Sunday 9 November 2014

Baby Beanie Pattern

Size: newborn
Yarn: 8ply
Needles: 3.75mm and 4mm

Using smaller needles CO 72 sts
Work 8 rows in garter st
Change to larger needles and work in pattern till piece measures 4.75"
Pattern (10 rows):
Knit all odd rows
Purl rows 2 and 4
Knit rows 6 and 8
Purl row 10
K4, k2tog (repeat till end)
K3, k2tog (repeat till end)
K2, k2tog (repeat till end)
K1, k2tog (repeat till end)
K2tog (repeat till end)
Cut yarn (leaving enough to sew together) and pull through remaining sts and sew edges together.

Sunday 2 March 2014

What is this world coming to?

Kiev, Crimea, Homs, Yarmouk, Cairo, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Manus Island. If you don’t know why these places have been in the news lately you may want to stop now and go and find out; if you do, read on.

Every day it seems there is another tragic story from one of these places or somewhere. It’s very easy to feel a sense of despair about where our world is heading. It’s equally easy for that feeling to be our only response and for it to only last a couple minutes before we get back to work or study or hanging out with family or friends. Another common response is to just ignore it – it’s not happing to me so why should I care?

We should care because what happens in one part of the world does affect other parts of the world and, more importantly, we should care because all those who are suffering around the world are just like you and me – created and loved by God. Despairing is not caring. Not only does it not do anything but it also paralyses us so we can’t do anything.

So what can we do? First of all we can talk to the one who is above all others, the creator of the universe, the one with the power and authority to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask for or imagine. 
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. (1 Timothy 2:1-6)

But in the face of such great suffering how and what do we pray? This could be a good place to start:

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come, your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
  And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’ (Matthew 6:9-13)

Another starting point could be this simple prayer I first heard many years ago that has stuck with me ever since: 

Break my heart God for what breaks yours.

Prayer is important but it should not be our only response. 

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

There are a variety of actions we could take. We could give money, we could do volunteer work, we could raise awareness about what is happening, we could write to politicians. Whatever action(s) we are to do and whatever group(s) of suffering people our actions will be in aid of is something to be decided between us and God (yes more prayer).

Sunday 1 December 2013

Christmas thoughts

Today is the first of December and the first Sunday of Advent so I thought it would be a good time to write down a few thoughts about Christmas. I love Christmas (why would I be writing a blog about it if I didn't?) but I don't like everything that we've made Christmas to be about or involve.

The other day I saw some photos of Christmas markets in Europe and it reminded me of the Christmas I spent over there and the Christmas markets I went to. I really enjoyed the ones I went to and part of me wishes we had them here but it wouldn't be the same. Walking around a Christmas market in daylight at 8pm in t-shirt, shorts and jandals, and eating an ice cream just isn't the same as walking around a Christmas market in the dark at 4pm with coat, hat, scarf, gloves and boots, and sipping mulled wine.

I loved having a white Christmas that year. There was something special about it, like that was how Christmas should be. But that's not right. We have been indoctrinated by books and movies and advertising into thinking that Christmas is always supposed to be cold, dark and snowy. Santa is almost always wearing a big fluffy suit that would cause heat stroke here and there are so many snowflake and snowman decorations around. I'm not saying we should get rid of all of this or that schools should only sing Christmas on the beach and not Frosty the Snowman, it's just something to think about. 

One thing I think we do need to do something about is the culture of consumerism around Christmas. Watching a news item about black Friday in America (massive pre-Christmas sales, ridiculous crowds, violence - you get the picture) almost had me in tears over completely society seems to have lost the plot. How can people become so aggressive and possessive over material goods that they will fight whoever gets in their way when the thing they want is on sale? Imagine what would happen if all the money people spend on presents for each other, decorations and fancy food this Christmas was spent on things in the Tearfund (, World Vision ( or Oxfam ( gift catalogues, support for typhoon victims, or support for any local or international charity.

