Monday, 31 August 2009


Since I posted the pics of the other kids last week, I knew I needed to add one of Joshua. This was taken shortly after the now-infamous white skull incident.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Weekly Reports 2009: Term 3 Week 4

As per my Mum's request, I am going to be writing more on the blog again about our homeschooling efforts. I have settled into our pattern, and it hadn't seemed interesting enough to write about from my perspective, but she reminded me that I am teaching different children now, and it is good to be providing a diary of sorts for myself and for interested parties such as grandparents. And Mum does have a point. My last Weekly Report was way back in week 2 of term 1! So here we are again...

Granny was staying with us all this week, but didn't spend much time with us until Thursday, because she was visiting Gramps each day. He has been in hospital here in Perth, having had a heart attack last Saturday night. Gramps was operated on on Tuesday, and had five stents put in three blood vessels near his heart. He was discharged on Thursday and we were at last able to spend a little time with him (see below). Unfortunately, Gramps still needs at least one more stent put in, so he will be back for another operation in a fortnight.
It has been a privilege to care for my MIL while she deals with Gramps's dramatic health concerns, after all the help and prayer our family has been given over the last month. As Paul wrote (2 Corinthians 1:3-6),
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer."

We took a morning trip to the library. We read some books there and borrowed a few to bring home, including Lauren't de Brunhoff's Babar's Little Girl, which has re-ignited Babar-fever in our sweet Abigail.
Abigail worked through pp5-6 of LEM Phonics 1 book and re-read Bob Book #1.2 Sam. I have decided to have Abi do her phonics pages in order that the letters are introduced in the Bob Books, so we are hopping around a bit. After Abi has completed the relevant phonics work, she reads the book. It is taking her several days' worth of lessons to get through the phonics behind each Bob Book, so she is re-reading them quite a number of times before moving on to the next. Each time she reads the books, she gets a little better. At this stage she isn't feeling frustrated, but rather pleased with her accomplishment. I am not feeling like I should be moving her through faster. Joshua and Anna read shorter home-made reading books (one sentence a day) when I was introducing them to the Basic Code, but I wasn't using the LEM Phonics materials with them either. I think this is a good fit for Abigail.
Abigail is doing well with blending, but the pace is allowing her to focus on learning and recognising each new letter. Also, while she can blend simple CVC words, she still finds it hard to segment words (sound them out from hearing the word, not seeing it written) into their individual sounds without running two sounds together, thus: mat is sounded m+at or ma+t, rather than m+a+t. It is really quite fascinating to see how well she has come along so far this term, since we began about six weeks ago (with time out for illness) to introduce her to the Basic Code and reading VC and CVC words. And when I look ahead in my mind and see her reading as well as Anna and Joshua do, I am excited to be teaching my own child to read, once again.
Abigail also worked through half of the pages of the Singaporean kindergarten-level Mathematics book Baa Baa Black Sheep, using the skills of counting 0-5, using the terms "one"/"many" and "enough".
Anna read pp44-47 from Endeavour Reader #5, Sparky the Space Chimp. She also went to Girls' Brigades in the evening (and so was required to have a rest in the afternoon, hence she didn't do much in the way of academics).

In the morning, we collected Grandma from the airport, only for an overnight stopover this time, on her way home to Darwin. We took Grandma for a tour of Joshua's school, where she was able to see Joshua working and see the pre-primary class that Anna will be joining for the last five weeks of term 4.
In the afternoon, Abigail completed pp9-10 or her phonics book and pp22-26 of Baa Baa Black Sheep, using the terms "same"/"different".
Meanwhile, Grandma and Anna were working on a jigsaw of three chameleons, which provided a nice topic for an extended conversation about the characteristics of some of the Animal Classes. Both Anna and Abigail joined in this conversation, and while Anna had a sound understanding at the end, which she was able to demonstrate to Dad over dinner that night, Abigail found it a bit confusing.
Anna's penmanship task for the day was based on this Science lesson. For copywork: "Birds have feathers. Mammals have fur. Reptiles have scales." For tracework: "Zebras and tigers are ___. Chickens and ducks are ___. Snakes and turtles are ___." Anna completed this penmanship with Grandma's oversight while I went to collect Joshua, and apparently she had no trouble reading the sentences or working out what word to use in the blanks.
Grandma also helped Anna with her mathematics lesson, from Primary Mathematics 1A #7.1 pp69-75, and Ex50 from the Student Workbook 1A(2). It was Anna's first lesson on shapes, and we are moving through faster than previously because she is quite familiar with these ideas, and much of it is review. Since Anna has now completed the number skills chapters to the stage of being able to add and subtract within 20 (competently with manipulatives and sometimes without), we are leaving the remaining number skills chapters and skipping to the chapters on shapes, length, halves & quarters, time, money and perhaps weight and graphs, in order to complete these before she begins at away-school. If I was going to continue teaching Anna at home, we would just keep going steadily through the Primary Mathematics 1 books into next year, but I think most of the number skills of 1B are beyond her at this stage, while the space and measurement skills are at an appropriate level as well as being useful.

