31 May 2008

Life Shaping Event: Summer Camp!

Poison ivy, Bev's scrummy coffee cake, campfire, boys!

Uhm, camp was the highlight of my summers as a kid. As I grew up, I got to go an additional week each summer to help with a younger group. I loved it . . . . well, not the smelly water and the rusty showers and the mosquito bites! The food was terrific and the volunteers seemed to be there for us, the campers.

The annual faculty hunt was a favourite. We'd go out in our "families" or teams and try to find the adults staffing for the week. Each one was awarded different points, with the dean being most valuable. The older he was, the easier he was to find!

We'd act out Bible stories, something they don't do much anymore, and memorise verses. I think people have been diverted from hell because of some of the verses I learned there.
It was called Pearson's Mill Christian Assembly when I was young; later they changed it to Rainbow Christian Camp because the camp had moved from it's original site and the old name seemed irrelevant.

Friendships made there have lasted over the years and the memories, well, some best forgotten and some best remembered! When I meet someone new, that I think I might have known, often we'll find we went to the same camp as kids. I coulda found a number of good-husband-material at that camp! And the girls from Kokomo! We were so much fun they could never put us in the same cabin together. I preferred cabin 5 or 6 . . . . further away from the Dean of Girls in Cabin 1! I think my name features on the rafters on both sides of the lake. How it got in to the boys' cabins I don't know.

I remember missionaries from all over the world. They had a huge impact on my worldview and the fact that I've now been in nearly 30 countries and have lived outside the US for nearly 25 years.

Campfires. Amazing vespers talks. Life shaping events. They are all part of how God used good people over time to form me spiritually. They gave me many of the tools I use today in ministry, and in life. Leadership. Conflict resolution. Determination. Faith. A sense of community. Those volunteers have scattered, some have died. What they gave to the campers lives on and is at work in abundantly more ways than they could have ever imagined.

This past summer I went back as the resident missionary with the goal of expanding the campers' worlds a bit. While I hope I did that, I think much of my value there was with the adults God brought to the camp. Many of them have scattered already . . . .

So it goes. Go for a summer. Go for a lifetime.

Quotes: Walking

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.
- Robert L. Stevenson

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.
- Henry David Thoreau

To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.
- Chinese Proverb

Farewell we call to hearth and hall!
Though wind may blow and rain may fall.
We must away ere the break of day.
Far over wood and mountain tall.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

All paths lead nowhere, so it is important to choose a path that has heart.
- Carlos Castenda

It is good to have an end to journey towards;
but it is the journey that matters in the end.
- Ursula K. LeGuin

The world belongs to the energetic.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can remember walking as a child. It was not customary to say you were fatigued.
It was customary to complete the goal of the expedition.
- Katherine Hepburn

Walking is the natural recreation for a man who desires not absolutely to suppress his intellect but to turn it out to play for a season.
- Leslie Stephen

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.
- Fred Allen

Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking.
- Antonio Machado

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive at where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding

Walking is also an ambulation of mind.
- Gertel Ehrlich

Don't think you're on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path.
- Author Unknown

The contented person enjoys the scenery of a detour.
– Author Unknown

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.
- Steven Wright

Empty Hands

We all go through periods of dryness in our prayers, don't we? I doubt . . . . whether they are necessarily a bad symptom. I sometimes suspect that what we feel to be our best prayers are really our worst, that what we are enjoying is the satisfaction of apparent success, as in executing a dance or reciting a poem. Do our prayers sometimes go wrong because we insist on trying to talk to God when He wants to talk with us. Joy tells me that once, years ago, she was haunted one morning by a feeling that God wanted something of her, a persistent pressure like the nag of a neglected duty. And till mid-morning she kept wondering what it was. But the moment she stopped worrying, the answer came through as plain as a spoken voice. It was, "I don't want you to do anything. I want to give you something"; and immediately her heart was peace and delight. St. Augustine says, "God gives where He can find empty hands." A man whose hands are full of parcels can't receive a gift. Perhaps these parcels are not always sins or earthly cares, but sometimes our own fussy attempts to worship Him our way. Incidentally, what most often interrupts my own prayers is not great distractions but tiny ones - things one will have to do or avoid in the course of the next hour.

C.S.Lewis, Letters to an American Lady, 1975

Moleskine Links

Add a comment and tell of us some you've appreciated.
The Tranquilo Traveler
The Moleskine Multi-Tab Hack on Loosewire BlogMoleskin iPod Hack

The Geekster Moleskine

For a range of models, what you can do with them or to them, including cover design and embossing, check out Put Things Off.

And I love LifeHacker and all their great ideas.

30 May 2008

Esterbrook Fountain Pen circa 1950's

When my brother speaks of a lever action, he is talking about something altogether different than me. As of today, I am the proud new user of a lever filling vintage pen manufactured by Esterbrook, in England, around 1950! It was designed to be an economy pen of the period – hence their nibs are made of steel rather than gold. This does make them rather inflexible but they are sometimes referred to as dollar pens, so the cost was a factor for everyday use.

This particular pen is made of red marble plastic, looks almost a wood pattern, and has nib number 2314-M. The nib states it was made in the USA whilst the barrel has the imprint “Esterbrook - Made in England”.
I bought it today at Drummond's Antiques on Anzac St in Auckland and I'm happy with it. I was happy with it even before I saw it listed for £45 online and I got it for much less than that! Ok, the clip is missing from the lid, but it's double jeweled and I like it. As writing equipment goes, it'll do just nicely, thank you.

LINKS: If you have to choose just one link to follow, read Doug Johnston on D*I*Y Planner and then you'll get the bug and want to pursue it further. eBay is just a click away . . . . or better yet, go find a nearby junk or antique shop and see what you can unearth! Images are from Richard's Pens, Esterbrook.net. Rick Conner of Penspotter has good info on Esterbrooks and most facets of fountain pen collecting and use, including how to buy old pens. To these people, FPOTW does NOT mean Favourite Post of the Week! A great way of viewing a personal collection can be found frpat.com. I like what I saw on Ron Zorn's pages too. Seemed like he was just down on Main St.

Nouwen's Return of the Prodigal Son

I first fell I love with this book as I traveled and read. When you've read an author a few times you do feel as if you get to know them, but I think this must be one of Henri's most revealing books. He puts himself in the roles of each participant, with integrity and humility. He caused me to see myself through the different roles too and to see a few things I am not proud of.

I have since taught from The Return of the Prodigal Son and have encouraged others to read it and benefit from Henri's meditations in the gallery.

Exhausted from a six-week lecture tour across the U.S. in 1983, Nouwen seeks rest in the L'Arche community in France. During his stay, a painting of Rembrandt catches his attention: The Return of the Prodigal Son. Sustained reflection on the painting slowly emerges into awareness of a new vocation coming to flower in his heart, his own personal call to "come home," to make his home with L'Arche. Identifying with each of the three main figures in the painting, Nouwen crafts a fresh interpretation of a classic story, concluding: "Though I am both the younger son and the elder son, I am not to remain them, but called to become the Father." A miniature of the painting on the memorial card for Nouwen’s wake marked its special place in the memory of the L’Arche Daybreak community where he served as pastor for the last ten years of his life.

