Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Heard but not seen

It's 1:00 PM on Sunday the 9th....

I am physically, emotionally, and mentally drained and exhausted.

But that's nothing to how my wife must feel... She has been labouring actively for well over 12 hours. Before that she had been in pre labour for another 24 hours. Before that, she has had 2 weeks of on and off pre labour. It's been exhausting. But it's about to get interesting....

I'm sitting on the chair next to my wife's bed. Behind me a monitor is making a rythmic beeping noise. Around me, people are working, smoothly, efficiently, quietly. Masks, gowns, caps, all make it look like something surreal. Like I've walked into a movie scene. Except, that's my wife lying there, and I'm trying not to think about what's going on behind the sheet draped in front of me.

That's when I hear it. A cry. Repeated, and strong. The stunned look on my wife's face must be a reflection of my own. But still I can't look. because if I do, I'll faint. I haven't eaten for 24 hours, and haven't had more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, and the one thing I want to do right then is look over the curtain. But no. I don't want to faint, again. Just enjoy the sound for now. the sound of our baby girl crying. A healthy strong cry. But I still can't afford to look. Fainting right now would not help things.

The cry stops as she is soothed. And then I look around the curtain as she is taken to one side. She is cleaned, and wrapped in a blanket. I am told I can go over and see her. She is gorgeous. Dark, almost black hair, little wrinkly hands and feet, and of course, a very different head shape from what she will have in a few hours. Her temperature, pulse, and respiratory signs are checked and noted, and then she is weighed. She looks small... But she weighs 3.65kgs (7 pounds 10 ounces). That's  more than I would have guessed just from looking at her. She is 54cm long, so the ultrasound technician who had told us she was quite long was right.

And then I can hold her. Her eyes look up at me, and I can feel the weight of the last 3 months disappear. I hold her, and she seems happy. Her skin is a rosy colour, except her hands and feet, which are wrinkled and a little paler and bluer.

I walk back to my wife, and the look in her eyes speaks volumes. The one thing she wants to do, she can't do right now. The motherly instinct to cuddle the baby has to for now. Because for her it's not over yet. The baby is brought over, and I hold her in front of Cherith for a while. So she can see her, talk to her, take in the reality of it. But then it's back to business. The baby is placed back in a hospital bassinet. And the work of repairing the damage begins. 15 minutes later, Cherith is stitched up and ready to be wheeled out. The sheer exhaustion, multiplied by the amount of painkillers she has been given in the last 10 hours, are taking their toll. For 6 hours, she can't keep her eyes open for more than 2 minutes. Unfortunately, she also can't seem to sleep for more than 10 minutes. Unbeknown to anyone at the time, she is reacting to one of the painkillers.  Sweating, nausea, and lightheadedness soon follow. She manages to feed the baby, and then it's all over for that night.

When I come back into the hospital the next morning at 7:30, Cherith looks a lot better. The staff have indentified the offending painkiller, and the symptoms slowly go away. Still she has to stay in bed. The extra oxygen she was breathing in has been taken away, the drip follows a little while later. Finally she can get up. But still she has to be very gentle about it. She can hold her baby properly now though. Only for short periods, and then she has to lie down again. Not only does she lack energy, but her abdomen feels very much like it had just been cut open and stitched back together again, which of course it has.

It's over though. For nearly two months we have tried everything to stop Cherith going into premature labour. And it worked. She made it past 41 weeks. Then for 3 weeks we have tried everything to bring on labour and make it as easy as possible. And all that is over. The baby has been brought into this world, albeit a little differently to the way we would have wished. But what we wished for most is a healthy baby, and a healthy mummy for the baby. And that wish seems to have come true.

So when they say, "Children should be seen and not heard", forget it. Sometimes it's comforting to hear them, and know that they are alright.

P.S. I fainted when Cherith was given a needle. I hate needles. Especially watching them being put into other people. Apparently it was a graceful slump onto a chair and from there the floor, but I wouldn't have a clue.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A parent's prayer...

Seeing as I am going to be a father soon, I thought it was time for a little fun...
A Parent's Prayer
by David Axton

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my sanity to keep.
For if some peace I do not find,
I'm pretty sure I'll lose my mind.

I pray I find a little quiet,
Far from the daily family riot.
May I lie back and not have to think
About what they're stuffing down the sink,

Or who they're with, or where they're at
And what they're doing to the cat.
I pray for time all to myself
(did something just fall off a shelf?)

To cuddle in my nice, soft bed
(Oh no, another goldfish--dead!)
Some silent moments for goodness sake
(Did I just hear a window break?)

And that I need not cook or clean
(well heck, I've got the right to dream)
Yes now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my wits about me keep,

But as I look around I know,
I must have lost them long ago

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Bub didn't get the memo

Bubs was due on Friday...

After months of threatening to come early, the little rascal has decided to wait overtime. We have been here in Toowoomba for over a week now, since things seemed to be starting up.

But all is quiet lately. After three consecutive days in which Cherith went into early labor, with intense contractions only 2 minutes apart, things have settled down. Cherith has been walking a few kms per day in an attempt to convince bub that it wasn't going to be very comfortable much longer. But nothing doing except a few bouts of Braxton hicks... Kind of frustrating... Especially for her...

