Go mbeannai Dia duit.

About Me

My photo
Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What the Garden Gnome said.

Coffee. Garden. Coffee. Does a good morning need anything else? Betsy Canas Garmon

It's like this. The water just keeps coming. Depending where you read, between 65 & 70% of Queensland is now under water. That's a huge amount of land whichever way you try. It has rained on & off for months on end so our newly married friends have been rejoicing as they plant their garden. Silly me looked on their labours, cocked a knowledgeable eye at our overcast skies & promised to go grubbing in our yard for unwanted seedlings that have sprouted in quite formidable amounts. Free plants, dontcha know, & while nothing is exactly exotic it is all beautiful & generally of the smelly variety because I love a scented garden.

There was just one little hitch to all this. I have become unaccountably clumsy & have fallen on the same shoulder 3 times in just 10 days so the thought of wielding a mattock in my garden didn't exactly thrill me. I've been nursing my shoulder like a frail invalid prone to cark it at any moment. I comforted myself with the foreknowledge that it has been raining on & off for weeks on end & that even my soil was going to be beautifully soft & malleable. So thinking I armed myself with the mattock & went to investigate.

I have, in glorious profusion & seeding like weeds, Tropical Frangipanis. I have a wonderful Poinciana with a deep & fiery red flower, nicely shaped for a beautiful spreading canopy. Not a washed out red. Not a redy~orange but a deep, vibrant ,luxurious red. I have Moriah with it's delicious heady scent & year long profusion of white flowers in little thickets all over. Plants to delight any true gardener's very soul.

I hefted my mattock gingerly because the white ants found it & had a good old chomp on the handle so even though I have re secured the handle one never trusts a white ant infestation. I positioned myself so as to cushion my shoulder & took a tentative swing at my soil ~ & the mattock bounced right back at me! I stared at the ground in disbelief. All that rain & our awful combo of ironstone & clay is as rock solid as a cement slab! A 10 minute job quickly turned into a half hour struggle to grub roots free.

Our skies are still overcast but no rain is falling. I want it to. I have things to move before the root system is too big & that means solid drenching rain that will give me some chance against the clay. Meanwhile, while I wait for the skies to open & the rain to fall, our little G.P.O rang. They wanted me to come collect. Thankfully Liddy had the car so they had to deliver but Ditz & I had to lug all this into the house. Dearest is getting serious about his stamps but ladies, commiserate with me. That's my living room he's taken over & I loathe living in a muddle!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thunks...what happens when thinks hit a brick wall.

Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking. Goethe.
I am thinking about Easter, from Eostre, European Goddess of fertility, hence those very fertile bunny rabbits. I'm not sure how we will celebrate this year. I would like to do a Seder as we will have no worship service unless I hoy it down to the Catholic service on Saturday ~ only I really dislike the Catholic obsession with Christ's death & suffering &, for little protestant me, lack of emphasis on His resurrection. Issues; I have issues.

However it will just be Dearest, Ditz & I. Liddy is heading west to Easterfest. It would probably be best to wait & celebrate all together as a family on Monday. Dare I skip the eggs? No~one here likes milk chocolate & getting dark eggs is nearly always impossible. I loathe & abhor the commercialism ~ oh, & the fact yet another pagan festival got tacked onto a basically Jewish festival which was absconded with by Christians who had no understanding of the Jewish festival of Passover & failed to see the significance of so much that took place..

Worse, when one really starts looking there is so much to this celebration that is almost always overlooked & which, for me, is absolutely fascinating. Worth a post of its own. At some point, do you think, I might manage all my thinks into an intergrated whole that makes sense to someone besides me? For starters this marks the beginning of the Jewish sacred calendar. Something to think on, yes? Interesting choice. Meanwhile Ditz's new maths has arrived...gotta go check my armour's in place.

Can you explain this?

'Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.' Proverbs 16: 24
I initially put up my blog, Out of the Silence, for a friend who was interested in what I had to say. I left it up because it gets an incredible amount of hits ~ far more than here gets, so I figure people are reading there BUT, no~one ever comments [bar 2 & you know who you are]. Why? Am I so off the planet? Is it an issue with women speaking on spiritual matters? Do people just not know what to say? I adore civil discussion about the things I love or extra information on a subject so I would love the feedback. Instead I get this deafening silence. Guess the bog is well named indeed.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lessons from my cats.

Security is not the absence of danger, but the presence of God, no matter what the danger.
It's true; we spoil our cats. Since the kittens arrived we have contrived it so as they have never been left alone in the house. There has always been someone here to pet & cuddle them, to assure them food will arrive when they are hungry, that the litter trays will be cleaned, the water bowls filled on schedule. We understand their biggest need has not been for food or water or clean litter; it is for security.

This is a busy household with lots of coming & going & different people in & out nearly all the time. For the smallest ones in the house it is bewildering. Does this person belong? What does it mean for me? Can I trust them? Will they love me? Will they get angry if I steal that choice bit of unguarded chicken off their plate? If I'm naughty will I be sent away? Is this my forever home?

We have worked really hard to keep things on a regular schedule & an even keel because although we were pleasantly surprised at how quickly they adjusted to our home & its people we sensed a deep~seated insecurity in them. The least upset & they would scuttle into a dim, dark corner that required much coaxing & special tid~bits to lure them from. Their need for comfort & assurance was deep & constant. Not that anyone here minds cuddling a purring kitten but we wanted them to be happy & an state of constant anxiety is not conducive to a tranquil soul.

Then on Sunday it happened. Sunday we were fellowshipping at a friend's house. The kittens were given the run of the house but they were left to fend for themselves. I gave them a big feed thinking they'd sleep for the hours we were gone ~ & they did ~ but when we got home Marlow was miffed & wouldn't talk to anyone; Kirby lapped the room from person to person requiring from each much cuddling & reassurance.

Watching the kittens learn to trust: that if we go we will come back; that no matter who comes & who goes food & water are doled out to them; that this is their home & their place in it is secure but it got me thinking how like the kittens we are in our relationship with God, constantly needing assurance that we are loved, our needs will be taken care of, that we are important enough to somebody we can risk our love. Now if I, who am frail & humanly weak & really dislike cleaning litter trays, can set aside my own desires long enough to nourish a small kitten's needs, how much more is my Heavenly Father willing to nourish me? I do not need to be constantly mewling about His feet, tripping Him up, thwarting His work, demanding His attention to satisfy my need for assurance. Nope. I can curl up at his feet in peace & purr contentedly because no matter what storms buffet about me God is my rock & my fortress & I have all the security I need.

One pie to go.

" You name the pie & we do it. They are all made from scratch." Randy Ferreira

Home Ec ~ puts inches on the waist~line. I wanted Ditz to try her hand at pastry ~ not bad but a little too thick. Need to remind her to roll it thinner next time. Caramel filling ~ not from a tin. First time dealing with a makeshift double~boiler! Meringue ~ she makes a great pav so that bit was easy. End result: I'm not as young as I was & this was far too rich for far too late at night ~ even brought Ditz to a screaming halt. Pity we don't do mains as well as we do desserts ~ or that we couldn't live on dessert! Very yum though. Even the cat liked it. No, we don't feed leftover dessert to the cats but Kirby feels free to help himself to anything left unguarded on a plate...& that's one cat that definitely doesn't need a sugar hit!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Big Floods & Big Bangs.

"To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else". Emily Dickinson.

Mizzling around here again but the cloud formations are glorious & the colours delicate & fey.

Not so out west. The mythical inland sea is in all actuality a fact; at least for the present. The Condamine has over run its banks ~ along with all the minor rivers, creeks, rills, brooks & billabongs; ditto most of the major waterways. 56% of the state is presently under water. I think the drought might have broken. The images are amazing. Thousands of hectares of land a sloshy muddy brown as this sea of water moves inexorably southwards, spreading over the floodplains from the gulf into N.S.W ~ & hopefully into the Murray River to deal with that river's saline problem. You wait long enough even our inland will provide water views!

