Whinging

Hello Everyone, hope all is well.

It’s been a rather quiet week after the craziness I talked about in the last blog settled down. Tony did a great job preaching twice today, in English and Japanese.  Part of his sermon topic was encouraging people to stretch their faith and keep moving forward, perhaps even by taking on his “Anagaion” discipleship course. The people at Golden Gate Seminary who are reading his doctoral thesis proposal about it are silent. We’re hoping the committee’s awestruck at its brilliance and not just dumbstruck!

We’ve made an offer on the house we like (Remember I mentioned it last week?), then we listed the other house to sell, which would be necessary if we were to buy this one. Things are quiet on that front, too, but it’s only been a couple days.

Actually, the only thing of any note this week is that I perceived something about myself. Something I hadn’t realized before, even though I’m rounding the corner on 66.

I’m hoping this ‘discovery’ isn’t something that’s been patently obvious to all you readers over the years and I’ll have to admit that the revelation is kinda spooky, coming this late. But before I lose heart, I remember my precious Grandmother talking about ‘how she was turning out’ at about 90.   I shudder to wonder if I don’t have more gruesome character traits to unearth before this is over!

That something I came to realize is that I have a bad habit of “whinging”. Sounds like “win” + “jing”.

For those of you who are not of British or Australian descent, let the dictionary program explain it to you: Whinge: to complain persistently and in a peevish or irritating way.  I guess in ‘American’ we’d say “whining”.

I think I’ve probably had this habit for a long time, maybe since I was a kid (Well, I was the baby sister after all). But even after all these years with Tony, who is both a really nice guy and perhaps doesn’t listen to me all that often, it never came to light. I began to get a hint about it this last summer when I had a different roommate than Tony at a girls camp in Maine.

Through the week, whenever we had down time, I carried on about this and that……. I didn’t feel good, I was fat, I couldn’t find such and such at the grocery store.  It was when she kept offering solutions that it sorta began to irritate me, but I chalked it up to it her personality and (I perceived) need to control……….

Then again last week, I had another ‘episode’ that sorta hit me between the eyes.  We were reconvening our weekly Bible Study (it’s been summer break here and everybody has been gone out and about for about 2 months). There was a large spread of tempting snacks, and there sat my measly contribution glaring out at us from the middle.

I commented to my friend, “Oh, I would have brought something nice but I’m in such a small little apartment I don’t have a baking pan.”

“Oh!” she said with pity and shock, “I’ll be happy to lend you one!”

Wham!  She got me!!  I don’t think she meant to point out my whinging. I think she was genuinely concerned about my need and wanted to offer a solution but……..I realized I didn’t want her HELP, I wanted her SYMPATHY!  Believe me, when I get my stuff out of storage I’ll have plenty of pans to bake in, but in the meantime I want to play the poor thing that can’t really be expected to contribute.

As I write this, I have to wonder how often I play that game with God. Reading in Exodus about the Israelites, they seemed to whinge/whine a lot to God via Moses.  But did they want to do anything about it? I’m guessing they didn’t. They thought the Mana was boring so he gave them a garnish of Quail, but no………they went right on whinging.

And so I have to ask myself…… Do I want to follow the advice from God about whatever I’m complaining about or am I looking just for Him to say, “Oh your poor thing”, smile down on me and excuse me from pulling my weight?

I’m glad I’ve discovered this…..maybe I can ‘grow up’ a bit eh?

Hope you have the best week of your life, after all, you’ve never been this old! (Was that whinging?)

Marsha

Saved by a Name

Our real estate agent sat with the client looking at an offer we had put forward on a house.  Apparently there was another offer near the same amount and the owner was having trouble deciding.

“You’re going to have to give me the weekend to decide” he told our agent.

“Okay,” said the agent. As he stood to leave, he remembered something. “By the way, I mentioned to the people making this offer that you’re Dutch and they wanted you to know that their firstborn son was named “Johann” after their dear Dutch friends.

The owner was speechless for a long time.  You see,  it seemed by Divine Coincidence that his name just happened to be Johann as well.  In a moment, he readjusted himself in his seat and told the agent, “Sit down; I’ll sign their contract.”

And so has been our week.

