Friday, 25 May 2012

Four words

In my workplace, I've often heard people say "Christians should do this", or "Christians shouldn't do that", or "That's not very Christian!" and I smile to myself, and wonder what makes them such experts.

Or sometimes they'll swear in my hearing, then apologise. Why, what did they expect - disapproval? judgement? Like, whatever... I'm a person, just like them!

I'm also a Christian - a follower of Christ.

The difficulty is, there seems to be no clear definition for what it means to be a modern-day Christian. It doesn't help that some people who call themselves Christians are often found at the opposite end of the "issues" continuum.

I've met some Christians who are quite incredible in the way they help out other people, with charity, advice or just by being a friend. But then there are the high profile Christians who fail badly and publicly. Others are in your face, telling you what you should do, and you just know they can't keep to the same standard.

The reality is, you can't put me in a box!

So here's a thought. Most people know about the 10 commandments, but they wrongly assume they're just a bunch of rules that no-one can keep, and if you break them, you're in big trouble. What they forget, or may not know, is that all those laws can be summed up in just
four simple words:
               "Love God, Love People!"

 Jesus once said it like this (my paraphrase):
"Hey, fellas, it's a new day, and there's a new way. I've taught you, and I've loved you, but I'm not gonna be around that much longer, so you have gotta start loving each other, just like I've been showing you all this time! And when people see that, they're gonna know, without a doubt, that you're one of My followers!" 
So here are the questions I have to ask myself:
  • Do I love God?   What does it look like?
  • Do I love people?   How would they know?
  • What is my motivation?   The same as His?
  • Am I a follower?   How do I look like Him?

And to answer the question about all those other "types" of Christian, perhaps this story will help:
"I'm off to work," I announced to my wife the other morning. Then five minutes later, as I shut down my computer, stuffed my pockets and loaded my bags, she says, "I thought you said you were going to work...." To which I replied, "I am - it's a process, not an event!"

And yes, I got there in the end!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Just cos!

Some days I have words bursting out my ears, boiling up inside me, "Let me out! Let me out!" I see pictures, or read comments - or I listen to myself speak and I think about my motives. I've got things I want to say, questions I want to ask, opinions I want to debate, thoughts I need to consider...

Yet I haven't finished a blog post for two weeks. I've got some scraps of paper - filed - but I've had to discipline myself to get other priorities done first - aaaargh!!

One morning I woke up with an inspiration and wrote a few hundred words, but I have to check my facts before I publish. Some days I find myself blobbing out in front of the computer, avoiding my 'must-dos' and wanting to play with words, yet knowing I can't allow myself the indulgence until I've satisfied my clients.

I pretend I'm working, but really I'm reading news items, blog posts, opinion pieces, looking at my stats... I'm thinking about how I can promote my blog, reach more people, and whether I should set up Follow by Email, or Subscribe, (the systems for which I'm still trying to figure out.)

I'm torn between wanting to reach more readers and wanting to know how many there are, and where they're from. Maybe that's because of my background - every newspaper wants to know its readership, every orator needs an audience...

I'm trying to decide what's really important. Where's the bottom line? Why do I do what I want to do? Why do I want to do it?

And the simple answer is, "Just cos!" There's a world wide web out there, and I want to make a difference. I want to pass on what I've learnt. I want to leave my mark.

I want to take part in the great discussion...

I wanna write cos I wanna write!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Mother's Day memories

Tomorrow is Mother's Day and I'll be calling my Mum. And my kids will be honouring theirs. Mums are extraordinary people, and it's a wonderful tradition that we put aside a special day to celebrate them.
"To my Mum: For all the years of care, concern and sacrifice, I appreciate, love and honour you. Happy Mother's Day!"
Mums and Dads need to be celebrated. The longer I'm a parent, the more I appreciate what mine did for me. But in our home, tomorrow will be a day of mixed emotions. It's our first Mother's Day without my Mum-in-law who died last year. For nearly 25 years she was my Mum and invested so much time and love into our family. I miss her.