Of course, bub will arrive when the time is right (who ever heard of babies staying inside till it was time to get their driver's license??), but it has been slow... It seems like things are gearing up slowly again, but who knows for sure? I don't.. My crystal ball is away for repairs.

That's not to say there wasn't a good reason why bub didn't arrive a week ago. After it all, I took Cherith to see a Chiropractor, thinking that possibly something was out of line, and sure enough it was. According to the Chiro, would have quite likely caused labor to stall the way it did.

Maybe that was what was slowing things down, but then again, maybe bub just didn't get the memo.

I'm looking forward to meeting the little bub. But at the moment, with Cherith only a day or two over her due date, there is no real rush.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

"I am Habit"

 "I Am Habit"

It is mighty hard to shake me, in my brawny arms I take thee,
I can either make or break thee - I am habit.
Through each day I slowly mold thee, soon my tightening chains enfold thee,
Then it is with ease I hold thee - I am habit.
I can be both good and vile, I can e'er be worth your while,
Or the cause of your decrial - I am habit.
Oft’ I've proved myself a pleasure, proved myself a priceless treasure,
Or a menace past all measure - I am habit.
Harmless though I sometimes seem, yet my strange force is like a magnet,
Like a great and greedy dragnet - I am habit.
Though you sometimes fear or doubt me, no one yet has lived without me,
I am present all about thee - I am habit.
Choose me well when you are starting, seldom is an easy parting,
I'm a devil or a darling - I am habit." --Anonymous

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The best laid plans of mice and men...

So... We had planned to go up to Queensland for something of a working holiday. A great chance to catch up with family and friends, and as my work near home was coming to a close, we thought it would be a good time for the trip. On Monday we packed, planned, and tentatively decided to go on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on how quickly we got everything sorted out... But,

The best laid plans of mice and men, go oft awry....

On Tuesday morning Cherith woke up at 2AM with regular, strong contractions (At 29 weeks, that is a very bad sign!!). Deciding not to wake me straight away, and not being able to lie still, she got up and went out of the room for a while, but nothing seemed to help. She woke me at 2:30, and on medical advice over the phone, took a painkiller and slowly went back to sleep. That was about 4. At 6, she woke up again, and the contractions were still there, though the painkiller was still numbing things, and we realized Tuesday was obviously not going to be the day to travel. By 9AM, the painkiller had worn off, and the contractions seemed to be getting stronger. I put her in a hot bath with magnesium and lavender oil, and the pain level dropped out of sight. Feeling much relieved, Cherith enjoyed the bath for a couple of hours, and seemed to feel much better, although the contractions were still there, they were not painful anymore.

Just before lunchtime her Dad called up and wondered if I could do an afternoon's work with him, so we got some lunch ready and went up, Cherith deciding she could rest better if she was with her mum, rather than at home alone. The instant we arrived the contractions kicked in hard and strong again. Within 20 mins her mum had called an ambulance... They arrived, asked a few questions, loaded Cherith into the ambulance, and set off for the hospital (A good hour's drive away, 40kms of which is dirt road). I took off for home, to grab a few things we'd need in town (Namely, my wallet, and some clothes, that thankfully we had packed already...) from there I went to town, arriving ten minutes after the ambulance, wondering just how many plans were about to go awry...

The ambulance girls said that Cherith was in labour, a fact the midwives at the hospital also confirmed, but, thank God, they were able to halt the labour, and with baby going into an excited and happy kicking frenzy at the chance to continue incubating ;), we both fell into an exhausted, and somewhat restless sleep... Regular checks confirmed that things were definitely settling down, though taking their time.

Now it's Thursday afternoon... Maybe we will make it to QLD soon, but who knows... The midwives have suggested it would be a wise move, considering we live an hour from town, and that the nearest hospital to here which could handle such a premature baby is Newcastle, a solid 6 hours drive away... In QLD we would be 30 mins drive away from the nearest hospital, and they would handle almost anything. But, as I've said, the best laid plans of mice and men....

The doctor suggested that pending a few tests to be done today, Cherith might be sent home this afternoon, so we'll see how that goes. Fingers crossed the tests all show good results. I'm eager to meet the little rascal, but not before it's time. Meanwhile, we have been living in a hospital room, trying to subsidize a hospital diet with some real food...

Monday, 13 August 2012

Good, quick, or cheap

     Which would you choose? It is a simple fact of life that you can only choose from two of those three options in any given circumstance of life. This can be good and cheap, but then they won't come in a hurry. They may be quick and cheap, but then you will sacrifice quality on the altar of speed. They can be good and quick, but price will certainly be at a premium in that case.
     Then there are different types of people. There are the perfectionists, who will never cut corners when quality is concerned. There are those who don't like to put in more work and effort than necessary. To them, quick is always a priority. There are others, who will put in any effort to save money, often sacrificing a lot of time, and losing quality in the process. Which type are you?
I've been discovering that quality is very important to me. I don't care if a job takes a little longer, as long as I know it is well done. I will usually never buy the cheapest product on the market, because I've discovered that it usually isn't worth the savings to have it break or wear out so much more quickly. I do a job properly, so I know I won't have to come back shortly and fix it or do it all over again. It's just who I am. I used to get frustrated with my dad for being a perfectionist, only to discover I am one myself.
     So, which do you choose? Think about it. You can only choose two. If you think you are getting all three you are being conned.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

A very special hectic week

Last week seemed like a very long week! But a week filled with blessings just the same...