We decided to ‘flip’ the house we bought last year (and haven’t lived in yet as it is tenanted). The market is booming and well……..we just love this house that we found nearby. It’s smaller, and what you might call a “fixer upper”, but it just looks like “us”, complete with a view of the “hinterland” mountains to the west reminiscent of Colorado.

When we got the good news from the agent, we were gathered around the table for Tony’s 68th birthday celebration. When it came time for his speech, he almost choked up when he said, “One year ago today, we were sitting alone in our apartment in Tokyo. That’s when I said, ‘You know what? Next year I want to eat at that great seafood place in Sanctuary Cove, surrounded by our kids and grandkids. And here we are. God is good.”

At home that night, between the two of us we managed to get his 50 page doctoral thesis proposal polished up and sent off to Golden Gate, where I’m sure it will be ripped to shreds. But hey, that’s part of the process, and the next step toward the goal!

Tomorrow we will enter the exciting world of lawyers and contracts, but hopefully everything will go smoothly, and we’ll come to the end of the day a couple of steps closer to finally settling down.

I don’t know when we’re going to actually retire, our schedule seems to be filling up more and more, but that’s a happy thing too because it keeps our minds off the aches and pains……..

And thank you Trevor Johann Woods for inspiring us to name you such a great name that would surface to our advantage 40 years later!!

Love ya,

Marsha

Hog on Ice

Dear Friends,

I know, I haven’t written in a week or two, but mainly it’s  because our lives have been just……..well, I’ll get to that.

Our hearts go out to the East coast of the USA, wracked with blizzard.  It’s interesting to read about how people are reacting when the ‘systems’ go down. Boy, that Global Warming is a real bear ain’t it?

And so, on that note, and in honor of the blizzard, I have to pass along a cute phrase I came across last summer during our time there in the far north state of Maine. It was a lovely summer, visiting churches all over the area, but I couldn’t help but sense a feeling among the folks that said, “You don’t know Maine until you’ve spent a winter here.” Tony used to get a kick out of remarking to Mainers, “It’s so beautiful! Does it ever snow here?” Then he’d watch as a hollow-eyed expression came over them and they were left with a loss for words.

Seeing what they’re going through this week gives me an appreciation for a phrase we heard several times while we were in Maine: “That guy is about as independent as a hog on ice”.

I googled the meaning of it and realized that it actually refers to the ice sport of curling, but I much prefer the image I hold of a fat ole’ hog trying to navigate his way across a frozen pond.

And that image sorta  sums up how we feel these days.

We’ve been ‘home’ in Australia for nearly 3 months.  All of our lives, our family (Tony, me and the kids) have had what we call the “three month rule”…….simply stated, it means that we will not make a decision about whether something is good or bad or needs to be changed until we’ve ‘done’ that something for 3 months. It’s never failed.

Well…….we’ve been retired three months now and ……..I still wonder if we’re not more like that hog out on the lake………

Granted, I was born an American, so technically this place I call ‘home’ now is actually a foreign country, as I’m reminded daily in conversation. It’s so true that Americans and Aussies are “divided by a common language.” I mean, both of us think we’re speaking English, but ….. Then pile on a whole lot of special vocabulary as we try and tackle the bureaucratic maze that is taxes, medical care, insurance. My friend tries to encourage me with, “Ah g’wan Mate! She’ll be roite. Yer a banana bender now! Not worth havin a blue and spittin the dummy. Pull up yer daks, yabber bout bein’ a Seppo and write yer name. Done by arvo and Bob’s yer uncle. Then you’ll be happy as Larry. Too right! Hoo roo.”  Somehow that doesn’t give me much hope of ‘getting’ this place…

And then I could regale you with our other ups and downs, but suffice it to say, before you read another blog Tony will be 68, he will have hopefully turned in his 50-page proposal for his doctoral thesis (if he can figure out how to get it formatted correctly), we are still finding our places as parents and grandparents, an issue we haven’t had the chance to discover for these last 8 or 9 years. To add to that we’re vacillating about where we will eventually decide to live (here in the Gold Coast, but which area??)

Don’t get me wrong, we’re good. Our overall health is improving as well as our energy.  Ministry opportunities are opening up, friends are resurfacing…… It’s just taken more effort than we perhaps naively thought, and we may have to ‘extend’ our ‘we can do this’ attitude for another few months.

