Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Day

Lauren enjoyed opening her presents on Christmas morning. Lauren had by far the most presents but we didn't mind as we loved watching her excitedly discover new toys emerging from beyond layers of wrapping paper.

Later that night we went to Dora's (our neighbour) house for Christmas dinner. We cooked a roast chicken with potatoes and gravy. Dora prepared the rest.

As gorgeous as the chicken and potatoes were, the star of the show was definitely the cake.

This cake was perfect for taking pictures and I'll show more a little later in the piece.

Ralph, the boy in the yellow shirt at the front, joined us. He's Melvin's friend and later we endured some good-old Christmas day drama as Ralph was disturbing the Carrom board while Melvin was shooting, so Melvin gave him a good hard kick before the game was finished by Sharon and I. (The next day they were friends again, incidently.)

After the Carrom game we feasted on the Christmas cake. It was beautifully made and, in a way, was rather a shame to eat, but it tasted as good as it looked.

Due to the previously mentioned drama, we came back on Boxing Day to take pictures around Dora's Christmas tree. They turned out pretty nice using the night mode with all but the tree lights illuminating the house.


I watched a replay of the Wimbledon 2009 final last night between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick. I loved watching the nail-biting stalemate of the fifth set from 8-8 to the 16-14 winning margin for Federer. I even missed the first half hour of Man. Utd's match against Hull, just to have the pleasure of seeing the great Federer in action. A truly epic match, let's hope for more good stuff at the Australian Open starting on 18th January.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Simply Lauren

One evening on our balcony Lauren gave me the pleasure of a few poses. Here they are:

Lauren is a very happy baby and seems to get cuter with each day. As I'm writing, she is valiantly preparing me some imaginary food and drink with her plastic kitchen set! I get endless drink refills, which is a bonus!

Fun Tip: When you don't know what to do with yourself......

......blow huge bubbles and catch them in your soapy hands! Hours of fun guaranteed, and some pretty cool pictures if you are handy with a camera.

The Countdown


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

3 days to go

I am starting to really look forward to night time these days. The constant alternation between rain and Sun is one reason, but mostly it is because I love our house at night during Christmas! With the living room lights off and the Christmas tree lights and a couple of candles burning brightly, there is a beautiful warm, cosy, homey feel to our place. It's comfortable, relaxing and peaceful. The lights remind us of Christ, who is the light of the world; the star atop the tree represents the new star which arose at Christ's birth; the gifts surrounding the tree symbolise the giving and receiving of gifts, in particular the gift of Christ's atonement; the tree itself, being a conical/pyramidical shape, highlights our continual climb towards godhood, towards achieving the characteristics of Christ and developing the virtues which he so beautifully lived. Everything is symbolic and points to Jesus Christ.

Lauren is attracted to the lights and I've taken some lovely pictures of her with them. It's almost night time now...I'm off to relax amongst numerous reminders of Christ's birth, life and atoning sacrifice.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sporting Augury for 2010

As we move into the second decade of the second millennium of the current era, the world of sport is very much centre-stage. And sporting prophecy seems to be all the trend for Arsene Wenger, foretelling the world that eight teams are in with a chance of winning the Premier League this season. Remarkably puzzling. Surely that number can't include Liverpool who are already thirteen points off the pace at the half-way stage. Looking down the current standings, Birmingham and Fulham lie sixth and ninth respectively. No-one in their wildest dreams would imagine these two moderate clubs piling the pressure on Man. Utd and Chelsea in a final push for the summit.

In a mood to portend the future, here is my vision of the near happenings of the Premier League.

Having already lost Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor to Man. City, Arsenal will lose a frustrated Fabregas to Barcelona and replace him with yet another unknown up-and-coming youngster, after yet another trophy-less season. Arsene 'whinger' Wenger will have voiced his final whine about fixture congestion or something as he finally cuts ties 'by mutual consent', or rather, by a boot up the backside.

But it's not any merrier for Liverpool either. After finishing a dismal sixth, Benitez immediately gets the sack, and the club fund in on their top stars. Gerrard is the first to leave in a big-money move to Madrid. Torres is next, moving to Champions League-bound Aston Villa. In an early-season clash at Old Trafford in September against their perennial rivals of Manchester, new boss Graeme Souness decides that the approaching midweek game against Burnley presents a more realistic opportunity of gaining three points. He rests ten first team players as Liverpool begin a relegation dogfight.

Again with just an F.A. Cup to show for a season's work, Carlo Ancelotti is hastily sacked by Abramovich, who then decides that he's fed up with his London toy and walks out.

Ryan Giggs scores the winning goal in the Champions League final against surprise package Bordeaux.

After a second disappointing season at Old Trafford, Berbatov is shown the door, joining Inter Milan. The useless Nani is also evicted as Yoanne Gourcuff and David Villa arrive as repalcements. Giggs and Scholes sign one-year contract extensions and Sir Alex Ferguson says he's good for another five years.

