Are we too busy to live?

I just heard about a pastor whose spouse is so stressed out that they live different states and get together once a week – presumably to remind themselves that they are still married.  I have often heard of married couples in high profile secular jobs that live like this but I am horrified to think that Christian leaders who should be setting a good example for their congregations live like this too.  What is the church coming to?  No wonder more and more Christian leaders are opting out of church in their 40s and 50s – they have not given up their faith just the pressures that the church imposes on them.  And evidently the average length of time that pastors stay in their jobs these days is down to about 5 years.  The pressures get to them and they opt out.

Is this the way that God intends us to live?  I don’t think so.  Shouldn’t we be setting an example of a different way of life?

Books, Plants and Friends

I just realized looking back through this blog that it is a long time since I mentioned any of the books I have been reading, which is rather surprising since I read 4 – 5 books a week. Maybe the problem is that I have been dipping into a number of rather of uninspiring books lately. The best I have come across is Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, a delightful account of her family’s adventures when they decided to live only on local food for a year. It really inspired me to consider other ways that we could reduce our consumption of food that has been transported halfway across the world. Actually I am feeling pretty good about that at the moment – this afternoon Ricci Kilmer and I were out planting the autumn vegetables – cauliflowers, cabbages and broccoli. Part of the rhythm of life for Ricci and I (and her daughter Catie) is that we get together every Wednesday afternoon for a cup of tea, a chat about where we are at in our lives & then an hour attacking some project in the house or garden – at the moment we are usually out in the garden planting or weeding.

It is a great time to wander the garden – the spring flowers are in full bloom, the early tomatoes are starting to turn red (or yellow depending on the variety) and the first squash are growing rapidly. It is extremely satisfying, not just because we are able to produce so much of our own food but also because it is just wonderful to wander around and drink in the beauty of God’s creation.

Anyhow back to books. The other book I have been dipping into is Covenant of Peace: The Missing Peace in New Testament Theology and Ethics by Willard Swartley. It is a wonderful look at the concept of shalom (one of my passions) in the New Testament. I was glad to notice when I read the introduction that this book had actually taken 20 years to write. I have been studying and writing on shalom for 15 years. I too would like to write a book but I suspect that it will be another couple of years before I get around to it.

While I am on the topic of books maybe I should share a few of my favourites. They may surprise you. One book I have carried with me since I was 14 years old is a children’s story called All the Proud Tribesmen. It is a delightful story about a young Polynesian boy Kerri, who grows up on a small island in the South Pacific. There is a missionary woman on the island whom the islanders love and so they decide to give her a present – they give her Kerri as a son. After all in Poylnesian society children grow up as part of a community so they don’t feel that he is losing his family, he is just gaining another one. The story follows the islanders through the loss of their island and their move to another that is feared because it is believed to be the home of evil spirits.

When I was on the Anastasis in the South Pacific this book did the round of everyone on board. According to the Fijians and Tongans it was a very realistic look at island culture. I still pass the book around to anyone I can convince to read a children’s book.

Another of my favourites is also a cross cultural novel but this time a sci fi book called Hellspark by Janet Kagen. It is one of the best looks at cross cultural misunderstanding and struggle that I have ever read. And just to round off the list, another book I have carried around for years is Neville Shute’s Pied Piper. Like most of Neville Shute’s books it is the story of an ordinary man who does extraordinary things. John Howard, a man in is 60s is caught in Austria at the beginning of World War II and is asked to help get some children back to England. As he travels, dodging the advancing Germans, he slowly gathers other children. Anyhow I don’t want to give the story away so I suggest that you get hold of it at a second hand bookstore or at the local library.

Totally Domesticated

I have spent a very relaxing and totally domesticated evening – making blackcurrant jam and granola – the only challenge has been making sure that I do not put the blackcurant spoon in the granola and vice versa. If you have never tasted blackcurrant jam then you are missing out on one of God’s most wonderful inventions. I know that it is much better known and appreciated in Australia & Britain than it tends to be in the United States.

When Tom & I visited Britain a few years ago we stayed at a small community called Little Giddings where they made their own blackcurrant jam. Tom enjoyed it so much that the first thing we did when we arrived home was to buy a couple of blackcurrant biushes to plant in the garden. Now we produce more than enough for our own needs – and of course it really does need to be shared to be fully appreciated.

I have been making my own granola for years. It is an easy way to provide a nutritious and inexpensive breakfast – with fruit & home made yoghurt. In case you are interested here is my recipe.

