Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Part of the *Whole Cloth* for your consideration.

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

I can't explain the math so I am linking to a short article that does a much better job than I ever could of explaining mathamatically how we actually have really good indicators of when Jesus was actually concieved & born & having those indicators how much more amazing & wonderful & holy & all of a piece with Scripture Jesus birth actually is & why Christmas has so diminished the wonder & the glory that it actually is.  

Symbolically this makes much better sense to me than anything the church has come up with.  I can hear the Spirit of God in this thinking because this is how I experience God also: symbolically consistent from beginning to end.  If you study Passover you see exactly the same symbolic consistency.  I can't think of a festival where this is not so.

It is beautiful in deeply meaningful ways & it is like a many faceted diamond.  No matter which way you look at it the light magnifies & glories God.  And that, my friends, is the Spirit's job; to turn us & keep turning us towards Christ!
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls: but they said, We will not walk therein. ~ Jeremiah 6:16

It began a long time ago, so long ago I was not much more than a child, & it began because my innermost spirit rejects compartmentalisation.  Life is a whole cloth or it is a tattered rag & it will never make sense.  If I think that about life how much more do I believe it about God's word & how I have struggled with all the various theories & doctrines that want to shred it & divide it up as the soldiers did with Christ's belongings under the cross.  It is not possible without irreparable damage & it creates falsity.
The problem with thinking things through for yourself is that you may very possibly end up at the point at which you began but you will not be the same person.  The problem with thinking things through for yourself is that most people don't like it because we all have our own little pet theories or a doctrine we cling too that prevents light from shinning into our dark corners.  The hardest thing is to remain balanced, poised in such away that one is open to the new without falling headlong into heresy.
The problem with thinking things though for yourself, especially if you think out loud in a public domain like a blog, is that you are open to misunderstanding.  How do you account for the leading of the Holy Spirit to someone who's starting point is that all the charismatic gifts ended at Pentecost?  That is not my personal experience.  Nor do I believe that is what scripture teaches.  How do you convey the inaudible voice of God to someone who has not heard it & doubts your testimony.  This was my starting point.  If you are real, God, prove it to me.  It sounds rude, even blasphemeous, but I'm hardly the first to demand proof.  The thing with asking proof from the Living God is that having made me He knows exactly where my weak points are, just where to point the finger, exactly how I think & He deals with that.  There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.    I am an open book before God.
And what God has been at great pains to impress upon me is that scripture is indeed a whole cloth, absolutely consistent from beginning to end.  That I understand this better symbolically than logically is simply a quirk of my nature.  There is no division between Old Testament & New.  There is fulfilment ~ but it is not what the church seems to have been teaching.
I think in pictures.  When Paul speaks of the root supporting the gentiles [Romans11] I absolutely have that picture.  I garden.  I know about grafting.  You can graft anything you like onto your rootstock but the root remains the same & if you lose your grafts the plant reverts to it's original nature.  If you allow it to shoot from below the graft you have an original shoot.  Where the plant draws its nourishment is from the root, from the original plant.
Now this is an important picture for several reasons.  Much of what God wishes to convey to His people He conveys symbolically & if we don't understand we miss the point He wishes to make.  The New Testament does not, cannot, replace what was revealed in the Old Testament "for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable".  God does not change.  The God of Abraham, Jacob & Isaac is  Jesus' God & our God. 
This has important implications for our understanding of scripture because one way or another it has been westernized until it bears little resemblence to the original.  I have reached no definite conclusions but here are some things I am thinking on.
The Law is important.  The Hebraic "Torah" means teaching ~ which carries completly different connotations.  The teaching is about how to live in accordance with God's will.  I can hear people screaming Grace already. Two passages ~ for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. [Philippians 2:13]
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the LORD; I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: [Jeremiah31:33]
What is it that is God's good pleasure?  That we obey Him ~ & where we find the teaching on how to please & obey Him is in scripture ~ all of it!  Grace, through the power of the Holy Spirit, enables us to obey it because the Holy Spirit resides within us & works in us to do that which is not naturally in us to do.  And as grafted roots these scriptures are applicable to us also.  There is no division in the grafted plant once the graft has taken.

Now I am very clear: there is no salvation through works alone.  None at all. The Old alone cannot save. But my desire is to be pleasing to God & my example is Christ.  Pause for thought.  I've said it before, I'll say it again:  Christ was an orthodox, practising Jew.  If Christ, God's only begotten son, God on earth, a prophet & the saviour of the world considered it important enough to obey the Torah, surely I should give it pause for thought.  At the very least.

It is Christ who said:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.   Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.   For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew5:17~20]

The problem is not God's Law; it is what man has added to it creating an impossible burden.  God never gives us more than we can bear ~ & He always gives us a way to deal with things.

It is fascinating to observe that all down the ages the call has gone out: Stand in the paths, seek the good way & you shall find rest...but they would not.  What a shattering observation.

The more I walk in the *Old Paths* the more of Scripture makes sense to me.  I have a greater sense of the flow & continuity of God's purposes from beginning to end.  I can see the whole picture ~ & I'm a whole picture thinker.  And absolutely everything slots into its alloted place, seamlessly, without crease or crinkle.  And what it creates in me is a great sense of awe & amazement.  God had all this in mind, all symbolically unified, a single woven cloth at the very moment He created the heavens & the Earth & declared it, Very Good.  Pretty much a wow moment, don't you think?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Walking into the New Year.