This morning’s sermon was taken in part from Exodus 14:14.  The Israelites were wandering in the wilderness. They’d certainly done the “3 month, let’s see if we like it” thing and found they weren’t liking it at all.  They went so far as to suggest to Moses that he’d been part of a plot to get them out of Egypt because there weren’t enough graves for them there.

I like what he said.  “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent”.

I think I stand with many freaked out people everywhere.  Whether it’s the blizzard of the century, or refugee status or just fitting in and getting comfortable, the Lord is asking us to just be silent and wait………..and trust Him

So I’ll do that.  Maybe some of those hogs just sat down and waited till spring or at least till they could work out how to get their 4 legs to work together………who knows.

So let me leave you with one more Aussie truism, especially for our friends up north: “Rug up before you go outside” (self explanatory).

Layta Mate,

Marsha

Mistaken Obituary

Tony and I were chuckling on the way to church this morning about what Mark Twain once wrote, “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” following the mistaken obituary in his local newspaper.

After another pretty normal week, we were saddened to hear of the passing of Japan missionary John Norton, only two years after losing his wife Nancy to cancer.  They were both in their early 60’s, an age that Tony and I are now starting to observe through the rear view mirror; so it was a little unnerving for us. Oh how we hate that disease, but are so glad that they’re not suffering any more.

But then, just as I had told my children of John’s death, I noticed while looking through that repository of information, Facebook, that another Japan missionary known by our kids as “Uncle Chuck” Gafford, had also died.  This came as a shock, as he has been quite healthy until only recently. He and his wife, Chere worked in a little town north of us, and it was always a delight to visit them. One of my first memories of him was going into his office on some errand and noticing an automobile rearview mirror attached to his computer. Apparently he didn’t want to miss the news on TV……or anything else, as his zeal for life and the Lord exhibited.

He never missed a birthday of my kids, always sending them either money or an American treat, thanks to his retired military status that gave him access to the nearby PX on the American base.

We all moped around til later in the day when passing by the computer I noticed someone’s post, “You might want to check, I think he’s still ALIVE!”

And so he is, at least at the posting of this blog.  Granted Uncle Chuck is a pretty sick man, and in fact may be in the Father’s Presence by the time you read this. But knowing him, I can’t help but hear him saying in his strong Southern drawl, “Now just hold on a second, folks. I ain’t gone yet!”

I have to remember an illustration that Tony uses so often in his sermons.  He has everyone check their pulse on their neck, and then comments, “If you have a pulse, God is not finished with you!”

That truth has already played out in this old saint’s life.  So many people were impacted with the ‘news’ and are now rejoicing that God has given him life, perhaps for a long time or maybe just long enough for us all to praise God for giving him a little longer with us.

As a Southern Baptist, we have always honored a favorite missionary to China back in the 1800.  Most of you know her as “Lottie Moon”. She once was noted as saying in a letter home that,  “I consider myself immortal until the work God has planned for me is finished.”

May that be the prayer of us all as we forge into the new year.

Still breathin,

Marsha

Surprised by Joy

Happy New Year, or as the Japanese would say,  ?????????????????????????????????which means “Congratulations, it has opened” (By the way, if your computer doesn’t want to read the Japanese fonts, my apologies. Just imagine a whole bunch of weird writing).

And ‘opened’ it has.

I was thinking of not sending a blog this week because, to tell the truth, life is settling into a normalcy and dullness that we had once hoped for, giving me little grist for thought.

Of course we celebrated the New Year as you did, only perhaps we were hot while many of you up north were cold.   New Years Eve found 6 of us stuffed into our tiny apartment, plates on laps, jockeying for a chance to get a word in edgewise.  Later in the evening we wrangled an invite to some lovely church friends of better fortune, and we all strolled over to their place on the 30th floor of the tallest building in the city, relaxing in the warmth of the evening and the beauty of the fireworks.

Tony has picked up a once-a-month “gig” in a wonderful church called Burleigh Waters Bible Church.  January 3rd was his day to preach.  These are lovely people who love the Lord as well as his sermons, and while rewarding …. again……little to blog about.

