Love the fam

My parents live in the Hunter Valley (two hours away), my sister and her family in Wagga Wagga (7 hours away), and my little bro & his family in Melbourne (12 hours!), so I get to see a good deal less of my family than I  would like to. That’s why the last 3 weeks have been pretty awesome, cause I’ve had a chance to see everyone!

March 24-27 saw me attending the Anglican Futures Conference in Melbourne. It was an 8am-9pm kind of gig, so I didn’t get a lot of time with them, but it was still awesome to hang out with Phil & Kristin in the evenings & see the kids in passing. I had an hour or so free before my flight on Friday evening, so that provided the chance to have a beer with my bro (and the only family pic I took of the time down there).

IMG_2707

Last Shona & I drove the family up to the Hunter to see the parents. The #1 reason to go is “Mama & Bop,” but the kids are always pretty stoked to spend some time outdoors. Having a small vineyard we can all run around is pretty awesome.

Beep beep!
Beep beep!
Happy Chappie
Happy Chappie
Tennis anyone?
Tennis anyone?
Walking the vines
Walking the vines
Twice the fun!
Twice the fun!

Amy, Andrew & the Heaps went up to their annual holiday at Katoomba Easter Convention, then went to visit the Hunter, then yesterday they & the grandparents all came down to visit us! Turning 40 later this year is enough to make me feel old, but to see my Wagga nieces and nephews growing up so quickly really consolidates it!

IMG_2789

So it’s been a pretty lucky couple of weeks, but now it’s time to knuckle down & get back to work. I’m glad I’ve been able to make the most of these opportunities, but who knows when the next chance will come?

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Tick Box

Books

There are all kinds of plans & programmes you can follow to make you more effective. I’ve read a bunch of different books on workflow related stuff and prioritisation, but for mine, the single best thing I’ve done is the simple “To Do” list.

Of course, I’d tried it before. My problem has been keeping the list in front of me. I tried using an app on my phone, but the reality proved to be that I’d never really open the app.  I tried writing a little one page list, but it kept on disappearing. Then late last year I cam across the perfect solution.

I love notebooks. Even though I have horrible handwriting, I enjoy writing things down, and so I’ve been a longtime fan of Moleskine etc. I was looking at an Australian stationery website, when I found Leuchtturm1917. I liked the backstory of the company, I really like their notebooks (they have numbered pages & a couple of “contents” pages at the front, which means I can write down where to find any interesting things that I write. A much smarter way of keeping a notebook), and I particularly like the diaries.

An A5 page on one side, big enough to fit details of my engagements for the week, and a ruled page on the other side for “To Do” lists (and notes on important conversations). It’s been a revelation. Monday morning starts with a list making, and since I carry my notebook everywhere, the diary comes too! The physical act of ticking off a box is also really satisfying, and that simple pleasure keeps me coming back for more.

As it turns out, the 1-2 combo with the notebook has been brilliant too. One diary struggle for me has been “Can you fit everything you want to write down in there?” What if I have lots of notes to take? So now, if I go to a meeting, or have a long conversation that I need to log details of, I can leave a note in my diary pointing to the right page number in my note book & fill everything out there! I’ll rotate both the diary and the notebook at the beginning of each year. Best of all, Leuchtturm1917 comes with little archiving stickers, so I’ll be able to find the appropriate diary in the future without having to pull them all off a shelf. Love!

It’s not rocket science, but when you find a simple process that works, it can be life changing!

 

 

3 Reasons why the Easter story is not about a Zombie (and one reason why the zombies are on to something)

Brains Poster

 

So my brother made an offhand comment, and the comment got me thinking, so here I am up at night answering a question that few people probably care about. I’ve heard it said a number of times that Christianity is just the first “Zombie cult”. We follow a guy who died & then came back out of the grave…. people are just lucky that Christians don’t want to eat their brains right?

But there are three solid reasons why we’re talking about something very different with Christianity…. though, as I’ll point out afterward, the zombies are on to at least one good thing. So… here we go.

