31 July 2008

Crisis or Opportunity? Depends on how you look at it.

Not sure what my refugee friends might think of crisis being an opportunity. Some of them might. I was reading a novel this week about a cheese man with an amazing nose. The great London fire created the impetus for him to travel and see new lands. A remarried friend holds no bitterness toward her first husband. If they had not divorced, she wouldn't have met and married the man she loves so deeply now.

Gail Blanke says,

So how do we turn what might feel like a crisis into an opportunity? Marcel Proust wrote, “The only true voyage of discovery…would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes.” And that is exactly the trick to not only surviving tough times but also flourishing in them: “to possess other eyes.” When you see things differently, you can let go of the old ways and turn your challenges into something thrilling.

You know who’s good at this? Entrepreneurs. In fact, I invite every one of my clients to adopt such an enterprising spirit. Here’s why: Entrepreneurs thrive in times of chaos. If they don’t have something they want or need, they invent it. They have a passion for discovery, for seeing new possibilities in old situations. They know that the best ideas and the best outcomes often emerge from the bleakest circumstances.
I think that is the basis for much of Kiwi ingenuity.
Kiwi ingenuity: This is the idea that New Zealanders display a MacGyver-like ability to solve any problem, often using unconventional means or whatever happens to be lying around. This is also described as the Number 8 wire mentality, which holds that anything can be made or fixed with basic or everyday materials, such as number 8 fencing wire. New Zealanders seen as embodying this quality include Burt Munro (subject of The World's Fastest Indian) and Richard Pearse, who some believe achieved flight before the Wright Brothers. Kiwi ingenuity is also linked to the phrase "she'll be right, mate" (shared with Australia), which expresses the belief that the situation, repairs, or whatever has been done is adequate or sufficient for what is needed. It is seen less positively than Kiwi ingenuity, especially if something goes wrong. Kiwi ingenuity is not strictly a male preserve, although it is generally spoken of in relation to men.

Plato had a handle on it way back when he said "Necessity is the mother of invention."

Crisis or opportunity? Necessity begets creativity.
Discuss this with a refugee, but possibility only when they've gotten to the point of being able to see the big picture.

Instigated by a post on In The Life of a Busy Woman

30 July 2008

Time enough to breathe.

This is one of the weeks where everything has to go according to plan or the whole house of cards will tumble down.

Add in an out of town trip to be with a friend who's father has died, and you have a full week that just got stretched. breathing is very important, more so this week.

But then, a group to whom I was supposed to speak has had a change of schedule and so I'm free one evening, and the planned prep time, this week.

Another conversation was to have taken place over lunch. A court case has distracted the attention of my lunch partner, so again, I have a free lunch space, as well as the time it would have taken me to get in to the city.

More time for breathing!

When I lived in Africa I often said that flexibility should have been listed as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Now, living in a big multicultural city that is always on the go, flexibility comes into the picture again. Without it I'd be a cranky mess!

The weather may make my joints ache and my outlook grim, but being flexible, looking for the edges of clouds so as to see the silver lining, trusting God to set, and change, my agenda, keeps me moving ahead with breathe. A sense of humour and a small book help a lot too.

Work from Home?

Oh the freedom!
Oh the lack of structure!

For some helpful tips on working from home . . .
. . . everything from technology to desktop management
to creating a productive environment . . .
go to Jugglezine.

29 July 2008

International, Charming and Intelligent Book Club

My book club. International, charming and intelligent!

What a crowd of perceptive, interesting and adventurous women I get to meet with!

We've just started organising ourselves with the aid of a Book Club Journal one of the husbands thoughtfully brought back from a trip.

We've read Mr. Pip, Snobs, Salvation Creek, Wild Swans and others.

Some like a good story and others a bit of sci fi. I "don't do romance" and have taken a chance by recommending At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald. We'll see how they take to the old Scot!

I'll let you know how it goes over.

28 July 2008

Refugee Social

Went to a refugee social the other night.

Don't know how many different nationalities and cultures and languages were represented there. Most had brought a plate or pot of something to eat, so even the table was amazing in its variety.

The entertainment was . . . well, indescribable, really.
Singing and dancing which represented cultures far from Sandringham Rd in Auckland, New Zealand.

But then, NZ has over 121 religions listed in the last census. More than 40 major language groups are represented in Auckland alone. We have temples and mosques and cathedrals and meeting halls. Almost every neighbourhood has a variety of Asian, Middle Eastern or European menus available. A few even have a Central American flavour!

Anyway, I left with an Eritrean couple and two name tags on my fleece: Payman and Ala. One of those little girls left with Jill on her jacket and a smile on her face.

- Just one of the tables laden with food!

The Hooker scored!

Did anyone else notice that Andrew Hore, who is a hooker, scored on Saturday?

27 July 2008

Give your ideas away - Obble

I read about a company who enjoys new ideas and giving them away, without any financial profit for themselves. I love it. A new world order based on getting the best ideas in the hands of people who can make a go of them for the benefit of those who will use them.

John Davies wrote:
Howies catalogue arrived by post today. It's all online as well, but it's so much better to handle, thumb, sniff (Linda tells me my habit of sniffing new books is odd... oh, is it?) They are Cardigan Bay's third largest clothing company. Not only do they do great t-shirt designs, they lend out books to customers from their library, generally promote eco-awareness and celebrate being 'family'. Interest-a-plenty in the 'think' section of their site.

Howies are a real treat, sharing a refreshing sort of business ethics with others such as Obble from whom this bike bag idea came. Howies write:
    Those crazies at Obble came to us with an idea. We loved it and asked them what they wanted for it. And they said nothing. We said we didn't understand. So they sent us this note in a fax. This is what it said:

    Give all your ideas away. Not exactly a great business plan. But what happens if your plan isn't to make money. What happens if your business plan is to make friends. After all, money doesn't make you happy. Friends do.

