Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Empire building...

For a long time I've harboured visions of grand model railway empires, stretching for (scale) miles and miles.  I have very fond memories of the now defunct Flaxton Barn model railway at Mapleton, and another "big tin shed" display near Beenleigh/Beaudesert.

And last night, I took delivery of the first step in building my own empire:






It doesn't look like much yet, because it's the unassembled kit for a T-Trak N scale single module.  But hopefully, when it's finished it'll look something a little like this:





That's one of many sets of grain silos on the Western Downs - each little town had them, all right beside the rail line for ease of transport to the big smoke.

So watch this space for further updates.  And who knows, maybe in 30 years I can take early retirement and let people walk through my shed looking at my own little empire.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The curious account of Jeroboam II

If, like me, you'd normally need to look up your bible to know who Jeroboam II is, he's got one of the bit parts in 2 Kings; chapter 15:23-29 specifically.  One of the many godless kings of Israel in the lead up to its exile.

It starts off in the usual manner:

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, began to reign in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. 24 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

But then we get to this strange twist:

 25 He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher.

That seems out of place, given that usually the evil kings wound up losing territory, not gaining it.

But fear not, gentle reader.  God was in control all along:

26 For the Lord saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter, for there was none left, bond or free, and there was none to help Israel. 27 But the Lord had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, so he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.
28 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam and all that he did, and his might, how he fought, and how he restored Damascus and Hamath to Judah in Israel, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 29 And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, the kings of Israel, and Zechariah his son reigned in his place.

This isn't the first time I've read 2 Kings, but it's the first time I noticed verse 27, and I love it.  It's easy to complain about our government, to fear that we're "getting the government we [as a society] deserve", or to think that we need a Christian theocracy to be well governed, and things like that.  But this verse reminds us that God is still sovereign, and that he will look after us in the way he chooses, even through ungodly leaders.

PS - this is not intended as a commentary on any current or present governments in Australia or anywhere else.  It's an observation of how good God is.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

This day in history

April 8th... lots of interesting things happened in history on this day.

For example:
AD 217 Emperor Caracella assassinated by the Praetorian guard, and succeeded by guard prefect.
1879 Milk sold in glass bottles for the first time
1947 Henry "pick any colour as long as it's black" Ford died
1964 Gemini I launched
1966 Robin Wright Penn ("Buttercup" in The Princess Bride) born
1986 Clint Eastwood elected mayor of Carmel, California
2013 Margaret Thatcher died

Most interesting to me though, and much less widely reported, was the event in 2004, when a young couple thinking about Bible college gave a friend a lift up to a youth camp on the Sunshine Coast.  Being the loving people they are, they made sure their friend was introduced to others at the camp, including a young man on the organising team.

Being a polite chap he said hello, but didn't think any more about it at the time, until 12 months later he needed to find a singer for the camp music team.  Then he noticed that not only did she have a voice like an angel, she was also very pleasant on the eye, and very easy to talk to.  And most of all, she clearly loved God.

The rest, as they say, is history :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lunchboxes

We seem to have a pretty good collection of different lunchboxes, but rarely one to suit just the purpose I want. 

We got SP a nude food one to start Kindy, and it's broken already, so I'm searching again. 

We have different sizes of Tupperware, but even the big long one doesn't hold that much food. Our kids are good eaters. 

Pretty keen on Bento Laptop Lunch Boxes after this review from Be A Fun Mum, but they're a bit pricey. 

What do you use?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Car Safety

Not my children - image from RACQ website

Kindy hosted an RACQ Car Safety Information Night this evening. I went along to support the event, rather than thinking I would learn very much. I was wrong. There's a lot about car safety I hadn't thought about. And lots of scary stories, which are designed to shock parents into submission and worked pretty effectively on me :)

My 3 big take homes: 

- We'll be getting a harness to go with SP's booster seat, where he's previously just had the booster & adult seatbelt. The recommendation is that kids keep wearing the H-harness until they've reached its weight limit (36kg), even after they've finished using a booster. (I've just had a look at the RACQ website, and their info on this is a bit different. I'll check with the presenter & update.)

