Tress away,God isn’t…

It has remained cold. Last week with Tress away I worked later than usual and the days passed easier that way.

I was a little tired when I made my way to the home group meeting, alone, on Thursday night. Towards the end of that meeting as we talked about what was coming up in the next week, it hit me again. Ideologically, this home group is so different from me.

It was the thing about same sex attraction and its related issues. The church was going to focus on this in the last 2 weeks of the month so the bulletin had an intro – to the effect that the conservative view is really what the Bible teaches. That the idea that homosexual practice is wrong is one which should be aired sparingly – because it is merely one view of the matter – would have been odd in an Anglican church, should have by now, been less challenging for me, yet it remains odd for me. Yet there it was – someone in that group thought the bulletin was not appropriately worded for saying God’s way on the matter should prevail. Liberal much? Seems that way.

On Sunday morning however, I felt better as I sat with 2 persons who affirmed for me, that Peter’s sermon had been very good. I felt I wasn’t thinking too differently and therefore, possibly wrong. The idea that I had been so wrong in thinking homosexuality is against what the Bible teaches, would have changed the tone of my weekend, which despite Tress’ absence, had been good.

The weekend had indeed been good. I had struggled through Friday morning, had a good lunch with my boss and colleague and then went home a bit after 5pm, feeling tired but not to bad. After walking the little guy back home, I went to FHC to pick up Kiddo’s new (spare) glasses, as well as some stuff I had planned to cook for a dinner at Jason’s on Sat night. I then went home and watched a movie (Southpaw) that night, alone at home, accompanied by a decent bottle of red. LBJ was next to me right through.

On Sat I slept in a little. It was very cold so I stayed in bed and read the papers on the iPad. When I eventually tore myself out of the bed, I rugged up, made coffee and toasted a couple of crumplets then did some laundry and vacuuming, before going out, wondering what to do for lunch. I texted Tress who suggested Madam K but I didn’t like the idea of driving to Box Hill just to have lunch when it was just me. So I had something I haven’t had for a long time – at the FHC, I dropped into a bakery and bought myself a steaming hot meat pie (!), After a coffee at home I took the little fellow for another longish walk. I then did the cooking – a pulled beef with some roasted pumpkins and capsicum and took it to Jason and Mel’s who were putting on a ridiculous winter in July spread.

My plate of pulled beef, flanked by roasted veges and topped with a chilli I had roasted the veges with, stopped looking impressive when placed on the table. It was lost immediately amongst the ham, the seafood salad, the lamb skewers (Hipos’s dish) and so many other dishes in an array of foods a real, stinking hot Christmas would never see, because this family is often away at that time of the year.

Jason and Mel had invited a couple/family from the old OCF Sydney network. This family lived in Bangkok and was in town to scout around for their son’s university. There were 2 other families there – Rudy and Emily and Tim and Kenji – who were old friends from a previous church. There were kids running around too.

We talked, ate and had a good time and I left more sober than I would have liked, not having Tress there to do the driving as usual. It was just as well as the pulled beef had taken longer than I anticipated and the pan, pot and other wares were not washed when I left home in a hurry, late for the dinner. Back home sober, I boiled up several kettles full of water for the washing, as I slowly scrubbed and wiped, intermittently refreshing myself with a glass of red from the bottle I had partially used for the beef. When all was cleaned, I watched a couple of episodes of “Marco Polo” on Netflix as I worked my way through that bottle with the little fellow on my side.

After being reassured by the 2 members of St Alf who were sitting next to me on Sunday morning, I did end up in Madam K after all and after that I went home, took the little guy for his walk, and then went to Blackburn Station to meet up with Mark, Stephen and YL’s son.

We took the train to Richmond, and joined thousands all heading to the G to watch Sam Mitchell’s 300th game for the Hawks. Mark, whom we know followed the Hawks, had been excited when I texted Stephen and YL earlier in the week, asking if he wanted to join me as Tress was away and her ticket wasn’t going to be used anyway.

The cold and wet made for a messy game, with more behinds than any game I’d seen. Even the trusty kickers like Gunston and Breust were missing sitters and the game was at half time, evenly poised by equal measures of messiness and lack of urgency (Richmond had no hope of finals footy and Hawks were 2 games clear on the top of the ladder). Late in the third quarter Hawks tore away with their customary resilience and in the final quarter, kicked 9 goals to eventually win by a whopping 70 points.

