Fridays With Foremski

Thank God It's Friday

The Little Moments

Last Thursday I learned about the death of one of my high school teachers; Andrew Mark George, Andy George, Mr George. I was really shocked and upset as I had no idea that he’d had several brain surgeries to get rid of tumors. I wish I had known. Carpe Diem my regret whispers. Carpe Diem. Let it be a reminder to me to cease the day, make the effort and get in touch with those who matter to me.

Mr George was one of the most important and influential people in my adolescent life and his voice and words echo in my mind on a regular basis. Though I had not seen or spoken to him in many, many years I can see and hear him in vivid detail.

His funeral was on Monday. I was expecting there to be a lot of people and there were, I was only lucky enough to get a seat because I was alone and could slip in between couples and groups.

The tributes and words of remembrance by old friends, former colleagues and family members were like individual instruments coming together to make an orchestra.

Everyone who spoke added melody, harmony and rhythm to the soundtrack of his life. He was accurately characterised and it resulted in what was truly a bittersweet symphony. I’m sure he’d have loved the celebration of his life and character and many times during the service I imagined him – shoulders dancing, eyes sparkling, chuckling along with the jokes and stories being told.

It was a celebration of his life and character, and one of the few times at a funeral – though I could barely stop crying – that I truly felt that it was ok because he had made a great life around his family and career, full of love and friendship and laughter. I had a real sense of how lucky he and his family were to have had that. To have built that and lived it. I envied them and wished desperately I could go back to Year 12, to sit in Mr George’s class and warn myself of the many mistakes that would follow if I made the wrong decisions just a little way down the track.

Of all the tributes it was his son with the simplest of words that touched me most as he remembered following in the footsteps of his Dad on a bush-walk, behind the wisps of smoke from his pipe. He remembered stopping with his brother and sister to have jelly crystals poured straight into their mouths.  “You know the little moments in life? They’re not little!” He said struggling to hold back the overwhelming emotion.

He did a better job than most people in the church at that moment.

I know the truth in that statement is one of the biggest secrets of life. It rings true because it is. Our lives are made in these small hours – the song my dear little boy loves to sing.

Mr George was a really decent man, a good bloke indeed. I’m sorry for his family’s great loss and agree with Alan Parkes who said that we’re all poorer for his passing. I’m sure that you are cracking jokes in heaven Andy George and that one day I’ll see you again and I’ll finally say what I regret not seeking you out and saying to you when I had the chance. Thank you!

Little Wonders – Rob Thomas

Let it go
Let it roll right off your shoulder
Don’t you know
The hardest part is over
Let it in
Let your clarity define you
In the end
You will only just remember how it feels

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders
These twists and turns of fate
Time falls away,
But these small hours
These small hours
Still remain

Let it slide
Let your troubles fall behind you
Let it shine,
Till you feel it all around you
And I don’t mind
If it’s me you need to turn to
We’ll get by
It’s the heart that really matters in the end

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders
These twists and turns of fate
Time falls away
But these small hours
These small hours
Still remain

All of my regret
Will wash away somehow
But I cannot forget
the way I feel right now

In these small hours
These little wonders
These twists and turns of fate
Yeah, these twisted turns of fate
Time falls away
Yeah, but these small hours,
These small hours
Still remain

Yeah, oh they still remain
These little wonders
All these twists and turns of fate
Time falls away
But these small hours
These little wonders
Still remain

Obituary: Andrew Mark George


The Truth

Last week with The Way  I started  a four-part series of posts to discuss John 14:6 “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

This week I’m writing about the truth and what it means to me. It is a subject dear to me because I believe I have always been able to recognize the truth when I heard it. I say always because I simply can’t remember when it began. To this day I can discriminate between truth and lies with an ease that alarms me only when I’m reminded that not everyone can do so.

Until I was midway into my teens I believed that everyone had an inner truth and a conscience as deep and unflinching as my own. Now believe me I’ve said and done more than my share of things I am ashamed of, but my conscience has never let me escape from the truth of my deeds, with an easy out. My brother and sister are also like that. I thought everyone was like that.

Of course everyone is not like that.

After my eldest brother Michael died and I was confirmed I felt that this combination of truth and conscience and empathy must have been the Holy Spirit within me and that I was lucky enough (like my brothers and sister) to have known it as a part of me my whole life because I’d been baptized as a baby. Later I found that there were plenty of others I knew who’d also been baptized as a baby and did not seem to have the same truth and conscience within them.

So perhaps it was the way we were raised? I have no doubt that is part of it, but I don’t know if my brother and sister have the same truth radar that I believe I have.