- SP will no longer be allowed to get out of the driver's side passenger door, unless we're in the driveway. He'll have to climb across to the 'Safe Door' on the other side. I've previously been uneasy about him starting to do this independently, and it ends now. So we'll have to rethink the positioning of car seats while #3 is rear-facing, as we can't ask him to climb past a rear-facing seat to get to the other door. 

- We've always done our own version of 'Hands on car, don't go far' when the kids are out of the car and waiting to go, but I've been getting a bit lax with it. Laxness is over. 

Another interesting point: While the car's seat belt holding the car seat in place needs to be as tight as possible, the anchor strap just needs to be firm, with 2 fingers able to slip between it and the top of the car's seat. The top of the car seat is designed to move forward a bit in the event of a crash, to provide a more gentle stop. 

It was an excellent night, I highly recommend attending or holding one. I'll be pushing for one to happen at playgroup. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Looking for blog posts - choosing schools

Somebody a while back did a series of posts on choosing a school for your child, with suggested questions to ask at a school tour and things like that. We're choosing between our two locals for SP next year, and I'd love to re-read those posts, but I can't find them. 

If you wrote them, or you know you did, could you please let me know?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What would you wish for?

We started reading the book-of-the-movie version of 'Five Children & It' to SP this afternoon. And got to talking about wishes. 

His wish: A cubby/tree house. Sounds a lot like the one in the Swiss Family Robinson, which we've recently read a very abridged version of. The YouTube clip of the tree house in the 1960 movie blew his mind a bit. 

Then we asked him what he thought Mummy & Daddy would wish for. His answers: 

Dave: Some wood to build be a cubby house. 

Me: A new washing machine to do more washing. 

Interesting.

For the record, there's nothing wrong with our current washing machine. Maybe he thinks I'm not keeping up. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Free Audio Bible Download

I'm a big fan of Christian Audio and their monthly free downloads. Especially for doing the evening washing up when Dave's out or away. 


Hooray!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Playing percentages...

Further to my previous post, I fell for one of the classic blunders of all time.

The first, as we know, is never get involved in a land war in asia.  The second, of course, is never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line*.

Somewhat further down the list is the blunder of not sanity checking your numbers.

Let's look at it quickly.  You do the survey, the results come up, and you read "like 2% of the population..." and immediately think "wow, only 2 percent, that's not much, I must be really unique."  However, in the case of this particular personality test, there are 16 possible outcomes.  If the population was evenly distributed over all types, you would only have 6.25% in each type.  Hmmm... So the outcome is that yes, at 2% of the population INTJs are less prevalent than other types, but not by an order of magnitude; only by 5 dB**.

*If neither of those make any sense to you, do yourself a favour: go find a copy of "The Princess Bride" starring Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin, and watch it over the holidays.

**dB is a logarithmic scale, 3 dB difference is double, 10 dB difference is x10, an order of magnitude.  It's a microwave nerd thing.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Preaching personalities

Simone has been doing a series recently on how your personality affects your preaching style.  Having done a few sermons this year, naturally I was curious to find out what type I am.

Turns out that like a whopping 2% of the population, including such real and ficticious luminaries as Vladimir Putin, Augustus Caesar, Gen Colin Powell, Hannibal (both, the guy with the elephants and the guy with the chianti), Jefferson, JFK, Walter White (from Breaking Bad), Gandalf and Moriaty, I'm an INTJ.... looking at that list again, it does help explain why world domination is a recurring theme for me...

I don't know how accurate this description is, but I certainly see bits of me in it: bookworm, engineering career, various other traits that might be strengths or weaknesses depending on the situation.

Unfortunately, it's also not on the list of personality types that Simone's looked at yet.  Oh well.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When life with littlies is hard...

We're in a rough spot at the moment. The kids have been sick & not sleeping well for weeks, I've got a typical case of pregnancy exhaustion, Dave's been away more than usual, the Christmas craziness creeps every closer, etc etc etc.

So this post from Femina is a balm to my weary soul. 