This is our BSF day. After dropping Grandma back at the airport and Granny at the hospital, I was back home in time to hand the car keys to Jeff so he could drive Joshua to school on time: by 8:35am!
At BSF, we studied Numbers 13-14, the tragic story of the unbelief of Israel when they listened to the report of the spies who had been into the Promised Land, and focussed on the "giants" in the land who would oppose them, rather than listening to Caleb and Joshua and placing their faith in the greatness of God who would go before them in all His mighty power.
Jeff met us at the church and collected the kids from me. We have one child in each of the BSF classes: Samuel is in the 2yo class, Abi in the 3yo class, and Anna is one of the eldest children in the 4-5yo class. When Anna begins away-school, she will have spent over three-and-a-half years in the BSF programs! The Children's Leaders have been an immense blessing in Anna's life, as for all our children. Without the kids, I was able to attend the Homiletics Seminar, as I have already blogged.
That evening, I read the children four picture books, one for each of them: Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, Where's Stripey? by Wendy Binks, Jungle Drums by Graeme Base and I Love My Mummy by Sebastien Brown. All of these picture books came from our own home library, and most were gifts from family.
I think Where's Stripey was the favourite of the night, with the children joining in with me for the repeated refrain as Stripey's father, Crikey, asked other bush creatures if they had seen his son. The names of places and characters are delightful. I offer you a taste:
So Crikey ran on, past Musselduck Crossing and over Dingbat Ditch, where he saw the two kookaburras Smirk and Giggle, who were laughing their heads off.
"Hey, guys," he called to them once they'd stopped laughing, "have you seen my chick? His name is Stripey."
"What does he look like? Asked Smirk. "Does he look like you?"
"No," said Crikey, "he is small and fluffy - and stripey."
"No, sorry," Smirk and Giggle replied together, "we haven't seen him."

The pictures are delightful as well:

This is our Women's Gathering Day. Jeff dropped Joshua at school then took the younger children to church, while I collected another woman to bring her to church. It was a small group of five this week (the smallest it has been since we started), but that was great. It gave me an opportunity to see how the changes I had made in the structure of the study (embedding Connect questions within the Content section, rather than leaving them all to the end) worked well: it did.
The children joined with their friend C in having Kids' Gathering with Jeff, studying Acts 13:13-52. He told them the story of Paul and Barnabas in Psidian Antioch, when the Jews responded to Paul's proclamation of the good news of salvation through Jesus with contempt, but the Gentiles heard the word of God with gladness and believed. Each week I provide a colouring picture to help them visualise the scene. This week's picture I altered slightly from the original black line master, which was intended to be Jesus preaching at Nazareth:When we got home from WG, the kids were delighted to find Granny had brought Gramps home from the hospital. They cuddled around him on the recliner, with me intervening when it seemed they would bump him too hard or lean over him too heavily and cut off the circulation to his legs. Gramps even managed to read a few stories to the eager children: The Princess and the Pea and The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen.
Granny provided lunch and then she cooked Magic Broth (aka vegetable soup, the alias is hoped to help Abigail want to eat it though she really doesn't like soup) with Anna's careful help and increasingly skilful efforts with the vegie peeler.
The girls and Joshua played with Maths Mastermind later on, Abigail working with the beads and Anna with the shapes.

Before everyone left in the morning, I took some photos of the kids. With only a few days left of winter, I have finally got their winter homeschool excursion clothes made, so after Joshua left for school we had some more fun (and a whole lot of frustration as well) taking some more Equip Academy photos.
Since it is apparently "Book Week", the local library was having a special treat for their Story Hour, which we don't usually attend. We watched a Patch Theatre production of "The Frog Prince". Well, I watched. All three of the kids, along with a friend from Sunday School who was there with her mother, were chosen to be part of the cast. So they didn't just watch, but joined in! Anna was dubbed Lady Spice and Abigail was Lady All Things Nice... can you guess where the names came from? Any predictions for Samuel? He was Lord Slugs!
The children loved the story, and the girls really took it all in, as they showed later when they narrated it back while Sam had his nap. Anna's narration provided her penmanship task for the day, and I read The Frog Prince from my JLC & WC Grimm anthology as well. One of the things I noticed about this story is that the original has an extended end that is deleted from every children's version I have ever heard. After the happy couple marry, they are driven home to the prince's kingdom by a faithful coachman who has mourned his prince's suffering so much that his heart has had to be bound with three iron bands. As Henry drives them home, his joy at the prince's happy ending is manifest in the sounds of the bands on his heart breaking, one after the other. At first, being so familiar with the modern versions, I felt like the tale of Henry was an odd end. But upon reflection, I can see that Henry's faithful love provides a much-needed counterpoint to the princess's faithless attempts to avoid fulfilling her promises.
Anna completed Ex51-52 from her maths workbook, and listened to Esther on MP3 while examining the related pictures in one of our children's story Bibles.
Abigail completed pp13&15 from her phonics book and re-read BB1.2, Sam for the last time. She can now read each of the words almost without hesitation. She also coloured a picture very neatly to send to a friend.
While we were at the library, we also read Clod Hans by Hans Christian Andersen and a picture book adaption of Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf": The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Tony Ross. I can't say I have read the original, although I think I may have heard it on a record (!!) when I was a child. This picture book is great, although parents might want to pre-approve the ending before reading it to little ones... the wolf goes home with a very full belly.

Friday, 28 August 2009

The Kids

(Mum, these are especially for you, with my compliments. The photos in this post, unlike the others, are not reduced in size. Just click on a photo to see it full size.)