This is bull dust country. The red dust is usually everywhere. This is country that has been in serious drought for over a decade. Now it's all under water. For the farmers this is seriously good news despite the fact some of them are now airlifting sheep onto higher ground & all that is keeping the water from their own doors are the levy banks they built to keep it out.

When it rains like this the desert suddenly flowers abundantly. OK, so I don't need the crocodiles floating down the local street, washed out by the floods, & I'm not keen on snakes looking for somewhere dry to hole up in my house but the hordes of swans & pelicans that suddenly arrive, the insect life & wildlife that suddenly sprouts for such a short season is fascinating & abundant. Go google. It hasn't flooded like this in 100 years.

Meanwhile I am waiting with anticipation for the release of Under Hill 60 ~ presently being shot in Townsville. Now I need to say I did a bit of caving back in the day. I know about chimneys & squeezes & the proper meaning of, "Boy, it's dark down here." I know how the earth smells when you're burrowed into it & the smell of fear & while I will never be the proud flag waving Aussie at the ANZAC day parade stories like Hill 60 give me goosebumps. The sheer unmitigated courage of these men blows my mind.

Hill 60 is in Belgium. Well, it was. It's a crater now. It was part of the German's front line in WWI. Some bright spark, no doubt an engineer, decided burrowing under the German lines & blowing them up was a really top~notch idea. Unfortunately a German engineer had the same bright little idea so here you had, all along the western front [eastern if you belonged to our allies] 2 underground armies burrowing away like mad to try & blow each other to blazes. Now the fact they got a bunch of miners to be so absolutely mad is one thing but these poor sods then lived in terror of the Germans suddenly breaking through into their trenches ~ which they were rather wont to do. In the ensuring scuffle what little light they had tended to go out & the only way to tell friend from foe was by their epaulets! Yikes!

My blood runs cold just thinking about it but it gets better. Having burrowed under the German lines these guys then had to lug some phenomenal amount of dynamite along those tunnels & set the charges! The Aussies dug their tunnels & set their charges & blew the Germans to Kingdom Come. 10,000 Germans died in the blast. The sound could be heard across the channel in London. It caused the ground to squeeze together trapping German soldiers at their posts in the trenches. It probably changed the whole course of the war because those Germans who escaped dropped back behind the second & then the 3rd line of defence opening a huge breach in the German defences for the Allies to surge through.

And these brave, brave men who dug those trenches & lugged the explosives & set those charges were labeled sewer rats & cowards! I get irate about Gallopoli, which was a mistake & British stupidity at its finest, because the colonials were expendable, but we've gone about celebrating that for the best part of 100 years. Time to remember that this was a European war & fought for the most part on European soil & that our boys, average age 42, changed the whole outcome of that war.

[Yes, people, I'm totally anti~war, but bravery & courage in the face of insurmountable odds is always to be admired, however misplaced] And for the record, there is a farm house near what's left of Hill 60 that remains uninhabited to this day. Underneath it's unprepossessing exterior remains the charges that for some indefinable reason did not discharge on that memorable day. Probably a good thing given how big the bang was.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Little School.

"Schooling confuses teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. ~ Wendy Priesnitz"

In all the years we've homeschooled I think this is the worst start we've ever had to a year. Ditz & I have been sick on & off all term. We are unmotivated ~ & hormonal. We've had things happen that have knocked us for 6 emotionally & recovery has been slow. My curriculum supplier has decided to suddenly be extremely unhelpful & Ditz only really likes her bed. It has just been a shocker of a year. If I was a quitter I'd've quit already.

Just as it looked like we might slowly grind into some sort of routine our supervisor rang. Short term. She was coming for her term visit. Term visits mean our supervisor expects to see the results of a term's work!!! Oh my! We were ~ & still are ~ reading. This means almost no written work. Ditz has issues. I don't mind because frankly I don't see the point of making a child whom we all know writes exceptionally well, write out pointless little comprehension exercises. Ditz would rather chat if she must engage at all so that is what we do. We read & chat & at some point I lean really, really hard on Ditz & we produce the three items of work required in each subject each term. Something our umbrella school finds acceptable. Something that drives both Ditz & I crazy. We are erratic. In Home Ec we read & cook. Oops! I photocopied the tests for Ditz to take.

Now personally I find our supervisor absolutely wonderful & as she polished off the vegetarian lunch Ditz put together she did remark we had very different sorts of learners. *sigh* Don't we know it. And she did ask rather pointedly what we were going to send her as our term's work. This is what dictation & grammar exercises are for. And tests. And the arty~time~line. Mini~ reports. A little concerted effort & we can produce the required 3 items BUT ~ this is not learning. This is meeting government requirements. Our supervisor knows it too. She also knows Ditz. She has met the immovable math mountain often enough to know I have a real problem in that area. She knows as well as I do that math tutors or math immersion days at the school would be a waste of our time & throwing good money down the gurgler because it is not for want of ability but lack of desire on Ditz's behalf. Ditz has been begging to ditch math for 2 years & our supervisor is a math teacher. The irony is pretty.

So Ditz & I spent a harried few days writing a book report; a science experiment, doing tests & otherwise meeting our enrolment conditions so the school can tell the government my child is actually learning something. I hoped it was enough. Then came the phone call...

I don't have a new learner & I'm not a beginner homeschooler. I'm pretty secure about how we go about things & I know how my Ditz learns best ~ however difficult & awkward that might be. The math is impossible simply because no~one writes the sort of curriculum that works for a Ditz. Honestly. If I had any idea about math myself I'd write it! So I girded my loins thinking I was going to have to battle the school on my Ditz's behalf & when you've had a child in PS who manages to score a big fat zero on his comprehension test in grade 11 you're pretty much over the whole *school knows best* thing. [True; my biggest dyslexic. I was still reading half his work to him & helping him pull together his essays]

Our supervisor really is the most wonderful, thoughtful & inspired teacher. She rang to say she could provide a math text that was on money management. Thank heaven. The text we're presently using has all these things we don't even know what they are though in between it works. Ditz happily promptly ditched her math book. Money we can manage. We're good with money. Money management matters. Even Ditz gets this one. She didn't even quibble.
Then there is science. We were using Apologia General Science. I chose it because it is *proper science* as compared to *sort of science* in far too many Christian texts. It began with an overview of the history of science & proper scientific procedure & it was very readable. Unfortunately it is also heavy on the technical language & it lost Ditz pretty early on. We struggled on with it because it really is an excellent curriculum & it gave a good grounding in all the science branches. We finished it last term & now I have a problem. I'm not blowing things up with Ditz. Perish the thought! So no chemistry. Ditz can't do the math for physics even if she was interested; she's not. Neither of us is going to cut things up for biology. It's just not going to happen. No, we're not the scientific sort but we do like science. We like Natural Science & botany. We really enjoy the history part of science & nature study, environmental study ~ that sort of thing but, you guessed it, there's no ready curriculum for any of it & Ditz being grade 10 rather than 10 years old, I have been hunting frantically on the net. This is when having a really different learner really sucks!

My lovely, thoughtful supervisor has actually grasped how Ditz learns best & has suggested a DVD series. Ditz will we rapt! She thinks watching DVDs isn't really school. Long may she think that! I will have to invent an assessment procedure but believe you me this is far easier & less stressful than wading through a curriculum Ditz absolutely hates.

At this point I am finishing up our Sonlight but what I want Ditz reading means I'm actually tweaking quite a lot now because I have To Kill A Mocking Bird & How Green Was my Valley lined up for the child. Our supervisor is more than happy with these choices. She also knows we're really strong in these areas ~well, we've got to be good at something! ~ & hasn't batted an eyelid that I don't actually have any curriculum lined up yet ~ & may not have.

