Family

The Footprints We Leave

We left footprints in the sand.

Mine large,

His small.

His dancing with excitement

In circles and jumps.

Mine in a straight line, alert

cautious.

 

A sand castle here,

A shell there.

Seaweed, seagullsimg_1046 and sticks.

Exciting materials,

to explore and investigate.

 

His steps will become larger.

Mine will fade.

But there was a time

when we walked on the beach

together.

Categories: Family, Poem, poetry, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments

The Paperboy

Writing about my beach cleaning days encouraged me to cast my mind back even further to my first paid job. When I was in Grade 5 a notice appeared in the window of “Skinners” the corner store in our town asking for a “paperboy”. The weekly wage was 15 shillings – $1.50 in decimal currency. 
At the time this seemed like a huge amount of money for a 10 year old but looking back it hardly kept my bike going. Yet every morning I got up at 5.45 am went to the store to sort out the papers for the different clients and then cycled (and pushed my bike) around the hilly part of town, which was my allocated patch, delivering newspapers – The Sun, The Geelong Advertiser, The Age (which was an horrendous monster on Wednesdays and Saturdays), The Sporting Globe and for the racier clients, The Truth (a misnomer), which was an education in itself for a young paperboy!
I wasn’t given a list but had to remember all the addresses and which paper was wanted when and where. I made a few mistakes in the first week or so which irritated both shop keeper and reader. In the end I got the hang of it.
Then I encountered the seasons! Most of the year was OK but winter was dark and cold. Fingers froze on the frosty mornings but gloves made it difficult to handle the newspapers. So my dad taught me a trick he had used in Holland. He showed me how to make cones made out of newspaper and place them over the handles on the handlebar so I could slide my hands in while cycling.  Even my dad, who wasn’t tolerant of “softies”, made an exception on a few really bad cold wet mornings and actually drove me around to deliver the papers.
This time was also an education in names and how to pronounce them. When “Marny” wanted an extra paper how was I to know it was written “Mahoney”. And then there were the migrants from all over Europe whose names were not just unpronounceable but also unspellable. How do the Poles get away with putting so many consonants in a row without losing their false teeth?
The worst thing about being a paperboy was that I wanted to read everything. The papers

marilyn

Not The Sun, but a headline I remember.

were a constant temptation to stop and read. However the ire of the customers and consequent lateness at school cured me any dalliance. However I clearly remember some of the headlines that occurred on my beat as a paperboy: the Berlin Wall, Cuba, space flights, civil wars in Africa and Marilyn Monroe’s death are still etched in my memory.

I delivered papers for a few years but then two other jobs came up: working on a farm and in a bakery. But they are tales for another day.
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The Sands of Time

The other day my wife and I took our grandson (15 months) for a walk along the beach near the town where I grew up. Now I need to add that my family gets weary of me telling them about all the events that happened to me in or near this town. Then the roads weren’t paved, the street lights went out at midnight and we could leave our doors unlocked etc. However, now I have a new generation to pester!

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Grandson and Granddad

The beach we walked on was the one I cleaned every summer during my High School years. From 5 am in the morning to 10 am my mate and I wandered along the beach with our buckets collecting the detritus of the previous day. If the wind was right we also found the loose change that had fallen out of pockets. The coins would sit on little mounds as the sand would have been blown from around them over night. On a good day this would increase our income by 10%. Later I got a promotion to toilet cleaner. This meant I had to clean 13 toilet blocks along this stretch of coast line but I got to drive the old Land Rover from block to block!. My final step up was garbage collector. Then I had reached the pinnacle of my career! Today the rubbish tip has become a golf course and I think to myself, I helped build that!

My favourite story from my time working on the foreshore was when I was preparing the tracks along the campsites before the influx of summer holidaymakers by removing excess sand using a tractor with a scoop. Hooning around a corner with the bucket in the air I

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Old fashioned telephone lines- Google images

collected telephone lines snapping quite a few and interrupted a few conversations. My boss was initially livid but later thanked me because he had been asking the PMG (telecom of its day) for years to have the lines placed underground – which happened because of my youthful foolishness.

The road between my town and the next meandered for 3 kilometres through sand dunes and tea tree. Our town having been a Methodist resort was “dry”. No alcohol was sold within its boundaries. The town next door was under no restrictions. So this route was rather popular at the end of the day among certain gents. However the problem was that Victoria had a “6 o’clock” closing law. All hotels had to stop serving alcohol by 6 pm (this was repealed in 1966). So drinkers had to scull (Aussie vernacular for drinking) their beer as quickly as they could. For the drinkers in my town this made the homeward journey rather interesting if not hair raising.

One of our neighbours, we’ll call him Claude, terrified the locals and the streets in our town were very quiet, children pulled inside and dogs tied up, when we  knew he was coming home.

Now I have a grandson it is incumbent upon me to instill his family history at every opportunity.

 

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Grandson Senses

The following is my wife’s response to the recent birth of our grandson.
Grandson Senses

I saw you before you saw me.