On Sabbath evening we had made the decision to travel to Sydney the next morning, to pick up the dining table we had bought three months before, and which one of Cherith's very obliging relatives was keeping for us till we could make the trip. But the real reason we were making this last minute trip was because Cherith's uncle was moving house, and offered us the piano that was in the house he was vacating, as he couldn't take it with him.

That piano caused us a little bit of agonizing, as we tried to decide if it would be worthwhile. Cherith loves to play piano, and is fairly accomplished, so it was obviously a fair inducement for us. The piano in question however, was approximately 110 years old. I had to wonder if it was in good condition/playable, and whether it would survive the rigors of a 500km trip without serious damage. Then again, pianos, especially very old ones, tend to be back-breakingly heavy (anything up to 450kgs for an upright piano like this one), and the question of how we would get it unloaded at our end was a bother too. With all this in mind, and after Cherith's brother, who had seen the piano, said it looked in fantastic condition, we decided to travel down on Sunday.

So on Sunday morning, we went to Cherith's parent's house to borrow a trailer, helped get the trailer shipshape, (which included rewiring the trailer's lights, and welding one of the support braces underneath), and just after midday we were on our way to Sydney.

On the way down, we were still trying to organize one or two people to help us load the piano onto the trailer, with very little success. We finally arranged to stay overnight in Sydney, at the same household that had sheltered our dining table for the last few months, and as it was 7:30 by the time we arrived there, didn't stay up long before going to bed...

110 years old. Sounds beautiful.
The next morning we loaded the table into the trailer, and the 6 chairs that go with it into the car, and set of to meet up with Cherith's uncle to see what could be done about the piano. We met him, took one look at the piano, and fell in love :D... It is a beautiful piano, which in spite of it's age is well preserved, and plays quite well. It didn't take us long to realize that we were NOT going to get this piano into the trailer with just two of us to do it. He left to pick up a friend of his, who in miraculous coincidence happened to be in the neighborhood waiting for his car to be serviced and had nothing to do in the meantime. With his help, and a lot of groans and strains, we managed to slide it onto the trailer, and then had to work out a way to put the table into the same trailer. Not the easiest feat, as the table is a 1.8 x 1 metre solid timber extendable table. In the end we had to stand the table upright to fit it in, strapped everything down, and started the trip back.

In Cooranbong we stopped in to show Cherith's grandma the piano (she had been very keen for us to be able to pick it up). It was after 3PM by the time we left Cooranbong, and the trip home, which usually takes about 6 hours, and with a heavily loaded trailer on would take even longer, began.

I had been planning to go back to work the next day, but wasn't sure that would eventuate now, considering how late we would be getting home. In the end run it was about 10:30PM when we arrived at home, tired, having done 18+ hours of driving in the last 32 hours.

The next morning we tried to see if we could get Cherith's father to come over and help unload the piano, and the neighbor also agreed to help. A lot of push and shove ensued, before we realized that one door was slightly (about 8mm) too small...The neighbor had some tools handy, and quickly modified the doorway to fit the piano through, and finally it was in our lounge room. Then the table and chairs were put into the dining room, and we promptly celebrated this feat by having breakfast around our new table with Cherith's family...

Finally we have a dining table in our dining room.
I tried to go to work that day... But I couldn't work for very long. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have tried it, and just rested. But that's me. But the blessings for the week didn't end there.

On Thursday, Cherith had her appointment for an ultrasound. We got to see the baby for the first time, and hear it's heartbeat again. It was surreal to see him (or is it her??) kicking and wriggling on the monitor. It was just such a special moment. Cherith was a few days short of 14 weeks pregnant, and it was interesting to see the level of development evident even at that stage of pregnancy. It was easy to see the heart beating, and hear it ticking away...

And just when you thought surely that has to be all for one week...

Our next door neighbor, who had helped us move the piano (and is our landlord's son), finished installing the chimney and sealing the roof up, just before it started raining on Friday afternoon. So now we can enjoy our cozy fireplace even when it's raining :). God's goodness and ability to provide never ceases to amaze me.

Oh, and he even provided the fuel money for our trip to Sydney... We could never have gone otherwise. Isn't He good?

A thousand ways to provide. And a thousand opportunities to provide. A thousand reasons for me not to stress. A thousand reasons for me to learn to relax and leave things in His hands!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

1 + 1 = ?

Maths is a subject specifically designed for tormenting children with... Adults too sometimes...

But there are some things even maths won't work out...
1 + 1 = 2, right?

Well, it does, sometimes... But 1 + 1 can also be 3.

