Friday, December 28, 2007

Out-Going George.

On Christmas Day we had all our children around for lunch along with a Nephew. And a good time was had by all I think! After lunch and a walk around the block with our girl’s dogs the nephew went home and I sat down to collect my breath and thoughts and there was a stupid Cartoon on the TV about a Monkey called Curious George. Well today I am going to tell you about another George.

Now this George is a little dog, not a monkey, but like us you may be forgiven if you think he is “a little monkey” at times. As many small little dogs, he is very happy and out-going in nature and by nature too!

The little blighter is always looking for a way to escape his yard and wander the streets as a free spirit, which dog collectors and His Mistress, all frown upon. No matter to George. Give him half a way and he will do the rest. This is the second time we have had them (George and Charlie, the other daughter’s dog) around. The first time was when we took them to the Groomer's. Well that time, they both managed to get out but fortunately didn’t go too far.

So this time I barricaded under the gate where they got out and was sure they wouldn’t again. Well not there anyway!

So on Christmas morning, the two dogs were in the yard when suddenly our first-born decided to check on George, as she couldn’t see him. She could see Charlie but not George. Before very long she was back inside saying, “Dad, I thought you said George couldn’t get out!” Meaning he had!

Sure enough he had and after getting him back inside I found where he had pushed aside what had looked like a solid post and removed some Plastic edging about 6”(15cm) high and about 16 feet (5 metres) long, and left it on the outside.

For a while I was mystified on why he had got it outside and why it had tooth marks all along it. By my reckoning he should have been able to have gone over the top of it without having to move it, and if he had to move it, he would/should have only had to move the end near his gap, to get out.

A real mystery for a while and then suddenly the “Penny Dropped”! He didn’t do that to get out.

He did that trying to get back in! Having got out, he obviously decided it wasn’t much fun without Charlie and so tried to get back in and so, having got over the obstacle easily one way, found it difficult to get back in from the low side and so at great effort, pulled it all out to the outside, explaining how it got there and how it had tooth marks all along it. Yet he still couldn’t get back in without my daughter going out and bringing him back in.

As I thought about it I wondered how often we do a similar thing. How often do we fight against the barriers and boundaries imposed on us? How much time and effort do we put it to fight through these boundaries, only to find that the “Grass on the other side is no Greener” or Better? Then try and find our way back to the right side of the fence, only to find, like George, that despite our efforts it is not possible, with out Help.

As a Christian I believe that, that Help came in the form of Christ at Christmas time, to enable us to get back on the right side of the fence.

However, no matter what you believe, as you approach this new year will you just stop and re-evaluate where you are now and how well off you really are or aren’t, before trying to escape to something that you may later wish to escape again.

Instead of wasting all your energy and efforts trying to escape something without fully evaluating it first, try appreciating it first. Likewise try using your efforts and energies to improve where you are even more, rather than wasting your time and efforts in trying to escape, when it is not really necessary or beneficial in the long run.

What say you? Walter

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Xmas or Christmas?

Before I became a Christian I had no problems with writing Xmas for Christmas. It was only after I became a Christian and heard other Christians saying how they hated seeing Xmas for Christmas that I too started to hate it also.

However now, years later knowing the facts behind the use of Xmas for Christmas I have no personal hang-ups in using Xmas instead of Christmas, whilst allowing for the feelings of those who still hold my former Christian view.

So what changed my opinion on the use of Xmas for Christmas? Well first, let me ask you what does Christmas mean to you? Or what do you understand the Word Christmas to mean?

The word literally means Christ’s Mass. Now, Mass simply means, the celebration of the Eucharist. And the Eucharist is variously known as Communion, The Lord’s Supper, or the Lord’s Table. A special Celebration of Jesus’ last Supper Celebration. Hence Christmas, simple means the Celebration of Christs’ Mass, now commonly held on December 25th.

So that briefly is what Christmas Means. So now let us look at what Xmas means.

The earliest followers of Jesus were often persecuted and forced to worship in hidden locations. Often these believers would scratch the secret symbol of a fish on the ground to help them safely identify other Christians. In the Greek of this period, the letters which make up the Greek word for “fish” also spelt out a secret message about our Lord.