One of my favourite sounds

Our beautiful kids singing together. Keep listening for F at the end.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Seems it was inevitable

I had a feeling I would walk out of the Kindy AGM with a job for next year. 

At least I'm not on the executive committee. 

Just Social Rep for SP's room. Surely I can do that. 


It's interesting to reflect on the 'meeting skills' that church membership provides. Although I have very little to base this on, I would guess that a good number of people in that room had never been to an AGM before, and the idea of moving or seconding a motion was obviously foreign or scary. I was the only person not on last year's committee that was willing to do it. Thank you Pressie church for exposing me to many such situations. 


Now, what does a Social Rep do? Ideas, please :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Living in the Digital Age (writing prompt)


Two years ago, I lay in a hospital room. The wonders of the digital age revealed a desperately ill unborn baby. 

The doctors said they had some things they could try. 

A few life-changing weeks later, the same ultrasound machine showed a very different picture. Today, we have a healthy, happy 22 month old daughter. I am still in awe. 

For us, technology worked wonders. And yet, others are grieving for their children, whom modern medicine could not help. Death comes to all of us, eventually. Sometimes technology delays it. Sometimes not. 

If we had lived in the pre-digital age, could God have saved our girl? Could he have miraculously healed her without medical intervention? Without our even knowing there was a problem? Of course He could. God is God, and He can do anything. 

Would He have? I don't know. 



This post is part of Meredith's 'Prompted to Write' event. Click on over in a few days to read the responses of others. 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Easy Teddy Bear Ears

The theme for the kids' music concert this year is Teddy Bears Picnic. Our kids are each going dressed as their favourite teddy bear. So this afternoon I made 'Mike' ears for SP. And it was so, so easy. 


Take a piece of thick paper or thin cardboard. Draw curve for ear. I traced Mike's. (yes, as you can tell by the floor, the children were crafting too)




Fold paper an inch below the bottom of your ear outline & cut out to make a too-long oval. Then do another one for the other ear. (Trust me, it will make sense in a minute.)



Fold the paper where you want the base of the end to be, then fold the gap in the middle into 4 equal parts.




Then bring them together to look like this:



The ribbon headband will go through this gap, and the top of the T shape will sit flat against the child's head so the ear stands up straight.



Decorate the ears however you wish. I got this yarn from Spotlight for 99c. We'll also be sticking it on a t-shirt to make it fluffy & Mike-like. (any suggestions on how I should do this, please comment!)


I'm sure you won't use your finger to spread the glue over the cardboard because the glue spout is broken and you don't want to disturb the busy children round your feet by getting up for a paint brush.




Tie a piece of wool/ribbon/whatever around child's head. It's like a halo, but crossing the top of the head instead of near the forehead.



Once the decorated ears are dry (the waiting was the hardest bit for us), wrap them around the ribbon, position them on the child then glue them in place.



I used pegs to make sure the cardboard held it's T shape so the ears won't slide around on the yarn.




Once dry, wear. Or in my case, make your child wear them for the photo, then hide them away so they don't get wrecked before the concert.



Ta da! One set of teddy bear ears, ready to go :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

News



Due mid-June. All good so far. Yay :)



Friday, November 1, 2013

Learning from others...

Sometimes I'm away for work over a weekend, which among other things gives me the opportunity to see how other people do church.  It's a really interesting thing to do, especially in America.  I've been to some places that are quite large, others that are quite small, some that are very traditional in everything, some that are less so.

On a couple of occasions I've had the chance to visit Capitol Hill Baptist Church for their Sunday morning service.  You might have seen Mark Dever, their senior pastor, at ministry/preaching seminars here from time to time, and I think he's endorsed a few Matthias Media books over the years too, as well as writing his own.

They start things off with what they call "Core Seminars".  Think of it like a workshop, or a topical Bible Study group.  There are around half a dozen to choose from, each of which would have between 8 and 30 people attending.  Topics covered include Biblical Theology, marriage, guidance, New Testament, apologetics, church membership, things like that. 