    Obble was set up by four friends who had a love of ideas. One of their ideas was to start Obble. A different kind of brand. A brand that gives rather than takes. A brand that isn't designed to make money. We met David and Clare and liked what they were trying to do at howies. So we gave them an idea. The Bike Bag. It didn't cost us anything to come up with the idea and we gave it away. Howies made the bag and Obble made some new friends. Our website is built by another friend called John. We use it as a space to put our ideas and have fun. And as we make new friends, we ask them if they want to put some ideas on our site. And if anyone sees an idea they like, that they want to buy, we say ok. But don't pay us. Pay our friends. And they say, but that doesn't make good business sense. And we smile and say we know.


If you realize your vision is a mirage,
do you not change course?

26 July 2008

Paperwork: lighten the load

By Julie Morgenstern

To make it easier to decide what to get rid of ask yourself these 10 questions of each piece of paper you are unsure of:

1. Are there tax/legal reasons to keep it?

2. Do I refer often to this piece of paper?

3. Will it help me complete a project I am working on right now?

4. Do I have time to do anything with this piece of paper?

5. Does it tie-in with the core activities of my job?

6. If I ever needed it again, could I easily get it from someone else?

7. Do I trust that the information is up to date?

8. Does it represent a viable business opportunity?

9. Will it help me make money?

10. Would my work suffer if I didn't have it?

And, the following items should be pretty easy to get rid of, without much thought:

+ Product Solicitations- Ads and mailings for software, catalog items, etc. If you aren't ready to buy right now, toss them. New ads will be filling your mailbox in no time, and you'll buy from the most recent mailing when you are ready.

+ Old magazines, books and articles- If you haven’t referred to them in the last 12 months, get rid of them. New, updated information is available at every turn.

+ Old research materials and literature- These rarely referred to items are bulky, taking up a lot of precious space in our files and cabinets. Keep the source, toss the paper—maintain a list of sources by topic in your Rolodex.

+ Document duplicates- In most cases, there is no need to keep more than 2 of any document. Keep the original in a plastic sleeve and one copy on hand for easy circulation.

+ Early drafts of letters and proposals- Retain only your final version. After all, previous drafts contain information you decided not to use!

+ Excess supplies- Get rid of bulky, space-hogging supplies you don't use. Keep your supply drawers lean and organized so you can easily see if you are running out of important items before a crisis hits.

Check out Julie's advice on Oprah's site too.

The above information is excerpted material from Julie's book "Organizing From the Inside Out."

25 July 2008

Perspective comes with Experience

Pulling out of a parking spot on Tuesday I saw a woman go down, and she went down hard.
I pulled back in to the car park and ran to assist. I held her umbrella over her as she cradled her right wrist. Between the slant of the pavement, the flow of rainwater and her very fashionable boots, she was a recipe for disaster as she approached her gym for a workout. She was to have competed in national rowing championships in September.

Yesterday I rain across the street, trying to dodge between the rain drops which probably caused me to collect more than my fair share. As I stepped up onto the curb, a parking slip flew past my legs, followed closely by a woman who had just paid for it, but who couldn't grab it from the machine before the wind did. I turned and joined the chase, doing pirouettes and crazy lunges; the ticket seemingly devious in its avoidance of us both. We eventually nailed it, but only after we had both seen the comedy in the situation.

Having settled into my seat at the university this morning and beginning a series of calls organising volunteers to tidy up the warehouse where we supply refugees when they first arrive, usually without anything but what they are wearing, the voice on the other end suggested I might need to go. Yes, as the fire alarm chased us all outside, I had to marvel at a series of events over the week, and to give thanks that, for the moment, it is not raining.

Stuff happens. Things happen. Conflicts arise and plans go astray. Perspective is vital to appreciate which things or events are worthy of our emotional energy and which ones are not.

I had another phone call this week, Tuesday evening before people were expected at my house for a meeting. Hearing the anxiety and tears, I suggested we meet in my favourite local restaurant for dinner. I'd planned to go there anyway, so for me, the company would be nice. For her, I might be of use in sorting out her thoughts and emotions. As she explained the conflict at work, something totally out of her control, I could see she was in a pickle. Tolerance often only flows one way. Respect too.

So I started asking big picture questions: How much is this job worth to you? Does this situation compare with having your kids swept away in a tsunami, being told you have a terminal illness or civil war disrupting everything you've ever know?

Ok, maybe I went a bit over the top, but we read the stories, even know the people to whom these things are realities. Many of us, on the other hand, then go on to complain about hang nails and paper cuts.

Uncle Tom used to compare any upset in my life to a paper cut. "Is it worse than a paper cut? They can be pretty painful!" and then he'd know what degree of attention or sympathy to point my way.

My friend was in a very awkward situation. It wasn't fair. She hadn't asked for it. The repercussions could affect her income, her social network and reputation. That's what you get for sitting at your work station and minding your own business! So while not wanting in any way to minimise her angst, I thought big picture might be of some help in gaining perspective.

With the woman who fell: at first I was thinking, "Ouch! fractured wrist and bruised ego to fall when being so fashionably heeled." The, when I heard that she was training for a major sporting event; that gave perspective to her loss.

The parking ticket lady: not knowing what else was going on in her life and whether losing her parking slip would be the straw that broke the camel's back, I'm just glad she had it in her to laugh, shake off her fluffy coat and get on with her errands.

My friend: the dust has settled. We do not yet know what bruised egos might yet do, or what this brief and unexpected skirmish might have taken out of her, or what new insights it might have given her.

I think I'd like to stay in tomorrow, not go out anywhere.

Tell 'em to pray, but don't show 'em how?

Last Tuesday I led a small group discussion with young adults. We explored different ways to pray as I had become aware that some in our group knew they should pray but had never really been shown how to pray. We can assume too much.

Why do we do that? We teach people to walk, to swim, to drive; why not to pray?

Artwork by Michael Leunig

The Psalms are a great way to see into the hearts of other people who knew what it was to be honest and open with God.

Look at this one as an example.
Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, oh God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Or try this time tested format for the components you might weave in to your time with God:
Praise/Adoration: God focus. “Leave me out of it!”
Confession: Bring me in at my rightful level, on my knees, not in guilt, but in gratitude!
Thanksgiving: List ‘em! Ferret them out and bring them in!
Supplication: Bring in others. Feel their pain and pray like I care.

•Lost. •Suffering. •Lonely. •Fearful. •Sick. •Wounded. •Conflicted. •Transitional.

