20 December 2013

Rules to live by...

Jill's Rules for Jill to live by, as consistently as possible:

Don't buy dustibles for friends unless you stick around to dust them.
Empty the dog BEFORE he becomes uncomfortable.
Be polite to other cars; they probably have people in them.
Lovingly speak truth.
Ask more questions than you answer.
Smile at grumpy people.
Organise your closet by colour, but not your bookshelves.
Pull weeds before they seed.
Listen to birdsong.
Be grateful for running water, hot water, drinkable water.
Recycle when possible.
Lower barriers to communication.
Engage in conversation, not debate.
Seek consistency and integrity, but know it's ok to be imperfect.
Value the dear friends; they enrich the journey.
Listen carefully to those with whom you disagree.
Eat food with more colour.
Write more thank you notes.
(... to be adjusted, continued, and refined)

19 December 2013

Difficult or Lonely Christmas

There’s no such thing as a PERFECT Christmas or New Year’s.

Stop seeking the elusive.
Muster the courage to enjoy whatever little glimpses
or joys or beauties there may be.


How have your circumstances changed since last Christmas?

Drastically? Incrementally?

For the better, or not?

As we go about our business, it might be easier on those we care about if we realised that Christmas and holidays are not always jolly celebrations.

We know people for whom this is likely to be their last Christmas. They may be aware of it, or those closest to them may be harbouring that thought. It will cast a shadow, to some degree, over how they go about these next days and weeks.

Others are eager for the holidays to be behind us all because they feel they have little to celebrate this year. Losses have changed things for them in ways we may not consider as wish them a Merry Christmas.

1.) Celebrations are good.    
2.) Lives and losses worth grieving are good too.

Those "good" things may not be obviously or easily compatible.

Let's Handle With Care those we care about.

Struggling through Christmas? Plan ahead!  
If you know Christmas is going to be difficult for you this year, make a plan now to make it as survivable as possible.

You may not be able to get home, or you may have a broken relationship, or have lost a dear loved one, or just can't cope with the hubbub of big groups. You may be in the dog box or have no money to do anything special or have kids who are celebrating with their other parent.

I remember sitting at an intersection in tears one Christmas, knowing I was welcome several places, but not feeling at home in any of them. It happens. Holidays are not always jolly-days.

Some options:

You can find ways to cocoon yourself and ignore the whole thing, though that will mean little or no access to TV, internet or radio. One friend considered going to a country where Christmas wasn't celebrated! You could get enough books or videos to last 2-3 days. Plan healthy snacks with a few special nibbles.

Another option might be to involve yourself in a project you enjoy and want to do anyway. Get out those paints, that puzzle, book or toolbox . . . glue gun, knitting needles, sewing machine or model airplane.

 You have to plan ahead though. Make sure you have all the supplies you'll need so as not to add to your frustration on the day. 

Read more and or download a pdf to share with friends.

08 December 2013

Humility, being loved, being vulnerable.

My message, unchanged for more than fifty years, is this: God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be. ~ Brennan Manning, April 27, 1934 – April 12, 2013

We believe we’re invincible until cancer comes knocking, or we believe we’re making a comeback until we tumble down the stairs. God strips away those falsehoods because it is better to live naked in truth than clothed in fantasy."

The Trappist monk Thomas Keating once said, “The cross Jesus asked you to carry is yourself. It’s all the pain inflicted on you in your past and all the pain you’ve inflicted on others.”

Ragamuffins have a singular prayer: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Any additional flourishes to make that cry more palatable are Pharisaical leaven.

"My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it." - Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

06 December 2013

Refreshing tides

The tide washes out the little pools, scours the beach, washes the exposed stones and sand; every twelve hours or so it sorta refreshes itself. If only the seasons in our relationships and memories could be refreshed and clean again so quickly. But no, it takes longer with people.

01 December 2013

Stigmas & Stereotypes are stupid: live well.

1 Dec is/was World AIDS Day.
Testing, management and care are vital, as it is with diabetes, depression and high blood pressure. We'll all die of something, but a focus on living well is what matters.

I dearly love some people who are HIV+, and have lost a few dear friends to AIDS.

Stigmas and stereotypes are stupid. - Posted using BlogPress

23 November 2013

Brightened my outlook

So, after organizing my books to see if I had gaps, I went into the kitchen and noticed that, while the front garden area looked pretty good in the dappled sunshine, the window through which I was viewing it didn't look good! So out come the paper towels, spray and step stool.... and out goes me. Using the opportunity to stretch my calf muscles while on the steps and craning high to get the corners, I thought, "this is multi-tasking at its best!" Richie the dog was entertained by my antics and now I'm ready for a fruity lunch before going off to celebrate my friend Nelmare's birthday; coffee for her and tea for me.

- Posted using BlogPress

13 October 2013

Better try and fail, or not to try?

Some people are raised to think they can't do anything.

Others are raised to think they can do anything.... or even everything!

Both are hard on everyone involved.

I'm an optimist, a possibility thinker, but knowing my limits is valuable.

Most people can do more than they do. They don't attempt half of what they could. Much goes undone for lack of vision, motivation, confidence or passion.

Some people attempt things too big, too hard, too complex..... and many can be disappointed when they come up short.

I just heard an interview of a woman who adopted pre-teen Ethiopian sisters and took them to America for a better life. After 14 months she realized she was failing, she couldn't actually do or provide what the girls needed to make the adoption succeed.

She used both humbling and freeing as she talked about her eventual realization of her limitations.

The girls are with another family, with a dad and other kids. They may be better off than if they'd stayed with their first American family. They may have trust issues complicated by the disappointment and broken promises. Their situation is complex no matter how you look at it.

Do we go ahead and attempt big things, knowing we might fail?
Or do we just play it safe and only attempt what we know we can do?

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11 October 2013

Daring Greatly: vulnerability, scarcity, shame and people who matter

Below, read five inspiring quotes from Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly.