The first Christmas was very different. The lead up involved a journey on a donkey while heavily pregnant with a husband who wasn't the baby's father to be counted in the census and a stay in a stable. Christmas involved giving birth away from home and family with only a husband and animals for company. It was no ordinary birth and no ordinary baby - it was the least of births and the greatest of babies. The visitors were not family and friends but a pile of shepherds they didn't know followed by a visit by three wise men to a poor and scandalous family. 
It doesn't matter what Christmas traditions you follow - winter or summer, it's the reason for the traditions that is important. We are remembering the birth of Jesus. Do your Christmas traditions reflect that? Do mine? What does a Christmas where every part of it is about remembering and celebrating Jesus birth and all that that meant look like?

Thursday 17 October 2013

Penal Reform

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners (Luke 4:18)
I've always had a slight problem with these words. My strong sense of justice has an issue with the idea of Jesus unlocking all the prison cells and letting convicted criminals wander free. But that's not really what this verse is saying.

This week the Anglican church in New Zealand is focusing on penal reform (you may have heard about the Bishop's week-long incarceration on the steps of the Cathedral). Last night as I read this verse in the booklet produced to guide Bible study and prayer on the topic it suddenly struck me that I had been interpreting these words incorrectly all my life. Part of God's mission in the world may involve releasing people from prison; there are plenty of innocent people in prison and plenty of guilty people who would benefit from some other kind of sentence. I think this verse is primarily about setting people free from sin. God wants all people to be set free from a life of slavery to sin and who needs that more than people whose sin has hurt themselves and others so much that our justice system says they must spend time in prison?

It's not just convicted criminals who need to be set free from sin. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible even describes sin offerings for unintentional sins (see Leviticus 4). God doesn't say "you murderers and rapists, you're doomed, but you small time liars and cheats, you're ok, you can still come to heaven, you'll just get one-star accommodation not five." I am a sinner too, it's just that the sins I have committed have not been declared worthy of a prison sentence by society. Remembering this alters the way I think about prisoners and our justice system. Remembering that we are sinners too gives us greater compassion for prisoners and greater motivation to see people set free from sin and our penal system working to improve lives not just lock people up.

Sure we don't have a habit of torturing people or locking up political opponents but our justice system could still be better. The Ministry of Justice is already working towards increasing and expanding restorative justice services and has introduced a court in Auckland that is specifically for people with drug and alcohol addictions and focuses on treating their dependency. There is still more to be done. We need to better address the causes of crime, better cater for and involve victims and communities, utilise community-based alternatives to prison more, better look after the families of prisoners, and continue to improve rehabilitation and reintegration services.

I'm not saying we should do away with prisons altogether or that punishment shouldn't be one of the aims of our justice system. The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished (Numbers 14:18). There are people who need to be punished for the wrong they have done by being sent to prison and there are people who need to be separated from the rest of society to prevent further harm being done. But locking them up isn't the only, or necessarily the best option for many people.

What can we do? There is plenty we can do. We can start by educating ourselves more on the topic and the situation in New Zealand at the moment. We can get involved in groups that visit prisons, groups that work with prisoners' children, groups that think about and promote penal reform, groups that focus on rehabilitation or reintegration of prisoners. The most important thing we can all do is love our neighbours. Loving people, and all that that entails, can go a long way to addressing causes of crime; supporting criminals, their families and their victims; and help ensure successful restoration, rehabilitation and reintegration.

For more information check out:

Saturday 10 August 2013

Knitting Gallery

I love knitting. I love to sit down in the evenings in front of the tv and knit. If I could I would always have something on the go but wool costs money and I already have quite a stash of things I've knitted that I don't know what to do with. Here are some things I have knitted lately. You're welcome to put in an order for one of these or something similar or give me a challenge (contributions towards the cost of wool or contributions of wool are always appreciated). If you'd like the pattern for anything let me know and I can dig it up for you.

White baby beanie and booties

Blue baby beanie
Multi-coloured baby beanie

Beanie (adult and child sizes)
Baby poncho
Headband with ribbon
Headband without ribbon

Green circle scarf
Sparkly scarf

Multi-coloured scarf
Blue scarf


Saturday 27 July 2013

The P Word

GCSB, spying, privacy - a favourite topic amongst journalists at the moment. Here are some of my thoughts on privacy (privacy in general, not just in relation to the government spying on us through the GCSB.