Equip Academy Photos 2009

We have lots of photos like this:And quite a few like this:
This is the best we could do:




Thursday, 27 August 2009

Homiletics on Acts 13:13-52 - BSF-style

***EDIT: I seem to be getting a lot of traffic from Google hits on this post. If that includes you, welcome to my blog! I hope this post is helpful to you, but please don't use it to avoid doing your own homiletics task. You might also be interested at some of the posts I write irregularly on my other blog, which contains my reflections on some of my Bible reading: Following the Star.***

One of the (many) helpful things about studying the Bible with BSF is that each year a number of seminars are run to teach attendees skills that will help them in their own private study of the Bible and in teaching others from the Bible. I have been studying the Bible with BSF for four years now, and each year I try to attend a few of the seminars. A few weeks ago, I went to the seminar on "Sharing the Gospel" and this week I did the seminar on "Homiletics". I have attended each of these once before, but that was back with the Evening Women's class in Darwin, over three years ago. I did the Homiletics seminar just before Abigail was born. I remember that I missed the BSF class that week and used my new skills to study the week's Bible passage while I was in hospital. Given that Abigail turned four a few months ago, it was well and truly time for a brush up!

So what is Homiletics?

According to BSF, and I am sure specific denominations or theological colleges have their own definitions, but here I will only consider the distinct BSF-style, "Homiletics is the analysis of a Bible passage to gain an understanding of the truths in it so as to apply them to daily life. It can be a tool for preparing a talk on the passage."

There are five simple steps in BSF-style Homiletics, but rather than explain them, I will illustrate them with my own efforts from the seminar. I am typing them out almost word-for-word from my notes, so you can see the development from raw scrawl to end result.

I have included my own, hopefully transparent, personal shorthand. Here are some extra tags I needed to use because I was typing from hand written notes:
/alt: indicates I wasn't content with my previous effort, and the following is another try, both from during the seminar.
^[...] indicates an inserted word or phrase added shortly after the main section was first completed.
this line indicates something I crossed out from my notes (I am providing this detail to help you understand my thought process).

Keep in mind I only had one-and-a-half hours, and that included the seminar leader's instructions. I was working from Acts 13:13-52 (click on the link to read the passage in the NIV translation), in order to be able to develop a Bible Study for our church's Women's Gathering.

Step 1: Contents
Read the passage at least once. Draw up a list of 10-20 topics or events from the passage.

13:13-14 Paul & Barnabas travel from Cyprus to Psidian Antioch
13:15 At Sy Synagogue, Paul invited to give "words of encouragement"
13:16-20a Paul speaks: God chose Israel as His ppl, made prosper, led out, endured conduct, overthrew nations, gave land
13:20b-22 Paul speaks: God gave judges, K. Saul, K. David
13:23-25 Paul speaks: God brought David's descendant, Saviour J., as promised. John (Baptist) prophesied of Him - repent, baptism, JC to come
13:26 Paul speaks: It is to us message of sal'vn sent
13:27-31 Paul speaks: JC not recognised, so carried out prophecies; God raised him from the dead & He was seen by witnesses
13:32-37 Paul speaks: God's promise is fulfilled for us by JC's resurrection as promised ^[prophesied] David would not see decay
13:38-39 Paul speaks: Thru' JC we have forgivenness of sins and justification
13:40-41 Paul speaks: Take care you do not scoff and thus perish
13:42-44 Paul & Barnabas invited to speak further, & even more gather to hear the word of the Lord
13:45 Jews are jealous and talk abusively
13:46-47 Paul & Barnabas respond to Jews - telling them since they reject word of God they will proclaim it to Gentiles
13:48 Gentiles rejoice, ^[glad,] & believe, honour word of God
13:49-51 Word of God spreads; opposition is stirred up & increases, Paul & Barnabas leave for Iconium in protest
13:52 Disciples filled w joy & HS

Step 2: Divisions
Separate the list into 2 to 4 groups to help you remember the structure; write a division sentence for each with the main thought.

Div I 13:13-22 Paul is invited to speak in ^[the] Synagogue @ Psidian Antioch /alt: Paul explains how OT events are the beginning of God's salv'n plan
Div II 13:23-39 The Good news of Salvation in J is proclaimed
Div III 13:40-52 ^[Jews & Gentiles have different] Alternative responses to the good news

Step 3: Subject Sentence
Write a full sentence of no more than 10 words summarising the entire passage, including a subject and verb. The subject sentence may be a compound sentence, but may not be a phrase.

Paul proclaims salvation, forgivenness of sins & justification thru' Jesus in Psidian Antioch; & Jews reject abuse the message but Gentiles believe.
/alt: "Paul proclaims salvation thru' Jesus, but only Gentiles believe."

Step 4: Aim
The main lesson I want the audience to learn (to know, or to do in response), whether this is myself or others.

To cause the audience to be glad ^[respond to] ^[believe] the gospel message ^[promises] with gladness & joy.
/alt: To cause the audience to ^[(1)] believe the good news & ^[(2)] respond to gospel promises with gladness & joy.

Step 5: Applications
Several specific applications, for each division, from real life of self or audience.

Q Do you understand how God used OT events to lay the foundations of His plan of salvation?
Q Do you look for "gospel connections" when you read/study the OT?
Q What foundations for the good news did God lay in your life? Q What promises did How did He choose & lead you?
Q What conduct of yours has God endured? Q How have you shown repentance?
Q What opposition have has God overthrown in your life? this Q How have you shown thankfulness?

