Thursday, 31 January 2008

Which flower is this? #4

Do you recognise this flower?

Can you identify it?

You might know someone who can... you might make use of a botanical key... you might find it on the internet, or even in a book.

A fabulous 4x6 print of the above picture will be sent to the first person to post a comment with its correct common name, the first person to post a comment with its correct Genus name, and the first person to post a comment with its correct species name.

What are you waiting for? Have a go!

See this post for more details.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Flower number #3 is...

...Baeckea linifolia

Common name: Swamp Baeckea.

Baeckea are in the same family as Eucalypts and Bottlebrushes and are very similar to Tea-trees. This particular one is found by water, usually 1-2m high with long and has slender branches with five-petalled flowers growing along them like beads.

Encouragement award will go to Mum!

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Au revoir!

Well, we're all packed and ready to go! Farewell Australia, beautiful Vanuatu here we come.

Blogging won't be so easy from now on.

Flower #3 is ...

...not a Tea-tree... but close.

Have a look at this week's flower of the week and have a go at identifying it.

And now for some fauna...

We disturbed the resident possum when we were tidying up under the house. Not happy!

a hint

Hey... don't forget to check out this week's flower in the fabulous weekly feature, "which flower is this?".

And now for a clue...

...this week's flower is in the MYRTACEAE family.

Should you hold up its leaves to the sunlight and look at them, you would see lots of small, dark coloured dots. These are oil glands. There are only two families of Australian plants that have oil glands and MYRTACEAE is one. MYRTACEAE includes Eucalypts, Melaleucas, Tea-Trees and Bottle Brushes. They often (but not always, as in our flower) have an abundance of stamen which protrude from the flower. This is what give the lovely blossoms in Eucalypts and Bottlebrushes.

You also cannot see the swollen part of the style that houses the ovaries in plants of the MYRTACEAE family. The ovaries are below the upper surface of the receptacle. The techncial term for this is the ovaries are inferior. If you could see well enough, you would find that the ovaries of this week's flower are not above the upper surface of the receptacle.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Reverance and Awe

I came across this verse yesterday...

'Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and worship God acceptably with reverance and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire".' (Hebrews 12:28-29)

...and it made me wonder about the concert yesterday. Were we worshipping God with reverance and awe? We were clapping and bopping; 'oink-ing' and 'quack-ing'; knee-knocking and head-nodding. Was this acceptable? Did it produce awe and reverance for God? I began to wonder.

I think I have made a very common mistake. I have read 'worship' and thought 'praise'. I have read 'let us worship God acceptably with reverance and awe' and thought 'let us praise God acceptably with reverance and awe'. I think this mistake causes us either to stifle exurberant or unconventional praise (as not reverant enough) or to narrowly focus all our reverance and awe into our praise, not applying it more broadly in our lives.

Let me explain why I think this is a mistake.

Hebrews 12:14-29 is not about praise. It is about our response to the new covenant. That response is to be a life of godliness. The worship we are show to God is not just praise, it is a life lived in reverance and awe of the God who will judge us, a life of godliness.

Think about David. What was it that David did that evoked the wrath of God? Was it when he danced and rejoiced before the ark in his underpants (2 Samuel 6)? No! It was when he slept with Bathsheba and murdered her husband (2 Samuel 10). It was not his seemingly irreverant and uncoventional style of praise that angered God but his immorality.

Romans 12:1-2 says,
"Therefore my brothers, in view of God's mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

Worship is about how we live in response to God's mercy to us. It is about being holy and pleasing to God; about being transformed. As in Hebrews 12, worship is not about singing, but about how we we live (which might involve singing).

We are to live in reverance and awe of God, who is a consuming fire. He is holy. He will judge us. No-one will escape. We ought not to take this lightly, but to live our lives in view of this. That is to live holy lives in reverance and awe.

So, I ought not to read Hebrews 12:28 and wonder about the concert yesterday. That would be to miss the point. I need instead to wonder about my life.

I would love also to inspire awe and reverance for God in my children. This is bigger issue than about how they sing.

As for the concert, I think the following verses are helpful.

From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise (Matthew 21:16).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you... sing pslams, hymns and spritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16).

