Saturday, 28 August 2010

Another Family Adventure

I started posting a while back about our Family Adventures. In the depths of winter, we came down with a few colds and such, so didn't manage to keep up with it.

But for the last Saturday in winter, we went to a nearby church's Kids' Fair. The church ran it as an outreach event to the local families. I attend this church for evening services while our church doesn't have them and I am out the back with the Children's Church every Sunday.

We got photos of Sam and Abi having fun, but Josh and Anna were having far too much fun to be caught on camera. They found several friends from school (Emily, Lauren, Luke and Sean) and enjoyed the jumpy castle, popcorn, fairy floss, the puppet show, modelling with clay and model racing car track while Jeff and I followed Abi and Sam from one activity to another.

Abi enjoying her hotdog:
Sam loved painting with brushes and sponge stamps:
Abi had her face painted and then rode a pony:
Sam was able to ride the pony as well:
It was a wonderful day together, and I'm glad we are back into our Family Adventures.

Friday, 27 August 2010


Abigail received a letter from a friend today. This particular friend lives here in Perth, but we don't see him nearly as often as we did in the past since we moved to a distant suburb. They keep in contact via very occasional play dates and slightly more frequent letters. This is the first of Abi's letters to her penpal that have actually consisted of real words and sentences, though!Translation:

Dear Isaac,
Thank you for that lovely letter. I hope we get to play soon.
Love from Abi

Here's the picture she drew for her friend:

Monday, 23 August 2010

Ubiquitous Contamination

(This post continues the thread begun in "Something worse might happen to you" and Life Savers.)

A fortnight ago, Jeff and I and our four kids went to dinner with a couple from our church and their adult son. They took us to the local Chinese restaurant to celebrate the birthdays of all three men.

Now, this particular Chinese restaurant serves crab. But, knowing I am allergic, we didn’t order any meals with crab. Instead, we had pork, and chicken, and beef, and tofu. Plain rice, with no poisonous prawns. The problem was, our food as contaminated. Someone in the kitchen hadn’t washed a pan, or a dish, or a knife properly after preparing a crab meal for someone else that night. And one or more of our meals had tiny, invisible crab toxins in them.

Shortly after we left the restaurant, I began to cough, which is the early sign of an asthma attack for me. By the time I got home, I knew I needed to take an antihistamine tablet. And within a few minutes, I was asking Jeff to stab me with my epi-pen and ring triple zero. I sat on the couch, my hands shaking, my shoulders heaving as I struggled for breath, tears flooding from my eyes, as I sat waiting for the ambulance. The medics gave me oxygen, commended us for doing the right thing using my epi-pen, and took me to Royal Perth Hospital for the night to recover.

Now I didn’t plan to eat the crab that had contaminated the food I ate. I didn’t ask for it. But, I knew it was a risk when I ate at that restaurant. That’s why I carry my epi-pen with me. Lately, I've been reading food labels a lot and discovered that shellfish is an ingredient in a lot of foods where I wouldn't expect it, such as the jar of Thai Green Curry paste I nearly bought last week. It's also a possible contaminant in foods that I thought might be suspect, like the pre-packaged frozen fish from the company that also sells frozen crumbed prawns. And it also might be present in foods that come as a complete surprise to me, like the pea and ham cup-a-soup packet I couldn't buy this week.

I’m learning that shellfish, just like sin, is pervasive. Sin can be there in my life, even when I think I am obeying God just fine. Because God’s definition of “sin” isn’t just the big, bad acts that I think of when we hear the word. Sin isn’t just doing things like committing murder, or stealing, or even telling a “little white lie”. Sin is whatever I do when I ignore or disobey God. So that includes every single act that I do when I don’t deliberately choose to do it for God.

Examining myself for this sort of "invisible, yet still deadly, sin" means asking myself questions such as these:
Did I put God's glory or my own personal desires first when I voted on Saturday?
Is there a more godly way of spending my Sunday evenings, after I come home from evening church, than just plonking myself down on the couch and watching Bones? (Is watching TV just a way of shutting off my mindful responses to what God has been teaching me through the sermon/s?)
Do I choose to work for the glory of God when I wash the dishes and fold the clothes, rather than letting the dirty dishes pile up by the sink and the clean clothes pile up on the couch? (Do I recognise the value in my sanctification that comes from putting others before myself?)
Do I pray honestly and earnestly "in everything", or is prayerful dependence on God something I mouth platitudes about while my prayers actually consist of occasional one liners that demonstrate my unwillingness to depend utterly upon the sovereign grace of God?

