Got Me Thinking

Thoughts sparked by life, the universe, and jelly beans

Wisdom from My Chiropractor September 5, 2011

Filed under: Musings — gotmethinking @ 10:52 pm

I went in to see my chiropractor for a semi-dislocated shoulder and an injured knee.  Little did I know I’d get some life coaching thrown in. :-)

As we were finishing up, I asked him, “Guy, since you’re an alternative therapist, could you recommend someone I could see who could help me with these stomach pains I’ve been getting, along with headaches and difficulty breathing?”

“Lie down.  Have you had any anxiety issues?”

“Yes, planning the trip to Australia last month, and then planning the longer trip to America this month.  There’s so much to anticipate and organise.”

He listened, and then spent some time treating me with cranio-sacral therapy (my favorite therapeutic approach).  Afterwards, I felt calmer.

“People get anxious because they have all these worries floating around in their heads.  When you get home, why don’t you write down on a piece of paper all of the things you’re worried about that you CAN control, and all of the things that you CAN’T control,” he suggested.  “All of the stuff that you CAN’T control, forget about them.  There’s nothing you can do about them anyway.  Focus your energy on the things you can control, and you’ll feel like you’re getting things done.   Once you do that, all the other stuff outside of your control won’t matter.”

I did that as soon as I got home, and have been checking things off my list, feeling like I’m going somewhere.  The list under “Things I Can”t Control” featured items like volcanic eruptions/ash clouds, earthquakes, and hurricanes that could interfere with our travel plans.  As I wrote them down, it hit me how senseless it was to worry about trying to see into the future and anticipate what might happen so that I could plan ahead of time what to do if the worst happened.  All it did was generate stomach-churning dread.  Besides, how can anyone even guess where they’ll be when “the worst” happens, or surmise what they’ll be able to do?

I am a planner.  I constantly wish I had a crystal ball so I could peer into the future and plan sufficiently to protect and safeguard myself and my family.  This is probably why, when I was receiving cranio-sacral treatment another time, the therapist led me in guided imagery and I felt led to forgive.  When I asked who it was I needed to forgive.  The answer was “Yourself – for taking the burden for everything on yourself and not inviting others to help you.  Yourself – for thinking you are God.”

I have a hard time letting God BE God.  I often think He needs help because He’s got so much on His plate.  Learning to TRUST God for the things I can’t control means that, even if things don’t work out the way I want them to, I can trust that things happen for a good reason, and that He who gave His one and only Son for me will not withhold from me any good thing; and, will always want what’s best for me, and work things out for my good – even if I might not agree with His way of doing things,  His timing, or the means He chooses to achieve His good ends.

I have to laugh at myself for constantly trying to be SuperMom, though.  I am an inveterate never-give-upper!  Learning to let go and depend on someone or others to help is the hardest thing for me.  But, I suspect, that if I do let others, including God, help me, then that hidden, forgotten part of me that has atrophied might come to life again.  I’d be very curious to meet that part and renew my acquaintance. :-)


The Habit of Curveballs April 4, 2011

Filed under: Life Events — gotmethinking @ 5:28 am

My angel of a sister-in-law recently underwent a bilateral mastectomy.  It came as a total, unexpected shock, more for my brother and his family, than for us, of course.  A shock, nonetheless.

Life has a habit of throwing curveballs.  A few days after hearing about my sister-in-law’s illness,  Charis complained about “something painful” on the side of her neck. For a few days, she’d been saying she was tired, which is so unlike her.  Now, this “something painful” was worrying her.  Iain felt it and said it was a lump.  I ran my fingers over it.  It was the size of a large mothball.

That night, she slept with me, seeking shelter and reassurance in my embrace.   She was too scared to name her fear, she confessed.  If she named it, it could become real.  All she said was that she wanted to live, and get married someday, and have children.   I could not sleep.  I didn’t know how to pray, let alone breathe. 

Fear tracked its muddy footprints through my mind.  The next morning, I was rostered for worship at church, and, as I was singing the song, Blessed Be the Name of the Lord, I had to restrain tears at the words of the song: “Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering, when there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your Name.”  This is the sacrifice of praise, I realised.  “You give and take away.  You give and take away.  My heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your name!”   How can we serve Him and love Him only in good times and not bad?

