Friday, 26 June 2015

Goodbye Claude

Last week, we were driving home from our anniversary dinner.  I was driving because J doesn’t like to drive when he’s had some alcohol.  Part of the drive home involved a long left-turning lane, at an intersection, with a stop sign at the end.  J reminded me of the stop sign so I pressed on the brake.  And then we were jolted forward. 

The car behind us had hit us.  Perhaps he wasn’t expecting me to stop, maybe I did stop too suddenly.  He was following too close behind and maybe he was looking for oncoming traffic like I was, instead of looking at the car in front of him.

I’ve never been in a car accident so I had no idea what to do.  I'm so glad J was with me. The man in the car behind me got out and apologised, and asked me to pull over on the road we were intending to turn onto.  We exchanged details about insurance and license and then went our separate ways.  

After taking the car to the insurance-approved smash repairer it turns out that our car wasn’t worth the money it would cost to fix it.  Or to put it another way, the cost to fix it was more than the car was insured for.  So that means it has been written off, not deemed worth driving anymore.  

Our car was a Peugeot.  J bought it as his first car when he started full-time work.  Since it was French he wanted to name it with a French name and "Claude" was chosen.  We prayed over the car, that it would be used for ministry and its seats shared with friends.  It got us between state capital cities a number of times.  I learnt how to drive a manual in that car.  We’ve used it to help a stranded stranger and to car-pool colleagues.  

We handed Claude in on Wednesday.  It was only fitting that we also had a bit of a wake.  J wanted to buy a croissant or baguette in memoriam, but we couldn’t find any in the bakery we walked into.  So we settled for a crème brûlée and a macaroon.  We ate them at home in Claude’s now empty car space.  

But despite the sadness over losing our car, there are a number of things we are thankful for.  Firstly, we’re glad that this happened during the holidays while the college car-pool isn’t operating.  We’re thankful that it was only a small crash (we were stationary and it was only a small bump) and we weren’t injured.  We’re also thankful for the friends who have let us borrow their car while they are away on holidays.  Another friend has offered us his dad’s old car to use until the registration runs out.  We'll be looking to buy a new car but we’re thankful that we don’t have to rush about it.  

Farewell Claude.  We have many happy memories with you. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Things I learnt watching State of Origin

Before moving here I had no idea what the State of Origin was. I'd never heard of it. Since then I've learned that it's a series of 3 rugby games played between NSW and Queensland. The rivalry runs deep between these states. But the strange thing is that the players don't usually play together except for these games. They are normally in a range of different state and national teams and most would be regularly playing against rather than with each other.

Today is the second match. Queensland won the first one so NSW is tense. There are a number of rugby fans in our community so there's usually a bunch of people watching it together. I've joined them this year and have learnt some things about this odd sport.

To move forwards the players have to pass backwards. Seems counterintuitive.  Apparently the Americans still don't understand it.

When someone had been tackled they buck their legs around as if to say "Abuse! Abuse! I'm being abused!"

Before the first guy passes the ball off he taps it on his foot. I'm told that this is a memorial to actually kicking the ball. Yet the game still gets called football.

Each team only gets six tackles and then the ball is turned over to the other team. So before this happens someone will kick the ball as far down the field as they can in a last ditch effort to ensure the other team has further to run back the other way to get to their goal line.

A try by itself is worth 4 points. Don't ask me why, it just is. Like a goal in AFL is worth 6 points. It just is.

Everyone has giant thighs.

Run forward, not sideways. If you get stopped by a tackle it doesn't matter. You think like a team, not like an individual. And you think more than one play at a time.

It's all about piling on the guy with the ball.

Every so often there will be a symbolic scrum where a bunch of players get in a huddle and then break apart without doing anything.

Rugby is mostly about running. But you can stop running and kick a goal almost whenever you want. This is called a field goal.  This is probably the only reason that Rugby League can ever be called football. 

Possible cracked or broken rib? No worries. Painkillers and you're right to go back on.

I'm sure there's more I'll learn but I'm gonna get back to watching now!

Monday, 8 June 2015

A Crowd and a Flashback

I hate crowds.  They make me anxious and grouchy.

