Sunday, December 30, 2012

Seeing... A Dying Art?

I have mixed feeling about Social Media and Texting. I love it on the one hand; it's brilliant for sharing and keeping in touch, but on the other hand, I am beginning to feel a few negatives.
  1. Instead of being present in a moment of beauty, we take a quick look, capture it on camera, move on, post it to FB and say we've seen it. But have we? Did we really see it, did we sit down, absorb, watch and experience the moment? Or did we take the picture, go home and then try to see it.
  2. Facebook is a very poor substitute for face-to-face, but a great way to keep in touch.
  3. A negative in texting is that ones tone is completely lost. Not even a smiley face can change that!
  4. Probably my main concern is losing the art of deciphering the language that speaks the loudest...  Body Language.
Look at me when I am speaking to you, watch what I am saying.
Seeing what I am saying often says more than what my words say.

There is a part of me that would like to just close my eyes and go back in time to before Social Media, when we listened to friends rather than read them.

In 2013 I want to ensure that I don't ever lose the art of what it means to be present in a friendship rather than a participant in a friendship.


"A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, 
gently allows you to grow."

 ~ Shakespeare ~

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Darby's Castle



I had a lovely drive home from the airport on Sunday, having found an old CD I forgot I had.
I have always enjoyed Kris Kristofferson's songs.

As I was singing my heart out with Mr K,  I was struck with the spiritual parallel I found in this song.

Have a listen.
(Let it load fully first so you can appreciate and hear the words)

It's the story of a man who is very much in love with his wife,
and he decides to build her the most beautiful house of wood and stone.
He didn't want her to lack anything.

Soon, however, building the house became his obsession
and his relationship with his wife deteriorated.

It's a hauntingly beautiful song.

I wondered how often, out of our deep love for God
we find ourselves doing so much for him
 that we forget that intimacy comes by spending time with Him.

Let's never become so obsessed with doing for,
that we lose out on being with.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Merton Thoughts #1

I shared this as a note on Facebook a week or two ago, and it's still sitting with me:

I am busy reading "Contemplative Critic", a book on the life of Thomas Merton and came across this paragraph in which the writer is outlining the various people, books and events that influenced Merton's journey toward God. He writes this:

"It is perhaps always a bit disappointing when we look for answers to the question of God in our lives. We are left only with titles of books, names of people and a few old facts. It seems all a bit lean and superficial. God doesn't let Himself get caught in titles, names and facts. But he lets Himself be suspected. And therefore it is only the one who prays to God, quite possibly the one who searches for silence himself, who can recognise Him in the many little ideas, meetings and happenings along the way."

I love this. That God doesn't get caught up in stuff, but that he lets Himself be suspected.

I do believe.

But help me to recognise you in those little ideas everyday, in meetings and in happenings along the way. Let me find you not only in my busyness, but in my quiet too.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Entertaining and Accepting




Just because of who I am, I filter everything through a spiritual lens.

Years ago, "the church" (with good intention) sought to isolate "their people" from "everyone else", the result of this being that "their people" made the (incorrect) assumption that anyone who didn't think like them was unacceptable. Christians didn't entertain friendships outside of "the church" and refused to entertain any thoughts or views, other than their own.

The result of this is what we have now, where "everyone else" feels judged by "the church".

It was wrong. There, I said it. 

I really value my friendships (some in their infancy) with people from other faiths, backgrounds and lifestyles, and have found our conversations sometimes more rewarding than others in terms of honesty and vulnerability. 

We don't have to think the same, or accept another's view as our own for us to be friends and to share our lives. I think we just have to be honest. 

What do you think?



Saturday, October 6, 2012

Weeding in "Our Space"

We've been doing some minor alterations at home. It's funny how when you make one part of the house look nice, it shows up all the minor imperfections that you have learnt to overlook, and suddenly you are unable to live with them anymore! Does this happen with you too, or is it just us? Anyway, this is where the story of our garden comes in.

About 16 years ago we lived in a place where gardening was easy. Here, we have challenges with sandy soil, wind, snails, cutworm and caterpillars. When we first moved here, we did try to create a nice garden, but everything we planted disappeared almost overnight. We just gave up and maintained what was there.  BUT NOW... we have decided to give it another try and have been back and forth to the nursery and madly planting. Of course, now that the plants are in, my lawn is an irritation, because after all these years, I have not weeded it ever, with the result that there is possibly more weed than lawn.

As I was sitting on the grass, with my weeding fork, feeling very satisfied at being able to pull up the weeds with the roots intact, (ensuring that this would be the end of them), I remembered how often God used to speak to me when I gardened before. It was like "our space". As I pulled up another weed, I wished I had paid more attention to my lawn, because then the weeds would not have spread so far. If I could just pull it out as soon as it showed its face, I would not be overcome with them.