Q How would you explain to your child or spouse (if they are not a Chn) or a ^[NC] friend...
a) the good news of God's promised salvn that He has fulfilled for us thru' J? (13:26,32)
b) ho why our sins ar can only be forgiven thru' J? (13:38)
c) what we believe when we "believe" in the biblical/Chn sense?
d) what it means to be "justified"? (13:39)

Q Do you ever respond to a sermon or Bible passage study with argument? that What is it that causes you to stumble?
Q Are you glad to hear from God's word read & explained in a sermon? How do you show that you honour the word of the Lord? corporately? privately?

And that is the end of the process, at least for the sake of developing my Bible Study questions. There are one or two more steps if you are planning to write a talk, but I wasn't.

Just in case you are (still!) interested, below are my final questions for our Women's Gathering Bible Study on Acts 13:13-52, which I completed separately. Because we have a limited time for the study, I give verse references wherever I think it might help the women find the answer in the text. About half of the women in our group have English as their second or subsequent language, and this is particularly helpful to them, as they have difficulty scanning through the text. Previously, I had the application questions bundled together at the end of the study. This week, I embedded them with the content questions wherever they arose from my Homiletics analysis. I used my Homiletics divisions to provide the structure for my questions:
Division I: Q1 & Q2
Division II: Q3
Division III: Q4
Related prayer items: #5

1. Read Acts 13:13-15.
a) Who went where? 13:13-14
b) In Psidian Antioch, when and where did Paul speak? Who invited him to speak? 13:15

Questions for Group Discussion
2. Read Acts 13:16-22.
a) Each of these events is recorded in the Bible. Which testament are they in? Do you know what books they are in?
b) Connect How important is it for you, a Christian living today, to be familiar with the OT events and understand the OT Scriptures?
c) How did God use the events recorded in the OT and spoken of by Paul here to lay the foundations for His plan of salvation?
d) Connect Think about the foundations for your faith in the good news of Jesus that God has laid in your life:
i) How did God reveal to you that He had chosen you?
ii) How has God made you prosper?
iii) How did God lead you out of your previous life of sin?
iv) What sinful conduct has God since endured from you? Have you repented?
v) What opposition has God overthrown for you? How have you shown thanks?
vi) What has God given you through Jesus? Which Bible passages tell you about these gifts?
vii) Who will judge you? Who is your King?

3. Read Acts 13:23-39.
a) Who did God promise to bring to Israel? 13:23
b) From 13:26, to who was the message of salvation sent? According to 13:27-31, how was our salvation achieved?
c) What are the three elements of Paul’s “good news” in 13:32-33, 38 & 39? From 13:33-37, how has God fulfilled His earlier promises to Israel?
d) Connect [See Taking it Further #2.] In pairs, explain as you would to your son or daughter, or to a non-Christian family member or friend:
i) The message of salvation through Jesus’ atoning, propitiatory death.
ii) The proof, which Jesus’ resurrection provides, that our sins are really, truly, completely forgiven.
iii) What we believe, when we “believe” in a biblical, Christian sense.
iv) What it means to be “justified”.

[After we did Q3d, we had a discussion of what "atonement" and "propitiation" meant. It was great! I explained that while we may be vaguely familiar with the general idea behind the words, we often don't know the doctrinal terms. As we read more of our Bibles, listen to more sermons and become more mature in our faith, we learn more about these doctrinal and theological matters. We can also work out what biblical terms mean ourselves by looking the word up in a concordance, then comparing the verses that use that word; or by reading a book on the topic; or just a chapter from a theological compendium, such as Concise Theology by J.I. Packer, or the far weightier tome, Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, which, as Amy blogged, is available in bite-sized audio chunks for those of us who can't cope with the thought of 1200+ pages in a miniscule font size. Knowing the theological terms and understanding what they mean doesn't make us more holy, or more saved, but it does provide matter for us to reflect upon in our worship, and hopefully deepens our thankfulness to God.]

4. Read Acts 13:40-52.
a) What did Paul warn the people against? 13:40-42
b) Who did not follow his advice? How did they respond? 13:45,46
c) Connect Do you ever respond to a sermon or to something you read in your Bible with annoyance or an argument? What particular details trigger this response? (Would you like to discuss any of these with me, or with our pastor, who is paid by the church to have such edifying conversations?)
d) What did Paul do because of the Jews’ response? 13:46
e) What words describe the response of the Gentiles to Paul’s message?
f) Connect Are you glad to hear God’s word read and explained in sermons?
g) Connect In what ways do you demonstrate that you honour the word of God?

5. In your Prayer Triplet: Please pray for me as I work on some better ways to structure our Bible studies so that we may honour the word of God.
[And you, dear blog reader, if you have got this far, are herby invited to pray for me as well!]

Background Notes
After Saul and Barnabas proclaimed God’s word on Barnabas’s home island of Cyprus, they went to Paul’s native land, Asia Minor. Perga (in Pamphylia) was a short distance inland from Attalia, the port where Paul, Barnabas and Mark probably landed. Mark left them to go home; they were later reunited and Mark helped Paul (Acts 13:13, Col 4:10, 2 Tim 4:11).
Psidian Antioch was north of Perga, and the journey was long and arduous, over mountains and in danger from bandits. Psidian Antioch was a Roman colony, the political and military centre of southern Galatia. [Click on the map below to see it enlarged.][Map source: Marshall, I.H. (1980) Acts pg 16.]
Paul later wrote in his letter to the churches of Galatia (Gal 4:13), “As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you.” Some scholars have hypothesised that Paul might have suffered from malaria, and travelled into the cooler mountains to obtain relief from the painful symptoms of the illness.
In Psidian Antioch, Paul attended the Sabbath day services at the Synagogue. According to Stott, “The synagogue service will have begun with a recitation of the Shema (“The LORD your God is one LORD, and you shall love the LORD your God…” [from Deut 6]) and some prayers, continued with two lessons, one from the Pentateuch [Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy] and the other from the prophets, followed by an expository sermon, and concluded with a blessing.” Even though some Gentiles were in the Synagogue , it was a specifically Jewish environment (Acts 13:16,26).

