Monday, December 19, 2016

Loving greetings, Christmas 2016

Loving greetings, Christmas 2016 

The God of eternity
entered our time and space.
Put aside infinity
to join a frail race.
Glorious mystery:
babe in a lowly place,
at mother’s breast

Today I have been thinking of the points I should include in our annual letter.  I want to reflect on the wonder of the birth of Christ, the blessings we receive each day, and our hopes for the future, to name a few.  With this in mind I went to the website where the previous years’ letters and pictures have been stored, and ... it’s pretty well all there already.  I shouldn’t be surprised!

Twelve months ago we reported the drought in this region.  Rain has fallen in abundance, filling our water tanks (we have no town water supply) and our dam.  The grass and trees have grown beautifully.  Nature lessons for the children have included tadpoles, frogs and fish.

We have continued to be in awe as we witness the growth and development of the seven little ones whom God has entrusted to our family.  Our two six year olds have finished their Prep year at school, and our 12 year old is ready to begin her secondary schooling.  The rich tapestry that encompasses the Christmas story, with well loved Scripture readings, carols and songs of faith repeated each year, must stand in the children’s minds against the increasing secularisation of the holiday.

We mentioned last year that we are looking forward to establishing a Presbyterian Church in Kyneton.  There has been some progress towards that goal, with a good turnout to a special introductory worship service last month.

You might wonder how we fill our days now that we have retired.  Let me assure you, there’s no time to worry about being bored.  Each week there are usually visits from one or more children, which we thoroughly enjoy.  Noel has kept up with mowing grass and other jobs around the property.  He is a member of the Victorian committee, and delegate to the national committee of the Australian Presbyterian World Missions.  I have taken up machine knitting, and enjoy making woollen vests and cardigans and beenies for the children, and other items.  By the time we attend a couple of community and Church activities each week, and keep the house work and gardening up to date, we are able to enjoy a good sleep each night.

We are always delighted to receive cards and letters and electronic greetings from many friends, and we hope this letter finds you well.  In a day when we have many high-tech methods for communication available to us, there is nothing better than talking face to face.  If that opportunity presents, we will be very blessed.  We pray that you will know God’s blessing and guiding in the new year.

With love, Joy and Noel

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Loving greetings, Christmas 2015

Seven precious young blessings

We greet you this Christmas in the name of Jesus, the one whose birth we celebrate.

Over the years our annual letter, and those from many of our friends, have become an opportunity for reflection on the old year, and anticipation of the days and months ahead. 

It’s just one year since we moved from our home of 30+ years in suburban Melbourne, to Kyneton in Central Victoria.  It was a *big* move!  And a good move!

One of my (Joy’s) mother’s ‘sayings’ was “Count your blessings!”.  We have many blessings, and today I will mention just a few.

We have been blessed with a lovely home that’s all on one level, which may be a significant feature as we get older and our bodies need repair work.  Our home is warmed in winter from the North-facing windows and a wood-burning stove, as well as central heat when we need it.  We enjoyed our first winter.  The house is also well protected against the summer heat, and we are thankful for the central cooling on very hot days.  It has become our daily custom to step out of the living room into the fresh morning air, cup of tea in hand.  We are thankful for the wonders of sunrise and sunset, changing seasons, and every other aspect of creation.

We have been blessed to have our family around us.  We are constantly thankful for the health and growth of each of the grand-children, and for their parents.

We have been blessed to have friends and family members visit us. 

We have been blessed to have a new community, getting to know folk who have accepted us into their lives.  We have joined the Presbyterian Church in Gisborne, a picturesque old place with a warm welcome.  We are looking forward to the establishment of the Presbyterian Church here in Kyneton.

We are experiencing drought at the moment, and have a system of pumping water from our little dam, into a 1000 litre drum on a trailer, and pumping it out to water the fruit trees and gardens.  On very hot days we have been going out to do the watering before breakfast.  We have been able to keep the fruit trees and a vegetable garden looking happy, with watering twice a week.  The little Bonsai trees need to be watered every day.

We have been blessed with good health, and are thankful.  I can say now that I needed to retire from midwifery practice – I had not realised what burnout was!  We would like to thank those who pray for us.  We are seeking to be faithful in our prayer for others.

This letter is to be posted on our blog  and we hope to have a suitable photo taken when we see our young ones for Christmas lunch, to add to the blog in due course.  Thankyou for the letters, cards, and electronic messages that we have received.  We wish you a happy and safe Christmas celebration, and continued blessing in the new year.

With love, Joy and Noel

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas 2013

Loving greetings from our home to yours
as we celebrate our Saviour's birth

We are pleased to report to you that, despite the progressive and accumulating evidence of our bodies' ageing processes, we are well.