And like the food contaminated by crab particles that were miniscule, but nevertheless poisonous, I need to face the fact that any sin, no matter how small in my eyes, separates me from God and would, without the saving intervention of Jesus Christ, inevitably lead to eternal death. (That's hell, folks.)

Examining myself for this sort of "miniscule, yet still deadly, sin" means asking myself questions such as these:
Do I keep all of the minor promises I make to my kids (mostly to get them to stop nagging me), or am I really telling a deliberate lie each and every time?
Are my interactions with my husband characterised by loving, submissive service; or are they flawed by occasional derogatory remarks that show disrespect towards him, constant nagging that reveals my unwillingness to recognise his headship in our marriage, or bitterness over the way he spends his "free" time?
Is my attitude to food, and chocolate in particular, one that magnifies the God who created everything - including the cocoa bean - or is it one of unthankful gluttony that seeks to slake my thirst for the joy that is found in the immense goodness of God in what Augustine called things of "the lowest order of good"?
Do my short but snappy bursts of anger at my kids reveal a heart that is burdened with pride, impatience, and self-will; or a heart that strives to be humble, patient & enduring, and selfless?
What does my impatience with everything from the rate at which my children tie their shoes to that driver in the lane ahead of me say about my contentedness with the position God has given me? What does it say about my (earlier in the day) prioritisation of my own self-centred activities over daily necessities, that led to the need for my present haste and consequent impatience?

Perhaps you might ask yourself similar questions. And don't put off finding the time to answer.

If you're not a Christian, you should also ask what your answers say about your need for God's saviour, Jesus Christ, who took the punishment for your sin for you already on the cross.

If you're a Christian, the Holy Spirit within you will counsel you as to how you should live. Listen to Him!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Life Savers

(This post continues the story from my last post, "Something worse might happen to you".)

If I slip up, and sin again, Jesus still saves me from the deathly consequences of that sin. And once again, my shellfish allergy reminds me of how that happens.

When I got back to Australia, and was able to get an appointment with an allergy specialist doctor, he told me the same thing. I can’t eat crab, lobster, or any other shellfish. To me, these foods are poison. And because I suffer from asthma, if I do have a reaction to shellfish, it is likely to affect my breathing, rather than just giving me an unpleasant-looking case of hives, such as my mother gets if she eats mango.

The doctor impressed upon me that if I don’t have the epi-pen he prescribed with me, I can’t eat anywhere. So now, I carry it in my handbag along with my asthma puffer, everywhere I go. If I do have an anaphylactic reaction, the epi-pen will inject adrenaline into my leg, and it will kick-start my body’s recovery process.
Jesus, just like my epi-pen, is my Life Saver. Jesus has rescued me and continues to preserve me daily from the sure death that comes from the sin in my life. Jesus has promised me that God will give me eternal life. Jesus has made that promise to you as well. In John 11:25, Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live.” That promise is for you as well. Jesus went on to say this: “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

I want to ask you the same question. Do you believe that Jesus has saved you from the deadly consequence of your sin? Do you believe that God will give you the gift of eternal life, to never die, because Jesus died in your place? That’s what it means to truly live.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

"Something worse might happen to you"

Many of you will have seen the photo that I posted a while back, of my husband Jeff and I on the last day of our holiday to the USA.We look pretty happy, don’t we?

Would any of you guess that I had almost died only a week before this photo was taken?

Well I did. Here’s another photo, of that time.
One evening during our five week driving tour of the western half of the US, Jeff and I dined out at a rather nice, small, busy restaurant. For the last four or five days we had been in Washington State, enjoying the delights of coastal food. This evening, in Astoria on the northern coast of Oregon, I decided to order a bowl of Dungeness Crab pasta. It was delicious!

But to me, that crab pasta was also poisonous. You see I didn’t know, when I ordered that pasta, that I am allergic to crabmeat.

Jeff and I enjoyed our meals, he paid, and then we began the short walk uphill through the drizzling rain to our Bed and Breakfast. We were only about 20 metres from our B&B when I felt something like a punch in my chest and started breathing a bit harder. After a few deeper breaths, I mentioned to Jeff that I thought I might be having an asthma attack (along with all our kids, I’d been diagnosed last winter). I could still speak fine. As Jeff and I made our way more quickly now to the B&B, we tried to work out what had set off the asthma. Surely not the exercise of the short walk from the restaurant, since we’d walked much further and steeper trails in the last four weeks exploring the Grand Canyon and other wonders of the American environment.