I also have, lost somewhere in the bowels of the computer, something about careers & career choices & work experience. Ditz, who really can be a Ditz, thought if she just said she was going to be a checkout chick the whole thing would go away. It won't & it hasn't. I don't think our supervisor bought that idea for one minute but we had a chat about our Ditz. The musical, arty, creative Ditz who has a CV in the industry & knows people, you know, & when asked tells everyone she's a professional. Yeah. That Ditz. End result ~ some really good ideas to get Ditz through years 11 & 12 with some sort of qualification besides the ability to hit both the top & bottom F! Child care & computer graphics are both good choices for the girl & I will be so much happier being able to move Ditz away from straight academics into areas for which she herself can see a use & a purpose.

I'm not always absolutely thrilled being with an umbrella school but God really has blessed us with our supervisor. She has never been anything but kind & helpful, even when Ditz has taken a snoot & been her most charmingly difficulty self. Her understanding & help as we transition through these final school years is invaluable because by hook or by crook our Ditz will be educated!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Some thoughts on heaven & hell.

"Dr. Werner von Braun, well-known for his part in pioneering the U.S. space program, said that he had 'essentially scientific' reasons for believing in life after death. He explained: 'Science has found that nothing can disappear without a trace. Nature does not know extinction. All it knows is transformation. If God applies the fundamental principle to the most minute and insignificant parts of the universe, doesn't it make sense to assume that He applies it to the masterpiece of His creation -- the human soul? I think it does.'"

There was a funeral yesterday. Ditz wanted to go & I said no. I should have had to take her & if there's one thing I can't stand on this earth it's going to the funeral of a non~believer. Bad enough if they do a completely secular funeral comforting themselves with lies. Infinitely worse if they make claim to Christian promises to which they have no right.

The Lord is my Shephard ~ yes, if I know His voice & have followed His leading all the days of my life. Otherwise what on earth do people think they are saying?! Now I don't even begin to understand the theology of Heaven & Hell & I would never dispute God's right to intervene in the life of one of His creations even at the very last second of life but to trust your eternity to such frail hope strikes me as foolishness. Better outright disbelief than such wishy~washy thinking. If you have not lived your life in such a way as to prepare to spend eternity in Heaven then Heaven could not but be Hell for you & kinder by far to keep you out.

Why? Well, for starters, God is there & no impure thing can enter His presence. Frankly I couldn't stand it ~ but I don't have to. I am clothed in Jesus' righteousness, washed clean by His blood & I will be given a clean white robe to wear instead of these filthy rags. Jesus covers me. I am being made into His likeness. He is my High Priest & advocates for me before the throne of God. God looks upon me through the veil of what Jesus has done to redeem me. If you have children I think you understand how this happens very well. No matter what atrocity the kid's done, judgement is always tempered with mercy because the child belongs to you & you are molding him into the person you hope he will one day be.

I expect I will feel very small & insignificant in Heaven amongst those who wear the martyr's crown & the giants of the faith but I know Jesus loves me as much as He loves them. All that is required of me is that I do that which has been given unto me to do here.

I know something else. Heaven is a real, physical space ~ but it's not going to be much like we imagine it to be unless our imaginings are based on fact. I noticed as I was looking for a pic to illustrate this post how incredibly inaccurate from a biblical perspective most of the pictures were. I know certain things. I know there is a city, I know it has 12 gates of pearl [plain white, black, smokey or pink?] & many mansions, one of which will be mine. I know Jesus is there preparing all the mansions for believers now. In my more idle moments I wonder what God himself has chosen as my colour scheme, how he has set everything out, what He considers to be absolutely perfect for me & what will make me feel instantly at home. There's lots of things I might choose for myself, but what will God choose for me?

I know there is a river & fruit bearing trees, animals & children ~ all talked about in scripture. I know the walls are made of precious stones & the streets of crystal gold. I know there is no temple & no sun or moon because God is there & there is no longer need for these things. Paul says we can't even begin to imagine what the Lord in His mercy & love has prepared for those who love Him. Ahh, see the glitch. Heaven is not for everyone. It's not even for the people who consider themselves good because there is none good, not one, only God. It's not for those who go to church or claim to be Christians. It is for those who have loved God & can bear the weight of His glory because it is borne by Christ Himself on our behalf.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. In our own strength we could never bear it but in the deep places of my soul a silent bell tolls constantly; Come, Lord Jesus; come. And that is why I cannot bear the funerals of non~believers. I have so much hope. I am granted such grace & I have been granted a glimpse of the depths of the love Jesus bears for me to sustain me through the trials & tribulations of this world that it grieves my heart to know others have rejected what has been given so freely & enter through the portals of death so unprepared for whatever meets them on the other side. May the Lord God have mercy on their souls.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mentors, socialization & the homeschooled child.

Back at the tail end of last year I had the opportunity to chat with a neighbour. We don't have many but we do know them all despite the fact we keep pretty much to ourselves. There are a lot of us so we're a party all on our own.

Our neighbour has known all our kids all their lives & regularly asks after the ones he hasn't seen in a while so when he began telling me what a wonderful daughter I had I assumed, without surprise because it happens a lot, that he was referring to Liddy. He wasn't; he was talking about our Ditz.

Now I know this particular gentleman has a couple of grand~daughters about Ditz's age who visit semi~regularly & I know as there are so few kids round here that Ditz was totally delighted when they first turned up & made friends as fast as possible. She chats with them on MSN. They are Facebook friends; they even Facebooked the dog! I don't think I have ever met these kids properly & I've never yet met either parent but there has never been anything I've considered particularly questionable about the friendship. The girls go to one of the snootier private schools but however secular their world~view it is hardly likely to compete with what Ditz regularly sees & hears backstage despite Alison's best efforts to shield the kids from the worst of it.

I learnt with embarrassment how many of Ditz's more acceptable quirks I take for granted as this distraught grandfather told me how his grand~daughters, who go to such a good school & get the best of everything, barely even acknowledge him, speak only in grunts & are patently bored in his company whereas my Ditz smiles & chats away & remembers what she's been told even months afterwards. I was so sad for him as he told me how wonderful Ditz was & how he wished his grand~daughters were more like her. I was sad & yet I thought how very well they've been institutionalized, trained to adhere only to the peer group, schooled in ignorance towards the older generation. My friend, Seeking, has an excellent post on *upward socialization* & more thoughts on what a different approach homeschooled socialisation takes here.

Having had kids in both the public school & homeschool I know for an absolute fact it is much easier to pass on your values & beliefs when you are not constantly competing with the school. One of the things that shocked me the most when we pulled Liddy out was how rarely she took opportunities, even when they were offered, to socialise with her peers. I know she was very sick as well but there were obvious difficulties coming from a daily situation when she was surrounded by girls her own age to being constantly at home with mummy & a much younger sister but it was quickly apparent she preferred our company & at one point bluntly informed me Ditz was better company & more sensible than her own friends. Given Ditz's nick~name the old mind really boggles.

We tried to compensate because Liddy was pretty reserved back in the days. We dragged my hyperactive, sporty child along to Ditz's art classes & music classes, to bible studies & drama & something wonderful began to happen. Liddy blossomed. It took about 12 months in all but the adults were so thrilled to have the young people join them & be willing to engage they bent over backwards to include them. Ditz, who knew no better, simply took this as her right & due. Liddy didn't but she gradually began to open up. By the time she left school Liddy was this cheerful, forthright, engaging young person who attracted people with her very presence & the beauty of her smile. Not that she's perfect but the homeschooling allowed her to take risks about the sort of person she wanted to grow into without the fear of peer persecution & ridicule.

Who Liddy wanted to be was a soccer missionary to street kids. It has been the desire of her heart for more than 10 years. I have watched her batter it out with God. I have watched God let her exhaust herself battering against Him stubbornly until she cedes to His will but the dream is the one He has placed on her heart & she has never wavered.