"Often I have asked friends to give me their first impression of Rembrandt's Prodigal Son. Inevitably, they point to the wise old man who forgives his son: the benevolent patriarch.

"The longer I look at 'the patriarch', the clearer it becomes to me that Rembrandt has done something quite different from letting God pose as the wise old head of a family. It all began with the hands. The two are quite different. The father's left hand touching the son's shoulder is strong and muscular. The fingers are spread out and cover a large part of the prodigal son's shoulder and back. I can see a certain pressure, especially in the thumb. That hand seems not only to touch, but, with its strength, also to hold. Even though there is a gentleness in the way the father's left hand touches his son, it is not without a firm grip.

"How different is the father's right hand! This hand does not hold or grasp. It is refined, soft, and very tender. The fingers are close to each other and they have an elegant quality. It lies gently upon the son's shoulder. It wants to caress, to stroke, and to offer consolation and comfort. It is a mother's hand....

"As soon as I recognized the difference between the two hands of the father, a new world of meaning opened up for me. The Father is not simply a great patriarch. He is mother as well as father. He touches the son with a masculine hand and a feminine hand. He holds, and she caresses. He confirms and she consoles. He is , indeed, God, in whom both manhood and womanhood, fatherhood and motherhood, are fully present. That gentle and caressing right hand echoes for me the words of the prophet Isaiah: "Can a woman forget her baby at the breast, feel no pity for the chile she has borne? Even if these were to forget, I shall not forget you. Look, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." (Doubleday, 1992, Pp.142)

Henri Nouwen.org

reading group resources

Classic Walks, Treks, Tramps & Pilgrimages

New Zealand walks for fun and boy do we have some amazing sights to see!
If you tried to knock off just the Great Walks, you'd have a lifetime of walking to enjoy. But then consider all the other coastal and mountain walks, from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island!

I've enjoyed the Routeburn, the Milford & part of the Abel Tasman. I've driven past the Waikaremoana Track, drooling out the window. The Tongariro Crossing about killed me, but it was exhilarating all the same.

It is not just the mountains that go into making these journeys classics, the people, the history, the wildlife and the culture all combine to make these the worlds best known treks.

Another way to walk is to go on a pilgrimage. All major faiths have elements of pilgrimage, but some people may take a pilgrimage to a Hall of Fame, the Indy 500 or to the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, TX, USA.

There are lots of reasons to walk. The destination is not always the main one.

My visit to Jerusalem in 1993 was informative and inspirational, in that order. I did not go to walk on the dust Jesus walked upon, but it was amazing to be in the places I had read so much about.

One highlight was to see multilingual plaques bearing the Lord's Prayer — an impressive 62 tiled panels give the prayer in 62 different languages, from Aramaic to Japanese to Scots Gaelic. These are on the Mt of Olives where Jesus may have first taught His disciples the Lord's Prayer.

The second most visited Christian pilgrimage site after Rome is Lourdes, France, the site of a reported apparition of the Virgin Mary.
The Santiago de Compostela on the Way of St James is a very popular and meaningful pilgrimage I hope to do myself one day.

Not exactly walks, but amazing adventures by some New Zealanders in the news - Intrepid Journeys Seeing Jenny Shipley take on a sand dune in the Namib Desert was amazing. She named it as one of the highlights of her trip, her Everest.

Check out some other amazing walks at these links:
Walkopedia: interactive directory of the world’s best walks and hikes
MapSack's Best places tagged 'walks' in the world. Add your own either there or in our comments.

EXODUS TOURS: There are thousands of walks and treks around the world, but few are considered classics. The Inca Trail, Everest Base Camp, The circuit of Mont Blanc, the Kilimanjaro climb, The Annapurna Circuit, The GR10, the Haute Route and Nanda Devi are all considered as world classics, but you'll really need to decide that for yourself.


When I mention LABYRINTH to my friends, they either think of a David Bowie film I've never seen or of a maze. Mazes give me panic attacks. I took a small child into one and thought we'd never make it out again. The child was having a great time in her illusion of safety as she held on to my hand!

When I speak of labyrinths, I am talking of the ancient spiritual practice of simulating a pilgrimage in a path laid out over a garden green or quiet yard.

Walking a labyrinth is a right brain task. It involves intuition, creativity, and imagery. With a maze many choices must be made and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center. With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. The choice is whether or not to walk a spiritual path.

At its most basic level the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are.

In May of last year I made the trip back to my home state of Indiana, back to the camp of my childhood and joined in with the present staff for a Summer of investing in young people and volunteers. At the beginning of the summer, the camp director allowed me to take the staff, aged from 19 to 40+, to a nearby labyrinth and use it as a prayerful focal point of our journey together.

By the end of the summer we had laid out and mostly completed our own labyrinth at Rainbow Christian Camp, so we were able to debrief the summer there. The following were my instructions to the staff as they walked:

NOTE: Please walk the Labyrinth twice; once processing your ministry here this summer and again to just focus on your own personal journey & what God is doing as you go from this place. Use the following questions, quotes & Scriptures to help you think below the surface, to reflect and to walk away with something of value.

  • If you would like to create a playlist on your iPod or meditate using a particular song, do so as part of your journey.
  • If you would like to take something in to the labyrinth with you, and leave it there, do so. Do not worry about where the object will end up.
  • If you’d like to create something, preparation can be made for you to do that.
  • Please bring a Bible and possibly a journal, or other spiritual readings that help you connect.
Our journey this summer has been both solitary and communal. Consider that as you begin to enter the labyrinth. Go slowly. Take time to notice your breathing and slow it down a bit. Walk in time with your breathing if you want.

As you walk into the labyrinth the first time today, think through what you brought to the summer. Stop and sit if you want, so as to give more time to consider.

Each of us began the summer with our own bundle of expectations, hopes, struggles and fears. What were some of yours?

When you get to the two trees and are about to step through them, consider any breakthrough moments of the last few months.
When did you realize something?
When did you notice God?
When did something change for you?
What Scripture has God given you this Summer to speak more clearly or more loudly than before?
What person has He brought across your path to challenge, frustrate or grow you?
When did you find yourself most at peace with God?
When did you worship freely?

There is more to life than increasing its speed.

29 May 2008

People of the Person

Alright, I confess. I listen to talk radio. I know, you'd think I'd have all my presets tuned in to Christian stations, both music and teaching, but alas, no. I tend to prefer listening to sincerely wrong lovable pagans who are struggling to reconcile worldviews with world events, rather than listen to Christians pontificating in ways that suggest they have it all figured out.