What about looking closely at how Jesus taught His disciples to pray?

Cynthia Heald writes in Discipleship Journal:

Pray the Principles of the Lord's Prayer.
When one of Jesus' disciples said, "Lord, teach us how to pray," Jesus responded by providing His disciples with a model of prayer—known as the Lord's prayer—that contained six main elements. The first three relate to God: He is our Father, our King, and our Master. The last three concern us: our daily bread, our forgiveness, and our protection from temptation and evil. These elements can be prayed simply with few added thoughts, or amplified with scriptures, hymns, or songs. This pattern of prayer can take a few minutes or a few hours. The Lord's prayer helps me focus on the essentials. It helps me to remember that my prayers do not always have to be long to be good.
DJ Issue #106 July/August 1998

For more ideas and tips, check out Pray Magazine, also by Navpress.

And let's stop assuming people know things when they don't and they shouldn't necessarily. That's about as dumb as thinking non-believers should act like Jesus followers!
Why would they? Why would we want them to?

24 July 2008

Who did that to my desk?

My desk is piled high.
Who did that?
Who put all those papers on there;
big ones and little ones and others
with scribbles all over them.
And who's going to get them off?
I'd like the space again.

I need space to think, to breath.
Isn't that the same thing?

To breath is to pray.
To pray is to love.
To love is to live.
To live is to breath.
To breath is to think.
Here we are back to me needing desk space.

I can discern "system" in the piles.
Those papers are only printed on one side.
I can use the other side for proofs or articles-to-go.
Those papers need to go to someone else.
When? How? Do they want them?

That one tells me when I'm supposed to speak and where.
Yep, it even tells me the direction of the talk.
Can't lose that paper. Where to put it?

That paper tells me I gotta do something
before something else expires.
So do it! Now! No, I'd rather blog.

Those papers want to be sent to my friends
with notes that connect our hearts.
That'll take time.
So they wait; the papers and the friends
and the desk.

23 July 2008

Make your own strand of Prayer Beads

I've been wanting to show you the prayer beads I've strung together.
But I'd rather encourage to make your own before you see mine.

Mine won't suit you. Only yours will fit you and how you pray. So make your own!

1. Make a list of the
you would want to pray regularly for.

2. Some beads can help you focus on God.
Consider His character and nature.
Assign a few beads to remind you of His glory, His mystery, His grace or the freedom you have in Him.

3. What of beads to help you focus on

4. You can assign a bead to each person you want to pray for, or group them so your prayer beads aren't too heavy to hold.

I've just made my second set of prayer beads that focus on the character and nature of God. Maybe I'll combine them so that my worship prayers are linked to my intercessory prayers.

I have three individuals on my string and then people are grouped into families or by association.
Make your list. Assign a texture or colour or descriptive something to each.

Then prayerfully consider which beads suit each one. The beads kinda need to tie in with the person or point for prayer for easy memory. When you are in the bead shop, or staring at a tray full of pretties, it is easy to turn this in to a craft project.

Foreigners as friends

Sounds like small mammals are bouncing off the roof . . .

It's raining cats & dogs outside, while I'm snug as a bug listening to Ben Harper and drinking Dilmah tea.

The phone keeps ringing.

Blessings on the first caller: the telemarketer who's just trying to earn a living. It's not her fault she rang while I was eating dinner and that the warm fire was in the other room, not where I'd had to go to get the phone.

If we'd met at a cafe, made an appointment we'd both looked forward to, I wonder where the conversation might have gone.

"Tell me about your childhood." Well, we might not have started there, but I hope we would have gotten to it.
"How did you come to be in New Zealand?"
"Do you like it?"
"How'd you get in to that line of work?"
"The weather, eh?"
Hopefully we'd have found some commonalities. Women usually can if they've got the want-to.
She'd give me tips for my upcoming trip to India and I'd try to explain the place in the US where her cousins settled.

While possibly very different to look at, as foreigners together we'd possibly become friends.
I'm sorry she rang during my dinner.

Make Choices For Yourself

Philip Goldberg, author of Get Out of Your Own Way, says we fall back on the "no time" excuse because we're "attracted to the outcome and not the process, which is often arduous. We're pleasure-seeking animals and we have difficulty with anything that requires even minor sacrifices."

time does not expand to fit our to-do lists
Sometimes what we perceive to be a lack of time is actually a lack of direction. It's hard to know what's worth spending time on unless we know what we want out of life. For that, Goldberg recommends quieting the mind through meditation, prayer, or a walk in the woods. "You're going to be obsessing about this stuff anyway," he says. "If you can quiet your mind enough [to think through these larger questions], it's more efficient."

Time management tough love
On a purely practical level, however, the reason we can't find time for that one thing we've always wanted to do is that we don't set aside time for it, says Julie Morgenstern, a time management expert and author of the best-selling Organizing from the Inside Out.

"People are constantly planning to do what they've always wanted to do when there is extra time, and there will never, ever, ever be extra time," she says. "In today's world, when every moment is flooded with five thousand options about what you could do, and should do, and what others want you to do, there is no such thing as free time."

There isn't time to do everything. And, no matter how badly we want it to, time does not expand to fit our to-do lists. Unless you're okay with only helping others accomplish their goals and never accomplishing your own, it's important to be intentional about where you spend your time.

"You have to ask yourself, if I say yes to this person or activity, who and what will I say no to?" says Morgenstern. "If you don't make choices, they'll be made for you and you won't get to do what you want to do. It takes courage."

From Intentional Living: How to find the time to do anything (not everything!)

22 July 2008

Missional: Movement, Model, or Mindset?

What is a “missional” church? Some say that it is redundant…like saying “feline cat” or “canine dog.” Some say it is a model (I disagree). Some say it is a movement (I hope so). I say it is a mindset.

Missional is not a model like “purpose-driven,” “traditional,” “seeker sensitive,” or “emerging.” Any model can be missional, if they have the right mindset.

Church growth is not a priority for a missional church. Missional churches focus on the community and connectivity that occurs best in smaller gatherings. An emphasis is placed on reproducing churches rather that growing our church. Success is not gauged by the crowd on Sunday, but by the multiplication of disciples and churches.