After church we headed with a few of them to the nearby aged care facility for the second service.

The residents gathered, mostly in wheelchairs and many of whom I would describe as pretty much “out to lunch”. I had a lovely conversation with a bright eyed and articulate woman, we talked about her daily activities and her position in the community.  Then she said she needed to get started walking home, up over the mountain. It was then I realized we were on different planets.

The service proceeded, nothing out of the ordinary.

Then a tiny shriveled old woman was wheeled in.  She had her hands up on her cheeks, as if she was trying to hold her head up.  She had a blank stare……that is until she bolted us all out of our seats with a very loud wail.

As we settled back, she carried on with this loud wailing “Ahhhhhhhhhhh!” thru the sermon. I sat nervously, but Tony, a veteran preacher who’s soldiered on in many unusual circumstances, never missed a beat and finally finished up, occasionally thanking the lady for her heartfelt “Amens”.

Then we sang the old favorite, “How Great Thou Art”.  About the second verse, we noticed the wailing had changed pitch.

Discretely at first and then with open gaped stares, the whole congregation turned their heads when they realized the lady was SINGING ALONG!

With her eyes closed and hands still holding her face tightly, she mouthed every word of every verse. Tony stopped the music and said directly to her, “I sense that you’re a Christian!”  She nodded with fervor (and another loud wail).

As the service ended, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.  It was like an angel had been in our midst.

Before anyone was aware, she’d been whisked away by a nurse and we were left to wipe our eyes and wonder what had just happened.

The chatter with the others revealed that she was a very old Chinese lady who was always vacant, never interacting with anyone or making an intelligent sound of any kind.

But God had pulled back the veil just a little bit to show us a beautiful faithful servant who verified the scripture, “Thy word have I hid in my heart…….”

As we folded chairs and pulled ourselves together someone remarked, “Come to think of it, I’m thinking the wails actually were AMENS!”

My New Year’s cup had been filled and I went away feeling blessed and encouraged.  God is indeed faithful to show us a bit of how it’ll be when all the hindrances are gone and we can gather at the throne and shout unashamedly “Hosanna!”.

How Great Thou Art. Even in the midst of the “dull and uneventful”, God can always make it special.

Till next time,

Marsha

The Surprise Sermon

……continued from last week about the “surprise sermon”.  You’ll have to read last week’s blog if you missed it.

After Tony came to understand that he was in fact scheduled to preach (in Japanese) that New Years Day morning, he came running back down the aisle and headed out of the church.

Being the supportive wife (‘don’t you dare mess up here’) I also leaped to my feet and followed him.

There in the foyer, I found him banging his head against the wall.

Uncharacteristically feeling some real compassion, I said, “How can I help you?”

With his head still against the wall, he mumbled….“Keep me from running. I don’t even have my Bible!” he groaned.

“There’s Bibles all over’ helpfully gesturing to the stacks behind me.

“They’re all in Japanese!” he snarled.

I left him to work it out and returned to my seat before our five year old noticed I was gone and got creative.

After a few moments he came back in and strode confidently down to the front holding a ‘furoshiki” in his hand.

A furoshiki is a large silk scarf, probably left at the church by mistake by someone long forgotten.

And this was his sermon:

“You know what this is”,  he said, holding up the scarf.  “We all know it is Japanese custom when you go to visit someone, you take something wrapped in this furoshiki……a cake or a book or some little something.  You place it discretely somewhere on the side of the entrance hall as you step up into the house.  You don’t point it out as a gift except maybe to say quietly, “Here’s a little something for you.”

The hostess, according to custom, makes no sign of recognition, and leads you into the room for your visit.  When you leave, she will bow until you’re out of sight and then and only then, she’ll tear open the scarf with the anticipation of a child, to see what wonderful thing you’ve brought her.

Then, whenever she comes back to visit you, she will bring your scarf, this time with something else that is, again, not mentioned or recognized.  She will lay it carefully at the door as she comes in… and so the game continues.”

By this time, Tony had found his feet and the congregation was enthralled, happy to have a sermon so simple that they could understand. I was able to exhale and shift back in my seat.    Then he continued…

“Well.  We’ve just had Christmas where we celebrate the birth of our Savior…….

