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Showing posts from 2012

Manaiakalani Trust

There was a short piece on Radio New Zealand National this afternoon about the Manaiakalani Trust: an organisation that Hapara (where Martin now works) work with.  They make it possible for kids in a group of very poor schools in Auckland to have access to their own computers, and then use various forms of e-learning to help the kids catch up to their educational year-level and beyond!  It seems like the systems Hapara is developing really could give kids like those Martin grew up alongside in Thailand opportunities a bit more like those that his Kiwi connections gave him :-)

Anti-life activities

On Radio New Zealand Nation yesterday morning there was a report that the SAS are intending to hunt down and kill those Afghanis responsible for the recent deaths of New Zealand soldiers.  The Prime Minister has denied these reports, but the RNZ reporter appears to have had two somewhat independent sources for his story.  Couple that with the (necessary) secrecy around the work carried out by the SAS and I'm far from confident that the report is untrue.

I've just emailed the Minister of Defence (Dr. Jonathan Coleman) about this situation.  I feel very strongly that the New Zealand forces must under no circumstances be involved in carrying out such extra-judicial killings.  Should those suspected of killing our soldiers be found, they should be tried in an appropriate court.  Killing people because we assume them to be guilty of an offence against us is never appropriate.

I feel that this is an important 'pro-life' issue - up there wi…

Floating wick oil lamp

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My parents gave me this pretty little candle jar for my birthday.  It was intended for use with a tealight, but that left the lower part of the jar in darkness.  So instead, I decided to burn oil in it, using a floating wick.  I made the wick following the instructions in this pdf and, after a little tweaking to stop the cork portion of the wick stand from burning, I think it's working rather well :-)

I've found that canola oil gives a very smoky flame, grapeseed oil is a bit smoky and olive oil is barely smoky at all.

My thanks to Anna and Aunty Elspeth for helping me test the lamp while Martin was away.

Should churches marry members of the public?

Recently I heard an interview on Radio New Zealand National in which lawyer Grant Ilingworth discussed some of the legal implications of the Marriage Equality bill currently before parliament.  His view is that, as churches marry members of the general public, they wouldn't be able to refuse to marry a couple on the grounds that they were of the same sex.  Institutions that offer services to the public are covered by the Bill of Rights (IIRC), which states that such institutions can't discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.

His view doesn't appear to be uncontested, but regardless, it led me to what I suspect is an important question.  Should churches be marrying members of the public (as opposed to only marrying people within our own church communities)?

The disquiet in the Christian community at the prospect of same-sex marriages seems to hinge on the idea that such marriages are unbiblical.  However, is it only same-sex marriages that fail this test?

An opini…

Chronic pain following use of a Mirena IUD in a person with CFS (also called ME or CFIDS)

NB: I'm not really posting this for my regular readership but so that this information is available on the internet should someone one day come looking for it.
Nearly two years ago I had a Mirena IUD inserted.  Within days of the insertion I developed a uterine infection that caused such severe pain that the Mirena had to be removed after three weeks.  The pain resulted in me developing a condition known as central sensitisation.  Whilst I had the infection, nerves that normally send other kinds of signals had been commandeered to send pain signals in order to convey to my brain the severerity of the situation.  Once the infection was eliminated, these nerves didn't return to their normal functions as they should have and instead continue to send pain signals.  This means that, even though I no longer have an infection, I continue to live with significant pain (although that pain is now reasonably well controlled and I am hopeful that it will eventually be elimin…

Spring!!

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Last week, Martin took this photo of one of the first blossoms on our quince tree.  I think it's beautiful :-)

Ros Vallings on National Radio

There was an interview with Ros Vallings, my CFS specialist, on National Radio this morning.  You can download it from here, should you wish to listen to it.  It's about 30 minutes.

