Tag Archives: Gratitude

The waiting room

I’ve spent quite a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms lately. It has provided me with a good amount of time to sit and watch the world go by. I suspect many people in our community have visited Footscray Hospital at some stage of their life and have found that it is not the most pleasant place to visit. The emergency and outpatient areas are particularly depressing, and long waiting times and cramped conditions do little to lift the human spirit.

It is interesting to see different reactions from those sitting beside me in this environment. I have spent many hours waiting for appointments to actually occur and at times have been extremely frustrated at having to wait so long. ‘Don’t they know how important my time is? I’m a busy man!’ I’ve often thought.

As a school principal I am more aware than most of the difficulty of running organizations which are reliant on government funding. I know that long waiting times in hospitals are not necessarily caused by the receptionists, nurses or doctors on the ground looking after me. These issues are caused by problems far beyond their control.

Understanding the situation doesn’t change my feeling of frustration, but it does provide a level of context and understanding. It makes me mindful of the hard words given to us by Christ: ‘You abandon the commandments of God and hold to human tradition’. (Mark 7:8)

Human tradition would encourage me to make a big fuss, have my case heard and get angry with the reception staff for wasting my time.

But in reality, the time isn’t mine; it belongs to God.

The body that the doctors are looking after is not mine; it belongs to God’s creation.

The words that I speak and the thoughts that I think, should be the same as God’s words and thoughts, regardless of circumstances.

As I sat in the outpatient area last week I reflected on the story of the prodigal son. In this story a father is greatly disgraced, hurt and shamed by his son, who leaves his father’s house with a share of the inheritance while his father still lives. When the son returns, he expects to face the consequences of his sin. Yet the father, full of love, does not follow human tradition in repaying hurt with hurt. He follows God’s tradition, and welcomes his son with joy and forgiveness.

As we go about our lives, let us remember God’s tradition of love, hope, forgiveness, patience, compassion and mercy. Let us walk gently and deal patiently with those who rub us the wrong way. You never know when extending understanding and mercy to someone may transform their life and allow the light of Christ to shine brightly.

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Give praise to the Lord

UntitledThe writing of this principal’s note was accompanied by the rolling countryside between Wagga Wagga and Holbrook and the tired conversations (and occasional snores) of a 5/6 class returning from a wonderful trip to Canberra.

It has been a very busy week for the staff and students visiting Canberra. Ms Clarke made sure that no stone was left unturned and few venues were left unvisited. There were exploding science experiments at the CSIRO, a respectful visit to the War Memorial, a surprisingly amusing time at Parliament House and a very special visit to Government House and that is only to mention a few of the places we visited. It is not only the students who are tired right now!

While we happened to visit Canberra on a August night that was the coldest in the last 20 years each night we slept soundly in warm cabins.

While visits to parliament and lectures about government are not always the most engaging of topics, students were able to appreciate that we live in a democratic country where free speech is protected and valued.

We ate 3 lovely meals a day and enjoyed a variety of nutritious snacks in between. There was always far more than we could eat.

The trip to Canberra itself is testament to the willingness of school staff, especially Ms Clarke, to put in many extra hours to create such successful and enjoyable learning experiences. Ms Clarke was joined by Mr Blenkiron who has for many years donated his time to drive our students safely to Canberra and provide extra supervision. The trip was further supported by Mr Reddish who shared his infectious enthusiasm for learning about government with the students.

Amongst all this we must never forget the one from whom all blessings flow. As the Psalmist writes “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done” (105:1). While it is sometimes hard for younger people to grasp, at SCS we endeavour to ensure students continue on a journey to gratitude. We are indeed a blessed community who want for very little. As Christians, we must always remember that all the blessings that we experience as Australians come from the providence of God. A God who created the land that supported the Aboriginal people of Australia for thousands of years. A God who called people from around the globe to travel a vast distance to make a new life in a free and democratic country. A God who continues to walk with us today and will walk with the young people of Australia as they lead our nation into the future.