“God has left us with the most precious gift ever, wrapped, not in a furoshiki but in swaddling cloths, laid in a manger with not enough fanfare to match the occasion,  on Christmas day.

“……….and now our question must be:  What will we give Him in return?”

That pretty much nailed it for the “shortest and best New Year’s sermon ever”……given by someone who didn’t have the language but had the Emmanuel Savior to stand with him and help him thru the day.

Here is a little poem I came across just recently, written by a 19th century poet, Christina Georgina Rossetti.  I think it says what I feel today after possibly our best Christmas ever!

What can I give Him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb,

If I were a wise man

I would do my part, -

Yet what I can I give Him,

Give Him my heart.

Have a blessed and safe New Year this week!  We’ll be in touch

Marsha and Tony

Tommy’s Christmas

Merry Christmas!

With all the hustle and bustle I don’t know if you have time to read this, but I just wanted to take a minute to reminisce with you for a minute about our time in Japan……

During our first few years there, we had limited Japanese vocabulary.  We still laugh about the New Years Day SERMON that Tony had inadvertently agreed to preach but actually had understood nothing.  We showed up in our finest, picked a good ‘Baptist’ seat located at the back, settled in and were perusing the bulletin.  Suddenly Tony gasped and nudged me.  Together we noticed, with terror, that the sermon was apparently going to be given by Tony Woods.  He literally RAN down the aisle during the first song and grabbed the pastor, gesturing and pointing at his name.

The pastor smiled and said in simple words Tony could understand, “When I asked you a month ago, you smiled and said “Hai”.  (this handy word can mean ‘Yes” but also can mean, as Tony had chosen to understand, “I hear you, keep talking”).

We learned a lot about paying attention after that……..

But the best thing Tony came up with in those early years was a simple sermon, lifted from a Guideposts magazine, called “Tommy’s Christmas”

It told the story of a pastor/carer who had a home for troubled children.  One Christmas eve, he sat at the desk and tried to imagine a Christmas sermon that would get the uncluttered point of Christmas across to the kids in contrast to the flurry of all that had already been said.

Try as he might, he couldn’t think of anything and found himself finally giving up and heading to the celebration with nothing.  He was trusting God to provide something as he made his way to the auditorium when suddenly a helper came to him and asked if he could do something with Tommy.  Trying not to be irritated at the interruption, he made a detour, arrived at Tommy’s room, and there, as so often before, he found the shy and traumatized boy cowering under his bed in the dark.

“Tommy” he called out cheerfully, “Come on out for the party……..there’ll be cake and songs, and we really want you there to celebrate with us.”

Nothing. Not a sound from under the bed.  Maybe you can see where this is going…..

After a few more explanations and admonitions, the pastor knew what he had to do.  Getting down on his knees, he took off his sport coat and wiggled in under the bed with Tommy. It was only then that the little boy was finally able to reach out a tiny hand and allow himself to be drawn out.

When they stood up and headed toward the door, the pastor had his sermon.

In Philippians 2: 6-11, we read about Jesus doing just the same thing. “Who being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped… but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance of a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross………”(continued)

We’ll never forget that sermon preached so many Christmases by Tony that it became a favorite request among the churches after time.  Japanese love to hear the story of a GREAT GOD who became a humble little BABY, and so do we.

As you’re reading this, we’ve just returned from our church’s Christmas carol service. This concludes 3 nights of a living nativity with all the ensuing animals and whatnot.  Open to the community, we pulled a large crowd, first for the jumping castles, face painting and sausage sizzle (it’s summer here) and then to sing and praise God for Matthew 1:23……. “And they will call him Immaneul, God with us!”

Have a blessed Christmas and I’ll tell you what happened at the impromptu sermon next week.

Marsha

Where’s the Mattress?

Dear Friends,

IF you have time to read this during this busy season, you may appreciate the little story I heard recently.

Let’s look at a mattress.  We all have them.  But do you sleep (or attempt to) on top of the mattress or under the mattress?

If you’re letting circumstances, schedule and it’s demands, and all the other burdens of your life overwhelm you, you may feel that you’ve got that big mattress on top of you……and it’s suffocating you!!  But if you leave the circumstances to lie on the bed and you can get on the top, you can have a safe and restful sleep!