  1. There is a difference between reanimation and resurrection: Of course, there are a million different zombie stories with a million different reasons why they end up zombies. We’ll assume I’m talking about the generic zombie stories here. Almost all zombies require a body. That body is a dead body (sometimes before it’s infected, but always after it is). A zombie is a dead body that has been reanimated in some way. This is why zombies are so stupid. There is basically no mental function other than the virus that is driving it to eat brains/kill people.
    When we talk about Jesus, it’s a very different matter. The story of the resurrection is not a matter of a dead body being reanimated, so it is a dead, but moving body. The story of Jesus is about someone who was dead and three days later is alive again.
  2. Decay vs. Eternity: The difference between the two is no clearer than when we look at the long term consequences. Jesus, resurrected, ascended into heaven and calls us to experience eternity with him. Zombies, on the other hand, slowly decay, break down, and at some point in time cease to be. The closest you get between the two is poor Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead at the request of his sisters Mary and Martha. But Lazarus was doomed to die again. Even here, he was dead, then he was alive, and then one day he would have died again (where, presumably, he was called to be with Christ his saviour). C.S. Lewis picked up the sadness of the story in his poem “Stephen to Lazarus”But was I the first martyr, who
    Gave up no more than life, while you,
    Already free among the dead,
    Your rags stripped off, your fetters shed,
    Surrendered what all other men
    Irrevocably keep, and when
    Your battered ship at anchor lay
    Seemingly safe in the dark bay
    No ripple stirs, obediently
    Put out a second time to sea
    Well knowing that your death (in vain
    Died once) must all be died again?
  3. Thoughtlessness vs. the Open Mind: As noted above, the zombie is noted by his lack of mental function. For the zombie there is no great meta-narrative that they are seeking to be a part of. They are not asking any great existential questions. The sum total of their thinking is “brains”. Of course, the critic may argue that this is a fair representation of the Christian (minus the desire for brains) also. But the gospel that the resurrected Christ professed was a different matter. Jesus was constantly challenging the chief priests and teachers of the law to engage their minds and consider the ramifications of their beliefs. Jesus was passionate about following the relational and logical conclusions of people’s beliefs.
    The mind of the Biblical Christian is the mind that is open to asking questions, to being challenged, and to growing in understanding. Read John 20-21 & you’ll see Jesus asking deep & helpful questions after his resurrection.But The zombies do get something right! A person gets infected by a zombie (bite, death, or whatever) and once they make the turn, their focus is a singleminded one. Everything else is forgotten and their focus is only, completely, absolutely on brains. They have one passion and it drives all that they are and all that they do! Zombies naturally beget more zombies, because they want to get out there & bite people. They understand it’s their purpose!
    I’m not saying Christians should be so focussed that we lack any nuance, or capacity to think about, or talk about anything else, but we too need to realise that the relationship with have with God is one that is of ultimate importance, and in the end, is worth paying any price for. We can look to Church History and see hundreds of people who have grasped this reality and acted on it! In the end, Christianity, like Zombism, is a life and death matter. But praise be to God, the life we are offered in Christ is one that will last forever, will never spoil, perish, or fade.

    And I believe, it’s a faith where we also get to keep & exercise our brains!

Fountain of love

Fountain of love
Fountain of love

I am a lover of fountain pens and I’m not afraid to admit it.

I had dyslexia problems when I was a kid, most of which were sorted out through my teens, but my handwriting never really turned the corner. It looked horrible because my brain didn’t speak well to my hand & it still looks pretty average.

But for some reason, in the last 5 or so years I started to love stationery more and more. When we were on our honeymoon, Shona & I bought cheap fountain pens in a department store in Paris. I enjoyed writing with it, but it always seemed to get ink all over me. Then last Christmas I got given an Amazon voucher. I didn’t need any books desperately, so I found myself a fountain pen instead. Throw in some cool ink & I was smitten! It looks different to a normal pen, I have to think more carefully about what I am doing, and that means I usually end up writing neater!

I posted somewhere (I can’t find it, otherwise I’d link to it) an article that I read recently that said, rather than being an affectation, fountain pen writers are smart because the pens make you work harder, writer clearer, and research has shown that you are also more likely to think hard about what you are writing, and therefore it can aid creativity! It’s certainly been my experience! I also know that different colours make me feel happy, so I’ve been able to add just a little bit of flair to my writing. Periwinkle blue is my mainstay, carob red is for fun, and coffee been brown is a current favourite.

I know it’s not for everyone, and it is a little weird, but for someone whose work required a fair amount of creative output, a moleskine notebook & a couple of fountain pens puts my brain in a happy place!

Did I mention we went to the zoo?

A couple of weeks ago, whilst Phil, Kristin & the family were up, we had a chance to pop along to the zoo and catch up with Mama & Bop too (not to mention Gerard & Briar).

I guess I should just let the photos do the talking.

 

Cute kids!
Cute kids!
We miss them when they go back to Melbourne!
We miss them when they go back to Melbourne!
Always have to have at least one photo with the stone elephant!
Always have to have at least one photo with the stone elephant!
Pumpking with her Mini-G
Pumpking with her Mini-G
Gumnut with his Mini-G
Gumnut with his Mini-G

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Pride
Pride

 

Mini-Gs love the meerkats too
Mini-Gs love the meerkats too
Twinnies have always loved the meerkats
Twinnies have always loved the meerkats
The littlies enjoyed the little tunnel that puts them amongst the monkeys!
The littlies enjoyed the little tunnel that puts them amongst the monkeys!
Bop enjoying a little time with the Grandkids
Bop enjoying a little time with the Grandkids
Bear is dangerous behind the wheel
Bear is dangerous behind the wheel
The mini-G clan getting photographed
The mini-G clan getting photographed
Nice to have all the kiddliewinks together
Nice to have all the kiddliewinks together

 

 

The Conf

EFAC stands for the “Evangelical Fellowship of the Anglican Communion.” I could write about EFAC more, but I won’t.

