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MY OTHER SONS

A feather baby of unknown gender. A young bird in need of motherly help.

‘Isn’t God wonderful!’ exults Norma, wife of John Dennis, of Whyalla, South Australia. ‘I would like to encourage everyone who is suffering grief and loss with these words from Isaiah 41: ‘Fear not I am with you always.’
Norma is eager to listen and help others even though her own heart is breaking. Her mother instincts are to love those in need. That mother love took her to depths that almost destroyed her.
To speak of her ‘other sons’ was an area Norma had not openly shared before with the world. She now felt it was time to share her story in the hope that others who found themselves in a similar situation would be encouraged to keep their faith. Norma kept her faith because she discovered it was God who kept her and not the other way around.

NORMA’S STORY

Norma’s story began in the 1960s when Whyalla was a city enjoying a mining boom. Work was plentiful and young men flocked there to get apprenticeships in the Broken Hill Propriety Ltd. Accommodation for single men was hard to find.
‘As we had a fairly large sleep-out built on to our house, we felt it was a good idea to rent out the room. At this time I had five sons at home. The eldest son was in the Air force.’ Norma says.
The sleep-out became a second home for Barry and Norma became his other Mum. Barry stayed for two and a half years and was then transferred to Sydney.
The sleep-out seemed very empty after Barry left.
‘We thought the room was big enough for two young men to comfortably share, ‘says Norma. So Ken took Barry’s place in the Dennis family and became the ‘other son’. Returning after the Easter holidays, Trevor was travelling with his younger brother, Arnold. The younger brother was hoping for an apprenticeship at the steelworks. The two lads were caught in a flash flood at Nectar Brook a few kilometres south of the city. Trevor was drowned and Arnold came within a whisker of losing his life.
‘This devastated my family and me. I’d never seen my husband cry as he did, the night we received the news.’ Norma recalls. ‘Trevor had become one of our ‘other sons.’ Each tenant came as a stranger but they left as a son. Such is the mother heart of Norma.
It was about six months later that Ken left to join the Navy as the fifth Engineer on an overseas ship. ‘We often heard from him and when on leave he came home to us.’ Norma said proudly.
While waiting for a berth on an overseas ship, Ken filled in for another engineer. The vessel was a transport cargo ship from Tasmania to Melbourne. Tragedy struck when the vessel capsized in Melbourne Harbour just as Ken was coming off duty. He was drowned.
Norma doesn’t want to try and describe the ensuing horror that swept over her heart, except that, ‘I began to have doubts about God. I think hard work helped to overcome our grief,’ Norma says of those first dreadful days.

A feather baby needing care. The transition from when the parents abandon their
off-spring and the ability to fully care for themselves can be a dangerous time for young magpies.


Glen, a friend of one of Norma’s own sons, was next to make the sleep-out home. Glen filled the empty sleep-out but he could not fill the hole left in Norma’s heart by Ken and Trevor. Each one had their own special place in her affections and the loss was as devastating as if they were her own.
Several years later John and Norma decided to visit relatives living in Queensland. Glen drove them to Port Augusta to catch the India Pacific. ‘Little did we realise that it would be the last time we would see him.’ Norma’s voice is filled with sadness and there is a shadow in her eyes as she remembers.

GOING ON HOLIDAY
Arriving in Queensland they received word that he had been killed in a car accident returning home from Adelaide.
John and Norma were ready to return home immediately. However logic prevailed and they stayed their planned time in Queensland. Glen’s family lived near-by, even in the midst of their own grief and loss, they stood in as parents for Norma’s own sons comforting them in the loss of a ‘brother’.
‘It was when my hair went grey,’ said Norma. ‘After losing our third ‘other son’, all between the age of 18 – 25, I wanted to throw all my Christian beliefs out. I started to believe there was no God. How could such things happen to those lovely, dear young men?’ Norma questioned.
It was through a recurring dream that God spoke to Norma and she returned to the church. ‘During my time of anger with God, I saw a mass of clouds and down through those clouds came this great hand. For a long time, I could not reach out to this hand. This same dream was repeated again and again. I finally reached up to touch this hand. You see, even when we think we want to let go of God, he doesn’t let go of us. I want to encourage everyone with these words, ‘Fear not, I am with you always, says the Lord.’