I = Jesus.

X = Christ.

TH = God’s.

Y or U = Son.

S = Saviour.

From this, it is obvious that the X stands for Christ, and so we see that both Christmas and Xmas mean exactly the same thing. Xmas is simply an abbreviation of Christmas using the Greek symbol for Christ. Thus it is not offensive or derogative to Christ or Christians, in any way. However if I know it will upset someone if I use the Abbreviation, I will not use it. Unless I believe that I will also get the chance to attempt to correct their opinion of the use of Xmas for Christmas. What say you? Xmas, or Christmas? Walter

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

IXTHYS. The sign of the fish.

Have you ever seen a car go by with a sticker of a fish on it and wondered what it meant?

In the first 300 or so years of Christianity, the earliest followers of Jesus were persecuted and often forced to worship in hidden locations. Often these believers would scratch the secret symbol of a fish on the ground to help them identify other Christians.

Not only was fish a common food of the day, but also as such it was often used and referenced to by Jesus himself, during his ministry. However of more significance to Christians is the fact that the letters which make up the Greek word for “fish” also spell out a secret message about our Lord Jesus Christ.

I = Jesus.

X = Christ.

TH = God’s.

Y or U = Son.

S = Saviour.

Throughout the generations, the fish symbol continues to identify the true followers of Jesus Christ. Even today the fish symbol transcends differences in cultures and denominations, and helps Christians to identify one another.

So in closing, what does the sign of the fish mean to you? A meaningless symbol? A Puzzle? A Bumper sticker for the car? Or a special message to you? Walter

Monday, December 10, 2007

Changing Old Traditions.

For as far back as I can remember at Home, we always had a live Christmas Tree when possible. For as long as I lived at home it was the Boy’s job every year, to go down and around the paddocks somewhere and Cut down a native Cypress type of tree. I have no idea what its proper name was but in our family it was always call a “wild Cherry tree” although as I said it looked more like a Cypress than an actual cherry tree. In latter years when a decent “wild Cherry tree “ became too hard to find Mum went over to live Pine trees and only later when the kids moved out, she turned to an artificial tree.

When I married and moved out we started out with a live tree each year but with the various moves over the years as we prepared for Missionary service, we too went artificial for a while.

We did go back to a live trees for a while when we moved to Transkei (South Africa). Yes, we had live trees right at our first Christmas there. Even if our first Christmas tree there, within weeks of arriving, was only a live potted Philodendron, it was quite effective when lit up and decorated. Later we also progressed to live pines, and finally when they became too scarce over there, back to artificial.

Upon returning to Oz, 6 Christmases back with this one, our first-born demanded we go back to live trees, which we did, and she is still doing this year.

We however have gone over to artificial again, even though live trees are still readily available. But this year we were looking for a smaller, less messy tree and so settled on a Smallish artificial one. A cheap and nasty one at that too! However with a bit of fake snow, and just the lights on it is starting to look reasonably presentable.

As hinted in previous blogs my artistic skills when coming to decorate things, is pretty basic, and my part of decorating the tree, after setting it up has always been relegated to throwing a few strings of lights around it and leaving it to the Girls to hang the baubles and tinsel on it.

Well this year they have their own tree to do, and we ours. So there needs to be a change in our decorating traditions this year.

We are also having a luncheon fellowship from the Church here next Sunday with about 30+ men, women and children in attendance, plus a few blow ins before the event and so this year I have decided to let all our visitors have a part in decorating our “family “tree.

My intention is to ask everyone to put at least one decoration each on the tree. Both helping to decorate it and to symbolise them as part of our inner circle even if not immediate family.

How about you? Don’t worry about what type of tree you have but how are you decorating it?

How will you decorate your Tree this year and who will you include in your inner circle of Family? Christmas is supposed to be a time for family, so will you allow “family” even if in the broadest sense of the word, to be part of your Tree? Will you this year change Tradition to allow others into your inner “family” circle? Or will you keep others at arm’s length this Christmas? Over to you for your reflection.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Standout Or Middle Of The Range?