The word of Christ dwells in my children. This is in part because of the songs they have heard, sung and danced to (yes, even only in their underpants).

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

J is for Jesus

Today we went to a "J is for Jesus" concert (hosted by emu music). The concert was great. The singing was dynamic and the lyrics were simple, christ-centred and fun. I would recommend the concert to anyone with young children.

But it was a disaster for us.

We were having arguments before we even left. Sophie wanted to take her colouring in book because she didn't think she'd like a concert. Bethany wanted to take a book to read. I wanted them to be excited about a concert, you know, singing and dancing, not reading and colouring in.

I had slept in and subsequently we were in a mad panic to leave on time. I forgot to take snacks.

We have been having a busy time recently visiting friends. This has been lovely but has taken its toll. A toll which, incidentally, I think is worth it for the short time we have with these friends but which meant that they are both very very tired.

Consequently at five minutes to go I had two very tired starving hungry children who just wanted to go and find something to eat. A very kind friend saved the day with some rice crackers and they managed to enjoy about half an hour. Sophie managed some dancing and even recognised Karen from the movies (we only ever see Playschool on DVD). But by the end, they were both curled up on my lap and wanting to go home. Please note, all the other chidlren were NOT doing that!

Well I knew already that I can't just cart the children around everywhere and expect them to just cope and enjoy themselves. They need better than that. We definitely need a few quiet days before we leave on Sunday.

I am also thankful for great children's music. I haven't heard the whole album J is for Jesus, but we have A very very very big God and love it. There are new and old songs; profound truths sung delightfully and simply.

Here are some photos from the concert.

Oh no! Mould!

This is a plea for help.

I took down our Christmas Decorations today (yes, its 22nd January, but if you remember, they didn't go up until the 3rd Jan... that's only three weeks) and the banners we made are covered in mould... it has really been that wet in the Blue Mountains.

I tried not to think about what this might say about the state of my spiritual life...

Anyway... on the off chance that anyone knows whether it's worth trying to get mould out of calico... what should I do ?

I have a sneaking suspicion that I should take a deep breath and throw them all out before I think about it too much.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Never say never

This is our lastest magnetic-stick-us-on-the-fridge-and-don't-forget-to-pray-for-us photo.

I always swore I'd never be on one of those.

Public Phones

We have been overseas for three years. We have come and gone relatively frequently in that time. Most things haven't changed very much. At least, we haven't noticed that they've changed. But every now and then something happens that reminds us that things have changed. Or we have changed. Something happens that makes me feel a little lost.

Last time we were in Australia and I tried to use a public phone I spent a long time putting 40c into the slot and wondering what on earth was wrong with the phone. I was drafting letters of complaint to telstra in my mind. Then I noticed that a local call was now 50c.

Today I was driving home from Sydney and wanted to ring Mum and Dad to let them know I would be later than expected. My mobile phone was flat (I'm not very good with mobiles) and so I thought I'd better find a public phone. But I could not. I stopped at a number of service stations and fast food outlets on Parramatta Rd but there were none! And it's not easy bundling three children in and out of the car each time one stops to go looking. Eventually, desperate to find a phone before the motorway, I left the main road and found a phone booth near a high school.

It didn't used to be this difficult!

Which flower is this? #3

These flowers were small, 1cm or so across and white. There are five petals. The leaves are needle-like, 5-15cm long. The shrub was quite near the water and was about 1m high. I suspect there might also be some tasty nectar inside, hence the insect below!

Location: near a water hole down from Martin's Lookout, Springwood, Lower Blue Mountains.

Do you recognise this flower?

Can you identify it?

You might know someone who can... you might make use of a botanical key... you might find it on the internet, or even in a book.

A fabulous 4x6 print of the top picture will be sent to the first person to post a comment with its correct common name, the first person to post a comment with its correct Genus name, and the first person to post a comment with its correct species name.

What are you waiting for? Have a go!

See this post for more details.

And I promise I know the answer to this one already. This is not a wild goose chase!

Flower #2 is...

Flower #2 is Ceratopetalum gummiferum.

Common name: Christmas bush.

Did you have trouble with this one? Was it tricky? Did you slough through loads of images on the internet and not find it? Did you spend hours at the library and have no luck? I did.

Actually, it isn't a flower!