Many of us sleepwalk through life, so caught up with the business of surviving, that we don’t really realise what’s important until it’s too late.  For God to show us, through trouble, what is truly important, well, even in this, is God gracious.  

Life can change at the snap of a finger!  Just yesterday, I heard about a woman who, when the February earthquake struck, rushed back into her office building to grab her handbag.  She never came out.  All they found of her later was a severed arm with a handbag.  That was how they managed to identify her.  How can something so normal, so “every day” end so catastrophically?

First thing this morning, I rang the clinic to book an appointment for Charis.  The doctor checked her out and diagnosed a viral infection that led to enlarged lymph nodes.  If the two swollen lymph nodes subside into normality by next week, Charis won’t need any treatment.  The relief that washed over us was so great, I wanted to hug Dr. Mann.  Praise God for this good news!

With so much changing in the world today: the freedom rallies and revolutions in the Middle East and Africa; the earthquakes along the Pacific tectonic plate; the tsunamis, etc.  I find myself thinking End Times all too frequently. :-)  I suppose that it’s not a bad thing to be eternity-minded.  It’s just that all of these events put mortality at the forefront of my mind. 

I can’t get over how the thought of eternity puts everything into perspective…the way adjusting binoculars yields a clear sharp focus.  Things that I considered minor catastrophes have turned out to be mere inconveniences. :-) And oh, the endless abundance of things to be grateful for!  Terror and Trouble sure get one thinking!


A New Day in Education April 1, 2011

Filed under: Education and Homeschooling — gotmethinking @ 12:56 am

It’s ever so easy to get lost in Cyberspace!  :)  Especially once I venture into the world of books and education.  There is so much that is new, fantastic, and revolutionary that I get sooo excited, I forget to clean the house!

Here are a few  FINDS that are just THRILLING!!! 

Have you heard of the KHAN Academy?  No?  Then watch this TED Talks clip of Salman Khan  right now, and see how much hope there is for your kids to be able to grasp math and science concepts that have eluded them thus far!

The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organisation that, in its own words, “offers a  free world-class education for anyone anywhere”.  All of the site’s resources are available to anyone – adult or child.  What a boon to someone who never got to finish his education because he had to support his family, or because school just wasn’t a safe place to be in!  What a blessing to a child who was dubbed “slow” just because he could not grasp the concepts being taught in a style not sympathetic to his own!  The Khan Academy’s materials and resources are available to everyone completely free of charge.  And they are even being utilised in public schools in the Los Altos school district in California.

Then there is Open Culture  where one can download FREE audiobooks and podcasts on a wide range of topics from music, science, technology, and travel, to ideas and culture.

And for budding artists, there is a wealth of great websites like Art Graphica which offers free online art lessons to artists of various abilities,  and this site, which I like because it  compiles  information on the best sites on art history and history of art  It’s a monster site with loads of information!!!

When you come to think of it, the only true education is self-education, because motivation is the factor that greases the wheels of study.  You are most motivated to learn what you want.  My daughter is currently reading The Story of the World, and when she got to the part about Mary Queen of Scots, her interest was so piqued by this woman that she immediately went to the library and borrowed three adult books about Mary, and one book on King  James.  The librarians thought she was borrowing these for me, but I quickly straightened them out. :)

I LOVE learning.  And I truly enjoy being a conduit for learning.  It is a shame that, in most schools today, teachers are hamstrung by bureaucracy and political correctness to the extent that they are unable to freely teach!  This is why I’m a big fan of home-education!  It keeps alive that flame of interest and excitement in learning that characterised childhood learning in the toddler years when everything was new and waiting to be discovered!  When I watched the 20/20 video by John Stossel, called Stupid in America,,  my heart broke for all that childhood potential that will never be realised, and for all the children who will go through life thinking they are dumb when it is the system that has failed them.

How wonderful to know that the Internet has opened up an entire world of possibilities for the motivated seeker/learner, and, that it, in many cases, makes knowledge available for free!  Talk about adding social value!  I am not a big fan of technology and how it is surely and steadily taking over our lives to the detriment of certain values.  But, I have to say that, when technology empowers, educates, and contributes to the GOOD and FOR the good of the world, it gets two thumbs up from me!