And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get ~ Matthew 6:16
Since September Dino & I have been discussing doing a longer fast together.  Together because we can strengthen & support each other.  Dino will be working so wants to do a partial fast.  Not sure how this will work as I know virtually nothing about the Daniel Fast though I have found a really good blog on the subject ~ only because it's about food I got bored really fast.

I want to do a water & juice fast. Well, actually, I don't want to do it.  Not really but the Holy Spirit is being pretty insistent.  I want the blessing; I don't want to have to work for it. *sigh*

Anyway, I've been going round & round in my head coming up with all the reasons a longer fast is so not a good idea ~ & all the reasons why it is a really, really good idea because I know the first 24 hours are going to be horrible as the caffeine in my system dwindles to nothing but there are things in my life I want to break & there are promises I want to claim. 

We've never done New Year resolutions.  Superstitious nonsence & I know perfectly well every single resolution will get broken sooner rather than later, so why bother beginning?  But this year I want something different.  This year I want to position myself so I can accept the fulness of what God has for me.  I want to begin my year by dedicating myself more fully to the one who died to claim me.  I can sense a growing movement of the Spirit & the massing of oppossing armies in the spiritual realms & I want to be ready.

Very reluctantly I have been trying to psyche myself up for this.  Just thinking about it makes me feel tired. I haven't even begun & I want to quit.

So there I was, the days dwindling away, the hours counting down & yummy food still in my cupboards.  Somebody should hurry up & eat it!  Anyway, I have had an epiphany: The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  It is the flesh that has to die.  Not such a great epiphany.  No except for one thing; I have been made very aware that my flesh is one thing; my spirit is something else entirely.

I have been dreaming ~ not unusual for me.  I dream vividly in technicolour big screen splendour.  Always have.  Dearest has always complained because of the intensity & realism of my dream life.  He's got the blame for a lot of stuff that he knows nothing about while I reel in the aftershock of my dreams.  However this time the dreaming is different.  It does not have that dream~like quality & what I am dreaming about is the proposed fasting.  And here is where it gets interesting because fleshly little me is still squirming looking for the loop~hole that will get me out of this but my spirit is rejoicing.  Exaulting.  Thrilled to bits.  Anticipitatory.  Excited.  Dancing a little spiritual jig inside me.  *sigh*

I didn't have to say anything & no~one would ever know whether I did it or not but if I keep quiet I don't have to be accountable.  This way I am accountable. Water.  Juice.  Broth. I have no idea how I will go because I've never gone quite so long before & I know my weak points will be as I have to get dinner for the rest of my household & I'm tired, grumpy & low on energy.  If you can spare them I covet your prayers.  Yes indeedy. 

Oh, & in case you're wondering, this after months of virtual silence from the Lord so I'm listening up as hard as I can.  The best way I know to sharpen my spiritual hearing is to discipline myself through fasting.  I am such a sloth.  I can really enjoy puddling in the murky spiritual backwaters rather than working out my salvation with fear & trembling.  So donning the armour, girding the loins.  I think I need to mention to the Lord I'm a pacifist ~ only I guess He knows that & has other plans! Oh well.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Direct Hit.

It was the noise Of ancient trees falling while all was still Before the storm, in the long interval Between the gathering clouds and that light breeze Which Germans call the Wind's bride. ~ Charles Godfrey Leland

Our weather has been odd: cold, cold, cold broken by spells of hot mugginess.  Today was hot & muggy.  By lunch time I'd had enough & went to bed.  All the hot Mediterranean countries have it right: the only thing to do on a hot afternoon is go to bed & sleep.  Which I did.

I woke to the pricking storm. My feet hit the floor in alarm because if there is one thing that freaks Kirby out more than anything else it is a Queensland storm.  I was too late.  As I shot down the stairs slamming windows on my way the wind bent the trees over & the rain scythed horizontally  across the bare paddocks in a screaming rage.  Once the storm is under way no amount of calling will bring that terrified cat so I made a coffee & resigned myself to waiting.

 Twenty minutes later an inch of rain had fallen & my yard was a mess.  We kept as many of the big trees as we could but after years of drought the trees are shedding their sails in any sort of a breeze ~ & shed they did.  One took out the minature rose bush that has sheltered the bathroom door for 20 odd years.  Flat as a pancake.  No idea if it can be resurrected.
Most of a tree landed on the moriah under the kitchen window.
 Another branch tried to flatten the Peach tree.  Half of it is still tangled in there.  No idea how I am going to get it out.
Gran lost her big grevillia.  The temperature plummeted from 31C to 19C in a matter of minutes ~ & we were the lucky ones.  Further down the road the branches down are bigger & better ~ whole trees even.  A good part of the island lost its eletricity & several now have flat cars under rather large trees.

For a while there I was worried about Dino but he just beat the storm in & Kirby came slinking home just before the next front came through bringing thunder & lightening & more rain. 

Guess what I'm doing tomorrow?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Checking the Pots: a pictorial review for Liddy.

Huge tides just now.  Still flooding so it probably came up over the lip of the pool.

 Though the regulars still prefer jumping off the jetty roof. Shark bait.

Star looking cool & professional ~ until she actually has to do something. lol Her mother's daughter!
Absolutely beautiful.  A bit rough in the open water.  All my pics from there blurred but warm enough I didn't need a jacket even though I got pretty wet.