Taking it Further
1. Memorise Acts 13:26.
Acts 13:26
26 “Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.”

2. Re-read 13:23-39.
a) Write down your own simple explanations of the points from question 3d from the Group Discussion. Try to avoid using any words that are not used by children or non-Christians with the same meaning that we would use them as Christians, or include your own explanation of these words as well. (This is a very hard task, so congratulations if you get through all four parts of 3d!)
• Take the time, and make the effort, to sit down with (at least) one of your children, or a non-Christian family member or friend, and explain one of these points to them. If you are nervous or unsure, practice first with a Christian.
• Take time to pray that your explanation will be received with gladness, and that your listener’s response will honour the word of God that you have explained to them. Pray also for opportunities to talk with them more about the good news.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Isn't he gorgeous?

From our local newspaper:(For the full story, the link is on facebook. No link here for blog readers who don't know us personally, sorry.)

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Thoughts on waiting and expectation

As I drove home from the emergency department along Beaufort St past a few nightclubs, still with long lines of potential patrons waiting to get in, I was struck by the similarity between their wait and mine. How on earth do they manage to line up in the cold, wearing those ridiculous outfits (yes, I know, I am so very old and stodgy), so eager to continue their evening despite it being so long past midnight? All I wanted to do was be horizontal in my warm pjs in my own bed. And it was all I could do to stay alert and keep track of two nurses and one doctor in the artificial brightness of the emergency department. How do they hope to keep any grip on events in the dimness of a black-walled club, with or without the influence of alcohol? I can't believe I was once exactly the same as them.

And yet, they and I had each been waiting patiently because we hoped for something... for them, I suppose it was the hope of a thrill, the hope of having fun, maybe the hope of meeting that illusive "someone special". For me, it was the hope of finding relief for my son's debilitating illness, the hope of receiving confirmation and resolution to my fears, the hope of meeting that (not at all illusive at PMH) kind doctor who would treat my son gently and with compassion. Just going on my own (now far distant, I admit) experience in night clubs, I am guessing I was far more likely to have my hopes fulfilled than they were. But I definitely wasn't sure or certain that my hopes would be fulfilled.

In between our arrival at the hospital and Joshua being seen by the doctor, I was sure that we were going to enter the doctor's presence, and certain that the situation would be dealt with. But I didn't yet actually see the doctor, nor had Joshua yet experienced his hands-on care. The Christian faith is a waiting game, just like the one I experienced at the Emergency Department. The writer of Hebrews said (11:1), "Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see."

I am sure of what I hope for: that one day, Jesus Christ will return in His glory, to judge the living and the dead.

I am certain of what I do not see: that Jesus Christ is reigning in heaven at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for me to the Father, so that I am justified in God's sight.

That is what I mean when I say, "I have faith". And so, right now, I am content to wait patiently until I see my faith fulfilled.

Want more personal space? Don a face mask...

Last night we were back at the emergency department for the third time since Joshua was taken there in an ambulance a fortnight ago. I am beginning to dread the familiar pink and purple chairs in the waiting room.

The first time, Joshua had a legitimate injury and was seen by the emergency department staff, eventually.

The second time, Joshua was sent down to the GP end, which basically means I was worried over nothing important enough to warrant the trip... it turned out he had gastroenteritis, almost certainly caught from someone else waiting to see a doc the first visit. The waiting room for the GP end was filled with patients with "flu-like illness" (translation: "it costs too much to test all you snotty, coughing kids for swine flu and we don't want to freak anyone out so we're not gonna bother with calling a spade a shovel, we're just gonna use a euphemism and hope no-one really wants a diagnosis or anything specific like that.") The doctor who saw Joshua said delightedly, "You're the first patient I've seen tonight I didn't have to wear a mask for." Hmmm. Wonder how long it'll take until we both fall ill with this euphemism?

This third time, I came home from taking the girls on a playdate to be greeted at the door by Jeff saying, "I think Joshua has swine flu. You're going to have to take him back to the emergency department." Oh yay! Just what I needed... But I had to admit, when Jeff showed me the list of symptoms for swine flu, and Joshua's list of (what I had thought were only) whingy complaints, they did match up well. He had a low fever (38.3), coughing, nausea, headache, runny nose previously, lethargy, general soreness and now his breathing was getting laboured and he had a slight wheeze. This time we decided to wait to get take away pizza before I drove off with Josh to PMH. I am so glad we did. I didn't get home again until after 1am, and Joshua didn't come home again at all last night.

Being the good citizen that I am, as soon as we arrived I asked for two face masks and had them "in situ" (according to Joshua's case notes) before the triage nurse was ready to call us. One of the funniest things I have noticed over the last 48 hours is how people tend to stand just a touch further back when you are wearing a face mask. It seems to only be about 10cm or so, but it's quite noticeable, because absolutely everyone does it. Feeling crowded? All you need to do is wear a face mask and your acquaintances - and good friends - will no longer be quite so willing to get in your face. It's quiet relaxing, actually, for an introvert like me.