About 2 months ago, my dear wife and I, one bright and sunny morning, discovered that 1 (her), and 1 (me), was soon going to = 3. That's right. She is busy working on a new member for our little family. Life is great, right?! :). So it is. She was shocked, I was excited. From memory, I believe I even went so far as to jump up and down... Very undignified I am sure, but at moments like that, who cares!!?

Cherith had been feeling just a tad nauseous that morning, and in a fit of cheekiness, I suggested that it may be more that a disagreeable breakfast. Her response was to take a test, and lo and behold, my snap suggestion as to what might be happening turned out spot on. So it's a baby. And seeing as the only options are boys and girls, I guess we are having a boy... Or a girl........

So that's it. Sometime near the end of November or the beginning of December our little family will be experiencing a population boom. 

Last week we had the pleasure of hearing the little rascal's heartbeat, still very quiet, but definitely ticking away steadily. It was a strange moment, in the doctor's office, listening for that faintest beat. Somehow, it brought to mind the awesomeness of the thing. The baby was at the time approx 2 inches long! Imagine the size of it's heart?? That is one tiny ticker. But there it was.

It made me wonder how many people who want an abortion would still have one after hearing their own baby's heartbeat for half a minute... I don't know, but I think a few would change their mind. The heartbeat makes it real, alive, palpable. It is no longer an ignorable fact, but a living being. It makes it seem so much more like killing, because at some stage during an abortion, that little tiny heart stops.

Of course, many people have miscarriages, many unavoidable (at least seemingly). That too is a death. Hearing that heartbeat made me think of how traumatic that would be. I had never before understood why it was such a horrible experience, emotionally, for someone to have a miscarriage. But there's that heartbeat, ticking away... Living.... Only waiting to be born......

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Keeping out the cold.

So the cold weather is coming. A week ago I was leaving for work with the water frozen in the windscreen of our car. So the temperature is steadily settling into it's winter rhythm. But there is a difference. We now have a fireplace. :)

Thanks to some help from Cherith's youngest brother, (who was staying with us for a few weeks while he worked nearby) who managed to move the 140kg stove into the lounge room for us, and my father-in-law, who is a carpenter and worked on fitting the chimney, we now have an amazingly snug and warm living room. Even my office, which is next door is feeling distinctly less chilly.

Growing up my family had a woodfire in the lounge room, and as my bedroom was at the opposite end of the house, it meant that in the mornings there was quite an incentive to race to the fireplace (which my mum would fire up at about 5AM every day in winter), and warm ourselves around it. It was one of those situations were things had to get worse to get better. I'd have to leave my moderately warm bed, race up the freezing cold hallway, through the dining room, and into the lounge room, for a nice toasty morning! Now I get to be the one who stokes up the fire in the morning, and get the house nice and warm for my wife! :).

Just remembering that, made me think about the saying 'things sometimes have to get worse before they can get better'. Very few people start life with everything in their favor. It takes hard work, and the proverbial 'blood, sweat, and tears' to make improvements in life. Just the same way a person has to brave the cold morning in order to start the fire, a person who wants to get somewhere in life has to start with step 1. You can't jump to the ending when life is all rosy and easy, smooth and comfortable. Life is generally tough to begin with. But that's no reason to dodge the tough streak. The key is to work through the tough spots in life, and keep your focus on the things that are important, and not let yourself get depressed by whatever difficulties you may be facing. Life is good. And it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of your life circumstances. The key is that you are happy with where your life is going, and are prepared to weather storms in order to be able to enjoy smoother sailing that so often follows a difficult time.

Friday, 6 April 2012


06/07/1946 - 06/04/2012
Ernst Robert Dammasch

Born and brought up in post war Germany, my Dad came to Australia permanently as a young man. By the time he left Germany, he had completed an apprenticeship as fitter and turner. Here in Australia he met and married my Mum. That was a little over 36 years ago.

I only turned up on the scene much later. By the time I was born, they had celebrated their eleventh wedding anniversary. And I was the fourth, in a family of five. By the time I was ten, Dad was working very long hours as a truck driver, trying to make ends meet, and support his family. But there are definitely a few happy memories with my dad from those days...

At the time, dad used to ride a motorbike to work and back, and usually only came home on weekends (He often worked 60+ hours a week, and we lived a long way out in the country). Every Friday afternoon, we (My younger brother Henry and I), used to run outside at the sound of his bike coming up our street, racing each other to make it to the gate first. It was hardly a fair race, because I was 6 years older than Henry, and at least 12 inches taller, but it was unusual for Dad to get to the gate before we did. Why that was so special, I don't even know, but it is.