 Mending the pots.  Between the sharks & our usual friend there were quite a few holes.
 Baiting up.  Been a few days since some of these were done so pretty stinky.
 Star in her usual perch.  She rides like Jacky up there.  Dino was complaing about the amount of weight in the boat.  Silly him for inviting us all!
 In & out of the mangroves.  Spotted the wake & splash of a small shark.  Had a Sea Eagle riding the thermals overhead.
 Put the pots in close along the passage.  Pretty choppy.

Recognize this?

Exciting times trying to untangle this chappie.

Plenty of boaties around.  Can't think they had a comfortable berth at all but at least the sun is now out.  He didn't get a lot.  Lots of small ones but he'll go out again later.

Enjoy your trip up north.  Have a nice break & get plenty of rest before you're back into everything.

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly.

Only in grammar can you be more than perfect. ~ William Safire

We are not, as some suppose, celebrating the O.T festivals as such.  Rather we are using them as the springboard for the N.T revelations that they are in fact are.  So no, not accurate if you know about Hannukah.  Not a lot of things.  However I had always planned to wind up on Christmas Evening as it is Dearest's birthday Boxing Day & in my mind the last 2 covenants belong together because when Christ returns we see all fulfillment!

And now I can look back at what we did & evaluate it in the light of experience.  Did it work?  Was it what we wanted? Was it worth it?  Will we do it again?  And here is where it gets interesting because I was just following what I felt was a nudge from the Holy Spirit & as we discussed, I am so not the doing sort.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is very weak & by yesterday I'd had enough.  We were all pretty tired because we were on the first boat off the island to get to church at all & as is always the way, if you know about these things, we have been under spiritual attack all week.  The cats were psychotic over having being deserted for the morning & it blew 30~35 knots here yesterday so the water was as rough as. 

By now my big thick candles were starting to look more than a little strange & we have wax everywhere because the yellow candle never did want to stay alight & I had decided not to bother but, undiscussed, Dino went hunting a lighter.  And he did the most amazing thing.  He lit the servant candle first ~ as I have done each evening & began to light the candles from right to left ~ as you are suppossed to.  And as he lit each candle he put them in order & named the covenant they represented.  I was so blown away.  And I am so pleased he lit the candles because it created the most amazing sacred space.  Everyone calmed.  Yep, even the cats.

The candle light created the quiet, meditative space I so love & for the fist time all the candles were shining in the dark, their rainbow colours glowing with the reminder of God's promises.  It was so lovely.  And as we talked of the things of God & how there was so much more that we hadn't covered because a vessel can only hold so much at a time & we had already covered so much Dino pointed out that this was something that would translate well to church ~ as it does because I've done it for home church.  Something else I love about God's festivals because they start with the family & transmute easily & naturally into church & community.

What I now know is I need to be far, far better organised ~ & well in advance so that each day flows smoothly.  This can be as big & over the top or as quiet & laid back as you like.  Star would like more hoop~la & pizzaz.  She's like that.  I need to think far more carefully & prayerfully about ways to give other than material gifts.  Dino has given me several ideas here.  Fried foods [because of the oil symbolism] are traditional & though we did pretty well at having something fried most nights, again I need to plan ahead better.  I think I need some clear plastic folders so I can pull my book apart, put each festival with the relevant games, food, ideas & menus into it & work from there.  This could be a life's work!

We also found certain difficulties arose from being out of step with the surrounding culture.  Dino, of course, was still working & we had to accomodate his schedule.  We still had to battle the shops just for our regular food supplies.  We had to hold our tongues a lot as we got plenty of raised eyebrows when we got caught having to explain we'd already done our presents ~ & I was so trying not to have to explain to outsiders what we were doing.  It can so quickly & easily be miunderstood.

What has happened however, is that while it wasn't perfect & while it felt a little strange at times, as Dino ponted out there was so much more meaning to everything!  Dearest was delighted in the end.  He definitely wants to do it this way again ~ as does Dino.  A little more pizzaz & I think even Star will be happy.  She does so love a good fuss!

What is most important to me though is how the Holy Spirit took even such a poor offering & worked with what we could do, anointing & blessing it with the unction of His spirit.  I might have missed it except for a niece of mine who promptly posted what Santa had left for her under the tree Christmas morning.  We were so not there & I am so grateful to be able to help my children celebrate in a way that will bless them in unknown ways for years to come.  It is the sort of legacy that no amount of money can buy, the pearl of great price for which a man sells everything he has.  So, yes, worth every moment.

Days 7 & 8

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Colour: violet

Considering: The first of the promises yet to be fulfilled

                      : The covenant of Peace; the New Jerusalem

                     : The Kingdom of Light

Colour: White                 

Considering: the marriage covenant of the lamb.

                     : God, the light of heaven.

                     : The fulfillment of all things.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dreamer of Dreams.

"But within me the unicorn still remains, a formless shadow in the spaces of my mind." ~ Josephine Bradley

The visionaries in my family marry practical sorts. The practical sorts confuddle me but they have a knack of making dreams a reality.

In my family I am the dreamer.  I am not much interested in reality ~ which is messy & not nearly so pliable as a good imagination.  Which is why I sometimes wonder just what I'm doing in this particular family.

