Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Verse - Acts 3:6-8

“Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 
Acts 3:6-8 (NKJV)

I have just started reading the Book of Acts, which details the formation of what we now call the Church, after Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven. It is such an amazing and challenging book. The other morning I was reading these verses in chapter 3 and I thought I'd share a few thoughts with you.

The context is that the disciples Peter and John have been going to the temple and preaching the Good News of the gospel. Thousands are repenting and putting their faith in Jesus Christ at every meeting. Now as Peter and John go to the temple at the time of prayer, 3:00pm (the Jews had three times a day when they used to pray), they come across a beggar who was lame from birth. This was by no means an uncommon place for beggars to be, since people would pass by often on their way to prayer, and many wanted to impress God by doing good works and making offerings.

The lame man asked Peter and John for alms. The verse than says:

And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” (verse 4)

I really appreciate how much attention Peter showed the man. Undoubtedly many people had completely ignored the beggar, or tossed money at him without even meeting his eyes.

So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. (verse 5)

This man was hoping for money, and had no idea that he would receive something far better. It makes me wonder how often I look to God as some kind of vending machine, praying for blessings. Not that it is wrong to pray for blessings or good outcomes, but I think sometimes I start using God like some magic lamp, and forget that He has already given me the greatest gift in the world: salvation.

Peter then says:
“Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”(verse 6)

Peter is right: the disciples were broke, but he could offer a gift far more precious than silver or gold. Through Jesus' name he healed this man and gave him freedom from his ailment. So too does Jesus offer us something more precious than silver or gold: freedom from our sins. Also note that when Jesus healed people, He just said "Rise, take up your bed and walk" (John 5:8), but Peter invokes the name of Jesus so the man knows that his healing came from Jesus.

And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.  (verse 7)

Peter offered the man his hand, just as Jesus promises that He will reach out and save us if we repent of our sins and trust in Him. Then he will immediately cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

I love that the man didn't just slowly rise - he leapt up! The man who had been lame from birth leapt! Not only that, but he continued leaping and praising God. I think this really parallels our transformation through salvation. In our life before Christ, we are dead in our sins, children of wrath with no hope; then when God saves us, we are made alive, we become sons and daughters of God, and we are filled with hope and the joy of God. (Colossians 2:13)

Also note that the man didn't praise Peter but rather praised God, because Peter had told him that it was through the power of Jesus that he was healed.

And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (verse 9-10)

So too should people see a transformation in us once we are saved, and it should cause them to be amazed at how God could save wretches and sinners like us - like me.

I hope these verses were as encouraging to you as they were to me.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Dress - Pink and White and All Things Nice

So what wonders does my closet hold for you today? Well, last Sunday was such a lovely sunny day that I decided to pull out one of my favourite summer dresses. Like the last outfit post, this dress comes from June via Helen and was originally from Japan. The label reads "Densefun", which is kind of a funny name when you think about it (as opposed to "light fun"). This dress has some serious gaiety!
I actually don't wear or own much pink. This is mainly because my older sister Laura was a "pink" girl growing up. My sister and I had an unspoken agreement when we were younger that we could not like the same things; ergo, if she liked pink I liked blue, if she liked cats I liked dogs. Unfortunately, since she was older she got the dibs on chocolate, and for this very reason I distinctly remember depriving myself of it for a time when I was a child! My sister and I are still very much opposites in many ways, but the occasional pink piece of clothing has sneaked its way into my closet over the past few years. 


Shoes - Faith

Believe it or not, these little white kitten-heel sling backs are actually the shoes I wore to my deb when I was 17. I fell in love with them at a shoe shop in Sorrento, Victoria, Australia. Because of their stiletto heels, I was offically voted "Person Most Likely To Fall Over" during the night of the deb. But I didn't! Ha!

 Bag - thrifted

This bag is one of my more recent purchases, and I have to say I'm in love with it. I'd been looking out for a bag like this for the longest time, and I found it in a second-hand shop in a little country town called Shannon. What a find!

Until next time! :)

Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Inning - The Wonderful World of Hand Turkeys

Hi all, so in case you were wondering, we did end up celebrating Thanksgiving. Just a small one at our place. Luke did an awesome job with food, including making a most delicious pumpkin pie, which took a full 3 hours to set due to our ridiculously slow-to-cook-anything gas oven. Luke's brother Michael and his wife Alina came around, as well as Bex (Luke's sister) to join in our festivities.

We celebrated Thanksgiving last year with two very dear friends of ours, Claire and Mihwa. Sadly they have both returned to their respective home countries, but they did introduce us to the wonderful Thanksgiving tradition of making "Hand Turkeys." Essentially, for those who do not know, you trace around your hand and then colour it in to look like a turkey. And it is great fun for adults and children alike!

So pretty much all you need is paper, pens and any colouring instruments you like!

Of course much concentration is needed...

Then voila! A hand turkey is created. I called this one: Bedtime Turkey with Faceless Bear (I painted the bear in a very dark brown, so it kind of lost its face...poor Faceless Bear).