It's the fruit!! The flowers are smaller and white.

Sorry about that. I promise it won't happen again. Actually, I had posted that one before the whole idea of the series feature evolved, so don't be too harsh on me!

I didn't work it out on my own, I needed some help from experts (many thanks to Murray Fagg, and also to my Uncle Richard).

So, the judges decision is that all three people who had a go will receive a fabulous 4x6 print. Well done Nicole, Glen and Julie. Can you please contact me with your addresses? Thanks.

Flower #3 coming shortly...

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Sophie's Adventures

Sophie has just turned five, has a brother called Matthew, and has just had her first day at school.

All this makes these books, by Dick King-Smith, a great read for our family.

Sophie (our Sophie) was given the first book, Sophie's Snail, for Christmas last year. This year she received the three volume set entitled Sophie's Adventures which includes Sophie's Snail, Sophie's Tom and Sophie hits six. We are now about half way through Sophie's Tom and we are loving it.

Sophie (Sophie in the book) is small but determined. She disapproves of lying, cheating, crying and wearing skirts and wants to be a lady farmer when she grows up. She faithfully tends her 'flocks and herds' in the potting shed down the back garden; those being her woodlice, 'snales' and 'yearwigs'.

The stories tell of her everyday life adventures. She has snail-races with her brothers (Matthew is older and has a twin called Mark), meets a great-great-Aunt, tries to amuse her floor-ridden back-aching Father, adopts a stray cat and begins school. She has a Mother and a Father at home and the family seems to be quite functional.

Sophie is no Heidi. There are tantrums and deceit (but not outright lying, of course, she disapproves of that). Of particular concern, however, is the way she treats her two "friends", Dawn and Duncan. This has given us plenty of oppurtunity to dicuss such behaviour and ask questions like 'was that the right thing to do?', 'how would you feel if?' and 'what would you do or say?'. I hope that as she grows (the series continues) she learns to treat her friends with the same kindness and respect that she shows her "flocks and herds".

The chapters are rather long and can take up to twenty minutes to read. We have enjoyed the time we spend reading it together and look forward to the rest.

We have also begun to read Heidi, quite a different five year old girl, and are really looking forward to this also.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

The seed that fell among thorns...

I was reading the parable of the sower (Mark 4) to the children at bedtime tonight and was cut to the heart when I read this;

Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. (Mark 4:18-19)

Let's be honest, I can see some thorns.

Whenever we first return from Vanuatu we are always so shocked by our wealth in Australia. We are always trying to think about how we could more simply, like our brothers and sisters in Vanuatu. And yet I find that after a month or so, I have forgotten these lessons and am fitting right in.

This last week I have felt just like an Australian Mum (at least how I think one would feel!). I've been taking the girls to swimming lessons. Today we went to the library. We have been on bushwalks, swimming in water holes, catching tadpoles. Life has been great and I have really enjoyed it. I have really enjoyed not feeling out of place. Being unoticed. Not being stared at.

But as I read these words, 'making it unfruitful' I was cut to the heart. These thorns don't necessary take the word away. They make it unfruitful. I have been so absorbed in myself and our activities, that I had not noticed they had begun to look very much like thorns.

None of these activities are wrong. Nor is the remedy to stop them. I think the key is to be fruitful in them. To have a mind and heart so absorbed in our Lord that everything we do and say is fruitful. Wherever we are, to whomever we talk.

It has made me realise that when we return to Australia I will have to give some serious thought to being a missional mum here in Australia. And more thought to being fruitful in Vanuatu, not just assuming that being a 'missionary' makes me fruitful.

It was been a timely word from my God; it's time for some serious gardening.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Swimming Lessons

Today was the second of a week's intensive swimming lessons for Sophie and Bethany. They are in the same class, the "Penguin" class. Yesterday there were two boys in the class with them, today only one (we'll see what happens tomorrow!). It's a great teacher-child ratio, and their teacher is also great; aware of what each child is capable and helping them progress little by little.

And... don't forget to check out this week's flower in the fabulous weekly feature, "which flower is this?".

T-shirt transfers

Today we did a long-awaited activity. We've been waiting since the 4th January... that's ten whole days! Sophie was given a T-shirt transfer for Christmas and only today did we use it.

