter Camp from a cook's perspective

Loud - groove tent base is unreal
Buzzing - always something happening
Overwhelming - when you see this horde of kids lined up waiting to be fed and still they kept coming
Daunting - when you see the quantity of food needing to be cooked so that 2,800 kids can be fed
Inspiring - when you see how much time and effort and every ounce of energy and more that people give to make this camp happen
Humbling - to know that you have been part of a team of people making the camp happen so that kids lives are changed permanently, and that for many they will look back on this camp as one of the defining moments in their life.
Amazing - to see such a huge crowd so well behaved and with so few crowd problems
Exhausting - are my feet ever going to stop aching?
Incredulous - to be told thatwe managed to get 2,800 kids through the food lines in 17 minutes

We have cooked for Easter Camp for 11 years now and I still count it a privilege to be able to be part of this ministry.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Camp has been and gone. An interesting weekend!
The teaching gave me a lot to think about and process, the food has given me a kilo or two to work off, the fun and laughter has given me lots of precious memories, and the friendships - both new and existing - have given me a sense of how much God loves each and every one of us, and I realise again that we are designed to have fellowship with each other, not just with God.

Each camp I have been to has had a different feel to it, and each is memorable for different reasons. I pray that the work God has done in each of the women's lives over the weekend will continue, and that they will not forget the truths learned, but will keep on building on the foundations laid at camp.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Two more Life's Lessons

Life's Lesson 25434

It is a good idea if you are doing housework before you go to work, or if you want to look at the paper after someone else has dripped honey or blobs of jam on it while they were reading it before you, (sigh!) to put on old clothes when you get up and then change into your clean work clothes before you head out the door.

Life's Lesson 25435

It is a good idea if you are only going to change into your clean work clothes just before you head out the door to stop cleaning your glasses and put them back on so that you can have a really good look in the mirror, not just a short sighted glance as you rush by.
That way you won't have to have your workmate (female - I am thankful to say) tell you that your blouse is inside out (Sigh!!!!!)

Friday, March 10, 2006

God restores my soul

The topic for the women's camp next weekend is "God restores my soul". I am really looking forward to it. Even just meditating on the title gives me a sense of expectancy - there is hope and promise and a depth of meaning in this one sentence.

I realise that I will not escape God's gentle probing and revealing of areas in my life that need restoring, but already for me there is a sense of the Holy Spirit going before and preparing, of not being faced with more than I can handle.

To me, in the midst of a busy few weeks, it is going to be a time of drawing aside and just being in the presence of God, of walking with Him at a slow enough pace that I can hear what He is saying to me.

My prayer is that this will be so for all the women who come.

Maybe, if I am totally honest, no cooking, fun and laughter with a bunch of other women and getting away from it all also helps me to be looking forward to camp.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Amanda's big day

Tomorrow is Amanda Lander's big exam that she has been working and studying so hard for. I am praying for her that God will give her good memory recall, for strength, for calmness, and for her to know God's presence through it all.
I don't think she would mind if others prayed too.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A cup of coffee in My name

The service has ended and I am sitting in church with Roanna when Rayd comes along with a cup of coffee for her. Seeing the husband is away in Hanmer at a school music camp and so my usual "bringer of the coffee" is not there, Rayd volunteers to bring me a coffee. As he walks away after giving me my coffee I am reminded of the verse in Mathew which says "And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water (or in my case coffee) to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."

It also reminded me that God takes notice of the little things that we do in His name - attitude is as important as action.

Thanks Andrew, your kindness is appreciated.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Life's Lesson No 25433

How Not To Buy a Birthday Present!

When you buy your daughter a 2 seater bean bag for her birthday it pays to think about how you are going to get it home. In case you want to know, a 2 seater bean bag does not fit in the boot of a Nissan Bluebird, nor does it fit in the back seat. It may also be beneficial to know that when you are huffing and puffing and trying to squeeze the bean bag in the back seat, oil from the door catch will rub off onto the bean bag, necessitating spending an hour that night with the "Frend" stain remover to get rid of said oil stains.