Oh, ya, Jesus followers have a lot figured out, but no one knows it all and no one is an expert on everything from finance to child rearing to theology and the rest. So to think that I would listen to a Christian because they are a Christian, over another well-informed individual who speaks truth . . . . . nope.

And have you heard some of the garbled nonsense coming out of the mouths of those who say they follow Jesus? How many Jesuses are there cause it's really quite confusing!

We've got eejits who have numerical codes that figure everything out for you. Others live in compounds and are the ONLY guardians of the truth. Others know exactly when and where Jesus is coming back and what will definitely happen then and . . . oh, it's really quite exhausting.

Here is Simon Barrow on "these patchworks of de-historicized scriptural passages and half-baked, retrojective regarblings of current events which are lumped together by prophecy pundits."

Endism is nigh, texts are tricky

Christian faith is inescapably rooted in biblical tradition. But the Bible isn't a series of knock-down propositions. It is a set of living, dynamic, troubling, inspiring and disturbing accounts of the ways of a mysterious God among wayward people across the centuries. For Christians its interpretative core is the Gospels. They are, by their nature, diverse rather than singular. They speak of a God of unutterable grace who, in Jesus, turns upside-down every expectation of the conventionally religious.

In Christ nothing we thought we knew about God, the world or ourselves remains untransformed. But, as the New Testament records demonstrate, and as the communities that have been formed from it show, Christians have continued to disagree about the precise nature and impact of what God has declared in Christ. To be 'biblical people' involves recognising ourselves as part of this vital argument. And to recognise it as an argument rather than a war or a foregone conclusion.

In other words, to read the Bible is most definitely not about engaging in some sort of divination. It is, rather, to be invited into an unending process of exploration, guided by a conviction that in the fabric of the world (and in the flesh of a person) there is unquenchable life overcoming death-dealing, and enduring love overcoming fearful hatred. The fidelity of the process is therefore reflected in its fruits. Good textual interpretation issues in characterful lives and moral responsibility.

The Mission of God: From A Missiologist’s Perspective

by Dr Kang San Tan, Head of Mission Studies, Redcliffe College, reviews Chris Wright’s The Mission of God: From A Missiologist’s Perspective

"In 1999, at the WEA Iguassu Consultation, I first heard Chris Wright express his critique that David Bosch, in Transforming Mission (1991), devoted rather limited space to the study of Old Testament texts for mission theology. In his new book, Wright devotes about two-thirds of his discussion to Old Testament texts."

"Wright begins by asking the question of whether a missional reading of scripture can be applied to the whole of the scriptures. What happens when Christians read the Bible as a grand narrative of God’s mission? Instead of proof-texting and basing the whole of Christian mission on a few selected New Testament passages, Wright offers a missional reading of the whole Bible. This particular (missional) way of reading the scriptures is based on the assumption that “the whole bible renders to us the story of God’s mission through God’s people in their engagement with God’s world for the sake of the whole of God’s creation” (p.51). Rather than developing a biblical basis of mission, Wright offers a missional apologetic for the Bible; that behind the church’s mission is a God with a mission as revealed in the whole of the biblical narrative. Wright’s missional hermeneutic seeks to include global Christian voices, “the multiplicity of perspectives and contexts from which and within which people read the biblical texts” (p.39). Beyond contextual and postmodern readings of scripture, Wright argues that the Bible offers a particular story of God’s action through Israel with a universal claim among the nations. Missionaries reading this book will benefit from a more coherent and biblical framework for mission. As a result, readers are invited to discover mission in almost every book in the bible. In my view, this modelling of reading the bible missiologically is the most important contribution of Wright’s The Mission of God."

28 May 2008

San Francisco Spirituality

The first labyrinth I tripped over was in San Francisco when I was flying from Indianapolis to Auckland. When I visit a city I usually try to take in the galleries and gardens, the bookshops and cathedrals, the best local eateries and whatever feature is unique to the area.

As I struggled to the top of the hill and saw Grace Cathedral I was relieved. It was an oasis, a destination and a cool quiet place in a lovely setting.

I entered, even got to enjoy part of a service, appreciating the draped streamers from the high ceilings. The colour and flow of those streamers in that old cathedral really made an impression. Then I saw, inlaid in the floor, a pattern that looked like a series of paths. When I stepped outside into the courtyard, I saw the same pattern surrounded by shrubs and benches, an inviting area. I took one of the brochures explaining the pattern and read how a labyrinth can be used.

It is a great spiritual tool for meditation, decision-making, processing grief or loss, stress relief, etc. In my ignorance and simplicity I walked the labyrinth that day. As a discipler & equipper, I sensed a valuable tool for just about anyone, but especially for those who don't concentrate well, those who would rather participate fully in prayer rather than sit quietly with head bowed and eyes closed.

Follow some of the links below and check out other posts on Conversations at Intersections to read more about labyrinths and how you might use them in your faith community. Get off the couch and go for a walk!

Directory of Labyrinth Locators This is the most comprehensive Directory of Labyrinth Locators & photo galleries on the net!. Most of these lists are maintained by dedicated volunteers across the nation. Information is constantly changing, so bookmark us and check back often!

World-Wide Labyrinth Locator

Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
The Grace Cathedral Labyrinth is pictured, partially, in the photo at the bottom of this blog.

The Labyrinth Society

Veriditas: Experience the Wisdom of the Labyrinth, Lauren Artress

Jill Kimberly Hartwell Geoffrion PhD

It's not about ME!

Where do we find in Scripture that it is all about us as individuals? Where do we read that I must read it and then ask, "So what does this mean to me?"

Why not read it, as we do other literature, and ask, "What is this saying?" Sure, because of faith and the nature of our relationship with God, past, present and future, we respond to the Bible differently from other types of literature, but why not respond to it first as literature and then go on from there.

But even then, when did Jesus ever make a big deal about himself? He was always about His Father's business, even from the time He was twelve years old! And then, near the end of Luke 22, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

I am amazed at how Jesus responded to individuals where they were. How He kept His Father's objectives ever in front of Him, even telling his friends to get behind him if they tried to detour Him.

How can we learn to use the Scripture differently, as a living guide of grace and love and of bridge building and mutuality? How can we see it as a radically transforming instrument of love, rather than a restrictively conforming weapon of religion?

"It is taken for granted in many parts of Western culture that reading Scripture is inevitably an inward-looking activity, and that its results are arbitrary. This view is mistaken. Recent developments in the academy and beyond show that reading Scripture can be a way not only of forming identity within a tradition, but of improving mutual understanding between members of different traditions of reasoning." Nicholas Adams, New College, Edinburgh.

Psalm 115:1

Not to us, LORD, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.

Transforming Mission: Quotes & Review

“Our mission has not life of its own: only in the hands of the sending God can it truly be called mission. Not least since the missionary initiative comes from God alone.”

“In attempting to flesh out the missio Dei concept, the following could be said: In the new image mission is not primarily an activity of the church, but an attribute of God. God is a missionary God. ‘It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfil in the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church’ (Moltmann 1977:64). Mission is thereby seen as a movement from God to the world; the church is viewed as an instrument for that mission. There is church because there is mission, not vice versa. To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God’s love toward people, since God is a fountain of sending love.”