“I carry a small sheet of paper in my wallet that has written on it the names of people whose opinions of me matter. To be on that list, you have to love me for my strengths and struggles. You have to know that I’m trying to be Wholehearted, but I still cuss too much, flip people off under the steering wheel, and have both Lawrence Welk and Metallica on my iPod.”

“Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress. It happens when you’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability), we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.”

“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow — that’s vulnerability.”

“We judge people in areas where we’re vulnerable to shame, especially picking folks who are doing worse than we’re doing. If I feel good about my parenting, I have no interest in judging other people’s choices. If I feel good about my body, I don’t go around making fun of other people’s weight or appearance. We’re hard on each other because we’re using each other as a launching pad out of our own perceived deficiency.”

“Raising children who are hopeful and who have the courage to be vulnerable means stepping back and letting them experience disappointment, deal with conflict, learn how to assert themselves, and have the opportunity to fail. If we’re always following our children into the arena, hushing the critics, and assuring their victory, they’ll never learn that they have the ability to dare greatly on their own.”


- Posted using BlogPress

09 October 2013

Disagree for the right reasons!

I have many conversations that could turn disagreeable.
I speak with people of other faiths, no faith, other political persuasions, cynics, critics, misinformed and uninformed..... It's common to disagree.

Seth Godin explores disagreement cleverly in the following post:
The easiest way to disagree with someone
...is to assume that they are uninformed, and that once they know what you know, they will change their mind. (A marketing problem!)

The second easiest way to disagree is to assume that the other person is a dolt, a loon, a misguided zealot who refuses to see the truth. Their selfish desire to win interferes with their understanding of reality. (A political problem!)

The third easiest way to disagree with someone is to not actually hear what they are saying. (A filtering problem!)

The hardest way to disagree with someone is to come to understand that they see the world differently than we do, to acknowledge that they have a different worldview, something baked in long before they ever encountered this situation. (Another marketing problem, the biggest one).

There actually are countless uninformed people. There are certainly craven zealots. And yes, in fact, we usually hear what we want to hear, or hear what the TV tells us, or hear what we expect, instead of hearing what was said, and the intent behind it. Odds are, though, that we will make the change we seek by embracing the hard work of telling stories that resonate, as opposed to dismissing the other who appears not to get it." ~ Seth Godin

Read it on Seth's blog.
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06 September 2013

Do not remain indifferent

Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal, quoting the Pope's wisdom, "After 10 days of debate in Europe and America, the wisest words on a path forward have come from the Pope. Francis wrote this week to Vladimir Putin, as the host of the G-20. He damned "the senseless massacre" unfolding in Syria and pleaded with the leaders gathered in St. Petersburg not to "remain indifferent"—remain —to the "dramatic situation." He asked the governments of the world "to do everything possible to assure humanitarian assistance" within and without Syria's borders.

Noonan continues, "The world must think—and speak—with stature and seriousness, of the moment we're in and the darkness on the other side of the door. It must rebuke those who used the weapons, condemn their use, and shun the users. It must do more, in concert—surely we can agree on this—to help Syria's refugees. It must stand up for civilization."

What does that look like for you and me? What does that look like from the perspective of a Syrian refugee teen who was preparing for university or ... life?


- Posted on the go using BlogPress

04 September 2013

Traveling Book Project

Traveling book project: Literacy New Zealand and NZ Post release 7000 books in public places!

“Our ultimate aim is to raise people’s awareness that adult literacy need is a major national issue, by celebrating literacy in a way that focuses on the positive and fun aspects of reading, learning and expanding our worlds,” Bronwyn Yates added.

Travelling Book hunters will recognise the new releases by a distinctive sticker on the cover. Inside they will find instructions on how to pass the books on once they’ve finished. They can hand them on to a friend or colleague or, even better, leave them in a safe, dry, public space, where the book can be found anew by passers-by, who can take them home and discover for themselves the pleasure of reading and then passing on freely-shared books.

Each book has a unique code inside the front cover, so anyone who picks it up and reads it is invited to log on to the Literacy Aotearoa website and record its title and location. Everyone who reports a book sighting goes into a monthly draw to win one of two $50 ‘Prezzy Cards’ donated by New Zealand Post.


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31 August 2013

What 'greens' you?

I was asked the question, "What greens you?"
Hmmm, I'd rather not be green, literally.

I didn't think the questioner was speaking politically or environmentally.

Ahh, spiritually/emotionally, what gives me life, refreshes my soul, restores and energizes?

Being outside, in a garden creating or capturing art and beauty; that greens me!

What about you?

What do you do to refresh your soul, to breath new life into your dusty heart or cob-webby brain?

Great to combine my love for gardening with my love for photography. 
Enjoyed a sunshine Saturday!

26 August 2013

Profound truth from a clever lazy man; Nasr-ed-din Hodja parable

~ First Sermon ~

On his first day as the village's imam, Nasr-ed-din Hodja was seated on the raised bench, preparing to give his sermon. The congregation was quite anxious to hear what he had to say. But The Hodja didn't really have a sermon ready.
`Do you know what I am about to tell you today?' he asked.
`No, Hodja Effendi, we don't.' they replied.
`If you don't know what I am going to talk about,' the Hodja said, `then I have nothing to tell you.' And with that, he got up and left the mosque, leaving the puzzled people behind him.
The next day, when it was the time of the sermon, Hodja was back on his seat and the congregation curiously waiting.
`Do you know what I am about to tell you today?' Hodja asked again. Having learned from the previous day, the people were not about to say `no' this time.
`Yes, Hodja Effendi,' they all shouted, `we know.'
`Well,' said the Hodja, `if you already know what I am going to tell you, then I don't need to tell it to you!' He got up and left. The people gathered in the mosque were at a loss.
The third day Hodja came and sat down, and asked his question.
`Do you know what I am about to tell you today?' The congregation was not going to let Hodja get away this time without giving a sermon. Some of them replied with `yes, we do' and some of them replied with `no, we don't.'
`In that case,' said the Hodja, `Those who do know should tell the ones who do not know.' and slipped out of the mosque.

Find more stories at the link.