Where did this idea of privacy come from? To me it seems that privacy, at least in the sense that that word is usually used these days, is a 21st century invention. What happened to the days when people knew their neighbours and everyone knew everything about everyone else in their community? How did we get from there to such an individualistic world where anyone can see a picture of what you had for lunch but your neighbours don't know your name and nobody knows you are suffering from PTSD after that earthquake or plane crash you were in?

It seems rather hypocritical to be sharing so much with social media and at the same time fiercely defending the right to privacy. You have a right to privacy. You exercise it by not sharing certain things with social media. If you don't want people to know you have a boyfriend yet, don't post pictures of the two of you on facebook. You can choose how much you share and who you share it with. If people readily shared more than just superficial stuff on social media would the p word be mumbled about so much whenever there's a hint of something deeper on social media? And if you do start sharing less superficial stuff you'll be less likely to be hidden or de-friended by people who get annoyed by your 20 meaningless facebook posts a day.

I know people argue that they don't want the government to know much about them but again, you choose how much you put in public spaces and unless you've done something the police could charge you for why do you care if the government sees stuff? Then the argument continues to say that they don't want the government to use stuff against them. A very valid point if this were China or somewhere in the Middle East. If our government did start using peoples' facebook posts against them we might have bigger things to worry about - like how to get rid of such a government and all the other bad things a government that has no problem with using social media against people might be inclined to do to its people.

ps. this doesn't mean I've shifted to the right and support the GCSB Bill. I'm against the Bill, partly because there are still many unanswered questions, partly because the government has refused to listen to the multitude of criticism, partly because I don't like National, partly because it's reactionary legislating rather than properly thought out and investigated legislating, and partly because it's unclear which other governments information will be shared with and what they will do with it.

Sunday 21 July 2013

What do you do

"What do you do?" That question was annoying and awkward to answer when I was unemployed, especially when I wanted to answer it without saying the word 'unemployed'. Since I've been working my attitude to being asked that question has changed. I'm sure there are some jobs that would be conversation stoppers. If I said I was a rubbish truck driver I'm sure the conversation would either stop there or quickly change topics. Saying I work at the Waitangi Tribunal has led to several lengthy conversations about the Tribunal, the Treaty and the settlements process. It helps that a lot of our friends and their friends and family that we've spent time with lately are public servants and know quite a bit about the Tribunal and settlements process and have similar views on the subject.

For those who don't know much about the Tribunal and settlements process here's a quick overview. When the British arrived in New Zealand Maori had already been living here for a long time. In 1840 the British signed the Treaty of Waitangi with Maori. The Treaty has been breached in many ways since. A lot of Maori land was taken by the Crown in a variety of ways, there were a number of wars, Maori culture was suppressed. Basically Maori were forced to give up their traditional ways of living in favour of British ways. Over the last 30 odd years the government has been trying to provide some redress. The Waitangi Tribunal investigates claims brought by Maori about things the Government has done that have harmed them. Maori can then (or instead) negotiate with the Government for what financial, cultural and property redress will be part of a settlement package.

I have yet to have a conversation with someone who has a different opinion about Treaty settlements to me but I know there are plenty of people out there with such opinions. A lot of white New Zealanders don't like that the Government is giving money and land to Maori and doing things like changing the official names of mountains and rivers to their Maori names or promoting the Maori language. At the same time there are some Maori who think the settlements don't go far enough.

I know the Treaty settlements process is not perfect; no human-designed system attempting to bring about justice is. But at least we are trying. We are acknowledging that things that have happened in the past, and things that are still happening today, shouldn't have happened. Stopping the settlements process or changing it when some iwi have settled and others haven't would be even more unjust.

To those white New Zealanders who don't like the settlements process I would say you should take some time to learn about our history and all the injustices that have been perpetrated against Maori. If you say it wasn't me, it's not my generation that is to blame, I would say two things - how are you suffering from the Government settling with Maori? and Jesus paid the price not for his own sins but for those of others.

To those Maori who say the settlements process doesn't give enough to Maori I would encourage you to acknowledge that the Government is trying to put things right and it is unrealistic to expect them to give back the full value of what was taken from you. Most importantly I would encourage you to try to forgive.

Never underestimate the importance of humility, forgiveness and grace in every situation and relationship, from government-level bi-cultural relations to relationships between friends and family.