David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1991, pp. 389-390.
A study guide is also available . . . or from Amazon.

"At the conclusion of his survey of historical paradigms, Bosch emphasizes that mission is ultimately multidimensional. The contours of these many dimensions are shaped by six major "salvific events" chronicled in the New Testament: Christ's incarnation, by which he fully experienced the challenges and struggles of being human; his crucifixion, which signifies the completeness of his service and self-sacrifice; the resurrection, which conveys a message of victory and hope for humanity; the ascension, which calls Christians to work for a new order here on the earth which issues from above; Pentecost, which inaugurated the era of the church as a distinct community where social renewal is made manifest; and the parousia, which sets the sights of the church on the imminent and full realization of God's reign." - by Foster Stanback

27 May 2008

Using the Moleskine

Using the Moleskine by J. Diniz on Loosewire Blog

"I've been hooked on these for a few months now, and did quite an extensive internet research on usable hacks. My favorite models are the squared and blank pocket book, and the blank reporter notebook, as well as the small blank or squared cahier for individual projects or trips. Here's what I came to (and this is just my implementation of other peoples' ideas):

1. Writing implements
Pilot G-2 is the smoothest, darkest, silkiest pen around. Best for general use. Mini version available, called XS or Pixie.
Pilot G-TEC-C4 writes the finest line ever. Great for stuffing lots on info on a small paper landscape.
Fisher Space Pen, for the adventurous ones. Very pocketable and strong, impervious to the elements. Nevertheless, in regards to the writing pleasure, it's still just a ball pen.
Leadholders (2 mm, 2B) are classy and versatile for writing and sketching.
Mechanichal pencils (0,7 mm, HB) are really fine for writing, especially on the blank paper Moleskines.
Pencils are the way to go for the traditionalist, the artist and the cost-concious out there. You do, however, have to carry a knife or sharpenner to keep going anywhere. Best to chose a good brand like Staedler, and a B or 2B grade for softness and darkness.

2. Labeling Moleskines
Since I use three or four Moleskines at the same time, for different uses, I paint the rims of the pages with a highlighter. Just close the book, hold it tight, and run the thing through. Green is for my geocaching logbook, orange for my diary/planner, yellow for my profession, and blank for my personal use Moleskine. Can spot them a mile away.

3. Extras within
3x5 sticky notes on the front inside cover used for lists and handouts.
3M page color labels on the back inside cover for marking sections on the Moleskine.
Half a dozen 3x5 ruled index cards used for notes, page markers and blotter use (this is important with the G-2 pens).
Numbering pages seems to be mandatory, and I did it, but never actually got to use them as hyperlinks. Don't bother anymore with those.

4. Organising the pages
I just start by leaving a few pages blank at the beggining, for the more permanent stuff like calendar and dated matters. Just draw the calendar myself for the next three months or so, depending on the life expectation of the book. Next comes the main section, which I will divide only when needed to create a new category. The last pages ae set aside for contacts and other type of reference material. Doodles get to be backward written from the end of the main section. Important lists go to the main chapter, shopping and transient lists go on the sticky notes or index cards.

5. Wallet use
When travelling light, just stick VISA and ATM cards on the back cover pocket, ID and car documents amongst the last pages, close it up with the elastic band, and it's good to go.

6. Miscellaneous
A knot tied at the end of the page marker keeps it from sliding with the book closed, and from unravelling. Simple and efective.
Reward offered on the first page: a brand new Moleskine for whoever returns mine, if lost. Or, if preferred, a couple of gin tonics and a coffee appeal to lots of people (to me, it does)."

Travel Agents: relics or really good to have on speed dial?

While many people think booking for themselves online is the way to go, I still use travel agents.

I have had a series of really good travel agents. I've only dealt with a few bad ones and then I chose to not deal with them anymore.

I have a favourite agent in America. She's been helping me around the world for years now . . . many years. Karen is in Cincinnati, OH, but I've called her from several states and she always gets my documents to me in good order and plenty of time. On the rare occasion I've needed to make changes, whether due to my circumstances or those of the airlines, she's always made things easy.

I've had two super agents in New Zealand and know that they've saved me money, stress and hassles.

On a recent trip to the U.S. I had an emergency appendectomy. One call to my travel agent and the insurance kicked in and life became easier . . . . well, in so far as my travel arrangements and associated costs were concerned. I had to do the surgery and healing on my own.

I definitely encourage travel insurance!

IF and when something goes wrong in your travel arrangements, you can either make one call to an emergency number your agent provides, or you can make numerous calls and be placed on hold and given the run around fixing it up yourself. The disruption in your travel MIGHT have caused a bit of stress, especially if your schedule was tight and you had meetings or bookings on the other end. Sorting it all out yourself is going to multiply that stress. Who needs it?

I enjoy watching people. Airports are a great place to do that.
Watching stressed people climbing over one another to get to booking agents or customer service desks is not amusing. You can almost pick out the choleric personalities from the sanguines and melancholies. The phlegmatics are rarely seen in the stampedes.

For more about these personality types click.

Anyway, I'd rather just call Karen or Jeanette . . . tell them my situation and then go have a cup of tea.

How to choose a good agent.
I prefer someone who thinks of things I don't.
Someone who considers different eventualities and checks in to details and options.
I love it when they save me money. I work for a non-profit organisation and don't usually increase my revenue by my travels, so cost is an issue. My agents are good at checking thoroughly and then choosing well based on what they know of my travel style.
They know the airlines I prefer, the seats I like and where to place stopovers to make the long trips more enjoyable.

Everyone goes through LA enroute from NZ. I prefer San Francisco.
It's more quieter and friendlier and easier to get around in as I process my jetlag. My agents build this in, or inform me of lovely Pacific islands that might have special incentive fares going.

I usually arrive at the airport with all the bits I need, including airport tax stickers and visas where needed. They often remind me of things I might have forgotten and give me info on changes in security procedures, construction or localised wars.

They like it when I send postcards from remote places and when I report back afterwards that they really are geniuses and I'd be lost without them.

So you can do all your own booking online. You might save a few dollars here and there. Good luck. You'll probably need it out there on your own.

Read Christopher Elliott in his blog or on MSNBC for more on how to choose the right travel pro.

Department of Doing

Here's a conversation I'd like to have about an intersection in Devonport, Auckland. For a while there was just a simple shingle hanging above a doorway on a side street. Now that there is street front space available, The Dept of Doing has spread out a bit. Possibly this has something to do with what they've been doing.

I'm not exactly sure what that is, but I like the sound of it. I want one of their shirts.

Let me share some excerpts from their own fountain of creativity:

Amongst their lists of directives are a few things every business, agency or organisation can take notes on . . .