Zipping Down South March 25, 2011

Filed under: Life Events,Traipsing 'round Godzone — gotmethinking @ 6:31 am

I was anxious to get away from Christchurch for a few days just to catch a few  zzz’s.  Insomnia had gotten the better of me and all of the waiting for the predicted whopper wasn’t doing me any good either!  So, we hied off to the Waitaki Valley, down South, and spent a few days there enjoying a long drive of four hours, broken up by visits to the famous Temuka Pottery showroom, and the Wild Bean Café!  Since Iain was going to do a lot of driving, I borrowed an mp3 audio book from the library.  It was tantalisingly called Inspector Singh Investigates: The Singapore School of Villainy by Shamini Flint, featuring the portly, beer-swilling Sikh Poirot, Inspector Singh. Jonathan Keeble was an excellent narrator, and we fell about laughing at his accents (some of which were more successful than others!)  This audio book successfully accomplished its aim of keeping Iain awake and alert on the four-hour drive to Duntroon in the Waitaki Valley.

We sought sanctuary at a lovely Bed and Breakfast called Windhaven, run by Brain and Margery Deaker.  Oh my, but it was lovely!  So restful and peaceful, set in a lovely white converted farmhouse embraced by a gorgeous garden.  Our room was luxuriously spacious and beautifully appointed.  Charis enjoyed the privacy of her very own bedroom! 

The Honeymoon Suite at Windhaven

Nestled in the Waitaki Valley

I love being surrounded by beauty and, in this case, was not disappointed.  Everywhere the eye rested was harmony of colour, texture, and design.  French doors opened on to a balcony where we enjoyed a scrummy Continental breakfast when the weather allowed, and imbibed Sauvignon Blanc by the light of the full moon at day’s end.  The house is set way back from super-highway 83, and patrolled by sentinels of pine, eucalyptus, and various fruit trees so that our dreams were undisturbed.  It is a half hour’s drive from the nearest large town, Victorian Oamaru, but well worth the commute.  You could not do better for hosts than charming, friendly, and knowledgeable Brian and Margery Deaker, who armed us with valuable information and wonderful suggestions regarding places to eat and venues to visit. 

With our charming hostess, Margery Deaker

Charis on Brian's home-made obstacle course

Charis especially loved Benson, their black cocker spaniel, who welcomed us with the mad frenzy of a speeding bullet on steroids, and Toto, their sleek blue-eyed Siamese feline who curled up in bed with her.  Other attractions Charis loved included an obstacle course and a home-made flying fox, constructed by The Man Himself, master builder and joiner, Brian.  If you’re ever on holiday in the heart of the Waitaki wine valley, you couldn’t do better than Windhaven.  Check out their website here:



After the heartbreak of seeing the lovely heritage buildings of Christchurch lying in ruins, it was such a do-I-dare-to-believe-it-pleasure to witness the grand, stately neo-Classical buildings of Victorian Oamaru.

We loved Oamaru.  It is a city by the sea, and the light was beautiful.  We followed the heritage trail of buildings that lined the broad avenues of the city centre.   Here, have a peek:

The buildings were constructed during a time of unprecedented growth in the 1880’s -1890’s.  The newly renovated Opera House was stunning, but, it was a difficult choice to pick a favourite heritage building.  It was like attending a Miss Universe beauty pageant where every contestant looked like, well, Miss Universe!

Highlights for us were the heritage trail; the art galleries (i.e. the Forrester Gallery, The Woolstore Galleries and Cafe, and the Whisky Art Gallery); Totara Estate (from where NZ  first attempted to export frozen meat to England with great success); the Vanished World Fossil Trail (We saw whale fossils in the same place where The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was filmed!); the Whitestone Cheese Factory where we sampled 18 varieties of scrummy cheese; the Kurow Wine Cellar where I  tried 14 varieties of aromatic wines from Pinot Gris to Rieslings (It was a challenge to walk straight after that!) ; and, the Blue Penguin colony, where our patience was rewarded (after a 2 1/2 hour wait) by seeing a foot-high blue penguin with two downy chicks not two metres away from us.  We, the remaining die-hard viewers, held our collective breath at this breath-taking miracle! 


Charis at the Oamaru Botanical Gardens


At Totara Estate

Iain under fossil-studded limestone overhang

Cheese tasting at Whitestone Cheeses. Special plates for a lavish spread.