Dad drove a truck almost identical to this one for ten years...
Then occasionally I would get to go for a ride with him in the truck. Sometimes he would even drive up our street. Somehow it made me proud to see the big semi trailer parked there. Maybe it was just because I was a little kid, and big trucks were impressive, but in any case, I was proud of that truck. I even remember the number plate of the truck! (He usually drove the same prime mover, and they just hooked different trailers on it depending on what he was delivering)... Usually he delivered for Woolworths. Sometimes I went with him for long rides. On Sundays he would often go from Brisbane to Kingaroy, several hours drive, and I'd love going with him. He'd tell me about his work, about the problems of driving a truck, of some of the impossibly difficult places he'd had to reverse a truck into, etc. I was with him when his front passenger side tire got a puncture. To this day I can remember the sound. A brief rattle as whatever did the damage got flung out of the tire again, and then the sound of a tire going quickly flat. We sat on the side of the road for an hour waiting for a repair truck. One day we arrived at the destination to find a badly stacked pallet had collapsed. Whoever had done it, had stacked heavy things on top of tissue paper rolls and delicate things, and it just collapsed.

One weekend, Dad and I went camping together. Just the two of us. We went to Gympie, saw the big pineapple, and camped next a lake there. I remember riding up there with him on his bike (A big touring bike). We put our drinks in the lake to chill them, and warmed up our food over a campfire.

When I was in my late teens, Dad had to stop trucking for a living for health reasons. He had done over ten years of full time truck driving for Linfox. Ten years of work in which he occasionally would have worked less than 50 hours a week. A year or two later he worked on the farm with me for a few months.

Anyway, if I was going to keep reciting, I could keep going forever. There were unhappy times too, but why bother with those? I'll always remember the good times. Happy times.

There are regrets too. But they are pointless now. Sometimes I wish I had gotten to spend more time with him. Then I wish I had called him more often in the last year or so while I have been away from home. I guess you don't really miss someone till they are really gone.

So this is goodbye to my Dad. I hope to see him soon.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

It's quiet.... Too quiet.....

It's 9:30 in the evening, and the house is empty, except for myself, a few mice, a spider or two, and just possibly a rat in the laundry. My wife is on her way to visit family for 2 days, and as the saying goes, you only know what you had when it is gone.... Who would have thought that in a few hours I could miss her so much?

I'm getting tired... I should go to bed, but it just doesn't seem right. There's a 5' 1", clue eyed, curly brown haired person missing! And what's worse, I love her, so I'm going to miss her something awful. Maybe I'm just being silly...? Maybe I shouldn't miss her? Well, I can't help it. I love my wife, and revel in her company.

And when she gets back, I 'm going to give her a very big hug, and tell her how much I missed her, but words can't really express it. "I miss her".... Three simple words... But I have missed other things in the past, and it just doesn't compare with missing my wife. It's not even in the same scale.

So I just need to survive the next few days... That might be harder than you think... I have to make my own meals, :D....

Monday, 27 February 2012

Everything that glitters, is not gold....

Have you ever heard the saying, "Not everything that glitters is gold"? Well, funnily enough, it's true. In almost every aspect of life, things appear to have a varnish, but in most cases that varnish is scarcely 'skin deep'.

Buy a used car with a shiny paint job, and you may get a very practical demonstration of this principle. Own it for a few months, and it may just fall apart on you, while another car which didn't look so flash, keeps ticking over.

They say that when the Cullinan diamond was discovered, the worker who found thought that he had found a chunk of glass, and only made a closer examination as an afterthought. The result was the largest diamond ever found on earth. But it wasn't discovered as a shimmering piece of diamond, ready cut and waiting to be sold. It looked like an ugly lump of glass, hardly worth looking at. What power transforms a lump of glass into a piece of incredible value like the 'Cullinan'? In the case of the 'Cullinan', it was a man named Asscher, one of the most famous gem cutters ever to have lived, who, after days of examination, cleaved the stone, removed the impurities, and brought to the world a masterpiece of unrivaled excellence. But until the impurities were cut out, the stone would reflect no more light that a lump of coal.
The uncut Cullinan. Not much to look at...

Some people are like a diamond. Not much to impress at first, but with incredible value, often invisible to those around them, until something shows the diamond for what it is. Others are no more than fools gold. They make an exciting impression, seeming to charm all in their wake, but of little value to those around them otherwise. They may be entertaining company, but when the heat is on, they don't prove to be the real thing.

There is a reason that God 'looks on the heart' to judge people. If He looked on the outward appearance, He'd be fooled most of the time! But He isn't. People see the outward appearance (and I don't mean looks here, it can be anything from personality to beauty...), but they cannot judge the impulse of the heart. The person who acts charming in public, often has a very different manner when behind closed doors. There is only one thing that can motivate a person through every act of life, to be true gold. And that is love.

When Jesus came to earth, He was nothing special to look at. The Bible says He had no spot or blemish, but He didn't stand out of the crowd in appearance. People crowded to Him because He loved them. He longed to bring hope into their lives. And He loved them still, when they were nailing him to the cross.

Do you glitter only when things go well, or does even the heat of difficulties show you to be the true metal? It is your choice, but it isn't something you can change on your own. You need to have someone come into your life and cleave out the impurities in your life. And Jesus is the greatest 'gemcutter' in the universe. He can turn anyone into an incredible diamond, if only that person surrenders everything in their life to Him.

Try being a diamond. It is a lot more valuable than fool's gold....

Saturday, 14 January 2012


Here it is... The good news that we have been waiting for.

We are going to be payed out for our car. It has been assessed as a write off, and finally we can seriously start planning to buy a car.