How true this has been to us lately.  We’ve had our share of overwhelming circumstances, but I’ll have to say that most of our ‘suffocating weights’ have been happy ones, nevertheless, sometimes we think we can’t get a breath!

I’m happy to say we’re sailing into the Christmas season with joy and mostly peace.  Our grand baby Micah Neal has been almost the perfect baby, as least as we see him.  Apparently we’re not there as he gurgles and coos thru the nights making Mommy into a staggering hollow eyed, but still smiling, zombie.  Fortunately Nathan has a month off to wrangle the other boys and we pop in for hugs and kisses when we can.

I’m also happy to feel more and more at home here.  My search for life as we know it has rendered me everything except grits…….guess Australians never discovered the joys of soaking stuff in lye and then eating it!  I even saw some “Sweet Baby Ray” bbq sauce somewhere……. but now I have to remember where. (it’s mid summer here, you’ll recall)

This is not a proper blog, just a note to say we pray that you have the best most ‘blessed’ Christmas ever and we’ll catch up when the flurry passes.  By the time you read this, Tony and I along with daughter and her lovely husband have been to the biggest gathering of Japanese Christians on the Gold Coast, where Tony will introduce the Anagaion discipleship program and make plans for our involvement there next year. After dinner on the grounds, we’ll toddle over to a church in Brisbane and participate in their annual “Sing Along Messiah” … the only way to fully enjoy the piece.

Then while most of you folks in the other hemisphere are waking up to Sunday, we’ll be settling in for a good night’s sleep… on top of the mattress!

Interesting observation: people in Australia traditionally greet each other this time of year with “Happy Christmas!” Somehow the word “merry” got left behind somewhere on the way Down Under. But rest assured “Christmas” is still very much a part of the greeting. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who must edit their words for fear of being politically correct. But correct or not, please accept our wishes for you and yours: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Marsha

PS, While you’re celebrating the season, please say a word of prayer for my sister, Sherry and her husband. He’s been having several health issues lately that’s been making things tough around there. Pray for healing, restoring, and a real sense of the “reason for the season”.

Thanksgiving Down Under

Hello all.  I imagine many of you are living on leftovers and wiping your mouth on your sleeves and remembering a great Thanksgiving as you read this.

We, on the other hand, spent Thursday hugging our grand boys (age 4 and 5) goodbye and moving into a new apartment where we plan to stay until we finally settle into our house in a few months.  I believe I saw a roast chicken in the pile of luggage, but there was no celebration except for……

Everything!

November 21st Kylie had the third boy, Micah Neal Woods, in just 30 minutes.  8 lbs 6 oz, 22.4 inches, all boy and all healthy and beautiful.  In the week that has followed, she’s come home (thank goodness) and Isaac and Ezekiel are very good if not a bit too affectionate big brothers. Daddy Nathan has a few weeks off, so we were able to leave them to it.  I don’t think I’ve ever come across such a trouper as Kylie. She’s amazing.

We continue to ‘settle in’, getting delivery of our new car to pair with the one that was practically given to us.  We’ve decided to call them “Hoot”, which is how we feel about the surprise gift one, and “Nanny” because it seats 7 and we hope to take our boys out and about often…….Together they’ll be “Hootenanny” which anyone our age remembers  once meant “a good time”.

Our health improves.  The Aussie doctor told Tony he does not and has never had Type II diabetes, which is a praise point.  I am almost back to normal……  wrestling with babies will do that to you.  Thankfully we’ve both began to take off some of those pounds as well, but we’re a long way from the goal with a beach Christmas looming near. We probably will be very quiet about our progress! ha

Our apartment is TINY.   I thought things were tight in Japan but this one is about 1/2 the size of our Tokyo one.  We were here for a day when I said, “Where’s the table?”  There is none, but I can’t complain as it’s just what we need, and the pools, exercise room/jacuzzi and BBQ areas will compliment our life here in the area known as “Surfers Paradise”, just minutes from both kids and the church.  Who knows? We may just stay here and skip the transition into the rest home!