Liddy was homeschooled & her love language is quality time. Just spending time with Liddy was never going to satisfy her. She wanted, & expected, better of me than that. I'm a head person so this was exhausting. What evolved was a relationship where a lot of D&M chatting goes on & Liddy has taken that into other areas of her life. Nearly all her church friendships, both on the island & off~island, are the same. As Liddy started to grow deeper spiritually many of our D&Ms were on the things of God ~ & because nearly all her deep friendships are Christian ones, she then bounced those ideas of others. What has happened is a network of Godly friendships with older people as well as her peers, that pray for Liddy daily, who hold her accountable, who support her & share with her but until she went to Melbourne I don't think she'd even heard the term *mentor* before. Asked if she had a mentor Liddy said no ~ & that is true. She doesn't; but she does have many mentors by whatever name she chooses to call them.

As we traverse this no~man's land between leaving the workforce & entering full~time misson I can only marvel at how God has, & is, preparing my daughter for a lifetime of service. The soccer is obvious, but the island, which so many seem to see as a drawback, has been a mission field forever & Liddy knows exactly what it is like to go against the flow of a culture & to stand up for God when those around you only know him as a swear word & a myth. God has even brought Christians into her life who have opposed her calling, don't understand the imperative urging of the Holy Spirit that will not, & cannot, be gainsayed, or think she is too young, too inexperienced, too naive. Liddy is a lot of things; none of those apply. No one amongst us knows the hour or the day when Liddy will finally go to Chile but the consensus amongst those of us who know Liddy really, really well & have held her in prayer for these many years are of one mind in Christ: she will go, sooner rather than later. I also feel God has been preparing my heart to accept that He will do great things for His glory through my girl. To those to whom much is given, much is expected & she can expect to be refined by fire & tempered as steel that she may be a fitting tool for the Master's hand.

Monday, March 22, 2010

This & that.

But At my back I always hear/Time's winged chariot hurrying near...

Time. I squander so much of it & yet have so little of it. It fragments into small pieces as annoying & useless as the small change in my purse yet put all together becomes large expensive chunks. It annoys & frustrates me. I move as though I had all eternity & then some instead of my three score years give or take a month or two. Besides Time isn't really. There's no such thing, not in the grander scheme of things. It's thinking like that that gets me in to trouble.

We've had a busy week ~ which always leaves me a little mentally frazzled: a friend's birthday to celebrate; a homeschool visit; a cyclone to consider; & weekend guests. Theo went into lockdown 24 hours before Ului hit & the area is now without electricity, sewerage, water & has a HUGE clean~up operation. The government, sensibly I think, declared a disaster before Ului even hit, so all the red tape was taken care of. The emergency plans promptly swung into action. I still haven't spoken to Theo but he came through Ului just fine & boy~like is probably hugely chuffed about the whole thing. Yep!

I knew this was a short school term but typically paid absolutely no attention to the calender & simply plodded along doing what we do ~ only I now find work is due in & we have very little paper work. Well, we wouldn't would we? We do a lot of reading & typically do our writing component afterwards. We are still reading so have done no writing. Yikes! Poor Ditz. Our supervisor, who does know us rather well by now, shook her head in despair but did remark I have very different learners! Sadly all too true. Ditz did, however, redeem herself by being responsible for the entire lunch preparing a mixed green salad, nut patties & her wonderful apple crumble. It was impressive & very nice. At least our Home Ec component is obviously working!

In the general frazzle we lost a cat Saturday morning. Expecting Ului to dump at least some rain our way [it didn't] I opened the doors early Saturday morning & left the cats happily perched on the outermost reaches of the verandah staring buddah~like into the far distant cloud banks. Some time later I became aware that there was a cat crying unhappily. As Marlow was happily chopping on my toes the yowls could only be Kirby's.

Feeling a little exasperated because Kirby is in the habit of seeking adventure & then finding he has bitten off more than he can chew & is in need of huge amounts of comfort, I went outside & called him. The howls became more frantic but no cat appeared. I walked to the end of the verandah calling & checking the yard. Desperate, frantic howls of uttermost despair, no cat. A little bewildered I went & checked the other side of the house, still calling, but no answering yowls. I peered into the thick ferns that grow up our hill wondering if he'd ventured into unknown territory again but the howls were definitely coming from around the house. I was getting worried. If Kirby calls it's because he is desperate for his people but not a hair or a whisker could I find though I did manage to wake everyone else in the house & Marlow was hampering my efforts my arranging himself if irresistible motifs around my ankles & threatening to send me sprawling headlong at any moment.

Just as I was about to try the verandah again a very subdued black & white kitten slunk from under our house & scampered towards me. He'd raced to the end of the house I was calling from only to meet a brick wall with no possible way back out & then had to try & backtrack when I changed locations. Silly puss!

Ditz has surpassed herself with desserts this week: chocolate mousse [ the new improved version; just as rich but much smoother & not so grainy as her first effort. She's getting good.]; apple crumble, mmmm; & last night we made lemon meringue pie together. Because time was short I used a bought shell which is never as nice but making sure Ditz got her lemon component together & her egg whites stiff enough to survive the oven took all my attention. Patience is not her strong point & having myself made most of the mistakes common to an impatient cook I made sure her custard was nice & thick. It was a beautiful, beautiful pie & there isn't a skerrick left. Sorry.

Chile is still a "yes" but January rather than August? Not really sure what is going on there but it's all good. We get to celebrate Lid's 21st with her ~ YAY! Liddy gets to do a short hands on course on the Gold Coast ~ we think. Lid gets an opportunity to detox from a toxic work situation & be blessed by God so she can be a greater blessing to those she will serve. Stuff happening but not set in iron yet. Waiting on clarity but Liddy has so much prayer coverage it's not funny. Not just all you wonderful people but her church & our little home gathering & some really formidable prayer warriors!

Finances could be part of the issue but in all honesty the practical aspects float over the top of my head. God has, however, addressed my one & only concern in the most interesting way. Earthquake? Wouldn't bat an eyelash. Tsunami? Ditto. Send my kid to the other side of the world to a country whose language she doesn't speak? No problem. Fundraise? I start running for the hills. Mammon & I have nothing to say to each other. Necessary, yes, but moving right along....The how Lids gets supported was worrying at me because in this area not being the practical sort is no earthly use to her. Hmmm. So OM sent Lid up a book on fundraising. Believe it or not I've already read most of it! Yep. Me! I know. Interesting book. Far less about money than the spiritual principles behind the ebb & flow of money within the kingdom of God. Fascinating. Especially given how much I hate it when churches go on & on about money when I know seekers see that as a money grubbing attitude & are put off. Christians like me are too. Not about money so much as making sure you aren't ceding ground that blocks God from blessing you! Yes, indeed.

And to top off my week? I was sprawled on the green couch last night to watch The Mentalist wit Ditz ~ something I very rarely do because the T.V annoys me so much but I was tired enough to zombie out happily. I was rather flattered when Marlow joined me & curled on my chest purring away like a demented coffee pot. The next thing I knew Kirby was angling for space on top of me as well & both cats cuddled for the duration of the show, albeit with a jealous eye on how much attention the other was getting. Ditz was rather peeved. She had a willing & available lap & both cats shunned hers for mine, not that Ditz is the restful sort. Not at all.

So how's your week been?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dancing with Ului.

"HURRICANE, n. An atmospheric demonstration once very common but now generally abandoned for the tornado and cyclone. The hurricane is still in popular use in the West Indies and is preferred by certain old-fashioned sea-captains. It is also used in the construction of the upper decks of steamboats, but generally speaking, the hurricane's usefulness has outlasted it."Ambrose Bierce.
There are lots of things I could be doing this morning. Useful things. Practical things. Instead I am contemplating the nature of cyclones & why one is sitting off our coastline at this time of the year. Not wrong exactly, but it is very late in the season.

It's a long way north of us & still a long way out to sea but apart from expecting even more rain the seas are now dangerous even this far south & there was a tragedy yesterday on the Gold Coast at the National Surf Lifesaving Championships. Terribly sad.