This conference was about connecting a bunch of younger EFAC members & encouraging us to think about leadership, evangelism, and the future of the church. It wasn’t on the official agenda, but one of the other core areas of focus was how many different places we could caffeinate ourselves over a couple of days.

George & Sam enjoying one of the fashionable new Coffee joints. (Mini-T is holding onto the sign)
George & Sam enjoying one of the fashionable new Coffee joints. (Mini-T is holding onto the sign)

 

Getting my fix
Getting my fix

I didn’t take too many pictures during the actual conference time. I was too busy taking notes, but I did manage to take at least one picture of the wonderful food we ate. This was eating out at Spiga.

White wine risotto with prosciutto, lemon zest, feta cheese, roquette and green peas
White wine risotto with prosciutto, lemon zest, feta cheese, roquette and green peas

We also visited Ridley College. I’ve never been there & love, love LOVE the mural!

Ridley
Ridley

So… Sunday night till Tuesday afternoon was lectures (including a book launch for Tim Foster’s “the Suburban captivity of the Church), group work, and some networking. I’d bought my tickets for the return flight long before I knew what the programme was, so I had figured on a 5pm finish. Rather than being upset, I knew this meant I’d have an afternoon to trawl the lane ways before I went home! I got up extra  early on the Tuesday to get a little time in. Here’s some of the stuff I saw.

 

More Cathedral
More Cathedral
Iconic trams
Iconic trams
Moody lane ways...
Moody lane ways…
The Cathedral
The Cathedral
Flinders street station
Flinders street station

 

So…. having survived an awesome conference, one of the better ones I have been to, all that was left for me to do was an 8pm flight back home, a train ride back to the coast, then a loving wife who picked me up from the station with sleeping kids in tow!

It certainly was a hoot!

Waiting to take off
Waiting to take off
Sydney (with the reflection of the iPad app playing an episode of "Big Bang Theory" on the left)
Sydney (with the reflection of the iPad app playing an episode of “Big Bang Theory” on the left)

I think that will be my last conference in a while. But there is another EFAC national conference next year. Something to aim for!

 

 

Melbourne

I got to spend three & a half days in Melbourne. I visited a couple of churches & went to a conference…. Look, I’m a little tired, so “Mini-T” can tell the story.

 

Thanks Big-T.

So, Saturday morning, there we were, catching an early train, because “someone” is always too scared of missing a flight. “Better to be two hours early than to be 5 minutes late,” we were two hours early.

Thankfully we always have a book to read.
Thankfully we always have a book to read.

We weren’t too worried about a wait. The kindle with me in case I wanted to read some more academic or difficult stuff, otherwise, it was a great opportunity to re-read a classic during the travel times.

It was a first for mini-T, but Big-T is used to catching planes
It was a first for mini-T, but Big-T is used to catching planes

So, we arrived in Melbourne, having had an exciting flight (the North Melbourne Roos were on it with us… also, virgin now has an app which allows you to use your iPad like an entertainment system. We watched Spiderman!), and got picked up by our new friend George.  He’s an assistant minister at St. Thomas’ Burwood (which has recently gone through the kind of re-build that we’re on the cusp of), he has twin boys, and we looked similar enough that when we visited his 8:30am service the next day, one of the old ladies wondered why he was sitting in a pew, no robes on, at 8:30! George was lovely, gave us a tour of his church, and then was nice enough to drop us off at our Phil & Kristin’s house!

Phil & Kristin's house. Somehow, we managed not to get any pictures of P, K & the kids!
Phil & Kristin’s house.
Somehow, we managed not to get any pictures of P, K & the kids!

Saturday afternoon was all about hanging out with the Goldfinches. Saturday evening was home made pizza & NFL with Phil, and then Sunday morning George was back bright and early to pick me up for morning services at St. T’s.

Nice new hall
Nice new hall

 

Their new hall was light & bright. I can’t wait till we start the rebuild at Kincumber.

Two services, lots of lovely chat over morning tea, and then off to lunch with George, his lovely wife Sarah & their three awesome kids. It was too fun a time to stop & take photos.

After that it was off to the city with George, settle in to our hotel, then out again to go visit City on a Hill for the evening service. They meet in the Melbourne Central Hoyts, so it is a service with a really different feel.

Not the most impressive view I've had from a hotel room, but it was still lots of fun
Not the most impressive view I’ve had from a hotel room, but it was still lots of fun
Diet mode off for the conference, so it was fancy burger time before the evening service!
Diet mode off for the conference, so it was fancy burger time before the evening service!
Front row seats for the service
Front row seats for the service

So… there was lots more that happened, but you might have to wait for the next instalment to find out about the conference & the wonders of Melbourne!