This feather baby is full of confidence . It is very sure of itself, despite that it’s parents reject it by pecking at it.

A SON IN THE IMAGE OF HIS FATHER
God has one Son, Jesus, but His Father’s heart desires to have many ‘other children’. Jesus came to earth to win the ‘other children’ to the Father. When we accept Jesus, the Father acknowledges us as his ‘other children’. We become the beloved of the Father. Such is the love of God for his ‘other children’.
God, the Father, never left Norma and John, even though they took their out anger and grief on him. His love is freely given no matter what we say or do. God’s love is unconditional and unearned.
Time and the Lord has healed Norma’s grief, ‘I don’t question why anymore.’
Norma has surrendered the desire to understand and is content to leave the reason why in the hands of the Lord.

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WEALTHY AND WISE

Ever wondered where the term ‘as rich as Croesus’ came from? Croesus was king of Lydia from 560 BC– 546 BC. By capturing the major Greek cities of Western Anatolia, he completed the conquest of Ionia.
History tells us that Croesus, in the end, was defeated. It is not clear if he was taken a prisoner or of his own volition, he moved to Egypt. Croesus real claim to fame was his great wealth. Archaeological finds as Sardis indicate that he minted pure gold coins. He was responsible for creating the first government coinage by certifying the weight of gold coins.

Ancient coins


Croesus was responsible for providing several pillars at the Temple of Artimus in Ephesus – one of the seven wonders of the world.
Being wealthy didn’t help Croesus to keep his kingdom, but it did win him a place the history books to become a cliché in our language.
Being rich is the goal of most people, but only a few ever succeed. The writer of Proverbs pens this observation, ‘The rich man’s wealth is his only strength. The poor man’s poverty is his curse.’ From experience and observation, poverty is an attitude. Conversely, I have met people with hardly a bean to bless themselves with rejoicing they are rich. People have looked at me with envy thinking I am well off yet unbeknown to them, my bank balance is nil. The attitude I held gave the impression of prosperity. One is left with the idea that poverty is an attitude rather than circumstances.
Riches can’t buy favour with God. What does win God’s favour? It is not trying to bribe him or making a deal with him, it is not doing heaps of charity work, it’s not reading the Bible or praying, going to church on Christmas and Easter. It’s not being a good person. God’s favour is unearned, undeserved, unmerited. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. And nothing we can do will make him love us less. God has already showered us with his love through Jesus.

Modern coins


Poverty, supposedly, a sign of holiness. God is no respecter of people. There is a popular idea that the wealthy are good people and the poor are the lowest of the low. God does not accept such thinking.
His idea of greatness is based on different criteria. Here is what one Biblical writer had to say, ‘For in Christ there is all of God in a human body; so you have everything when you have Christ, and you are filled with God through your union with Christ.’ (Colossians 2: 9, 10. LB )
Favour with God is based on how much we are willing to accept the favour he has poured out unconditionally on us through Jesus.
The writer of Proverbs coins another saying, ‘Trust in your money and down you go! Trust in God and you flourish like a tree!’
A final word from the Book of Proverbs, ‘True humility and respect for the Lord leads a man to riches, honour and long life.’

A Miner bird who has discovered everything he needs. He is thanking his Maker for providing riches beyond imagination
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THE KING IS ALIVE

Thomas Young arrived in Port Augusta, South Australia, Australia.He help found a business dynasty known as Young & Gordon . The firm lasted for many decades. His contribution to the town is this monument.

The King is dead! No – not the King of England but Elvis Prestley – or is he? Elvis died some years ago but through his films, videos and fan clubs he lives on. There are fans who insist that he is physically alive. It has been quoted, ‘The reward of great men is that long after they have died, one is not sure they are dead.’
Alice Marie Knight tells the story of two brothers, Ahmed and Omar. Each wished to perpetuate his own memory. Omar proudly had an obelisk erected at the crossroads of a much-travelled caravan route. On it was carved his name and some of his greatest accomplishments. There it stood for decades of no value to anyone.
Ahmed chose a different and worthier way to perpetuate his memory. He had a well dug beside a desert highway and date palms planted beside it. Weary, thirsty and hungry travellers could find rest and refreshment beneath the fronds.
Travellers blessed Ahmed’s name and called him Ahmed the Great.

These units provide homes of rest, peace and security for a group of aged people.