21 July 2013

Empathy: What's going on that you can't see?

I often wonder what's going on in a person's heart and mind when they don't respond as I'd expect them to, or are indifferent or rude, or don't make eye contact, or . . . . .

In a chaplains' crisis response training I recently attended, stats were given that 80% of people you meet in a crisis ALREADY were in crisis BEFORE the event, therefore compounding the emotional impact of the tornado, accident, violence, earthquake, flood, tsunami, fire, etc..... 80% walking around us all time, or walking in our own shoes.

Watch the video linked to below.

Empathy video from Cleveland Clinic

- Posted using BlogPress

17 July 2013

Choose your friends, and when to listen...

Job's friends:

On a good day we'd tell 'em where to get off, and we'd give them a little shove.

On a bad day, we'd listen to them, and give them too much authority.

Choose well.

01 July 2013

Angry over what? Opportunity!

I can be angry my cookie is broken....

or I can be glad I have a cookie, eat it slowly and savour each bite.

I can even look up and notice someone who might like half, seeing as how it is already broken.

30 June 2013

Mono: what's my 'one thing'?

The 'mono' in monastic means "one thing", to be so focused on one thing that everything else fades away. ~ Singleness of intent, solitary purpose.

Wasn't there mention of this concept in that City Slickers movie with Billy Crystal? I think the language was bad in places, but the underlying philosophical message was correct.

What is my one thing?
God's glory?
Getting in?
Being safe?
Being comfy?

Sometimes my motive or means get confused with the 'one thing' and become another thing.

26 June 2013

Post-cynicism: make a personal commitment, make a change

Postmodern, postChristian..... postcynicism?

Sojourners' CEO & author Jim Wallis after a speaking tour promoting common good, "Skepticism is a good and healthy thing, I told every audience. Be skeptical and ask the hard, tough questions about our institutions — (political and financial). But cynicism is a spiritually dangerous thing because it is a buffer against personal commitment. Becoming so cynical that we don’t believe any change is possible allows us to step back, protect ourselves, grab for more security, and avoid taking any risks. If things can’t change, why should I be the one to show courage, take chances, and make strong personal commitments? I see people asking that question all the time.

But personal commitment is all that has ever changed the world, transformed human lives, and altered history. And if our cynicism prevents us from making courageous and committed personal choices and decisions, the hope for change will fade. Along the way, I got to thinking how the powers that be are the ones causing us to be so cynical. Maybe that is part of their plan — to actually cause and create more cynicism in order to prevent the kind of personal commitments that would threaten them with change.

And this is where faith comes in. Hebrews 11:1 says it best, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” My personal paraphrase of that biblical text, “Hope means believing in spite of the evidence, then watching the evidence change.” Faith enables us to act in hope, despite how things look, and that’s what can help make change finally occur and change how things look.

Instead of fighting the conservative/liberal wars, some of us can find common ground for the common good...
Instead of blaming each other for poverty, some of us could together create the opportunity and fairness that can end it.
Instead of having the endless ideological arguments about the size of government, some of us could focus on the biblical purposes of civil authority to protect from evil, promote the good, defend the vulnerable, and solve our problems with all the other sectors of society — including the faith community.
Instead of continuing the old culture wars, some of us could commit to the absolutely essential role of parenting our children, which would most change culture.
Instead of becoming so focused on ourselves and our own group, some of us could extend the definition of who our neighbors are, as Jesus asks us to do, even globally to those who make our cell phones! Together, we could attract a new generation of young people by helping them create the social movements around justice issues like human trafficking, climate change, or the morally unacceptable worldwide rates of deadly poverty and disease.

Finally, some of us could start a new movement for democracy that would help take the power of money out of politics. And for Christians, some of us can raise the most fundamental question of all, “Who is this Jesus and why does that matter?”

Follow @JimWallis on Twitter.

10 June 2013

Bigger brushes

Sometimes I should just paint with a bigger brush...

22 May 2013

Be prepared! Stuff happens.

IF you are at home when a disaster occurs, are you prepared?
If not, shame on you.

We see these sad events happen and think they won't happen to us!?
What's the risk in your area?
Volcanic eruption?
Something else....?

Get a battery powered radio & flashlight/torch, water in jugs, easy food, a first aid kit, warm clothes and misc other helpful items and store them in a handy place.

Have a Plan B, and maybe C.

Can you survive three days without outside assistance?
In case of the Christchurch earthquake, people had to cope much longer than three days! Knowing their neighbours helped a lot.

Discuss a meeting place if you get separated.

Get smart. Be ready. Get thru.

Check your local civil defense websites for suggestions.
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20 May 2013

Discern plan, work, enjoy the benefits, share: practical wisdom

How foolish the woman who goes out to check her garden,
only to find no vegetables there; Foolish because she did not
till the soil, plant seeds or water the seedlings!

Further foolishness would be to resent the abundance of food
on her neighbour's table.

Discipline and planning are preferable to regret and resentment.

What do you need to do today that will prepare a 'harvest' for you
in the months or years to come?

Get up, assemble your tools and supplies, make a start.

16 May 2013

Traveller, or tourist?

"If you reject the food, ignore the customs,
 fear the religion and avoid the people, 
you might better stay at home."

- James Michener

This describes the difference between being a traveller and being a tourist. There's a time for both, but they ought not be confused.

- Posted using BlogPress

12 May 2013

We read deeply...

“We read deeply for varied reasons, most of them familiar: that we cannot know enough people profoundly enough; that we need to know ourselves better; that we require knowledge, not just of self and others, but of the way things are. Yet the strongest, most authentic motive for deep reading…is the search for a difficult pleasure.”

~ Harold Bloom

- Posted on the go using BlogPress

11 May 2013

Independent Bookstores: CNN's list, and a few of mine

In this day of ebooks and chain bookstores, we rarely have the opportunity to fossick around in search of previously unknow authors, titles or anthologies.