Missional churches are not consumer-oriented. Some established churches have become vendors of religious goods and services, placing an emphasis on meeting the needs of church shoppers; attracting a crowd. Missional churches see themselves as an equipping and sending center, placing emphasis on preparing missionaries to engage culture.

Missional churches are actively participating in the Missio Dei – the Mission of God. The participation is not merely giving money to foreign missionaries and sending teams on mission trips (although that is included). Rather, members of missional churches are living out the Missio Dei in their own postal code and beyond. It is a mindset, an identity; they see themselves as missionaries.

In missional churches, we do not see ourselves as telemarketers making sales pitches to advance our church attendance goals. Rather, we see ourselves as salt, light, and leaven penetrating our culture, incarnating the gospel in our context.

Missional churches do not see the Missio Dei as an event or program (like weekly visitation or annual carnivals). In contrast, we see the Missio Dei as all of life, wherever we find ourselves. As the Great Commission states, “as we go” through life we are always on mission. We don’t compartmentalize mission to an event or activity. Mission is life.

Missional is a mindset; an identity; a way of living. Any church can be missional.

Thanks for this to Padawan Pastor.

Tips around the House

Great ideas and links from LifeEdit, a blog dedicated to frugality, organization, productivity and a happy life.

It's amazing what some simple products can do, as is the idea of not needing a unique cleaning product for each use (like disposable presoaked chemical toilet brushes) for a functioning home. Save a few cents by using a little extra elbow grease and the following products:

  1. Distilled White Vinegar
  2. Baking Soda
  3. Lemon Juice
  4. Toothpaste
  5. Salt
  6. Olive Oil

21 July 2008

Unjust, but loving

2 Cor 5:21
He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us,
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

This is the God we serve.
This is the Lord we follow.
It’s not pretty. It’s real.
It changes everything.

20 July 2008


–adjective dictionary.com
1. done with intention or on purpose; intended

A helpful example of how to process a Life Plan from Michael Hyatt of Thomas Nelson Publishers.

By Stephen Covey

Habit 2 -- Begin with the End in Mind

What it Means

  • To begin with the end in mind is to begin with the image of the end of your life as the frame of reference by which everything else is measured.
  • We may be busy, we may be efficient, but we will only be effective if we begin with the end in mind.

By Design or Default

There is a first creation to every part of our lives. We are either the second creation of our own proactive creation, or we are the second creation of other people's agendas, of circumstances, or of past habits.

Leadership and Management

  • Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.
  • Often people get into managing with efficiency, setting and achieving goals before they have even clarified values.

A Personal Mission Statement Franklin Covey Mission Statement Builder

  • The most effective way to begin with the end in mind is to develop a personal mission statement.
  • The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you value.
  • Once you have a sense of mission, you have the essence of your own proactivity; the vision and values which direct your life, the basic direction from which you set your goals.

At the Center

  • Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power.
  • What is at the center of your life?

How's your knowledge of the condiments?

Next time someone asks you to pass the ketchup, mustard, mayo or Worcestershire sauce, you can wow them with your knowledge of the condiments.


The word “ketchup” comes from the Chinese “ke-tsiap,” and if you’re wondering why ketchup isn’t used in Chinese food, well, there’s your story. Ke-tsiap wasn’t at all like ketchup. It was a sauce made from pickled fish that frankly wouldn’t taste so great on a burger – or in our opinion on much else. Nonetheless, it was popular enough to catch on in Malaysia, where it was called “kechap,” and Indonesia (“ketjap”), and to be honest it probably wasn’t as bad as it sounds; it’s been compared to soy sauce. When English and Dutch sailors made their way to the Far East in the 17th century, they “discovered” the sauce and brought some back with them. Homemade versions immediately became popular; Elizabeth Smith’s The Compleat Housewife (copyright 1727) called for anchovies, shallots, vinegar, white wine, cloves, ginger, mace, nutmeg, pepper, and lemon peel.
Note the lack of tomatoes in that recipe. In the grand East-meets-West tradition of fusion cuisine, someone thought to add tomatoes to ke-tsiap in the early 1700s. The British counterpart of that person, by the way, went another direction and added mushrooms instead; you can still find mushroom ketchup at a few specialty retailers, and The New Joy of Cooking contains a recipe for the homemade stuff. Anyway, in both nations, the spelling also mutated around the same time; the first reference to “ketchup” appeared in 1711. This, too, caught on, and within 100 years or so ke-tsiap had acquired yet another regional name: tomato soy. Teresa Heinz Kerry’s great-great-great in-laws started selling a thin, salty version of the stuff in USA as “tomato ketchup” in 1876, and it was such a hit that eventually they just dropped the “tomato.”
Kiwis still call it tomato sauce and must have it with everything from meat pies to fish n chups to . . . well, all kinds of things really.

My grandmother would not allow the bottle on the table, instead, slipping it discretely to my dad who kept it on the floor by his chair. My friends can quickly see my opinion of the steak I'm eating by the absence of or the amount of catsup I apply.

Mustard, in our opinion, has one of the best linguistic back stories in the English tongue: its name is a contraction of the Latin mustum ardens, meaning “burning wine” – presumably because the seeds are spicy and used to be as valuable as the vintage stuff. (The French used to mix mustard seeds with grape juice, which may also have something to do with the name.) Mustard’s tastier qualities, however, weren’t always appreciated the way they are today. It started out as the ancient equivalent of Neosporin: Pythagoras prescribed it for scorpion stings. His successor, Hippocrates, tried to cure toothaches with it (at least he didn’t use something sugary).
To read about Mayo & Worcestershire sauce go to Mental Floss.

19 July 2008

Antiques in Auckland

When my friend Patsy calls, I like to think up interesting places to go with her. As an artist, she's always interested in arty stuff; sometimes old and sometimes new. She's an intelligent, sensitive and wise woman. Where to take her today, in her own city, where I've only lived just over 8 years?

Drummond's Antiques
10 Anzac Avenue, Auckland (64) 9 379 4396

Like Pandora's Box, the door to Drummond's Antiques takes you into a world of bizarre and amazing things. As you move between the densely packed shelves and filled-to-the-brim boxes you spot wild and wonderful gifts and collectibles from many a bygone era. They have nautical and aeronautical antiques, automotive treasures, china and fine silverware, scientific curios and a large selection of antique toys, dolls and teddy bears. Visit this museum and you'll never want to leave.