First we used the special crayons to draw a picture onto the transfer.

Then we ironed the transfer onto the T-shirt,

peeled off the backing paper,

and voila!

Flower #2 is...

Flower #2 is... well, you will have to wait to find out!

I have given some thought to this 'series' and decided it shold be a weekly rather than a daily feature. So, each Monday we'll have a post 'which flower is this?' with a new flower for you to identify. There'll be a week to work out what it is. Each Monday there will also be a post with the name (common name and scientific name) of the previous week's flower.

There will even be prizes! I will send a 4x6 print of the flower of the week to these people:

  • the first person to post a comment with the correct common name of the flower,

  • the first person to post a comment with the correct Genus of the flower, and

  • the first person to post a comment with the correct species of the flower.

Should a person post a comment with all three names correct (and being the first person with all three correct), only they will receive the print (and only one print but lots of accolade for being so clever).

Similarly, should a person post a comment with the correct full scientific name (Genus and species) they will receive one print only yet another person may still receive a print for the correct common name.

Happy Identifying!!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Which flower is this? #2

These flowers were quite small, perhaps 1.5 to 2 cm across. They were in small bunches on a tree, perhaps 4 m tall. The leaves were dark green and leaf-shaped (not like spikes). The tree was down near the water hole. Down in the valley at the water hole the vegetation was quite different to the dry sclerophyll on top. The leaves were (generally) greener, broader and softer.

Do you recognise this flower?

Can you identify it?

You might know someone who can... you might make use of a botanical key... you might find it on the internet, or even in a book.

A fabulous 4x6 print of the above picture will be sent to the first person to post a comment with its correct common name, the first person to post a comment with its correct Genus name, and the first person to post a comment with its correct species name.

What are you waiting for? Have a go!

See this post for more details.

Flower #1 is...

Flower #1 is a Banksia serrata, named for the shape of its leaves. It's common name is Honeysuckle or Saw Banksia. It is in the family, PROTEACEAE (said "pro-tee-ace-ee") which is the same family as the Proteas, Waratah and Grevillias.

The flower is actually made up of many small flowers. The finger-like protusions are each one small flower. The "finger" is is the style (the female part of the flower, see this site for help with the technical terms). There are four small petals around the base of the style, and these have fused to form a tube. These two things; the long style and the four fused petals are typical of this family. All banksias, proteas, waratahs and grevillias will be like that. Have a look next time you see one!

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Which flower is this? #1

The first one is shouldn't be too difficult (I do actually know this one, but not the others). It was towards the top of the ridge in the dry, spiky (the technical term is 'sclerophyll') forest. The flowers were on a tree, about 2 metres high.

Down to the Water Hole

We went for a bushwalk this morning with my parents, sister and
brother. We did the walk down to the a water hole below Martin's
Lookout. Some of us went for a dip (not me). Here are the girls in
the middle of the water hole.

No leeches today!! (see this blog.)

I took lots of lovely photos to remind me of local flora... so small and subtle. I thought I'd start a series called 'what flower is this' to see if you can help me identify them. Tell me the common name, scientific name or an interesting story you are reminded of. Use books, use the internet or use the old grey matter. Here goes.

Goodbye Glen

Glen returns to Vanuatu tomorrow. We had a farewell lunch for him yesterday.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Funny Little Bethany

Bethany said some very funny things this morning. She is yet to master the use of English pronouns. In Bislama pronouns are very simple. For example; I, me and my are all 'mi'; she, her, hers, he, him, his, it and its are all 'hem'.

This morning, I slept late and when I emerged, the girls were still in
their pyjamas. I said to get dressed and have breakfast. They said,
we've already had breakfast. Now, this breaks our rule that they must
be dressed before they breakfast. I said, what do you mean you've
already had breakfast?? Hurry up and get dressed. They hurried off to
get dressed and Bethany, pleased that they had managed to last so long
in their pyjamas and giggling at their audacity, says to Sophie,
"Sophie, us tricked she!"

Not long afterwards, fully clothed now, Sophie rather seriously
informed me that Bethany was wearing dirty underpants and that she
wouldn't change them. I went to investigate and this is what followed.

