A Busy Day With A Productive Lunch Break

I’m pleased to say that I made it to work today.  I made it with five minutes to spare.  Not that I slept that well last night.  I was too worried that I wouldn’t wake up this morning.  But I did and that’s the main thing and I can have an early-ish night tonight.  It’s not too late yet.

As Scott did remind me last week – Graham was on to prepare the Bible devotions for before prayer time this week.  But strangely enough, Graham forgot.  We were all a little confused and figured the roster was wrong because Graham has a phenomenal memory.  Forget megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes, nanobytes and so forth when you get to this Graham’s level you’re talking elephant-bytes.

Anyway – showing the sheer proportion of his memory capacity he opened up his Bible to the Lords’ Prayer and the words about prayer that Jesus spoke before it and he read the words from Matthew 6:5-15.  From here he worked with us to draw out the ‘big themes’ that Jesus taught us to focus on as we pray –

  • About approaching God in humility
  • About spending time alone in prayers
  • About recognising God’s great holiness
  • Recognising God as the Ruler of everything whose ways ought be honoured in all heaven and all the earth
  • Asking for what is needed to sustain us
  • Seeking forgiveness and forgiving
  • Preservation from temptation
  • & deliverance from Satan

there was debate about whether the last two should be listed together or separately, but in the end we decided that sometimes – scripture says we are tempted by our own sinful desires and other times deceived by Satan – therefore we separated them.  After talking about how we could do these more in prayer we spent time praying about praying before turning again to pray for each other and our colleagues.

We also decided that from next week we would start a series of studies on the slab of the Bible that Graham started us off with.  He has a good book that we can use, so we agreed and he’s volunteered to take the studies with us if anyone wants help preparing.  Sounds good.

Gina was weird today.  Kind of preoccupied.  And really fidgety this afternoon.  I was having enough concentrating because I was so tired without her fussing all over the place all afternoon.  I spent most of the afternoon in prayer that I wouldn’t lose my patience.  I finished up being really glad when it was time to go.

“So I’ll see you at about 5.30, 6ish?” I asked her.  Gina usually comes for her Cello lesson straight from work and we start at about 6 then she stays for dinner afterwards these days.

“Huh?”

“Are you planning to come for your lesson as usual?”

“Oh! It’s Monday! I forgot.” And she looks like she has.  Gina really has been distracted today.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah.  Yeah, I’m fine.  I’ve just had a few things on my mind the last few days.  I won’t be there til about 6.30 is that okay?  I’ve got to go home and get the Cello.”

“Sure.”

So it was never going to be an early night tonight.

As it turned out in some ways I wish Gina hadn’t bothered coming to her lesson.  Her mind was obviously somewhere else.  She was everywhere but where she was supposed to be tonight.  She spent dinner apologising – so it wasn’t much of a chat time – especially given that I was too tired to contribute much to the conversation.  Or to leave my filter on.

I told her that I was thinking about getting my hair ‘done’ sometime soon in a silent patch to relieve the sound of the buzzing fly in the next room.  She’s been hinting at me doing it for a while now so she bit.  I’m not going to hear the end of this now until its done.  Good thing I really am planning to do it… perhaps …

I am so tired.  Please, Lord, let me sleep.  And let me wake and get to work tomorrow.

Amen

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A Sunday’s Collection

What a day!

I had a phone call this morning from Scotland…. at about 4am!!!

Kylie was homesick.

Tomorrow is  her grandmother’s 60th wedding anniversary and her family will all be celebrating today.  She organised a nice surprise for her Nan through her sister and her step-brother is taking his laptop and whatever gear he needs to Skype later this morning, but it’s not like being there.  She and her Nan are close.  It was her Nan that introduced her to Jesus when she was only little.  Her Nan is so proud of her work in Scotland with the Churches over there – but I know she will be missing Kylie today too.

Just imagine.  Sixty years of being married.  I’d have to be live til a ripe old age to get there now.  I’d probably forget half of it.  What a dud.  Oh well – at least I’m not pining away now like a sad sack… most of the time anyway.  Pity about the handsome rogue that missed out on me, though.  Hmmm, if he gets his act together in the next couple of years and stops by I might condescend to get hitched so that I can celebrate forgetting half our marriage when we reach 60 years.  I think I’ll go for a younger man though.  They used to say that women lived about 7 yrs longer than men, so perhaps I should start looking at the guys about 7 years younger than me – that way I wouldn’t end up a lone widow.