This week also marks the third anniversary of what has become known in Hawke's Bay history as The Napier Siege, which started the Thursday before Mother's Day in 2009. It was an event which will be forever etched in the memories of literally hundreds of people directly affected.

As a press photographer, I saw several different perspectives to the drama, and as I took a day off to celebrate Mother's Day with my Mum-in-law, my wife and my family, I felt compelled to write the following opinion piece. It was published in Hawke's Bay Today as an editorial, and in many respects, it still sums up my feelings about Mums. They are awesome!

Difficult time for mothers to celebrate
Monday, May 11, 2009

Much of New Zealand would have celebrated Mother's Day yesterday with the traditional breakfast-in-bed, and gifts of chocolates and flowers.

Mums are special, they are loved, and it would be hard to imagine life without them.

In Napier however, Mother's Day came at the end of a three-day siege, which started with the shooting of Senior Constable Len Snee - and ended with the death of gunman Jan Molenaar.

Two mothers lost a loved one - Mr Snee's wife Vicki is left without a husband and father for their two sons, and Anna Molenaar lost her second son in six years, the first to suicide.

Hundreds of other mums were also affected by the siege on Hospital Hill.

Mothers of the critically-injured police officers and civilian waited anxiously to see whether their boys would pull through.

On Thursday, Napier schools were inundated by calls from anxious mums, checking that their kids were okay. Some had to wait for hours before their little ones were released into their care.

Other mums had sons and daughters trapped inside the cordon, their only contact by phone.

There were the neighbours who, for no fault of their own, were locked down for more than two days, in some cases not even being able to move around inside their home. Anyone who's tried to entertain kids during the holidays will identify with that scenario.

There were the evacuated mums who went into overdrive, creating temporary homes with family, friends or in motels, struggling to bring a level of normality into the lives of those they love.

And there were the mums of the police and Armed Offenders Squad staff who went in on our behalf. Many would have called home to say they were okay, or that they were about to go in, not really knowing what the outcome would be. They too could have been added to the list of casualties.

In Napier this week, mums waited, mums prayed, mums supported, mums hoped.

Mothers have a remarkable capacity to see the best, to believe the best and to hope for the best for their kids, whatever their age.

For at least two mums last week, those hopes and aspirations were extinguished.

Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Vicki, the wife of slain policeman Len Snee, and Anna, the mum of gunman Jan Molenaar.

To all other mums: Much of your work goes unappreciated, and too often, is not even noticed.

Remember, we appreciate and value you.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Ruts in the road

My Dad used to say that you should drive as if every other driver on the road is an idiot!

Defensive driving at its best, and his advice was never more applicable than now. After more than 30 years of driving, this not-so-old dog has had to learn some new tricks, because 'they'  have gone and changed the rules.

I really have to concentrate - and keep an eye on the "idiot" facing me a wee while longer, to make sure they too are up with the play.

Don't get me wrong, I like the new rules, and on this occasion, the law is not an ass. But no longer can I drive on auto-pilot! No longer can I afford to rely on yesterday's knowledge.

You don't have to look too hard to see a parallel in other arenas of life, where so often we view today's experiences through the lens of yesterday's disappointments or even successes.

New circumstances, new people, new environment - yet so often we react rather than respond, based on past hurts or prejudices. Unconsciously we expect the future to be the same as the past.

How can we help ourselves? The same way I learnt the new road rules:

By reading the new rules, and watching out for others. By allowing ourselves to start with a new slate. By letting go the old rules, and looking for and embracing the new. By visualising the future, and moving towards a new destination, one step at a time. By knowing what to expect, and being ready to make choices. By asking others for their help. By recognising that the other "drivers" also need time to realise there's been a change!

It'll take time, and determination, and maybe a few fails along the way, but in the end, the hope of having fewer major crashes will make it worth the effort.

In short, my thinking has to change!
I need to make a decision and act on it!
I need to download an update!
I need to correct the bias!

I need to get out of the rut - and maybe you do too...