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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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.

Going Dotty

Dear God,

Back to work today.  Out of the castle.  No more castle-fever.

I had Chicken Pox when I was 16.  I got in my car and waved good bye to the three faces that were now becoming well enough to care that one of could leave while they remained imprisoned in the castle.

But, Father, I walked from one building full of spots into another.  There were spots on my desk.  There were spots on my chair.  There were spots on my floor, my stationary, my computer, my clock, my phone – you name it … there were spots.  I opened the desk drawer and there were spots in there too.  And somebody just plain gross had added pus leaking from the ones on the filing cabinet (Gina? no she’s more subtle than that – she did the drawer.  Scott).

My office space has Chicken Pox!

Someone – or someones had obviously brought in a tonne of target bags and catalogues and had a go at them with the scissors – in their breaks, of course …

One of the fun things about office life is that life goes on without you.  The problem is, that people still need things when you’re not there.  So – over the past three days there have been people ratting through my stuff looking for reports or files or equipment that I may or may not have in an attempt to locate it.  There have been people borrowing things and people borrowing things and then there has been Rodney.  Rodney has the equivalent position to myself (and to Kelly), but in yet another department.  This week he was hauled in to cover my spot on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning to complete something that needed to be sent off by Tuesday afternoon.  However, he needed access to stuff managed under a password that I hold to do it, so arrangements were made with IT to get him access which meant changing the password.  So Rodney goes on holidays to Scotland without telling a soul what the password is now rendering the computer largely inaccessible to me.  I offered to go to Scotland to get it from him, but they sent for IT at 3pm as I was leaving instead.

“Oh, excellent!  You’re here to fix up the computer so I can use it?  Just leave the information in sealed envelope with the Department Manager when you’re done and I’ll get it in the morning.”

“Sorry.  You’ll need to wait.  You need to sign for the password or I’ll have to come back at another time.  It won’t take long.”

So I wait.

And wait.

And wait.

“Look, I’m really sorry, but are you almost done?  I really have to go.”

“Just a couple more minutes, ma’am.  The password is in but I have a couple of minor adjustments that need to be made for security and then I can shut up shop and you’re right to go.”

“Again, I’m sorry to rush you, but I have kids waiting at home who are sick with Chicken Pox.  If you give me the password now, I will sign … ”

“But … ”

“Please … password – or I sneeze in your general direction and you take the risk that I have Chicken Pox a second time … ”

I got the password.

I finally got home to find that the household had gone mad.  Well, not mad.  Dotty.

“Auntie Alciana,” Jazzie runs up to me, “we’re having a dotty day.”

I would never have guessed by what I see around me … everywhere … dots.

Emily joins us.

“You’re only allowed to do things where there are dots in them.  We played Twister this morning, and dominoes …”

“We did join the dots and coloured them in with dots with colouring pencils and we had fairy bread for lunch!”

“And raw carrot cut in circles.”

“An’ Daddy found the twirly apple cutter so he made apple twirlies and they’re round with a big empty spot in the middle where the core was.  Isn’t that right, Daddy?”

“It is,” grins Paul, looking tired.  “Then, after lunch we all had a spot of sleep.”

“We played dot scotch!” piped in Jazz again.

“That’s like hopscotch, but with dots like the dominoes instead of numbers in the squares,” Emily explained.

“And now we’re building domino houses.  Lots of them”

“That’s right,” nods Paul.  “Because domino houses fall down with a great big crash every now and then, don’t they?”

The girls nod at me while Paul pulls a face that says he’s had enough domino houses for today, please? over their heads.

“Are they places where dotty people live?” I grin as I ask them.

The girls giggle.

Then Emily looks over her shoulder at her father, receives a nod, then turns back to me.

“Auntie Alci … ” she looks like the child that she is, disappointed not to be able to bring me a surprise. “We don’t know what we should do for dinner … ”

A thought comes just in time.  I smile.

“How about spaghetti and meatballs?  Spaghetti is long and round, and meatballs are just big round dots!  And … while you’re clearing up the dominoes and today’s games, I’ll go to the shops and get a surprise for dessert!”

Before setting out to make dinner I set them up with one last – probably the messiest – activity of the day.  I set them up with old magazines and coloured paper, a hole punch, scissors, glue, scrapbooks and a pencil each and introduced them to the ‘Dotty Mosaic’.  The idea:  draw a picture (try for one that has circles or dots included in it like wheels or wrapping paper), then instead of colouring in with pencils or paint, stick on coloured circles of paper the colour that you want things to be … “like this…” and made a tree.

Off they went.  Very content in a very spotty mess.  Hands sticky and too busy to be scratching …

I made dinner which went down very well.

Doughnut holes were a hit for desert – hooray!