Anyway, after spending time talking to Kylie, I just couldn’t get back to sleep so I got up again and dug out my sewing gear.  I’ve had patterns and fabric to make a princess dress for Emily and a fairy outfit for Jasmine.  I washed the material almost as soon as I bought it, but I’ve done nothing with it since.  This morning I cut out the patterns for both outfits and started on the fairy suit.  I’m so excited.  I can’t wait to finish it.  I think I was working right up til lunch time and would probably have kept going if Karen hadn’t appeared at my door.

Jazzy is sooo going to love this outfit.  Paul will have fits because she will want to wear it to places that he won’t think are suitable – but hey – how long are you seven for, right?

Where was I up to? Karen.  Yeah.  Right.

I was just finishing this seem and Karen knocks at my door.

Now I’m really stumped.  Karen NEVER comes to visit me.  I’ve often wondered if she even really likes me.  Like maybe she thinks I’m some kind of hypochondriac because of the Depression or something … anyway – there she is.  So I invite her in with my best manners, like she does when I visit her.  I offer her a cuppa, like she does when I visit her.  And we sit down in the lounge like we do when I visit her.  Now I’m not sure what to do next or what she expects – because I’m not her and I’m just thinking “wait a minute, just be yourself” when she bursts into tears.

Aack!

Karen doesn’t cry.

Karen doesn’t show emotion.

Help!!!

“Karen, what is it? Is there anything I can do?”

She just keeps crying.  Her tissue is fast getting shredded so I go and get my friendly box of Kleenex that I keep handy for visitors.  I seem to get lots of visitors who cry.  I think people think it’s more acceptable and less humiliating to cry in front of someone who gets officially depressed than in front of other people.  Karen thanks me and takes another tissue.

Eventually the tears slow down and she can talk.

“I’m sorry.” First thing everybody says after they’ve cried in front of anybody.  She takes a deep breath.  “I just don’t know what to do.  It’s Joel.  He’s become really ridiculous about this whole Christianity thing.  Hamish has been really good – but Joel has been at him like a …. a … a ”

“Like a Joel.  I remember what he can be like, Karen.  What’s he been doing?”

“He keeps telling asking him if he’s been talking to Jonah.  He’s been ringing the school.  He is insisting that they make sure that he doesn’t go to religious education or spend time with the children that they know have religious beliefs – which is  utterly  ridiculous and he knows it; he’s even taken to searching Hamish’s room to make sure that he hasn’t got any Bibles or religious books hidden.  He’s ridiculous.  Poor Hamish is putting up with it really patiently – which I must say surprises me because, you know, temperament-wise they have always been cut from the same cloth.  He bites his tongue, he answers politely when I want to shout at Joel.  I don’t know why Joel can’t believe him.  I do.  And I don’t know why Joel can’t see that he’s not going to shift what our son believes like he’s trying to.  Anybody can see that he’s really convinced that its true.”

Go Hamish.  You champion.  God is faithful and holds those who cling to him in the palm of his hand … he even hangs on to ones who flail.  You keep on standing in the face of opposition and be godly.  To hear that his mother is seeing changes in him already is awesome.

“This is Joel we’re talking about, here Karen.  You and I both love him – but we both know that he does absolutely nothing by halves.”

She sighs.

“But this.  This is different.  He has gone beyond reason with this.  You should see him, Alciana.  It truly is like watching him turn into a different man when he gets going.”

I sit with her in silence for a few moments and just listen.

“Alciana?”

“Yes.”

“I need you to explain something to me.”

My heart starts to beat faster.

“What do you want explained, Karen?”

“I need to know what exactly is this “gospel” that my son has taken hold of so strongly.  I need to know what my son believes and why he is holding on to it so strongly.”

My heart is in my mouth and I have tears rising towards my eyes.

“That is something that I would be glad to do for you, Karen.”

And I gulped down a huge mouthful of cold tea.

And so it was that this afternoon I got to share the gospel with Karen.  I told her what Hamish believed.  How did I do it?  I took her through a simple explanation using the 2 Ways to Live drawings and verses.

“And that’s it?” she asked.  “That’s what’s changed my son?”

“That’s what’s transformed your son.”

“But why is Joel making such a big fuss about this?  Anyone would think Hamish had joint some wild cult or something.”

“I’m not sure, Karen.  He wasn’t always, but he hasn’t been reasonable about it for so long now I can’t remember when it started.  He won’t talk to me about it.  Paul might know more.  Maybe Mum or Dad.”

“Your parents couldn’t tell me anything useful.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Do?  I don’t know.  I’d like to understand it more.  Do you think you’d be willing to show me some more about this stuff some time?  I mean, we’d need to be careful.  I don’t want Joel to know.  And I don’t want Hamish to either – he might think I’m taking sides or something, you know?”