I said to Dearest [to Dearest said I], "I am thinking of doing things a little differently this year & not having Christmas as such..."  because Dearest has never liked Christmas, as you tend not to when your birthday falls on Boxing Day & the world is so over the whole shennanigans nobody is interested in your own particular special day.

And Dearest said, or words to this effect, "Whatever rocks your boat, m'dear." 

I ran it past Dino & got a similar unhelpful response.  What do you do with, "Whatever."?  Star at least had decided opinions but got outvoted.

By inclination & training I am a teacher.  I'm a writer.  I'm a Dreamer.  I am so not detail oriented I can forget important details as irrelevant.  Making something actually happen is not my forte.  I will talk about it till the cows come home.  I will dream about it ad infinitum. I can speculate with the best of them but ask me to actually do something & I get all...well, confuddled.  How does one actually make something happen?

Makes you wonder how I got this far through life, doesn't it.

So changing anything round here entails angst. Lots & lots of angst.  So it has been with our celebrations this year.  My inclination is to teach about~ rather than to do.  The doing comes hard.  Getting my act together to prepare things night after night is almost more than I can manage, not because it is difficult or stressful; it is not, but simply because I have to, well, do something!  Honestly, what a circus.

I seriously wish the practical sorts would run with my dreams & make it all happen ~ but, No.  Even me putting things together so it looks like the men are leading some of the time does not get the men in my life up & moving because in this house I am known as the *Walking Encyclopedia.*  Want to know something no~one ever looks it up.  They ask me first.  And night after night my family has sat round like stuffed fish while we run through the shorter than short program until I thankfully let the conversation roam where it will & I have been thinking what an enormous flop the whole thing has been & wish that I could crawl into my imaginary world & reinvent myself yet again.

One never knows what goes on in another's mind.  Having screwed day 4 right royally I was about ready to pack the whole thing in when Dino turned to me & said, "Well, it will be better next year, now we know what we're doing & we have a whole year to think about it.  It will just continue to grow."  He wants to do this again!

And Dino, my Dino, has had the best insight yet because Day 4, he thought blessing someone else meant the prayer you would pray for them for the following year & he had lovely blessings!  Such a good idea.  I wish I'd thought of it first.  See what I mean?  *sigh*

Then last night, we had a break because Star & I had to spend the day on the mainland to do our regular fruit & veg shop with the milling hordes of Christmas shoppers & I let Star drive....& Dino couldn't be home last night because of work commitments so we will do 2 tonight because he didn't want to be left out....So Dearest turns to me & says how lovely it's been this year & he likes how our special times have been spread out over the week.  He likes how we have had scripture every evening & a time to chat together  ~ not that talking is unusual in this house but getting us all together is not always easy.  He likes the way the emphasis has shifted to focus so much more on Christ.  Well.  I guess I'm gob~smacked.

The jury is still out so far as Star is concerned but being Star she won't say & so long as she gets her Christmas pancakes Christmas Day morning she won't care too much.

Me, I have so much in my head I can't hold it all.  Starting with the fact that when God teaches us He feeds us with something to look at [candles ~ Christ the light of the World], something to eat [fried foods are traditional; oil reminds us of the mirical in the temple, the oil of the Spirit, Christ with us]; something to hear [Scripture ~ & I guess we could do music if I'm better organised next year.] & something to do

And I am blessed by my family who are always willing to travel my dreams with me.

Day 6

Still ours the dance, the feast, the glorious Psalm, The mystic lights of emblem, and the Word. ~ Emma Lazarus
Colour: Indigo

Considering: the covenant of redemption

                  :the meaning of the passover cup & bread

                  :  Jesus, the light of the world, to whom all scriptures point & for whom & by whom the Holy Spirit is given that we might be led into all truth.

Day 5

A candle is a small thing.

But one candle can light another.

And see how its own light increases,

as a candle gives its flame to the other.

You are such a light. ~

Moshe Davis and Victor Ratner

Colour: Blue

Considering: The covenant with David

                  : the Star of David

                  : A man after God's own heart & the perfect man. 

                  :God's word as a lamp for my feet & a light to my path

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 4.

 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43~45
Colour: Green

Considering: the 4th covenant, the covenant with Moses

                     :The *Servant Candle*

                      : Temple symbolism; God with us; We, the temple for the Holy Spirit; dedicating the temple for the purposes of God.

This is about our half~way point so this is the night our focus shifts again from recieving gifts to thinking of different ways in which we can bless the others in our lives.  Always a good thing to remember to bless those who so bless us each day.   And the symbolism is already in place!  The servant candle lights all the others, as Christ lights His Own.  As we recieve, so we are to give.

Day 3.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season. 2nd Blessing of the candles
Colour: yellow

Considering: The 3rd Covenant ~ Abram's covenant.

                     :  The Light of the Torah.

                     : Christ, the fulfillment of the law.

Dino shared that he was wondering all day what the 3rd covenant would be.  Now he knows!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In other news...

The proper response, as Hanukkah teaches, is not to curse the darkness but to light a candle. ~ Irving GreenbergWhile those of you who celebrate Christmas are still busily preparing we are already part way through our celebrations.

Does it feel weird?

Sort of ~ but not as much as you might expect.  What I have noticed is how much even such a small shift has made a big shift in our focus.  It is far less fraught making because our emphasis is on the right things. Mostly.  I think. Sort of.