I’m going home tomorrow.  If Paul can manage a “Dotty day”, visits will do from here-on-in.

Lord, I finished the last of James 1 today.  What a challenge to lay down.  Yet again and again, you challenge me to take up and show my faith by action.  Lord my control over my tongue is generally an ongoing and mutinous war.  Time and time again it brings me to my knees before you in humility as the only place to go.  I struggle endlessly to filter the pollution from the good while living in this world so spoiled by sin.  But Father, thanks for the chance to look after a widower and his two daughters in their time of need this week.

Amen.

Rejoice! Transcendent Peace!

Dear God,

Lord, you are the God of all things.  You will bring all history to completion and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to your glory.

You are the one who has begun an incredible work in me and you are the one who has promised to complete it.  I have a sure place in your kingdom.  Help me to press on toward that goal.  You have even shown me how through Jesus.

So I will rejoice!  You say there’s nothing to be anxious about, but to bring it all to you with thanksgiving.  I confess I don’t know how not to be anxious about things like work and deadlines and confrontations and getting sick; things like needing to use the public toilets at nights, and even the occasional spider or cockroach … but I can associate with the thanksgiving of being able to hand something over.  Is it really that simple?  The eternal matters – big stuff, yes.  I get that.  But the rest???  No wonder there is peace.  But its not peace that the problem will go away, is it Lord?  It’s peace that will guard my heart and mind in Christ.  Is this what Gina missed?

Father, you will care for me and my faith – the faith you gave – as I encounter Gina’s unbelief and distance from you each day.  May I remember to keep bring her before you as she herself said I would.  Please reignite that flicker of hope still in her, Lord I’m sure I saw it – just for a moment – when she said she knew I’d pray.  Only you really know.

Lord God, what inspirational things to fill my head with.  To do. What a marvellous way to guard against sinful thoughts and actions!  Father help me – show me the best place to start so that I can fill my head up with so much good stuff that there’s no room for anything else.  Your word.  I could do PTC; I could read some of the classics of Christian literature; maybe I should look at some biographies of some of the missionaries and reformers and people like that, there could be lots to learn from the history of the Church – so much good to fill my mind with!

But … that’s probably not the point here, is it God?  Help me stick with you in my thoughts all the time so that I might experience your peace and act accordingly.  Show me the excellent, the praiseworthy, the pure and noble and lovely and your truth.  May I overflow with these things.

Father, please help me to display Christ to Gina and others I encounter this week.

And – will you please give the little lady on the bus another question.

Amen.

Riding Elephants

Dear God

My alarm clock screeches and I wake to a sense of comfort this morning that wasn’t there before.  There are other Christians at work.  You have given me encouragers.   I’m  not alone there anymore (I mean I was never really alone with you with me … but … ).  Maybe I’ll get to meet Scott’s wife one day and can ask her how she copes with the “Hel-looo everybody!” to the contents of the fridge … and if he’s named their coffee machine … 🙂

Reading Philippians – your word Lord … through Paul here you bring one head spin after another.  First he’s able to rejoice in prison in chains and he considers it a privilege to suffer for Jesus – all so that the gospel can be preached.  He upholds humility, where others should be considered better than oneself and serving others interests as well as your own.  He pushes people to be bold and stand up for the gospel and live worthily of it – like Jesus – against opposition.  And he says do all of the is in awe that God is working through you and in you to do his will and purpose.  That’s scary stuff, Lord.

And his champions, yours – if they’re in your word – are the ones who’s primary interests are those of Jesus and the work of his gospel.

Lord, Paul is so sure and confident in Jesus.  No wonder he can say with such certainty to rejoice in him – although I’m not sure how I’d go in the face of such opposition.

The difference in the amount of confidence he has in the old way of the law, where righteousness was seen to need to come from the person cannot possibly stand in comparison to your grace and mercy, Lord where your righteousness is what we have been given through faith, and that also from you.

It blows me away how intimately Paul wants to know Jesus and the example he sets up for us.  To share his resurrection must have already happened – or at least in the now but not yet sense if he’s a Christian, but to share in his sufferings – following Jesus mission that closely that he cops that … I guess he is getting some of that by being in prison here, isn’t he? … And to become like him in his death – Father, this is a committed follower.  I’m not sure what it means to become like him in his death – is this part of the next bit or something different?  Please help me remember to find someone to ask on Sunday at Church.

Lord what an amazing thing it will be the day that I get to take hold of the resurrection you called me to.  How I long for that day, that perfection.  Father, its so easy to lose sight of that goal.  Help every day be an impatient push towards it.  Help me always remember to conduct myself in a manner worthy of the life you called me to and make this my priority.

Even if I feel like the pink elephant with the purple spots and orange stripes.  Thanks that there are no prisons and chains for preaching the gospel in Australia.

Amen.