I remember finding Jostein Gaarder just by perusing a shelf in a bookstore on the Main Street of Gisborne, New Zealand one New Year's Eve. I've gone on to read several of Gaarder's books, share the, with friends and recommend them to my book club. All because I was exploring a secondhand bookshop's shelves.

I've received terrific service from independent bookstore owners, both sellers of new books and resellers of pre-read books. Some of my favourite bookstores in New Zealand fell down in the Christchurch earthquakes.
Auckland has Jason's, Time Out, Evergreen and others. Wellington has Anty Bees and more.

I've sought out good bookshop's in Sydney, Melbourne in Australia. Then there are the treasure troves of LA, New York, Denver and university towns.

Where's your favourite independent bookstore? You know the kind that are one of a kind, owned by eccentric book lovers who might appear to not go outside much?

CNN has named 10 of the best indie bookstores in America.

Link to CNN's list

Where's your fav?

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10 May 2013

Perpetual unfeeling, uncaring; depression as described by one, with pictures.

Have you ever experienced depression?
Do you have friends or relatives who have, or do?

Check out Hyperbole & a Half for a unique visual examination of the dilemma. The language isn't what I prefer reading, it mental illness is often raw, real and rude.

Don't complain if you choose to follow the link and read the story.

Sometimes, in complicated situations, it's good for us to know what NOT to say.

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09 May 2013

Smart phones change how we communicate, in more ways than we may realise

Whether the tools a hammer, a camera, a pocket knife or a smartphone,

"How we perceive our environment is shaped by the mere presence of a tool in hand. And this effect is registered even before the tool is used."

"When the smartphone enters into the dynamic, it disrupts the body’s communicative patterns. Gestures, eye contact, posture, facial expression — all of it is altered. Our body no longer means in the way it is used to being perceived. It becomes impossible to achieve an optimal grip on the embodied interaction. And because our bodies give and receive this sort of communication tacitly and often in remarkably subtle ways in the act of conversation, we may not be conscious of this dissonance. We may only register a certain feeling of being out of sync. Presence fails to emerge and conversation of the sort that Turkle champions — indeed, of the sort we all acknowledge as one of the great consolations offered to us in this world — becomes more difficult to achieve."

We begin to feel the force of Simone Weil’s judgment: “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

Excerpts from http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/circle-of-presence/

Brought to my attention by Mandy Smith via Facebook.

Social media; good, bad, enriching and distracting.

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08 May 2013

Staying in the conversation: Religious differences

I was pleased to find that Ravi Zacharias International Ministries has a Canadian website that is complementary to but different from the very good US based site.

Check out stayintheconversation.org/rzimcanada for articles, discussions and information about whether Christianity is a crutch, if Jesus rose from the dead, whether Christian faith is reasonable at all, or not.

I'll recommend the site at an event on campus today where we will have a Muslim scholar and a Christian scholar each respond to a set of questions so the audience can compare the similarities and differences side-by-side, so to speak. Of course, each of the scholars will not only represent their faiths, but also their own affiliations within that faith tradition, and their own personal understandings and perspectives. Generalities are generally wrong, so it's good to break it down and realise that even within the major groupings there is much diversity and much room for conversation and respect of difference.

Engaging, not combative.
Conversations about differences help us understand where the other person is coming from. Seeking common ground and an understanding of difference can be interesting and enriching. Such conversations create community.

In our multi-cultural global economies, we need community based on more than ethnicity and religion. Cities across Europe, North America and around the Pacific have Sikhs living next to Buddhists who work with Muslims and play soccer with Christians. We do business with people from other continents, other language groups and world views. It takes a bit of effort sometimes to understand without assuming.

If we can lessen the ignorance, we can lessen the fear.
Sometimes that fear is a fear of offending. That's a kind and generous apprehension out of respect for the other person. But if that fear is an obstacle to relationship, it's still a divisive and alienating factor.

A malignant fear, on the other hand, breeds all kinds of social ills. Such fear resides in every religion, but is not usually taught as the ideal of any religion.

So, staying in the conversation is important.
Being respectfully curious is important.
Respecting difference while seeking common ground is important.

Sharing this big globe is a necessity; doing it well is our choice.

- Posted using BlogPress

07 May 2013

What to wear? Communication and relationship may be the consequence.

I have a greeting card that says,

"Who'd a thought we'd even be friends...."
"....you know, the way you dress and all."

I can't decide who will receive it.
I have a few friends in mind, but I guess I think the way I dress is funny, so not sure they'd get the humour. (Hate to add to their insecurities, ya know.)

I long ago decided I didn't have the money to be a trend setter; heck I wasn't gonna spend the money it takes to be a trend follower!
So I've just danced to my own little tune; a little Bohemian, a little op-shop, a little straight lines & colour....

Sometimes the question is what to wear that won't be a barrier to communication or relationship. You know, long sleeves for some or no offensive symbols, logos or slogans for others.

You may say I'm over thinking this, that its nobody else's business what I wear. Well, it is in a way.

If, in my role as an ambassador for Christ, I try to find common ground with the people I meet, then I don't want something so inconsequential as my clothing to decrease the space in which we can stand or sit together, the common ground.

So the inconsequential becomes the consequential because communication and relationship may be the consequence.

So when I go to the hospital to visit people, I want to dress professionally enough that I'll be respected by the staff, but brightly enough that it might bring cheer to the patient.

When I'm talking with a teenager, I need to not look like their grandma, however cool she may be, but not 'try' and look cool either. How sad would that be!

When I'm speaking from a stage I need to wear something that is easy to see without it all being about my clothes!

Yikes. And to think all that through early in the morning when I'm standing in front of my closet wondering, "What to wear.....?"

See, it's more than just clothes. It's communication on so many different levels.

My clothes do not 'make' me. The labels I wear do not define me. The people I might be trying to impress don't really care......

So if it's not about impression, but expression...... hmmmm....

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14 April 2013

Stay in the Conversation

People can stay in a conversation, even when there's disagreement, without trying to change the other person's mind.

If mutual respect reigns, then better understanding can be attained. If its all about convincing the other, it can become more combat than conversation.

Stay on the conversation!

