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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

People say New Yorkers can't get along. Not true. I saw two New Yorkers, complete strangers, sharing a cab. One guy took the tires and the radio; the other guy took the engine. ~ David Letterman

 If you were up this morning, up & with the radio on; radio on & tuned to 612 ABC Brisbane, you would have heard the girl.

We got just 12 hours notice for this one ~ less in reality because we got told it was happening but the email never came through with all the necessary details: address, call time, repertoire, dress code, performance time, until 11pm.  Star fielded that.  I was long gone sleepy~byes.  And being the clever & thoughtful little bunny that  she is she went on~line & looked up the map, took down the relevant details & was all organised by the time she came & woke me in the morning.

4.30 am!  without coffee in my system & I am not highly functional!  I looked at the email, did a quick calculation in my head & decided that we needed to be on the next boat, not the one we had originally planned to be on.  Within 10 minutes of my feet hitting the floor we were out the door.  No caffeine in the system! Ouch.  Poor old Dino was abandoned to fudge a lift any way he could as he was on the boat after us.  As it turned out it was a good call.

We hooted into town & down Grey Street because that was the least stressful way to do it.  To the point where we crossed the bridge onto Coronation Drive we knew what we were doing.  From that point on I had to trust Star.  This does not come easy!  I have no sense of direction but Star's navigation has improved out of sight & she did an excellent job!  Absolutely brilliant.  We found a park outside the studios just before 6.45 to find the bulk of VM was there before us, everyone griping about the earliness of the hour ~ only we can always outdo the lot of them thanks to the boats!

Forty~five minutes & 2 carols later we were all done & negotiating peak hour traffic out of Brisbane! Nope.  Star wasn't driving!  Too much for either of us.  Coming out we went the way I thought we should probably have come in, only because I don't know that way half so well we opted for the tried & true route!  If you click here you can see the choir in the studio.  Click the link & you can hear the short segment.  Star is on the left in the second pic.  You all know that face, don't you!

So that was our morning.  How was yours?

Monday, November 28, 2011

A little weirdness goes a long way.

But he that dares not grasp the thorn Should never crave the rose.  Anne Bronte

We have roses.  They are not lasting long in this heat but a small spray of the little paper ones or a single dark red one in a specimen vase does so lift the heart!  The gardenias are out too but the heat has done for them & they are browning  before the petals even unfurl.  So  Sad.  I do love a gardenia.
Anyway some odd things happen in this house.  Ever notice?  Dino came rushing in madly Saturday all excited babbling that he'd just seen a quail in our garden.  Now I got all excited about that because quail, as you know, are tiny ground dwellers & rather shy, & though I used to see them regularly when we first moved here the drought & all the clearing seems to have finished them off, along with the yellow robins & the little rose robins, which I haven't seen in years & years.  [Perish the thought about accusing my cats!]  I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the visitor but before that happened Dino re arrived declaring it wasn't a quail after all but some weird looking *duck*.  I use the term loosely ~ very loosely indeed.  Not overly exciting though certainly nice to know.

Eventually I caught sight of Dino's *duck* through the kitchen windows.  *sigh*  No, not a duck. This is much more likely.  Probably not the Lewin's if those stats are correct but certainly a member of the family.  I know we get them as I've seen them before, though never more than just the one & very irregularly if we have a wetter than usual season.  Our garden is being kept very damp just now, which is what has attracted it.

So, one rail.  The next morning I got up to find both cats prowling the house with their ears pricked & their fur all on end.  This usually means the snakes in the walls are moving around & driving my animals crazy.  Yes, I know.  We live in the country; we have wild life, OK?   I paddled down the stairs & as I hit the hallway floor there was an almighty QUORK!!! from under my feet.  The cats & I all lept backwards.  Yep, the stupid bird had got in under the house & was making the strangest assortment of noises that kept the cats on edge all morning.

At some point I am likely to sprook about any of the following, all of which are on my desk right now & all of which I am randomly reading: Mad Dogs & Englishmen ~ the sort of racey & personal history I can get quite excited about!  The Islamic Anti~Christ & God's War on Terror ~ something for you all to look forward too, yes? Prepare yourself, people.  We're on holidays I I have plenty of time for rabbitting on endlessly!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Journey for One.

"What is that to you? You follow me!" John 21:20-24

IN my insatiable curiosity about what makes other people tick I can get lost in a maze of my own making.  It takes the Lord to straighten me out.  Thorny dilemmas.  If the Lord prayed that we should all be one then shouldn't we all be on the same path?  Yadda, yadda.  And I know, because I've been told, & I've been shown, that the Lord is separating His people, calling them out from amongst the worldly & I know the call is to repentance, to holiness, to righteousness ~ and the call is for the church as a whole, who have fallen so far from the high ideals of the gospel. 

And it's a right royal pain in the whasit, you know, because there are things I do not have licence to partake off while the bulk of the church prances on it's merry way totally oblivious & my sense of the justness & fairness of things gets slightly warped because, why is it ok for them but not for me?  You can see where this sort of thinking lands me.  Yes?

So holding my pity party for one & having a good old whinge in the Lord's ear about my self~induced muddle I was brought up short.  "What is that to you?  Follow me."  Ummm......Okaaay.  Yikes.  I've been told.

Because: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me....And that is the bottom line, isn't it?    In some way or fashion every single Christian should be hearing from the Lord & obeying His direct commands.  I am not accountable before the Lord for others, only for myself, & so I know I will be making some changes, gradually because I'm not the most organized of people & the Lord in grace & mercy gives me a fair bit of leeway to meander into line in my own lackadaisical fashion ~ but fall into line I must.