Patsy saw a child's buggy, which she called by an entirely different name. It had a tag on it that said circa 1880's. She couldn't figure out why the thing wasn't in a museum!
And the pottery! Pieces she had bought on her travels through Europe. Other pieces she had early on in her married life.

We didn't buy anything. That wasn't the point. We fossicked around and had a laugh. I might go back for another fountain pen when next I have a visitor to Auckland. We'll see.

You too could do worse on a rainy day in Auckland.
Drummond's is in the city, just off Beach Rd on Anzac Avenue, just down from my favourite breakfast cafe in Auckland, Gloria's.

fossick, Australian, To search for by or as if by rummaging.

How to get enough time to . . .

Someone asked me today how I found time to read everything that needed to be read.

After I laughed at such a notion, I'm insatiably curious and don't think I'll ever read everything I want, I suggested a very simple and lo-tech solution.

Write it on your calendar.

Hmmm. Fortunately she was not paying for my advice or she might have been underwhelmed.

But really! Where do the important things that you want to do go? In your diary, daytimer, calendar or wherever. I keep a lot of my things in my phone and set it to beep at me when it's time to move on to the next thing. Such a calendar is pretty standard in all cell phones now. Look at the Organiser feature in your phone and spend a few minutes with it. It is not rocket science. Do not be intimidated by a little tool you can hold in your hand!
Now, back to scheduling the important things.

Whether it is reading, spending time with a friend who does not demand your time or attention, walking your dog or being creative; SCHEDULE IT! Felt the need to shout that one as it is so simple it can be underestimated.

If you want to maintain an online calendar for a group or your family, Google Calendar is a good one. You can make it accessible to a group and all shared info is available to everyone.
Otherwise buy a calendar you can carry in your pocket or purse or hang on the wall and then be committed to using it to determine what you will, and will not, do when.
If someone calls and asks you to do something at a time when you've scheduled something important but not urgent, you can say, "I'm not available then. Can we make it for . . .?' and rearrange the time so it suits your priorities. It's your life. Live it intentionally and the way you choose to, not the way others think you should.
Any other tough questions from the floor? While this one appears to be a no brainer, implementation of it would mightily benefit many of us. I'm pointing at ME!

'Thy will be done'

'Thy will be done'
The agony of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane as depicted by Canadian artist Michael O'Brien. Gethsemane was where, according to the New Testament, Jesus prayed the night before his crucifixion.

What an image! Look at it for a bit.

What does O'Brien try to show us? What do you see with your eyes?

What is not there that you could see with your heart?

17 July 2008

“How to Write With Style” by Kurt Vonnegut

In an essay from his 1981 collection, Palm Sunday, the wonderful Kurt Vonnegut, another famous Hoosier, offered simple, sensible advice on improving your writing.
Listen to this on learning how to “sound like yourself”:

I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am. What alternatives do I have? The one most vehemently recommended by teachers has no doubt been pressed on you, as well: to write like cultivated Englishmen of a century or more ago.

The seven points, in all:

  1. Find a subject you care about
  2. Do not ramble, though
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Have guts to cut
  5. Sound like yourself
  6. Say what you mean
  7. Pity the readers
I found this on merlin Mann's 43 Folders, a place I frequent on the web.

Agree with Vonnegut or just appreciate his way with words, read more on People's Geography.

World's Oldest Blogger Dies

Olive Riley "passed away peacefully on July 12 and will be mourned by thousands of Internet friends and hundreds of descendants and other relatives," a note on her website said.
Riley had posted more than 70 entries on her blog since February last year, sharing her thoughts on modern life and her experiences living through the entire 20th century.
Born on October 20 1899, she lived through two world wars and raised three children while doing various jobs, including ranch cook and barmaid.
In her final post on June 26, she wrote: "I can't believe I've been here in this nursing home for more than a week.
"How the days have flown, even though I've been in bed most of the time. I still feel weak, and can't shake off that bad cough.

Olive, who blogged from her nursing home in Australia, was 108. She started late but Riley had posted over 70 entries to her blog, or as she jokingly referred to it, her “blob.”

See Olive on YouTube or read her later entries on her blog World's Oldest Blogger.

Lost, Last, Least

Where are they?
Have you seen them?
What did you do for them?

The Love of God: Favourite Hymn, Favourite Truth

The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

The Love of God, Frederick M. Lehman, 1917 Copyright: Public Domain

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us
from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans Chapter 8:

15 July 2008

What legacy? What tears?

Imagine being a missionary on a remote island.
Imagine doing so in the mid-1800's.

It was a blustery day when I walked up the long hill and stood on this lonely spot. How far it must have seemed from Germany, from Wellington, at times, from God.

Johann Friedrich Heinrich was ordained in 1842 and arrived in New Zealand in June 1843, and until the following April he did pastoral work in rural Nelson. When Frederick Tuckett, Chief Surveyor to the Nelson settlement, chartered the schooner Deborah to sail south in search of suitable land for the proposed Scottish settlement, Wohlers accompanied him. When Wohlers set foot on Ruapuke Island on 17 May 1844, it contained the largest Maori settlement in southern New Zealand. Rising out of Foveaux Strait, Ruapuke, 8 miles long and 4 miles across, is an island of rugged beauty some 12 miles from Bluff, Southland's port. Wohlers found its inhabitants grouped in scattered villages and living in savage, sunken, and dirty conditions at a Stone Age level of civilisation. With only one birth to every three deaths, the Maoris were apprehensive about their future. To convert them to Christianity, to improve their social life, and to inspire them with hope became the life work of the German missionary.