Let me explain.  Yesterday Dearest had a late dental appointment.  Knowing I was the driver I had planned a simple meal of soup & toasted sandwiches & Star made chocolate pudding for desert. There were orange sweets set out in a bowl. The gifts were pre~wrapped.  The candles are staying out.  I marked our bible passages for the men to read & we were done.  I have multiple nights for doing a variety of different things so one quieter night does not affect the overall whole badly. 

What have I noticed?  My kids are really engaging.  Dino is older of course but even Star, who is at that reluctant stage, is joinging in & enjoying it ~ & she has been most adamant that we not ditch Christmas.  The cats have joined in.  Julie has Hallelujah Hounds ~ we have Christian Cats.  Seriously.  Both cats park themselves in the midst of the doings, ears pricked, all attentive cattiness until we are done.  Then they suddenly disappear.

What are we learning?  What a question!  I forget, often, what a lot of strangeness I hold in my head & can take it for granted that my children also know all about these things.  They do not.  Not even close.  I think this is the first time we have systamatically gone through the biblical covenants.  What an eye~opener for the kids as they follow God's promises through from beginning to end! Personally I have a sense of expectation building because I know what is to come & by the 6th covenant you are at that point where you know 6 promises have been fulfilled, 2 are yet to come ~ & that is seriously exciting, folks!

Why?  So many reasons.  Partly our family is dispersed all over the world: Liddy is in Chile; Theo is up North; Jossie is in Europe.   Partly the Lord & I had a discussion about some of this several years ago because what is there to say about Christmas that hasn't been said ad nausaeum?  And the Lord showed me something I have never forgotten ~ as you don't when it is the Lord doing the telling.  Christmas is not about babies, angels, shephards, wise men.  It is about the cross.  The sole reason & purpose for Christ coming into the world was that He might journey towards the cross.  And ever since I have found the trivialisation of Christmas difficult to bear.  Do you know, have you studied, what it was like to be crucified?  Read a medical diagnosis sometime.  It is horrifying.  Completely & utterly apalling.

Is it right?  For us, yes.  Each day we have come under spiritual attack ~ & each day God's grace has been extended because there is a blessing attached to walking in the old paths.   There is a fulfillment of the promise Christ brings as the New Coventant merges with the Old & with it the peace that passeth understanding.

Day 2.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. ~Psalm 8

Colour: Orange

Considering: "Let there be light."

                     : the 2nd Covenant [Genesis 9:9~16] BTW I have always found this an intriguing passage because it implies there is a judgement of the animals.  Go on!  Read it & see!

                     :The rainbow menorah candles.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day One...

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John8:12

Colour: Red

Considering: The miracle of the temple oil, a story Jesus would have known

                  : The 1st covenant

                  : Christ, the light of the world.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Ghost of Christmas Past.

"Lead on!" said Scrooge. "Lead on! The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit!" ~ A Christms Carol.

I was a gullible child.  I believed it all: tooth fairies; fairies of all types & sizes; Santa Claus; Rudolph's nose; flying reindeer; other, parallel worlds.  Nothing was too strange or far~fetched for my belief.

My mother has a knack for truly making things around her beautiful & so our house was always decorated for the season.  She spent hours handcrafting decorations, creating nibbles & making the pudding ~ which though I never ate it I always stirred for luck while holding my nose against its fruity richness.

My family are Queenslanders through & through.  We lived in Sydney, on the wrong side of the border.  There was no extended family for Christmas ~ ever.  My father, a pilot, was invariably working Christmas Day & my mother refused to let us so much as peek at anything until he arrived home.  Christmas Day was often very delayed in our house.

My mother is a list maker, a woman of routine & predictability.  No matter the levels of excitment there was order & things were done in a calm & seemly manner ~ starting with breakfast.  Then we almost invariably headed off to early church. Everyone else always seemed to have been up for hours & opened all their presents already.  We were still in a pother of anticipation, the stockings stuffed & sitting under the tree, wonderful & tantilizing boxes scatterd unopened.  Delayed gratification.  It is an important lesson to learn.

Even when my father arrived home we had to wait while he changed out of his uniform, poured himself a glass of Christmas Cheer & prepared to play Santa Claus because we were never ever allowed to dive at the pile of presents searching for our things & rip, tear, bust through everything.  Things were handed out one at a time.  We each got to see & admire each others gifts & share in their excitment.  It was prolonged & orderly.  A good thing because we were not a particularly well off family when I was little.  Comfortable, but not rolling.

Our Christmas tree was a live minature pine.  For 11 months of the year it grew in a pot beside the front door.  The week before Christmas it was dragged indoors & strewn with lights & baubles & tinsle streamers.  Stockings were pegged to the pot's rim.  The Nativity scene came out.  The days grew hot & languid.  School let out.  The anticipation mounted.  I remember.

I am not my mother.  Organisation is not my forte.  I do not cope well with hordes of demented children screaming through my house.  We always, always, kept Christmas low key.  Ours have never been allowed to just get up & rip into things.  They have been made to wait until everyone is up.  Star has had it worst.  By the time she came along the rest were of an age to appreciate sleep more than presents! We have gone to church, read scriptures, eaten a nice meal, shared some treats, remembered the whole reason for Christmas was the Cross.

