Grover Visits Conwy – A Story of Whimsy

Grover at Conwy Castle

One of my favourite photos is a the picture of Grover (above) taking a breather at Conwy Castle in Wales. A few years ago he had his brief moment of fame when this photo was used in a LA Times Travel blog.

Grover at Edinburgh Castle

Once, inside Edinburgh Castle an American tourist asked what we were doing when my wife and I were setting Grover up for a photo. At the time I suggested that these photos could be used back at school as an inspiration for stories. In fact, there was a time when Grover was photoshopped extensively in Middle School.

But if the truth is known we take Grover with us just to add a touch of whimsy to our travels. The kids have left home, we need someone to take a photo of.

Many Christians I meet are deadly serious. There is nothing wrong with being serious; certainly when it regards faith and our relationship with God. But there is also a place for the light-hearted, the joyful, spontaneous – shall we call it – silly. Grover is just one of a host of idiosyncracies in our family that celebrates that whimsical, daydreaming aspect of life. When we come together as family there are serious discussions about faith, work and life, but there is also the banter about “stuffies” and playing with Lego and silly movie quotes and the bizarre make up of relationships that inhabit our family. Have you got or singlet sister? Of whom may you ask, “Have you got a bag?” No, I wont explain.

Grover at the Colosseum

But there is a joy and lightness in whimsy that allows you to celebrate life in the midst of all the harsh realities. Next time you go on a trip, take a stuffed toy and you will be amazed by the discussions you will start with people around you. And no, people with white coats haven’t come looking for us … yet.

PS. Photos of Grover’s adventures can be found at:

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Family, Life | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Christians – Have You Said Thank You?

Have you ever said thank you; thank you to all those involved in your salvation – your membership of the Kingdom of Christ?

For those of us who have been around Jesus for a long time there have been many who either led us to, or helped us remain faithful, to the name of Jesus.

Naturally, the abundance of our thanks and praise must go to God who through Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Our thanks to the Father who sent the son, the son who died in our place and the Spirit who applies that faith to our lives, can know no bounds. However, there are many other who have faithfully laboured as instruments of God’s love and grace in our lives.

There have been parents, even though struggling with their own imperfection, who have

Stained Glass Window Cologne Cathedral

taught and shown what the gospel means. Then their are grandparents and other family members, friends and church members who have done the same. Think of the pastors who have faithfully taught God’s word and prayed for you. If you are a reader, Christian books will have led you you and challenged you on your journey and opened up previously unconsidered vistas.

For those who have come from a non-Christian background, who did God use to reveal life to you? Who assisted in you in those first baby steps? Who has continued to encourage you?

Providence (which we often call chance or accidents) has meant there have been unknown people and events who have made an indelible mark on your life due to a, seemingly, chance meeting. They may have given you a sense of direction or calling, picked you up at a low moment, challenged or chastised you.

So, have you said, “Thank you”; first of all a life of praise to God for what he has done and the people and events he has placed in your path? And, have you said thank you personally to the parents, friends, pastors and others who have confirmed you as a child of God’s? If you are like me you tend to take these people and events for granted and need to be reminded of how profound this cloud of earthly angels really is. They are all signs of God’s love for you.

Have you said thank you? If not, now is a good time. For those we need to thank who have passed on, send up a prayer of thanks. They’ll get the message.

Categories: Devotional, Faith, Jesus, Life | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Connection Between Porridge and the Bible

Oatmeal (courtesy Flickr)

One of my favourite poems by the late Spike Milligan is called “Porridge” (see below). Whenever ‘porridge’ is mentioned, my wife or I will blurt out a line from the ditty, such as, “Why is there no monument to porridge in our land …?” or “Oatmeal OBE”, usually in a wobbly Scottish accent. Amongst our girls it’s film quotes. Lines from favourite films (in suitably dramatic accents) will be thrown in at appropriate places. How often have we heard, “I am a military man. I want a military meal.” (Toys). “Mustard! Don’t lets be silly.” (Alice in Wonderland). And there are hosts more; too many to mention.