As if on queue, I was reminded of a discussion at Bible School recently while studying Corinthians, of how Paul used the example of yeast for how sin spreads when not dealt with. For me, who avoids baking and the kitchen like the plague, yeast would not be an example I would use. However, sitting in the middle of a patch of lawn, and seeing how one weed had been allowed to run free, it had not only affected my lawn, but had run riot and woven in among the grass to a point where it was difficult to separate the two. 




I don't believe in "sin management" in terms of being so inward focused in that that is all we do, but I think it's good to take a look at our lives every so often, especially if convicted by something, to make sure there is nothing left untended that will root, run riot and stop us being able to discern what is good and pure, and that may need to be rooted out.

Having said all that - I am so thankful for my man, the sun, the garden, for new plants, our dogs who take turns to dig up our new plants / or eat them, for water to water them, and eyes to see them with.

I guess God picked up "our space" again too.

Life is beautiful.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Contemplative Critic

I watched a short, thought-provoking film at our local Museum about Thomas Merton last week. Interesting quote by one of the guys speaking about their relationship: 

"Some people may have thought we were on the edge, but actually, we were creating a new centre." 

I have to read his book "Contemplative Critic" about his life now. If the film is anything to go by, I think I am going to enjoy it. It was written by Henri Nouwen, another person whose life I would like to read more about. 

Merton was a spiritual risk-taker, restless in his pursuit of God and determined to find God in unexpected places and with unexpected people. Not that I in any way can compare myself to him, but something about what I heard about in his story, resonates with me.

More when I am finished the book!




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Did you say: "Religion?"


I "shared" this on FB, and, as you can see, was even brave enough to add a status update with it.


Possibly people will  have a couple of reactions:
  1. What? She "likes" the Dalai Lama on Facebook?
  2. What? She "shared" that status update?
  3. I thought she was a Christian.
I call myself a follower of Christ. For me, being called a Christian has too much baggage. Arrogance, hyprocrisy and judgemental attitudes are attached to it. None of which reflect the person of Christ.

Friends who truly know me. Know me. That's all I will say about that.  :)

I am not sure exactly what I find interesting:
  • perhaps it's that he says all these faiths "promote inner values" - yet, he lists fruit of the spirit as a "tool" to further this. 
  • perhaps it's that he has realised that "grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate." Was it ever adequate?
  • The most interesting thing to me is his last sentence: "...I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether."

I have found myself mulling over this sentence all day. When I think of "religion" - immediately I think of rules of trying to do all the right things to be a good Christian. It's conjures up pictures of duty and obligation.

If we are to consider that religion (as he sees it) is no longer able to make people behave ethically or morally - I wonder when (or if) he will recognise that the Holy Spirit is the source of the qualities such as love, peace, compassion, forgiveness....  and when we are in Christ, there is no more "trying to be a good Christian" and trying to keep all the rules, because our position and relationship with God in Christ is certain through grace. As we journey in this walk of spirituality, we become more like him, reflecting these qualities so needed in the world today. 

It's a journey not of ethics through religion, but of love through grace.

I just love this picture.
It shows that people of different journeys can be friends without having to defend their faith.
Instead they enjoy one another's company and share their lives and spiritual walk together.

I realise that this sounds pretty jumbled and I reserve the right to alter my thinking at any time. I do however have immense respect for this man, his desire for peace and his search for truth.   


Monday, September 10, 2012

Well Done London!

Just like that, it's all over.  I think my couch has b-hind imprints on it, and I seriously considered moving the fridge into the lounge so I wouldn't have to move....(just kidding, but you get the idea!?)

I wonder how long it took them to rehearse those opening and closing ceremonies, how to schedule the people and the times - what an incredible job London, and the UK, you can be so proud of yourselves!

Some of my favourite memories.... I know I am leaving tons out...

  • Chad le Clos, of course - who wouldn't just melt at that finish, and when he was on the podium, seeing that chin giving way to all that emotion. I bet every mom in the world would have wanted to throw their arms around him and tell him how proud they are... (actually, judging from school, I think a lot of girls would have wanted to just throw their arms around him. Period!)  His father just crept into our hearts and conversations overnight.

  • The Ugandan Kiprotech who won the Mens marathon - who ever would have thought I would sit and watch an entire marathon, but I did.  Same with the X-Country Cycle watching our guy, Burrie Stander, who I have nicknamed the "Comeback Kid" - just never gave up! Our lightweight Fours and Bridgette Hartley all at home on water and did so well!

  • Oh my goodness -Jamaica... what can I say. Yohan Blake, my Jamaican hero, (who incidentally rang the bell for our opening cricket match against England!) but those guys are athletes AND showmen!