The Ruapuke Maoris had had some contact with religion and were debating the claims of the Anglican and Wesleyan churches. Wohlers wisely avoided controversy, founded his own church, and worked for unity. He studied the Maori language until he could give simple addresses at the services. At the outset of his work, he found it necessary to produce his own food and he encouraged the Maoris to practise agriculture. Largely through his influence, sheep and cattle were introduced into Ruapuke and wheat and vegetables were grown. After five years of lonely toil, Wohlers paid a short visit to Wellington and married a widow, Elsie Palmer. She attempted to solve the social problem by training the girls in housework and showing Maori families how to care for their sick kinsfolk. In boats built by Europeans who had been sealers or whalers, Wohlers visited the mixed settlements at Stewart Island and along the shores of the strait. Many people came to Ruapuke for baptism and spiritual guidance. In 1868 a public school was opened on the island and, after two years when the teacher resigned, the Government agreed that Wohlers should take charge.

By this time, the population of Ruapuke was declining through emigration to the mainland and other islands. Wohlers ultimately moved to Stewart Island and died there at Ringaringa on 7 May 1885. Teara

Hey There Delilah

Plain White T's Lyrics

What is it about a song? Not just the lyrics, but the pathos, the tone, where you are the first time you hear it . . .

Hey there Delilah
What's it like in New York City?
I'm a thousand miles away
But girl tonight you look so pretty
Yes you do
Time Square can't shine as bright as you
I swear it's true

Hey there Delilah
Don't you worry about the distance
I'm right there if you get lonely
Give this song another listen
Close your eyes
Listen to my voice it's my disguise
I'm by your side

Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
What you do to me

Hey there Delilah
I know times are getting hard
But just believe me girl
Someday I'll pay the bills with this guitar
We'll have it good
We'll have the life we knew we would
My word is good

Hey there Delilah
I've got so much left to say
If every simple song I wrote to you
Would take your breath away
I'd write it all
Even more in love with me you'd fall
We'd have it all

Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me

A thousand miles seems pretty far
But they've got planes and trains and cars
I'd walk to you if I had no other way
Our friends would all make fun of us
And we'll just laugh along because we know
That none of them have felt this way
Delilah I can promise you
That by the time we get through
The world will never ever be the same
And you're to blame

Hey there Delilah
You be good and don't you miss me
Two more years and you'll be done with school
And I'll be making history like I do
You know it's all because of you
We can do whatever we want to
Hey there Delilah here's to you
This ones for you

Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
What you do to me.

Which way?

Kiwi Bird Footprint
c. Jill Shaw, taken on Stewart Island, NZ, Nov 2007.

14 July 2008

Intentional Living

I've heard people scoff at personal mission statements.
Fair enough.
I've seen many people so caught up in the process of writing and polishing their "mission statement" that they never actually got to their mission.

Same thing can be true with trying to implement David Allen's Getting Things Done principles. By the time you've read the book, bought the label maker, and dug through the piles in your office trying to figure out which to ACTION and which to TRASH . . . . you think you'd be better off just going for a cup of coffee and starting again tomorrow.

What does it mean to be intentional, to live intentionally?
What does it mean to have integrity - cohesion- in all areas of your life?
What does it mean to live on purpose, to have a mission?

Does it have to be mapped out years in advance?
Why can't it be a simple guiding statement, a conscious truth off of which decisions or opinions can bounce to see what comes back and what heads off wildly in another direction?

We can shape a mission statement, submit it to Jesus for refinement & blessing, and then attempt to live it out. We can choose well, choose best.

Blustery Day, even for Sheep

c. Jill Shaw Nov 2007, NZ

John Michael Talbot

I remember having cassette tapes of John Michael Talbot when I was a teenager. Uhm, that was a few years ago now!

He's still loving and creating and serving and challenging us to something deeper, to somewhere deeper.

For a change, for something musical that will not draw attention to itself but will focus your attention on God, seek out and listen to some of this singing monk.
You can find him on iTunes or read more on his blog or JMT's Living Water site.
See the favourites and comments over on Jesus Creed.

13 July 2008

On a Journey

With one of the major motifs of my life being journey,
this photo sure jumped out at me when I saw it on
In The Life Of A Busy Woman.
It is a Dying Light image and one of several amazing images.

Does such an image make you curious or tired?
Is it lonely or exciting?
Would you wanna walk this road alone, deep in thought,
or with someone in companionship?
Stop and think. It's good for your soul.

Storytelling Festivals: Listen or join in

Make plans now to attend the 2008 National Storytelling Festival. October 3-5, 2008 in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

Over thirty years ago, a high school journalism teacher and a carload of students heard Grand Ole Opry regular Jerry Clower spin a tale over the radio about coon hunting in Mississippi. And the teacher—Jimmy Neil Smith—had a sudden inspiration: Why not have a storytelling festival right here in Northeast Tennessee

The festival, now in its 36th year and acclaimed as one of the Top 100 Events in North America, sparked a renaissance of storytelling across the country. To spearhead that revival, Smith and a few other storylovers founded the National Storytelling Association. The founding organization became the center of an ever-widening movement that continues to gain momentum to this day. Storytelling organizations, festivals, and educational events have popped up all over the world. Teachers, healthcare workers, therapists, corporate executives, librarians, spiritual leaders, parents, and others regularly make storytelling a vibrant part of their everyday lives and work.

Then you could take in the Hoosier Storytelling Festival October 8 - 11, 2008
Military Park and the Glick Indiana History center.
The Story Telling Arts of Indiana also hold workshops throughout the year.

Then come across to New Zealand for Glistening Waters International Storytelling Festival in Masterton, New Zealand, Friday 24 - Monday 27 October 2008.

<- Hone could tell a good story!

Story tellers in Australia have several guilds and events from which to choose.

For a listing of Northwest USA storytelling events see the Seattle Storytellers Guild.
Or if you're near Los Angeles, participate in their festival on 15 November.

12 July 2008

Variety is good

This week has included meetings with social workers to network the volunteers and meet known and felt needs of our Kurdish friends.
It's also been orientation at the university. I got to speak to the int'l students about my role there.
"What the heck is a chaplain anyway?" I try to use humour whenever possible as I want to be known as accessible. It does not pay to take yourself too seriously. Humour across different cultures, is a tricky thing. Not everything translates in to German, Cantonese and French.
I've also been in contact with a lonely Chinese woman who has reached out for friendship.
Today I'm off to a networking opportunity with Africans who live in Aotearoa New Zealand.