Thoughts from Isaiah

Over the last couple of months Martin and I have been making our way through the book of Isaiah in the Bible's Old Testament.  As we've read I've been struck by Isaiah's contemptuous dismissal of idols and of those who put their trust in them.  Idols are described, in essence, as 'gods' in which people put their trust, but which are actually so powerless that their worshippers look after them, rather than the other way around.

Isaiah is talking about literal idol statues: 'gods' that rely on people to make them, to carry them from place to place, to put them down carefully so they don't fall over etc.  Not many 21st century Pakeha worship such gods, yet we still put our trust in things that require us to tend them.  Money is a common one - requiring us to invest a lot of time and effort carefully making it grow so it can later protect us from hard times.  Houses can be this way, too, when they become more than shelter and morph into a repository of …

Hero rats

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I've just enjoyed listening to an interview from National Radio's This Way Up about one of my favourite charities - Apopo/Hero Rats of Tanzania.  They train African pouched rats to detect landmines in fields in Mozambique and Angola.  More recently, they've also be training these rats to identify patients with tuberculosis by sniffing sputum samples.

The rats they use are enormous.  Look at this one (image taken from Wikipedia).  Good thing they're socialised from an early age to see people as friends!

Sofa slipcover

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We have a wonderful sofa that we inherited from Martin's grandmother.  It's super-comfortable, long enough to spread out full-length on and turns into a remarkably comfortable bed.  I've been wondering for a while, though, about getting it recovered as the fabric looks rather worn-out and some of the tufting buttons have come out.


Then a friend gave me some gorgeous woolen fabric that looked like it'd be big enough to make a slipcover from.  Surely cheaper than proper reupholstering and hopefully a fun project :-)
I've been working at it off and on over the last month or two and yesterday it was finally finished!


I'd started by attaching cords to tie to the front legs of the sofa, with the cords attached to pieces of tape to spread the strain.

Then I'd sewn the front corners, in the process cutting out a roughly square piece of fabric from each.

Next came a cord to keep the fabric snugly in the groove between the seat and the back.


I cut the fabric in line wit…

Marriage equality bill

In New Zealand, a members bill is currently being debated in Parliament which, if passed, would extend marriage to homosexual as well as heterosexual couples. My instictive reaction has been that, on the whole, I would like this bill to be passed - i.e., I'd like NZ to legalise same-sex marriage. This doesn't appear to be the common Christian position, but my thinking on the matter has been significantly influenced by reflecting on the situation of a young family who used to live over our back fence: a family made up of two adult women and one preschool girl.

As I came to care for them, I began to be concerned about how one particular part of NZ law affected them.

Under current NZ law, children can only be adopted by either single people, de facto couples or married couples.  As only heterosexual couples can be recognised as being either de facto married or actually married, that means that gay couples cannot adopt.  One member of a gay couple can adopt a child on their own (a…

A delicious discovery

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Many years ago I learnt to make quince pâté/paste: a delicious concoction that you can serve on crackers with cheese or simply nibble on on its own.  Then a year or two ago I purchased guava paste - the same general idea, but made from tropical guavas.  Right now we're in the middle of a major guava glut so I decided to have a go at making guava paste with our own strawberry guavas.  The result was delicious.  We've simply been cutting it into cubes, rolling it them in caster sugar and eating them like jubes although think it'd be nice on crackers with cheese as well.

Should you like to have a go at making your own guava 'jubes', it's very simple.

1. Simmer guavas until soft with a small quantity of water (just enough to stop them burning - we used about 1/3 cup water to 2 litres guavas).
2. Pass through a mouli to remove all the seeds (you could force them through a regular seive if you didn't have a mouli, but it'd be a bit of a pain).
3. Put the p…