  • Loved watching Mo Farrah run and win! What a favourite he was!
  • Watching Oscar run in the Olympics and making history and our golden girl Caster who did us proud too!



All of our SA athletes were awesome and there were just so many magical moments!

One of the funniest things I heard on a USA broadcast was this:
 The News  Announcer said: "Spoiler Alert. If you don't want to know the results of this event, 
mute your TV now". Then proceeded to put up the picture of the winner and all the details.

I loved, loved, loved the Freddy Mercury bit at the closing ceremony - wished I was there for that!

The paralympics though, just finished me off. I think I have cried more in the last few weeks with this than I have in years! Its incredibly humbling and doubly inspiring watching people who are living their lives not feeling sorry for themselves but are literally taking life by the horns and giving it "what for". 

Our paralympians did fantastically, too many too mention, but one close to home is Achmat Hassiem who got bronze in swimming after he had his leg taken off by a shark at one of our local beaches some years back. At the time he was a life saver at that beach and after the incident he didn't give up on anything, but just went ahead and did even greater things!

Watching sprints done by blind people with a guide - who even thought that was possible! Watching backstroke by some who have almost no arms, and then win!?  It's amazing, inspiring and changes the way one sees one's own challenges.

I will bore you if I go on about this now - but suffice it to say - again, LONDON: You rocked it. Thanks to all the volunteers from those upfront and those behind the scenes who officiated, organised and councelled.

You did a great job,you really, really did!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I'd rather be sleeping....

I used to have a keyring that said that..."I'd rather be sleeping"

Sleep and I are generally the best of friends and I have often joked that I could fall asleep on a park bench on the main road.
 
Over the last month or three, I have found that occassionally Mr Sandman refuses to take me hostage and instead lets me stay up and play. I am not awake worrying about anything. I am just ... awake.

Last night was one of those nights. The TV powered off. I was awake. I could switch it on again, but My Man battles to go back to sleep if he is woken up, so I don't.

I begin to think....( These thoughts are headlines, there are sub-heads, text & occassional mental footnotes.)

It starts with my day. What I did at school, what projects am I busy with, could I make them better, would something work more effectively if I did it differently next time, rerun through all the great Web2.0 tools I have found and wonder how I can incorporate them into classes. I must remember to Tweet them to my PLN to spread the joy.

Turn over. Look at the clock. Midnight. *yawn*

Inevitably thinking about Tweeting will lead me to thinking about Facebook. I wonder if any of my friends are online? Maybe I can pop in and see quickly. I don't want to disturb My Man so I don't. Facebook leads to thinking about Blogging, and I run through the blogs that I have read recently and then feel pangs of guilt that I don't Blog as often as I would like. So right there and then, I mentally write, edit and rewrite the best blog I have EVER written. It's a beaut!

Turn over. Look at the clock. 01:15 *Damn*

At this point I may consider giving My Man an accidentally on purpose nudge. But the kind of nudge you can't ignore. When he responds I will say innocently: "Oh, are you also awake... do you want tea?" (I won't drink tea, but he would if he was awake and at this point it would be in my best interest to please him.) However, I don't kick him, or nudge him and instead I congratulate myself quietly for being such a considerate and caring wife. ;-)

Then I think that if I was that good a wife I would definitely be a better cook! I determine that from tomorrow I will cook double every night and freeze it, then I will always have nice food at hand, and will even get away with not cooking every now and again. What a brilliant idea. I will be so organised from tomorrow. I run through recipes that this will work well with. I have some. Awesome. Can't wait!

Turn over. Look at the clock 2:10. *yawn so hard I am in danger of swallowing my face.*

As I turn over I remember that I must book that venue for where we want to renew our vows. I really also need to make a list of what to do and invites. *Take time to make mental guest list and keep realising I am adding the same people more than once* so I give up.

Turn over. 02:45: Ugh, I am so uncomfortable.

... I give myself a mental lecture about why I am uncomfortable.   I really should go back to gym. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will definitely go back. I will feel better when I am back.

 * * *

Nickleback forces back my eyelids open at 07:00ish and all I can think is "Dear God, seriously????"

I manage to get to school without everyone pointing and staring, so I guess my bra isn't on the outside of my blouse.

I go to the kitchen and make coffee.  (Thank you God.)

I go about my day with my lovely kids. I forget to book the venue. I go home and cook enough for only one meal. I sit down to write the brilliant blog and can't for the life of me remember what the HECK it was about!???

I have at least 3 very admirable reasons why I can't possibly go to gym today.

Maybe tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

94 Today!


HaPpY BirThDay DeaReSt MaDiBA!