Title: Christine’s Granola, Categories: Breakfast Yield: 60 Servings

10 c Rolled Oats 2 c Wheat Flakes
2 c Tricilicate Flakes 2 c Wheatgerm
3 c Wheat Bran 2 c oat bran 2 c Skim Milk Powder
2 c Wheat Flour 1 c Pecan,Chopped, 1c almonds chopped
1 c Cranberries 1 c Apricots,Chopped
1 c Pumpkin Seeds 1 c Flax Meal
1 c Apple Sauce 1 c Honey

[Note: I started making granola many years ago because I found the
ones I found in the stores were far too sweet for me. Over the years I
have reduced the fat, added a wider variety of grains and generally
made the granola more healthy. This is our main breakfast over the
summer months.]
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Heat apple sauce & honey
together, add to dry ingredients and mix separating any lumps in
mixture. Cook at 350 F until brown. Leave in oven until oven is cool.
Add dried fruit.

Per Serving: 195 Cal (19% from Fat, 15% from Protein, 65% from Carb); 8
g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 1 g Mono Fat; 34 g Carb; 5 g Fiber;
10 g Sugar; 53 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 15 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol;
AccuPoints = 3.5


Exploring Restorative Justice: Meet the prisoners & the victims

Here is a cool article on Exploring Restorative Justice that I received a copy of from Peacebuilders at Eastern Mennonite University today.  I was touched and encouraged by this radical and I think Biblical approach to justice.  In a world in which most of our “justice” is based on punitive measures we all really need to think more about what a Biblical approach would be.  The scary thing is that it also means we need to respond in new and restorative ways to the injustices we experience too.  Not easy for any of us when we feel violated by crime in some way.

These are some of my favourite things

These last couple of weeks have been busy but satisfying. I really have had a chance to do a lot of my favourite things.

We have entertained friends from Australia & Hong Kong


As you can see Fuzz Kitto from Australia really does live up to his name.

Last weekend we flew to San Diego to work with Solana Beach Presybterian Church. For me it was a little like going home to Australia – not only was the weather like Sydney (sun and surf all around) but it seemed to me that San Diego had imported all of my favourite trees & shrubs too – eucalyptus (commonly called gums in Australia) bottle brush & one of the most unusual flowers you will ever see – the kangaroo paw (see photo)


We also spoke at three church services, taught a perspectives class and met with church leadership over meals. I also had the chance to reconnect to people I had not seen since I was in Mercy Ships. It was a wonderful treat.

This weekend began with another party – Tom organized a luau with lots of wonderful Hawaiian style food. Anneke who lives in our downstairs flat even taught us to do the hula. In his book The Challenge of Jesus Tom Wright says “Everywhere that Jesus went there was a party. Seems like good theology to me & certainly something that we have taken to heart.


Saturday we spent on the land we own of Camano Island working on prayer trails in order to have the site ready for our Celtic prayer retreat in August. It was wonderful to be up on the land again – the smell of cedar & fir, the beauty of the forest and just the joy of being out in the midst of God’s wonderful creation is one of the most refeshing things I know.


p1010099.jpgI have even had time to work out in the garden. As you may know one of our commitments is to sustainability and one of the best ways to achieve this is by growing as much of our own food as possible. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to go out into the garden and pick vegetables to use in the meal you are about to prepare. This year I have gone a little wild with new varieties – purple, yellow and green cauliflowers have to be seen to be believed and they taste every bit as good as the white ones.


And in between times there was plenty of work to do on the Seed Sampler and upcoming MSA events. Somewhere soon I hope to find time to work on another book, or maybe just another reflection video – I love being able to incorporate my photos in what I do. It is the first time in my life I have been able to use this creative gift in this way.

The Simple Way Need Your Help.

This morning, a 7-alarm fire consumed an abandoned warehouse in the Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia. The Simple Way Community Center at 3200 Potter Street was destroyed as well as at least eight of their neighbors’ homes.  We really want to support our friends at the Simple Way.   Read more on Eliacin’s blog

A Fast from Consumerism

Here’s a different kind of fast to consider – don’t buy anything new (except food & other essentials) for a month. Take the time to buy second hand or borrow from friends and neighbours. I think that it is a great idea. I think that it would have a huge impact not only on the environment but also on our relationships with others. When we share we develop new friendships and new forms of closeness. I would love to hear from anyone who has tried this. Read more