So chatting to the Lord about another of my quandaries because I know my history & that means I have serious issues with the whole Christmas trad thing, which is pagan to the very core ~ do some reading for yourselves if you don't believe me 'cause I can rant till the cows come home & the majority of Christians won't be moved ~ & I figured the Lord would have an opinion, don'tcha know.

Now I could give you a history lesson on the pagan heart of Christmas but there are plenty of sites round that do a much better job than I can; or I could point you to the scriptures that can be used most effectively to point out Christmas trees et al are beyond the pale but I figure if you've read them & breezed on then why bother?   Besides a number of my issues are directly related to our time working with the homeless because you have to question something that sparks peak amounts of domestic violence & family breakdown ~ but that's me.  You try looking into the eyes of some kid who knows they can't go home for Christmas & that there will be no presents, no festive cheer for them  & their place of refuge is likely to be closed for the day while someone else celebrates.  Yeah.  It can make you jaded.

So I asked.  I can't say I got a nice clear answer of the sort I like but I did get an answer because the Lord knows we have always been very low key about the whole Christmas deal.  At best the Lord is indifferent to our participation.   He would prefer we didn't & He has given me a number of ideas for changes I can ~ & will be making, over the next few years.

The thing is the Lord is all for celebration.  So much so He laid down the times & seasons for us to celebrate & we have been making our first exploratory steps in this new direction because we are meant to be a distinct people, separated from the world ~ not for legalism's sake but because there should be a discernible difference that separates a believer from a non~believer as a witness & a testimony.  I am starting to think different people get given a different witness in this area.  The whole idea of plainness obviously comes to mind but I do not have the usual call to plainness.  Nothing, for me, seems to follow the "usual" lines.

As we, obviously gentile, will be grafted into the root & stock of Jesse the Lord has been directing ~ & redirecting~ my attention back to His premises ~ not to put us under the Law because the Law cannot save but as a declaration of difference, separateness, sanctification, ~ & the grace & mercy of the Lord.

Just why this is so I'm not sure.  I suspect it is to do with the promise the Lord gave me that all our children would be taught of Him Himself & that His word would not depart from our household.  Which is not to say we are anything special because we're not, just that because of that He wants clear delineation lines drawn up.  So I have been looking at these ~ so lovely!  I just adore candle light, don't you?  And these

Yes I know all these are outward things & the Lord looks on the heart.  People don't.  On the whole people look on the outward things & when they can see a discernible difference they are much more likely to question.  At least, that's the theory.

And the clincher?  As my Dino has grown in the Lord he has begun to question & he has landed pretty much where I have.  Why does the church not teach us how to walk in the old paths wherein we might find rest for our souls?  Um ~ 'nother history lessons on the roots of paganism & witchcraft in the early church. *sigh*  So, yeah.  And you know, I am up to my ears in paper 'cause that child is looking at heading into theological college next year & you know, don't you, who will be fielding the thorny questions, being the sounding board, referred to on research questions.

And all this without neglecting the greater questions of loving each other, our enemies & the Lord our God.

Friday, November 25, 2011

There is a great deal to dislike about this time of year: the heat; the humidity; the Christmas madness; exams; hordes of kids released for the school hols; but amongst all the things I gripe about periodically there are things I anticipate with pleasure because all over Queensland now is the time of year both the Poinsiana [see lovely pics here] & the Jacaranda flower.  Both are lovely spreading shade trees & earlier, farsighted councils, planted them along the footpaths so that now the streets are carpeted in red & mauve & the red flames against the burnished sky & the mauve fades into it.

Our Poinsiana flowers late.  It is a rather shabby tree that was damaged when we got it & has struggled through the years of drought & random prunings so we can reach our front door but each year it still gamely throws out the great sprays of brilliant red flowers that announce summer is well & truly here!

Yep there is a house in there somewhere.  We have worked very hard the years we've been here to get our garden up & running.  One of the quirkier quirks of the old island was that whenever someone needed *sand* they removed all some~one else's topsoil so when we bought our block of land we were down to a bedrock of clay & ironstone that baked like cement.  As they side of the house faces the west it became unbearably hot through the summer months no matter how much of a breeze we got off the water from the other direction.

So another performance down; another mainland trip with Dearest in stifling heat & today I am just grateful to be home with the clouds bearing down on the heat & a breeze ruffling the water.  Much better.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Driving with Star.

And I, I took the road less traveled by.  I was using a GPS system.  ~Robert Brault

If you want to know how badly the education system fails our kids just try teaching a kinesthetic learner how to drive a car.  The point is moot if you yourself are a kinesthetic learner.  I'm telling you it is an experience never to be forgotten ~ & if one can help it never, absolutely never, to be repeated! 

Liddy is a kinesthetic.  She treated the car as an extension of herself.  Where she looked, there the car went!  It was hairy.  Ask her little sister.  On pain of having to exercise their legs her passengers were barred from commenting ~ which meant a lot of gurgling noises from the back seat where Star was manfully restraining herself. 

Naturally Liddy was anticipating her revenge when said little sister began to drive herself.  What she failed to take into account is that Star is not a kinesthetic learner.  Star, like her mama, is a visual learner.  Star has never once aimed the car at some unfortunate pedestrian & gunned the motor.  She transitioned smoothly from passenger to driver with only the occasional blond moment when the car has stalled or she has forgotten ignition is necessary to movement.