Unlike those patients who had possibly infected Joshua the weekend before, Joshua's symptoms were bad enough that we didn't get shunted off to the GP end of things. Joshua was bad enough that we qualified to see the emergency department staff again. I am not sure if that's a thing to be happy about, though. At least it meant it wasn't a wasted trip. Not at all, as it turns out.

The doctor who saw Joshua saw that he had a little depression on his stomach which apparently to the trained eye indicates an asthma or asthma-like problem with breathing. Josh was given prednisilone (a steroid to decrease inflammation in his lungs) and then had three lots of ventolin over the next hour or so (to open out his airways and make him exciteable and jittery, as if he really needed another sleepless night... sigh). Around 11:30pm the doctor decided he had improved, but not enough to go home, and that it was best to admit him to ward 4E "Observation" overnight. Otherwise, we'd only be going home at 4am or something anyway. Of course, just because the doctor had made a decision, didn't mean Joshua was moved straight away. It was just before 1am before we were asked to get his things together to walk the 20m to the ward, lie him down in the blessedly dark room, and finally let him relax enough to sleep. With several precautionary "drive safely" comments, I was allowed to leave him there to drive home.

This morning when I rang PMH, they were able to confirm that Joshua had responded well to the medication, and I could come in and bring him home. It was over 24 hours since I had brought him in that I was able to walk out again, this time replete with the confidence that comes from knowing you did the right thing bringing your child to the emergency department.

Now I am just hoping (& praying) that the overnight stay in hospital provides a nice counterpoint ending to our trip together in the ambulance. Both were firsts for Joshua. Neither have been great for my peace of mind, except in that I have been reminded of the complete assurance I have of everlasting safety in the arms of my gracious and loving God, who has granted me eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. Compared to that "good news", what's the bad news of one or two, or even three, little "emergencies"?

Did I mention I also had to call the police in the last fortnight? But that's another story. One I am also glad to say I am confidently leaving in the hands of my mighty and powerful and omniscient Sovereign God, hands that reach out to me as I reach up to Him in prayer.

As the psalmist proclaimed in Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Parenting Hour #1

Jeff and I have wanted to set aside time to talk about our parenting for ages and ages. Somehow it always seems to get put on the back burner. But we can't stumble through our parenting years and wait until they are over and the kids have left home to have these discussions! What good would they be then? So we have decided that we will commit to spending one hour every Monday (Jeff's day off) to reading Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp together, talking about it and then (we hope!) putting what we learn into practice.

Yesterday we had our first Parenting Hour. Having spent all morning on a day trip on the train into the city, visiting the museum, and then missing our stop on the way back, we were both pretty exhausted when we finally dropped to the couch together after the kids were in bed. I wasn't just tired, I was grumpy as well. Before we started, I prayed a really short prayer: "LORD, help me not to be grumpy." And then I just sat and waited until I was calm, before we opened the book together.

Jeff read the intro aloud, then I read the first chapter. A few places along the way we stopped to discuss something. Then at the end of the chapter we answered the questions and thought about how it would look in our own situation. Here are some snippets from my notes:

Shepherding a child's heart means not just discussing things with the childen, but demonstrating them. We need to help our children know what sin is, and understand why they sin, so that they can wisely repent and turn to their Saviour Jesus Christ for forgivenness.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us to "Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
Jesus also said that it is the content and condition of the "heart" that determines what we say and do, and whether these are good or bad (Mark 7:21, Luke 6:45). Tripp's main thesis is that parents must aim to shape their children's hearts, not just their behaviour that comes out from what is in their hearts. We talked about how sometimes the word "heart" can be used as a Christian euphemism that is never really explained. But it is clear from these passages that when we are talking about reaching and teaching our children's "hearts" in a biblical sense, we are talking about discipling; shaping their attitudes behind their actions.

Application: our parenting of our kids

> We must make an effort to interpret and judge the intent and attitude behind a child's action before we react to rebuke or correct them. We need to know the cause behind our child's displeasing action:
(1) It may have been an accident; this requires a calm offer of comfort and assurance that they are not guilty.
(2) It might have been a bad decision made with inadequate information because they didn't know to ask or we didn't think to tell them; this requires teaching in a time of calm.
(3) It might have been a bad decision where they knowingly disobeyed our instructions (their parental authority) or God's instructions (their ultimate authority); this requires rebuke (pointing out their sin), discipline (punishment), correction (showing them the correct way to go in the future) and guidance to repent and seek forgiveness, all administered calmly.
We must slow down our parenting, as we take time to assess, and don't just act.

And first, we need to take the time to gain self-control over our own response of anger caused by annoyance or frustration or disappointment or sadness (or whatever) before we respond to the child.

> We can't just get angry at the kids because we are inconvenienced, because that will only demonstrate just how full of selfishness our own hearts are! Being honest with each other, we admitted that often when we react with anger to our children. Often the reason why we get angry is because we feel frustrated that the child has not obeyed us the first time - but this can really be seen as the result of our own failure to ensure their compliance. The problem is, we often choose to keep doing the thing we were doing before (cooking dinner, typing a blog post, watching TV, reading a book, sweeping the floor...) rather than choose to deal with the situation immediately. Although we want to complete our own task (and regardless of whether that is a good choice or not), dealing with our children's behaviour in a way that will deal with their heart attitudes and not just their actions requires that we respond immediately. While our other tasks may be important, our parenting is vital. It cannot be delayed until a convenient time. Some things need to be done soon, and others need to be done immediately. If we try to delay our full response to the children by calling out further instructions to the other side of the house, we are only going to create bigger problems. We must speed up our parenting, as we stop what we are doing straight away so we can "shepherd" our children's hearts.