May the community of Sunshine Christian School never cease telling of the wonderful things he has done, and is still doing, for us.



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SCS newsletter musing week 8

I wrote a few ago about the importance of gratitude and as I reflect on another busy week at SCS I think of the efforts of those who through their work make SCS a wonderful place to be.

I think of our volunteer coordinator and the parents who assisted with the very successful Father’s Day stall last week. I can remember this wonderful service from when I was in primary school in Adelaide and the great feeling that I came from buying my father a present without my Mum’s help.

I think of the teachers who embrace school events like Book Week with great gusto and in doing do encourage our students to take to their learning with the same level of engagement.

I think of our office staff who tackle many tasks each day to ensure everything is accounted for and is where it should be.

I think of the wonderful greetings I receive from the students as they walk through the gate each morning and hearing about what they did on the weekend or the previous night.

I think of the God who sustains us all each day—especially as I feel the weather warm up and the sunshine comes through my window. Having come from living in the Middle East last year I have an acute awareness of how blessed we are in this beautiful country of Australia.

May we all have gratitude and be aware of God’s blessings this week.

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SCS newsletter musing week 5

I had the pleasure last week of attending a gathering of Lutheran principals from the South Eastern Region. It was a great time of fellowship, inspiration and learning from each other as we shared about the different schools that we lead.

One of the thoughts that stuck with me was from a professor who showed that the secret to a long life was not just about a good diet and lots of exercise.

In his study the biggest key indicator of people living long fulfilling lives was something  he called “gfh”.

G – gratitude
F –  forgiveness
H – humour

I reflected on this a great deal as I travelled back home and thought about this in the context of what I see with our preps here at SCS. When I see them playing in the yard they demonstrate this often. When one of them knocks the other there is quick forgiveness and they are off playing again.

I see the gratitude of all of them when our P/1 teacher opens the door for lunch and they all come tumbling out into the yard to enjoy being outside.

I see their humour – finding mirth in simple things, like my often bright ties.

May God grant us all the spirit of preps. Blessings.

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Sunday night thoughts

It is 9pm on a Sunday night and after a day of unpacking the last box, hanging the last picture and making a rental house feel like a home, I find myself with time to quietly reflect.

Today is the 21st of July – my last day of school in Cairo was the 13th of June. 6 flights, 38 days, 3 countries, 3 Australian states, 2 conferences and not enough rest later, I am on the verge of another week of school at SCS.

My theology was greatly challenged in Egypt – some of the old things I held important are no longer so and some new thoughts have found a place amongst my personal grasping at the Being much greater than I.

I don’t feel a great deal of truth in the thought that God has predestined all the events in my life. So often in Egypt other NGO workers would say ‘I will be here serving God until He takes away the visa that keeps me here’. My feeling was that perhaps it was not God that took away the visa but the government and perhaps God wants you to stay for the very reason they want you to leave.

A few months ago my wife and I had a plan. She was to be commuting via plane to Melbourne each week to attend her post graduate lectures and workshops while I was going to be working part time while taking a PhD in Adelaide. This meant returning to my old school and would have seen my wife struggle to find meaningful work which would allow her the flexibility to also meet her university requirements.

Now I find myself the principal of a school with a high number of English as a second language students, a community facing similar barriers to social services and general wellness as those I served in Cairo and working in school that has a social justice focus usually not found with the schools of the Lutheran Church of Australia.

Meanwhile our relocation has opened up work opportunities for my wife who has secured work as a midwife in a hospital that receives a high number of new migrant women and also work in her specialty field of physiotherapy.

To paraphrase the great  Milhouse from The Simpsons – ‘Everything is coming up Brennen’.

I don’t know how all this works. I don’t believe in a God that has a predestined and carefully defined path for us all to follow. Neither I am I sure we have arrived here in Melbourne by accident.

Perhaps all we can do is be thankful. So in that case…


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