Just the same I was leery of letting her loose on the main roads on the mainland.  None of my children are reknowned for following instructions obediently & I am tired of hearing, "Chill, mother," after yet another incident guarenteed to add more grey to my rapidly greying locks! Unfortunately there is only one way to learn to drive a car & that is to get behind the wheel & do it!

 Star has been pottering around the island more than compently for the past few months so I let her loose on the mainland car.  The mainland car does not have power steering.  It really needs to be manhandled around corners & round~a~bouts, objects strenously to rapid acceleration & has gears more widely spaced than Star has grown used to.  In & out to singing & Star was doing very well indeed.  So well in fact, I took a risk.  I drove in to town on Sunday because Star's parking is dodgy & I wasn't about to risk it in the middle of Brisbane but coming out was another matter entirely.  Traffic was light so I passed Star the keys. 

Star, as the youngest & most indulged of a long, long tail has the sort of shattering self~confidence that sank the Titanic. She promptly negotiated herself out of the QPAC parking & into the outward flow of Brisbane traffic with nary a quibble.  She has travelled this route so often [& had to navigate me] she needed no direction.  We had one little wobble where the lanes squirm all over the road as they condense from 5 lanes to just one but with no other cars around it didn't matter & she will remember another time.  I was very pleased.  Until.

Until we pulled up at the jetty.  Star mamothly misjudged the curb & hit it with a resounding bang!  Indeed she hit it so hard she popped my hub~cap & broke it. *sigh* A little more practise on the essential things needed it seems.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Heat, ma'am! it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones. ~Sydney Smith, Lady Holland's Memoir

It doesn't matter what the calender says; Summer has arrived.  I know because of the cats.  Kirby has taken up residence on the chest freezer.  He is constantly available for chucks under the chin but is lovely & cool ~ though he is always a little leery getting up.  He knows the lids opens!

Marlow is sprawled along the stereo.  Every so often there is a thunk because Marlow has forgotten he cannot spread his legs & roll luxuriently when he is up so high. 

I am so pleased to be done schooling.  Despite the breeze wafting through all the windows the thermometer is hovering just above the 30C mark & the humidity is stifling.  Ugh.  We are melting like a butter stick into greasy little pools!

Happy Christmas, Liddy! ♥

There was no need to do any housework at all.  After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse.  ~Quentin Crisp

Yesterday was the day, you know.  I dragged Star kicking & screaming through the last 2 pages of her math: percentages which I have no hope of being able to do but it does not require a mathematical head to work out if your answer is less than 1/2 when you are only meant to reduce by 25% then something is very wrong.  Star insisted that the computer does not make mistakes.  Nor it does but if the user is feeding it random information a little common sense goes a long way! *sigh*  Star, at least, understood what she was meant to be doing ~ she just didn't want to do it but our work returns are already very late & the chips are down round here.  Next week 2 extra males land in this house & only a very optimistic idiot would expect anything but bedlam & chaos.  Next week we go into rehearsals for Spirit of Christmas [QPAC].  Next week we run out of November & in a month we run out of year, so. And so.

Anyway, having written Star's name legibly on all her work because, sad to say, the child's handwriting still looks like a bomb exploded on the page [yes, we use her computer for nearly all her written work!] & packaged everything up into the relevant envelop ready for today's mail, I turned my attention to my house.

Now I have met those wonderful women who can run their own lives & everyone else's into the bargain without getting a hair ruffled out of place ~ but I am not one of them.  I do some things well.  I can even do a number of different things well but the more things I'm juggling the ball I'm most likely to drop first is the house because there is nothing intrinsically exciting about scrubbing the loo or even sweeping the floor & neither had been done for some weeks.  It was past time to do some necessary housework.  In fact it was time to do what I rarely do & actually move furniture in order to clean behind it, under it & around it.  This was made easier by actually being able to dispose of all the school stuff that usually clutters my living room & can't be touched in case it disappears never to be found again!

Yes, this post does have a point because back here Liddy had a meltdown over losing her brand new camera cord.  Despite several massive hunts that necessitated tearing the house apart  & lots of angst & heartache the cord still hadn't appeared when Liddy boarded her plane for Holland.  I had that terrible sinking sensation you get when you think you might just be responsible but have no clear memory of what you've done.  I do remember finally throwing in the bin a whole heap of stray cords that no longer seemed to belong to anyone .  It was certainly feasible that Lid's camera cord was amongst them.

Then yesterday, heaving the heavy couch away from the wall so I could mop my foot kicked something scrunched up & still tied with the original black plastic tie; Lid's missing camera cord!  Not where she swore black & blue she'd last seen it.  Not, obviously, carelessly dropped beside the couch because it would have been found months ago.  Nope.  Waaaaay back yonder amongst the dust balls, stray cat hair & dead spiders where even stray long implements fishing for missing items are unlikely to find it.

Guess it goes in the mail some time soon.  Happy Christmas, Liddy!
Yippy~de~doo~da.  Hallelujiah!  We are done for the year!  Academics at least.  The music doesn't count!  Last year coming up!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

 The temp was hitting 29/30C & it was stifling in town.  Something else to hate about Brisbane.  I should make a list sometime; set it to rhyme. 

We were in at the mall just before lunch ~ & I opted to nip in under QPAC rather than risk the dubious Brisbane parking.  Having being assured the mall was "Just across the Bridge" we hiked.
Alison had all 3 choirs performing outside Myer today.  AVAE is the smallest but a couple of big voices & well trained harmoy [& the mikes of course] meant a big, big sound.  We got really good crowds for all three 1/2 hour gigs.

 Star having a serious moment.  Most of the time she had a grin from ear to ear.