If someone comes to the Department with a problem, solve it for them. This is what The Department of Doing does. It is why we exist. . . . Anything is possible with effort and imagination.

We have learned by experience that business is more productive, more creative and more fun, when people trust and respect each other.

Never say, “That’s not my job”. The business world is full of organizers, planners, facilitators and managers. It doesn’t need any more. At the Department of Doing we only want doers. We are about making stuff, and making stuff happen. We are about taking clients’ problems and making them go away. That’s our job.

If you don’t know, find someone who does.

Not knowing is not a crime. Not caring is.
. . . We have a very tall building, and will not think twice about throwing people off the roof if they are in breach of Dept. Directive 5.
People associated with the Department of Doing are called Doers. I like that. They get things done. They don't just talk about it or pretend to know all about all, but they care deeply about getting things done, solving problems, applying creativity and ingenuity. I like that. I wanna be one of them.

Mario, one of the original Doers, describes The Department of Doing as a ‘spiritual home’ without the excesses, egos and endless meetings of big agency life, so that he can, simply, get things done.

An influence in the Department of Doing's sphere is
a book called, The Knowing- Doing Gap by J. Pfeffer and R.I. Sutton (HBS Press, Boston Ma, 1999)

"The most menacing phenomenon most organizations face is the knowing-doing gap, where knowledge is not implemented. This phenomenon costs billions of dollars and failures of all kinds. The world is full of knowledge experts but short on doers who can implement knowledge personally and/or organizationally. The most destructive aspect of the knowing-doing gap is the substitution of various talking activities for action where myriad members of the organizations make decisions that change nothing. Other reasons for the gap are: entrenched and outdated culture, fear of change, internal competition, and measurements that lead nowhere.

The knowing- doing gap is common to most organizations. . . . " book summary
For someone like me who hates meetings, that sounds spot on! I wish I'd written it!

Another Department of Doing quote, "never forget the guy on the couch. As creatives, we have to connect with our target audience. What never ceases to bemuse me is how out of step with people’s ordinary lives most business folk are. And ad people can be some of the worst offenders."

I'd say people in my business are too, but let's not argue.

Click somewhere near here if you wanna read more of the interview with Mario McMillan.

I'm gonna go do something.

Why do we go? Why do we stay?

Neither failure nor hostility can weaken the messenger’s conviction that he has been sent by Jesus. That his word may be their strength, their stay and their comfort, Jesus repeats it. “Behold, I send you.” For this is no way they have chosen for themselves, no undertaking of their own. It is, in the strict sense of the word, a mission. With this, the Lord promises his abiding presence, even when they find themselves as sheep among wolves, defenceless, powerless, sore pressed and beset with great danger. Nothing can happen to them without Jesus knowing of it.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 236-237. (Commenting on Matthew 10:16-25)

What wikipedia has to say about The Cost of Discipleship

26 May 2008


Putting Pen to Paper Anew

What is a moleskine? Well, is is not a moleskin, or any of the associated uses of that word!

"It's kind of like a gadget in itself. It's just an analog gadget,"

That urge -- to take command over a tidy, small expanse of paper, to quickly write in your own hand -- has turned the smartly marketed literary throwback into one of the odder trends of the instant-information age. Moleskine use has erupted in Washington and elsewhere, driven in part by a subculture of tech-savvy people otherwise electronically gadgeted to the hilt.

"If you really want to stand out, you can't do it with technology," said Henning, who has hardly forsaken his hand-held digital assistant, which tracks his appointments and houses a digitized copy of the Bible. "This is something else," he said of Moleskines. "It's retro. It's making a statement."

"It is a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem," said Rockville's Ken Britz, 34, an engineer with Dynamic Animation Systems who develops software for training simulators used by the U.S. Navy.

He explains why: At work, things come so fast that the best way to note something important often is to write it down. Britz keeps a 5-by-8-inch Moleskine at hand; it doubles as a mouse pad. Should he need to take notes during a call or sketch out a flow diagram of a graphical user interface, he slides off the mouse and grabs a pen.

Britz keeps two other Moleskines for personal use. In these he writes scenes for his screenplay, which involves manipulated human genetics and King Arthur living in modern times.

A strong literary bent has always motivated journal users, of course, and the Moleskine is no exception. Those at the farthest end of this spectrum don't necessarily consider Moleskines an addendum to technology; they consider them a shelter from it.

The sketchbook of Vincent van Gogh (1888–1890)
Kept in the Van GoghMuseum of Amsterdam

While you can't buy that one, you can get your own from many quality retailers or follow this link.

Read more Moleskine legends and stories at moleskinerie.com

25 May 2008

Arrive with your bags, or not? UNCLAIMED LUGGAGE

If your bags do not arrive with you, or are not couriered to you within a couple of days, they may end up at the Unclaimed Baggage Store, or a nearby op shop. Some tips from the Unclaimed Baggage Shop might be common sense, but you just might learn something helpful. Some crazy items they've found makes for interesting reading to. This place would make an excellent road trip for Goodwill or Salvation Army shoppers!

The L.A. Times has a page devoted to travel Q & A for Americans, with tips and info on its Travel Source Book 2008.

For packing tips and ideas, check out TRAVEL ADVICE, an earlier post on this blog.

The Bible in 50 Words

God made
Adam bit
Noah arked
Abraham split
Joseph ruled
Jacob fooled
Bush talked
Moses balked
Pharaoh plagued
People walked
Sea divided
Tablets guided
Promise landed
Saul freaked
David peeked
Prophets warned
Jesus born
God walked
Love talked
Anger crucified
Hope died
Love rose
Spirit flamed
Word spread
God remained.

History of the Fountain Pen

How easy it is to grab a pen and go!
We have numerous plastic barreled implements which expel ink with which we scrawl messages of varying importance: shopping lists, phone numbers, poetry and URLs.
We almost don't even need to purchase a pen anymore as there is often someone willing to put one in our hand with the hope that we will read the message ON the pen and buy their product or idea. What was formerly a tool for writing has become a message itself. Or see the chandelier made of pens.

But how did we get here? What have we lost along the way?

The earliest historical record of a reservoir pen dates back to the 10th century. In 953, Ma'ād al-Mu'izz, the caliph of Egypt, demanded a pen which would not stain his hands or clothes, and was provided with a pen which held ink in a reservoir and delivered it to the nib via gravity and capillary action. Al-Mu’izz commissioned the construction of the pen instructing:

"We wish to construct a pen which can be used for writing without having recourse to an ink-holder and whose ink will be contained inside it. A person can fill it with ink and write whatever he likes. The writer can put it in his sleeve or anywhere he wishes and it will not stain nor will any drop of ink leak out of it. The ink will flow only when there is an intention to write. We are unaware of anyone previously ever constructing (a pen such as this) and an indication of ‘penetrating wisdom' to whoever contemplates it and realises its exact significance and purpose'. I exclaimed, ‘Is this possible?' He replied, ‘It is possible if God so wills."
This article explores the Muslim heritage and also the European evolution of the technology.
Other Islamic Inventions profiled.