Theo, who is working on Hamilton Island further north, is battening down the hatches & preparing for the worst. The outer, low lying islands have already been evacuated but Hamilton should be reasonably safe & certainly the staff are staying.

Apart from rough water, higher than usual tides & another deluge of rain Ului shouldn't affect us too much unless she drops even further down the coast. Mind you, is is overcast & incredibly still here this morning; even Ditz has noticed. The calm before the storm...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A little cat talk.

If you want the best seat in the house ~ move the cat.
The boys are growing...& their personalities are becoming more apparent. What is surprising is how their personalities show. Kirby does this whole Mr Independent thing & he's definitely been the lad itching to get out our door & explore but having got there he shoots for home the first time anything spooks him & he is the one who hides under the couch on Sunday & won't show even a whisker if there are children about.

Despite the fact Marlow is more reserved & requires very gentle handling he has coped much better with the children. He hangs round out in the open on Sundays accepting whatever cuddles come his way though the children's sudden movements will have him cringing. However we invariably have chicken on Sundays & Marlow goes berserk at even the whiff of chicken about the place. Kirby loves his chicken too ~ but not enough to brave a roomful of strange children.

Kirby is our thinker. As part of orienting them to their new surroundings I was taking them outside with me: out the bathroom door to the clothesline; out the living room doors to the verandah; out the front door to the path & garden making sure they knew where the doors were
You know what cats are like. They were skulking about the place for days, bellies almost dragging along the ground, tails in the dirt, noses working overtime & as skittish as all come. As Kirby seemed determined to escape at any cost it seemed wisest to make sure he knew how to get himself back in ~ or at least to a door where someone would spot him. Eventually they were brave enough & interested enough to stay while I wandered in & out. When I wanted them I simply banged a plate. Guaranteed to work every single time. Marlow shot under the verandah, pounded up the ramp & bolted straight for the living room door. Kirby hesitated at the corner of the house before following suite & glanced back at the bathroom door. He knew that was the one he'd come out of. I was fascinated that he realised he had more than one option.

Both the lads are incredibly affectionate & will purr at the drop of a hat. With Kirby though it is always on his terms & he loves to get up under your chin & smooch, which is a little close for comfort. Dearest's beard gets a real workout. Kirby loves it & was fascinated when I trimmed it. Marlow will accept being picked up & cuddled but if he is feeling neglected he sits at your feet waiting patiently to be noticed. Anyone foolish enough to continue to ignore him will suddenly feel the needle fine points of his claws sinking through their pant leg & gently resting on their skin. I tell you, it's a real attention getter!

They are such good mates too though boylike the wrestling matches get out of control at times. Just the same I was taken aback to pull a sharp snaggley kitten tooth out of Marlow's fur ! Using your brother as a teething ring is just a little out there.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Home Economics.

When nothing is valued for what it is, everything is destined to be wasted. Wendell Berry.

The most hits I get on this blog are on the random one I put up about the home ec curriculum we chose to use from Christian Light Publications. That being the case I thought it was probably time to update a review on how we are finding this curriculum.

Being a Mennonite curriculum the basic principle is line upon line, precept on precept. The first two units were very basic for us but a really good chance to review & make sure Ditz did actually know what to do if the grill caught fire, to turn her pot handles, what all the utensils were for & basic baking terminology. Bear in mind this is an American curriculum & if, like us, you are not American, weights & measure are in pounds, ounces & gallons. My house is bi~lingual by default. Most of my recipes are old enough to still be in pounds & ounces so this has not presented a huge problem for us. Otherwise make sure you have a good conversion chart.

Lessons are short. Read a page or two; fill in the blanks in the book, do some practice. This suites Ditz very well. No brain strain. She does actually like to cook so bonus for me! Now we are into our third unit & looking at things like: hidden costs; planning ahead; types of food stores; organizing the kitchen; preparing, serving, cleaning. Some things we already do: gardening & bulk buying. Others ~ well, lets just say I'm not strong on lists & organisation.

At the end of each unit there is a test that reviews the work covered. Unit 4 moves into the realms of menu planning ~ something I have never, ever done. I see the point but so much depends on what I actually feel like eating & have the energy to prepare come tea time. The prac has the planning, preparation, cooking & serving of a main meal. Ditz is already doing this in a simple way. Now is a good opportunity for her to refine her timing skills so everything is ready at the same time. There are suggestions for different ways to prepare a table & serve the meal too.

Units 5, 6 & 7 are the sewing units ~ everything from the basic ways to use a machine to choosing, laying out & reading a pattern. I may yet need my mother for this except she is something of a perfectionist & Ditz & I are more the gung~ho she'll be right sorts.

Units 8, 9 & 10 cover something of general housekeeping & decor, growing into godly womanhood & child development & growth. The same approach is used throughout: academics mixed with practical application. So far so good. I still really like how this curriculum is working for us though I have tweaked it a bit. Some of the recipes are too stodgy for us, things like pork too rich & we have had to evaluate the needs of the semi~vegetarians in our midst but as the idea is to practise reading a recipe & cooking from scratch I don't think it matters which recipe you choose so long as it's within the cook's capabilities & your family will eat the results.

The curriculum breaks down into very manageable parts. Some weeks we do several lessons, others just one if there's a lot of hands on work. All the instructions are incredibly easy to follow & very clear. I haven't seen another home ec curriculum that is as thorough & as easy to use. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A bleh day.

A poet is someone who stands outside in the rain hoping to be struck by lightening. James Dickey.

Maybe it's the rain. Maybe it's the low grade wog in the house. Maybe I'm just missing Issi. Whatever it is I feel just bleh. Very bleh. I don't have a constructive idea in my head. Under such circumstances silence is golden. Trust me.

I will be back when I am feeling better & not so bleh.

PS: they're not my tea cups but I do think that's a good idea, don't you?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I will make you Fishers of Men.

People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget they too are expending their lives...& when the bubble has burst they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted. Nate Saint, missionary martyr.

God is a giver. He gives even when you aren't expecting anything. He gives when you haven't asked. It is His nature to give as much as it is His nature to love.

What He has given us is Danielle ~ & I now expect more such surprises. Danielle is 21, just a year older than Liddy. Liddy met her in Melbourne. Danielle is also called to the mission field, on the OM ship. She is bilingual [I am eating my heart out], well travelled, a musician [she's worked with Alison on Creative Generation; wonder if Alison remembers?] & because it is a small world after all any friend of Liddy's is a friend of ours & as much on our heart & in our prayers as Liddy is herself.

You can read Danielle's story here, in her very own words. And because I know what a wonderful caring, praying lot you all are I ask that those of you praying for Liddy slip Danielle in there too. Every little prayer helps & for these kids, about to head so far from home & totally reliant of the mercy & grace of God, knowing people are praying for them all around the world & that there is always someone awake to hear a call for prayer, is a blessing beyond measure.

And just in case you're wondering ~ Danielle visited with us yesterday & I do have her permission to give her a shout out! ☺ Go visit. Go on. She has a wonderful heart for God & a desire to minister to children ~ though where Liddy seems called to small children I think Danielle will minister to older children, especially teens. As the world plunges towards it's final abyss it is wonderful to see those God is calling step out in faith to shine His Light & do His will in a fallen world.

Friday, March 12, 2010


A good many dramatic situations begin with screaming Barbarella.

I think Marlow fell face first into his tuna juice. Nothing else explains it. Not that he's long haired, not by any means, but he does have something of a ruff [& very cute it is too] & when he crawled into my lap for his cuddle this morning & squirmed onto his back so I could rub his throat I found bits of his ruff in great knobby lumps. No point even trying the comb. I went straight for the scissors. Now I'm shaving the cat! Good grief!

Ditz made spring rolls for tea last night. Not an unmitigated success. They tasted fine but the first ones had a tendency to come apart in the pan. More practice needed I think. I like this!

