Sunday, 23 August 2009

us? missionaries?

Sophie has been reading a biography of Mary Slessor. Mary worked in the cotton mills in Scotland as a young girl to support her family. She used to hear about David Livingstone, also a Scot, who had become a missionary in Africa and she would dream of doing the same.

My Sophie now thinks of Old "Ma" Slessor who worked for many years in Calabar in West Africa sharing the gospel and the love of Christ and now she dreams of doing the same.

One evening we were chatting before bed and she was telling me about how Mary would rescue the babies that had been left out to die from exposure. She said she wants to be a missionary when she grows up.

After a while I said, "Do you know that we are missionaries?"

She said, "What? Us? Missionaries? I don't believe you."


Thursday, 13 August 2009


Thanks for all the comments people made on this post on forgiveness.

Now I'm thinking through
  • what forgiveness actually is, 
  • how forgiveness, mercy and reconcilation all relate and
  • the difference between God's forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of each other (and whether they are different)
Again, your input is desired!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Chick, chick, chicky

Here's a picture of a little chick that Bethany found, abandoned by her mother. We have been shown the local way to house them. The coconut husk keeps them warm and can be hung up out of harm's way.

The little chick in the picture has been with us since Sunday and is thriving.  Unlike some of the others that have come our way, this one was healthy and we are hopeful that it will survive.

Today and yesterday have been very rainy with some exceptionally heavy downpours.  Our house was completely surrounded by water.  In the middle of all this, Bethany noticed the distressed cries of another chick.  It was stuck at the edge of the ornamental garden around the house, unable to jump up onto the grass and up to its eyes in water.  Its mother was some way away.  Bethany rescued it from the water but it was too weak and wet to follow its mother.  We took it in, warmed it up and dried it.  Later on, when the rain has subsided, we found its mother and returned it.  There was a happy reunion and five minutes later we were not even sure which one it was.

We have noticed while we are here that some hens are good mothers and some are not.  Some lose one or more of theirs and some, though with ten or eleven, do not lose any.  The good mothers never stop clucking.  The bad mothers are quiet.  Their chicks straggle behind and are not called back soon enough.  Danger comes and they are too far from their mothers.

I wonder what message there is in this for us?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Heart of Anger (2)

I am still appreciating gems of wisdom from the Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo.

In the third chapter he talks about the two unhelpful and extreme responses to anger. The first is to blow-up and the second is to internalise. He suggests that anger is an emotion that has the purpose of destroying something. Instead of destroying ourselves (by internalising) or others (by blowing up) we need to destroy the problem that created the anger. And we destroy that problem (as usually anger involves other people) by communication.

Communication, he suggests, involves not only words, but also our tone of voice and the expression on our faces.  When teaching children to deal with their anger, they have to learn not just what to say, but also how to control the tone of their voice and the expression on their faces.

All this rings true for me when I think about how I respond to anger (I'm definitely an internaliser and need to work hard at talking about it) and I know from observing my children that tone and expression can convey much more than words.  

In the fourth chapter he introduces The Gumnazo Principle, by which he means 'training' (Gumnazo is just the Greek word for it, apparently).  He says sure that you clearly understand The Gumnazo Principle; biblical discipline involves correcting wrong behaviour by practising right behaviour, with the right attitude, for the right reason, until the behaviour becomes habitual. (p66)
He distinguishes between teaching and training like this; teaching gives knowledge while training gives skill.  There's a lot of overlap in the way we use these words but I understand his point.  When it comes to behaviour, its not enough to teach, we must train.  We train our children  in righteousness in the same way that a master trains his apprentice rather than as a lecturer divulging knowledge to his students.  And training requires doing it again and again and again and again until it is learnt.

I think I do expect to tell my children once and subsequently they behave the right way, and get cross (and expasperated) with them if they don't.  It was helpful instead to view this as a process.  Right behaviour is something they need to practise, particularly when sin will be pulling them in a different direction.  I am thankful also for the work of the Spirit in their lives!

Monday, 10 August 2009

a right to romance?

I wrote the other week about how we have been enjoying watching the Last Detective.  The other night was saw the last episode in series three and there was a particular conversation that grabbed my attention and I can't stop thinking about.  But first, some background...

In the second series it becomes clear that while Dangerous (they call him that because he isn't) and his wife are separated, he still loves her deeply.  At the end of the series he tells her that he can no longer cope with being 'good old dependable Dangerous'  who comes around to fix the fence, take the dog for a walk, fish hairbrushes out of the S bend and chat over a cup-of-tea.  He doesn't want a divorce (as she first thinks) but a real marriage.  