 In between, snacks! I just love the orange polos!  You can see them 1/2 way across town.  Impossible to miss.  You always know when VM is in town!
Exaudi Australis is the showpiece choir.  Older of course & many perform regularly as professionals ~ & boy are they good!  They did the best Rockin' Jerusalem!  Their other piece was Lux Aurumque ~ which has an amazing story & is the *Virtual Choir's* showpiece.  You can hear them here singing the Lux. When it was done virtually every singer rehearsed their part independently & only came together online, yes, online, not in person! for the performance.  The result is truly amazing!  Lovely piece.

Then we went round the corner to JBs to choose videos as part of our non Christmas celebrations.  I have to call them that because I don't actually know what we're doing yet & I have just a week to pull something together.  Isn't life exciting?!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Another can of worms.

Ok, now before we start I'm not in the business of telling anyone what they should do.  I just like to ask the questions.  Firstly because I like taking a wander in other people's head spaces & seeing how they think & secondly because in thinking an issue through out loud I can gnaw at it like a terrier at an old bone.  I've been told before that I can come across as very unloving ~ so!  I do not mean to get anyone's backs up.  Just so you know.  When I want to get your back up I'll say so.  OK?

My dear friend, Ember, left me a comment in my chat on hair.  It was a lovely, long, thoughtful comment, as Ember's so often are but I have been puzzling over something she said ~ & I am starting to wonder if my more literal minded children may not have got that particular trait from their father after all!  I shall quote her because I should hate to misrepresent what she has actually said.

I like to think of it that the Bible can be understood as a manual or as a map.

If thinking of it as a manual, the reader would think 'Hmm - headcovering? What does the Bible say on headcovering?', look it up in the index, and follow the instructions written there.

If thinking of the Bible as a map, then 'Headcovering' is a road or place on the journey, it has a bearing and relationship with the 'You Are Here' spot, and with the Peaceable Kingdom towards which we are journeying. And travelling to the Peaceable Kingdom may (or not) pass through or along Headcovering.

Now I have a problem.  I don't read maps very well.  In all honesty I usually end up headed in the completly opposite direction ...which brings us to manuals.  I don't do so well with those either.  My mother's perpetual cry during my growing up years was "Read the instructions first!"  None of us ever did. 

Over the years, 5 decades now & counting, I have watched what the church has done to the scriptures & if I look at my history I get rather goggle~eyed because no~one but priests could read Latin & they didn't want to share 'cause knowledge is power & they wanted the power.  Sorry.  Sidetracking.  I'm a bit like that.

Where was I?  Right.  So I'm used to hearing ordained clergy declare things like, "Well the bible isn't meant to be read literally you know", or "Jesus wasn't a real historical figure", or more recently, "It doesn't matter whether Jesus really existed or not"....

I have a problem with all of those statements though I know that each can be defended intellectually.  I have a problem because once you start declaring this bit or that bit isn't true/revevent/meant to be taken literally the whole thing starts to come apart in your hands.  Of course that could just be me but where do you then draw the line?

Anyway what came to my rather chaotic mind, surfacing from amongst the random flotsam & jetsam that inhabits my inner spaces, was the O.T bit where..was it Hezikiah?  The newly appointed king who found the abandonded Scriptures & having read them decided Israel was in serious trouble & turned the whole unweildly nation around & back to worshipping God the way He wanted to be worshipped. 

And in looking for the relevant scripture I got sidetracked.  I know!  It happens to me a lot.  I landed on some site, which I suspect is by no means exhaustive, & they listed 281 scriptures which all say basically the same thing: Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.

Or by the N.T but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

Which brings me to my problem.  See, if we only take bits as applicable, which bits?  And just so's we're clear here, even keeping the basic judaic food laws is so complicated I abandonded even looking into them ~ & I did look because there is a reason the Jews have managed to survive relatively disease free for centuries.  What gets them wiped out tends to be more along the lines of judgements [I gotta stop reading the prophets!] ~ pogroms, holocausts, racial hatred of the most vitrolic sort.  And as someone with super sensitive skin I actually wish our clothing manafacturers would obey the injunction to not mix fabrics!

Sorry.  Digressing is a bad habit of mine.  Anyway on another issue completely a very godly young woman once stated that when it came to God's word she found it was rather like travelling down a highway [or words to that effect].  The road was wide & she could choose where to travel on it but it ran along the edge of a deep precipce with no guard rails & she had determined that it was safest & wisest to travel as close to the mountain as possible.  Risk & danger lay in travelling too close to the edge.

I think I have come to that conclusion as well.  I am probably wrong but I think I will err on the side of caution.  I've tried travelling the edge & in the end I was left feeling there were no absolutes.  Everything was open for interpretation.  Nothing could be trusted.  One can not travel in freedom if one feels insecure.

So, how do you read your bible, people?  Literally?  Interpretatively?  And what do you do with the bits you don't like?  We've all got those, haven't we?!  Do share.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

 In the case of Caravaggio, it was the mind of a genius. A murderer and a madman, perhaps, but certainly a genius ~ The Lost Painting.

I knew the name.  If pushed I might have recognized one or two of the paintings but Caravaggio is one of those names....& there are so many of them!  For the most part his work is not something that grabs me.  The exception is The Taking of Christ ~ which is darkly dramatic & reminds me of El Greco.  Not stylistically but in the dramatic expression of story & the contrasts of dark & light, the sometimes brooding quality.

Anyway, browsing our library shelves yet again, because this is the term I spend most of my life curled up in odd corners reading while Star stars dontcha know, I came across Jonathon Harr's The Lost Painting ~ the story of tracing & finding one of Caravaggio's lost works, the Taking of Christ.  Here it is:

Isn't it something?!  The dramatic lighting.  The richness of the colours.  The dark background.  Christ looks a little wimpy but pretty typical for the times.