While my first degree is in intercultural communication, I think the focus then was on one at a time. This is like alphabet soup. I'll report back as to how it goes today.

10 July 2008

Visual Thinking: Story telling

Just one of dgray_xplane's Visual Thinking cards on Flikr from which he hopes to prompt a story.

Look at the illustration. Write the beginning of the story in your comment below.

Fountain pen: an ethical alternative

We can read in the NZ Herald about a family that is trying to go rubbish free for a year. They are keeping track of every little plastic thingy that comes on a loaf of bread to the thin layer of plastic the butcher snuck in to their meat order last week.
Trying to be ethical, environmentally friendly and economical with the resources we have is a challenge. So many things we do not even think of!

What of using a ballpoint pen.
It's not surprising to hear that in 2005 bic sold its one hundred billionth pen, when you consider just how many of their pens you might have owned, borrowed or even stolen.
What then happens to all of those ball point pens? They end up with all those disposable diapers and their respective contents contaminating all they come in to contact with!

While the only solution I know to the baby situation is cloth diapers or early-onset potty training, there is a solution for the ballpoint pen pile up.

Fountain pens: sheer elegance, an attitude of writing that many of us have never known. While there are many ways of refilling older pens: levers or capillary action, etc. new pens often take cartridges which could end up in the same landfill/dump as that other stuff.
This is where the converter comes in.
A converter allows a cartridge pen to fill from bottled ink so the owner can take advantages of the many colours available. I even mix the colours a bit and just this week I even discovered fragrant ink! Who knew?

Michael Covington reckons fountain pens are most economical too.

Fountain pens need not be expensive, compared to other usable pens. (I exclude disposable ballpoints that require super-hard pressure and produce ugly writing.)

A cheap but serviceable rollerball or ballpoint pen costs at least $2, and you're likely to lose it or have it wander away within a month or two. That means that in two years, you'll spend perhaps $25 on pens. That same $25 will buy you a quite usable fountain pen and enough ink for several years.

Even a high-end fountain pen, allowing $200 for pen, ink, and possible repairs, is cheaper over its useful life (20 to 40 years) than cheap ballpoints. After all, $200 spread over 20 years comes to 19 cents per week.

So along with my love for writing implements with class, I find that fountain pens are also environmentally friendly and economical. What a package!

09 July 2008

Conversations without words

When two people who love each other are together, words are sometimes unnecessary. The mere security of togetherness overrides the need to talk. There's a beautiful enjoyment of each other's presence.

That's how it is between you and Jesus. So don't be afraid if you're unable to pray. Your inability is a prayer in itself. It's a silent cry to God that you need his help. He doesn't set quotas on how many prayers you offer to him or how eloquent they are. He's interested in your sincerity and the desires of your heart.

How good it is that we worship a gracious God who understands us so well. Sometimes your truest prayers are the ones that are never spoken.
From Jack Zavada

Grace@399: House of Refuge

I just had the most amazing conversation with one of the ladies who lives with me. She struggles with violent memories I would not even watch in a film. She also struggles to cope, everyday, with mental health challenges that I can only try to imagine. They have names, the things that complicate her mind and life: autistic spectrum disorder, borderline personality disorder, Obsessive compulsions . . . .

Routine is very important, controlling what she can as so many things in her life have been beyond her control.

Studying philosophy toward a PhD at a nearby university, she stretches me to think and process my theology and faith in new ways. We arrived at the point that the higher power can know us and be known by us. We’ve moved on now to referring to Him as God and she is comfortable with that, in spite of her history with authoritative and domineering men. We do theology as we try to put words around facts and faith and the feelings that sometimes follow.

We speak often of grace. Since she is prone to domestic accidents and nocturnal habits, grace is required in this refuge house. With such a disparity of backgrounds, cultures and worldviews, we must be generous with each other. Those of you who know me well, know that God is at work in me in this context even as I desire to minister to others.

My housemate exercises heaps to relieve some of the anxious energy that builds up and she tends to avoid too much social contact as it exhausts her. The combination of those things means that she is often cycling late at night, coming home from the university. In the wild winter weather of Auckland, she is vulnerable to crashes as drivers cannot see her through rain spattered windows. She’s had 3, or is it 4, collisions within the past few weeks.

A few weeks ago I left a published excerpt of What’s So Amazing About Grace on a table for another lady in the house, knowing she was interested in studying the book. Soon a note appeared on top of the booklet asking if the other lady could borrow it when it was free.

Today, after discussing a few housekeeping kinda things & clarifying a few boundaries, she mentioned grace and how the grace of God is so obvious in her life. She spoke of people who had harmed her in the past and of how, as she has nightmares of them, she wakes up screaming.

As we spoke, she said that the book was amazing in opening her eyes to what she needed to do with others! She said she is forgiving them! Just an excerpt of Yancey’s book was revelation to someone who had never read anything like it before! She said that, just as we forgave each other in the house, she must forgive those others because carrying the hate around in her heart was no good.

Upon offering her access to whole Yancey book when she wanted to continue, she said, “ I just want to stay with the bit I’ve read for now. It was so good. Can I read the rest in the future?”
I have room for a couple more ladies in the house, but I think God is doing what He wants right now with those of us who are here.

07 July 2008

Handy Numbers in Your Cell Phone

So you've got a cell phone, a mobile device without wires . . . and without a phone book . . . .
Well, you can always use a telephone directory at a phone booth.
Hey! Where'd they put the phone booths?
Maybe we'd better think this through and plan ahead.
What numbers might you need when out and about? When traveling? In case of unexpected events or emergencies?