They say the truth rings true and I agree – it actually does. Perhaps its a vibration on a certain mysterious frequency but it literally rings. It resonates. I know it is truth if it rings true within me when I hear it. Jesus said in John 8:32 “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” I know that in terms of salvation and eternity knowing the truth will set me free but often in day to day life knowing truth and conscience intimately is not terribly freeing – this was especially the case as a teenager, when there were times I was compelled to say or do something that I knew was right when all I wanted to do was to blend and fit in with everyone else. As for the times that I resisted doing the right thing in order to just blend and fit in – despite being compelled, my conscience reminded me of it for years.

Perhaps that’s why I turned my back on the truth in my twenties. I was chasing what I thought was freedom only to find it was slavery.

I understand now that the Holy Spirit bestows upon each different gifts and that knowing the truth is one of mine, and one I am truly grateful for. Knowing Jesus as The Truth is the cornerstone of faith and fundamental to Christianity. What is astounding is that so many people who believe in him don’t believe in the truth (complete and free from error) of what he said and did. I know because I was once one of them.

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,
That’s what Jesus said.
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,
That’s what Jesus said.
Without the Way there is no going,
Without the Truth there is no knowing.
Without the Life, there is no living,
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,
That’s what Jesus said.


The Way

Early on in the week I ended up on a quotes website and was pleasantly surprised to find one of my favourite direct quotes from Jesus – John 14:6 “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This quote comes to mind every other day since I found my way back to the good shepherd. The journey back to God began just over 2 years ago when, as I wrote last week the Holy Spirit saved my daughter’s life but this is one of those verses in scripture that sunk into me as a child, so much so that it resonates on a level that feels inherent in who I am. I remember my 6th grade scripture teacher Mr Gentle (so aptly named) teaching the song with the hand gestures making a W, T and L as we sang “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life – that’s what Jesus said”. I don’t remember the rest of the song but I will look it up and paste it below the post. Even as an 11 year old I knew that these words were very important and they meant something to me then – especially the truth, but not on the level of knowing you can only get by testing something in the lab of life.

How could I know this verse my whole life and yet continue to discover knew depth of meaning in it?

I was considering these words from Jesus; the comprehensiveness of them, their beauty and wisdom and yet their simplicity on Monday night when I had a reflective epiphany or “moment of clarity”. I knew that the mistakes of my life, especially the biggest, were made because I ignored (deliberately or otherwise) the way and much unnecessary heartache, consequences, trouble and difficulty could have been saved in my life as well as all those connected with me had I just followed the right path, the way. I’m not talking about obvious mistakes like sinning.  Everyday mistakes that compound because you are on the wrong path – though it may be perfectly legitimate by this world’s standards.

It was the way in this verse that I was never completely sure of, I assumed it meant the way to eternal life. I know that it does mean that but it means more than that to me now too. I never realised that it means the way in this life also. A happy, fulfilled and meaningful life. In many ways my life resembles the fact that I only just really understood this.

I had an urge to  spend the night writing to my children, begging them to trust in my experiences and know the wisdom of the way. I want them to strive throughout their lives to  follow the way and not digress from it. To literally consider what way the way is in every day’s decisions so that when they arrive at the big  intersections of their lives they are so familiar with the way they will either know it immediately or trust that with prayer it will be revealed to them.

The song Mr Gentle taught to my class – thank you Mr Gentle!

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,
That’s what Jesus said.
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,
That’s what Jesus said.
Without the Way there is no going,
Without the Truth there is no knowing.
Without the Life, there is no living,
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,
That’s what Jesus said.

Lyrics found on a post at the baptist board forum – Thank you!

This is part 1 of a four part series – Part 2 is The Truth


Holy Spirit

On Good Friday last week I mentioned a time in my life when God reached out to me; through a seemingly random act of kindness by some Christians. I did not know them, and since their actions prompted me to move from Sydney back to my hometown in Northern NSW if I wanted to find them it would have been difficult.

I say their act prompted me but it was far more intricate than that. It was their act and my understanding that God was reaching out to me despite my unworthiness. I was aware that God was sending me a life boat because of the fact that  the Holy Spirit had been laying groundwork for weeks before; so that I could recognize that the act was God calling me back when it occurred.

A few weeks before that Good Friday I looked in the mirror, I looked deep into my own eyes and a voice within me told me plainly, the truth. I was losing my soul. The life I was living was literally stealing away a piece of my soul every day. I looked into eyes that were familiar but changed. They were not completely empty but there was a darkness, a deadness, a lack of something and a hardness that was not there before.