“They don’t have to know, Karen.  You just come around when it’s a good time for you and we can talk some more.”

I am praying here at the same time that I look something like casual – because right now I am feeling like I want to take off tap dancing around the room and singing at the top of my voice.

Karen lights up.  Note – I have never ever seen Karen light up.  Maybe we have just made contact, Lord.  Please touch her heart and draw her to you.  Karen always seems like she never really trusts anyone.  Help her to trust you.  Grant her faith.

Anyway, then she asks me about what I was doing when she arrived (like a good visitor), so I got to show her what I was working on for the girls.  We had a good laugh about the idea of Jazz as a fairy and picturing Paul laundering fairy clothes.  Mind you he already does little dresses and cleans little school shoes and all sorts of little girly things.  It’s kind of sweet really.  Lisa would have loved seeing him doing these things.

I miss Lisa.

Anyway, tonight’s Church held yet another surprise.  Carlos and Megan have decided to make our church their home Church for the next while.  This was a big surprise, but apparently after talking to the doctors this week they have taken leave of absence from everything but Carlos’ study and because none of their supporting Churches are in this area where they need to be for Carlos’ study and Megan’s medical needs they’ve chosen to join us.  I’m so glad for the purely selfish reason that I’m going to love having Megan around.

I’m catching up with Megan on Wednesday after work this week.  I’m going to head over there on my way home for afternoon tea.

Father, please help me to sleep well tonight after such a busy day.  I’m tired after the early start.  Please help me to watch my sleep this week so that I don’t get all topsy-turvy on my sleep patterns.  That always ends badly.  Thanks for giving me people to connect with just as I’m reminded of those I miss.  And thanks for the chance to explain the gospel to Karen.  Please may Hamish have his mother to turn to for support in you some day.

Amen.

Seeking Strength

Dear God,

This morning for some reason I wake feeling weary.  Perhaps it is the things that I am dreading today in the day ahead of me.  Lord, I am dreading a confrontation with Joel; dreading seeing Hamish having been intimidated in his faith.  I am looking forward to seeing Megan again at lunch time, but Father – how do I tell her that her son thinks she’s dying?  How do I tell her of the things that he had confided in Emily?  Please Lord, will you settle my mind to take one step at a time and to focus upon each moment as it passes today and help me to draw on you for strength as each one comes.

Father as Paul instructed Timothy and Timothy probably sought your help to do – I ask you to help me to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  May I be firm in my faith and thankful for the blessing of forgiveness that you have given.  Help me to show the way to you to others.  May I not be intimidated by people like Joel or by people who try to twist the truth.  Lord help Hamish to be strong in the grace that is in Jesus also in spite of any opposition he may come up against at home.

Thanks that you provided reliable people for Timothy to teach your gospel to – the truth that Paul taught in the presence of so many witnesses.  Thank you that this has been handed down and that you continue to provide reliable teachers.  I thank you for Bennie and Ollie and their ministry.  Thanks for Gordon who leads our Church so prayerfully and for Kathleen and the kids.  May you help them to choose reliable people to teach to be teachers also so that your word will be taught and the work will be shared.

Father, may I be dedicated when it comes to serving you.  Help me to be focused on your kingdom, on your ways – may I not get so caught up in the things of this world that I lose sight of what you have focused on.  Your eternal glory – that I might give thanks for my salvation in Jesus that I will have the honour of loving and worshipping you eternally.

Father help me see today through the lens of eternity.

Amen

Curiously Curious

Today was strange.

You know those days where you know that something is supposed to happen, but nothing actually does.

Graham replaced the coffeepot, saying that he didn’t care whose budget it was supposed to come out of – yesterday had been the worst day at work since … then he stopped and looked right at Gina … (although I only noticed that because I was right beside her and she looked right back at him) then carried on … since he didn’t know when.

But that wasn’t true.  Graham knew exactly when the day was worse.

And so did Gina.

And now it was going to drive me crazy.

Ever wonder how gossip started?

Oh the temptation!

“Kelly, did you see the way that Graham looked at Gina when he was talking about the worst day since something else happening? … ” BUT YOU JUST CAN’T DO THAT.  Well I couldn’t anyway.  Not to Gina.  Or Graham.  But I really, really, really want to know what that was about.  I wonder if Gina would mind if I asked.

No.  She’d have said something if she wanted to.

Maybe.

Maybe she just doesn’t know how to raise it???

Now you’re being an idiot.  Gina always knows how to say what she wants to say.

“Do you want to tell me what you’re stewing about over there?” Okay.  So now she’s noticed that I’m restless.  Do I tell her?

“Ummm.  Nothing.”