The King is dead! No, not Elvis, John Wayne or King George the 6th but Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Jesus Christ was sarcastically referred to as the King of the Jews. He is supposedly dead, but is he? There are no films or videos, just a few biographies and written records about his existence. Each subsequent generation seeks to eliminate his name from the world scene without success.
At the mention of his name, many people become angry. His name is used as a swear word. He is reviled.
The crowds watched as Jesus was crucified between two criminals. Joseph, one of his followers, took his body from the cross and entombed it. They all knew he was dead. When his followers arrived at the tomb the next day they found the stone rolled aside and the tomb empty. The shroud neatly folded and placed where his head had lain. What had happened to his body?
Jesus demonstrated his resurrection by living amongst his followers for several days eating and drinking with them. Thomas, the doubter, even touched Jesus to prove the Lord was alive. The full story can be read in the book of Luke chapter 24.

The empty cross and the empty tomb are monuments to the fact Jesus over came death and lives for ever. No one has every done that.

Elvis may live through his films, Omar his obelisk, and Ahmed his oasis, but Jesus is alive. He is the only great man to overcome death and live. Everyone who believes in him will live also. Jesus explained, ‘I am the one who raises the dead and gives them life again. Anyone who believes in me, even though he dies like anyone else, shall live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and shall never perish.’( John 11: 25 – 26 LB)

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GONE MISSING

Embellishment for the arm. So beautiful. Embellishment for the soul or heart cannot is not worn like jewelry.

Maureen, not her real name, discovered that a diamond was missing from her engagement ring.  Maureen was very upset. The loss was so great it felt as if her left hand had been cut off.

Maureen and her husband turned the house upside down. The house received a spring clean in winter like never before. The vacuum cleaner hummed overtime and its contents sieved through.  The diamond was never found.  Maureen grieved, as it were, for a long time.

I’D RATHER FORGET

The story reminds me of myself.  I was like the lost diamond.  As a teenager I was lost, I had nowhere to go, unemployable, uneducated, and no idea how to work. I, wasn’t thinking about God or his involvement in my life, I mostly thought about having a good time.  Though I knew this was not right. I should have a job. In those days there was no dole or social service for the unemployed.

The bead necklace is nearly 100 years old. I don’t wear it because I don’t want it broken . It was my mother’s .

Looking back, I can see God’s hand searching for a way to my heart, guiding by circumstances to the point where I would, unlike the diamond, be found. Where I would adopt a good work ethic and be employable. Mostly,  I earned money by being self employed  by growing a dressmaking and an embroidery  business.

NEW START

The day came when I said yes to the Lord and opened my heart to him and invited him to come and live in my heart. It was the best thing I ever did. The Lord became an inner presence, an inner voice, an inner strength.  Someone who believed in me, who loved me, a personal, intimate relationship grew over the years.

 The diamond was never found, it lay hidden in some nook or cranny. It’s beauty hidden from the world. Maureen’s heart never mended.

NEW PERSON

I could be likened to the lost diamond. When the Lord found me he brushed me off, faceted me until I glittered and glowed, reflecting His light. I became a new person. ‘…and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’(Galatians 2: 20. LB

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MY SISTER WAS MY MOTHER

“Is your mother ready to make her purchases yet?” the shop assistant was getting impatient. I had already made my purchases but my sister Doris was still making up her mind.
“She’s my sister,” I informed her.
“I’m sorry,” the assistant blushed ashamedly.
I later told the story to my husband Bruce, giggling over the assistant’s error.
“It’s not so silly when you look at it. Doris is 18 years older than you and could easily be your mother had she married young,” Bruce pointed out.
It was true, my sister could have been my mother, she was the eldest in a family of five and I, the youngest.
That was where the idea that Doris was my mother began and grew over the years.
We lived 4 miles from the nearest school. Our property had been carved out of the scrub and very isolated. Getting a little six-year-old to school was going to be a problem. My brother Reg had just bought a small property nearer the school on which a house, in near ruins, stood. My parents decided that Doris, Reg and I would go and live in the house. Reg would be closer to his work though he would only be home weekends. I would be a mile from school and Doris would look after both of us and see I went to school safely. The arrangement suited Reg and me for Doris, it was a hard and lonely life.
Six months later, the Second World War was declared and Reg was called up. Doris and I returned home.
It became her lot to catch the horse morning and afternoon harnessed it into the cart and drive me to and fro from school. Doris would drop me off about half-way and I would have to walk the rest of the way. After school, I would have to start walking home. When in grade three I was given a bike, taught to ride and take myself to school.
On hot summer nights, as girls, we would sleep out on the front veranda, in search of a cool breath of air. We would stargaze and share confidences even though Doris was so much older.
Cold winter nights we slept cuddled together for warmth in a double bed inside. We took comfort from each other. Doris found a salve for her hurtful and broken relationship with Mum, and I found the comfort of a mother.