As stated in my article, “How Do You Like The Christmas lights”, I mentioned that after many years of desiring too, I finally achieved an ambition of mine to string up a few Christmas lights in the front yard and around the front of the house.

When I decided to start, only one neighbour in our street had his lights up. By the time I finished the neighbour on the other side had his up as well. Now nearly everyone has! (Not that I put that many up, just that I took my time doing it!) There are only 11 houses in our court and now only three don’t have lights up and ours just add to the scene on either side of us, and rather than looking inferior, look a whole lot better than being the only house in a string of 7 without lights.

As this is our first year in a home of our own, we have no decorations of our own and so are starting from scratch this year. So rather than spend a lot of money on a lot of lights and decorations, I brought only a few but of the cheaper type this year. This year I have gone for quantity over Quality just to get a few lights up and out there. Over the coming years it is my plan to by better and more specific types of lights and decorations. However for this year, just to get the show on the road I have settles for the rather bland and plain not flashing lights, just to get a “Show” out there.

So I have (and for only a few dollars) and even with little artistic flair, it will pass in the dark, particularly at the end of our court. Although Cheap, They are colourful and brighten up the place. Sometimes it pays to always buy the best and start out small, which is my normal philosophy but occasionally like here, one needs to throw their normal philosophy out the window, albeit ever so briefly. So this year at least we have an average display. Walking recently with my wife around our court after dark, we commented that although our lights weren’t the best in the street, they weren’t the worse either.

How about you? Are you sometimes happy to come middle of the range or are you only out for Number one spot and if you can’t get that, won’t even try? Are you even prepared to change your ways and thought patterns occasionally? Or are you so stuck in your old patterns that nothing can change without destroying you? How about considering things from a different perspective even if only once in a while? Or in this case, once a year! Over to you for your thoughts on the matter.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

How Do You Like The Christmas lights?

In the distant past I was not really into Christmas decorations and lights outside of the house. And during our time in South Africa, or at least our part of it, Christmas was very low key and certainly no lights or decorations outside. So it was a bit of a surprise when we came back to Oz 5 years ago to find many Houses and their yards all lit up at Christmas Time. Also a bit of a surprise to find Christmas “stuff” and Lights so reasonably cheap and plentiful compared to when we left Oz in 1990.

Since then it has always been a bit of an ambition of mine to string up a few lights in a bush in the front yard and around the front of the house. However my first-born would not let me do it. Whether it was because, “a few lights in a bush in the front yard and around the front of the house,” would look just like “a few lights in a bush in the front yard and around the front of the house”, knowing my previous decorating skills? Or whether she knew, also from first hand experience, that it would probably end up with her doing most of it?

For what ever reason, I was politely but firmly told, “Dad you can do that when you get your own home but not here.” Well guess what? We have our own home again. (Well a rented one anyway.) So this year I decided I would string up “a few lights in a bush in the front yard and around the front of the house”.

So I have (and for only a few dollars) and even with little artistic flair, it will pass in the dark, particularly at the end of our court. There are only 11 houses in our court and over half have lights up so ours just add to the scene on either side of us, and rather than looking inferior, look a whole lot better than being the only house in a string of 7 without lights.

They are colourful and brighten up the place and even if no one else appreciates them I do. What about you? Are you often hindered by the opinions of others? Of course there are times, like when you are living with others, that you have to take cognisance of the thoughts of others

However if it is not illegal or immoral and adds to the neighbourhood atmosphere, don’t let the opinions of a few others stop you if you have the means and opportunity. And even if it is not up to the standards of some others, so what?

Not good enough for others? Who Cares? As long, as they are good enough for you and doesn’t infringe the rights of others! What say you?

Friday, December 7, 2007

It Is Christmas Time Again.

Well it is official! Christmas time has finally arrived at our House! No! I have not just put up the tree or the Christmas Lights. (Although they are up now.) No! Christmas officially arrives at our house when we get our first Christmas Card or Letter. This Year Christmas officially arrived on November 30.

We have only received half a dozen so far, but they have started. So have I. In fact I have written off most of the cards I intend to send this year. About 80. I just haven’t posted them yet that’s all.