Reality: where the rubber hits the road

Of course, this morning I had an opportunity to put what we had talked about into practise as soon as I opened my eyes. Joshua came into our room just before 7am to tell us he had wet his bed. My first response was grumpy, I admit. But Jeff had the presence of mind to remind me that I needed to deal with it appropriately: was this something that was an accident, or a bad decision? The truth is, it was an accident. Joshua told me in a confused voice a bit later that he'd been having a dream. These things do happen, even with a six year old who has been toilet trained for half his life. Also, Joshua's actions in taking off his wet pjs and coming to tell us immediately meant that he had made good decisions about how to act when the accident happened, not bad ones. Aah!

I needed to slow down in my parenting responses: I concentrated on getting over my annoyance at being woken up earlier than I would have liked. Then I told Joshua I was sorry for being angry with him for something that wasn't his fault, and I asked his forgiveness, which he freely granted.

I needed to speed up in my parenting: I couldn't lie in bed and pretend the bed wasn't wet. God had graciously given me an early start today so that I had time to deal with Joshua's wet sheets and his need for a morning shower before the others woke up and required my attention. So I asked Joshua to help me get the sheets off and all the wet clothes into the washing machine, then I sent him into the shower. Thanks be to God, both of us were showered and dressed ready for the day just when I needed to put on our morning wake up music, and help the other children with their morning chores.

Now if only God will grant me the grace to persevere with what we have learnt...

Friday, 7 August 2009


I just had a moment. I was sitting in the lounge room, waiting for Samuel to finish his lunch.

All of a sudden, I realised Sam was quietly singing. And it wasn't "Wee Willie Winkie" or "Three Blind Mice", his current favourites.

My two and a half year old son was singing "Amazing Grace"!

He was on to the second verse before he lost track of the words.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Last minute reminder for CCOWA PWC

The CCOWA Perth Women's Convention is on again this year, on Saturday 15 August.

The speaker this year is Claire Deeves, who spoke well from the Book of Joshua at the Trinity Women Enrichment Day earlier this year. At PWC, she will be speaking on Discovering Jesus in the pages of Micah.

I am looking forward to it. Will you be there? If you are interested, you can register online here. Registrations close Monday at 5pm.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Genesis 16:13
She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."

Thank You God for watching over me. You see everything and Your Holy Spirit guides my heart and my eyes. Thank You for showing me the things I need to see.

Isaiah 29:15
Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the LORD,
who do their work in darkness and think,
"Who sees us? Who will know?"

LORD, You know who wants to hide and what they want to hide. Please bring evil to light and do not let it hide in darkness any longer. May your name be glorified in all things. Purify my heart, and protect my family from evil.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

I've seen my son's skull. It is shockingly white.

He's not dead. Just very, very sore.

Yesterday Joshua ran down our hallway and straight into the bathroom door frame. He calmly walked - not running this time - outside to where I was picking in the washing, with his hands and face covered in blood. I walked out from behind the hanging sheets to see his face, white in the sunshine except where it was such a scary, vibrant red.

Beginning to panic, I shouted at Abigail (I still need to apologise for that, I don't think my brain was working properly in the shock), hurriedly told Anna to go next door and tell our neighbours that we had an emergency and get them to come here. Then I turned Joshua around and followed the trail of blood drops inside the house and straight back to the bathroom.

When I had washed enough of the blood off to see where it was all coming from, I knew I had to get him to a hospital. The cut was about an inch long, and deep. It looked like it went deeper than I even knew there was skin on the forehead.

I grabbed the phone and rang Jeff's mobile: "Joshua has a serious head wound and I need you home immediately. I am ringing triple zero now so I have to hang up." I did, and with trembling fingers I pressed 000 and asked for an ambulance.

They reassured me that head wounds often bled lots (I knew that from when I had a rock thrown at me as a kid) and advised me to put pressure on the wound, but not the paper towel I was frantically pressing onto it. I looked around the bathroom... there was nothing! I had just cleaned it that morning, and all the towels were in the washing machine! Unable to think straight, I grabbed a white flannel from the hallway cupboard. (I thought if I grabbed a dark one, I wouldn't be able to see if the blood had soaked through. I didn't even stop to think that I would feel that much blood making the flannel wet!)

But by this time, the 000 people were able to let me know that an ambulance was on its way, and they told me to just focus on getting Joshua to calm down. Thanking them, I hung up. Joshua was only a bit more freaked out than I was, but he was crying loudly whereas I felt like I was moving through a fog.

Anna hadn't come back with the neighbours, so I walked Joshua outside, still pressing the flannel to his forehead. All three younger kids were next door in the yard, but Jack (our elderly neighbour, who doesn't speak much English) clearly hadn't understood their message. I called to him several times to come here, and eventually he understood. When he came close enough to see the blood, he realised the problem. I asked him to wait with the kids until the ambulance came or Jeff came.