And can someone explain to me why mathematicians can't write plain & simple English? I'm about to veto all word problems on the grounds the writers are incapable of expressing themselves clearly in their native language. Never read such a lot of koofoofuffle in my life! Apart from the common sense fact no~one in their right mind continues to pour liquid into a container leaking faster than you can fill it. They must be all barmy! I already told Ditz to scrap the algebra pages. I'm not into guessing games. This is supposed to be a practical text! I have no idea what you actually use algebra for but I think Ditz & I can manage very nicely without it.

I'm in pain & my tolerance levels are low. I have, however, had a truly brilliant idea for science ~ if only I can find the tools I need. Household science! The first experiment: removing body odour from clothing! Yep. And it was a success! I'm such a woos I actually did *environmental science* to finish up with because I refused point blank to cut up dead things that used to be alive, blow up smelly things or play with gadgets that never worked properly in order to record information that by it's very nature was useless & pointless. Please don't tell me you now know where Ditz gets her attitude from! Remember, I'm the ideas person. I process everything in my head. Heaven alone knows what Ditz does.

I think our weather got lost. It bypassed Melbourne, where it belongs, & landed here: wet, windy & downright miserable. They must have our sunshine.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What I mean...

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Plato.

For the record, Ditz is 14. This is not old enough to drive ~ in any state ~ & we're funny about a 14 year old running round town after dark so I drive her to her rehearsals. It has been raining for over a month & I can never find parking at the mainland jetty so when it began mizzling again on Wednesday night I put Ditz out at the jetty with both bags & the hot food [no sense in both of us being drenched] & went to look for parking.

Parking is a five minute walk away through the slush in the pitch dark but I do this every week, no big deal, only AVAE times have altered slightly which means we are tight for time, especially if Ditz wants to eat ~ & Ditz invariably wants to eat.

Just the same I swear I was being careful, I just never saw the big sloshy puddle of mud. I came down hard; hard enough that Dearest commented when he saw me I was lucky not to do my collar bone like Liddy did playing soccer a few years back. At the time I was less worried about the pain than the glug. I have serious tactile issues ~ as anyone who knows me really well will testify. I don't eat certain things because I can't stand the way they feel in my mouth; I'll never be playing clarinet . I don't wear certain fabrics because their feel drives me bonkers. I can't stand the combination of sand & salt on my skin at the beach. I prefer cats to dogs as much because cats feel better as for their temperment. That being said, a 2" thick coat of wet mud plastered down my back in the wind & the rain was pretty much guarenteed to drive me into a frenzy. By the time I got home I'd been in this wet grubby state for almost an hour, long enough for absolutely no~one to laugh when they saw me. It took coffee & copious amounts of hot water, clean clothing & deep breathing before Dearest could assess the actual damage. I warned you I have serious tactile issues.

Ditz has been wonderful. No, she hasn't sat down unasked & worked through copious amounts of school work. She did manage everything on Wednesday so all I had to manage was me. Mind you, she finds me falling apart in public a huge embarrassment so it was in her own best interests. Thursday, however, is our shopping day. We have a large household so shopping is not for woos'. True, Ditz couldn't drive the car but she did everything else. She wheeled the trolley. She loaded & unloaded groceries. She packed everything away where it belonged & then she cooked tea: homemade pizza & chocolate mousse. I'm told the pizza was very nice. I passed as Ditz did us scrambled eggs on grain, nut & seed bread to hold us & it held me very well indeed, thank you! Not even getting landed with unexpected extras for tea fazed Ditz.

Somewhere in the process I believe Ditz has a menu plan. I did see a shopping list of some sort because Ditz is planning on doing a few meals over the coming weeks. OK, so she's got a bit to learn about the clean~up process but frankly I will take any amount of cleaning up over actually having to cook a meal. See I can think my thoughts while cleaning up: of poetry & Celts & plots for non~existant novels ~ something not really feasible while cooking though I have been known to try. Ditz, who has been blessed with a sunny disposition, worked cheerfully too. I appreciate my girl. I really, really do. ☺

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

About Learning Styles.

When all else fails, read the instructions! My mother's sarcasm.

Homeschooling is a state of constant flux. Either our children are changing, or we are. Sometimes everyone changes at once. Sometimes other things change. Sometimes the whole thing just makes me tired. No, this is not another rant about my beloved youngest child. My beloved youngest child is being very accommodating just now, even with her math. Nope, this is about learning styles ~ or rather a particular learning style.

God in his infinite wisdom made little people to do the *monkey see, monkey do* thing ~ which is why you see Clara~Jane stomping round in her mama's high heels with a gash of bright red lippy from ear to ear. Practise makes perfect. Or why little Freddy has his daddy's hammer hooked on the loops of his jeans. Most small people are hands on learners. Some stay that way their whole lives & thank God they do or we would have no plumbers, no electricians, no mechanics, no farmers.

As little people grow bigger many show tendencies to learn in other ways: visuals learn best by *seeing*, audios by hearing, Kinesthetics by using their body & the hands on by doing. Most people fall into one of these 4 main areas but there are other ways of looking at how people learn best & when combined with the four main learning styles allow homeschoolers to better tailor their homeschool program to a particular child's needs.

Now Liddy was a kinesthetic & a concrete sequential thinker. She used her body to learn. She used her senses to learn & she was a methodical, sequential learner. Apart from the jiggle like a hooked fish & move your books around the entire house she was pretty easy to teach. Actually she did a lot of it herself & fitted very nicely into the sequential orderly world of the modern classroom. She did well at home too. Ditz is not like that.

Ditz is a visual/spatial child: messy, random, illogical. Random is the key word. The Gregorc system uses 4 learning styles too ~ a combination of sequential, random, abstract & concrete. Ditz & I are both visual/spatial learners. We are both random learners. This means we share many learning similarities ~ which should make things easier, right? Wrong. Nope. It actually makes it infinitely harder because the common ground confuses the issue.

Let's look at it a little more closely. Ditz & I are both random learners. This means our minds order information in chunks. It can arrive any old which way. Our minds work like a jig~saw & slot the information into the appropriate space. We both dislike structure, don't follow directions or rules well, are not detail orientated & need a stimulus rich environment ~ & there the similarities end. Ditz is a concrete thinker. She is almost totally reliant on her senses to process information: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. All the tags for ADHD are there: the short attention span, the fidgets, the strong will, the need for a reason to do anything. You have no idea how this begins to clash with an abstract thinker who is not reliant on her senses to process information. I visualise, imagine, grasp hidden meanings & ideas or make quantum leaps of intuition.

It is no surprise to me to be told the art world is littered with concrete random learners ~ lots of rule~breakers, fashion nightmares, *free~thinkers*. What I what to know is: how does one teach them effectively?

Audio~visual aides ~ tick.
Choices ~ tick.
Short dynamic presentations ~ well yes, but she's in grade 10 & it's getting harder to stick with that.
Full control of their own projects ~ not on my nelly when it comes to school work because I am accountable to our umbrella & they are accountable to the government.

The problem is the rest of it; the scientific reports [which guaranteed Ditz will never ever of her own volition apply; why would she, her mother doesn't]; the abstract math, ditto; the writing for no discernible purpose than to demonstrate she can when she & I both know she can so why must she prove it? *sigh*

There is absolutely no good reason why children should learn most of what we ask them to learn once they have grasped the basics. And no, it's good discipline for the mind & the intellect is not a good reason, not when you are a concrete abstract. The question is: can I use it in everyday life for a purpose I want? Answer to almost all education then becomes, No. Scary? Yet from observation I would suggest these children are very good at *living life*. They have determination. They have grit. They think outside the box. They know how to enjoy what they are doing ~ & they know how to achieve their goals!

We know so much about the different ways our children learn now & the multiple sorts of intelligences they display isn't it about time our schools & our curriculum suppliers caught up with the research? As my mother so aptly put it, & looking at the number of children falling through the cracks in the system, isn't it about time somebody read the instructions?!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Maudlin' Monday.

