It’s the time of the year again. There’s quite a lot for 2014, so this is just a selection of randoms, partly for fun. One thing I have deeply learned though, which I will say outside the list, is the importance of developing gospel-reflecting relationships with the people around us.

Anyways, here are some things I learned over the past year, about life!

  1. Adding a little salt when boiling corn enhances the flavour of the corn.
  2. You cut off the end part of the stems when someone gives you flowers, to prolong their life (in futility).
  3. The trick to housework is to do them in small but frequent amounts. Clean up something as soon as you see it, after shower or after cooking etc.
  4. I have always regretted the unkind words I have said, no matter how justified I believed they were at the time. And I have always been glad for the kind words I have said, no matter how unjustified I believed they were at the time.
  5. Removing the Facebook app from my phone is one of the best things I’ve done.
  6. A way to remember un-memorise-able cytogenetic details for exams (eg. t(x;18) for synovial sarcoma, 1p19q for astrocytomas) is to set them as your work passwords.
  7. You need to allocate time to maintain good things. Leather shoes and bags, the car, a tidy and fresh house, your own body. (Some may add “girls” onto the list, but I will definitely stay out of that one.)
  8. Taking out time to memorise Scripture is infinitely worth it. Not least of which is providing an anchor for my thoughts rather than letting them drift around to useless unhelpful things. (The mountain is not unscalable. In the last six months I’ve done five chapters.)
  9. One of the perks of living near the children’s hospital is being able to easily walk a short distance to sit down and watch kids play.
  10. Not wasting time is one of the hardest things to do.

(Previous lists: 2013, 2012, 2011.)

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I have been feeling quite fatigued from work, so I took a week off. People at work were surprised that I did this — I guess I should take more time off!

And it was so good. The rest was incredible, and coupled with glorious weather, I enjoyed every moment of it. I woke up to the rays of sunshine and had coffee with good music. Read books that warmed my heart and made me smile. Went to a park and watched kids play. Visited the gym since a long while and worked up a good sweat on the tireless treadmill. Played a bit of the piano — something like a familiar friend whom I find safe and comfortable expressing myself to, who has listened to me through my growing up, but neglected by me for a long time now (you can see I’m being very poetic here). Caught up with friends for brunch in a tucked-away alley, and lunch in a slumberous restaurant. It seemed like my hard work in the recent months — the waking up to the stars when the city was still asleep, and late tram trips back home still thinking about work — has been worth it for this week of rest.

And I wondered if this could be a foretaste of how it would feel to enter the future rest that Hebrews chapter 4 talks about. A glorious rest, after this journey on earth, fighting the good fight, walking the narrow road, splinters and all, sometimes feeling so tired, sometimes finding it so difficult. Painfully pruned, and pressing on, we are on our way home. And as Paul wrote in his letter to the Roman church, “I consider the sufferings of this present time not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

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I lived in New Zealand for about ten years (not that anyone’s interested), so I enjoyed talking to Kate and getting to know her for the short period of time our paths crossed. She was a Maori from New Zealand, living in Melbourne by herself.

Her terminal stage lymphoma wasn’t responding well to treatment though, and she was growing weaker by the day. Her whanau was keen to fly her back to the country to spend her last remaining days. Everything happened so quick, and that morning I made the executive decision to stop her treatment and let her fly home the following day. Not a single day to waste.

The radiation therapists came to get me when her protective elder sister was about to take her home that morning. She was in a wheelchair, so I knelt down beside her and held her hand. I knew I wouldn’t see her again.

“All the very best, Kate,” I said with a pause, “I have really enjoyed knowing you and looking after you.”

It is a year ago now, but I remember the tired smile she gave me. “You too, Joseph, and all the best for your future.”

I almost teared up. Oh I wish you had a future too.

After they left, one of the radiotherapy nurses sighed, “We’ve had a wave of sad events happening to young people recently haven’t we…, just before the Easter season too, when family get together…”

She is right, but thinking about it, Easter is not really about family though. Easter celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus — for our forgiveness, and for a new start, if we believe in him. And through his resurrection, we have a living hope that one day God will also make everything anew, when there will be no more suffering, no more tears and no more regrets.

Would you think about it? It didn’t strike me very hard before, but even as I start to relate a little more to the suffering of the people around me, I know only the tiniest amount of the suffering in this world — yet this hope has become so much more heartfelt to me, and I find my insides yearning for it in this broken world.

Join a church service this Easter weekend, and learn a little more about what Easter celebrates. About what Jesus said about himself and what he did on the Cross, and why that matters.

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