Ok so I rather enjoy the tedious work that constitutes most research, the meticulous gathering of obscure facts, the flashes of insight that illuminate so much, the painstaking ransacking through stuff that should have been decently interred centuries ago.  Not everyone does.  Writing about it is even less exciting.

Harr's style is dry & journalistic ~ & in all honesty I found his writing style tedious & more than a little dull.  So much so that I put this book down for over a week & forgot about it.  The story itself is fascinating & it was well worth pursuing for that alone because it is a tale of high drama from the obscure post graduate students who sent the hounds baying to the Italian restorer who nearly destroyed the painting before he'd even begun!  Along the way I learnt something of Caravaggio, who was most certainly mad as & a nasty piece of work into the bargain, art restoration, & the chasing of bunny trails to determine the authenticity of any given art work.  One of the great modern detective stories & a true one at that!

Link here to view more of Carravaggio's paintings.

Prayer Alert!

Prayer please for OM Chile's Children's Ministry.  Edit from the girl: . I have lost my children's ministry leader. This is causing complications for the ministry for the boys of el Arca[ We still have the "Head" children's ministry leader.],  which is jeapodising the ministry & upsetting the Chile team.  Thank you, friends.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Does it not mean what it says or do we just not care?

But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.~1 Cor.11:15

I forget which church I was in but it was recent & not my usual church.  I was a little behind the 8~ball ~ which happens to me a lot~ so there was this moment after we'd been asked to bow our heads for prayer when I was left gazing abstractly at the long row of heads obediently bowed in front of me & I was struck by something.  Every single head was female ~ & not one of them had long hair!  Not a one.  There wasn't a headcovering in sight either but that is another issue entirely because often the people against headcoverings argue their hair is given them as a covering ~ no matter how short it is.  Hm.

Now here's the thing, because we don't want to be all legalistic about things as if works can save us & I've had *Grace* quoted at me until the mere mention of the word has me rolling my eyes in quite a Star~like manner, but if Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: [2Tim.3:16] then shouldn't we at the very least investigate the matter further?  And, as His dearly beloved children, shouldn't we want to do what is pleasing in His sight?

Hair is easy for me.  I like my hair long.  I've worn it long for most of my life ~ except for a few years after my twins were born & I had lots of young children & very little time for vanity of any sort.  During those years I wore my hair very short indeed.  My daughters are not so keen.  Liddy has thick, heavy hair but has compromised by thining her hair & keeping it long enough to scoop up in a pony tail.  Star wants shorter than short hair but has also compromised because I have refused point blank to consider shaving her head to the bone!  I layered Star's hair according to her instructions & she is very happy with the result.

So what does the bible say?  And having read what it says, does it mean what is says? ~ because I've had *cultural context* shoved down my throat ad infinitum also. 

Hair is mentioned 64 times in the bible but only 15 times in the N.T ~ & of those 15 times only 2 are applicable & both of those are in the same Corinthians' passage. The Greek word used is Komao ~ from kome ~ meaning to wear tresses of hair & those tresses are given as a covering.  By implication this means long hair because culturally [there's that word!] women's veils were a good deal longer back then than they are now!

Partly, I believe, is than God dislikes gender confusion & always draws clear distinctions between men & women.  Hair is another aspect of that; Men = keep it short!; women ~ grow it long!

I have heard women tell me, over & over because the heart is deceitful above all things! how hair is a matter of the heart; that God looks on the heart; that it is our attitude that matters not the length of our hair ~ & these arguements sound convincing because hair is not a salvation issue.  Nope, not at all.  However, having had to deal with the covering issue myself, I would argue that how we see our hair & what we do about what the bible says is indicative of a fundamental heart issue because at the root of the whole discussion is a heart issue: a rebellious nature driven to have its own way or a heart of submission.  We can argue till the cows come home that God looks on the heart ~ & so He does; not even an arguable point.  But what does He see when He looks on our hearts?  A heart submitted to Him even in the little things ~ or a heart prepared to disregard His very clear instructions?  After He clearly says that if we love Him we will obey His commands?

One final thought.  Hair is one of the easy things.  Seriously.  Loving my enemies?  Now that's hard!  I'd so much rather fire fell from heaven & obliterated them from the face of the earth. It's hard enough just loving the people I like. So what do you think?
Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration. ~Lou Erickson

There are no prizes for guessing what we were doing this weekend.  So I sat through the rehearsal & I sat through the performance & I think I am losing my voice.  Why Iam I the one losing my voice?  I'm not singing.  I'm not doing much of anything.  And again next weekend.  I tell you, I am over the mainland!!!
Then it decided to get stinking hot.  And humid.  I am wilting.  The cats are wilting.  There should be laws against trying to school in 100% humidity wth the thermometer hitting the high 30s.  I wish we were done.  Nearly but not nearly enough.