Who, or why, or which, or what, is the Akhond of Swat? Edward Lear.

See it's been raining for a week, 10 days if you like, up here. Melbourne [down south] had a shower & got flooded out. Water, water everywhere & not a drop to drink....What this means in practical terms is the washing is piling up & the whole house feels damp. Ick. Or if your a Melbournite or somewhere out St George way you're scraping mud off the walls & throwing away the family heirlooms.

I was flicking through Sunday's paper, which is a waste of a good tree or two only Dearest feels deprived if he doesn't get Sunday's paper, & what grabbed my attention was not the golfball sized hail that hit Melbourne or the hoo~ha about who can or cannot march with the veterans on ANZAC Day or the media hyped housing crisis, critical as any or all of these things may be. Nope. Tucked away in an obscure corner was this choice little gem: a Korean couple let their 3 month old daughter starve to death while they raised a virtual daughter on~line! Their virtual child was named Anima & they cared for her at the local internet cafe for as long as 12 hours at a time while their real daughter languished un~named, unattended & malnourished in their apartment. How did we, as a people, get so screwy?! How does someone so lose their way between fantasy & reality? This shocks me far more than Haiti, or Chile or the numerous other natural disasters that are plaguing our world at present because this was a choice. This couple chose their virtual *daughter* over their real one. Is it only me that thinks that's more than a little scary?

And while I'm at it, who writes the manual for the parents of missionaries? After a week in Melbourne Liddy was gone all weekend ~ & this will be the case more & more as the missionary fueled wheels grind to the final departure but ~ no~one told us about this. No~one prepared us to lose Liddy before she actually left & I'm just a tad peeved. I'm the gal that needs to prepare emotionally. Don't hit me with unexpected emotional whammies because I don't cope too well & we all know I'm not the practical sort. The practicalities of getting Liddy to Chile never once crossed my mind but we are dealing with those realities now. [& this folks is why Liddy is going to Chile & I am not. Um, yes, it's been confirmed.]

You know I'm an Aussie & there's a little thing about Aussie native flora that gardeners learn real fast if they plan on dealing with Australian natives; you can transplant them but they will only survive if you get the entire tap~root, intact & undamaged. Break that & you will lose the plant! Often that is true for people too. We plan on getting Liddy to Chile intact & undamaged, her tap~root anchored securely in the love we all have for her. Finding ways that best support her is not going to be easy because our concern is for Liddy & all Liddy's thoughts are consumed by Chile & we are all trying to perform our God~ordained role in the process. Where is the manual when you need it?

And last but certainly not least: due to some confusion about who was doing what when on Sunday one of our families was taxied here by another friend & in the general chit~chat that tends to happen at such times some interesting data was shared. Interesting because I can't name you a church on the islands that isn't struggling. They are struggling to get the numbers or they are struggling to get finance or they are struggling to get a preacher or they are struggling with the music , or they are struggling to outreach ~ you name it one or more of our island churches is battling in that area. All of them are small, under 50 regular attendees. There are 3 main ones just on our island: the Catholics & Anglicans [by far the largest group & I'm not going to distinguish because the Anglicans are *high* & as any Anglican will admit that makes them far closer to popish practises than not]; the Pentecostalists & the non~denoms. For all the years I've been here those numbers have not fluctuated much, though the Pentecostal churches tend to start with a boom & end with a bang. We've grown leery of the pentecostalists who arrive here to *save* the island from itself. No staying power. Sad but true. At different times the church we did belong to grew so small it worshipped in believer's homes. What has come to pass, quietly & unobserved, is a whole underground movement of *cell groups*, most of whom know nothing about each other but who are quietly meeting together each Sunday to worship & encourage each other, just as we do. There may be as many as 200 hidden believers. That is phenomenal! Many are disenchanted with regular church but are very committed to Christ. I think that is very exciting. Someone has a vision for bringing all these diverse groups together once a month or so ~ though I suspect their very camouflage ensures their effectiveness.

A lot of people have been praying for revival for a long time but I am minded what a very wise & experienced minister once told his congregation: many of the very ones who have prayed most fervently for revival do not recognize it when it comes or the manner in which it manifests. I think I need to remind myself pretty often not to stand in God's way & let Him get on with it.

Friday, March 5, 2010

One computer, four users...

Chaos reigns within/Reflect, repent, reboot/Order shall return. Suzie Wagner.

The girls & I have been telling Dearest for years that computers are the thing; he should get into them. They'd open up the world for him. Manlike he rolled his eyes at us. [Knew Ditz got that from somewhere!] See Dearest is a man's man. He worked with his hands & knows things like how to mix cement, lay a brick, do the math to build a set of stairs, lay down a trail bike & slide under a moving semi~trailer...I didn't say sane & sensible. A bloke's bloke. [Mind you, I met him in a poetry writing class so there is a whole 'nother side to Dearest.] So just for the record he wasn't doing any daft & stupid boy things when he broke his back but break his back he did & life as he knew it changed overnight for Dearest.

I don't think Dearest has ever once said, "Why me?" He counts his blessings. He can walk. He has his stamps.Very occasionally, for something extra special, he travels but travelling is difficult. He made the award ceremonies the year Liddy won the regional player of the year award; he's never seen Ditz perform.

If it had been left up to me we still wouldn't have a computer. I'm a simple old fashioned sort of a girl & a brief dalliance with the primary school computers had convinced me I was only good for blowing them up & crashing them. Dearest however became convinced our homeschooling was second rate because we did not have access to a computer. I wonder if he ever thinks on that observation & rolls his eyes? Whatever. Dearest researched & juggled the finances & eventually procured a computer that could access the internet. For school purposes, of course.

Liddy was delighted. She was the only one computer savvy & promptly acquired a hotmail account & a Facebook page while I quaked every time I had to turn the blasted thing on & all this stuff flashed at me! Yep. Every time I needed to do something I was yelling for Liddy & Liddy, not unnaturally, got rather tired of that rather fast. Liddy being a logical sequential teacher & me being a random visual our learning styles clashed & it took me a long time before I began to feel that, "hey, maybe I can do this". It took a while longer & a NaNoWriMo before I got to the, "hey, this is fun" bit. Meanwhile Ditz took to just clicking on things & progressed much faster than I did. Terror about the unknown dangers my girls might unwittingly fall into spurred me on to keep up but it slowly dawned upon Dearest that though there is always someone invariably using the computer & a lot of time is spent with it very little of that is school related. The virtual fish bemuse him ...but the cats adore them!

Dearest had the computer moved downstairs so we could use it while he had company but he invariable found himself talking to someone who was plugged in & ear~plugged. He's a stubborn man, my Dearest, but we wore him down, three on one & he has succumbed. The only problem is ~ someone has to teach Dearest all the things we now take for granted, unkindly laughing when he worries about all the odd things that pop up on his screen & the peculiar things that happen when the kittens squirm all over the keyboard. Dearest grabs whoever is closest to sort out his problem but I have found myself landed with teaching him to upload his scans.

Dealing with pictures was one of the very first things Liddy taught me & I have used it a lot so I'm pretty comfortable but I am a random visual & Dearest is a hands on sequential. I am going nutty teaching this man the multiple steps needed to get from his scanner into Photobucket & from Photobucket onto the stamp forum. Everything has to be done exactly the sane way each & every time. No deviations allowed. Worse, as I have been doing this for him everything is set up for ease of use by a really random random who tends to have several operations happening at different places at once because this is an incredibly boring process & the faster I can do it the better. I have been reduced to plodding where I am used to running.

I think we are making progress. Dearest has finally cottoned onto the fact that the computer is completely rigid & he is the one who must change his expectations!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Little cross cultural love.

Don't pity the girl with one true friend. Envy her. Pity the girl with just a thousand acquaintances. Katie Obenchain.