How did we get from from writing with a reed cut to a point on papyrus found growing along the Nile to today and do we give much thought to the thing in our hand which records our thoughts on paper?

Dare I ask the question: are pens and paper to go the way of books, so say some, and become relics of pre-electronic technology?

I hope not. I love beautiful paper and lovely pens. I recognise in the handwriting of my friends, their emotions and attitudes and humour.
Read The Gift of a Letter

Migration Happens

Might some of the events happening now in SA be a continuation of migratory patterns that have been charted over time? Many of the early reasons for migration were basic, having to do with sufficient supplies of water or food or avoiding a warring tribe. Today's migrations are similar we would just label the causes: politics and economics.

One source describes South Africa's population in very general terms like this:

Many of the Bantu speaking tribes who came from central Africa during the Southern Migration, established themselves in today's KwaZulu-Natal, further along the southern coast and in Mpumalanga. Other tribes tended to move more into the interior. Although their languages and culture did have similarities, they were far from identical. The black population of South Africa can be divided into several ethnic groups, of which the Nguni speaking people form a major part. Other main groups are the Sotho, the Venda and the Shangaan-Tsonga.
While the anthropologists, sociologists and politicians will differ from that and from each other, the point is that people move around. Those who are established resent the newcomers who threaten the supply of resources. The newcomers may be highly motivated by what they left behind.

Is it different now because we have worldwide access to events as they happen?

If a war happens in a country without broadband or cell phone coverage, does it count?

To read more:
Lingwhizt Turista Africana
Atlas of the Human Journey

24 May 2008

Travel Websites to Plan Your Trip

Websites worth visiting BEFORE you travel

Worldreviewer.com Written by experts with a pedigree, from the Travel Intelligence crew. Very impressive with lots of good input, good photos and easy to get around, the website that is.

LonelyPlanet.com Thorn Tree Forums from the oldest and most illustrious of the travel networking sites. NOTE: No matter what bad press one person might bring on an organisation, there's too much input into Lonely Planet for it to go far wrong.

Timeout.com Excellent, contemporary information from the makers of the guidebooks.

Wayn.com Biggest networking site still has the verve. A way to check where you're going and for others to keep up with where you've been.

Webjet.co.nz is a great comparison site for travel with Emirates, Air NZ, Qantas, Virgin, Pacific Blue between Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and USA.

Gowander.com A new networking site from Wanderlust, the best independent travel magazine in the UK.

Wikitravel.org Print your own guide from wiki's 30 destination guides.

i-site New Zealand.com for all your NZ travel planning, advice & booking. They have handy walk in i-sites at major centres throughout the country.

Couchsurfing.com See a city through the eyes of a local and get a free bed for the night.

Travel planning is half the fun. Meeting great people on the way is great too! Seeing the sights, absorbing the essence of a place. . . . ahhh . . .

23 May 2008

A Hungry Woman

I was at a conference with a bunch of people who love the Church, who love the ideal of authentic biblical community, who earnestly desire to read the Bible as one story and get it right, that bit about the kingdom and the church and eating together.

Anyway, it can all get to be a bit much sometimes and my head gets fuzzy and my heart gets full . . . so I took a walk at lunchtime. I just up and left the people I was sitting with, not knowing how long it might take them to decide where to eat, and I headed for Queens St.

Well, I headed in that direction, downhill, but I didn't know for sure I was going to Queens St until I arrived there, still hungry.

So I went in to a favourite Middle Eastern place there, ordered a lamb kebab and watched people. There were some students there from Pennsylvania. The girls are on an exchange programme from Loyola and are involved in service projects while in NZ.

I got my kebab and went outside, found a nice wooden bench at a major intersection and started chewing. I was approached by a homeless man, two evangelists and a hungry woman all in a matter of about 15 minutes.

My conversation with the man was all too brief. I did not engage him in conversation at all, my head too full of church talk to be church to him.

Then the lady evangelists came along and wanted me to take a test to prove I was a sinner.
I just confessed without bothering with the test, but then I think I tested them a bit.

I challenged them that there are other ways to approach the whole salvation conversation. While not avoiding sin at all, we can approach the heart of the matter by bringing heart into the conversation. What about God's design for each individual? What about His love for them as a person and His desire for them to be healthy and whole? I'm not in to the mamby pamby gospel that makes it all about me, or you, or anyone other than God, but the character and nature of the God I know is not all about showing me how much of a failure I am. That smacks of the law and I'm so over that!

Anyway, the younger one took it well, even when she asked where I went to church and I countered with, "Oh, is a place to go to or is it a community of faith influencing the world?"
Poor thing. She was a good sport though.

Then, last but by no means least, came the hungry lady.

She asked me for 50 cents, holding out her hand and showing me the coins accumulated thus far. She was very polite and non-threatening. I was at a disadvantage with my hands full of my lunch.

I answered her question with a question as my dad so aptly taught me to do, "What do you want?"

She answered, looking me in the eye, "A hot dog. I want a hot dog."
She knew exactly what she wanted. Not 50 cents at all, but a hot dog.

I was impressed. I respect her approach to life. She knows what she wants. Up we got and went to the nearby hot dog retailer and got a hot dog, or two. We had a little chat, as you do, nothing deep and earth shattering, but friendly and respectful.

I went back to my corner and then made my way up the hill, back to my church conference.
I don't know where she went from there, but for the time being, she had what she wanted.

Travel Planning & Currency Conversion Fees

I think, half the fun, and next to none of the cost, of travel is in the planning!
I love to plan a trip. I should plan more trips, even if I can't take them.

A short trip to the library yields a stack of travel guides. Maybe not the most up-to-date information, but a great place to start. Then another trip to your local bookstore with a cafe to make you linger . . . . they usually want you to look through books as you sip so you'll be tempted to think at least one of them indispensable and you'll buy it.

So far you've already been on at least two trips and it's cost you the price of petrol or bus fare and a cup of tea or coffee! See, this is fun!

One more trip I'd make, whether online or in person, is to check whether credit card purchases in various currencies get the best exchange rates. I've heard various rumours about hidden fees and disadvantageous exchange rates for certain types of transactions. Just know before you buy so you're not surprised when your statement catches up with you.

Some links that will fill you in The Money Blue Book, Gadling.com, and a handy currency conversion fees chart.

Justice, Equality, Respect, Human Rights

Okay, so when a white man beats up a black man it's racism. But when a black man hangs a petrol soaked tire round the neck of another black man and lights it, that's . . . . ?
When one regime who holds power endorses corruption and graft, we shout for justice, but when the liberating regime does the same it's . . . . ?
When an aging despot takes land from those who have and gives it to his friends, who also have, in the name of equitable redistribution of resources, that's nepotism and currying political favour. It's also lying, but that's not a crime anymore.
When Americans grow resentful of Mexicans coming across the border and take jobs the Americans weren't filling anyway, that's racism and elitism.