The Art Car – Oamaru Central



One day, we popped in to the premises of Oamaru Heritage Radio to view their amazing collection of vintage radios.  We were fascinated, but especially Charis, who had never seen radios that were bigger than TV sets!  We met one of the presenters, Wyn Machon, who was all Southern hospitality and charm.  Because he was on-air, I asked him to kindly thank all the people of Oamaru and the surrounding districts for their love and generosity towards Christchurch.  “Why don’t you do it?” he suggested.  So I did.  It was easy to feel emotional about this thanksgiving tribute because everywhere we went in Oamaru and Duntroon, we saw evidence of the love and care of our Southern friends.  Red and black stickers (Canterbury colours) emblazoned with the words “We Care” were pasted on the glass doors and windows of various establishments and retail outlets.  The Vintner’s Drop in Kurow offered a free glass of Sauvignon Blanc to anyone visiting from Christchurch.  (We got called “refugees” a lot.)  The Blue Penguin Colony offered free daytime passes to view the nests of the Blue Penguins.  And Riverstone Kitchen, one of the BEST places to eat in Oamaru, donated a full day’s takings (with all the staff working for free!) and gave a full $10,000 to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal.  How could your heart not be touched by such kindness?



On our way back to Christchurch, we visited the Aighantighe Art Gallery in Timaru and were not disappointed.  We were fortunate to catch them before closing hours.

Here’s the blurb from their website:

The Aigantighe Art Gallery in Wai-iti Road, Timaru is renowned internationally for its art collection and innovative exhibition and education programmes. It was founded in 1956 by the Grant family who came from Scotland and it now holds the South Island’s third-largest public art museum collection. Aigantighe is Scottish Gaelic for ‘at home’ and is pronounced ‘egg and tie’.

Aigantighe holds New Zealand, Pacific, Asian and European art works from the sixteenth century to the present day. Its British Victorian painting collection is of great significance. Masterpieces by Goldie, Hodgkins and McCahon (born in Timaru) feature in a room dedicated especially to them and six new thematic exhibitions from the permanent collection are held in the House Gallery each year.

As usual, I loved the Victorian paintings best, along with the masterpieces by Charles Goldie, and the series of lithographs and etchings titled the Labours of Herakles, by Marian Maguire of Christchurch.  They were whimsical, witty, thought-provoking, and skilfully executed.  Think Classical Greek meets Maori in colonial New Zealand.  Check it out here:



Happy to be home again.  Finished the audio book on the way home to Christchurch.  Mystery satisfactorily solved.  End of story. :-)


Earthquake update March 12, 2011

Filed under: Life Events — gotmethinking @ 6:11 am

The NZ Herald wrote today that “City officials estimate one-sixth of Christchurch’s 390,000 population – some 65,000 people – have fled, terrified by aftershocks or because their workplace has been damaged or destroyed.”  It’s really hard to believe that number!   But today, we learned that friends from church were moving to Auckland rather than try and start up a new business here.  Their business took a hit with the earthquake and I don’t think they see a future for it here.

The city council has lifted the cordons around the city and people will be able to go back in and retrieve the cars they left behind in parking garages or on the road; see if their buildings are still standing; and, retrieve personal and business items from their places of work.

Aftershocks still rock the region.  We attended a wedding last Saturday and church on Sunday, and both times, at both functions, there were aftershocks.  Sometimes I think a person is rudely or thoughtlessly shaking the table or leaning/sitting on my car, only to realise it was an aftershock rather than human action.  Sleep has become a priceless luxury, and, due to insomnia, I can’t seem to sleep before 2 a.m.  It’s such a weird sensation.  Last night, I finally fell asleep after 4 a.m. and thankfully, Iain let me sleep till after 11 a.m.  I was stunned to see the clock register 11:15 a.m. when I awoke.

It’s like we run on adrenaline and then, when we try to relax, possible horror scenarios just sneak up and fill our minds.  We thought the Sept. 4 quake was already bad, but redeemed by the fact that there were no deaths.  This time round, people aren’t quite so resilient. One lives with a pounding heart as soon as an aftershock strikes, or an image flashes on TV or on a website.