I no longer believe in flying reindeer.  Rudolph's nose does not glow *like a lightbulb*.  Male reindeer lose their antlers in autumn so all Santa's reindeer must have been female   ~ & though some wit has remarked we should have known that 'cause only women could manage an around the world trip delivering presents in one night!  The logistics, the logistics...., female reindeer aren't designed for pulling sleighs. Christ was not born on December 25th.

The world has turned.  Christmas has become so commercialised it is almost unrecognizable as the celebration of my childhood. I hear far more about how much the big shops have made in profit than I do about the King of Kings & Lord of Lords. Christianity has lost followers at an alarming rate.  Disbelief & scepticism rule the day.  The grog is coming over by the truckload.  So very quietly, one step at a time, we are retreating from the worldly rush & babble, from the desperate consummerism, & recentering ourselves.

There are things that are important to us as a family that we wish to address more deeply. So while I know Hannukah has been & gone this year I have taken some Jewish wisdom.  There is nothing wrong with celebrating per se. I do have issues with all the pagan elements  but that's me.  We are not calling it Chritmas ~ where is the mass in Christmas? I am not putting up a tree or doing cards.   We are not doing anything except attend church & have a nice meal on the day itself but all this week we are focusing on the Light coming into the world.  We are giving gifts, small necessary things ~ one for each person each night.  We are doing the coloured candles & the coloured candy.  We are preparing because Dino & I want to start the new year with a 21 day fast & there is no way that will happen easily if we have been absolute gluttons over Christmas. So...

I am being intentional in my celebrations this year.  It is hard.  I am not an intentional person.  I tend to wing it.  With the rest of the world going crazy we are trying to remain sober & restrained.  And we plan on having a jolly good time while we do it!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Catty Tales.

Never play cat & mouse games if you're a mouse. ~ Don Addis

They're worse than children!  Seriously.  I think I own the most demented cats around ~ which is saying something because cats, on the whole, display a wide range of completely neurotic behaviours in their efforts to manipulate the world around them.

 Marlow & Kirby, like the other set of twins I own, are either in a love or hate relationship with each other.  There is no middle ground.  Most nights they will happily sleep tail to tail.  Dearest, who often sleeps badly, informs me they stand guard over me all night long & visit me to reassure themselves I am sleeping well.  As they don't disturb me I cannot verify this rather strange tale.  What I do know is I woke the other night to find Kirby dying by degrees because Marlow was in a bait & had his jaws firmly clamped round his brother's jugular!  I gave him a mighty swat whereupon I got the highly injured look that plainly asks: What have I done?
Each night I clamber awkwardly up our stairs grasping my large armful of cat because if I do the sensible thing & carry them up separately there is an all out war over the favouritism of who got in first.  Meanwhile, as bedtime approaches, both cats start circling my computer chair waiting for the first indications that there is movement bedroomwise. And no, they will not walk upstairs on their own at bedtime.  They expect to be petted, coddled & carried & if I don't a great wailing ensures that is guarrenteed to wake the sleepers & have the workers roaring to shut those animals up! So yes, they are very indulged.

Kirby, however, decided to go one better.  Instead of bringing himself downstairs in the mornings he perched on the drawers & cried until I came & got him.  Of course he made this a perfectly acceptable behaviour by greeting my arrival with lavish delight, stretching himself up along my chest, wrapping his forepaws around my neck, & burrowing in with huge rumbling purrs.  Who could resist?
 Marlow one~upped him by refusing to get out of bed at all, ensuring a steady stream of visitors anxious about his well~being & prepared to chuck him under the chin.  Both cats are very high strung & though they are pretty relaxed it doesn't take much to spook them so alerted by Marlow's pricked ears & alert attentiveness I investigated.
I swear, it's not just the cats.  Everything that lives round here is looney~tunes!  This was playing with Kirby.  Yes, I said playing.  He wasn't in the least afraid of Kirby, as he most certainly should have been, & when I arrived on the scene to remove my cat he came out to investigate me, nose twitching curiously, bright eyes regarding me with decided interest ~ & he hung around while I got the camera & took pictures. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Episode of Mishaps.

Standing there, staring at the long shelves crammed with books, I felt myself relax and was suddenly at peace ~ Helene Hanff.

Twice a year, or thereabouts, we go into the big Christian bookstore, Koorong, & spend waaay too much money. To date, Liddy has been the driver.  This is not good news for directionally dysfunctionals like Star & I because when we want to go by ourselves it is never straightforward.  Having discussed the issue with my Star we decided the outer suburb one was a better option than the inner city one because  there was less traffic, the parking was easier & Star could driveOh, & Star said she thought she knew where this one was!

There are no prizes for guessing she did not have a clue.  We crossed the highway heading the wrong way in to town.  We crossed the highway heading the wrong way down to the Gold Coast.  We crossed the highway....all I can say is Star's driving hours increased dramatically!!!!  We crossed the highway so many times we needed to find fuel.

Having discovered on the boat that thanks to Dearest distracting me at the critical moment I had left my card at home we were down to Star's & Star, naturally, had no idea if she could even remember her pin!  While she went to find out I investigated the catalogue for an address & the refedex for directions.  She'd actually been pretty close but having come through on a different road to the one she knew, had become disoriented.

Star being Star put fuel in the car [ a process which required me standing beside her for moral support because she'd never done this before!  How hard can it be to put fuel in a car?] & chocolate in us.  By then we needed it.