Mark and I went home happy, especially to a home cooked meal. YL had asked that I joined them in their home and she had cooked a nasi lemak dish, which I enjoyed judiciously, conscious that I needed to get home and prepare for the new week. Stephen and YL lived simply but the family is a lovely one. When I got there, Max and Megan were at the dinner table and Stephen and YL joined in as I sat down and Mark too tucked in. They looked like a happy contented family, living the mantra that there would always be someone worse off than them, just as there would always be someone better off than them.

This morning as I trained in I continued reading Ed Shaw’s book which had been recommended by Peter for the 2 weeks’ theme of Christianity and homosexuality. It’s a book with a refreshing take on how to frame the issues. It challenged me very differently.

This, followed closely by Ryan T Anderson’s more muscular work on marriage (from a social policy perspective), would hopefully better inform my thinking as Australia stands at the precipice of redefining marriage. I hope despite its apparent lighter tone, Ed Shaw’s work is what makes me examine my own thoughts. And life. It has been interesting how a phase in the pursuit of information and knowledge on a topical issue like homosexuality has lead to an old familiar theme of re-examining my life against what the Bible says. Thank you Ed Shaw, thank you dear Lord.


Alone (“on the road”) again…

This morning and for the first time in 6 months, I travelled to work alone. Tress dropped me off at the station and it was a pleasant ride into the city and a short tram ride from Spencer into Clarendon/York. I had left home just on 7, having stayed in to watch the Euro 2016 final. It was still level and goal-less when I left, and watched the rest of the match on my mobile on the way in.

I still got in about 10 to 8, but it was quieter than usual. Maybe it is still the school holidays and people are still travelling.

It was a bit of an energetic church service yesterday. Every year during the winter school holidays the church runs a  program called “Going Bananas”. On the Sunday after that program finishes, the Going Bananas team re-present parts of that program in a church service and introduces the rest of the church to the children and parents of the program who weren’t regulars.

After church we drove (in our old trusted Camry which was reinvigorated with a full service and new set of tyres)  to Madam K’s and as we often do now, caught up with Ronald and Cat there. It wasn’t planned but we’re both regulars in that joint and have been seeing each other there in recent weeks. It’s great to be able to continue a very old friendship. Both Ronald and Cat had been my Sunday School teachers, and I had then been a Sunday School teacher to their boys. We went about our regular lazy Sunday afternoons after that – walking the little fellow, and watching a footy game on TV as well as doing some shopping.

The previous night we caught up with our more regular dining companions, in Gerry and Jess’ home. Jason and Mel were there too and the case of Peter Lehman’s “Pastor’s Son” was delivered and shared amongst the three families. A couple of bottles of the very drinkable Shiraz were opened to accompany the very warming steamboat dinner. Gerry and Jess’ girls are loads of fun now and the conversations were good. Jason told us about an old friend from the old ICC church, who had been diagnosed with cancer.

Life’s vicissitudes continue to confront and I again wondered about life’s turns. As the week commences with a first day I return to work alone, without Tress, I inevitably wondered what the next turn, the next bend, would reveal.

When we were shopping yesterday, we bumped into an old couple friend. She had a surgery recently to deal with some facial nerve issues. He reminded me of an old friend, who was an ex-director of my present employer and whom we got to know well and spent some time with during his final couple of years. He had Parkinson’s and died a few years ago.  It is strange that a few years after his death, I am now working in a company he was responsible for building up many years ago. His work and I had no reason to cross when we knew him and even after he died I didn’t know about his involvement in this company.

I now work in this company, trying to contribute to a company that had been lashed by storms of corruption scandals in its US operations. The board and senior management under whose watch the debacles happened have all been cleared out but the legacy lingers. We’re trying to rebuild and every day I am grateful just to be able to come in to do work, to play my part in the rebuilding.

And yet, I continue to wonder if this is it, or is there another dimension to what God has in store. Assuming of course that I continue to work on abiding in Him to seek His will for me. It could be I continue to do this work and that would be His will for me.

At least given I’d likely be commuting on trains and trams again, I can return to some form of regular reading again. Maybe that will help steer the way.

Wales, Election and Cousins Weekend

Friday night – wonderful catch up

Some time on Friday arvo Jason sent a text message, asking if we wanted to catch up for dinner that night. A mutual friend had initially teed up a Sat night dinner at that friend’s home but had a change of plans, so that might have been the prompt for Jason’s text.

Tress and I had busy Fri arvos so it was only when we were both in the car, on the way home, that we responded and so we met at “De Fazio’s” in Blackburn, on Whitehorse Road. Tress and I had forgotten about the Blackburn Station level crossing works currently underway and so what would have been a 10 minute drive turned out to be a 20+ minute one, as we detoured and took a roundabout way via Springvale Road.