When we got to the B&B, I used my puffer, which I had left in our room. But it didn’t seem to work. After a brief improvement, my breathing was actually getting worse. After only a few minutes, I was taking heaving breaths, my eyes were tearing up, and I knew that whether this was an asthma attack or something else, I had to get to a hospital. Through breaths, I told Jeff he had to take me to a hospital… and then, when he couldn’t contact our host to get directions, with a rather clear head despite my shuddering breaths, I suggested he look up hospital on our GPS.

I know that God is in control over everything that happens. But honestly, when I found out later that the emergency department was only about 1km up the same road we were staying on – a one way road in the direction of the hospital – I knew that God had been looking out for me, knowing what was going to happen when I chose to eat that crab pasta.

To cut a long story short, the triage nurses took one look at me when I stumbled through the doors of the emergency department, gasping for breath, and whisked me into the closest room. They put an oxygen mask on me (oh, bliss!) gave me an injection of adrenaline, as well as giving me several antihistamines, and after about half an hour, I was almost breathing normally again. My episode of anaphylactic shock was under control, and now I just needed to recover. They discharged me at 2am and I slept through much of the next two days of our holiday, exhausted from nearly dying.

The one thing those emergency department staff drilled into me before they discharged me was that I was not to eat shellfish again. Never. If I did, it just might kill me.

The next morning, as I looked back on what had happened, I was reminded of a few verses in the Bible. The first, I had read in my regular Bible study that week. In John 5:14, Jesus talks to a man he has just healed. The man had been an invalid for 38 years, and now he could walk again. Jesus warned him:
“See, you are well again. Stop sinning, or something worse might happen to you.”

What the emergency department staff had said, reminded me of that verse. They had said, “Stop eating shellfish, or something worse might happen to you.”

Jesus said to the healed invalid, “Stop sinning, or something worse might happen to you”: something worse than 38 years unable to walk? What on earth could be worse than that?

There’s another verse in the Bible with a similar warning that tells us just what the “worse” thing is. Romans 6:23 says “The consequence of sin is death.” The Bible tells us that sin – ignoring and disobeying God – leads to death, in just the same way that for me, eating a plate of shellfish will lead to death.

Of course, I didn’t die from the crab pasta, because the hospital staff intervened. And Romans 6:23 goes on to say that we don’t need to die from sin either. It says, “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God doesn’t want us to die as a result of disobeying Him. God wants us to trust His Son Jesus Christ, and to accept the good consequence that comes from trusting Jesus. That consequence is just like my second chance after eating the poisonous pasta – but even better. Eternal life is God’s gift to everyone who trusts in His Son, Jesus Christ, who already died on our behalf so that we can live forever with God.

Because I trust in Jesus, I am going to have eternal life. But Jesus is not just some “get out of jail free card”. I still need to work hard to “stop sinning”, because Jesus calls me to a high standard, a life of complete obedience to God.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Just because ... Sam is cute

"Will you snuggle me up?"

Peter and the Wolf

Grandma and Grandad visited last week for a few days before setting off on a month long cruise. While they were here they entertained the kids with a CD of Dame Edna telling the story of Peter and the Wolf, complete with the orchestral score. They had quite a bit of discussion about what the different parts of the music represented, and how the speed, volume and other characteristics of the music helped us to imagine what is happening in the story.

This morning, Abi asked if she could make a book, (5 sheets of folded A4 paper, bound with string):Once we had made the book she decided she would write the story of Peter and the Wolf. I promptly opened Word and transcribed her narration:

Peter went into the thicket. You shouldn’t go into the thicket because a wolf or a fox might eat you. There was a wolf in the thicket. But just in time, Peter’s grandpa realised that Peter should not have gone into the thicket because there could be a wolf. So Peter’s Grandpa rushed outside because he knew there was a wolf going to come. So he got Peter before the wolf came.

After they were inside, Peter saw the wolf and decided to save the cat, because the wolf had eaten the ducky.

But bad hunters came. Not to kill the little boy, but to kill the wolf. They tried to kill the wolf, but the little boy called Peter told the hunters to not kill the wolf but take him to the theatre show, to sell him for lots of pieces of gold. Golden gold!

Before the hunters could find the wolf, Peter got a good idea. He told the birdie to fly around the wolf’s head so that Peter could tie the wolf’s tail to the tree. After the hunters came, they told him to untie it and hold the string. But Peter said “No, don’t kill him. Take him to a theatre.” So that is what they did.

There's something about Asterix

It's lovely to see Joshua and Sam sharing an interest - even if I am fairly certain Samuel doesn't understand more than half of what is going on without the words, and even reading the words Joshua doesn't get every joke.
(These photos were actually taken back in July, I think. It is a long time since I've blogged.)