When South Africans do the same it's Mbeki's fault cause he shoulda solved the problem in Zimbabwe so they'd all have stayed home in the first place. But what of the refugees from Mozambique, Malawi, Nigeria and other African countries who were targeted by marauding gangs of armed men demanding they return home.
Xenophobia is a fear or contempt of that which is foreign or unknown, especially of strangers or foreign people.[1] It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "foreigner," "stranger," and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear." The term is typically used to describe a fear or dislike of foreigners or of people significantly different from oneself. When an election in Kenya goes bad and tribe goes against tribe, that's civil strife. When tribes in other countries are fed lies to fuel antagonism, causing one tribe to attack and the other one cause they've been told the other tribe is gonna annihilate them, that's genocide.

When a minority tribe in Burma gets chased into the remote hills country, and then across the border into Thailand, that's just a military junta exercising it's rights. When the Thai aren't welcoming to the refugees because, again, jobs and land are scarce, that's inhospitable.

When tribes and militia in Sudan and Somalia are disrupting life for everyone concerned and displacing multitudes, . . . what is that exactly?

We've got famine in Ethiopia, disaster in China, neglect in Burma, disastrous elections in Kenya & Zimbabwe, campaigns in USA, New Zealand and South Africa that are costing enormous sums that could be better used elsewhere within those countries themselves . . . .

Mbeki is in an impossible situation. He can't lean too heavily on Mugabe because of sovereignty issues and mutual support within the region. Yet, he cannot just let things drag on or it's an embarrassment to the region and will affect foreign investment. So now he has had to call in the army to try to control people's actions, but how to dispel the growing resentments?

England has a mixed population now, with the Queen's English seldom heard in some neighbourhoods. The largest Turkish population outside of Turkey supposedly lives in Australia. Whole neighbourhoods in Auckland, New Zealand trace their recent roots back to one of several Pacific Islands. Parts of Indianapolis, Indiana speak as much Spanish as English, and Indiana is a long way from a border or port.

Wow. Seems like we should have a conversation about human rights, about multiculturalism, about mutual respect and understanding.

What are human rights?

Human rights represent common values drawn from the world's diverse spiritual, religious, humanist, political and cultural beliefs. They underlie our expectations about life, education, health, work, our personal security, equal opportunity and fair treatment, and our systems of government.

Human rights are inherent, inalienable, universal, indivisible and interdependent. They are inherent, in that they belong to everyone because of their common humanity. They are inalienable, in that people cannot give them up or be deprived of them by governments. They are universal, in that they apply regardless of distinctions such as race, sex, language or religion. They are indivisible, in that no right is superior to another. They are interdependent, in that realisation of one right contributes to the realisation of other rights.
Okay, so that's NZ's Human Rights Commissions' contribution to the conversation, but explain all of that to the poor of the South African townships. Those are the poor who would, on a good day, choose well, but who have been fed lies and who are tired of all the advantages being on the side of the other guy, no matter his colour. Those are the poor who have now chosen badly, very badly.

Being poor is no excuse, but what excuse do the privileged make for doing nothing? Now there's a conversation we could have.

Let's have another conversation about migratory patterns over the ages and what makes someone indigenous and having the rights pertaining to indigenity and the fact that they may very well have just been the ones in power when the Europeans came.

Why do some people think we should only start counting land possession and rights from the time the colonials arrived? Except in very rare cases, isn't it very likely that the occupants at the time took it from someone else?

The ART of Writing

I got a new fountain pen this week.
it's a Lamy Safari and I don't think I'll lose it in the depths of my bag anytime soon.

It is described by some as . . .
Safaris are pretty much indestructible.
The barrel and cap is made of ABS Plastic. There's a strategically placed hole in the barrel through which one can see the ink cartridge (or convertor) and check the ink level. The barrel is not round but flattened on both sides.
The clip is a sturdy brass wire bent into a U-shape.

There's a rumour that someone once ran over one with a car, but I'm not going to attempt that test. The thing about fountain pens is that writing with them brings something special to the table.

With a fountain pen, you exert much less pressure than with a ballpoint, so it is less tiring.
A fountain pen is not something you want to loan out, as the nib begins to suit you and your way of writing. Loaning it to someone else interrupts that relationship. The attached photo is not of my bright yellow Lamy, but it shows the delicacy of the nib and why you'd not want to push too hard.

I've had disposable ones before, and you might wanna start that way. I think mine exploded on a plane or something, so do be careful what you fly with. The explosion, by the way, did not make any headlines, just a mess.

Anyway, I'm doing quite a lot of writing this weekend at a retreat, so let's hope my relationship with my new pen settles down quickly and we learn to work together to create beauty on the page.

Microenterprise: Poverty is not permanent

What is Microenterprise?

Microenterprise is the provision of small, fair credit loans to the poor to establish small businesses. As these loans are repaid, they are loaned again, creating a sustainable cycle of development. No hand outs, just a hand up.

Is it effective?
Microenterprise is one of the most effective ways to lift families out of poverty in developing countries. Loans from as little as $50 transform lives. Our Microenterprise programme has been running for almost 20 years with loan repayment rates of up to 98%, creating tens of thousands of jobs. As businesses take shape the first to benefit are the children.

How does it work?
Many of the world’s poor are self-employed. They sell and raise livestock, run market stalls, produce handicrafts and recycle rubbish.

The major problem these enterprising poor face is their lack of working capital. The World Bank estimates 600 million of the world’s poorest could create jobs and increase their incomes if they had access to affordable financial services. Today only 3% have access to fair credit. In many countries the formal financial sector does not extend to the poor. These people are left to raise credit from informal moneylenders, who charge exorbitant interest rates, sometimes as high as 1600% per annum.

Microenterprise seeks to address this problem by extending small, fair credit loans (typically $50 to $1000) and other financial services to poor borrowers for income generating, self-employment projects. This allows the poor to improve their standard of living for their families and their communities.

Microenterprise is more than just extending credit loans. It also:

• Provides mentoring
• Gives financial advice
• Provides marketing training and leadership development.

The small business entrepreneurs work closely with trained loan officers who help them with their business. The focus is also not just on the financial improvement but a holistic approach. The impact of allowing these poor entrepreneurs access to fair credit provides them with the ability to make a lasting improvement as the increased income will enable them to afford food, shelter, education and healthcare. Other changes would include increased personal development, ability to offer community service and provide more jobs and a more self-sufficient community.

Participate. Tear Fund Opportunity International

TEAR Fund Microenterprise Trust Banks

A TEAR Fund Trust Bank is a group of 15-25 poor entrepreneurs who come together to receive Microenterprise loans, training and mentoring. A Trust Bank is funded by a single person, by a group of New Zealander’s, churches or businesses who want to make a real difference in many lives.