- Posted on the go using BlogPress

12 April 2013

Critical roaches: Jealousy, disagreement or ignorance

My dad calls them Remy rats, but roaches are equally ugly.

"Lift up the rock of irrational, overblown, unreasonable criticism and you will see the roach of jealousy scurrying away from the light." Mark Driscoll

Gotta check our motives, and stay away from toxic people.

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10 April 2013

It's an illness.

"There are some who take communion and anti-depressants and there are those who think both are a crutch.

Come in close — I’d rather walk tall with a crutch than crawl around insisting like a proud and bloody fool that I didn’t need one."

Ann Voskamp


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09 April 2013

All in different directions, but following Jesus?

I found this to be insightful; a reframing of diversity in a faith community that celebrates different ways of participating and in language that's accessible.

I found it at a site called
Postcards Radio.... and I'd love to hear how they came to name it that!

Monks, Cheerleaders and Activists
by Steve Drinkall

Ever wondered what's the go with the Monks, Cheerleaders and Activists icons? Well, read on...

I am often asked what I do for a living.

I drop my son to the local Catholic primary school in the morning, briefly exchange greetings with the other mums and the occasional dad and then wander off to an obscure workday. This could involve anything from helping my neighbor shovel sand from his driveway to having coffee with a friend of mine who is not coping with life, or even recording a podcast for download from our website. I am of course your run of the mill Pastor. Many of you can understand what I do because you are familiar with the concepts and language of the church. You understand that Pastors fill their days with attempts to serve people, encourage loyalty to Jesus and even articulate the values of the kingdom. These activites make sense to us in the church but spare a thought for the average mum at my son’s preschool.

She doesn’t understand why I seem to be around a fair bit of the time. She doesn’t understand why I am in constant conversation at the local coffee shop with a diverse range of sometimes, undesirable people. She doesn’t understand why I am studying theology for my own understanding with no view to becoming a priest and she certainly doesn’t understand when I explain to her that I am a pastor, with no church building and that our group meets in our back yard. She can be forgiven for thinking that I am like no other person that she has met and in fact last month she bailed me up over a cup of lukewarm coffee and asked me straight out. What do you do? And what is this Pathway church thing that you spend so much time involved in?

I wasn’t too fazed by this question because I have struggled to answer it many times before but have always been unsatisfied with my own responses. If I tell her it’s a home church, she thinks it’s a cult. If I tell her it’s a bible study group, she immediately loses interest. If I venture that I am the pastor of a new church plant, I can see the walls go up and my answers start bouncing back at me no matter how eloquent they are. There simply is not a common language, which adequately describes what I am trying to do, not one that is comprehensible to both churchgoers and those who would rather remain outside.

This time was different. I sipped the last of my coffee, took a deep breath and confidently explained to her that the Pathway Collective was a community of Monks, Cheerleaders and Activists. You can imagine that this raised even more curiosity in her and it prompted the obvious question, What do you mean? I explained that Pathway is simply a collective of ordinary local people who were trying to take Jesus seriously by living out the common stereotypes of Monks, Cheerleaders and Activists.

When you think of a Monk you think of someone who is devoutly chasing after God. You think of someone who believes that God can be known personally and is prepared to discipline themselves to finding and relating to that God. At Pathway we encourage people to chase after God, to see if he can be known personally and to dare to explore what he might want of us. We encourage the Monk in people. But we are also a community who values Cheerleaders. We think it desirable that people chasing after God should play a part in encouraging others on the road. The Pathway collective should really be a place where those seeking God can both cheer and be cheered on by others who have walked before them and even picked up by others when they falter and fall. It is an individual race but is also a team effort. Finally I suggested that Jesus very words and actions showed that he was deeply committed to putting the world back together, one life at a time. At Pathway, we don’t believe that God is fatalistic about the world he created but that he is a God who is busy reconciling people back to himself and back to each other. God is still desiring that our shattered world be put back together. We understand that to mean, putting food in the stomachs of starving kids, lifting the spirits of those with broken hearts, advocating for those without a voice and even building communities by helping to shovel sand. Pathway encourages people to search their own circle of influence to find a place where they can be active in putting the world back together. We may all go in different directions but we strive to be educated activists like Jesus.

So like I said, We are trying to be to be Monks, Cheerleaders and Activists in Holland Park. My friend sat satisfied, having finally comprehended in her own language what it was that I was trying to do and after a lengthy pause replied, “You know, I reckon I could have a crack at most of that myself…”

Check out more of the conversation via the above link. It's an Australian conversation that would apply in many places as we rethink 'church' in particular contexts.

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08 April 2013

07 April 2013

Living Incarnationally: A Review of Sacrilege by Hugh Halter

Summary from Hugh’s blog post:
“This issue – How are Christians to live in the World?” Said, more theologically… “What does it mean to live an incarnational life?’ Said, more practically…”What does it mean to become like Jesus?”
“Sacrilege is about the Incarnational life of Jesus. In it, I expose Jesus as the least religious person you would have ever met, and show how his non-churchy ways and his absolute sacrilege with the scriptures, the Sabbath, sin, sinners, and a host of other kingpin issues, were exactly why people were drawn to him. But the book isn’t about Jesus. It’s about us.”
Read the rest here.

For the whole review, read


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04 April 2013

Controversy? Yeah, whatever.

If it's controversial, it must be wrong... or it must be right... or maybe we need to be in a balanced and fair conversation with the relevant stakeholders about it...

I'd guess that how we approach controversy can be affected by our personality or temperament. Some find controversial conversations energizing; others are drained by them.

I don't like arguments, but good conversations can help us arrive at a place of integrity. Knowing why I hold an opinion is valuable, maybe more valuable than the opinion.


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03 April 2013

A friend...

In a hard place
Looking up
Hard surfaces
Courage borrowed, or welling up from within,
Intelligence fed, natural and enhanced
Gorgeous, by choice and by nature
Nurturing; it's who she is.

01 April 2013

Write better emails: get better response

Is your InBox as crowded as mine, with little time to sift and sort?