Iain’s office building, Meridian Energy, the government-owned electricity company, has been officially “red-stickered” by the earthquake inspectors, and the building is due for demolition, along with the church that stands on a neighbouring property.  He is now working out of a portacom or porta-cabin which is like a huge shipping container with desks and chairs.  He comes home complaining that space is tight (12 men crammed into a place meant for six) and that his back hurts from being hunched up for eight hours.  I comfort him by saying, “It’s only age, dear.” :-) lol


Vigilance.  That’s the key word.  Wherever we go, I look around for the nearest exit or place to shelter if a quake strikes.  If Charis attends an exercise class at the YMCA, or goes to Art Metro, I make sure the teachers tell her where to go in the event of a quake.

Our church, Calvary Chapel Christchurch, meets in the auditorium of a Christian school.  The Sunday after the quake, I kept looking up to see what was above me.  It was a fierce looking long steel spike (I don’t know the architectural term for it) that was jutting out from the ceiling in various places.  I kept wanting to move because, if that thing fell, I would be right under it.  I felt like a wuss, but I didn’t care.

It’s that jittery unsettled feeling that seems to have seized many in Chch.  Nobody wants to be in a high-rise building and I don’t even like being indoors in ANY building unless I’ve identified the nearest exit or place to shelter if an aftershock strikes. If we’re in a mall, I can’t wait to get out, fearing stampedes if an aftershock struck.  This is the main reason I want to get out of Christchurch for a while…just to settle my nerves.

On the comic side, people are constantly debating whether it’s best to be on the ground floor so one can quickly run out in the event of a quake, or on the top floor, which is sure to end up on top if the building came crashing down.  One man who worked at Relationship Services, on the sixth floor of the collapsed CTV building, walked straight out of his office and right onto the street before he realised that his building had collapsed.


This morning, I read about the 8.9 magnitude quake that savaged Sendai province in Japan, along with a 10 meter high tsunami. 

It packed about 8000 times more energy than Christchurch’s 6.3-magnitude quake on February 22, said Professor Polat Gulkan, president of the International Association for Earthquake Engineering.

Later this afternoon, I learned that a 6.8 magnitude aftershock struck Japan, and a 5.8 magnitude quake hit Tonga.  What is going on?


A few days ago, I bumped into a man who claimed Jesus sent the earthquake and all that is happening is God’s judgment.  Now, I know that God is a just God but He is also a merciful God, and I find it hard to believe that God would do such a horrific thing.   After many days of pondering this, here is what I believe.  I believe that God created the heavens and the earth and once he created them, He set them in motion.   They behave in line with the physical laws He instituted that govern the universe…which means that the earth is free to behave like the earth behaves (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides – these are all natural earth activities which have led to the geographical shape of the earth today). 

Being human, however, we need and want things to make sense.  And because natural disasters are beyond our control, humans tend to believe they are caused by “the gods”.  So, we each decide how to view these disasters in ways that make sense to us.  Some of us will view them as the act of a cruel God or a powerless one, and turn away from Him.  Some will say, “It’s just the earth being the earth.”  And still others will say, “It’s the end of the world as we know it since this world will have to fade away for a new consciousness to be birthed in the Age of Aquarius.  We don’t need God.  During the ensuing Millennium everyone will work towards making this planet a paradise again. ”  

From the Fall of Man, God gave human beings FREEDOM OF CHOICE, free will, to decide whether to turn TO God or away from Him.  Each of us exercises that right every day.  Ironically, we give God no credit when wonderful things happen to us.  (Oh, that’s just luck!)  But we have no qualms about blaming Him when bad things happen to us.  (Why did God do this too me?)  As though God were just sitting and waiting to trip us up….

I ran into my friend, Gavin, yesterday.  He told me he bumped into a man he knew who had wrecked a friend’s marriage by making off with his wife.  This man sneeringly asked Gavin, “Where was God when the earthquake struck Christchurch?”  Gavin replied, “God was where He was when you chose to run off with so-and-so’s wife and wreck their marriage.  God gives us all free will, and our choices have rewards and consequences.  The earth is free to behave as the earth behaves just like you are free to behave the way you choose to behave.  God does not intervene and rescue us from our choices.”