Me: Is this true Bethany? (she nods)
Me: Well there are plenty of clean ones on your shelf. You take those
ones off and put some clean ones on. (no answer, no movement).
Me: Come on Bethany, take those off and change them. (no answer, no
movement, I get distracted by Matthew, look back again).
Me: Bethany, change your pants!

This time she does as I asked. As she does, I overhear her say to

"Sophie, I was ee-noring Mummy."

and I say, "What? Were you ignoring me?"

and she replies, "Yes, but I couldn't because you were talking too much!"


My sister took these photos this morning, just outside her front door.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Cicadas, Flannel Flowers and Leeches

Yesterday morning I went for a bushwalk with my Dad, Sophie and Bethany. We didn't do a well-known or famous track. We just walked into the bush at the back of the houses on our street (in the lower Blue Mountains). We followed a very overgrown track down the side of the ridge until we reached the fire trail at the bottom, which runs by the side of the creek. Then we followed the fire trail to the water hole, rested a while and then made the arduous trek up and out of the valley, back to the road.

It was green. I haven't seen the bush this green and resplendent for a long time.

It was spiky.  Though I knew this already (I even studied the ecology of it all at Uni) the comparison with the large, soft, leafy vegetation in Vanuatu made it feel so harsh and uninviting; repelling us at every step; protecting its treasures.

But, oh, the memories!! The sounds, the smells and the sights all brought back memories of childhood.

The Cicadas were so loud. Sophie and Bethany would cover their ears, almost in pain and confused. Dad snatched one up (I was impressed by his reflexes!) and showed them. Perhaps it was a "black prince"? I remember collecting their dusty shells at school lunch times; waiting around on hot summer mornings at little athletics, all quiet but for the cicada's song; little boys with shoe-boxes filled with "Green Grocers", "Black Princes", "Yellow Mondays" and "Tom Thumbs".

The Flannel Flowers were in bloom and were beautiful.  They are my favourite flower and were in my wedding bouquet.  Once when I was very small my Uncles and Dad were abseiling from some very big rocks somewhere around here and my brother and I were pottering around at the base of the rocks.  There were flannel flowers everywhere.  Everywhere.  I was wearing a floppy hat.  I made a posy of flannel flowers.  I had fallen in love with them then and I still think they are just beautiful.

And there were leeches.  Aarghh!!!  Just as Bethany and I were racing down to the fire trail, I investigated an itch beneath my trousers, and behold, there was a leech.  It hadn't yet begun to feed, it wasn't yet swollen with blood, my precious liquid life, but my heart began to pound.  I remembered this.  This had happened before!  I remember leeches on end, stretching, waving, reaching for a passing meal.  I remember a youth group walk down the back of Martin's lookout and sitting on a rock with a friend at the water hole, peeling off our socks and piling up the leeches, like olives now, full and sated.  I remember always stashing away a sachet of salt.  Some might take a compass, some matches, some water.  I took salt.  I was never sorry to see them writhing in agony having been sprinkled with salt.  I remember the pattern of blood on a concrete path having stomped on a bloated leech.  I was not sorry about that either.

And there was elephant rock.  A rock my brothers, sister and I would climb on that looks uncannily like a group of elephants.  It isn't as big as it used to be.

And I'm sure it isn't as far as it used to be, either, down to the water hole. Dad might say it's further.  

Thursday, 10 January 2008

It's Christmas Again, part 2

On our 'Christmas Day' (January 4) we awoke (not at the crack of dawn as when I was small) and enjoyed a relaxed breakfast with the whole family. Croissants, fruit, yoghurt; all yummy things we can't get in Vanuatu. We are staying with my Mum and Dad. My sister lives just up the street and my brothers are staying with her. It is easy for everyone to arrive for breakfast!

After breakfast we continued our relfection on the birth narratives. My Dad and brother read from Luke 2:1-7 with visual aids from this website.

Then our little family gave a dramatic reading of Luke 2:8-20.
There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby watching over their flock....

and an angel appeared and spoke good news of great joy to them (and remembered all her lines!).

And then a great multitude of the heavenly host appeared, praising God.

After this my brother's (my other brother) family led us in a reflection on Matthew 2:1-12. We all 'became' wise men and were given gifts of gold, incense and myrhh to carry to the one born to be King of the Jews.