To fill in, on the 22nd of Dec, our car died, after driving through about 20cm of water and flooding the engine... It broke a conrod in the engine, which for those who don't follow, means the engine is not worth repairing, and needs to be replaced. Additionally, we had about 2 inches of water inside the car... I put in a claim to my insurance company, and promptly we began the long wait, what with the madness of Christmas holidays being what they are.

A week later the car was towed away to the nearest repairer, who told us it was certain to be a write off, as it would not be worth replacing the engine, given what the car was valued. The insurance had other ideas.

The insurance assessor for the area rang Cherith, and proceeded to explain to her that they do not cover mechanical failure, and that we would be liable to pay 75% of a new engine (which would come to about $2000, on top of the fairly hefty claim excess), or we could opt to put a second hand engine, which would cost me about $1000, and would be payable by me entirely, or, option number three, which was to accept a payout of what they estimated the car was worth without an engine, which would leave me seriously out of pocket as a result. We prayed. All of those options would really leave us stuck. Especially as me live 70km from the nearest town... We needed a car. It had been 2 weeks since we had been able to go shopping. Thankfully, we had done a hefty shopping trip just before the car died, but we still relied on a little 'top-up' shopping by Cherith's dad, who worked in town.

So I rang the insurance assessor. I rangled with him for half an hour, and seemed to get nowhere. Until I mentioned the water inside the car. His smooth talking stalled. Apparently no one had told him about that (He hadn't been to see the car in person yet), and he said he would have to check it out and would get back to us.

Then on Friday, we got the call. The insurance company said that the car had been assessed as a write off,  because the inside had gone mouldy. Hardly surprising considering the amount of water that had been locked in there for two weeks! But praise God!

Don't get me wrong. I am very sorry to see the car go. It has been a faithful little car since I bought it, and well worth the money I paid for it. But it was in need of some repairs already, which I couldn't afford, and the car was highly impractical for us in our situation here (Living and working on a dirt road, a small front wheel drive vehicle is not the best option... It's not the worst either, it had worked through some awful weather for 8 months, but it was time for change).

So God has answered our prayers. And he used a hefty dose of humble mold to do it! He has a thousand ways to provide the answers to our prayers, and sometimes it is astonishing how He does it.

New year's resolutions, late....

Ok, so I know it is rather late, but better late than never... And I think I have some really good ones. New year's resolutions that is.

Without further ado, here they are... Oh, and because the Bible says it best, I'll quote it! Yep, they aren't even originally mine, lol... I'm just borrowing these, but I know a good thing when I see it...

Resolution Number 1. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:8

This one has always been a favorite of mine, because this has been the point that so many Christians seem to miss, especially conservative Christians... This one actually contains three things.
"Do justly"   Do the right thing. Act justly and fairly towards your fellow men (and women :D).
"Love mercy"   Be merciful to those around you. Know why these two are in the same verse? When people start to focus on "Doing justly", they start to get the idea that they need to "help/coerce" everyone else to do as they are doing. But that isn't the idea. It says "love mercy". Be kind to those around you, even if they don't live according to what you believe to be right. Don't judge their motives, don't jump to conclusions about their actions. Just live and let live. Encourage those around you. Try to be a little ray of sunshine, instead of being a little thundercloud!
 "Walk humbly with your God"  Be humble. Even if you are doing justly and loving mercy, being humble isn't always the easiest thing. It is easy to look down on others. STOP! That isn't Christianity. That is hypocrisy. But this isn't a sermon. These are my resolutions. And this text has been a favorite of mine for 6 or 7 years.

Resolution Number 2  "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." Ecclesiastes 12:13

Another big favorite text. This one goes with the previous one. After all, what does it mean to "do justly"? This text has the answer. And what is more, it is the whole duty of man. Our duty is to keep God's commandments. Period.

And then, the biggest, and best one of all.

Resolution Number 3. "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him..." Job 13:15

God has been good to us. Life hasn't always been smooth and easy, but that would be boring anyway. But I really need to trust God more. Regardless of what happens. Because He knows best. And He promises that everything works out for the good of those that love and trust him. So I'm going to trust Him, no matter what circumstance we face.

So those are my new year's resolutions, albeit two weeks late. But better late than never.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Tranquil... Peaceful... Relaxing...

Strangely enough, in spite of all the things that have happened in our life since getting married, our life has been rather tranquil...

Setting up our own little home, in the country, away from the hustle and bustle of towns and cities, it is easy to forget that crowds and noise exist, except at night, when the crickets, frogs, and other creepy crawleys voice their serenade to the moon.

But the quiet, calm, where we have the freedom to live life as we choose, without neighbors in sight, is worth almost anything.

Yesterday, as the thermometer climbed to the hotter side of 35 degrees, we decided it was time to see if we could find a nice spot for swimming. Good thing we have a creek nearby, one that has been recently cleaned out by rain and flooding. We discovered that a few sheltered waterholes had the most beautiful cooling water, though by no means was the water cold.