Wish everyone would get to the point so I know what I can or cannot do for them.

Fast Company: How to write emails that grab attention and get response

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30 March 2013

Post-Christian America

Post-Christian doesn't just apply to THOSE countries.

Is your church able to hold a conversation with outsiders?
Are you?

Read on:

Americans are not giving up on God (only about 3 percent are atheists). But a growing number are turning away from organized religion. According to a recent survey, 20 percent say they have no religious preference at all. In 1990 that figure was only 8 percent; in 1972 it was 5 percent. Sociologist Mike Hout at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues call this group the “unchurched.” And in some respects detailed analysis of the data from the General Social Survey conducted every two years by the National Opinion Research Center is predictable. They found, for instance, that 40 percent of liberals are unchurched, but only 9 percent of conservatives. More than a third of the 18-to-25 crowd is without a religion. One can speculate about the reasons for this overall trend, including public disappointment with repeated scandals that expose the hypocrisy, or worse, of moralizing evangelists, ministers, imams, rabbis, gurus, and, of course, priests. Although 35 percent of Americans were raised Catholic, only 25 percent say they still consider themselves Catholic. The next survey in 2014 may show us whether a new generation of religious leaders—and a new pope in Rome—have changed these trends.


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29 March 2013

Grounded questions. Rich stories. Deep change: Mark Strom at TEDx

Having benefited greatly from the thinking and teaching of Mark Strom, I recommend that you dip in.
Listen to his Tedx talk in Geneva.... then share with your networks if there's something of value for them.

Mark is theological, philosophical, artistic, friendly and fun... all of those may not come through in this talk, but I'm fond of him, and I share him with you.

Mark Strom Tedx Geneva, Switzerland. 2013

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27 March 2013

Eavesdropping again:

Dad, "The plane's full. "
Boy, "Ahh, so we can't get on?"
"No, we have a seat."
"But you said it was full."
"We've got tickets. It's ok."

Girl, "Where are our seats, mum, at the back?"
"Yes, Millie."
"Back-back or middle-back?"
"Ah, that's alright then."
Peeking over her shoulder, the boarding pass showed they were front of economy in preferred seats.

Just trying to make sense of things, ... and not getting much help.

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23 March 2013

Pattison's Inspector Shan series; more than just fiction

Ever thought you'd read a series of novels set in Tibet?

I've not yet had the opportunity to travel in Tibet, but I enjoy reading about places I may one day go.

I also try to read about a place while I'm there, bringing the words to,life or giving them context somehow by the sounds and smells.

Reading Eliot Pattison's series on Inspector Shan has been fascinating. The names of people and places are difficult to my English mind, but they become familiar with time, and pages turned.

Maybe this series would appeal to you, or challenge you, or facilitate arm-chair travel.

Publisher's summary:

In an earlier time, Shan Tao Yun was an Inspector stationed in Beijing. But he lost his position, his family and his freedom when he ran afoul of a powerful figure high in the Chinese government. Released unofficially from the work camp to which he'd been sentenced, Shan has been living in remote mountains of Tibet with a group of outlawed Buddhist monks.

In Eliot Pattison’s Shan series, the rich heritages of China and Tibet form a fascinating backdrop. The books capture the many dimensions of the Tibet/China struggle and touch upon the wonderfully complex world of Tibetan Buddhism -- not so much in its modern theological elements as in the way it has defined culture and human behavior. The Buddhists in Pattison’s crime fiction are rooted in the very old, unreformed sects of Tibet, not simply because their beliefs lend themselves to the mystery of the books, but because they reflect most vividly how remote and starkly different Tibetan culture was before the People's Liberation Army arrived. The stories are balanced with the perspectives of Shan, a Chinese protagonist who himself has been victimized by the government and is as shaken by what Beijing has done in Tibet as any Tibetan native. The books don’t ignore the gnawing, dehumanizing effect that Beijing's occupation of Tibet has had on the Chinese officials who administer it. Shan has a mystery to solve but, as he has learned from his Tibetan friends, his challenge isn't simply to find an answer but to find it with dignity and compassion.


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13 February 2013

Courageous humble Pope retires to make way for capable leadership

Religious news often makes headlines for the wrong reasons.
In this case one of the most respected religious leaders in the world is stepping down, relinquishing the power of his office because he no longer has the strength to exercise his authority well.
While it does cause some disturbance within the Catholic church, it is a beautiful example of humility, integrity, courage and love of the church.
Questions come to mind:
What does a pope retire to?
If he is very unwell. Hopefully he will have rest and appropriate care.
But where? Is there a place for him, an apartment with caregivers, peace and quiet? I would assume so.
What precedents are there for the pope to resign?
The Arlington Catholic Herald reports, "In the history of the Church, a few popes have resigned for various reasons, and a few have been deposed for various reasons. The first pope to resign was Pope St. Pontian, who was elected as the Successor of St. Peter on July 21, 230. During the persecution of Christians under Emperor Maximinus Thrax, St. Pontian was exiled to Sardinia and condemned to work in the salt mines, which no one was meant to survive. Therefore, he resigned as pope on Sept. 28, 235, to enable the election of a new pope, St. Anteros, who could govern the Church. Pope St. Pontian was martyred in 236 (237), either from ill treatment in general or from a mortal beating.
On the other hand, Pope St. Silverius, who was consecrated pope on June 1, 536, was the first pope forcibly deposed. In March 537, the wicked Byzantine Empress Theodora had Pope St. Silverius captured and removed from Rome for not approving her nominations of heretics for bishops. He was exiled to the island of Palmaria where he remained a prisoner until his death on Nov. 11, 537. Since Pope St. Silverius had been declared "deposed," the clergy and people of Rome elected Pope Vigilius, who was consecrated on March 29, 537, (and was favored by the Empress).
A similar situation befell Pope St. Martin I, who was consecrated pope in July 649. Pope St. Martin opposed the Byzantine Emperor's attempt to promote the monothelite heresy and to appoint heretical bishops. The emperor had Pope St. Martin kidnapped, taken to Constantinople, deposed, condemned and exiled. He died in the Crimea on Sept. 16, 656, of ill-treatment and neglect. Pope St. Martin I is the last pope to die a martyr.
Pope Clement II crowned Henry III as Holy Roman Emperor. He also decreed that anyone guilty of simony (the selling of Church offices) would be excommunicated.
In 1059, Pope Nicholas II regulated the process of electing the pope, making the cardinals the papal electors.
Another pope to resign was St. Celestine V, who was elected pope on July 5, 1294, and consecrated on Aug. 29. He was a Benedictine monk who enjoyed the life of a hermit and was renowned for his spirituality. To break a deadlocked College of Cardinals, he was elected as pope even though he was 84 years old. Immediately, he became prey to scheming cardinals and nobility alike. He resigned on Dec. 13, 1294, and returned to his monastery. His successor, Pope Boniface VIII, had him imprisoned so that there would be no attempt to place him on the throne again. (He must have remembered Benedict IX.) Pope St. Celestine died on May 19, 1295. Although canonized a saint, Dante placed him in Hell in The Divine Comedy for resigning.
Pope Gregory XII (1406 - 1415) was elected as the legitimate pope at a time when there were two anti-popes: The Avignon Pope, Benedict XIII, who was supported by the French king; and the Pisa Pope, John XXIII, who was supported by conciliarists of the renegade Council of Pisa. (Please be sure to note that neither of these two latter mentioned pope were really pope.) Finally, at the Council of Constance (an official council), in order to heal the Church, Pope Gregory XII officially resigned, Benedict XIII resigned and John XXIII was deposed; Pope Martin V (1417 - 1431) was then elected as the legitimate successor of St. Peter, following Gregory XII.