I have come to believe that God is graciously giving us a warning before it is too late.  I think it’s fair to say that most of us are too busy for God until our lives are turned upside down by a crisis.  So isn’t it possible that, while the enemy is using these disasters to turn some away from God, God may be using this same disaster to get our attention and draw us TO Himself?  Could He be giving us a chance to see that we cannot save ourselves from ourselves?  That we can only come to a safe haven by turning away from our corrupt, selfish ways and turning to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation?  Jesus is the only way.  The enemy will use these catastrophes to turn people away from God.  And many people who have grown up believing that God is cruel, unfair, autocratic, and tyrannical will fall for the enemy’s lie and turn away from God.

So, the thing is to be prepared, and to remember that, even when we don’t understand why things happen the way they do, God is faithful, and the enemy is a liar.  The Bible says that salvation and eternal life can only be found in and through Jesus Christ, and, although we’ll never have all the answers on this side of eternity, we can pray for the grace to remain steadfast in faith in Jesus who said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. 

I have trusted in my own intelligence most of my life.  The older I get, the more I realise that I will NEVER understand God’s ways. No surprises there. :-) 

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

While I cannot read God’s mind, I can at least make an effort to understand His character.  And reading A.W. Tozer’s book, “Knowledge of the Holy” is a terrific boon. I know that God is a just, holy, and righteous God, but also a merciful and loving one.  So, I pray and ask Him for strength and protection and greater faith. :)  And for the grace to stay true to Him until He calls me home.



A Good News Sandwich February 25, 2011

Filed under: Life Events — gotmethinking @ 11:53 am

I don’t mind telling you where I was when a sharp aftershock rocked Christchurch this afternoon.  I was seated on the throne when the throne started moving rapidly from side to side. It would have been hilarious had it not been so scary!   And the reason it was sharply felt was the fact that the aftershock registered only ONE KILOMETER  below the surface.  This is terrifying!  The Sept. 4 quake was 33 kms below the surface.  The devastating Feb. 22 quake was only FIVE kms down.  Today’s aftershock was ONE kilometer down.  I don’t want to think of it getting shallower and shallower.  The shallower it is, the more death and devastation it wreaks.

You just don’t want to get caught with your pants down in earthquake-stricken Chch!   You feel so helpless, not wanting to be trapped in a place you can’t escape from.  TV’s John Campbell of Campbell Live put it very well tonight.  He said something to the effect of, “You expect the ground to be solid and depend on it to be firm and unmoving.  But for Christchurch, the land has been wildly unpredictable.  Imagine living like this for the last five months, never knowing when a violent aftershock will strike.”

Well, there’s no point focusing on the bad news because it just pulls you down!  So, how about I give you a Good News sandwich?  With Brussels Sprouts in the middle?  :-) Okay, here goes:


300 Australian policemen flew into Chch today (and were sworn in as NZ police) to boost our police  numbers because a full THIRD of our Chch police force has been badly hit with personal tragedies: damaged houses, personal injury, loss of life, personal losses.

Wedding bells pealed for rescued accountant, Emma Howard, who married her fiance, Chris Greenslade, today at the Christ the King Catholic Church in Burnside.  Emma didn’t even think she’d live to see her wedding day as she was trapped  for a terrifying 6½ hours in the pancaked Pyne Gould building last Tuesday.   Here’s her lovely story:

Folks are helping each other all around the city.  A massive student army is helping to shovel silt off people’s roads and properties. People are baking goods in Wellington and sending them down here to Chch.  A couple commandeered their Dad’s ice-cream truck and drove around the city offering free hot drinks and treats to rescue and construction workers.  Christchurch even has a new super loo hero who helps folks dig long drops on their properties.  He then tops the hole with a box and affixes a toilet seat to it.  It’s so lovely to see people enjoying the use of their personal outdoor loo, complete with privacy.  Check it out here:

All of this is Good News in light of the wider-ranging…

BAD NEWS (Here’s the Brussels Sprouts filling.  You can tell I can’t stand B.S.!!!)

Death toll is now 113 and rising.  The youngest victims were a nine-month old and five-month old babies. Heartbreaking. :(

Several Japanese students from Toyama Foreign Language School arrived last week for a four week stint at King’s English School.  One week into their stay, the English School collapsed in the quake. Several students perished, although, fortunately, a number were able to escape along with their accompanying teachers.