As I enjoyed the water and cooled off, I thought about how important it was at times to simply forget about everything and simply kick back and relax. Life usually hands us enough worries to send us to an early grave if we let it, but taking time to relax is incredibly important. Laughing, swimming, letting everything else pass by unnoticed for a while, I simply enjoyed the water, and in all honesty, I felt so much better by the time I climbed out of the water. It was just so relaxing, so blissfully enjoyable.

So if you feel like life is just getting a bit tense for you, maybe it's time to let your hair down and take some time away from the stress of life. Enjoy a good laugh, indulge in a tickle fight with a sibling or friend, go swimming, read a book, and don't stop till you get to the end, go for a walk, or relax with a bowl of popcorn and watch a video, but whatever you do, take a moment to enjoy the fun that can be a part of life if you take time for it sometimes. It may not be often, life is hectic sometimes, but you still need it. Everyone needs a break from time to time...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

THE cars

I'm not the sort who buys and sells more cars than most car dealerships... In almost 9 years of driving (and 9 years of car ownership), I have owned 2 cars. And yes, I owned both of them for 4 and a half years...

The '76 Corolla.
 The first, I bought with money I earned during school holidays working on a local farm, along with some help from my mum. The second, I bought from money I earned at that same farm, though by then I was working there full time.

It was a 1976 Toyota Corolla. Reliable, gutsy for it's age, and black. The sunroof was great, though I had to be careful to shut it just right or it would leak.

My older brother Toby had owned it before me, and he had, among other things, put a new engine in it, repainted it, lowered the front suspension, and put the mag wheels on it. I had bought it off him, 6 months before I was legally able to drive it, so for 6 months it sat under our house, waiting for the moment I got my learner license. Then when I got my provisional license, it carried me to TAFE and back almost every day for 6 months, as I did my certificate in IT. Then, after I had finished school, it took me to work and back, faithfully, even though I didn't exactly drive it gently. It broke down exactly twice in the four and a half years that I owned it. Once, when the fuel pump died, and the second time when it needed a new ignition coil. Oh, I had a flat battery a few times from leaving the headlights on accidentally, but I could hardly blame the car for that! It was a reliable, tough little car, with not too much power, or I probably would have killed myself before I settled down a little in my driving habits.

By the time I was 20, I was looking for another car. My little Corolla was getting old. It's heartbeat was still nice and steady, but I was just wanting to upgrade to something a little newer. My brother had bought and owned a pulsar, and from driving his, I quite liked them, so I started looking for one, just casually to begin with. Then, one morning on the way to work....

It was a damp morning, and coming around a bend not far from our house, I make a mistake. I downshifted in the corner. Now in some cars this might not be a problem. But this was a rear wheel drive, little four cylinder, with absolutely no weight on the back wheels. they locked up, and I slammed into the curb. It buckled the front wheel back until it was almost scraping. I drove it to work that day, and took the next two days off work to buy a car.

The wheels I added myself, about a year after I bought the car
My brother Markus, who is a mechanic, and I, drove around to a lot of car dealerships the first day, but couldn't seem to find anything that looked good. That evening I went looking online at car advertisements, and found two that looked promising. The next morning my Dad drove me to see one of them, about two hours drive from our home. We had arranged with the owner of the car where to meet her, and when. We arrived a little early, and she wasn't there yet, so we waited. Suddenly I saw the car driving around the corner, "My car" I thought. I looked the car over. It looked very neat, and well looked after. Half an hour later, after a quick test drive, I had decided to buy it. Driving it home the next day felt great! I had a car again, and it was exactly what I had wanted. It was a 1997 Nissan Pulsar. Almost exactly 10 years old at the time when I bought it. Not only economical, but the sort of car that is fun to drive. I enjoyed driving it for over four years. And again, it broke down exactly twice. But then again, I look after my cars, and God blessed me with a car that had been looked after before I got it.

And that brings me to now. My car served me faithfully til the 23rd of December. Then, being coaxed through some floodwater that was just a little too deep, it finally gave up. Actually, I think I did the damage a week or so before, again, driving through water. It got water into the engine, weakened something, and on that day, it finally gave way, snapping one or more of the conrods. A loud knocking noise, followed by an even louder crack, and my faithful car was no more. I placed the insurance claim, and yesterday the car was towed away and assessed. The tow truck driver said that it was guaranteed to be a write off, and for the first time in my life, I am glad to lose my car. Driving it on the rough dirt roads around here had destroyed the suspension, and the registration had run out, which meant that I would have had to fix the car up properly before I could re-register it. Then I would have to sell it anyway to buy a vehicle that is more suited to our needs. If the insurance does indeed pay us the value of the car, then we have to go shopping for another one, and hopefully one that will last us at least 4 years, :D.

But it was still a little sad to lose this car. This was the car I drove to Lismore to visit Cherith in (and which seemed to impress her so much). This was the car the two of us travelled around in so much at the end of 2010, and the start of 2011. This was the car we drove off to honeymoon in. A lot of memories, and yet, it is still only a car. But it was, for four years, one of the few things I could count on. I knew, that when I walked out in the morning to go to work, that it would start, first try, every time. No if's, no but's, no maybe's. It just did.