Or as the WSJ explains, "The last pontiff to resign in office, he was caught up in the leadership crisis known as the Great Schism, in which three rival popes had been elected by rival church factions. He stepped down in 1415 after 10 years and negotiated with a council appointed to end the split. Pope Gregory, recognized as the legitimate pope by the church, became a bishop and retired."
Therefore, we find some colorful history to the papacy, concerning resignations and depositions. However, there is much to learn from these stories: First, if a pope resigns from office, there will always be the temptation to challenge the authority of the new pope, pitting him against the old. Secondly, in modern times, the Church has been blessed with truly holy popes who have been strong leaders. Third, the Church has definitely made itself more independent, free of political machinations from secular leaders.
Pope John Paul II, has consistently said that he will serve as long as the Lord desires. Let us pray for his health as well as his general intentions. He certainly is a great successor of St. Peter."

Or again, from the WSJ, "Pope Benedict's decision to step down, one taken by only a few of his 264 recognized predecessors, is certain to be less eventful. "Once Benedict XVI retires, I am extremely sure he will retire to pray and will not interfere in any way whatsoever with the governance choices the church makes," said Dario Eduardo Viganò, head of the Vatican television center. The pontiff, whose civil name is Joseph Ratzinger, will, however, be free to write and communicate his views, said chief Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi."
Saunders, Rev. William. "Can the Pope Retire?" Arlington Catholic Herald. This article is reprinted with permission from Arlington Catholic Herald.
WSJ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324196204578298772026783066.html
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06 February 2013

Hospitality & Vulnerability

"WE CANNOT SEPARATE THE GOODNESS AND THE BEAUTY of hospitality from its difficulty. In a paradoxical way, hospitality is simultaneously mundane and sturdy, mysterious and fragile.

As a practice it involves soup and bread, blankets and beds. But it always involves more than these, and certain tensions internal to hospitality make it fragile vulnerable to distortion and misuse."

Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition
by CD Pohl & PJ Buck

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04 February 2013

Sports families

I started watching football from the edge of the field in 2nd grade. That's when my brother started playing. He went on to play, and play well for years!
Before that, I was known to fall asleep on grandpa or Uncle Fred's lap with a game on TV.
My family weren't sports fanatics; no such thing as sports channels back then. Sports was just all around us in Indiana.
My teams are not playing today in the Super Bowl. I have a few NFL favourites, with the Indianapolis Colts at the top of the list.
I've enjoyed the family rivalry between the Manning brothers and am glad that story continues. They grew up in New Orleans, where today's Super Bowl is being played. Wonder who they are cheering for?
Whoever wins today, it's a good weekend for Joani Harbaugh
AP reports:
The Harbaugh family got an early win on Saturday night well before the Super Bowl.
Tom Crean, coach of the No. 3 Indiana men's basketball team, knocked off No. 1 Michigan 81-73 at home. Crean is married to Joani Harbaugh, sister of San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
The Harbaugh family will finish the weekend with a 2-1 record.
—follow Oskar Garcia http://twitter.com/oskargarcia for more sports insights.
Both Harbaugh brothers have history with the Colts as well, with Jim playing QB at a pivotal time in Indianapolis's rise to top tier football.

See more background in The NY Times.
See Newsday for the Manning story.

23 January 2013

Book List: Spiritual Recommendations

What are you reading?

Here's a list a good friend of mine made. She doesn't read easy works, but valuable and meaty books.

Take the challenge? Add to the list?

I'm reading biography this year; gleaning wisdom, courage and perspective from the experiences of others.

Book list from In The Life of a Busy Woman

21 January 2013

Blogs and Bloggers

Do you blog?  Blog: a web based log of .... whatever takes your fancy.

Conversations@Intersections gets over 25,000 page loads by 19,000 unique visitors per year, an average of 1500+ per month. You are part of that!

That fascinates me. I'm not all that impressed by my thoughts and offerings. 

Those stats would put me in the Top 100 NZ blogs if I was included in that country's list. #1 on the NZ list gets 457843 per month, so there's a huge difference between the Top 25, the Top 50 ... and the rest of us.

Top US blogs include Huffington Post, LifeHacker, Mashable and Tech Crunch....they wouldn't even be able to see me from their lofty heights.

Do you blog? Leave your URL in the comments so we can drop by and see what's happening in your world.