It caused me to pause and think. How much is our speech seasoned with helpful aphorisms from God’s Word? Direct encouragements, challenges, comforts, wisdom and more can be declared directly from the Bible. In order to do that however, we need to know the Word and have it inwardly digested. Rather than our fill of mindless TV or internet trawling, we need to spend time taking in and appropriating God’s Word. No I am not ‘anti film’, in fact I love a good movie and I also enjoy the banter that our family has with film and other quotes. Where would I be without a good Mark Twain quote? Far more life enhancing though, is to know and share where life to the full comes from.

The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.  Psalm 19

How much time are we spending, not just reading, but ingesting,  memorising and clothing ourselves in the living Word of God. The theologian Karl Barth believed that the Word of God came alive (my words) when it was acted upon – other than just being dry words on a sheet of paper. The Hebrew word ‘dabar’ which means ‘word’ or ‘talk’ cannot divorce itself from the action it is declaring. In fact, Jesus is the Word come to life in human existence. Our challenge is to clothe ourselves in the “dabar’s” of God and speak and be the Word of God to each other and the world around us.

… and Spike’s suitably bizarre poem …


by Spike Milligan

Why is there no monument
To Porridge in our land?
It it’s good enough to eat,
It’s good enough to stand!

On a plinth in London
A statue we should see
Of Porridge made in Scotland
Signed, “Oatmeal, O.B.E.”
(By a young dog of three)

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Family, Life, Obedience | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Text of Hope for Sunday ( with Photo)

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;he will lead them to springs of living water.And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Rev 7:17

Categories: christian, Christianity, Church, Devotional, Faith, Jesus, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Reflections on Walhalla Cemetery

Walhalla is an old and remote C19th gold mining town north of Moe in Victoria. This is not the majestic hall of the slain at Asgard in Norse mythology. However, many, many people have died here – young and old. More precisely, the very young and middle aged. In, what is now, a collection of a few houses and tourist stores, there was once a mad scrabbling, digging and tunnelling for gold in a busy narrow valley that would have rung with voices and machines. The valley is silent. Now the forlorn cemetery on a hill overlooking the valley, attests that for many of the people who arrived from a variety of countries to find their fortune, ultimately, only placed loved ones in the ground.

Now that is not exactly true. Technically the graves are more like filing cabinet drawers slid into the steep hillside. There are about about 1300 burials here. Many extant graves are dug into the hillside at one end and 1 or 2 metres out of the ground at the other as the hillside side is very steep – quite an unusual arrangement. Visiting the cemetery is an arduous climb!

Reading the headstones is a very sobering exercise:

There is one poignant grave where it seems that a whole young family has died within a little more than a year. However at the bottom of the headstone the inscription reads that it was erected by a surviving son.

The two over represented groups are young children and young men. The first succumbing to the many diseases in this pre penicillin era and the second were often victims of mining disasters.

It is impossible to walk through this cemetery and not be deeply moved. One wonders of the hopes and dreams the people had. One wonders how they coped with this very present spectre of death. And the survivors, the successful and unsuccessful, one wonders whether they thought, in the end, it was worth the toil and heartache.

Here we see a headstone of a dad and three children aged 3 years to 5 years.

The verse reads: Nothing In My Hand I Bring, Simply to the Cross I Cling

Overall, there is one striking truth that resounds from many of the headstones and that is, there is a merciful God, who loves His children, not just for a moment but into eternity. Beyond this life there is a better life where the streets are paved with gold.

One final observation: Sometimes in our desire to do good, we wreak havoc. When the cemetery was first established a well meaning person planted cypress pines. Over the years these have grown into giants, destroying everything around them. Graves have been pushed aside and in one or two places the pines grow directly out of a grave. In recent years many the trees have been cut down, but the consequences survive.

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