Dragon Turkey painted by Luke. I should explain that I asked him to make a face like a dragon and this is not his normal expression :)
Now I have to say that Alina and Michael took Hand Turkeys to a whole new level with their pictures.
This one is Alina's. Isn't it amazing? She actually drew all of us in it. If you'd like to check out more of her amazing artwork you can go to her blog: Snowlullaby.
Michael's is equally amazing. I'm telling you, these guys are talented with a capital T!

Now once you've finished your masterpieces you can sit back and enjoy some...

PUMPKIN PIE!!! :):):)

Random cork baby made by Michael and Alina. :)

Until next time!

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Review - April Smith and the Great Picture Show

So I thought it was about time that I reviewed something on here that wasn't a movie or theatrical show. I decided I'd share a musical discovery with you, so here we go:

The band is called April Smith and the Great Picture Show and their album is called "Songs For A Sinking Ship." I discovered them through the wonderful world of iTunes, probably through a recommendation from a band of a band of a band that I like - you know how it goes. Anyway, I have to admit that I haven't downloaded all their songs, as I find some catchier than others; but that's always the way, isn't it? I must admit that is something I really love about iTunes: the fact that you can listen to a sample, and choose to download the whole album or just one song.


Anyway, I have recently discovered that there are two things I really love in songs: 1) clapping (don't ask me why, but it just puts me in a good mood); 2) the kazoo. I seriously feel this is an underrated instrument. I also love that Bill Bailey got his kazoo confiscated at New Zealand customs because they thought it was some kind of bong. So yeah, bring back the kazoo I say!
Thus, when I heard the song "Colours" I immediately fell in love. Not only does it have clapping and the kazoo, but also a cow bell! In a word: awesome!


Anyway, April Smith and her band combine indie pop, folk rock and swing. They cite a wide range of influences, from The Beatles and Queen to Edgar Allan Poe and Wes Anderson. Their style has been described as "spaghetti burlesque" and "melodramatic pop", but if you're anything like me I have no idea what these terms mean - all I know is that quite a few of their songs are catchy and they sound good to my ear. April has an amazing voice, both strong and incredibly graceful. The songs are fun and the lyrics are so clever.

Favourite songs are: Colors, Movie Loves A Screen, Can't Say No, Stop Wondering, Terrible Things. However, I will probably end up downloading their entire album. But don't take my word for it, have a listen for yourself: the song below is Colours  :)

 Enjoy! :)

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Holiday - Thanksgiving

I know I'm a day late but "Happy Thanksgiving to y'all!" Yes I know it is really only an American and Canadian holiday so elsewhere it's more like "Happy Nothing Special Day" but I honestly think the Americans and Canadians have a good thing going with this holiday. So here are the following reasons why I think thanksgiving should be celebrated internationally. And these actually ARE in a particular order.

5) Turkey! Yum! Why wait for Christmas, lets have it twice a year!
4) Children get to learn about the history of how their nation started, and even though here in New Zealand our history is not terribly long, it's still important.
3) We get to be thankful and appreciate what God has blessed us with. Although we should thank God everyday, it's nice to have a special day when we reflect on this and share it with others.
2)I believe that where Thanksgiving is celebrated there is a written or unwritten law that no Christmas decorations or even mention of Christmas in stores can be seen or heard until Thanksgiving is officially over...this is in a word brilliant compared to our Christmas creeping in to stores in September in Non-Thanksgiving Countries
1) My final argument and biggest reason for importing Thanksgiving can be summed up on two words... PUMPKIN PIE!

So what am I thankful for this year? I am thankful for my husband Luke. I am so thankful to God for giving me such a wonderful, kind hearted, loving, thoughtful, godly, patient, intelligent, fun-loving, generous, encouraging, handsome, faithful, serving man. I love you Luke.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Verse: Mark 12:29-31

Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

I was thinking about these verses the other day, and what do you know, a large part of the sermon at church last Sunday was devoted to these verses.

Most Christians would be able to recite these verses off by heart, and they are definitely drilled into the children at Sunday School. Did anyone else learn the song with the actions? But as with other verses that we know like the back of our hand, we often forget to dwell on them and meditate on what they really mean.

What does it mean to love God with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your mind and ALL your strength? I have a feeling that if you were to look up the Greek for the word "all", it would mean "all". The idea just really blows my mind. God doesn't just want a piece of my heart, a fraction of my mind, an ounce of my strength or a portion of my soul. He wants ALL of me.

I like what the evangelical Pope (aka John MacArthur) has to say about this:

"The use of various terms is not meant to delineate distinct human faculties, but to underscore the completeness of the kind of love that is called for."

It makes me wonder if there has ever been a time, a moment, where I have fully given to God all He deserves - given myself over to Him completely. I guess that's why Paul writes in Romans 12:1,

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

This is something I need to be doing every day, or every hour, or however often I need to. And when I reflect on how poorly I do this, my amazement at God's grace grows. He is so patient with me.