However we did eventually find Koorong, which is good for mainstream stuff ~ not so good if you want something even a little unusual.  Just the same God is invariably very good to me.  I had bookmarked something for Dino, who is even more computer illiterate than I am, & which he hadn't got round to watching ~ & there it was, in book form, for under $10~. Score!  I wandered happily until Star made it really plain she was bored witless then gathered up our goodies to do battle with the checkout where we have a discount on at least one person's details but weren't sure if any of us had changed those to the new ones.  No, we have never claimed to be the well organised sort.

We then headed back to our regular stomping grounds so Star could make her purchases ~ an exercise that always leaves me reeling & exhausted, especially when said purchases involve me.  I adore my daughter but she has decided my rather unispired dressing style needs to change.  Considering my figue in a full length mirror does nothing for my ego & is an exercise I usually manage to avoid by the simple process of sticking to Ts & trackies, 2 articles of clothing I know my size for & can buy off the rack in the plainest styles & colours.  This does not suit my flibberty~gibbit daughter who promptly chose something long, flowing & flowery.  Um, no.  I have tactile issues about bits of me touching other bits of me.  Eventually she chose a rather nice top ~ with accessories!  OK, so I do do dangly ear~rings  & a couple of plain rings but I rarely wear any other jewellery.  Tactile issues again.  I can get fraught very quickly by things touching my skin. *sigh*  The things I do for love.

We got home only to immediately head out the door again for the island carol night.  This is one activity Star absolutely adores & insists on attending no matter how difficult & fraught making it is to achieve.  She says it is the only performance where she gets to be in the audience ~ which is sorta true.  It is totally for fun & as we are invariably running late we invariably end up in front row seats where the Singers, who all know Star very well indeed, target her as their audience responder.  Nothing loathe Star plays along!

We had a great crowd ~ the best in years.  It wasn't too hot & Star & I always head towards the alto section where Star's cracking voice is not so noticable & I have some hope of hitting some of the notes some of the time!   All the hours & hours of sitting in singing classes is paying off in the strangest ways.  I've known most of these voices for years.  Now I am hearing quite clearly strengths & faults & the ravages of age ~ & for a good part of the programme [& lets face it most carols are not musically difficult] was able to hold an alto part against the high soprano on my right!  My friend, Sian, had a solo & whatever she has done this last year her voice has improved out of sight!  The timbre, the richness, the control ~ just amazing!  Lovely to listen to.

So just feeling my way throught this season because one of the things of course is that if we want everybody to be able to participate in something we have to take into account their schedule & everybody's schedule is geared around Christmas.  Still, the Lord has given me one or two ideas & Christmas being on a Sunday this year makes things so much easier. To really plan out what I would like to do requires not running like a mad woman all through September.  And October.  And November.  And all of December.  Which is unlikely in the short term.  But one day it will happen.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

God is a Homeschooler.

We remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we see & hear, 70% of what we discuss with others, 80% of what we personally experience & 95% of what we teach others.~  Edgar Dale.
As I read round about I keep returning to one thing ~ well, one thing for the present!  Maybe it's because I'm a homeschooler.  Maybe I'm just that way.  Whatever. 

 If you've ever struggled to remove the blank stare from a child's eyes that tells you they just don't get it then you get that teaching is not always a joy~filled experience.  On the other hand there is nothing quite like watching the light break & understanding flood a child's mind!  The trick is to make it happen!

I mean, one of the biggest hurdles for us as homeschoolers as Star has got older is dealing with the department of education mentality that says everything needs to be written down.  Why?  Star is then working in her weakest learning style ~ & we know all about learning styles in this house because none of mine learn well in traditional ways!  Being a visual myself I don't do so well with the kinesthetics & hands on learners ~ which is what most of mine are.  They are exhausting.

And then I started researching about the Jewish festivals & you know what?  God is a homeschooler!  Seriously.  We've all been here, right?  Four kids, four different learning styles & we're struggling to pull a lesson plan together that isn't going to take more than it's alloted hour & which all four children will *get*.  Near impossible even with hours upon hours of ground work.  Someone is going to whinge about something the entire way through. 

Every time I study the festivals I am struck anew by this.  There is something for the eyes [visual learner], something for the ears [auditory learner], something to do [hands on learner] & enough movement to keep a kinesthetic engaged.   What's more [despite the disputed reliability of Dale's figures] all the festivals encourage both discussion & teaching.  Think how the very youngest at a Jewish Passover asks the important questions.

This struck me again as we struggle to move our family away from the traditional Christmas thing because I can hamstring myself all over the place.  I want to keep it simple a la my Quakerish impulses.  I want to move it to the left & closer to our shared Jewish roots.  I understand God is for lavish celebrations ~ according to His guidelines.  I want to ensure the focus our family maintains is Christ centred.  Seem obvious?  Amazing how unlikely this is even in Christian homes when there is all the excitement of a tree & presents.

I have used this book for purely practical purposes.  It is full of wonderful food, games, bible readings, music etc for each of the feasts but I find it quite difficult to use.  Nothing seems to be organised in the sort of way I organise things & all the various bits seem to be all over the place.  It is a really large heavy book too.  As mine are older now a lot of the consumables are not for us ~ though later perhaps for grandchildren?  Also I find it incredibly verbose when there is no need to be & weighted with solemnity; I'm not a very solemn person so that tends to have me rolling my eyes rather like Star & stifling a yawn of boredom but at the time it was the best & most detailed information I could find & I still appreciate it for that.