We journeyed to Jerusalem to talk with King Herod...

(yes, that's King Herod)

and then on to worship the baby, the Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.

After this we gave each other our presents. Tradition in our family states that presents must be given one at a time in order for everyone to know and appreciate each gift. This has been to help us rejoice not just in what we receive (and so think only of ourselves), but also to rejoice with others in what they receive, and to take pleasure in giving. This has been a helpful tradition. However, as our family has become larger and larger, the time of present giving has become longer and longer!

My Grandparents, my Gradmother's sister and an old family friend joined us for Christmas lunch. Here is a photo of my Dad with my Granny.

After lunch we sang carols.

We all had a great day. General consensus was that it was the best Christmas celebration we've had in a while.

  • The decorations really made us feel like we were celebrating something special. It was a special occasion.
  • Our meditations on the bible story did help us to remember that this was the reason for the celebrations. It was not just another family gathering, a birthday perhaps or a chance for us all to get together (not easy to do now that we live in Vanuatu!) but we were remembering the birth of our Saviour. This was especially important for us as it was so long after 25th December. Being January the 4th, and a Friday, we could not celebrate with other Christians at church in the morning. Had we not reflected deliberately on the bible passages, our celebration could easily have been indistiguishable from an ordinary family get together.
  • The preparation required for each group to prepare a presentation was also helpful. Sophie had to learn, by heart, Luke 2:10-11. She had already learnt some of this just from repeated telling of the story with our nativity scene (see this blog) and it was not difficult for her to learn all of it. What a great passage to have stored away in her heart! Sophie, Bethany and I sang a slightly modified version of the chorus from the song 'Guess What Happened' from the album, 'the King, the Snake and the Promise'. We modified it so it followed the NIV text of Luke 2:14. Again, it is great that the girls now have these words stored away in their hearts. Dave wrote a song from Luke 1:46-55. What a great oppurtunity for him as he wrote, and both he and Bron as they practised, to think and meditate on these words.
  • Singing Carols was good too. It was really lovely to see Grandad singing carols. He is quite old now and cannot make it to church very often. He loves singing and has been in the church choir as long as I can remember. If this was all we had done, it would have been the best Chrstimas in a long time.

In conclusion, being deliberate about our Christmas traditions really helped us celebrate the birth of our saviour! There are things that I think I would change and improve upon for next year. Most of all I think it has reminded me that no matter how deliberate we are in our celebrations, they in themselves do not change hearts. If we celebrate like this and do not help Mum with the cleaning up, we have learnt nothing. If we celebrate like this and yet do not honour our mother and father, the word is not in us. Yes, they were good. They were hepful and I loved it and I would do it again. But they themselves cannot produce the righteous life that God desires. Hopefully they will help work the soil that will.

Friday, 4 January 2008

It's Christmas Again

I am one of four children, now mostly grown-up and married. Our 'in-laws' are from far-flung places in country NSW and interstate. This all means that we get together for Christmas celebrations on Christmas Day only every second year. 2007 was an 'in-laws' year (and we had a lovely Christams in Griffith with Glen's family). We are only now, on the 3rd Janary, getting around to having my family's Christmas. Today was 'Christmas Eve'.

Provoked by recent discussions of Christmas Traditions (see this blog), I gave some thought to how we could glorify Christ in our celebrations of Christmas this year, and how we could make it a special occassion, different from other family get togethers.

We are not usually big on decorations at Christmas, particuarly not joining in the game of Christmas-lights-one-up-man-ship that is played in our street. But this year we made an exception and used these means to our ends, to help fulfill our purpose of focusing our minds on Christ. We hung gold stars from the ceiling and (for the first time ever) put up lights around the room. We made and hung 'nativity' banners. These banners were the focus of the room... to help us focus on the reason for the season.

We had a lovely evening. There was good food and good conversation. The cousins played together...

... and danced together.

After our meal (on Christmas Eve we always have roast pork) we had he first of a series of four 'mediations' on the birth narratives. My sister and her husband lead us in a reading of Luke 1:26-56. They sang a song that my brother-in-law had written based on Mary's song (1:46-55). Then we sang it together.

Tomorrow morning we'll have the next three 'meditations'. Stay tuned.