Core Seminars run for almost an hour, then church starts. It's a full on experience, starting with a few songs, then times of prayer and Bible reading before the sermon starts.  Most churches I know of target a 15 minute sermon, but CHBC sermons go for more like 45 minutes.  It's not easy to concentrate for that long when you're jet lagged.

But getting back to the topic of the post, what have I learned from these visits?

1. Welcoming.  The way a visitor is welcomed sets the tone for the whole morning.  When there's a culture of anyone coming up and welcoming you (even with sometimes silly questions like "oh, you're from Brisbane, do you know so-and-so?"), it has a big impact.

2. Music.  Doesn't need to be big.  My observation here is that CHBC have thought this out quite carefully.  Instruments are just a piano and acoustic guitar.  But they have three or four singers (the guitarist is also one of the singers, and the main coordinator I think) to make sure that there's a voice and a face in every direction in the hall.  They choose songs to suit the sermon each week, and aren't constrained by era, source, or familiarity.  I've sung very old hymns there, familiar modern songs, and unfamiliar hymns and songs too.  In fact one chap I was speaking to said that it wasn't unusual for him not to know all the hymns, even though he could clearly sing with gusto when he did know the song.  They quite like going acapella for the last verse, which I think can be overdone, but at the same time there's a definite lift in the voices as they do it.  And I think acapella can be very useful for drawing attention to lyrics.

3. Communion.  I haven't been there for a communion service, but I love the way they prepare for it.  They do it in the evening service on the first Sunday of each month.  The morning of, and the week before, they explicitly remind the congregation that communion is coming, and encourage everyone to prepare themselves for taking the Lord's Supper.  No doubt in my mind, when people listen and respond to that sort of encouragement, spiritual growth will follow.

4. Diversity and humility.  CHBC is near the US Capitol obviously.  It's a well-to-do area, and the congregation includes lots of congressional staffers, senate staffers, lawyers, and wider government and military personnel at all levels.  But I haven't seen any signs of one-upmanship or people trying to big-note themselves.  Some come in suits, some come in jeans and t-shirts.  There's no pressure to conform - if a particular song or prayer leads people to raise hands, fine - they don't force everyone to do it, nor do they force people to keep their hands down.  During one hymn, an older lady in the back pulled out a tambourine and started shaking in time with the song.  Just that one, she wasn't trying to do it for everything, but it fit with that particular song.

5. Bible.  With a 45 minute exposition, the Bible is undeniably at the centre of their time together each week.

I'm sure CHBC have their flaws - every church does, because they're made up of sinful human beings.  And I wouldn't necessarily want to apply all of their practices to my own church.  But I think we can learn a lot by observing how other churches do things, and be better disciples of Christ and more effective ministers for him as a result.

Everything's bigger in Texas

Or so people say anyway.

Ant it seems to be true.  The airport is massive - Brisbane has the Airtrain between terminals, but Dallas-Fort Worth has 5 terminals, space for at least one more, and a bunch of remotely-driven trains for shuttling from one to the next.  The highways are enormous - easily on par with Los Angeles.  The "trucks" (utes in regular Aussie English) all need running boards to get up to the seat.  And there are huge churches everywhere.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Habakkuk

I just finished a run of four consecutive sermons on Sunday - the longest series I've done since before I was married.  It was only supposed to be three on the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, but roster changes due to illness meant I had to do another one immediately beforehand.

Long story short, it went well.  I really enjoyed digging into the book.  If you haven't read it, it's got little gem phrases like "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea" (anyone else remember the old RCH hymn?), and "the righteous shall live by faith".  The one sentence summary: in a messed up, complicated world, God is sovereign and we can trust Him always.

But that said, I'm glad it's over.  I wouldn't have said I was particularly stressed about it; Petrina made sure I had all the preparation time I needed, even weeks in advance. But still at Sunday lunch-time I could almost feel the stress falling away.

Looking forward to not being the one talking for the next couple of months, and to our new minister arriving in January.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Public service announcement: being sensible online

As you can see, I blog - occasionally anyway.  Which means I have an internet prescence.  But I try to be careful about what's posted online and what's kept "IRL" (In Real Life, as I believe kids these days call it).