The garden looks like it's on steroids.  Perhaps I shouldn't ask.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues. 1 Cor.12:28

The church is like an itch I keep scratching at, which is sorta sad but there you go!  Because I read my bible & in my own muddly way I try, you know ~ to do what it says; to obey God's commands; to grow up in Christ.  And every which way I turn the church, on the whole, is a stumbling block & it is driving me crazy.
I am not going to rant about Christmas ~ which is extremely rantable ~ nope, not even the whole put Christ back in Christmas thing 'cause in all honesty I don't think Christ was ever in it ~ which is a long, complicated historical unravelling of the symbols & pagan origins of just about the whole lot!    And it was the church, yep, the church that designed & fed us the whole unholy mess!
But that is where you end up when you start ditching God's design for things because God put something in place to prevent these very things.  Indeed He did. The church was designed to be built on a firm foundation.  First apostles ~ the sent ones.  Call them missionaries if you like, though that term has broadened to mean more than simply proclaiming the gospel to  people.  Secondly, prophets.  Apostles & prophets, the twin watch towers of the early church.
Now unless you belong to a Charismatic, Apolistic or Pentecostal church your church probably doesn't have an operating prophet ~ & even if you do the chances are they're not operating as a prophet, merely exercising a prophetic gift.  'Cause, the thing is, don'tcha know, that the prophets aren't comfortable people to have around.  They have a thing about the status quo.  They pinged Israel off so bad Israel demanded: Stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel! [Isaiah30:10]
And there you have it.  To the best of my understanding a prophet's job is to confront people with the Holy One of Israel.  When that happens you get the exhortation, the strengthening, the encouragement, comfort, warning & judgment because instead of comparing themselves to the world or to each other, people see how far they fall short of the glory of God. Prophets are  like the scout on point, so far ahead of the main party if they start bleating you wanna start paying attention. 
So where are the prophets?  There's lots of people round these days calling themselves prophets [& don't you just love the irony?!] but all too often what I'm hearing is a lot of feel good blather.  Now God may be saying all sorts of stuff.  What would I know?  Some of it I agree with.  We are bringing judgement down upon our heads & we seem totally unaware of it.  Yes, there's a harvest for the having [but where are the workers?].  Yep, God is calling a remnant out ~ BUT....first things first.  What is the point?  That there be a holy, sanctified, righteous people wholly dedicated to their God, a fitting bride for His son.
We cannot compromise.  We cannot say, as we have been for far too long, God understands; we're living in the Age of grace.  So He does & so we are but that is not licence for unrighteousness or things that displease our Lord.  We are called out to be set apart, dedicated, different [how many ways can I say it?] because God does not change.  He is the same yesterday, today, forever.  His standards have not changed.
I think that message is as about as popular as ever!  Because people haven't changed.  We want our cake & to eat it too.  We think a little sin will go unnoticed, not understanding a little pollutes the whole.  We like to be liked.  We are designed to be social so we crave to fit in.  It is far more comfortable!
Well I have news for you!  God doesn't care about our comfort.  God cares far more about our characters than we do.  He's not interested in how well you know your scriptures.  Your catechism.  Your hymns & psalms.  How well do you know Him?  How closely are you following after Him?  Have you picked up your cross?
And here's the cruncher.  I just love this because the Israelites were all for getting Moses between themselves & God.  Go talk to Him for us, they begged ~ & Moses did.  And when he came down off the mountain after talking with God he had to hide his face with a veil because so much glory shone forth!  When was the last time you had to wear a veil so you didn't dazzle people with the glory of God resting on you?  Yeah, me too.  I'm working on it.
The trap is either people say, well our righteousness is in Christ ~ which it is, but they use that as an excuse not to do anything themselves.  Or, they try doing everything in their own strength & fall into the pit of *works.*  Neither will suffice.  Moses spent Time with God.  This is the key.  If we do this one thing all else falls into place.
In my study this morning I came across this:  The word know is used differently in the bible but we keep translating it the same when it does not always mean the same thing. We all know Psalm 46:10
~ Be still & know that I am God
 Here the word know is talking of experiential knowledge ~ & this is the thing we've most been taught to distrust in the west thanks to the reformers who have put so much emphasis on holding on by faith.  There is a time & a place for that ~ but it is not the whole story.  It is much easier to hold on with faith when you know the one in whom you have put your trust!
Likewise it is much easier to be holy, righteous, different when we know God. Really know Him.  In all His aspects. As Love, & majesty, as wrath & judgement, as Creator & as Lord & King.  And when Christ returns may He find us a people prepared, who have cleansed themselves & practised the art of holiness that we might serve as priests forever of our Lord & our God.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hey, Figaro! I'm here.

Figaro here, Figaro there,

Figaro up, Figaro down...
 We are tired, so very, very tired.  And achy.  It has been a big few days.  So having lugged the girl to rehearsal for this we just made our last boat home & had to be back again for the dress rehearsal to tweak the things they didn't get right the night before.  Luckily Star is a happy bunny & it takes more than a few late nights & long days to turn her into a grumpy bum.  Me, I'm doing less well in the let's not be grumpy stakes.  This might be local but we still do big hours travelling.
 So my poor household arrived in scattered bits & pieces to listen to a fabulous concert ~ which is why I rant so much when local artists don't get supported.  I've heard Marie sing her whole life ~ she once sounded rather like Star.  Now her voice is richer, darker, like mahogany & dark molasses, with all the control & naunce years of experience give.  She sang Dido's Lament from Dido & Aeneas for starters. Dimitri I've only heard in class, doing scales, of all things!  He did an absolutly fabulous Largo al Factotum from Figaro [Il Barbiere de Siviglia]~ really, really funny!  Even the kids, like Star, who didn't know the opera got the idea & were hard put not to giggle themselves silly on stage.

In all honesty, half the time I have no idea what I'm listening to ~ I just know when I like it & it sounds good.  The first half of the program had a lot of things I like:  The Findlandia; the humming chorous from Madam Butterfly; the Thais & Faure's Pavane, which I never get tired of listening to.