A peahen ready to protect her chics. My sister protected me similarly


The war dragged on for several more years and Doris enlisted in the Australian Women’s Army Service, serving as a cook in the Officers Mess.
Unhappy and unable to fit back into civilian life, Doris married and moved away from home. By this time I had left school and was unemployable and uneducated. My father’s philosophy that girls only married so what was the use of education left me with no hope but to marry.
Doris came to the rescue, her husband owned a dairy and employed me as his girl Friday. I loved the work in the dairy and amongst the animals. My brother-in-law taught me how to work and when I left the dairy I was employable.
While working on the dairy I met and married the man of my dreams. He too was a dairyman although he didn’t remain one. Doris was always there to shape my life.
Doris was widowed, alone and aging. It was my turn to care of her and return to her the love that she had given so unconditionally to me.
The country town where we now lived we were continually mistaken for mother and daughter. Sometimes, depending on the circumstances we would admit we were sisters, at other times we would allow the misconception to continue rather than go into a great story of how Doris was not my mother. As she aged confusion set in and at the last she believed I was the daughter she never had.

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY
On Mother’s Day, I gave her cards. It all added to the myth. I didn’t care. Doris may not have given me life, but she was forced to assume the role of a mother as an elder daughter. Without her, I would not be the person I am today.

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THREE STEPS TO A BEAUTIFUL YOU

African madonna. Beauty untouched, unmarked. Her beauty is her love of life. She chose to leave behind a past of trouble and seek a better life.

‘Build a better you,’ the advertisement screamed in bold letters. On the radio, a soft voice cooed, ‘Take inches off your waist-line with this nourishing drink.’ The TV screen showed the figure of a man and woman in well-fitting sports-wear. Their bodies the picture of physical perfection most of us could only dream about.
A beautiful body is loved by all. There is no room for the ugly or the imperfect in this world. There are dozens of books written on how to lose weight, exercise machines to build the body. There are weight loss clubs, spas and saunas, all designed to take off the inches and kilograms. Beauty parlours invite us to groom, tune and prune the body. A healthy lifestyle is necessary if we are to survive to old age.
Self-care is important for a healthy lifestyle and for mental well being, become self -absorbed to the point where we obsess with overweight, health and looks. All kinds of illnesses, real and imaginary overtake us.

FEED THE MIND

It is just as important what we feed the mind. Self-esteem and a positive attitude are strong building blocks for the mind. Add to those blocks by forgiving imagined hurts and letting go our pet hates. Deal with fear and anxiety. An optimistic and confident frame of mind will make us strong mentally and increase our health.
For good mental health, the need to fill the mind with words and images that create emotional strength and balance is beneficial. The mind can be stunted and weakened as well as the body if it is not fed the right diet.

Following our emotions can lead us down the road to mental instability. The balance between emotions and logic is needful. Thinking of emotions, fear can hold us back from realizing our full potential in marriage, career and family and yes, daily living.

THE POWER OF LOVE


Love is a powerful emotion. Love also requires a person to open themselves up and risk being hurt. Unless the risk of being hurt is not taken then we will never find true love. Love is a potent ingredient for a healthy self-care program.
Love governs the emotions, it replaces hate and fear and gives us healthy self-esteem, love puts balance into living.
We may choose to do yoga, religion, sports clubs, and great charitable causes. This is commendable and helps keep the balance between self-absorption, selfishness and self-worship.

An Aboriginal madonna. The beauty of strength, calmness and determination shine from her face. Her beauty is she will not give in.