Here's a fantastic example from Belgium of why that's a good thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7pYHN9iC9I

Monday, October 7, 2013

An observation...

... you don't remember the times you get it right, only the times you get it wrong.

A subsequent observation: I'm thankful that full time paid minsters are trained in things like pastoral care.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Still alive

Some people have noticed a lack of posts recently. 

True. 

We're still here, just doing our regular thing. 

I think I got out of the habit of blogging & haven't got back into it yet. 

No doubt the time will come again. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Christianity in Japan

Another link.

Our church supports a family ministering in Japan, so I found this article particularly fascinating. Tough gig. But what an opportunity for the gospel. 


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Praying for your church

We used to be in the habit of using the last couple of minutes of the drive to church, to pray for our church, the service and our parts in it. But we've recently lost the habit. 

I came across this post, '23 ways to pray for your church' this week. It uses the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation as prayer points. 

Planning to pop a copy in the glove box, and we'll aim to pray for one point on the way to church each Sunday. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Initiate

I'm loving Wendy's Prayer Project. Sometimes it's so helpful to pray someone else's well thought out words. 

Here's the start of today's: 

Lord, help me to be someone who moves towards people with the gospel.  For people around me to hear of you – people at work, school, neighbours, my family – I need to move to them and talk to them.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Back

Moving house is done. 
Boxes are mostly unpacked, and things are feeling mostly sorted. I'm (trying to) enjoy taking my time, thinking about how to best make the house work for us. 
And SP turned 4 this week. Birthday party in the park yesterday. 

It's been a huge month. I'm feeling encouraged by the strength that God continues to give, and challenged to think about our commitments and see if there are ways we can cut back. A quiet-ish season would be a nice change. And I'll continue to work towards that, but also sit with these thoughts from Femina (that I only read today):

So here is the challenge – let’s pray that God would pour out His grace and energy on us, that He would equip us for the day that will be hard. That He will continue to push us and that we will continue to come to Him, not asking Him to stop, but asking Him for the grace to finish. We want to lean into the refining fire – because we want for all the dross to be burned out. Lean into the fire of God. Trust His purpose for you.
We want to be bought into the vision that God has for us. We want to look at our teething babies and our disobedient toddlers and our messy house and say, “Thank you God – I feel it burning, I know it is working. “

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Out of the mouths of babes and infants...

Some quotes from our resident philosopher:

SP: I'd like the door put back on the cubby house [at church]

Me: No, we decided to take it off because people were being unkind to each other

SP: Why? [Do kids have any other questions?]

Me: Because we're all human beings

SP: Are girls human too?


And then at breakfast this morning, after reading about Peter denying Christ

Petrina: He [that's Peter] did the wrong thing, but Jesus forgave him.

SP: No, God forgave him, but Jesus didn't

Us: Why?

SP: Because he couldn't forgive him while he was dying [Ed. previously wrote "on the cross", Petrina reminded me what SP actually said last night]

Us: ???????? ... eventually we pointed out that Jesus forgave Peter after his resurrection, when he wasn't on the cross any more.

Any theologians care to tackle that one?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Going on leave

I know it's been a bit quiet around here lately. A week ago I was feeling full-to-the-brim with commitments, then we decided to move house. So until that's over, the blog reading and writing will take a bit of a break. 

I'm looking forward to catching up with everything from the new house :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

In which I quote a sports commentator

 "If you go up for enough marks, you're eventually going to win some and suddenly you'll find you've had 10 marks in the first quarter."

Hop on over to Deb's blog to find out why I love this quote, and am feeling very challenged by it. Hint: It's about evangelism. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The greatest movie ever assembled

That's right, coming in 2014, from everyone's favourite source of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene:

The Lego Movie

Petrina was skeptical when I first told her about it, but after watching the trailer, she's sold.

Now the only question is which will be the best 2014 release: The Lego Movie, or part III of The Hobbit...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Self Sufficiency II

... and my wife makes her own chocolate.

Yum!  Keep that up darling :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Self-sufficiency

SP now kisses his own bumps and scrapes.