Check out friends of mine who write personal blogs and put a lot of thought and attention into them.

A Pause on the Path          

In The Life of a Busy Woman

Tash McGill at http://www.tashmcgill.com

Living Overseas and Loving It

Why blog? Darragh Delaney from Computer World says 

  1. Improve your writing and speaking skills
  1. Become a content creator, not just a content consumer.
  1. Focus your mind on the subject matter.
  1. Use blogging as a way to test content for other uses
  1. Start to engage with others

I started blogging so as to write more often. I know of people who trialed their book online, edited and added as a result of critique and comments, then published a much better final product than they could have done on their own. Collaborative blogging is helpful for project management.

One of my favourite bloggers is Seth Godin who adds short posts that provoke me to think, and sometimes to forward the link to others. Another is Tall Skinny Kiwi. Check 'em out!

Who do you read online? Let us know.

18 January 2013

Prepare for the difficult times . . .

I have a sense that this year is going to require me to dig deep in some seasons. I don't get premonitions as such, but I wasn't born yesterday.

Proverbs speak of preparing for the lean times. Wisdom dictates preparedness. Many cultures have means of storing up, preparing for lean times, not being caught unawares.

In Maori the storehouse is called the pataka. It is out of the pataka that Maori can share, and sometimes it is wisdom from experiences that is shared. 

Nuku Tewhatewha, in The Dowse, Hutt City, NZ,  is a significant example of a Maori storehouse or pataka

I'm trying to store up a bit extra for whatever may come this year. To have a margin beyond my normal resources so if I have to dig deep, I'll have something there. I too often push the margins, run on near empty or assume I'll always be able to meet the need.

A dear friend of mine downloaded a book for me last year. It is called Margin and is available from Amazon and leading booksellers. Reading a book about learning new habits is different from learning new habits.
Along with more veggies, more sleep and more play, I'm going to learn new habit this year, so I'll have something in my storehouse from which to share.

16 January 2013

RSS feeds blog content straight into your InBox: life outside of Facebook

While Facebook is a popular place to while away the hours, there is content you might like that will never show up there. You have options and most of them are free.
Want to keep up on your reading without going to each site individually?
I read several blogs, not everyday, but regularly. Actually going to their blogs takes more time and data than I want to give it. There are a few options people sometimes overlook. You may think of more. If so, please let me know.
Have your fav blog content delivered to your inbox or into a Reader.
Consider subscribing via RSS feeds so you can keep up with Conversations@Intersections and all your
 favourite blogs and websites without actually having to go there each day. An RSS feed is a Rich Site Summary: a format for delivering regularly changing web content.
 Always learning new tricks keeps me from being an Old Dog! It's as simple as clicking on that RSS icon up there by the URL address and following the instructions. See my other posts on RSS.
Many people recommend Blogtrottr. Although I think Google Reader is the best available feed reader, although they don't have support for email notifications. You can also generate RSS feed emails using Zapier or IFTTT.
Outlook, Mac Mail and other info flow and management programs have RSS reader features. Check 'em out.
On mobile devices you can use Flipboard, Pulse, Instapaper and others to create magazine formats of your favourite content, or in the case of Instapaper, to read when you are not online thereby saving your data allowance.
For webmasters, there are several available RSS to Email companies to host your signup form:

15 January 2013

Waiheke Island anytime, but February is best!

Waiheke Island sits like an anchor in the waters just off Auckland: a destination for many, home to approximately 8500 people, many of whom commute to jobs in the city via regular passenger ferry service.

One of the reasons I love Waiheke is because I can get there without fighting traffic. Just a short ferry trip and I'm away, on an island retreat that feels worlds away. Other reasons include the amazing views, fresh air, eclectic feel and slightly better climate than Auckland itself.

While Waiheke is a terrific destination just about anytime, February is my favourite time as its ideal to view and experience the headland Sculpture on the Gulf installations.

From the headland Sculpture on the Gulf website~ 

Enhanced by a magnificent landscape, headland Sculpture on the Gulf is considered New Zealand’s premier contemporary outdoor sculpture exhibition.
Thirty new large-scale sculptures from established and emerging artists will be exhibited along a spectacular 2.5km coastal walkway on Waiheke Island.
Works have been chosen from over 100 submissions by a panel of selectors chaired by John Gow (co-founder of Sculpture on the Gulf andConnells Bay Sculpture Park), Sue Gardiner of the Chartwell Trust and Lara Strongman, an independent curator from Christchurch.  The judge for the awards, who will work independently of the selectors, is Rhana Devenport, Director of the Govett Brewster Gallery in New Plymouth.
2013 marks the tenth anniversary and to celebrate this milestone, a much expanded Waiheke ‘experience’ awaits visitors with the introduction of the new Pavilion at Matiatia Bay.
Open daily from 8.30am this iconic Auckland event runs for three weeks at the height of summer and should be a “must do” on your summer calendar.
The artwork is of a very high calibre and kept so by the competitive nature of the opportunity. It is enhanced by the unique and well-thought out positioning of each piece with amazing backdrops of sea, beach, grassy hillsides or bright wide sky. Many pieces are worthy of quiet consideration which is easily managed by sitting comfortably and enjoying the space.

Waiheke also offers amazing beaches, birds and hiking trails, every level of accommodation and several great dining options. Check out the Waiheke information; booking i-site, Fullers or Sealink ferries and the headland Sculpture on the Gulf websites. Taxis, buses, scooters and bicycles provide transport on Waiheke. Shuttle buses provide access to the start of the sculpture trail. 

Bring sunscreen, jackets and a water bottle. Sensible walking shoes are necessary too.

The NZ Herald features articles on Waiheke periodically for up-to-date local news. 

Latitude (DMS): 36° 47' 60 S Longitude (DMS): 175° 5' 60 E
The 175th meridian passes through the island.
Only 17km from central Auckland, Waiheke is an easy 35-40 minute ferry ride from the city's downtown piers. It is the second largest island in the Hauraki Gulf, after Great Barrier Island.