“Yeah, and I’ve got all the style of Audrey Hepburn.  Spill.”

“You and Graham go back a long way, don’t you?” take it slowly.

“You could say that”

Drat, she’s going to make me work for it.

“Do you and him have a history?” There.  It’s out there now.

Gina laughs.  Really laughs.

“NO!” she laughs again.  Then she became serious again “You remember how I told you that I was engaged once?”

I nod dumbly.

“That was Graham’s best friend.”

Gina turned around and went back to her work.  Conversation closed.

I simply sat there, jaw hanging open, blinking.

I had had one question answered only to discover a thousand more.

I am going to give up being curious one day.

I called Megan this afternoon.  She was tied up this evening and I didn’t want to talk about Emily and Jonah’s conversation with her over the phone, so we’re having lunch tomorrow.  Megan’s coming to my place after the kids have finished their drum lessons.  After all the drama of the last week, I have a feeling that we’re both going to need it.  I have a feeling that a storm is brewing for Saturday around the time of Hamish’s drum lesson ready for delivery by the good brother Joel.

I’m not at all curious about Saturday.

Not one tiny bit.

Sound Patterns

Dear God,

What a passage to read on this day when I come before you burdened with my nephew’s situation, not knowing what would be best to pray for him.

In verse 13 of Chapter 1 Paul says to Timothy that he should keep the gospel that he heard from him as the pattern of sound teaching with faith and love in Christ Jesus and to guard the good deposit that was entrusted to him with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Father, these are good things to pray for any believer.  May you keep Hamish soundly patterned after the gospel he first heard and believed with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Please, by your Holy Spirit guard the faith, the salvation that was given to him.  May he stand firm and faithful in your ways.  Father, where others are ashamed to call you their Lord when they are opposed – I thank you that Hamish has been faithful and ask that you will continue to hold him steadily in the face of  Joel’s hostility toward you.  May Joel come to know you also.

Lord, I ask that I will never be ashamed of my faith in you.  May I always be willing to say that I am yours.

Father, please help my family as we start to ask ourselves and each other over the weeks and months ahead where we stand with you because of the boldness that Hamish has shown and Joel’s response to his faith.

May each one turn to you and be saved,

In Jesus name I ask these things

Amen.

I’ll Have What She’s Having

Dear God,

How can you put forward such challenges though such everyday things as music lessons?

Saturday morning drum lessons.

The sheep stations have disappeared forever, I think …

I believe the cousins have a new pact.

Emily bounced in today radiating with life.  She ran over and gave me a hug.  She then announces to me:

“Now that I’m God’s friend, I want to do everything differently.  And that includes drum lessons.

“First, I want to pray before we start.”

And she did.  She prayed for me, that I’d teach well; for herself, that she’d learn well; and for us as we talked about her idea.

Next she told me that she wanted to change the songs she was working on, and showed me instead Amazing Grace and one she had heard played on my radio station that she had also seen in my music books before (talk about a memory – she went straight to it). that had a more upbeat tempo and challenging rhythm to it.  Both Christian pieces.

I checked:  You do know that there was nothing wrong with the other ones, don’t you?  I would never teach you music that was bad, even when you weren’t a Christian.”

She nodded.

“But I want to think about the words to these ones more.  Please …”

Okay – so I’m a pushover – but I agree …

… and am rewarded with a squeal of delight and an energetic hug.

The second song is quite challenging for Emily and about the standard I’ve been looking to introduce to her for some time.  It’s great that she’s got the motivation to learn it without being pushed.

The surprise came when Hamish turned up for his lesson.  They used to take it turn about who came first, however I was told this week that Emily would always be first from here-on-in.  Strange.  End of the competitive era?

Karen leaves.  Hamish takes his seat, bouncing with enthusiasm.  He grins at me, than says:

“Now that I believe in God and Jesus and am saved and all that, I want to do everything different and that includes this.  Drum lessons.  I want to do exactly what Emily did.  He looks at me knowingly.

Everything falls into place.

And then he prayed.

Help me Father.  I’m not allowed to speak of you to this child and he’s trying to help me do so without doing so.  If I get on this train I can’t get off.

“What do I tell your father when he wants to know why I am teaching you these songs?” I hand him the music.

“That I refused to play anything else.” He is smiling as he reads the words.

Talk about a rock and a hard place.

“It’s not right to disobey your parents.  You … do what you did at the start … and I’ll call your Mum to come back so I’m allowed to talk about God.”

“NO!” Fear.

“Do that thing!” Pray Hamish – Come on, you can do that well.

“Karen?  Alciana.  Can you come back here for a while please?  I need you here so that Hamish and I can discuss his song choices.”