After the break we did Faure's Requiem ~ which I only like in bits & whose Paradisum I can now never hear without thinking of the ballet.  It was used for a stunning duet in that.

My belongings scattered to their various homes while, as Marie so succintly put it, I went to feed the beast, aka Star!  We are so tired of fast food & I don't think either of us could have faced another Maccas meal so I took her round the corner to the Arabica ~ which turned out to be a great choice.  Having consulted with the girl about how hungry she was as oppossed to how much she could eat without it affecting her diaphram [the things I have to take into consideration!!!!] I decided if I got basically one meal & divided it we'd be about right, which is what I did.  I didn't even get a proper meal as such.  We opted for herb & cheese bread [which was very yummy] & a side salad, which was fresh, crisp & undressed & really lovely!  We should have left it at that but  the Arabica does a spectacular array of desserts & sad to say we succumbed!  It was Star's undoing.  I managed my whoopie pie but Star had gone for the banana & caramal cake & it was just too much in the end.
 Back to the dressing room, which always looks quite haunted with everyone's Blacks hanging desolately from every free projection & not a soul in sight.  I waited till most of the choir had arrived then went & found myself a seat again. And we did it all again!  Good thing I like the music!
And just in case you believe singers don't work hard Star complained bitterly about how hot & sweaty she was after the first concert.  By the time we were running for our boat she was looking white with exhaustion ~ & of course the evening's excitement wasn't done with yet!  As I climbed out of the car I was greeted with that lovely fried electrical smell & I thought if that was my car I was in serious trouble!  It wasn't.  It was someone else's car burning merrily a little further down the car park & as we bolted along the bayside walk for our boat the fire brigade arrived with all it's bells & whistles blaring.

And just so you know, we are performing next week too!  I could sleep for a week!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Australia has often struggled against perceptions of it being a colonial backwater and cultural desert populated by uncouth people with funny accents. ~ Mike Reddy

I thought we were over it, I really did.  I thought we'd moved on, grown up.  It seems not.  Which is embarrassing.  Donald Horne was carping on about it over 30 years ago when I was at university.  Don't know him?  He's the man who coined the catch~phrase, The Lucky Country ~ Bet you know the phrase if you're an Aussie! A scathing condemnation of the laisse faire attitude of Australians to just about everything. I bet our present politics would give him a right old conniption ~ but I digress.

There's something about the people of a country where being able to fix a fan belt with a pair of stockings is a basic survival skill~ a marketable commodity.  We have produced more than our fair share of innovators.  We have produced more than our fair share, per capita, of medical breakthroughs, science breakthroughs, & performing artists.  We produce them, then won't pay them, don't value them & complain bitterly about the country's *brain drain* as all these clever & innovative people take of for distant shores & more appreciative countries.   Hence Donald Horne's book, The Lucky Country, which was, at least in part, an indictiment of our acceptance of the mediocre when we could be so much more than that.

Which brings me 30 years on.  I thought we were over the, if it comes from Europe/America it's gotta be better mentality.   I mean, we have the Sydney Opera House, recognizable all over the world.  I'm sticking with the arts thing, which I know something about, but I figure if we're still caught in the arts department, which is generally less conservative in its thinking, what hope is there for any other field? 

Now my beef is multi~layered.  There's the We don't value the Arts thing.  We don't teach it in school. Phuleese!  Half an hour of singing a week while the class teacher champs at the bit because she has a class full of remedial mathematicians does not constitute training in artistic appreciation.  Nor does painting class on Friday afternoons if no~one has got more than 3 demerits that weeks & all their spelling right.  Nope just doesn't cut it. 

Then there's the whole snobbery thing, which believe you me is alive & well & thriving in Australia!  I adore the ballet.  I have loved being able to sit in on rehearsals, watch it on the monitors in the Green Room, see the actual performance.  I choke on the ticket prices.  The cost is prohibitive.  It puts a lot of the Arts beyond the reach of the average Jo.  Even when I was working at a very well paying job in Sydney I could not afford the ticket prices.  However I had a good friend who worked in the ticket office at the Opera House & she passed along tickets to dress rehearsals for just about everything!  I saw some wonderful productions because of it.  As a nation Jo Average should not be reduced to scabbing tickets to Arts performances.  Really.  Sadly, but far too true, the Arts are for the well to do ~ which then means we continue to produce a population far more interested in the State of Thuggery than the latest ballet, or musical, or symphony.  After all, a ballet dancer is a better & far more flexible athlete than your average footballer.

Then there is the whole, attitude of the Arts being an extra ~ something you get as a leftover & not really worth spending money on, certainly not as a first priority.  Now, I do not know who is to blame, state funding, National funding, or Arts companies, but when a part is dictated by whether or not an auditioner can fit into old costumes or not, something is very wrong!  And it wasn't just Star & Tosca.  It is other performances as well.  I hear a lot of gossip at different times & this one just breaks my heart. 