This is the other book I have found really helpful.  It is not about the festivals per se & I discussed the book here but I buy books that I can read multiple times on multiple levels & Perry is a man after my own hearrt.  He goes beyond the surface.  He digs deep.  And he understands something that has come to mean a great deal to me:  Jesus was an orthodox, practising Jew.  As I seek to follow Him more closely I want to understand & appreciate what He understood & appreciated during His earthly walk & that includes the festivals; The Jewish festivals.  Christ never celebrated Christmas.  Or Easter.  These are foreign concepts, man~made imports that have rather succesfully obscured our roots & the things God Himself implemented to teach us how to succesfully walk in His way.

I do get that very few seem to be getting called this way but if you refer to the quote above you will realise we retain 95% of what we teach others.  So, um, yeah, you're just my way of ensuring I remember what I read! lol

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The idea of cultural relativism is nothing but an excuse to violate human rights. ~Shirin Ebadi

This is a household of strong opinions.  Ever notice?  Just the same this is the scariest thing I have read in a long time.  We have so lost our way if our children can no longer distinguise right from wrong. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday's trivia.

Hey diddle, diddle, right in the middle!

I like my history raunchy ~ & I do not like politics!  History as she is all too often taught is the history of politics & events ~ & why should any of us care about any of it?  BUT, when history is the history of people rather than things all that changes.  Which is why I am enjoying Ranulph Fiennes Mad Dogs & Englishmen so very much.

It is, first & foremost, a family history but when you can number amongst your ancestors a murderer, a wife poisoner, a poacher, England's greatest female traveller of the 17th century,  an extortionist Lord High Treasurer, teen cousins who eloped, a noble  lord who was hanged for manslaughter,&  another who was hanged for adultery with the King's wife, plus many who won famous battles as well as the women who spawned half the medieval Kings of England, well history is likely to mean something different than  to the rest of us poor plebs.  My lot tended to be the lot the English were stomping on.

So what have I learnt?  Well, the politics of the times have fallen nicely into the realm of a major family squabble that got rather out of hand.  The stakes rise when you can lose your head for being born in the wrong family at the wrong time!  The Wars of the Roses finally makes sense.  The whole caboodle is only what you could expect of a lot descended from William the Conqueror, who was quite the nastiest piece of work to ever sit on the English throne.  Look up what happened at his burial some time.  Way too gross to write here!

Anyway....Edward the 3rd.  And we do remember from our history, don't we girls, that the longbow was attribued to England's military success during the medievial period?  Star & I were doing archery for a bit.  Those fancy leather bits on their forearems?  They're there for a reason! A bowstring pinging you there leaves the most glorious bruise!  Edward paid his archers 6pence a day.  Remember when you could buy an icecream for sixpence?  Most of his archers came from Wales.  Or Cheshire.  Or somewhere else where the inhabitants were considered expendable.  And they practised from an early age.  The government went so far as to pass laws expressly forebidding other sports such as cockfighting & football because it distracted people from archery practise.  However all this practise resulted in deformed people who could fire as far as 400 yards fairly accurately at the rate of an arrow every 5 seconds.  That's 6 times quicker than a crossbow.  You were all just dying to know that, weren't you?!

Then there's Henry the V & VI with Fiennes not only dabbling in the real history but scampering through Shakespheare as well.  And at this point, thanks to a succesion of kings who thought they should own France as well, & the internal politics of a nation that was never adverse to lopping of the heads of its kings, 5% of the King's army consisted of murderers & outlaws redeeming themselves through military service.  Seems like a good idea to me.  Three quarters of the army at this stage consisted of archers ~ who were mostly professionals.  If you had to fight being an archer was the thing.  The Irish were your cannon fodder regular foot~soldiers & fought barefoot with only a dagger while a knight, who mostly did not fight mounted, might be better protected by his armour but was disadvantaged by the simple fact that if he fell over it required 2 men to lift him up again & he was so incapable of movement once fully armed he was likely to drown in a puddle.  Tales abound too of knights suffocating, unharmed in any other way,  having been unlucky enough to land at the bottom of a pile of fallen comrades!

I'm still reading & giggling.  All history should be taught like this.  And yes, technically it is Wednesday in Australia but Blogger says otherwise & I was otherwise occupied yesterday!
Nine out of 10 Quakers can still find consensus that there’s nothing better than a group of Friends gathered together and breaking spontaneously into silence. Just don’t try taking this door-to-door like caroling. ~ Rob Pierson

There is a tendencey amongst those of us who are conflicted about Christmas to take ourselves over seriously so I was delighted when Pen passed this one on via Facebook.  Don't you just love the internet!  The top 10 ways Quakers, who did not celebrate Christmas [or Easter, just as they don't do a lot of the things today's church still does], got to celebrate this particular day.

You can read the whole article here.  It explains why the rest happened. So here goes!

1. Slaughter hogs.  Yep.  Dis~gusting!

2. Sell things.

3. Repair windows.

4. Accumulate debt.

5. Employ seasonal workers

6. Get arrested

7. Avoid frolic

8.Go Green.

9. Sit & Wait.

10. Celebrate Christ.

I particularly like 9 & 10. Rob Pierson is the author of this rather timely piece.  It is still what happens when Christians, for whatever reasons, go against the flow.  Plenty to think about.  Why do we so persecute each other?