About this Blog

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Light and shadows

I went for a brisk walk on the beach this morning. It was one of those changeable days where it could be pelting with rain one minute and beautifully sunny the next. The clouds overhead created sharp lines between light and shadow.

I was reflecting as I walked how life is like that - joy and sadness, celebration and tragedy, passing moods of elation and desolation...

I noticed a police tape across the far end of the beach where I was headed. As I got closer a young Mum with a baby in the pram came towards me and said, "Just letting you know someone has just jumped from the lookout onto the rocks. You might not want to go any closer."

Life and death, beauty and tragedy... I walked back on the path above the beach praying for the family of the person who jumped and very aware of the steps, circumstances and choices that so quickly lead from sunshine to shadow.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Gratitude and Wellbeing

I've had a wonderful habit for many years now - stopping at the end of the day and writing three things I'm grateful for in that day. For the last 16 years it has been a habit shared with the person I live with - that doubles the benefit and the joy! We have a Gratitude journal for each of those years.

It doesn't necessarily take scientific research to "prove" the benefits of having a grateful attitude to life. You may have learned it singing "Count your blessings" in Sunday School! But putting the research alongside what we "know" can give that extra reminder and nudge  to re-activate ways to keep gratitude alive. Here's a quote from a longer article I read today:

"Over the past two decades, much of the research on happiness can be boiled down to one main prescription: give thanks. Across hundreds of studies, practicing gratitude has been found to increase positive emotions, reduce the risk of depression, heighten relationship satisfaction, and increase resilience in the face of stressful life events, among other benefits." 
To read the whole article click: Four Great Gratitude Strategies

Monday, July 20, 2015

Film festival - Marie's Story

I've just come home from seeing this Auckland Film Festival movie. It was inspirational.
Marie's Story
"Marie Heurtin
Jean-Pierre Améris
Education and divine mission drive this 19th-century French pastoral drama: the true story of deaf-blind Marie Heurtin. Her life transforms with the discovery of language, due to the incredible persistence of a Catholic nun."

In some ways Marie's story similar to the story of Helen Keller (but much less well known.) It is an intense and challenging movie that leaves me so, so grateful for both sight and hearing. What is the world like when you can't see or hear? How trivial some my complaints and grumbles seem...

Another challenge was the commitment of Sister Marguerite - who could so easily have given up! I wonder if I would have hung in through all the discouragements? To be honest I doubt it.

I am interested in sign language as we have translators (i.e. people who translate into sign language) at some our church services now. It is a whole new language to learn - and a beautiful one to watch even for those of us who can hear! But what an extra challenge to bring communication and language to someone who can't see signs! 

If you can't get to a Film Festival showing let's hope this excellent movie comes back to main theatres later.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

For the sake of the gospel...

Whatever your views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage I recommend reading this Blog post from Rachel Held Evans entitled Give up the Persecution Complex It's true that it is written from the perspective of the culture of USA. I don't think we, in NZ, have the same "persecution complex" i.e. feeling "persecuted" because of legislation allowing same sex-marriage. However, Rachel Held Evans courageously expresses the injustices done by Christians in the face of issues they disagree with. Here are just a couple of quotes from her full post.

"So what I’d like to suggest to my fellow Christians is that perhaps taking up the cross means laying down the persecution complex. A spirit of fear and entitlement does more to obscure the gospel than elucidate it...."

"Living in a pluralistic society that also grants freedom and civil rights protection to those with whom one disagrees is not the same as religious persecution.   And crying persecution every time one doesn’t get one’s way is an insult to the very real religious persecution happening in the world today.  It's no way to be a good citizen and certainly no way to advance the gospel in the world." 

A book I would also highly recommend is Torn: 
"As a teenager and young man, Justin Lee felt deeply torn. Nicknamed "God Boy" by his peers, he knew that he was called to a life in the evangelical Christian ministry. But Lee harbored a secret: He also knew that he was gay. In this groundbreaking book, Lee recalls the events--his coming out to his parents, his experiences with the "ex-gay" movement, and his in-depth study of the Bible--that led him, eventually, to self-acceptance. 

But more than just a memoir, TORN provides insightful, practical guidance for all committed Christians who wonder how to relate to gay friends or family members--or who struggle with their own sexuality. Convinced that "in a culture that sees gays and Christians as enemies, gay Christians are in a unique position to bring peace," Lee demonstrates that people of faith on both sides of the debate can respect, learn from, and love one another."

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Heaven is in Kigali, Rwanda

I wish the news featured the wonderful good news stories like this!  

"Many of the world's humanitarian efforts have been focused on Africa. How can those in emerging economies not just survive but thrive? And can a country with scars as deep as Rwanda's be healed? The were just some of the questions dangled tantalisingly in front of newlyweds Josh and Alissa Ruskin at a party on a Manhattan rooftop. Could they really make a difference in a country with such a troubled recent history? They had no idea but got on a plane anyway, determined to try.
... In New York City Josh and Alissa never could have imagined that their path to making a difference would lead not just to fields and clinics but to a kitchen and the best guacamole in Africa. Helping Rwandans create their own success, they have put in place a lasting model for achievement. Their efforts are deeply emblematic of the entire nation's stunning progress during the last two decades. Rwanda is today a country that proudly sees an end to poverty on the horizon and has, against all odds, moved from tragedy to triumph." - from the cover blurb

This is one of the most inspiring books I've read in a long time. By the way, "Heaven" is the name of the restaurant Alissa set up as part of their enterprising way of creating new avenues of skill and employment for local people. 

Read the book if you can. And/or take a look at the website here.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Even in winter...

The daffodil bulbs in the pot on our deck have forgotten it is still winter! It reminded me of the quote by Albert Camus (see below).
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
 And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” Albert Camus

And then there's the lovingly tended public garden at a busy intersection in Orewa. 
And that reminded me of the song Scarborough Fair which has the repeating line "Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme..." Somehow "Parsley, be-go-ni-a and kale..." doesn't have the same ring to it! 
All these tenacious expressions of beauty brought a smile and warmth to my day. Yes - in the midst of winter... the invincible summer!