For now though, we have to rely on other people to either take us shopping, or do it for us. Life is good, even if not always smooth. Because God is in control, and He doesn't take time off, or wear out after 4 and a half years like my cars seem to. He is always there for us, and that is the most comforting thought in life....

Sunday, 1 January 2012

My year, our year, our life.

There's no doubt about it. 2011 has been a year of changes for me.

The biggest and best of those was getting married :)!

I am not the sort who likes a lot of changes. I like stability in life. A steady job, a place to live, a reliable car, etc... 2011 has challenged all of those for me...

In February, my boss in QLD retired, sold his farm, and I was made redundant. I had worked for him for almost 6 years, and he had always made a definite effort to have work for me (To the point that he planted extra crops when the regular work wasn't enough). And it wasn't often that I was forced to have time off work. It had been a good job.

But 2010 brought someone into my life that made a few changes necessary, so when my work finished, I moved interstate to be nearer to her (by then she was my girlfriend, and I was already fairly certain I wanted to ask her to be my wife). So I moved, 860kms later I arrived at Cherith's sister's house, where I had been offered a place to stay until I had work and could afford a rental or whatever else I could arrange... But for three months, work in that area eluded me. I was told later that jobs are in very high demand around there, because the area is effectively overpopulated, as three universities bring a lot of people to the area.

In the meantime, Cherith was still studying primary teaching. But things weren't going very well. She had some fairly worrying health symptoms. Headaches that seem to come out of nowhere, severe, sudden, and seemingly unexplainable. They seemed to be worst after she had attended classes, but they weren't limited to that. It made studying nigh impossible. But Cherith was determined to continue. She pushed on, but it got worse. One day, two minutes after walking into a classroom that had been cleaned only half an hour earlier, she was hit by severe headaches, nausea, and dizziness. It couldn't continue. Cherith talked to one of her lecturers about it. She told Cherith that she was displaying all the symptoms of MCS, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. She asked Cherith where she was living, and after describing the place, her lecturer shook her head and said it was no wonder Cherith was having problems (the house was almost right next to the main freeway between Sydney and Brisbane, and on the corner of the main road through the town as well.) The pollution had been so bad, I had been wiping an oily residue off my windscreen every few days, the toxic fumes in the area so potent, they would settle on the car fairly quickly.

It seemed Cherith couldn't continue, and when she realised she had 2 days to make a decision due to academic cut off dates for classes, she decided to put her studies on hold and work on her health and our impending wedding. Meanwhile, I was still unemployed. Then I heard of a potential job in the country, close to where Cherith's parents live... I decided to go and see. We had been planning to visit her parents, and on the way we stopped at this place and I asked the owner of the farm if he had any work... His answer was that he didn't right then, but might have in a few weeks. Two days later he rang and asked me to come to work the next day. And so I did. Then started the busy season on this olive farm, and I had work 6 days a week, and later on even 10 or 12 hours a day. I started saving for the wedding in earnest, feeling like I had a lot of time to make up.

I'm not going to recite everything that happened. Some of those things I have written already, ad would bore you all to tears by writing it all again. But, God had looked after us, and we enjoyed an amazing honeymoon in the fantastic green hills of country NSW.

After the wedding, we had to find a place of our own to live. I asked my boss if he had any ideas, and he arranged with a friend of his for us to have a house of our own to live... It is lovely quiet country. Our nearest neighbors are not in sight, and we can't hear cars driving along the road we live on. Cherith's health has definitely been picking up since we have been living in the country. The fresh clean air has been very good for her, and being able to get out of doors more often has helped too I'm sure. Oh, her problems aren't over, because she is still very sensitive to chemicals, and most likely always will be. Some air fresheners will have her holding her head in pain, and paint fumes are unbearable for her. But we manage so much better since moving away from the F3 freeway in Cooranbong, and the toxic air that would leave partly burnt petrol residue on my car windscreen.

But life in the country has it's challenges. Losing my car to the extreme weather conditions (flooding), was definitely hard to deal with, but thankfully it was insured, so not I just have to save up for the $1200 claim excess... Having a lot of time off work because of the flooding also didn't help, at a time when we had seemingly a mountain of bills to pay off. But we aren't starving...

And it takes a lot to get used to the isolation and loneliness that can be overwhelming at times. It is 45 minutes drive to town. Some days when I am at work she struggles with the isolated feeling of the place. When I am at home however, we both revel in the fact that we have our own place, that the neighbors are not close enough to bother us, that we have enough space for a nice garden, and that we have unlimited water to use for the garden. Life is good, and not just when everything is perfect.

I wouldn't want to start 2012 any other way, than simply being thankful for where we are and what we have. There are lots of things we need, but simply can't afford at the moment (like a lawn mower and brush cutter), but God has provided so many things already, it'd be ridiculous to think He won't keep doing so. And so I am thankful for everything He has done for us the past year. It has been an amazing year. But 2012 is going to be better yet.... After all, in 2012 we are going to start the year off married, living in a home of our own, enjoying each other and the blessings God keeps giving us. Life really is great...