So what brought this on?  Well, the Hamburgh Symphoniker.  It is being brought out, at great cost & public expense, to tour Australia next year.  Or so I've heard.  Ticket prices are soo far beyond the Pale that even if I wanted to I'd have to do more than sell my soul to afford just one ticket.  We are paying for air fares [for both musicians & instruments], accommodation, & performance costs.  I have no doubt that this is a great symphony & performances will be fantastic.  BUT, & it is a very big but, all that money could have been better used to promote our own artists!  Get bums on seats out here for our own people.  We are not 2nd rate!  We just aren't.  Most of our people have trained & worked with the best there is overseas because that's where they can get work.  That's where the scholarships are.  That's the Cultural Cringe.  Still.  Time to grow up.  Time to reverse the snobbery & make our own symphonies, our own opera, our own theatre a priority; sink the money into our own productions; educate our kids to appreciate something besides the schoolboy antics on the footie pitch.  After all, that's what the rest of the world does!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The thing about family disasters is that you never have to wait long before the next one puts the previous one into perspective.  ~Robert Brault,

Families.  They're great, aren't they?!  And they tend to know each other's habits well.  Embarrassingly well sometimesLike Liddy, I don't like everybody being able to see when I'm on~line.  For one thing being on~line doesn't mean I'm actually there & for another it doesn't necessarily mean I'm available to chat.  I keep the hidden icon on on most things because I'm anti~social like that.  I don't function well overtired & barely awake.  My propensity for foot in mouth disease increases proportionally!
However....knowing this Liddy has her methods.  Firstly she knows I am likely to be on~line & unrushed first thing in the morning between bible reading & prayer time & before Star surfaces.  And she knows I hate the t.v so there's a good chance I will be online in the evenings unless Star is performing, just vegging.  So I wasn't surprised when my FB icon informed me Liddy wanted to skype & I should stop whatever else it was I was doing & spend time with her.

Liddy has been on her *cultural experience* for 2 weeks with very limited internet so we didn't chat for my birthday & we hadn't caught up in some time.  It's not that we don't love each other, or don't care but we are both extraordinarily busy.  We have left each other brief notes on FB.  I've sent  short but newsy e~mails, posted pictures & figure the girl is smart enough to read my blog if I haven't done any of those things to see what is going on ~ & so she does.  A lot has happened while she was having her *cultural experience*.

What that was in reality was that Lid simply lived with a Chilean family for those 2 weeks & she loved it & had a ball except for one thing; she couldn't communicate!!!  This is a talkative family.  Star's perpetual cry as we travel is, Talk to me!  Right down to the cats, people in this house talk about whatever is on their minds ~ad nauseum sometimes.  We can gnaw a subject right down to the bone!  Wagging our tongues is what we do for entertainment.  Not being able to wag her tongue to some purpose is frustrating Liddy no end.

Her Chilean Spanish is coming along slowly.  She is understanding a lot but only able to mangle her responses.  Being able to Skype occasionally & rabbit on in her native tongue without fear of being misunderstood, not understood at all or constantly asked to repeat herself, is a huge relief.  I understand, having lived in places where people's first language isn't English.  Constantly struggling to understand & make oneself understood is exhausting!

Bonus, both her father & Star were up early & she was able to participate virtually in all the little, silly, in~family joking & quirkiness.  Living with a Star in the house means everybody else is dun coloured by comparison.  It's something you really miss when you are used to it & it's suddenly not there any more.  Star has a way of putting life into perspective.

Liddy doesn't know how lucky she is.  Getting me for anything this term is very hit & miss.  Star is, as always, over committed.  Being over committed meant she missed last week's extra rehearsal, called to deal with the Sinfonia, but I figured one email asking for the music she didn't have & she could rehearse herself this week. Oh, how I wish it were that easy!

The choir was printed on the program as performing music they didn't even have yet!!!  Mad scramble now to bring everyone up to scratch & the seniors are screaming.  Can't blame them.  Everyone likes to be well rehearsed & feel like they have a handle on what they are performing!  Which means, of course! that we are back on the mainland tonight [squeezing around Star's dance schedule, which is also rehearsing for a performance & which Star is reluctant to miss because, unlike singing, she is under confident & has trouble remembering her moves].  And Friday.  I need to wash her performance blacks.  I need to do a lot of things.  Every time the cats hear the car keys they both go into meltdown! *sigh*

Yes, we are schooling.  Sort of. Yes, I cook the occasional meal.  The washing up gets done when I get around to it.  The floors need sweeping.  The sheets need changing. The cats need cuddling...BUT: first things first; the show must go on!  No matter what.

And you know what I was thinking, because I let Star drive into town, not Brisbane, just locally, for the first time yesterday, a little stressed because living where we do we don't have things like street lights, round~a~bouts, traffic, street lanes, & Star will have these blond moments!; all these changes to driving licences mean I am going to be running round like a pork chop for some time yet! Yep.  It's a good thing I really enjoy rehearsals.  It's worth it when Star, quirky to the last nuance, hugs me & says, "You're such a good mummy!"  Hmm.  The child sure knows which side her bread is buttered on!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Growing food was the first activity that gave us enough prosperity to stay in one place, form complex social groups, tell our stories, and build our cities. ~ Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Is there anything better than a garden?  The mixed sort with the food bits all muddled in with the flowers & the trees, the birds & the bees.  See how our garden grows!

And it is producing!  Strawberries.

                                                                      Corn heading up.


Every morning as Dino heads out the door for his boat he turns the sprinklers on.  And every morning as I return from dropping him to his boat I turn them off again.  The garden smells richly damp. Lush. Alive.  The skinks scuttle through the mulch. The bees are busy pollinating so that we might have the fruit of their labours.   The greedy bird swoop & chitter amongst the tree tops.

Gardeners ~ gardeners, not horticulturalists~ are a funny lot.  They can't walk down the garden path without stooping to remove weeds, tie back a stray tendril, tuck mulch more firmly around a ripening strawberry.  I counted a half dozen strawberries yesterday.  Wandering hands have plucked them all.

Even the cats like a good garden.  They loll on the sun baked bricks going into ecstasies over the heady wafts of scent from the curry plant.

I expect there will be a garden in heaven ~ large & rambling ~ where we can walk & converse with God in the cool of the evening.  Oh yeah!