It also pays to make sure your husband takes his cell phone with him that day, otherwise you end up having to ring your daughter at work to come and rescue you!! Oh, and it also pays to make sure your own cell phone is charged so you are not left wondering if your daughter heard all your instructions before the battery went flat!

Another good thing to remember is your sunnies!! They are very helpful when you are standing on the footpath in Colombo Street, trying to pretend that is perfectly normal to have a bean bag hanging out of the boot of your car, and that everybody who buys a bean bag always leans against the car so their daughter can spot them as they come to the rescue in the boss's car with the big boot!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

More than one catch at Elaine Bay

Beautiful weather, spectacular scenery, a calm sea, the fish biting - my idea of a perfect holiday!
Its ages since I had done any fishing, but with just a good old fashioned land line on both days we managed to catch our legal quota of blue cod in just under an hour at Elaine Bay in Pelorous Sounds.

6 months ago Hugh and Jane invited us to spend some time up there with them. I only needed to be asked once!! Saturday night Hugh told Nath and Kirsty they were on dishes. I've never had the dishes whipped away from me so quickly!! After they did the dishes Nath said he and Kirsty were going for a walk. I suggested Alastair might like to go with them to which I got a very definite NO!

Half an hour late Kirsty is bursting back into the room skipping and giggling. I think it took Jane and I at least 1 second to spot the ring on her finger!

Alastair then produced some grape juice and a cake which Nath had organized for Alastair to bring up when he arrived Friday night.

A very special time and a very special holiday.

They are planning on being married end of November.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Stained Glass Masquerade

I've been listening to the Casting Crowns "Lifesong" CD that I just got - why have I just got a new CD? Maybe it has something to do with having to tick the next age bracket on those countless forms I seem to be always filling out!

Anyhow, one of the songs that has made me think quite a bit is Stained Glass Masquerade. The blurb explaining the song makes this statement "I don't think it bothers the world that we sin. I think it bothers the world that we act like we don't........"

I think there is huge truth in that statement. I have been guilty myself, of at times acting as if I have it altogether, of somehow thinking that people will be attracted to the christian life if they don't see the struggles, the hurts, the pain and the failure that happens at times in my life. I think being real is what is attractive, of having this hope, this inner strength, this power beyond human understanding, of knowing forgiveness and cleansing as we deal with all that life dishes out to us is what will make people pause and think.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Life's Lesson Number 25432

If you are going to invite people round for a barbeque, not only do you have to check that you have all the ingredients for what you are going to make, you also have to check that there is enough gas in the gas bottle!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

This can only mean one thing

The sharpened axe lying by the chopping block..... the gate to the hen house swinging open.... the silence in the back yard... the pale faced husband.... the rows of silverbeet unpicked......the bags of sawdust from the chook house neatly lined up against the fence....

Yes, it can only mean one thing - our "past the use by date" chooks have been dispatched to that place where all good chooks go. And my kind husband was good enough to wait till I was back at work so I didn't have to witness all the unpleasant and gory events unfolding.

I miss them - as I have been weeding the garden I keep thinking how much they loved me chucking the weeds to them, and how excited they used to get when we chucked the kitchen scraps in for them to pick through and fight over.

I'm looking forward to the new lot arriving.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

First post for 2006

These holidays have just flown by. I've looked forward to them for so long and now I am back at work - reluctantly. Lake Brunner is so beautiful and the views were spectacular. So many lovely bush walks to enjoy and old gold mining spots to explore. Didn't have time to do all the walks and visits so definitely there are plans to go back again. Best of all was time spent as a family without the pressure of rushing in and out the door going to this place or that. We learnt to play the board game Sequence and I think this game will fast become a McGowan (and maybe a Dimock) family favourite.
Last week was time spent with Michael and Miriam - a precious time of just being with them and laughing lots. Took the opportunity (thanks to Roanna's organising skills) of having family photos taken at Cave Rock and have just got the CDs with them on. They are fantastic and I am going to have trouble choosing which ones I get printed. The first photos I looked at were just of my children - they are my children and yet looking back at me was a group of adults (a very attractive group of adults in my opinion) - my babies have grown up!! I knew that - but somehow the photo seemed to make it hit home.