 
What an amazing life you've led. You have truly "put up your hand" for the beliefs you felt strongly about and you paid the price for them. In spite of this, you have demonstrated integrity, humility, grace and mercy to anyone who comes into contact with you .... and those who don't.

You are an inspiration to me and so many others, may you celebrate this year and many more with much love, laughter and the friendship of our rainbow nation, even of the world.

Have a wonderful day, dear Madiba.





Friday, June 29, 2012

Horatio Spafford

Do you know who Horatio Spafford was?
             I didn't. I know his words, but not his name.

There is always a life story behind words we read, even if we don't consider it at the time of reading.

"When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea-billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul."

Familiar?
              Horatio Spafford wrote that.

Do you know when he wrote it?
              I didn't. I know his words, but not his event.

There is always a story behind what we read.

Considering that he wrote this on a ship, sailing across the ocean at the precise spot where the ship that was carrying his wife and four young daughters sank and  all four daughters drowned.....


......Suddenly the hymn means a little more, don't you think?
                                                        There is always something we don't know.

* * * * *


I have been reading this book which summarises the lives of a couple of great hymn writers. Horatio has particularly grabbed me for two reasons - which I can summarise in one verse:

"There is nothing new under the sun"


So the 2 reasons it grabbed me:
1.  The similarity to Job's experience
2.  Questioning and debating one's faith is not new and the results are often the same.

1. A remarkable similarity to Job.
He was born in 1828. Long ago hey? :)
  • He lost his son to scarlet fever.
  • His four daughters drowned when their ship collided with another.
  • People thought that their children had died because of sin they must have in their lives.
  • He also then lost his nephew who had moved with them to Jerusalem, and was like a son to them. 
  • Yet, in none of this did he doubt the goodness and kindness of God.
"When Horatio's life had flowed like a smooth, tranquil river, he refused to let others
shape his course. Now, amidst an ocean of suffering, neither did he bow to their expectations
or their theology. Horatio asked questions of God, not people. He reviewed Scriptures,
wrestled, analyzed and deduced.... "God is kind," said Horatio. "I do not know why
my children drowned. But our sin or lack of it had nothing to do with their deaths.
My girls are in heaven. I shall see them again."

What friends said of them after their son died:
"If the Spaffords were true Christians, God would not allow such a thing a second time."

What miserable comforters their friends turned out to be.

* * * * *

2.  Questioning and debating one's faith is not new and the results are often the same:

The book describes the event where he realises that he is short sighted. A bunch of friends are admiring the stars in the sky and Horatio said:

"Now Charlie, be candid. Be honest.
Do you really see enough beauty up there to warrant your outburst?"
Charlie lent him his glasses and suddenly "he stood transfixed by the
hundreds of diamonds that sparkled above him in clean, crystalline beauty."

The book goes on to say:
"Once his physical vision was corrected, Horatio wasted no time in scrutinizing his intellectual vision. He no longer swallowed traditional viewpoints, those of others or himself, without inquiry. He examined issues, loosening and peeling away layer of conventionality with sharp questions. How do we know this? Why? ... 

He says to God:
"All my life I had no inkling of the beauty or complexity of Your creation, God.
What else have I overlooked because I never questioned my own limited view?"

He became close friends with Dwight Moody and sometimes diasgreed with him:
"he felt the evangelist placed too much emphasis on God's judgement and not enough on his love.
As usual,he made his position clear to his friend and spiritual mentor (Moody).
But Horatio believed God had used Moody to change his own life and viewed
him as the means to help others change, too."

At some point he was asked to resign from his position in the Church due to his desire to question convention and tradition, though he never doubted the atoning sacrifice of Christ and the love of God.
The book goes on to talk about how newspapers "publicized and often distorted his views."

They, together with a group of friends, moved to Jerusalem after the death of his son and formed what came to be known as "The American Colony". Their lives embraced friendships with Jews, Muslims, Spanish priests and Sheiks (amongst others) as they embraced their culture. Their love and friendship had infiltrated a community of people whose lives were affected because of the their love for Jesus.

He died from malaria in Jerusalem in 1888.

* * * *

Things I can take from his story:
  • My faith will hopefully be as strong as theirs if tragedy befalls me.
  • I am thankful for my family and friends who love me unconditionally. 
  • That you can question tradition and convention
  • You can see things differently from other believers (Like he and Moody
  • Give one another room for their conviction and respect them.
  • There will always be those who are "willing to be companions" on your spritual journey
  • There will always be those who choose to "camp" and frown upon your spiritual journey
  • God is kind and is fully invested in making our journey as adventurous as you allow him
  • That all people from all faiths are to be respected and shown the love of Christ
  • A committed community of Christ followers can make a difference
  • One person started this. So never think that I, being one person, can't make a difference where I am.
We really do 'stand on the shoulders' of these amazing people who went before.