I knew the words that came to me like a thought about my soul were true and  I couldn’t ignore it or “not know” it again.

Many, many years later the Holy Spirit spoke to me as directly and plainly again and it was literally lifesaving.

It was Australia Day 2011. My family and I had been watching the cricket and it was the break for tea. I ran the bath and put the kids in. David started to cook sausages in the kitchen and I watered the garden. I could hear the kids playing through the kitchen window over the sound of the crackling sausages. It was lovely to hear them, growing into friends. I said something along those lines to David through the window and he agreed. After a couple of minutes as I walked to turn off the hose I thought to myself  I haven’t heard Chloe for a while and just as I thought it I heard Jack say angrily “Oh Chloe come on!” and I sighed, the peace of friendship was over!

I walked to the back door.

“Daddy!” Jack called.

“Daddy look what Chloe’s done!” he said walking into the hallway.

David walked to the bathroom expecting to find a mess in the bath or on the floor.

I wiped off my feet and walked in the sliding door and I heard the words that haunt me to this day “Jack! She’s dead!”

I heard myself yelling out “What? What?” I thought – She’s dead? Oh My God! Oh My God! As I started to run up the hall in panic and despair (I may have been screaming) the Holy Spirit said to me “Not yet, she’s not”

It is difficult to describe this voice, the voice of the Holy Spirit because it was internal and yet it was not my own. It’s as though the words were formed and placed into my mind. They were audible in a sense of hearing one’s own thoughts but my thoughts were not calm or rational or knowledgeable in any way, shape or form. These words were all of those. I did not for a second question them. They were full of authority and knowledge and I knew they were right. I know these thoughts were not my own because they were completely contrary to the thoughts and feelings immediately preceding them.

“Not yet, she’s not.” These four words, clear, calm and all-knowing saved my daughter’s life.

These words slapped me from shock and panic to immediate and necessary action.

Not yet; two dreadful and beautiful words. Not yet; a grave warning. Not yet; but soon, move, think, do something, help her!

I snatched her from David. Oh her wet, naked, limp little body! Her lips were turning blue. I grabbed the first aid book and told David to call an ambulance. He said “You call – I will hold her” I thought I’m not just going to hold her, I don’t think I took the time to say this out loud but I’m not sure and David can not remember. I ran with her to the lounge. I sat her on my knees and I started to slap her back as I flicked for the resuscitation guide. I couldn’t hold her and get to the page at the same time, she was still wet and slippery. David was in shock and stood in the kitchen watching, Jack was crying in his bedroom. I put her over my knees, facing down and slapped her back again. I turned her over and breathed in her mouth, I sat her up again and lifted her right arm up high over her head and slapped her back again.

“Come on Chloe please!”

She coughed and burped and breathed and started to cry.

“Oh Thank God!” I cried out.


Good Friday

It’s fitting that I should finally make an effort to write for this blog for the first time on Good Friday. Easter has always meant a lot to me. As a kid I remember first understanding what happened and thinking it was some kind of sick, sick joke. How could anyone call it Good Friday when it was the day Jesus was crucified? I’m sure it was explained to me and I probably put it down to one of the mysteries of adulthood I’d surely one day understand. Good Friday? It made me cry when I thought about those nails being driven into his hands  and feet. It made me feel sick. It still does. I cried in church this morning.

There is a particular Good Friday that means a lot to me. It was one of those times when as a Christian you are aware of how uniquely important you are to God because he finds a way to reach you; in my case despite being almost completely spiritually depleted and unreachable. On this particular occasion I was the recipient of Christianity with it’s sleeves rolled up.

I was in my early twenties and in real trouble. I was broke, sick and tired, desperate, hungry and angry at the world (despite the fact it was my own fault) that I couldn’t even afford some hot crossed buns, when some Christians knocked on the sliding door of the cabin, with hot crossed buns in their arms. I remember clearly telling them with  tears streaming down my face that they did not know what it meant to me. I thanked them said “God bless you” and when they left I cried more; in gratitude and recognition of both God’s grace and my complete and utter unworthiness.

There is another interweaving story about the Holy Spirit that I will mostly leave for another day, but I will say that the Holy Spirit had been working away within me waiting for that Good Friday to bring the evidence of God calling out to me. Calling me back.

Good Friday is special to me as it is to every Christian who knows that Jesus is our saviour – the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. His sacrifice and love endures, as real and important today as ever, perhaps even if possible more so than then if one considers the times we are living in and what they mean. That is if one considers the signs of the times.

This year more than ever before do I strive to go in Peace – to Love and Serve the Lord.