If your cell phone has no other numbers stored in its memory, consider including these numbers:

  1. Local Fire Department - Because you may need them and it may not be enough of an emergency to call 911. Very good for those pesky cat-stuck-in-tree situations
  2. Local Police Department or Law Enforcement - Same reason as above.
  3. Nearby Hospital(s) - These are great when a loved one isn’t home hours after they said they’d be. A lot easier to have them preloaded into your phone instead of sifting frantically through the yellow pages!
  4. ICE (In Case of Emergency) - While authorities may not be able to access this because of privacy & confidentiality laws, GQ Public might be of help. The number of a spouse or relative capable of making decisions on your behalf would be best here.
  5. Taxi Company Dispatch - Just in case you find yourself stuck on the side of the road
  6. Water and Power Department - In case your water or power ever get shut off and you’d like to know why (especially if it’s the power and your regular phones don’t work).
  7. Doctor and/or Pediatrician - These can be very difficult to locate in a time of stress, so record it next time you have the chance.
  8. Animal Control - Whether for the snake that just bit your dog, or the dog that's lost the plot or the critter up the tree . . .
  9. Coworker or Boss - Because you don’t want to call the company switchboard to tell them you ran out of gas on the Interstate and managed to wet your pants in the process. Shoot for a direct line or cell phone.
  10. Your Next-Door Neighbor - Hear about a house fire on the news? Give old Ted next door a ring and have him poke his head out to make sure your house is still standing (and offer to return the favor).
  11. Tow Truck Company - Preferably one that will drive long distances if need be.
  12. Poison Control - These people generally answer very quickly and are very helpful - a must for the parents.
  13. Car Insurance Carrier/Broker - The first people you should call if you’re in an accident (unless somebody is hurt, then you call them second). They’ll tell you want to write down and if you need the police.
  14. Pizza/Chinese/All-Night Take-out Food - Because once you find a good place that’s open late, that’s a number you keep and call often.
  15. - Number to call if credit card is lost/stolen (you want to call immediately)
  16. - Locksmith / service company on-call number, in case you lock yourself out.
  17. A very good attorney. You never know where you might end up.
  18. AA or AAA, depending on your country and situation.
  19. Toll free booking numbers for hotels. i.e. 1-800-2-Hotels
As Mella commented, "In other words, all the numbers that you would have kept stuck to the front of the refrigerator ten years ago…"
Glenn commented,
If you use commercial airlines, always store the reservations number of the airlines you’re traveling in your cellphone. When (not if) your flight is canceled, before you hike all the way back to the ticket counter like the other 145 people on your flight, whip out your phone and call that number. Explain your predicament. This is much faster that standing in line. The last time I did this, I wound up getting a free upgrade to first class and finished rearranging my flight plans while there were still 50 people in front of me.
Keep in mind, you don't have to limit yourself to phone numbers.
Your phone will hold all kinds of info that we used to write on paper. Use the technology to serve you!
The guts of this post came from Cranking Widgets and the commenters thereof.

Friends. Food. Initiative.

I made my famous chili again last week and took it round to some friends I thought might enjoy it. I woulda taken some to Janelle but she and Michael are traveling in Europe right now. I am hoping it is MUCH warmer there than it is here in NZ and that they don't need chili to warm them from the inside out.

You probably don't know Janelle, or the friends I took the chili to.
They are all terrific people who have blessed my life: otherwise I probably wouldn't have been thinking of how I might bless them. I do wander what some of them thought when I showed up with my little containers. None of them were particularly sick or in need as such.

I guess it's just that we live in such a busy city with fast paced lives that I figured if we can't share a meal together I can at least share a meal with them.

Friends are too important to lost track of in the busyness of it all.
Someone has to initiate the getting together. Often it'll be the same person initiating all the time. Frustrating, but that's how it is.

God wired us all differently. I tend to find my friends who initiate least are most grateful when I do initiate. They aren't fussy about what we do or where we go, they just didn't have the emotional energy it takes to start something. They can be the most faithful of friends, just don't hold your breath awaiting their call.
I smell meat loaf aroma wafting through the house. We have a few friends who prefer Jane's Famous Recipe Meatloaf over a spicey tomato based chili. I think her secret recipe is love. One will go to Belmont and another to Birkdale. I think I'll do my part on the other one.

I'm thinking Chance's recipe looks good too.
Photo compliments of Annie's where you'll find a variety of recipes.

Prayer: Too many words

Lord Jesus, have mercy on me . . . .

That about sums it up.
Why do we think we need so many words when we pray?
It is good to form our thoughts. It is good to tell God where we are and what's happening in our hearts, minds & lives. He knows, but the process is good. The conversation is good.

But what of being in His presence and not allowing too many words to get in the way?

I believe in biblical praying, in praying Scripture, in praying in ways I know are consistent with the heart of God. There are mantras and formulas proposed which are not, to my way of thinking, of Christ or biblical. Do be discerning.

Consider the following and see if you can sit with one of these prayers in God's presence, saying just the one phrase with different intonation or emphasis, so as to calm your mind and heart and really focus. You might try speaking one phrase as you breath in and completing, or repeating, it as you breath out.

Let me know how it goes with you.

"My God and my All" (source St. Francis)

“Speak Lord… for your servant hears” (Samuel, 1 Samuel 3:9 & 10, NKJV)

“Give thanks to the Lord… for he is good” (David, 1 Chronicles 16:34)

“The Lord is my Shepherd… I shall not want” (David, Psalm 23:1, KJV)

“Taste and see… that the Lord is good” (David, Psalm 34:8)

“Be still… and know that I am God” (Korah’s family, Psalm 46:10, KJV)

“The Lord… will be [my] confidence” (Solomon, Proverbs 3:26)

“The joy of the Lord… is [my] strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)

“Let it be to me… according to your word” (Mary, Luke 1:38, NKJV)

“Our Father… Hallowed be thy name” (Jesus, Matthew 6:9, KJV)

“Father... glorify your name” (Jesus, John 12:28, NKJV)

“Father… into your hands I commit my spirit” (Jesus, Luke 23:46, NKJV)

“Live by the Spirit… Keep in step with the Spirit” (Paul, Galatians 5:25)

“To live is Christ… and to die is gain” (Paul, Philippians 1:21, KJV)

“In Christ’s humility… consider others better than yourselves” (Paul, Philippians 2:3)

“I want to know Christ… and the power of his resurrection” (Paul, Philippians 3:10)

“My God… will meet all your needs” (Paul, Philippians 4:19) from

Or maybe . . .
- Jesus, let me feel your love.
- Show me your way, O Lord.
- Holy one, heal me.
- Alleluia, have mercy, Jesus.

Our focus is on God via our mediator Jesus who sits at His right hand.Let not our theology or propriety or religiosity get in the way of being with Him.