I had a chance to study your little round face, framed by a snugly cap.
I tried to place those familiar features, tried to find a possible source for the rest.
You look like your daddy; With his nose and his forehead.
You have your Mama’s red hair, and her chin.
You are quite beautiful, and quite unique.
I watched while you squirmed, grimaced, did the gentlest shudder.  Your eyes moved under their lids, you retreated into your blanket. But all the while your eyes stayed shut. Could you hear our voices, your parents’ and mine? Did we sound clearer now that you are on the outside?
I ran my finger along your downy cheek. So soft, that newly dry baby skin, like no other softness on earth. And warm still, a residual warmth from deep within your mother.Grandson
We then smelled you, bringing our faces close to yours. A scent only found on the skin of the newly born.
Finally, we kissed you, each of us in turn.
When I came close I could hear the barely perceptible sighs and snuffles made by breaths brand new; breaths still in practice.
The camera captures the moment, but my heart will hold these first senses of your life more closely, more carefully, more completely, for as long as my heart continues to beat.
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Teddy and Opa

I am still surprised by my own thoughts, feelings and behaviours at times. So the other day when our first grandchild was born I was surprised by the overwhelming surge of emotion that swept over me. When my wife contacted me with the news there was that mixture of tears, choking and adrenalin – all the more embarrassing because I was trying to teach at the time!  I knew this was exciting but Teddy’s arrival was more than that. For a moment I was taken back 40 years when our first child was born. The red hair, once again, took my breath away. The miracle of new life enthralled me all over again. I remembered that mixture of anticipation and fear. Then I was a new dad now I am a new granddad.

I have had to wait a long time for this moment so for just that reason alone Teddy’s birth was very special. Untangling all the emotions is a bit like trying to roll up a ball of wool after the cat has got at it. There is just so much going through my heart and head. On one side you know the

Teddy and Opa

Teddy and Opa

sleepless nights that the new parents will go through; the tiredness but that is outweighed by the enlargement of the family – a new person, a new personality that shares some of the parent’s but then makes it his own.  There will be diamonds and coal  – the good days and bad. There will be the accidents and illnesses but also the achievements. Life is dangerous but also exciting.

As a parent the greatest joy is being able to share with your child the story of faith; the story of God who not only created you but loves you with this amazing love.  For me, that part of my daughter and son in law’s journey will be the most important and exciting one.  There will be all the amazing “firsts”  – tooth, step, mum, dad … opa, supergran.  But ultimately these pale when a young heart comes to know their God personally.

I love you Rosey, Paul and Theodore – may God bless this new stage of your life with His amazing grace!

Categories: Faith, Family, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Children’s Talks in Church

Here is another post by my wife whose passion is worship that involves all ages – especially children

Why is it that preachers look elsewhere when they speak with children about the things of God? Elsewhere than the Word of God? 

They spend a great deal of time conjuring “likes” out of their box of tricks. The church is like…. being a Christian is like…. forgiveness is like….

And there are a lots of objects in their magician’s kit as well. Namely objects for object lessons.  Unfortunately this sleight of hand only confuses the children who are before them.

Today we had a real magic trick performed for the kids. Three pieces of string of varying lengths were produced for the audience of a dozen preschoolers up to first graders. We heard about the tall people (longest string), the middle sized people (medium string), and … “babies” one child suggested for the shortest string, and we all laughed. More examples of varying things were suggested by the pastor, before he brought all six string ends together in one hand and said “watch this”. (I thought the correct word was abracadabra.)

Sure enough, he turned them into three pieces of equal length. Amazing!

Photo: Courtesy Domino the Jester

Photo: Courtesy Domino the Jester

Then he did another trick.

He turned the trick into an object lesson.

“We all look different, but Jesus has made us all the same.”

Maybe I think too deeply, or too literally about these things. I suspect some  children do too. Perhaps they’re thinking, “I don’t want Jesus to make me look like my brother. I don’t want my Mum and Dad or my baby sister to all be ‘middle sized'”. And that’s if they’ve managed to draw the connection between the strings and ‘us’.

Whichever way you choose to tackle this concept of Colossians 3:11, one thing’s for certain. Little children aged less than eight years old will probably not understand the abstractness of it.

This is when parents need to grow these concepts into their children as they walk along the road together, when they lie down and get up, when they eat and play together. This will be when the abstract becomes concrete for them.

And the pastors who are sitting with the church’s little ones at their feet?

Perhaps they should tell a story. A Bible story.

Categories: Child Theology, Children, christian, Church, Faith, Family | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Including Children in Church Community

There is a small but growing group of Christians who are eager to see the children of the church integrated into the life of the Church body and not just pandered to by programs. Although programs, in and of themselves can be quite useful, they can also stymie the discussions that churches and families need to have about faith formation in the life of their children. Programs by themselves often focus on knowledge (cognition) and what is missed is the beautiful mystery of faith and the excitement of disciple development.  I have written on previous occasions about the importance of the child’s vocation in the church. (Here is just one example).

Last night I heard David Csinos, who describes himself as an author, speaker, practical theologian, husband, researcher of children’s spirituality, and former children’s photo 4pastor, speak in Geelong. This was encouraging for a variety of reasons. It reminded me that there are more voices and often more articulate voices speaking out on this issue and it also caused me to reflect that this is not “rocket science” but requires families, churches and church leaders to engage in a prayerful discussion of how faith is developed in the most vulnerable and important members of our church communities.