Every year I have the same problem of who will I send cards or letters too this year? In the past with close to 500 on our mailing list, we have run off a photo Copy card letter. But over the years since our return to Oz the number on the list has dropped quite considerably. Also with e-mail this year I will probably do another 50 or so that way. So now with still a large number on our list how does one decide whom to send a card to? And who, if any, to drop off the list this time around?

Well each year I have this same issue and each year I ask who hasn’t replied at least once in the last couple of years? It is they who get the chop and if there is any doubt in my mind, they get one more chance this year, and are then chopped off my list. Of course if they do write in the coming year, well they go back on the list again.

Last year on my e-mail list I cut quite a few off it, including a couple that hadn’t replied literally in years. On the bottom of my letter I wrote if I don’t hear from you this year I will assume you are no longer interested in receiving our news. Well these two who I thought were not interested, as I hadn’t heard from them in years, were the first to reply asking to stay on my list. So from that I never exclude anyone from my list without giving him or her one last chance.

What about you? Are you always prepared to go that extra mile and give everybody that one last chance? And not just at Christmas time either. What say you? Who will you give one last chance to? Over to you for reliction and possibly action now while there is still time!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Monastery Ridge Group.

In my previous Blog about, “Top Or End? You Decide”, I mentioned that we live towards the top of a slight rise on our side.

On the other side it is quite steep and overlooks the township Of Croydon. As such it was the perfect spot many, many years ago for a Catholic Monastery.

Over the years it has been slowly squeezed out by developments and rising land prices. So much so, that much of the land on the other side of the hill has been turned into a Retirement Development. With Land on this side being sold off, or in the process of being sold off to Developers. This latter process has not pleased all on our side of the Hill.

Not all agree with this new development, including some in our court who feel, that with the small size of the development blocks, right up against some of their fences, the new owners will have to build two story houses with resulting windows looking out on their backyards and pools etc.

Others just don’t want to see many of the big, old and significant trees on the sight chopped down. So a group calling itself the Monastery Ridge Group, was formed “ by local residents, who were concerned that the special features of the area were being eroded by inappropriate development.”

The special concern in our area is the block behind us. They have fought to have the number of proposed blocks on it reduced form 24 to 20 and now down to 17 for the latest proposal. They also claim some successes in saving local vegetation and trees. They appealed against a permit application to remove 63 trees from the property. After inspection by an independent Arborist, 32 of the trees were removed because they were in a poor state. So they have had a success with half the trees. I am not sure how long it will be before the remaining trees became unstable too, but for now they have had some success.

As hinted here, I am not sure how I feel about this group and their real motives behind this preservation move, but I do admire their zeal. They have found a cause that they believe in and are prepared to band together and do something about it.

How about us? You and Me? Do we have that same zeal for all that we do? Or are we just halfhearted in all that we do?

I don’t know what your particular cause is, but are you really committed to it? Are you prepared to give your all (within legal bounds) for your cause? Over to you for your reflection.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Top or End? You decide!

Ever since we have moved into our latest home, we have referred to it as being at the end of the court. And even instruct people to,” Just drive into our Court and you are already facing our place right at the end of the road.”

Recently we went to the Local Street Christmas Party and people kept referring to us as the people from the top of the street/Hill.

I guess technically we are at the top of the hill, but the slope on our side of this hill at least is not that steep that I have ever thought of us as living at the top of the Street, let alone at the top of the hill.

Thus it took me a while to adjust to what they were saying about us living at the top, as it wasn’t in our train of thought. However when we adjusted to their thinking, it did make sense and while we will still consider ourselves as living at the end rather than the top, we can now relate to their line of thinking.

Does that ever happen to you? That people use different words to you to talk about something near and dear or at least up close and personal, like where you live? How do you react to people who use different words and phraseology that you normally prefer? Do you try and force the majority to your view, Go with the majority, or stick with your own view come what may?

Just how do you react to people who think differently to you and why? Have you ever thought about how you act and react to others who differ in any way to you?

Over to you for some personal reflection time: Walter