Trust Banks are comprised of poor people, who are rich in energy and ideas, but, without collateral or assets, can’t get a loan from the bank. Under the guidance of our local partner organisation, they form a group, appoint a leader and co-guarantee each other’s loans. They are each given a small loan to start or expand a small business and provided with business training. Repayments are collected each week.

This is a unique opportunity to learn about another country, to connect with a community from an entirely different culture and to share what you are experiencing with other people in your community.

To fund an entire Trust Bank $5,000 per year is needed for two years.
There are several ways to achieve this.

  • Option 1: As an individual
  • Option 2: Forming a group with friends, family or work colleagues
  • Option 3: Supporting a Trust Bank through your business

There have been as many creative ways of raising funding as there have been Trust Banks supported. While some people can afford to simply write out a cheque, others take it on as a fundraising project enlisting support from business, church or community groups or holding fundraising events. Most people find the funds easy to raise if they keep their eyes on the group of people being supported and the difference it will make.

To support a Trust Bank or find out more, please phone Richard Barter today on
0800 800 777, or email microenterprise@tearfund.org.nz

You can support Microenterprise in several ways:

1. Regular monthly payments start at $25 a month.
We suggest $50 a month will enable two poor families a year to start income-earning enterprises.

2. Make a one-off donation.
A gift of $150 will establish a small business.

3. Support a specific project with a donation of $500 or more.

4. Support a TEAR Fund Trust Bank with a $10,000 donation over two years.
A Trust Bank can be supported by individuals, groups, churches and businesses in New Zealand, and will connect you directly with a group of 15 to 20 entrepreneurs.

22 May 2008

Armed with a prickly hedgehog!

Read more.
And more.
And BBC.

"Please don't throw me!"

This story made international news. What exactly is "news"?

21 May 2008

Travel Links- Just a few

Quite often cottages and bed and breakfasts are the terrific places to stay in Ireland and Britain
Check out Stilwel's for great local information.

Trip Advisor gives you space to read reviews from those who have been there, and you can get up-to-date info and advice. Check for local versions of Trip Advisor.

Thorn Tree Travel Forum is where the Lonely Planet travel community get together to exchange travel information, advice, hints and tips. Get help, get connected, get inspired! This is an integral part of my travel preparation.

Wotif.com is a great place for last minute arrangements.

Within New Zealand, do not go past the i-sites scattered round the country to make life simple for travellers. It's a super network and I've gotten discounts and great advice booking with them.

Budget Travel rates The Best Wheelie Bags, though they don't mention my favourite, Travel Pro. I usually get my bags in the U.S. at T.J. Maxx or Goodwill. Yes, I've bought Travel Pro at both places.

Transformational. Incarnational.

Can't improve on Scripture
A thorough understanding of Scripture is a key to a thorough understanding of Jesus' heart which can then translate into an incarnational representation of true faith in real life. That is authenticity!

Notice I said a thorough understanding, not just a knowledge. Some of us know Scripture but we might not recognise Jesus!

While memorisation is best, it's important to get a grip on Scripture. . . to have a grasp of it that is close enough that we can point people to the right place . . . love those concordances. . . . I call them search engines but ones where you gotta turn the pages yourself.

If we just spout Scripture word-for-word without understanding and application, we might as well be a recording that is impersonal and relatively remote. People can download those!

So your inhalation of it, your consuming Scripture, can't help but transform you.
Romans 12:1-2

A person transformed by the power of God, will live & speak in ways consistent with the book the Holy Spirit inspired. Seems like I've come full circle. The teachings of the book will transform you and your life will confirm the power and presence of the Holy Spirit who wrote the book.

You need not speak like a donkey, fall down in a heap, or have unexplainable experiences as others report.

We already have Balaam. The only falling we really need to do is on to our knees at the foot of the Cross, and more and more in love with Jesus. Unexplainable experiences? Well, it is really quite unexplainable that a man would take on my punishment. It is also quite inexplicable the change in me, from what is natural to what is definitely the fruit of God's Spirit.

Now there's more to it than just getting the gist of it. Studying for a thorough understanding doesn't come easily.
Reading a text involves far more than reading words and sentences. Read more from J.P.Louw

Apply yourself wholly to the text.
Apply the text wholly to yourself.

-Johann Albrecht Bengel

Check out robbymac discussing similar topics.

Travel Advice

"Trip enjoyment is inversely proportionate to the amount of crap (re: distractions) you bring with you."

Check out these links for some great packing tips.
Can you pack for a week or more in ONE bag?

I don't like the bundle way of folding clothes as it makes it too hard to get out ONE item when needed. Depends on if you are unpacking and staying in one place for awhile or not.

The Four Hour Week
The second link has lots of other stuff . . . like negotiating discounts . . . .
most of my friends would be totally embarrassed if I did that, but they'd love the savings, now wouldn't they!

I love meeting people when I travel; just one of the advantages of often traveling alone.
Cheryl on the other hand has much more cheap entertainment with her girls. It's a trade off.
I can eat cheap, sleep in places with character, and then splurge where I want.

We can discuss destinations and packing further on In the Life of a Busy Woman... blog too.

What if you are traveling with children? That's a whole nother ballgame!

There's a downloadable packing list on Belliveau Blog which offers insights for thoughtful travellers.

Random Tip-
One thing to consider for longer trips where you might be doing laundry in the sink, the plug is sometimes missing. If you still use film, use one of the lids from a film container! Wrap it in a small plastic bag and it fits neatly in most sinks. If you're totally digital now, improvise.

20 May 2008


Clouds puff
Surf swirls
Land rushes up to meet us.

Transition time
Down I get
Into arms to greet me.

Time passes
Colors fade
The journey takes them onward.

Memories come
Enriching within
Drawing me ever forward.

The Hermeneutics Quiz Interactive Assessment

The Hermeneutics Quiz
Ever wonder how two people can look at the same passage of the Bible and come away with such different applications? The ways we interpret the Bible, and what enters into our process of applying the Bible, are important for us to be aware of. Without this self-awareness, we can have blind spots in our Bible reading and not even know it.

The Hermeneutics Quiz first appeared in Leadership journal's winter 2008 edition, and you can read the full article here. It is designed to clarify how you understand the Bible and how you apply it. Some people will quibble with the categories in the quiz or insist on more than one answer. That’s okay. No test like this can reveal all the nuances needed, but broad answers are sufficient to benefit from taking the quiz. Comment on Scot McKnight's blog about your results.

The exegete cannot allow either his own personal bias or prejudice or his pre-understanding to dominate the text. They cannot be avoided completely, but they must be no more than a door through which the text is approached. The text is prior: the interpreter stands before it humbly and prays that through the scholarly methods and the questions with which he comes to the text, God’s Word will be heard afresh. This is the exciting task to which the interpreter is called. But it is also a dangerous task: God’s Word sweeps away my comfortably secure presuppositions; it is a Word of judgment as well as of grace.

- Graham N. Stanton in Marshall, I. H. (1977).

New Testament interpretation : Essays on principles and methods. Paternoster.

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