A very edited version of a wonderfully inspiring story.

* * *

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Big Clean (or big scream?)

I am not, by nature, a hoarder.

My Man on the other hand, has a garage full of planks, random brackets and other paraphanalia that he says he will keep "in case he needs them" - he doesn't need them  ;-).  However, I don't feel I can go and ditch things from the garage!

It's school holidays and I thought that this would be a perfect time to rearrange cupboards, get rid of things I have not used recently, and store the "Random-Sentimal-Stuff-That-I-Love-But-Don't-Want-To-Ditch".

Day 1:  I was a machine. I rocked! Enough said.

Day 2: Gave my mom a call to say Hi, and in chatting, told her I had lost touch with yesterday's mojo to which she said:

"It's like being a child and deciding to clean your toy cupboard and then playing with all the toys and not wanting to put them away.

I had to laugh - it is exactly like that.  Except that when I was little, at least SOME of the time, my mom would end up tidying up the scattered toys.

Ain't no mama gonna clean up this mess!

Day 3:  (Today) My mojo is further away than ever, and I am doing everything I can think of to avoid any and every room in my home (I'm even blogging about avoiding it!). Eish.

You need to understand that I don't work in one room at a time like I suspect organised people do. I work in one room, take something from there to another room where I think it's better suited, get side-tracked in that room, and so the process unmercifully repeats itself until every room shows evidence of my skill in being perfectly present in that room.

Now, I suppose, I should go and get on. No fairy is coming to wave their magic wand - and like many things in life, the sooner you face up to them and deal with them, the sooner you can move forward. 

Since I do want to go out and play these school holidays,
let me be a good kid and pick up my toys.

* * *

Friday, June 1, 2012

Eating my Words

The first blog I ever wrote, other than my "introductory one" was to complain bitterly about the puppy my daughter brought home one day.

As time has gone on and the puppy has been growing up, she has become more and more adorable, watching her learn commands, and getting her used to walking on a lead has been such a treat!

Tigger
Jack, our other dog, has been going to run on the beach for a few weeks now, but more and more I have been feeling I need to be brave and take Tigger. I wasn't sure if she would take off at the smell of freedom, or if she would want to eat any other dog that passed by - but because she is just the most loving and soppy pup ever, I could not believe that she would do that.

I had popped into the vet for her to have her annual shots and asked his advice and he was very sweet and even offered to meet me down there if I wanted help. He suggested a long lead and to take Tigger without Jack initially.

I went down the next day with Tigs on the long lead and she was so good. She just ran along around me and was very friendly. Just one little dashund decided to be bigger than it was and Tigs looked more bewildered by her aggression than showing any herself.

Today, my sister and I had planned to meet down there with the aim of trying her with no lead. At the last moment plans changed, but I decided I would go anyway and went with her on the lead deciding to judge it as I went. Walking along, I bumped into our vet with his dogs and Tigs began playing with them, so I did it. I took the lead off and she was awesome. She played with them and just ran along with me and never was more than 10 ft from me.  I wish I had a camera with me, but I didn't even think about it - next time!

It's such a nice feeling to know that we can take the dogs down now and know that they will be fine and have a ball. (Probably not literally - but figuratively!) 

I can't believe that if I had really decided to pass this puppy on, that I would have missed out on a loyal and beautiful friend who brings me so much joy.

I can't think of our home without her and Jack in it now.... funny thing that.

(Cannot believe I wrote that much about a dog - my family better not laugh and point at me!)

Friday, May 11, 2012

It's a Dogs Life.... a good life!

I have always wanted to walk Jack at the beach. The first time My Man and I took him down on a lead, and it wasn't great. He or the dogs around were less than courteous to one another and we went home.

Later, I was told that it's much better to not have them on a lead. So my mom popped down with me to to the beach, and he just shot off with me running (read: lumbering) after him and yelling rather loudly.  It put me off taking him again.

This week my sister, who recently adopted a new hound, convinced me to try again. We met at the beach and let the dogs loose.

It was a fantastic experience and honestly, I cannot wait to do it again. Jack, I have always know is well-behaved and friendly, and with the other dogs on the beach, he was in his element. He did run down the beach with the others, but always stopped to check where we were and ran back again at various intervals.

He had not gone into the sea since he has been with us, but he ended up playing with other dogs who were running in the sea.


It was quite a surreal experience and I felt like a character in a book. It's pretty therapeutic.

I want to do it again.
Now.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Really?


Question #1:
Has it really been so long since I last posted?

Question #2:
Is it possible to be really busy and yet not feel you have anything to blog about?

Question #3:
If yes to #2, please elaborate on how this can be.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Appreciation Factor

Why is it that often ones 'appreciation factor' of certain things kicks in too late?