THREE STEPS

  1. Seek and Find Peace; a deep inner peace that is not rocked by tragedy, trauma, cross-lotto, or job promotion or demotion. To find such a peace, first find Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Here is what the Bible says about Peace, Philippians 4: 7 ‘And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’
  2. Seek and Find Love: ‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear involves punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he (Jesus) first loved us…’ 1 John 4: 18.
  3. Seek and Find a Relationship: Jesus is not a religion nor a theological concept. He is a person whom we can intimately relate to. The relationship begins the moment when a person believes in their heart of hearts that Jesus is the Lord and God raised him from the dead. You can never please God without faith, without depending on him. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely look for him.’ (Hebrews 11: 6 LB) Following this step is the need to realize ‘I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ (Galatians 2: 20 LB ) The philosophers comfort us by saying beauty is only skin deep. Others declare its the inner beauty that shines through that makes a beautiful person.
Time has drawn a map of life on this face. She carries the beauty of being a survivor

It is Jesus who passed on his goodness to me when I believed. The beauty that Jesus gives won’t win any beauty or popularity contests in this life. I have Jesus’ beauty, peace and joy. That is more than anything that I can do to make myself beautiful. Whether inside or outside.

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Down the Sink Hole

Guest writer, Ray Davies

AN INTERESTING EXPERIENCE
In 1984, we were living on our beloved farm of 82 acres. The property was situated close to Port MacDonnell in the south-east of South Australia.
I had an interesting experience involving a lamb. We had 100 ewes which had lambed recently. It was a Sunday. We were, as usual on a Sunday, running late for the church service.
Still, in my farm clothes and cleaning my shoes, I heard what sounded like a distressed ewe. I decided to ignore it.
During the service, we intended to share with the congregation about my wife Pauline’s mother who was very sick with cancer. We were very worried about her, not only her health but also her salvation. If she were to die, would she go to heaven? We wanted prayer during the service for her. Did she understand that Jesus had opened the way for her, by taking upon Himself her sins so freeing her to enter God’s presence guiltless?
The continual bleating of the lamb got the better of me and I went to investigate.
We had about 40 acres of beautiful scrub and I could see Strop, the ewe, standing on the edge of the scrub but no lamb in sight. Most of our sheep had been bought in bulk and were Corriedales but Strop had been one of a pair bought by Pauline’s brother as a present. Strop was a Merino. The person whom he bought it from cheated him because she had a twisted mouth and no ears.

A GOOD MUM

She was a great mother though, so I was surprised there was no lamb present. She had been named Strop because she was a cantankerous animal, stamping a front foot in a warning if you got too close to her lamb. As I approached her she held her ground as if defending her lamb. As I moved nearer she turned and held again. While I was still puzzling about her behaviour and the lack of a lamb I noticed a hole in the ground and about 20cm down was the lamb with its head just visible. The area we lived in, unfortunately, had numerous sinkholes. Sometimes these holes were big enough to get into and opened up into caves with water in them. On our land, the sinkholes were small. If you dropped a stone into one you could hear the splash of water below.
The holes on my land, as far as I knew, were covered with stones. I had not noticed this hole before. The stones had been removed. How this had happened was a mystery because there should have been a least one stone covering the hole.
Meanwhile, the lamb was still trapped waiting to be rescued. I reached down to pull the creature out by its scruff. The animal wouldn’t budge! On my knees, I tried again. I got plenty of crunching noises from the neck of the lamb but no movement. I then noticed other rocks nearby which appeared to be blocking another hole. I removed them and peered into the gloom. I could see the lamb’s feet. This was a Y shaped hole.
“Great”, I thought. Lying face down now, I pushed and pulled. Still no success!
I lay there wondering what to do, then it occurred to me to pray. I prayed along these lines, “Father, enable the earth to give birth to this lamb”. As soon as I finished speaking the prayer out loud the lamb suddenly came free and I released it to its impatient mum.

RISING FROM THE GRAVE
I continued to lay there filled with amazement wondering just what had taken place. The words: “I am the God Who raises from the grave,” came clearly into my mind.
The significance of this phrase dawned on me. We were concerned for the health of Pauline’s mum and were also unsure if she was saved by faith in Jesus. By this practical demonstration of raising this little lamb from the “grave” the Lord had shown me that He would do the same for Pauline’s Mum – she was indeed going to be with Jesus when she passed away. Pauline’s mum died not long after but thanks to the parable of this lamb we know that we will see her again.