The second part of the commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’, is equally challenging. I think this verse says quite a lot about human nature. It doesn't command us to "love ourselves" because God understands human nature, and knows that we do that automatically. Sure, people might say they hate themselves, but at the end of the day they still clothe themselves, feed themselves, and make sure they have somewhere to sleep at night. But do we do all this for the homeless person on the street? Sadly, not many of us do.

I love how the two commandments are really bound up in each other. You can't love God with all you have and not love the people He has created. And likewise, you can't have a real heart for people without first loving and giving everything to God. For it is the love we receive from God that makes us love Him, because He loved us first.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10

And it is because of the amazing love that He demonstrated to us through Christ that we are able to love him completely and want to love Him completely. After all, since He sacrificed Himself completely for us, is it not reasonable that we should do the same?

And once we know the love of God, we can share that with others. We can do this selflessly, without any prior agenda, except for showing them God's love. What an incredible calling we have, and how amazing that we get to do it together with God.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Dress - Lady in Red

So what did I wear to the wedding, I hear you ask. Well everyone knows that no one shines as much as the bride on a wedding day. Didn't Alina look just like a Disney Princess?

Anyway, for those of you who are interested, here are a few shots of the dress I wore to the wedding. :)

Dress: ebay

Okay, I bought this dress quite a while ago for my 21st/Farewell party before I went to Taiwan. It was $40.00 (bargain) and, let's face it, every girl needs an LRD (little red dress), right?

I think the scoop neck is quite flattering on most people, and I love the wider straps (as you will see, I don't "do" strapless, and I'm not a fan of spaghetti straps).

The material is satin, and very swishy - it feels great. A sash comes round to the back and ties in a big bow, but unfortunately my husband needs to be trained in the art of "bow tying" so I was unable to get a good photo of it for you.
earrings: diva

These earrings I also bought for my 21st/Farewell, and would you believe it, they are still in stock at Diva. Just goes to show I have lasting taste :)

Cropped cardigan: Old Navy
Bex (my sister-in-law) and I were quite pleased at how well our dresses contrasted. I also did her make-up. Doesn't she look pretty?

Last of all, a photo of my husband Luke and I. Luke is looking very handsome in the skinny black tie I'd bought him the day before. This was the first wedding we have attended as a married couple. Makes me wonder who will be next :)

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Review - 25th Anniversary Concert of The Phantom of the Opera

A well-known fact: I love musicals. I have loved musicals, love musicals and will for the foreseeable future unquestionably continue to love musicals. So when I saw that selected cinemas in Wellington were showing the Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Performance, how could I not go?

Me and the Phantom go way back, I mean since I was about 4 and it first came to Australia. My parents went to see it (in defiance of all my pouting). I remember my mum telling me about the falling chandelier, and thinking that they must have had to duck when the chandelier went swinging out over the audience. Kids' imaginations are always more fantastical than reality. Anyway, so my parents brought home the cassette tape, and I remember being completely and utterly enchanted listening to it and attempting to do my own kind of ballet.

Anyway, I digress. In summary, I have always loved the Phantom of the Opera. I actually went to see it live on stage in Melbourne a few years back, but unfortunately in that performance we didn't get to see Anthony Warlow, of whom I am a huge fan (between my mum and I we have all his albums).

But it was still brilliant to see on stage. In August this year I also went to see Love Never Dies in Melbourne with my husband and mum, but that's another blog entry for another time. :) Time for a picture.


In case you've been living under a rock for the past 25 years, The Phantom of the Opera is an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and probably one of the most famous musicals of all time (if not the most). It is also the longest running show, 25 years people - it's older than I am! In October last year, the London production celebrated its 10,000th performance. Regardless of whether you love it or hate it, that's pretty darn impressive.

Luke and I went to one of our favourite little cinemas, Penthouse Cinema & Cafe in Brooklyn, to watch the screening of the concert. We have seen a few other screenings of concerts there, such as Les Miserables and The Importance of Being Earnest, and I have to say it's the next best thing to actually going to the theatre. The Phantom was no exception to this rule.

In many ways you actually feel like you receive a better viewing than the audience members. The camera work was amazing, with great close-ups and wide angle shots which made you feel as though you were right there amongst it.

The costumes were breathtaking, especially during the masquerade scene, where it was an absolute feast for the eyes and you hardly knew where to look. The sets were interesting. Instead of the traditional style of scenery, plasma screens were used to project backgrounds. Although I still prefer more traditional sets, it did mean that scene changes happened in literally a second, and there were a few moments when this method was used most effectively.

But the best part of all was the fabulous singing and acting of the Phantom and Christine. I believe that John Owen-Jones, who played the part of the Phantom, could definitely hold his own amongst the most renowned actors to have starred in this role. Sofia Escoba was equally brilliant as Christine, and her performance of "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" was so great that I almost had to hold my hands back from applauding her in the movie theatre. However it is the tantalising chemistry between the both of them that really makes this film worth watching. But don't just take my word for it - you can buy the DVD and check it out for yourself. And just to tempt you further you can watch the clip below.

Until next time :)