In yesterday's Travel Section of the Sunday paper, I read one of those pointless interviews that they have with someone who is considered a celeb about "their kind of holiday". 

Of course everyone has what they feel is their perfect holiday, and as an adult, you have the luxury of choosing this holiday for yourself.

I took a deep breath when I got to this question:
Q: "What was your worst holiday ever? What happened?
A: "Barging through France. Trapped in a small vessel for one week with my parents."

Straight away atleast 2 things struck me:
  1. I have been looking at barging holidays in France myself, although only for My Man and I.  I had two thoughts on browsing through their brochure. The first was "its pretty expensive for a week," and the second "what a lekker holiday to do as a family."  You can stop when you want to, you have bikes on board to go for long rides, you can fish, you can swim, there are canals with watersports, and castles to explore. It seems like a much better idea than dragging your kid around through French museums, art galleries and cathedrals, doesn't it?  I have no doubt that if this holiday was the worst one he had, that he bitched and performed about how bored he was, and if he didn't he probably sat in a corner and moped around for the duration, which means that if it was his worst, it was twice as much of a nightmare for his parents who had probably saved for ages to get there (especially on our exchange rate) and who had high hopes of a lovely family holiday with plenty for the kids to do, who now had to endure a thick lip from a kid with no appreciation of how much thought goes into stuff like this.
  2. The next thought I had was how much I wish I could go back and relive my childhood holidays that my parents took us on. We went camping in the mountains and to game reserves, and I am sure, no, let me rephrase that, I know that I was a perfect cow most times. Sulking because I wasn't with my friends, or it was too long in the car, or it was too cold, probably anything I could find to complain about, I probably did.  I remember those holidays now as amazing times and talk about them as great memories. In fact, when My Girl was born, one of the first things we did was buy a caravan and go to the game reserve. I wanted to share the holidays with her that I had enjoyed myself in hindsight. I wish I could go back and behave properly and make it a better holiday for everyone.
My heart just went out to this guys parents who had obviously gone out of their way to find something that would be fun for their kids, and all it is to him is his worst holiday ever.

Payback time will come when he has kids of his own one day.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Home from the Holiday!

  Well, we went, we saw, we loved and now we are home.
 
We did everything we wanted to do, and I am pleased to report that we did see the Northern Lights so my relationship with the Author is still very much in tact. I think he took me seriously about us having issues if He didn't come out and play. (Shhhh....don't tell Him, but I would still love Him anyway! :-) )

I learnt some stuff these 2 weeks - more than what is noted here but hey... this is a start:

  • You can survive the cold if you know how to dress!  Thank you to "My Norwegian Connection" for telling me about the coldcream for your face!
  • I could never believe that K-Way fleece could really be THAT warm. I am now a believer.
  • Snow is powdery. Yes, books say it. Movies show it. I have felt it. It's awesome.
  • Snow can crunch underfoot. Yes, books describe it and in movies you hear it. I crunched snow underfoot.
  • Norway is OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD expensive. I can't tell you. They had South African Wine on the menu and for a 1/4 glass of wine we could have bought about 2 full bottles at home. NO kidding. About R80+ for less than half a glass of white wine. I didn't drink much! Everything is expensive.
  • I don't like central heating. Although we naturally would have frozen without it.
  • I missed colour a bit. No, let me rephrase that. I missed colour alot. The snow and landscape is gorgeous, but coming from a country called the Rainbow Nation - which is appropriate for more reasons than only the people - I missed the colour that I take so for granted each day.
  

 We saw this statue outside the Palace in Oslo and I loved the inscription beneath it. It read: "The People's Love, My Reward."   Not often one hears that these days.

So now the #1 thing on my Bucket List can be ticked (Northern Lights) and My Man and My Girl got to Ski and Snowboard resepctively, so their #1 boxes were ticked too.

I wish I could describe the lights. I can't really. We were in danger of not seeing them at all. The weather had been overcast with snow and fog the whole way. I didn't mind it at all other than it made the lights impossible to see.  Finally, the night before (I think) we were due to disembark, the announcement came through that the lights were beginning to play. We almost ran up to the deck, we were leaving a harbour and there was some light. The lights looked more white/grey, almost like the milky way looks in pictures. We could just make out the lines. My Girl took some pics which showed the lights to be neon green like you see in the movies. My thoughts were "Oh, so they are not really green to the eye, but more in the photo", I stayed out until they disappeared and then went down to the lounge again.

About an hour later, the announcement came through that the lights were out again. I decided I was going to take every opportunity to see them and went out again. This time it was really dark. As we watched the sky just lit up, a collective gasp from all on deck was clearly audible, I am not sure anyone breathed, it was spectacular - beyond green, dancing and twirling over the mountains and across the sky. I don't think I moved. I know I froze but it was worth it. They only lasted maybe 8-10 minutes, if that before they disappeared for the night but it was the most beautiful dance to witness and I felt so privileged and emotional to have seen them.