13 Filipino nurses were studying  in the same language school, hoping to improve their English before starting work here.  Not one of them survived.

Some of the deceased had only just started working in their companies for a week or a few days!

It is believed that most of the dead in Christchurch Cathedral are foreign tourists.

The city looks like a war zone with buildings pulverized, and most of the iconic landmarks gone.

So before I depress you (and me) further, let’s cap this sandwich with…


There have been so many stories of miracle escapes from people trapped in cars that were so totaled you could not imagine anyone surviving; people sinking chest-deep into unseen mud holes and managing to get free; people trapped in buildings for several days and managing to survive; people who left their offices for lunch and got back late, thereby missing being trapped inside; builders leaving a building site for lunch five minutes before the quake demolished the building!

Aid keeps flowing in from all over the world.  Japan, which lost several foreign nationals in the quake, not only sent their Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team to help but also donated half a million US dollars to the NZ Red Cross earthquake appeal.  Honto ni, domo arigato gozaimashita!

For the first time in NZ, Army engineers have set up a desalination plant in Christchurch.  It  can produce 2000 litres of fresh water per hour for those in need.  The portable equipment, which turns salt water (from the Pacific Ocean) into fresh water, is based in New Brighton beach, and members of the public started receiving water from it this morning.  It is such a blessing because the residents on the Eastern side of town still have no water, power, or sewage facilities!  Many have been using Portaloos since the Sept. 4 quake last year!


As an ordinary citizen, I would like to thank all of the Urban Search and Rescue teams that have flown in from all over the world to help our people.  These teams are from the United States, U.K., Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and Australia.  Thank you, too, to all those who are giving blood, financial, medical, and other aid.  And lastly, thank you for all the kind thoughts and the faithful prayers sent up for us here in Christchurch.  Your prayers are sustaining us and, who knows?  Perhaps it is because of your prayers that we are seeing so many miracles!!!  So, please keep on keeping on.  We certainly will! :-)


Shaken AND Stirred February 23, 2011

Filed under: Life Events — gotmethinking @ 3:14 am

It’s summer, yet I’ve got a polar fleece jacket on.  I feel so cold.   The images on telly have been bloodcurdling.  So much devastation in our usually peaceful, placid city.  75 confirmed dead.  300 missing.  Heritage buildings, shops, buses, streets, people all crushed by the hammer-fisted bow of nature that was the 6.3 magnitude quake.

Yesterday, at 11:30 a.m., Charis and I left the Women’s Centre  on Manchester Street and headed for our car.  Normally, we hang around and shop or have lunch at a local Food Court.  But,  I said to Charis, “I don’t feel like staying in town today. I want to get out. ” I was meeting a friend for lunch and, just the day before, changed my mind about meeting her in the city centre.  I asked if we could meet at McCafe in Merivale, just 2 minutes walk to the Nurse Maude Hospice where her 2 pm training would take place.  I dropped Charis off at Iain’s workplace on Manchester, and drove out to a local suburb.

Trish and I had just finished our lunch and were nursing our coffees, when the ground started swaying.  It began gradually…gently enough for us not to panic.   It was like that gradual cruise into position that you experience when you ride the Space Mountain roller coaster at Disney World.  It starts off slow and even, and then suddenly it plummets and your stomach is left somewhere in mid-air.  It felt like an angry giant violently shaking a dish of water with us in it.  I immediately crawled under the table and called out to the Lord to save us.  The restaurant was full and everyone was screaming.

I was praying desperately for Iain and Charis who were both still in town, on badly-hit Manchester Street.  Iain works beside a large window, and I was terrified that both he and Charis would be harmed if the glass shattered.  Plus, Charis was supposed to catch the bus home after lunch.  I heard that two buses had been crushed by fallen debris/masonry.  I was petrified and started to cry.  I felt so helpless!  Praise God I was able to reach Iain by cellphone.  He reassured me that they were well, although his building had been badly damaged.  The second-storey ceiling had caved in; huge glass doors had been shattered; and, the parking lot had buckled.  He didn’t even bother to hang around to get his things.  He  just grabbed Charis and they headed out immediately!