The pizzas we had were very nice but it was even nicer just to sit down on a Friday night with friends, and talked over dinner, with a bottle of Pinot. We ate, talked and drank for a while and before we knew it the packed restaurant had emptied out and we were the last 2-3 tables left. We had been there for 2-3 hours …

Wales and … election (sigh)

Early on Saturday morning, I watched the marvellous football match between Wales and Belgium. Wales are on a magical ride on Euro 2016, and they were good to watch as they beat a very highly rated Belgian side to play Portugal in the semis. During half time I caught up with some news and read Tony Abbott’s plea for Liberal voters to stick with Liberals, the Turnbull treachery notwithstanding. What a man Tony Abbott has turned out to be. I still don’t get why the mainstream media spurns a man like that. It is probably his conservative Catholic background – a mix that is repugnant for most of mainstream media, as George Pell’s treatment also proves.

Straight after the game, I watched (on iView) that episode of Kitchen Cabinet where Turnbull talked to Anabel Crabbe about the coming elections. Watching that episode and reading Abbott’s plea made me rethink my decision to deliver a donkey vote but I still wasn’t sure as Tress and I walked towards the Holbury Children’s Centre on Raleigh Street. At the entrance, I collected all materials on offer so as I waited for my turn, I had the voting cards for each of the ALP, Coalition and Greens, as well as that of the ALA on my mobile….

At the time of this entry, there is the spectre of another hung parliament. Rudd Gillard Rudd killed Labor but the Coalition refused to learn anything from that disaster and allowed Turnbull to do to Abbott what Gillard did to Rudd. Peter Hendy lost the Eden Monaro seat. That seat has been the bell weather seat for many elections and Hendy hosted the meeting Turnbull called, on the eve of Abbott’s overthrow so his loss is significant on several fronts.

If Shorten becomes PM, Same Sex Marriage will happen much sooner without the public having any direct input, and we’d lose negative gearing, probably lose value on our properties. So, I’m just jaded in order to suppress the anger against Turnbull and his fellow assassins.

Tress and I had gone to The Glen after voting and after taking the little guy for a longish walk. We went to The Glen for Tress to do her mobile plan switch-over. We then did our grocery shopping there and then went home and later that evening, as I was getting excited at the prospect of cooking a pork rib congee in that new pressure cooker, my bubble burst as that cooker sat still, completely lifeless, as I plugged it in. It had died… so that congee was cooked on the stovetop, and while it meant  I had to stand over the stove for an hour instead of leaving it in the cooker, that congee was delicious and very satisfying all the same.

Cousins day

The church was a bit empty when we got there a touch after 10am. It soon filled out however, and the simple message (final one on the “Fruitfulness on the front line” series) that we ought to be the channel for the gospel at our workplace, continues to resonate and seeks action. I continue to wonder what I can or need to do in seeing His Kingdom come, and seeing His Will done on earth as it is in heaven.

After church we drove to Footscray. Wei, a cousin who lives in Brunei, was visiting Melbourne en route to NZ for her family holidays and Ruth had arranged lunch. We suggested somewhere nearer Ruth, Jon and little Micah, as Wei, my Auntie Swee Har, Uncle Shu and Wei’s 2 boys – Zachary and Luke – were staying in an apartment on Flemington Road in the city. Wei’s hubby (Tze Horng) was going to join them later to meet up in NZ, together with his parents. What a wonderful family holiday – 3 generations! – that sounds like it’d be.

We caught up in a Vietnamese restaurant in Footscray. Ruth shouted and it was a very good catch up. We talked about how things were in Malaysia, in Brunei, and how everyone was, including Kiddo and what she’s been up to since finishing up in ANU in Dec last year. Little Micah was very adorable as always and everyone had a good time. Zachary and Luke were however, fans of the Scousers, so that was the only setback…

After lunch they went to Ruth’s home but we had to decline as  we wanted to take the dead cooker in for a replacement. So we left Footscray and drove straight to Nunawading, and got the cooker replaced. We then went home, walked the little fellow, and prepped to cook the week’s meals in the cooker. We watched a wonderful doco on TV while waiting for the marinated chicken to get to room temperature. “Wild China” on Channel 9 showed us many wonderful parts of China, and we caught mainly those parts on the Silk Road and the macho Kazakh horsemen, neither of which screams China but it really shows what a vast country China is.

Tress brought in and organised the laundry and did the smoothies for this morning, I did the cooking and nearer 7pm, everything was done and we sat down to another Masterchef episode. My glass of red tasted very good, as I wondered about what this country’s immediate future would look like…