The next favourite event was the dog sledding! Incredible - at dusk through thick snow across the landscape. Unforgettable. Everything. Completely Unforgettable.

I have been home a week today. Still trying to get used to it. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ready For The Risk.

Early on in my spiritual journey I was told that....

"Now you are a Christian you have to:
  •  read your Bible every day,
  • you have to have a quiet time every day (preferably early in the morning because thats what David did),
  • you must go to all the meetings because thats how you will grow, and if you don't the world will devour you."
That was 29 years ago. Also about 20 years ago. Maybe even 15 years ago.
I may even have heard something similar this year.

I have realised during these years that there is nothing "have to" about our spiritual walk. It's not that you have to do those things, but it's because you love God that you want to.  You want to read the Bible, because it's how you get to know him and his heart - but he will not fall off his throne if you don't read it everyday. I have also realised that 'quiet times' are a personal thing, and God has no expectations of me as to when, where or how this happens.   I have found him to be most adventurous in meeting me exactly where I am.

Sometimes I feel as though I take 2 steps forward in my spiritual journey and then 3 steps back when I hear: "That if we don't go to every meeting then the message we are sending to those around us is that something else is more important than God."

Seriously?  If my passion for Jesus is measured by my attendance at Church meetings, let's face it, I may be in trouble. I doubt very much that God measures my passion for him in this way. It is far more likely that people do. So who should I please
  
I see Jesus hanging out with people. He didn't hang out in meetings.... or only with the 12!

I would love to be part of conversations where people of all faiths, backgrounds or lifestyle choices are free to hang out and talk about what and how they believe, and everyone knows that their view and understanding of Scripture and of life, is important. We don't have to agree, but we can listen to one another, gain new insights, and learn from one another, rather than judging one another.

I am not against the family of God meeting together, let me please make this clear. It's an important part of our family-life- but how this happens, and the shapes it could take, could look so different if we took the risk. 

I just KNOW there is more. There has to be.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

Converted Culinary Challenged Cook?

Do you remember my notebook that I bought at the beginning of 2011 to celebrate my disorganised self?

Ironically, I am using it to organise myself in 2012. Yes, you guessed it, I never even looked at it in 2011!

Essentially, that post remains true for 2012! However, anyone who knows me will know that me and the kitchen do not enjoy a natural friendship. We get together out of obligation and duty rather than a desire to spend time together.

This year, I have decided, (not for me but more for My Man), to try and deepen this kitchen relationship in order to provide him with more creative suppers, rather than the lack lustre plates of food that often are put in front of him.  I am not saying I can't cook. I can. In fact, I am pretty darn spectacular if I want to be.

So, last Sunday, I found my "unorganised" little notebook and copied down the ingredients of some recipes that looked do-able. I carry it with me and now, instead of wondering what to make, I have a quick squiz in the book and know exactly what I need.

I have to say people, that I have used it twice this week and we are only on Thursday!!!   I am feeling rather self-righteous. I need to be careful about that since there was a time I felt like that about going to gym and I have only been once in the last 18 months! Although... having said that, I did go to a Spinning Class last night for the first time in those 18 months and today I am cursing that saddle!

So, *cheers!* here's to me and seeing how long I can keep this organised thing going. I'm betting about a month, maybe less knowing me.


A Disappointing End

I feel I should issue some warning before publishing this... but I don't know what that warning should be. I just need to say this "out loud" so it's no longer in my head. It's never good letting stuff stay up there too long! :-)

Some years ago we bought a small flat for 2 reasons:
(a) As an investment so that when My Man  retires we would have a little something by way of rent to help us out, and
(b) As part of an inheritance for Our Girl

We painted it, ripped up the carpets and sanded floors, retiled and knocked down walls - it is a cool little place! The first few years of it being rented went well, but eventually that tenant moved out and we needed new ones.

The agent found them but they couldn't pay the rental we wanted so we dropped it to something they felt that they could manage.  The first while everything went well, but then, on occasion they couldn't pay the rent and we allowed them to pay what they could to give them time to recover. When it came to rental renewal time and the yearly increase, they couldn't afford it, so we agreed that we would keep their rent the same.

Soon, they just stopped paying. The agent couldn't get hold of them on the phone and would leave messages. No one would answer the door when visited and this went on for ages.  Eventually the agent recommended that we get lawyers involved. We felt sick to our stomachs but realised we had no alternatives having tried everything ourselves via the agents to find our what was going on.