“Can’t.  I’m at the hairdressers.  Why do you need me there?  You’ve always managed without me before.”

“He hasn’t wanted to play hymns and Christian music before.  You know what Joel’s like.”

“Just tell him ‘No'”

“He says he won’t play anything else.”

Karen sighs.

“Well, I guess its only music.  It can’t do any real harm.  Just don’t try and teach him anything about the words or what they mean.”

“You sure about that?” I ask, disbelieving that this might make it through, “Joel will agree to that?”

“I know Joel can get a little ridiculous about these things, but this should be okay.  Leave him to me.”

She hangs up.  I stand and blink.

I stand, look at the phone in bewilderment and just blink for several moments before hanging it up and turning back to Hamish – on his knees, hands still clasped so tightly his knuckles are white …

“Well – it looks like we’ve got a green light on the songs – but no questions to me about the words.  You’re going to have to find someone else for that, okay?

Did I say he was on his knees?  Next thing I know he is leaping in the air and running in circles around my music room.  I’ve never heard him holler such a victory whoop! And for Hamish – that’s saying something.

“Just wait til I tell Emily!”

What a morning!

Speaking of mornings, I had better get stuck into the afternoon.  I have a house to clean, shopping to do and a dinner to prepare.  Bennie is coming to dinner tonight after she finishes work, then I’m driving her home later on.  Ollie is away at a men’s retreat for the weekend.

I believe I’ll also be sharing in the honour of painting the shafts of the handles of his tools baby-doll pink in preparation for the Church working bee next week.  Bennie seems to think that this will make it easier to keep track of the tools  🙂

Father, I pray that Joel will be reasonable about Hamish’s song choices.  Thank you for the enthusiasm that Hamish and Emily have to grow and be transformed in you.

Amen

See today Hamish Johns’ Secret Diary for an update on his journey.

You’ve Got Me Beat

Dear God,

Thanks for a week without a lot of incidents.  I’m still pretty exhausted and recovering from last week, I think.  I mean, there was Wednesday – but who could complain about Wednesday?  That kind of exhaustion is elating.  Imagine – Paul’s answer to Emily’s wanting to understand more about God was for all of them to go to Church and Sunday School.  I don’t know why I should be surprised that you can work without me, Father.  I guess I just start feeling like I have to take on everything myself.  And I’m so used to Joel.  That is the most taxing thing at the moment.  This whole situation with Joel and Hamish.  Father, only you can resolve this one.  Please do.  I worry so much about Hamish, Joel can be frightening when he never intends to be – when he’s frightened … which is what he is when it comes to you, Lord.  Please soften Joel’s heart Father.

Hamish was so stoic today when he came for his lessons.  Cracking jokes, showing off – full of beans.  Like he’d forced himself to swallow every one of them that he could bring himself to before he came – for my sake.  Lot’s of fun – don’t get me wrong – he had me in stitches to the point where I couldn’t remember what we were supposed to be doing.  But it was like he was trying to prove to me that he was alright.  And he’s not.  He gave me an extra long hug at the end when Karen came to get him.

Karen smiled an unspoken acknowledgement of my brother’s stubbornness at me.

I nodded and smiled an ‘I don’t know how you put up with it’ back to her.

To which she shrugged and half smiled an ‘I love the man …’

All without speaking while Hamish had his head tucked over my shoulder.

Emily on the other hand was pumped.  She was genuinely excited and full of questions about Church and Sunday school and what happened and people who would be there and – you name it … down to how many cubicles were in the toilets, what kinds of flowers and ‘did the minister wear a dress?’ because someone at school told her that ministers wore dresses …  She could barely focus on her drumming either and stopped to ask a new question every time she started anything.

What sheep station?

Maybe I was wrong after all.

Who needs to compete for sheep stations – or whatever it’s ten-year-old’s equivalent is when you have Church to look forward to or long for?  A desire to worship him unhindered.  A curiosity driven by the Spirit that seems insatiable that drives as many spiritual questions as a child’s enquiring mind drives ones that seem random … or “why?”…

I have to ask myself, ‘where did that go in me?’ at times; and ‘what did it become?’

Father help me take the time – no matter how long I live here on earth to know you to stop and be astounded by your wonderful glory, your authority, your creativity, your love, your holiness and your majesty.  And you grace Lord.  Always by your grace.

Father help me to prepare for Gina’s cello lesson on Monday too.  I’m kind of nervous about that.  Prepare her also.  It’s going to be weird to teach an adult after all this time.  Thanks for this chance to spend good time with her.

Amen

See today Hamish Johns’ Secret Diary for an update on his journey.