I have this friend I have never met. Nope, not even once. She lives on the other side of the world, in the other hemisphere & across one of two very large oceans. She drives on the wrong side of the road, calls scones biscuits, pikelets pancakes & has even more children than I do. We have managed to disagree on lots of things & still remain friends; good friends. She is logical & good at organizing things ~ actually I don't think we could be more different if we tried but ever since God brought us together & we *met* on~line we've clicked & she now has the dubious honour of being my oldest *computer friend*.

She is also wonderfully kind & thoughtful & for someone who has never met me she knows me incredibly well. She knows I like blue & white china, surprises & cats. She also knows that despite the kittens I am missing my boy, because he was mine ~ & I was his. The kittens may be anything yet. They don't appear to be very discriminating. Issi had excellent taste. He adored me! It changes you when you are loved like that.

So yesterday a brown cardboard box arrived for me. [Here I confess my Dearest was far more fascinated by the postmarks on the box than by the contents but he's a little odd; stamp collector; they have this thing about postmarks.] Inside was this adorable Polish pottery cat. [Yes, Mama Olive, he travelled very well & arrived all in one piece!] The thing with Polish pottery is it is durable. It is meant for everyday use & is beautiful as well as hardy. When you have as many little visitors as I do that is an important consideration. Just the same I don't have many knick~knacky things [well, I wouldn't would I, after 5 kids & with 2 kittens rampaging round!] & was at a lose where to put him safely ~ somewhere where I could enjoy his beauty at odd moments through the day. For now he is living on my kitchen sink window sill with the old blue wine bottle & stray shells but out of reach of kittens & curious small fingers.

I am truly blessed to have a friend such as this. May in be counted unto her as righteousness. I ♥ you, mama O.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly acutely miserable, racked with sorrow but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. Agatha Christie.

Yep, life's a bit like that round here. Ditz, who has been eye~rolling considerably over her history & English & made a complete meal of her math [yes, we have a math text though it would help if, when I actually knew a formula I applied it correctly!] decided her AVAE class was the place to suddenly air her esoteric knowledge. Nope, she couldn't remember Bach belonged to the Baroque period but she did know the piece they are singing: Bist du bei mir ~ in German. While I vaguely recalled the piece I had no idea where I knew it from while Ditz calmly informed everyone we'd done it for school last year when we did Bach. Not that the piece sounded anything like our cd ~ the kids being uncertain with their German pronunciation & not backed by a full orchestra. We still surprise Alison occasionally by what gets termed *school work* round here! And Ditz still amazes me with her musical recall. She can probably already sing the soprano part note for note. Unfortunately she is singing 3rds this year & will have to learn the alto part!

AVAE has been reduced to just 10 singers: 5 girls, 5 boys ~ & to Dearest's utter bemusement the girls are singing alto & all the boys are singing 1sts or 2nds. Um, yeah. I sorta get his point ~ only having heard the boys sing I don't think most could hit the altos bottom notes.

Meanwhile, as we got the only dry morning in more than a week I thought I would indulge Kirby, who can't think why he isn't allowed outside, by opening the front door & letting the cats gambol in the garden while I weeded the path ~ an easy job just now while the ground is so waterlogged.

Obviously I have mush for brains. Kirby was delighted. What I had forgotten was the builders who have also decided to take advantage of the fine weather. Poor Kirby shot back in the door twice as fast as he came out of it. He made several tentative attempts to investigate the garden while not becoming completely spooked.
Marlow just sat on the top step looking out longingly but after one attempt, belly dragging in the mud, tail flat to the ground, he returned to his perch on the top step from whence he could see both Kirby & I from relative safety. It's a shame as both the lads are very interested in our garden, a garden to delight any cat's heart, but Kirby called every time he lost sight of me & there was no way Marlow was letting me out of his sight. Much happier inside. Even happier when I rejoined them & they had all their people together again.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Little Liddy.

And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? Romans 10:14 NLT

Of all the things I really hate doing donning my armour & heading to the front line would be about foremost on my list. The desert forefathers had the right Idea. I want a very tall pole!

The spiritual grenades are lobbing this way, some from people who really should know better, & plenty of them. Not unexpected, no, but a right royal pain in the whatsit! I will leave it to Liddy to document Melbourne. Suffice to say things went pretty well & we will know by the end of the month. As you all now know Chile is something of a mess. We do not know if this will affect things. Actually we don't know a lot but given how much flak is coming our way I'd say Satan is pretty upset & Lid is good to go ~ but that's just my think & God may have other ideas. I think we will all feel better when we know definitely for sure whether she is to go.

I can see a marked spiritual change in Liddy since her return from Melbourne. Interesting. She picked up an award from work for having the best local dairy ~ which is nice but no longer as important to Lid as it once would have been. Her focus is elsewhere ~ & it's been put into perspective.

I don't think I've ever thought much about the process of becoming a missionary ~ well, I wouldn't would I? Not being a sequential thinker & all. God calls, you go. Yes, well. um. It's not quite that simple. Lid's pretty young but she is incredibly competent ~ but I will tell you something on the quiet. Chile may be on the other side of the world but I am A~OK about that. Really I am. You see, I've just learnt that there is such a thing as *secure* countries. What a misnomer! I know what they mean but...! They are called that because if you are caught proselyting you are dead. I knew that, but the suggestion is you have to be so secure in Christ & His call upon your life that you are not fazed by the prospect of dying & I am really, really happy Liddy does not feel called to one of those countries.

The last of the first things are behind us. Until her trip I think Liddy thought I was being mean when I cautioned her about becoming too attached to the kittens but I think she sees the wisdom now. They are one more thing that must be left behind.

It is incredibly exciting to watch a child begin to outstrip you spiritually, to mount up on wings like an eagle, to see the spiritual war clouds my dear friends, don't forget us in your prayers. Pray especially for the team in Chile & their wisdom & discernment as they consider whether Liddy is the one God means for them & their work. Pray for the work too, which has probably tripled during the present crisis [not much info is coming through yet], & pray for us that we are the strength & support Liddy needs at home as the battle rages round us. Lastly pray that Liddy only grow closer to God as she seeks His will for her life.

We are not living in comfortable times, but boy are they exciting!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tuesday's Trivia

All the world's a stage/& all the men & women merely players...As You Like It.

Seeing as I seem to be having something of a Shakespearean week today's trivia is Shakespearean. With that in mind, & bearing in mind my household is soccer mad in season, Tottenham Spurs [yes, the London soccer club] was named after a Shakespearean character: Harry Hotspur in Henry IV. True. Look it up.

Shakespeare was a country lad. There are over 600 references to birds & animals in his plays. What's more he knew their habits & habitats rather well also.

Most of us quote bits of Shakespeare all the time. Everything from *all that glitters is not gold* to *to sleep, perchance to dream...* He is also responsible for inventing 1 700 English words; words like bedroom, majestic, laughable, critic, submerge, assassination. Not as easy as it looks. Consider that the average American has a vocab of roughly 10 000 words. If you're really smart [or majored in literature at college ;P] you might have a vocab of 15 000. Shakespeare had a vocab of 29 000. Someone didn't have enough to do if they sat down & actually counted!!

Most people think of Shakespeare as a playwright but in fact he was an actor who wrote plays. He is supposed to have really enjoyed playing the ghost that plagued Hamlet. I completely understand that! He performed before both Elizabeth I & James I.

In 1603 Shakespeare was 39 years old & the Black Death swept through London killing 33 000 people. *Sweet Will* survived the plague.

Uranus' moons are all named after characters in Shakespeare's plays: Oberon, Titania, Juliet, Caliban, Sycorax.

While Shakespeare did not die *without issue* he has no descendents. His son [Hamnet, of all things] died as a child. His daughters married & had children who did not survive leaving Shakespeare definitely as *one of a kind*. And to top it all off his gravestone does not bear his name. Nope ~ but he did think to curse anyone who was considering moving his bones.

Good friend for Jesus sake forebear
To dig the dust enclosed here
Blessed be the man who spares these stones
And curst be he who moves my bones.