Another praise point, our FREIGHT from Japan has cleared customs and will be delivered to storage this next week.  We can’t open it until we move permanently so we have to keep going to the store for all the little bits and pieces.  Tony just decided to wrap some presents while I write this, but realized we have no tape! ha

We have loved catching up with our church as well. Today we had our annual meeting and are encouraged to see that growth thru evangelism seems to be the goal.  While we’ve been gone these last 8 years, the church has not only held its ground but has grown and prospered.  We are happy to slip back into ‘home church’ responsibilities even as Tony has been accepting preaching opportunities and of course renewing all of our Japanese ministry contacts.  It almost feels like we’re not retired……..

So as you can see, we’ve been FILLED with THANKS all week.  This next week will be so busy with Christmas programs (both grand boys)  two churches with their Christmas events, etc. I may not get a blog out to you next week, but I imagine you’ll be swamped as well.  Isn’t Christmas a great time to fill your heart with love for our Savior and the God who shared Him with us? Because of this great love, we can spill it over to our families, near and far, as well as all of those who don’t yet know the story.

Talk to you soon!  Marsha

Joy in the Journey

It’s true that we’re living in paradise.  The Gold Coast at the beginning of summer can be and has been this week beautiful beyond words.  We’ve been in a timeshare while we wait for a more permanent housing solution.  It’s overlooking the beach. What’s not to like?

Unfortunately, paradise that it might be, I recently had to say to Tony, “When are we going to be able to RELAX?  Every day we have to put on our ‘big people’ clothes and rush out to the banks, realtors, phone companies and medical services.    Relocating isn’t a picnic, as I’m sure many of you know! In fact we’re thinking of our friends the Morgans who are closing down 20 some years and moving out during this time. And of course Tony continues his online seminars for his doctorate that has him pretty well consumed.

But then while I’m complaining about living in paradise, the world is in mourning, not just for Paris, but for the situation we’re in worldwide…..

Last Tuesday I attended with my daughters and a couple of friends a ‘Sisterhood’ evening sponsored by Hillsong, a name you may recognize as the largest evangelical church in Australia.  The Sisterhood-themed evening was packed out with mostly ‘beautifully’ dressed women of all ages.  We were met at the door by bow-tied young men serving canapés and fizzy drinks. Smiling women descended upon us offering hand massages and foot spas.  Words like ‘opulence’ and ‘luxury’ came to mind.  Much later we were ushered into the auditorium where we sat down to participate in a two hour long worship extravaganza from Hillsong leadership.

What I walked away with (after all that pre-pampering) was the compelling exhortation, impressed on me over and over…. “Girls, we’re not finished yet”.

While we may be privileged to have what we can call a ‘good life’ here in this place, our JOB…our CALLING is not finished until we’ve reached outside of ourselves to the entire world and they have heard the gospel message. The closing prayer was a prayer of salvation for anyone who had visited and wanted then and there to become a believer and get busy.

What really resonated in my soul as we left was that no matter how lost and unsettled I may feel at the moment, and while it’s true that my day JOB may be finished; my circumstances may be different……. essentially nothing has changed. I still have the work I’ve always been called to do which is to SHARE CHRIST.

The Gold coast might be a ‘pretty’ place, with more than enough pizzaz,  but my son the cop can attest to the fact that there are plenty of folk here, in all walks of life, who need the Lord.

This morning we heard an excellent sermon talking about David’s prayer in Psalms 51:2 to ‘restore to me the JOY of your salvation’. It’s not our SALVATION that we’ve lost, but maybe in these trying times worldwide, do we still have the JOY? Are we sitting around being ’saved’ and forgetting that there are countless passages in the Bible about ‘working out our Salvation” as well?……something for me to think about.

We look to the future with a renewed sense of joy and of responsibility to keep fighting the good fight.  We don’t know what that will look like, but God does.  Tony’s already got a lot setting up for us, with preaching and teaching and of course we’re expecting grand boy #3 any minute…….

I’ll blog as long as God is speaking to us, but next Sunday we’d appreciate your prayers and patience as we go to Brisbane for the day with the Japanese there.  Tony will be introducing his “Anagion” course. ( www.anagaion.org )  We’ll probably get back too late to touch base with you all, but stay tuned!

We’ll keep you posted!

Marsha