Mark Hughes meanwhile gets the sack from his Arab owners and Carlo Ancelotti is brought in. (Since penning this article, Mark Hughes has been swiftly sacked and replaced by Roberto Mancini. Ancelotti joining next summer still can't be ruled out however!)

Portsmouth, West Ham and Bolton, established Premier League names, make the dreaded drop to the Championship.

England win the World Cup in South Africa, prevailing 4-2 after extra time in the final against old foes Germany. Wayne Rooney becomes just the second player in history to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.

No African nation advances beyond the quarter finals. A tearful Cristiano Ronaldo bows out at the group stage.

Meanwhile, in tennis, Rafael Nadal shocks the world as he announces his immediate retirement from the sport due to persistent problems with injuries all over his creaking body. (A week later Tiger Woods comes out of hiding and similarly brings to a premature end his golfing career due to long and financially painful divorce proceedings).

Once more, Andy 'never-win-a-major' Murray fails to make the breakthrough with a Grand Slam after hyping himself up all year about his chances. He does reach the Wimbledon final but is comprehensively beaten by Roger Federer, who after his seventh victory at SW19, is given a replica key to the All England Lawn and Tennis Association Club.

Federer himself completes the only thing left to do - winning a single year Slam - bagging all four majors of 2010, taking his Grand Slam tally to 19.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Fat Man Points to the Better Way

Santa Claus is an imposter. That is the awful truth which is blinding the eyes of many adults and spoiling the mis-guided beliefs of countless children each Christmas. It does not, however, come without signs and shadows of the real identity surrounding the focus of our festivities - Jesus Christ.

There is a special feeling attached to Christmas, and this is not due to a mortal man who is long gone, but rather the birth into the world of the architect and saviour of the world. As painfully inadequate an imposter as Santa Claus is, his mythical existence does provide some interesting parallels with the reality of Jesus Christ.

1. Santa Claus lives in the secluded snowy white area named Lapland, far away from everything, the dreams of little children who long to visit him at his residence. The Saviour resides in the mansions of his father, "on a globe like a sea of glass," which I guess would look a little like a snow-covered, glistening Lapland. That too, is far away from us, yet we know it exists and long to return there someday.

2. Santa is the giver of gifts. Apparently, "he's making a list, he's checking it twice, he's gonna find out who's naughty or nice." Much of the gospel of Christ is associated with the giving of gifts. Indeed, it's extremely important to Christ to know "who's naughty or nice," for we know that "any blessing from God [is obtained] by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." The greatest of Jesus' gifts is his atonement.

3. Santa Claus seems to have an infinite number of presents to cover everyone in the world. Similarly, the gifts of repentance and forgiveness are available to all of God's children. Christ's atonement is retrospective in the giving of his love to those who preceded it, those who lived during the time, and those of us who live after the event.

4. Santa Claus delivers his gifts secretly at night while everyone is sleeping so that he can't be seen. The deliverance of the gift of Christ to earth was similarly done during the night where an extremely limited number of people witnessed the event. It is significant to note that on the night of  the Saviour's suffering in The Garden of Gethsemane, even his closest associates, the three chief disciples, fell asleep whilst Christ strained under the burden of supplying the greatest gift the world has ever received. Not even they could keep their eyes open to behold the conveyance of this heavenly gift.

5. Santa Claus's work is long and arduous so he has elves to assist him in preparing gifts, who also come to parts of the earth to inform people of Santa's coming. We can quite easily see the symbolism in this one. Christ has legions of angels who at times throughout history have visited the earth to announce his imminent birth and also to proclaim his Second Coming.

6. Children write letters to Santa requesting specific gifts they would love to receive. Comparably, we are each invited to pray to the Father in the name of Christ, to give thanks and to beseech him for certain blessings or gifts we would like to attain. Whilst Santa replies with material gifts, the Saviour almost always replies with spiritual help which increases our faith in him.

So, whilst whipping one another into a Santa frenzy this Christmas, let's observe the symbols and shadows of Christ which are weaved into the 'life' and 'works' of Santa Claus. The life and works of Christ and the gift of his atonement are gloriously portrayed each year, if we open our eyes to see them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lunchtime at Teluk Chempedak

Here are some of the images depicting our lunchtime at Teluk Chempedak Thursday. The beach site has endured a restoration of the seafront encompassing a wall bankment filled with grass and trees overlooking the sea. It makes for some nice pictures but will be better when a few of the trees have grown out a little more.

There were hundreds of these colourful little creatures firmly stuck onto a rock...

...and this little creature is no less beautifully adorned either!...

We experienced blistering heat, umbrella-flying wind and drizzling rain during this hour at the beach. But it finished with the bright Sun as we made our way home.


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