Yesterday J and I went into the city to see an amazing light display.  But I’d forgotten that it wasn’t Sunday–night–before–a–work–day, but Sunday–night–before–a–public–holiday.  So there were people everywhere doing the same thing we were.  It was madness.  There were so many people in the city for this event that we weren’t allowed to get off the train at the closest stop but had to get off earlier and walk.  They even closed down a major road in the city for the pedestrians to use.

At one point I was bumped (and this is when I get grouchy), and it reminded me of a similar reaction I’d had before.  I was reminded because I’ve been thinking of doing a flashback series on reflections I’ve written in the past.  I recently went back to a journal that I used to keep and I read an entry about this exact thing.

So here it is, written by my 17 year old self (and edited for length by my current self):

Someone was mucking around in the clustered, confined spaces of the Year Twelve corridor and they caused a small domino effect; only bumping, no one fell over.  I heard my friend behind me offer an apology to someone but I didn’t say anything.  I was in a bad mood and it wasn’t my fault if I had bumped into someone because a few people were acting stupidly.  They were the ones who should apologise.

But does that really justify my thoughts and response? Most people have bad moods sometimes but I don’t think that means we’re entitled to act grumpy and rude.  So how should we express to others that we are upset without becoming completely self-centred or upsetting others in the process?

When I’m grumpy I often want other people to know it, I do become self-absorbed.  But what would be the right way to act when I’m grumpy?  Perhaps being grumpy at all is completely un-godly.  To not act in a grumpy way practically defeats the purpose of being grumpy.  Perhaps by consciously deciding not to act on your grumpy feelings helps you to stop feeling grumpy. Indulging in a bad mood may just serve to make us feel worse, even if we think we’ll feel better by expressing it.  Instead, we should cultivate the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

There it is.  What do you think of my 17-year-old wisdom?  I think that’s something I needed to hear yesterday when I got grumpy from being bumped in a crowd. 

And just for fun, here are some pictures of my favourite building in the light show.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Thankful Thursday

Here we are at Thursday again.  I’m particularly thankful that we are because it means that my last assignment for the semester is finished!  Here are some of the other things I’m thankful for this week:

Growing things
On the weekend I did a bit of work weeding in my veggie patch and was excited to see that some of the seeds I had planted a few weeks (or months? I can’t remember) ago have started coming up.  I have some carrots (I think…) and some kale growing next to my exploding tomato plants, and a few little cucumber seedlings have popped their heads up too.  It has been rewarding being able to eat some of the things we’ve grown ourselves and seeing little seedlings emerge makes me marvel again at how intricately God has made his creation.  All I do is plant and water (and even then I don’t do it very well!) but God is the one who makes it all grow.  I’m thankful most of all for this and the opportunity that the veggie patch has given me to marvel again at God’s creation and to participate in some of his creative work. 

Probably not the best time of day to photograph them, sorry.

Forgiven failings
On Sunday afternoon J and I played tennis with some people from church.  This is a semi-regular thing, happening every few months.  Now I say ‘played’ tennis… I’m sure that’s what J was doing but I’m not sure I was.  I’ve never been very interested in tennis, though I don’t mind watching bits of the Australian Open each year.  Mum and Dad would try to teach my sister and I whenever we visited the local tennis courts but we weren’t very committed.  So I found myself flailing for the ball on Sunday and apologising to my partner whenever I missed it.  But I am so thankful that I could still have fun despite my abysmal tennis, and that my partner and opponents also had fun.  (I’m also thankful that I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t that great at tennis.)

Resolutions from assignments
I wasn’t going to talk about my assignment but I realised that aside from being thankful that it is finished, I’m also thankful for what I will take out of it.  This assignment was for my preaching subject.  We had to reflect on what we had learned about preaching, about feedback, our strengths and weaknesses and plans to improve our preaching.  The two things I resolved to start doing to help improve my preaching was to work out the fallen-condition focus of the passage and to pray for understanding of the passage.  Now, I don’t get many opportunities to preach (not that I’m complaining!) so there’s not much opportunity to put these things into practice.  So I resolved to do these things in my personal Bible reading time.  I’ve often struggled with personal Bible reading, making it more than just reading to tick a box but not taking it in.  So I’m thankful that through this assignment I have made some resolutions that will hopefully not only help me the next time I come to write a sermon, but will help me in a very practical way in understanding the Bible. 

What are you thankful for this week?