Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Notebooks and routine

Today I'm trying to master using a notebook-type computer. I'm sitting in my car outside the Post Office waiting for someone; so the plan is to use that time to blog. It's taken me ages just to find the programme, for starters! Now I'm getting used to the keyboard: how it feels to the touch, where the keys are... I'm reminding myself about the tortoise right now: slowly, with perseverance. Using this new machine is very frustrating; but I know it will be worthwhile.

My friend Barbara and I were agreeing yesterday that both of us like routine - but that God stretches and teaches us by putting us OUT of routine sometimes...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Getting it right

"Paint the bathroom": this was on our to-do list for the December holidays.Well, you know what comes next: it is STILL on our to-do list! Everyone has a different view of how to prepare the surfaces, what colour paint we should choose, and whether the walls need damp-seal or not. I've surprised myself at the range of colours I've looked at, from a very pale green to a deep moss to the current "Grecian" turquoise/green. I hope to paint on a sample of the colour tomorrow, and live with it for a few days before taking the final decision. (If I get really technologically organized, and post a picture here, you can even help me choose.) I am keeping the tortoise in mind: no rushing on this job. Anyway, we CAN"T rush: the walls must be sanded and then sugar-soaped before any paint can be applied. There are also cracks to fill and one wall of very stubborn paint to strip off. This might be a rather drawn-out project.

By complete contrast, I was faced this week with a very quick change in the life of one of my one-time mentors. On the 15th, I bumped into her at the shops, said hello, admired her beautiful green-co-ordinated clothes, and moved on. Ten days later, I encountered her again (at the library this time), to the news that she had had a double mastectomy. I still can't grasp the suddenness and depth of this. Would I have faced such an intimate change with such equanimity? I know she is rooted in Christ, and sees God's grace and timing in the whole event.


This one is about knowing that you are loved, and I've passed it on as-is from Gary Chapman:

Living Love by Gary Chapman []

Bedtime Stories 
I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons, neither the present
nor the future, nor any powers, neither
height nor depth, nor anything else in all
creation, will be able to separate us from the
love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
—ROMANS 8:38-39 

When my grandchildren were toddlers, I read many books to them about farms, the alphabet, and how to have good manners. A more subtle theme among children's picture books is unconditional love.
"Mama, do you love me?" a child asks her mother. "How much do you love me?" a bunny asks his father. With a variety of settings and characters, countless books represent children asking, "What if I ran away? What if I hurt you? What if I traveled to the moon or broke a vase or hit my sister? Would you still love me?"
"Yes," the parent says. "I will love you no matter what. I will always love you."
These cozy bedtime stories reflect a universal need that we never outgrow: the need to know that someone, somewhere, loves us without restraint or condition.
What a gift we give each other when we communicate that kind of love every day. We might not say it with words. In fact, we might choose to love by not speaking but by being patient in the face of frustration, kind when someone is rude to us, or humble when it would be easier to talk about our  accomplishments. But every time we are purposeful about making love a way of life, we are affirming what we each need to hear—and what God speaks to us every day: You are loved. No matter what. Forever and always.
How would truly believing God loves you—no matter what—change your thoughts and actions in the next twenty-four hours?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Year of the Tortoise

My dream and plan is to make these blogs a record of the year's journey: the Year of the Tortoise. The focus will be on following the example of that tortoise Alexander and I met (see The Scent of Water): taking a purposeful detour towards the scent of water, soaking in it; being patient, intent, purposeful; being rested and refreshed. My prayer is that this journey of mine will bring me closer to God, becoming more like Jesus. As you read that journey, take some time to rest and be restored too.

Please join me on my journey - a journey that, along with tortoises, will include boys, cars, re-painting the bathrooms, and whatever else the year holds!

Newsmaker of the year: The Muscle Car

2012 was our "Year of the Car" as Steve worked on his Ford Fairlane. It went from old yellow crunk-car, to shiny blue monster. Needless to say, plenty of money and time was spent along the way - but he is now an expert in it, and very satisfied with the result. There are of course a few further adjustments to make...and I think there always will be. That is the nature of the beast!

I hope you enjoy this collage of our year: the car, William's 9th birthday, the cats Luca and Jet, helicopter rides with Gavin, racing and swimming, and our beautiful Nature Reserve.

LIFE! - a miracle merry-go-round

"I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy." - Sylvia Plath *

Life feels as if it is fizzing and buzzing at the moment - full of creative energy. What a powerful blessing, after a long season of dryness and depression and lack of energy. It can only be due to water from the well-spring of life, from Father-God who "tends" me and cares for me. I FEEL like a vine rooted in Christ...

Last night we met with a group that we call LIFE, and it was just that. Each one had a vision to share, a story of God's faithfulness and goodness, an insight into how we live this life in Christ...It is hard to put into words the sense of family, "solidness", and strength such times bring. At Pilates class earlier the same day, I could feel my body just "drinking in" the stretching and controlled exercises we did - it was sometimes painful, but overall so satisfying, so needed. There was something of the same sense at Lifegroup: of challenge, growth, and vitality.

Did you play on a merry-go-round as a child? My Alexander (6) can't get his head around the word, which is fairly new to him (his new school has one). Yesterday, despite telling me he'd fallen off it, he called it a "miracle-round". I pray your "merry-go-round" that feels a bit too fast or busy, will become your "miracle-round" as you feel and see God at work in your life.

A real merry-go-round at Ratanga Junction

*This comes from a site called, which runs a "life game" where you grow your tree by setting goals, adding inspiration, and generally doing your own "life-coaching". It is a bit slow and frustrating at times, but overall enjoyable and helpful.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Scent of Water

On Wednesday, Alexander and I saw a lovely old tortoise. We had walked in the Nature Reserve, following a beautiful shaded path along the stream. As we walked under the archway that marks the pedestrian entrance, we saw a tortoise trundling along at quite a pace. Its neck was stretched out, and all four legs were fully extended. Its shell was quite white in places, as if all the top layer had been burned off. Where was it off to? We watched, intrigued, as it headed for a puddle of water on the tar, left by the sprinklers. When it reached the water, it sat right down in it and sort of shuffled. It did this several times, before setting off again, still with set intent. It had made a significant detour to reach the water.

The tortoise knew what it needed: it followed the scent of water. The book of Job in the bible talks about how even a tree stump in the ground will sprout and branch again at the scent of water (Job 14:22). That speaks to me about renewal; about resting in God; about following the path to what we know we need and is best for us, even if to others it seems like a detour. And the tortoise enjoyed it!

Some other threads from this episode: Alexander was so intent and focused on that tortoise. He followed it in its slow progress; sat and watched it; delighted in it. It was like a gift and blessing on the day.
Earlier, I had let HIM lead the way, choosing the path, choosing the pace. He decided when we should rest, what to look at. It was so satisfying to see him enjoy this exploration; satisfying just to be patient, and allow him his six-year-old space...

I have decided that this will be the Year of the Tortoise: patience, concentration and intentness, a sense of purpose, rest and restoration in God.