I went inside and sat down on the couch, with Joshua lying over my lap. He was still upset, and I told him it was okay, he wasn't in trouble. He said, "I know that, Mum, but I'm ..." He said he couldn't see, or things didn't look right to him, and I told him that was just the flannel I was using to stop the blood, and not to worry because the ambulance would be here soon. Then I prayed for him, asking God to calm him, and He did. As long as I was praying, Joshua would lie calmly, but when I stopped, soon started crying again.

In between my prayers, I asked Anna to get me my purse; she brought me my mobile phone and the purse. I asked Abigail to get me my keys from the peg box outside (I take them with me when I pick in the washing since I accidentally locked myself out the back once), and she did what she was asked as well. Samuel just stood around like a little lost puppy, and I don't think he realised just what was happening. I asked Anna to wet some paper towels and wipe up all the blood spatter, and she did a commendable job for a five year old! Part of me was in amazement at her prompt obedience and just how much she was able to help me.

Fortunately, it wasn't long before I heard the familiar brake squeal of Jeff's car pulling into our drive, and saw the red car through the window. He came straight to the couch and began to pray again. That helped me to calm down a bit! Then only a few moments later, it seemed, the ambulance arrived, and Frank and Gary walked in. I was very, very glad to see their green paramedics' uniforms! So was Joshua. Once he knew they were there, he got calm enough to form complete sentences again.

After asking a heap of questions, the paramedics bandaged Joshua's forehead. When they finally took off the flannel, I was surprised to see hardly any blood on it. The pressure must have worked! They warned Joshua, and me, that he would probably need stitches. And then they asked whether Jeff or I would go in the ambulance. With Joshua much calmer, and the cream bandage covering most of his hair, I felt a little like an impostor getting into the ambulance with Joshua. But I was in no state to drive, and Jeff had to stay behind and sort out the kids (and then go back to his all day retreat with the elders that I had so abruptly interrupted with my phone call).

When we went outside to get into the ambulance, we saw Mrs Maria, a friend from church who lives just around the corner. She had seen the ambulance head into our street and thought it might be one of her friends, and stopped to see if she could help when she saw it park at our house.

I am very thankful that the paramedics took us to PMH. When we got there, the paramedics left us at the emergency department and said good bye. Then we just had to wait for our turn to be seen by a paediatrician. Unfortunately, the emergency department was pretty busy.

The family sitting behind us told the triage nurse their kids had fevers and a relative had just been diagnosed with swine flu, and I thought, "How come you didn't ask for masks as soon as you came in?" and the triage nurse must have thought the same thing, because before I could blink she had three face masks out and was strapping them on. She promptly sent them down the corridor to the second emergency area. Watching later who was sent there, I gathered that everyone who might have had swine flu was being sent out of the main waiting area so down to that end. That made me feel a bit better. The last time (two winters back) we went to a hospital emergency department in the winter, we caught the worst flu I have ever had (that was the season three little kids died in Perth from flu-related illnesses) and had to cancel our holiday visiting Jeff's Dad in Indonesia. Still a bit bitter about that one.

Joshua was complaining of being hungry, but despite having my purse, I found I only had 25c on me, so I couldn't get him a snack from a vending machine, even if there hadn't been signs warning you not to give your kid food or a drink before seeing the doctor. So he had to wait. We were finally seen around half-past eight, long after it had got dark outside the waiting room windows. He'd been asking for a while if it was the middle of the night yet!

The doctor, Lana, was calm and efficient. After examining Joshua's wound and asking another doctor for his opinion, she told me that she would try gluing the wound closed rather than stitching it. But before she glued it, she showed me the cleaned wound.

Despite the fact that Joshua hadn't really hit anything sharp, he had cut a slice in his skin deep enough to cut through about half a centimetre of skin and through the final "glad-wrap like" layer of protective tissue over his skull. The bone was a startling, brilliant white against the red wound surrounding it. It was bizarrely fascinating.

And also dangerous. We have to watch to see he doesn't re-open the wound in the next few days, because if he does it will need stitching straight away or there will be too much danger of infection. I was very relieved when she asked someone else to help her hold the wound closed and then applied the purple glue! Joshua smarted a bit at the stinging sensation of the glue drying and gave the doctor a terrible glare. And then with a simple square of my old favourite, fix-o-mull, over the top to protect the skin a little, we were ready to go home. At long last.

Except, having come in the ambulance, we had a booster seat but didn't have a car. I had no idea where to find the nearest taxi rank, but I did know how to get to the nearest service station, so we went there and bought Joshua a hot sausage roll. He was very thankful to finally have something in his poor hungry stomach. I bought him a chocolate bar as well and with that to encourage him, we set out to walk the kilometre or so to Trinity, where they elders were having their meeting. It was a cool night and I was glad to be out in the crisp air. Joshua and I chatted amiably as we walked to the college. I was very glad to finally see Jeff's face again when he met us at the door to let us in.

Joshua lay down on a couch while I read my Bible to him quietly - he asked me to read some of our memory verses. Soon, Jeff and the other men were finished and Jeff drove us home. Joshua was asleep in his bed before Jeff got back from picking up the kids from a church family who had looked after them for us.

I sang with joy and thankfulness to God as I made up the girls' beds with their clean sheets. It may not have turned out quite the way I had imagined when i woke up that morning, but our day was filled with acts of kindness by a myriad of people, and the precious care of God. I thought of the verses that Anna had been copying all last week from Psalm 103:

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not His benefits -
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

These verses were so perfectly true yesterday. Thank You for your care in our emergency, O LORD. Thank You for healing all our wounds.