The upshot is that it went to court who ruled in our favour and they had to be out within 5 days.  Today I heard that they didn't leave, and now the Sheriff has to go along with a locksmith and physically evict them. You would think we would feel better. We don't. We wish it had never had to come to this.  Why!? Why didn't they just talk to us!!??

I also feel terrible about them having to leave, because I don't know if they have anywhere else to go. I am sure that they are really nice people and I don't want to see them in trouble!  But we couldn't afford to just leave it since to date we have lost tens of thousands in rental which we had to cover, and we've had to pay thousands to a lawyer - this is money we have to find...not money we have.

Sadly, we are so scarred by this experience, that we are going to sell the flat which means that Our Girl loses out on part of her inheritance and we miss out having that extra investment for ourselves when My Man retires. A disappointing end to a venture that should have been so different.

I. just. feel. sick.


PS: Please don't comment about them in any derogatary way as I am sure that if they could have paid they would have, and I wish that they had just said they needed time, or a reduction or something, because we could have come to some understanding, instead of just avoiding us and all contact.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

STOP

Stop.

Do you know what this says?  Let me give you a clue...



OK. Now do you know?
"Stop: To halt the motion or progress of..."  (Online dictionary)

It doesn't say "Pause" nor does it say "Yield".

We have a 4-Way Stop Street up the road from us and everyday, almost without fail, I am witness to people who clearly can't read this word.

Yesterday My Man had had enough. He had stopped at the Stop Street while another car had stopped to his right as well. My Man waited his turn and let the car go - however the car behind the car moving on decided he wasn't going to stop and wait, but would go through straight after the car ahead of him. My Man in the meantime had begun moving when he realised that the other car was going to take the gap. He stopped in the middle of the road and politely motioned to the guy to please go back and Stop to let him go and wait for his turn. The guy had no option but to do as he had been asked, at which point My Man continued his journey.

What made My Man so angry was that the guy had a car full of pre-teens and the example he was setting was not only shocking, but he was endangering their lives.

I feel like a real old lady even blogging about this - but I do find it very disturbing that the most basic of road safety rules are just completely ignored and then all choas breaks loose when someone is hurt, or worse, killed.

We have had the most horrific road accidents over this Christmas period and when I hear how they happened, it appears that 90% of them could have been avoided if people had kept the most basic of laws.

We only have one life and anyone taken too soon is a member of a family who loves them.

Drive safely people.
Life is precious.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Big Dream #1

Do you remember this post?  My Big Dream!

In a few weeks time we will be jetting off to Norway for 2 weeks. We are taking My Girl and my folks are travelling with us. I am beyond excited. I am also, to be honest, a leetle bit nervous.

Not nervous in a negative way, but rather in that I have had very little in terms of planning to do with this holiday. Usually I do all the research, the online bookings and payments. I arrange the holiday completely and know that if anything goes pear - I am to blame!  This time, due to the extreme climate,  I have gone ahead and booked a tour through a Travel Agent. I feel slightly out of control - but I am sure that it will all be fine in the end!

Much research has gone into what we should wear and the shoes we need. Man, for a girl who is happy in the sun with jeans and sandals, this is TOUGH!  (another thing I am slightly nervous about, I am a summer girl!)  We have decided that if we need anything that we hadn't bought here, we will just have to buy it there!

We will be doing all we dreamt of doing! The dog sledding, the viking feast, visiting the snow hotel and more. Hopefully during the few days at sea the #1 thing on my bucket list will appear - the elusive Northern Lights. Honestly, this is thee most important reason for my wanting to go there and if we don't see them, I will be heartbroken. I know, sounds very girly and soppy, not like me at all - but it's not like I can pop back the following week in case they show up!
  


Today I delivered our Visa applications and all things being equal, hopefully we will have them by the end of the month.

In the meantime... will let the excitment build up! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Kick Start 2012

"Persistence isn't using the same tactics over and over.
That's just annoying.
Persistence is having the same goal over and over."

~ Seth Godin ~

My goals for 2012 are the same as my goals for 2011 were. Does that make me boring? Unimaginative?
 
Here are my 2011 goals:



* Read the entire post for 2011 here if you are interested in the rest!

Wishing you a 2012 that sees dreams being dreamt, adventures being had and love, peace, mercy and grace in all of it!

And yes.... I do have dreams and adventures planned for 2012. That will be the next post!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

WWYD - What Will You Do?

So, did you all behave like Partyrockers in the house on NYE?

So, lets assume that the Mayans have this in the bag, and this is the year to end all years - what would I do / not do?

I would wake up earlier.
Wait. Let me rephrase that: I would GET UP earlier. (There is a huge difference!)

Wow. I can't think of anything else. I wonder if that means something? Perhaps I have a really deep seated desire to get up early?
No, that can't be it.

If this were true - what would you love to do this year?