Now, by the end of the third series not much has happened (things move slowly, it's really not the main plot) except a night out here and there and he is still tennant in a small, spare room at his friend's house.  There is a change of plans one evening and instead of dancing with him she ends up doing some amateur detecting for him.  All seems to go well and the end up spending the whole night together.  

The next day she says it was a mistake. He asks why it was a mistake and what it is that she wants.  She says,
I just want life to sweep me off my feet.  I'm not sure I'm ready to believe that this is it....  I'm sorry, that sounds terrible.  I don't mean to hurt...  I just don't know what I want.
And he says,
Julie.  I'm not superman, or Bruce Willis or Colin-what's-his-name-Darcy.  I'm the one who spends the best part of a Saturday morning putting up shelves or taking the dog out.  And that's OK for me.  You're beautiful and you're lovely and you turn other heads as well as mine but you're still just the girl from round the corner that I fell in love with... and that does it for me.  That's special enough.
So why has it stuck with me?

First I was really struck by her romantic expectations.  She feels she has a right to be swept off her feet and is not satisified with the reality of being married to an ordinary, every day sort of man.

Second I was really struck by his reply, basically saying,  I am ordinary but I love you just as I always have*.  He forces her back down to the ground to look ordinary in the face, not to keep looking in the clouds for something else.

I've heard a lot in the years before and since I've been married about encouraging husbands and prospective husbands to be romantic.  But this has to be only half the story.  I really think we must be encouraging wives (and our young women) to have a better definition for love than romance; to look for and appreciate love shown in the ordinary, every day things that our men say and do.

I wonder what you think about romance? Do we have a right to romance, or is it only for the lucky few?

*  Interestingly, this seems to resonate with my husband who gets tears in his eyes every time he reads the above quote (which is often, as the post has been sitting on my screen for days now while I get around to finishing it!).

Sunday, 2 August 2009

under the sea

I wrote about last week at school here and promised some pictures of our under the water scene. We still haven't received the parcel of school work, so we'll be doing some more fishy work this coming week, too. Consider this a work in progress.

At the end of the week, Sophie had decided that she wants to be a scientist when she grows up. Bethany? Well she wants to put up under the sea scenes in people's houses. All in all, we've had a great time together this week.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Heart of Anger (1)

The Heart of Anger; practical help for the prevention and cure of anger in children, by Lou Priolo promises to be a great read.

I've only read two chapters so far and they have, as we say in Bislama, "stikim hat blong mi finis" (pricked my conscience).

The first chapter first looks at the characteristics of an angry child (outbursts of anger, argumentation, disrespect, fighting, animosity, cruelty, strife, acts of vengence, malice, bitterness and discouragment) and then goes on to pin-point the most-usual cause (in his experience) of angry child; a child-centred home.

This chapter was somewhat encouraging for me for while I have had trouble with expressions of anger from one of my children, I can see now that she is not "an angry child";  her anger has not become so habitual that it characterises her.  We both have a way to go in dealing with this anger but this little distinction in my mind is enourmously helfpul.

The second chapter, not so encouraging but equally helpful, looked at "provocative parents".  He identifies 25 (yes, that many) ways that parents can provoke their children to anger.  Have a look...

  1. Lack of marital harmony
  2. Establishing and maintaining a child-centred home
  3. Modelling sinful anger
  4. Habitually disciplining while angry
  5. Scolding
  6. Being inconsistent with discipline
  7. Having double standards
  8. Being legalistic
  9. Not admitting your wrong and not asking forgiveness
  10. Constantly finding fault
  11. Parents reversing God-given roles
  12. Not listening to your child’s opinion or taking his or her “side of the story” seriously
  13. Comparing them to others
  14. Not making time “just to talk”
  15. Not praising or encouraging your child
  16. Failing to keep your promises
  17. Chastening in front of others
  18. Not allowing enough freedom
  19. Allowing too much freedom
  20. Mocking your child
  21. Abusing them physically
  22. Ridiculing or name calling
  23. Unrealistic expectations
  24. Practising favouritism
  25. Child training with wordly methodologies inconsistent with God’s word

There is some overlap here but I am definitely guilty as charged.

When I think about the particular instances when I have trouble with my child's anger it always involves (4) disciplinging while angry, (6) being inconsistent with discipline, (12) not listening to her side of the story and (23) unrealistic expectations.

So would you pray for me? Pray that I would finish this book and prayerfully consider all that he says, reflecting honestly on my on life and conduct.  Pray that I would repent of provoking my children to anger and learn better habits.