If you wish to explore this important notion I have included some websites and books to explore:

  • David’s blog:   http://davecsinos.com/
  • The Journal of Family and Community Ministries (which is free to subscribe to): http://www.familyandcommunityministries.org/
  • A wonderful book is :  Children’s Ministry in the way of Jesus by Ivy Beckwith and David Csinos. This is a good place to begin your reflections if you haven’t started already, or to continue your journey.
  • Is it a Lost Cause: Having the Heart of God for the Church’s Children by Marva Dawn.
  • And if you look under Child Theology you will encounter more of my thoughts/musings on the issue.
  • Another worthwhile approach is taken by the Child Theology Movement.

 

 

 

Categories: Child Theology, Children, christian, Christianity, Faith, Family | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Telling Bible stories to young children

Once again my wife reflects upon one of our passions – how to present gospel stories to children.

 

The story of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. (John 13:1-17)

 

Traditionally, we concentrate on Jesus, the teacher, humbling himself to wash the feet of his disciples. However, to a young child, this would not seem unusual at all. Their experience is normally one of adults caring for them; teachers and childcare providers, parents, and grandparents. It would be strange to them if the disciples had washed Jesus’ feet!

 

So how could we tell this story?

 

Often Bible storytellers try to interpret the stories. We want to be sure the child understands the meaning and the lesson. In short, we tell the child what they should think.

I’m wary of this approach.

I believe that when we impart God’s Word to young people the Holy Spirit is present and active in their hearts and their heads.children 1

We need to trust that He will guide them as they hear our stories.

Our aim should be to facilitate worship in children.

 

The lives of children are full of friends, family gatherings, travelling, food, and identity. This story has it all. Jesus plans a meal together with his friends. They all travel to an upstairs room in a house. They probably walked along dusty roads to get there. When they arrived there were probably hugs and kisses all around. The table had an array of food and drink, lovingly prepared by others in their circle of friends.

Most importantly, Jesus was with his friends: they identified themselves (and the community recognised them) as His followers.

 

So, as you tell this wonderful story, touch on these points of contact.

 

Children will also visualise the story as you tell it. They will “see” it using their own experiences. Therefore a table full of food will be their family’s dining table.

Enrich the story for them by telling them the colours, the smells, the icky ness of the dirty feet, the warmth of the water in the basin, the gentleness of Jesus hands, and the softness of the towel.

 

When we tell stories in this fashion we help a child take it into their heart. The story will resonate with them.

 

And finally, give the child a way to respond to what they have heard. Wonder with them, sit quietly and ponder, provide art materials, sing. Follow their lead as they follow the Holy Spirit.

 

Categories: Child Theology, Children, christian, Faith, Family, Hetty's Devotions | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Another World

Like my own dad, my wife’s step father was also indentured to work in Germany during WW2.  I have reflected in the past on the tragedy of these young men having crucial years stolen from them. (Being Content in a WW2 Workgang)  Today I simply want to include a few photos that give us a glimpse of that time: the good, the bad and the ugly – and the downright strange.

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The striking thing about this photo is both the fact that the young men organised themselves into musical groups but also took pride in their appearance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This this one of the more bizarre photos. Dutch cowboys in a Nazi hall during an entertainment evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This was a time of war. The workers’ barracks were bombed by the allies. The Allies may have heard of the appalling costumes in the earlier photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So naturally the workers had to rebuild their own accommodation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My wife’s stepfather worked in a railway workshop. I am intrigued by the presence of a lady in the middle of this photo.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Family, History | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Unexpected Expectations!

It still surprises me that I don’t always react as I would have expected. After 6 children and over 40 years of marriage, my wife and I heard the news that (finally) we are going to be grandparents.  We have always told our children that whether they have children or not is their decision and our thoughts should not come into the equation. These decisions are between them and God.

Then we heard over the weekend that we are going to be grandparents.  I have to admit it was a thrill to hear the news.  The level of thrill surprised me.  I can’t even tell you why I am so excited. But I am. I am chuffed!

I suppose some of the reasons are that I believe my daughter and son-in-law will make wonderful, dutiful and loving parents, and the grandmothers, in particular, will make the most overwhelming duo a grandchild will ever meet!  Other grandparents tell me that the best thing about being a grandparent is that at the end of any given day you just hand the child back. The sleepless nights are somebody else’s worry.

At the same time this announcement brought back many frightening memories of when I was a young clueless dad. Being a new parent was both exciting and scary. What do you do with them and how do you do it? Babies are such frail helpless creatures and I remember being a helpless lump. By the sixth I think I got over it.

However, I remember clearly the most overawing  words that were spoken to us when we were expecting our first child came from our pastor. He reminded us that when a child is conceived it is conceived for an eternity and as parents we must do all we can to ensure that it is an eternity in the presence of God.

And I suppose that is the other reason for the thrill. When a child is conceived it is a another creation reflecting the image of God – which it will do perfectly, in Christ.

Categories: Children, Family, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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