Wednesday, 25 July 2018

an amazing novel about Jesus

I just finished reading Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana by Anne Rice. I didn't plan to read it but just stumbled on it when I went to a used book table last week. Yeshua bar Joseph was a winsome character and so was his mother, in particular. There are some fictional parts of the book, unsurprisingly, but I was pleased that the novel did what I was hoping: made Jesus easier to identify with as a human. The book finishes with Jesus' miracle at Cana, and a theme is about Jesus coming to understand his mission clearly.

"I'd always known who I really was. I was God. And I'd chosen not to know it. Well, now I knew just what it meant to be the man who knew he was God."

The happiness of everyone at the wedding leads Yeshua to muse,
"Oh, if only I could indeed stop time, stop it here, stop it forever with this great banquet, and let all the world come here to this, now, streaming, out of Time and beyond Time, and into this--to join with the dancing, to feast at these abundant tables, to laugh and sing and cry amid these smoking lamps and twinkling candles.... If only I could hold them in one great embrace?"
Jesus gains a greater and greater understanding of what he is to do with his life and sets out to do it as the novel closes. "But I did not come to stop [time].... I came to live it, to surrender to it, to endure it, to discover in it what it was I must do, and whatever it was, well, it had only begun."

Wonderful - I really enjoyed it. Rice wrote another novel called Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt about Jesus' childhood that I will look for next.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

poor, neglected blog

I forgot that I had this blog. I rediscovered it today and was re-reading some old entries. I was encouraged by how thoughtful some of it was! I guess summer holidays make blogging more manageable again. But do people still blog? I think maybe Instagram is the new blogging.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

the ninety-nine and the one

Yesterday I had a new insight into the parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-14, Luke 15:4-7) that related to being a teacher and a leader. In the story, the shepherd has one hundred sheep and one wanders off. He goes to search for the one sheep, leaving the other ninety-nine on the hills. Then he is happier about the one who was found than the other ninety-nine. "In the same way," says Jesus, "your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish."

This is a story about a loving Father who is willing to go in search of someone he loves who has wandered off from him. The story was told so that we would know that he seeks us and wants us to know him closely. And that we should also seek others and not look down on those who are not currently close to God.

The story was alluded to in a book I am currently reading, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This is not a Christian book, though the author is open about the fact that he is a Christian. This makes it very interesting reading for me. It's the grandfather of modern success and productivity writing and has been very helpful on both a personal and professional level. A fair few Christian ideas have popped up, some overtly and some not.

I was reading about how we can make emotional investments in our relationships with others. One way we do this, the book says, is by showing personal integrity in our relationships. We can show integrity by being loyal those who are not present. This is a reason not to gossip or talk about someone behind their back. If you do this, the person to whom you are gossiping learns that you will do the same to them when they are not around. This lowers trust.

Also, a way to show integrity is to confront someone when your relationship needs to be mended or improved. "Confrontation takes considerable courage…. In the long run, people will trust and respect you if you are honest and open and kind with them. You care enough to confront."

Another way integrity is displayed is the care you show for one person who needs it. Your care for that person shows the others how you would also care for them. "The key to the ninety-nine is the one." 

Covey says that he learned this in the context of being a teacher and a parent. "It is the love and the discipline of the one student, the one child, that communicates love for the others." I realised that the care I show for one of my students can been seen by the others as the care I would also give to them when they need it. This also applies to the way I treat my team members. As I treat one of them with honour, the others should see that they will all be treated with the same respect.

This gives us an insight into Jesus' parable. Not only is the focus on the one person who is brought close to God, but the other ninety-nine see the care the Father shows. Those of us who are already in the family of God can see the care God shows to others and know that he loves us in the same way. We can take to heart that love.

I felt really blessed by this insight. It takes Jesus' story and helps me see how God's love permeates my life and can be the model for the way I treat others as well, in all of my diverse roles.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

a first draft of my personal mission statement

I am reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. As a result I have been challenged to write a personal mission statement. Here it is, my first version.

I want to draw close to God and hear his voice.
I want to be a best friend to Anthony, and a support to help him grow.
I want to help students experience and explore mathematics with the end of understanding and appreciating it. I want to empower other teachers to do the same with their students.
I want to bless others with friendship and be mutually encouraged and loved.
I want to bless others with whom I interact by listening to them and valuing them.
I will do what I say I am going to do.
I will look ahead to tomorrow's work today.
I will solicit feedback, be reflective, and seek to grow.
I will seek to maintain my health and fitness.
I will be grateful.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

reframing some ideas

Recently I have been trying to change two of my negative ideas.

"Long haul flights are a chance for some quiet me-time." I have decided it would be better for everyone if I no longer hated long journeys. So instead I will enjoy them as a chance to sit quietly, create my own quiet, read, and rest. My weekly life is very energy draining so perhaps I can use a long flight as a chance for napping and calm. Also, I usually feel quite introspective on planes, perhaps because ideas of home and belonging have always been somewhat hard to pin down. So I can capitalize on this by using my plane time as planning and goal setting time.