Meanwhile, after everyone was escorted out of McCafe, Trish and I walked to Nurse Maude hospice to find out if her training course was still on.  On the short walk there, we spied a fallen chimney that had toppled into someone’s bedroom.  The ceiling and pink batts jutted like broken limbs into the room.  Water and mud (silt) started oozing out of the ground, creating immediate flooding.  When we got to the hospice, a man, obviously shaken, just stepped out of the old McDougall home which was the hospice office.  As we stood talking with him, a violent aftershock occurred and bits of plaster started to shower down behind him.  Suddenly there were shouts of “Nurse! Nurse!”  Trish took off running, declaring herself a nurse.  A person had collapsed, hitting his head on the pavement, his neck at an awkward angle.  He was bleeding and in need of urgent assistance.

Car and house alarms burst into action.  Police cars, with alarms blaring, zinged into town.  The sudden aftershock caused a motor accident a few metres away from us.  I thought, “It’s time to go home”.  Throughout this time, though, I had an unearthly sense of peace and reassurance that our home was safe.  I just kept on praying for my family.

Iain and Charis met up with me at McCafe’s car park, and we convoyed home.  A steady trail of cars snaked along the roads…parents desperate to collect their children from school…families anxious for loved ones.  It was just after 1 pm. Waiting to swing into the traffic, my car started shaking from side to side.  It’s very hard to keep your concentration when you are so terrified, and you need to make sure you drive carefully so as not to cause an accident or be part of one.  I felt like Jesus was telling me, “Keep your eyes on me, Cori.  Keep your eyes on Me.”

We finally got home and were grateful that all of the building and bracing work we got done in the house after the Sept. 4 earthquake held up.   Thank God!!!  Everyone here jokes that Christchurch is so flat.  It sits on a plain, therefore,  hillside locations are highly prized for their views and are consequently very expensive.  But today, huge boulders tumbled down from a cliff  in Sumner and crashed down to the road.  Roads all around the city buckled, and traveling through them, is like entering the nursey song: The wheels on the bus go up and down,up and down, up and down.  See what I mean here:  Some cracks are big enough to for cars and vans to fall through.  This site has pretty comprehensive photos:

We thank God that we have water and power in our part of the city, but the Eastern suburbs and much of the central city is going without.  Please pray for the survivors who are still trapped in fallen buildings.  Please pray for the search and rescue teams who have toiled all night in the rain, and throughout all the aftershocks which continue to wreak havoc on already unstable buildings.  Our city is receiving help from Search and Rescue teams from the USA, UK, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan.  God BLESS them!  The army is helping St. John’s Ambulance crew who can’t get through the liquefaction-stricken streets.  (Parts of Chch are built on a swamp and some suburbs are built on reclaimed land.  Find out more about liquefaction here. :

This earthquake felt far worse than the 7.1 magnitude quake last September.  It was because it was at a depth of only 5 kms. with the epicentre only 20 minutes away from the city centre.  It is eerily quiet today, Wednesday.  The aftershocks keep us in a nerve-wracking state of hyper-vigilance.  No one can relax.  Even as we watch the news stories unfold on TV, I can feel the earth rumbling beneath my slippers.  It feels like a belly rumbling with hunger or like water on the boil.  We dive under the dining table at the first tremor.  Everyone’s nerves are shattered because no one knows when the other shoe will drop, and when another HUGE destructive fist will descend on the city.  People can’t  sleep in nervous anticipation.  I didn’t even want to get into my jammies last night in case we needed to make a fast escape.  We all prayed and worked out an escape plan, arranging to have our important papers close by in case we need to flee.

I cannot help but thank God for His protection. Had I met up with Trish in the city centre, we would definitely have been in the midst of the devastation.  The parking garage I would have parked in looked like this after the quake:   I thank God that Iain and Charis were not harmed and that they were able to get out of devastated Manchester Street, even if it meant plowing through floods of silt in crawling traffic.

The authorities are urging people to stay home, so we can’t even volunteer to help out at a rescue centre until they say so.  They don’t want a lot of cars on the road or people rubber-necking, I think.

Please continue to pray for the people of Christchurch, especially for those who are trapped in fallen buildings, those who are working to rescue them, and those who are grieving the loss of loved ones and/or property.  Now, and at the end of the day, we are all in God’s hands and we thank God that when the day comes that we close our eyes here, we will open them again in Heaven, thanks to the loving, generous, saving work of Jesus.  To Him be all praise!



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