My work (Joy) as the village midwife continues, but these days I find myself realizing more often the time will come for me to no longer commit to getting out of bed in the middle of the night to attend women in labour.  Noel continues to contribute significantly to the work of the local Church, and has recently joined the PCV Missions Committee.

We feel especially blessed to be able to spend time with the younger members of our family, and to contribute to the lives of our grand children. We continue to experience God's mercy and grace, from generation to generation.  “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour … God’s mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation ...” (Luke 2:47,50)

Here are a few pictures from this year's album:

A 'selfie': Poppy and Grandpa...

Lucinda joined the family ...

Beautiful mummies and babies ...

Poppy and James climbed mountains ...

Mothers, babies and midwives ...
Noel's birthday - all the candles we could find!

Poppy and Lucinda, at Kyneton
Amelie at the farm
L-R: Lucinda, James, Poppy, Amelie, Eve

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas 2012

Thanks to Alistair, Rebecca, and James Gray for the photo.

Loving greetings
from our home to yours
“Let us now go to Bethlehem, and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”
Luke 2:15

As we once again come together to celebrate our Saviour’s birth, we have chosen this lovely image of a precious young child, who is experiencing the Christmas celebration with eyes wide open, learning the stories, and singing the songs of our faith.
The second reflection that I (Joy) would like to share from this picture is that time-honoured theme of mother and child, a theme that occupies my professional and personal life, and brings me a great deal of wonder.
Noel and I have come through 2012 with a wonderful sense of thanksgiving for life and love.
We pray that God will bless you in the coming year, and that you will know peace and strength in all of life’s challenges.
With love,
Noel and Joy

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday 25 December, 2011

Our thoughts go out to loved ones around the world as we celebrate our Lord’s coming as a human child into this world.

Noel and I are well, and thankful for the many aspects of life that add richness and depth to our experience, and enable us to bring support and strength to others.

We live in a rapidly changing world. Many of the experiences we encounter are not what we would choose, if we had the opportunity. Yet the principles of a good life will endure: to act with justice, to love kindness (mercy), and to walk humbly with our God (Micah6:8).

We love receiving greetings and news, whether by post or electronic, and look forward to opportunities to spend time face to face.

In the mean time, we pray that you will know God’s blessing and strength.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Christmas 2010 – loving greetings from our family.

As another year draws to a close, Noel and I are very thankful to God for the health and strength, and the wonderful family with which we have been blessed.

As is clear from this photo (which has the photographer’s watermark on it), taken 11 December, we have welcomed another son-in-law into our family. We had a joyful time celebrating the marriage of Miriam, to Neville, in Sydney. As is also clear from this photo, we have welcomed two beautiful grand children in May this year.

As I have reflected on the highs (and lows) of this year 2010, my mind has returned consistently to the two new babies. The wonder and beauty of new life is powerful enough to keep me going for as long as I have energy to think and write. Like ripples in a pond, my thoughts have then moved to our other precious grand-daughter Poppy, and the terrain these children will need to navigate as they grow up. It is a different world from those experienced by previous generations.

In my musings about our grand-children, and our children, my thoughts moved to the story of a baby, in Exodus 2. "The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months." (verse 2) Another version says he was "a goodly child".

The story is well known. After three months the mother made a little basket of papyrus, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch to make it water-proof, and set it in the shallow reedy part of the Nile River where the princess would come to wash. She set her daughter Miriam as the onlooker, ready to offer practical assistance of a Hebrew 'wet nurse', the baby's own loving mother, when the princess also saw that he was a fine baby, and decided to keep him. This decision saved the life of that baby boy.

When the birth of a child is welcomed by a mother who sees that this is "a goodly child", and that mother does all in her power to protect and nurture the child, even in the most adverse circumstances, there is hope for the future. It was no miracle that the mother of the child saw that he was "a goodly child", and defied the government of the day in the most strategic way in looking after him. The miracle was that the princess shared in the vision of "a goodly child". She knew exactly what the mother intended, and she agreed with the mother's plan to save that child's life.

We are confident as we face the year ahead that we can trust God for strength and courage in all situations.

This past year I have continued in private midwifery practice, and am pleased to say that although there is still no indemnity insurance available for home birth, private midwifery is still legal. I am privileged to be a teacher and mentor to other midwives, and welcome many readers to my professional blogs. I have published an e-book, Midwifery from my heart, which I am happy to send as a .pdf file to those who request it.

Noel’s work distributing water treatment products to primary producers continues in a small way. Noel is also fully committed to the work of our church, which takes a large proportion of his time. Noel’s mother, Lily Johnston, is very frail, and is being cared for in a nursing home.

May God's blessing be on you as we celebrate the birth of the Christ child.
With love
Noel and Joy