"Saying no to something I shouldn't do is also saying yes to something I should do." I have realized that  deciding to say no to bad food can be looked at in a more positive vein. It is saying yes to good health. (A recent post on Mark's Daily Apple inspired this thought.) Saying no to wasting time means saying yes to feeling great when I get things done. Saying no to being annoyed with someone is like saying yes to a better relationship and a more patient me.

Reframing my ideas is really just a fancy way of saying I am trying to look at things from a more positive angle.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

library loot

So it was my first time visiting the library in a long time. I was so happy to go! Just the pleasure of seeing and browsing among all those books. Wonderful!

 I wanted to get a book about fermenting foods and there were a few. This one, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods, seemed to be comprehensive and full of easy ideas. Also I've been taking a more structured approach to trying wine lately and I realised that just figuring out what the bottles on the shelf contain is quite tricky. So I got Understanding Wine Labels to help me out. Finally, the Kitchen Reader book this month is Below Stairs, the memoir of a 1920s kitchen maid.

This post is a part of a weekly blogging event called Library Loot. It is co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. I was introduced to it by our new Kitchen Reader member, Vicki from I'd Rather Be at the Beach.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

how to get out of a bad mood

Why isn't living more of a science? It would be so much easier if sometimes there was just a formula such as "If this, then that". I feel out of sorts and cranky and I don't know how to stumble forward. I would prefer the rule, "If you feel cranky, then mope for a day and the next day get on with being excellent." But it doesn't seem to work that way.

I feel out of sorts for a number of reasons. I hurt my knee while trail running and by the end of the last three working days it has been throbbing with a hot pain. In addition to this, I have had some setbacks at work that should just be minor bumps but somehow have grown to little mountains. My marking is piling up; also I am late with a few tasks that people depend on. A few parents criticized my teaching methods last week; also my students seem to be confused by things I thought they had learned.

At home I have failed to get a grip on the laundry and it seems to be taunting me from the overflowing baskets. I forgot to buy toilet paper for one day too long. And all I can find in the fridge for dinner is three red onions.

For now I am making my own life formula. It starts with "choose the success criteria for tomorrow". Since I know that I can't solve all these problems, including my foul mood, in one day, I have chosen just four tasks for tomorrow that will be the way I will judge my success. Two are for work, and two are personal tasks. One of them is to talk to God. If I can accomplish those four things, I will celebrate the day as a small success. And then tomorrow I'll set new success criteria for the next day. This is my small effort to structure my bleak days.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Christmas decorating

We always travel to my family at Christmas. It's a commitment we made when Anthony "stole" me from them to live in another country after getting married. As a result, the Christmas decorating in our own flat is usually minimal. We had an artificial tree when Matt and April lived with us (it was theirs). One year I thought we were settling down since we had bought our own place. So I bought a living Christmas tree in a pot, planning to keep it alive and reuse it for many years. We moved to Hong Kong just three months later. Sigh.

But we still have a bit of Christmas stuff and I put it out today. There are decorations on our dining room mirror and balcony window. Also, we have a Christmas runner on the table in our entryway.

Ant bought me a poinsettia yesterday! That is an act of love because he knows how much I love them.

Friday, 29 November 2013

poor, neglected blog

Well, I have been food blogging regularly and now I have a work blog too. This personal weblog has been neglected. Sorry, friends. I post lots of picture on Facebook, but I love reading others' blogs. So I guess I shouldn't shut down this space just yet.
This picture was taken in the Islamic Arts Museum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia two weekends ago. It's a carved wooden mirror from 19th century Iran.

Friday, 28 June 2013

five minute friday: in between

This is worth a try. A five minute sustained, spontaneous writing session.

Five Minute Friday

"In between" seems like an appropriate first topic for me as well. Today was the last day of work and tomorrow we have the movers coming in.

I am in between Hong Kong and Singapore. It has been three years here. I found it hard to settle here in Hong Kong. Making friends was hard and took me a long time. (Is there any way to learn how to make friends faster and easier?) Now that I have friends, though, it is so very hard to leave them.

Singapore is going to be great; I know that, too! We already have some friend there, actually, two couples. So that should give us a head start we need so we don't feel lonely.

 I am also in between work and holiday. We leave on Sunday for a ten day break; yippee! It will be good to rest, reflect, and recover. Anthony and I are both in dire need of some down time. We are going to have a memorable, no expenses spared time in New Zealand. But to be honest, both of us know that even if we don't do any fancy outings we will be happy just to sit in the car, looking at the beautiful scenery, and not worrying.

Are you in between?
Do you have advice about making friends?