TED talk on energy

A few weeks back Martin and I watched this TED talk entitled 'People, Power and Area'.  It's by one of my heroes - British physicist David Mackay who not only wrote the program I use to type using only a mouse but also wrote the wonderfully informative bookSustainable Energy Without the Hot Air.  I appreciated his clear explanation of why we can't just switch to renewable energy and otherwise carry on living 'business as usual'.  I was also stunned to learn that the UK and Saudi Arabia both had the same amount of fossil fuels under their soils (one in coal, the other in oil) before extraction started.  I hope to be able to direct people to this talk in future as a good, clear explanation of where the world is at in terms of energy availability.  To be honest, I do find a clear explanation of where we're at kind of scary, and it drove me to pray - thanking God that He is in control and pleading for his mercy in this dire situation.
Over the last couple of months I've been working on my latest piece of writing for ANZMES, New Zealand's national support organization for people with CFS.  Martin's now put it up on our website and you can read it here.

Living the Proverbs

In our Bible reading Martin and I are currently going through the book of Proverbs.  It's a bitty collection of sayings but, when you put them together, the overall message seems to be that the wise person lives a faithful, disciplined and humble life, caring for other people and not seeking either riches or honour.

At the same time, through the season of Lent I'd been doing a daily reflection/self-examination* that includes praying through the list of the 'fruit' that God grows in the lives of those who follow Jesus:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23, NIV.

Suddenly, something dawned on me. These character traits that God grows in his followers are exactly the kind of character traits you need in order to live the kind of life described in Proverbs.  In other words, God himself actually gives us what we need to live the kind of…

Medical Aid Abroad

The charity that my mum volunteers at, Medical Aid Abroad, was featured on National Radio today :-)  You can download the audio here.  My mum is the manager at MAA and her name is Tony.

A pincushion filled with sand

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A while back I came across the idea of an emery pincushion: a pincushion filled with a fine abrasive powder that sharpens your pins and needles when they're poked into it.  Sometimes you find emery pincushions 'as is', but more commonly they're tiny pincushions stitched onto a bigger pincushion: the small emery one for actual sharpening and the larger one for storage.  Emery is both heavy and expensive so you don't want to use more of it than you have to.

I hate waste and I do a lot of handsewing, so I liked the idea of not having to throw out a needle every time it went blunt.  Unfortunately I couldn't find a source for tiny quantities of emery but I did, eventually, find an excellent alternative.

It turns out that any very fine, very hard powder will do the trick.  Sand grains are not only very hard, they're also very easy for most Kiwis to come by :-)  Also easy for many Kiwis to come by is muslin, which can be used as a very fine-meshed seive.  Bingo!  …

Masculinity - Two Links

I ran into an interesting post from Mark Sayers today, when I failed my lenten challenge to forego my news feed.
Sayers describes the historical choice of evangelicals to promote a gentler masculinity, and the context which prompted it, to argue that rather than simply looking back to some hardened 'machismo' we should again seek to recentre from biblical principles.
This historical perspective has never featured in the many articles I have encountered on how the church suppresses my manhood, and I found many points still resonated. The world is not so rough and tumble as it was, thank God, but power and dominance are still key temptations men face. The Invitation is still daunting: In coming to Christ, hardened men were forced to leave their pride at the foot of the Cross. They were invited to follow a Messiah who shunned all of the world’s ideas of honour, who could have struck back with the force of an army of angels, but who chose to die a death that was shameful in the …

An unlikely intercessor

or:

God shows His sense of humour again
As mentionedearlier, I've never really 'got' intercessory prayer, although I have recently started to pray for a list of people in a systematic and disciplined way never-the-less.  Two recent happenings suggest to me that praying for people and situations may well be a much more significant part of the work God wants me to do than I would ever have expected.

I've been praying for the situation in Syria for some months now and recently I wanted to see if there was anything we could actually do about it as well.  So I went online and found a list of charities that were doing aid work in Syria (or with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Turkey) as well as contact details for various political bodies who I could perhaps try to lobby.

As I was musing about this one lunchtime and asking God what we should do, I sensed very clearly that what I should do was pray!  It felt so preposterous to me: terrible things were happening and all I should…