Tuesday, December 2, 2014

2 Questions & 1 Statement

I went for a lovely long walk with Jack last week and my thoughts turned to how fast this year has gone and I suppose that triggered me thinking... what have I actually DONE this year?

Old habits die hard.  Especially the habit of working.

I found myself thinking that perhaps I needed to pick up the studies again, get back into that -
Do something. Be productive. Stop wasting time!

Immediately, and I know it was God, we've done enough mileage together for me to know his voice, said "No."  Then he quickly followed that up with two questions and a statement:

1. How do you measure your productivity?
2. How do you measure time?

then the punchline - Time with Me is never unproductive.

I was reminded of this post I wrote almost a year ago, and clearly I needed a reminder....!  My heart feels as though it's being prepared for a new season - the word I feel is.... "newness,"  whatever that may look like!  :)

Perhaps it means continuing this new adventure and savouring it all (which I do!) ... who knows?!  He does!

I have a commodity here that I had very little of before.

Time.  What a gift!

* * * *

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Arrows and Messages

Years ago I was part of a group that did "The Sacred Romance".  I loved it. It was a breath of fresh air that I needed right back then.

One of the chapters was called "Arrows & Messages", I didn't really resonate with this chapter because nothing came to mind that had affected me.

Here is a small portion of what this was about:

"The Message of the Arrows:-
There are only two things that pierce the human heart.  One is beauty.  The other is affliction.  Arrows have struck us all.  However they come to us, whether through a loss we experience as abandonment or some deep violation we feel as abuse, their message is always the same: Kill your heart.  Think of how you've handled the affliction that has pierced your own heart.  How did the Arrows come to you?  Where did they land?  Are they still there?  What have you done as a result?" 

At the time, (and up until very recently) I still believed that there was no "hidden arrow" that carried a message lodged in my heart.

When I was in school, I hated Maths, I couldn't do it. It didn't make sense to me - It still doesn't!  However, in Std 4 & 5, I had a Maths teacher who delighted in making me get up in front of the class, and work out a problem on the board, he would offer no help, no suggestions, and either stare at me like I was a fool, or hit me with the big wooden compass used for geometry.  I dreaded Maths every day. Every day I felt stupid and humiliated.

Recently I was asked a question (not because the person didn't know the answer, but wondered if I did), but I didn't know the answer. I felt like I should know it, like I had known it once - but it just wasn't there. There were no hints or clues given, the person just looked at me with what I felt to be mild amusement. Usually, I would just have said "Hey, I don't know, tell me!", but there was something about those 15-20 long seconds, the silence, the waiting for me to answer, that just whisked me right back to Maths class, feeling humiliated in front of everyone, and suddenly I reacted.  I know my reaction was out of character for me. It surprised me and horrified me. So I guess there was an "Arrow" tucked away deeply with the message that says"You're stupid."

It was painful to recognise, but it pains me more that I hurt someone with my little outburst. On the flip side, God showed me why I reacted that way (which was kind of Him!) and now I can face it for the lie it is, and move on.

  The Maths teacher was an @$$ though. 
The person isn't. 

PS: I did apologise. Just FYI.

* * * *

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Un, Deux, Trois...

Two weeks ago we began our French language classes together. Three nights a week for about 90min sessions. It's not too bad for me, but for My Man, it's straight after work, and it's a big ask. 

So far, we have learnt to:
Maybe French will help with the sharks back home?

  • introduce ourselves, 
  • say what nationality we are,
  • what our profession is,
  • the language we speak, 
  • where we live, 
  • our phone number,
  • email address...
  •  - as well as the obvious - like greetings. 
We can also ask others these same questions.  

Personally, I thought it was going really well and had mentally awarded myself a gold star, until we hit counting.  I think I was needing to be humbled! Haha!

Now I know why I needed basic Arithmetic!
It was because one day I would need to learn to count in French.  My challenge this week is not stringing together a sentence in French, it is learning to count above 70.  

Who does this?
70 = 60 +10          :    71 = 60 + 11         :       72 = 60 + 12 ...  etc.
BUT WAIT there's more!

 82 = 4 x 20 + 2          :              85 = 4 x 20 + 5

Then there's the 90's...  (faint!)
93 = 4 x 20 +13    :   99 = 4 x 20 + 19   

Then to say it.....  99 = quatre-vingt-dix-neuf.

Damn man. If you made this equation look like this:     a = 4 x 20 + 19        I would have a better chance of success at solving the equation than counting and it and saying it!

 Anyway, enough of that but thank God for someone who made audio flashcards / games /tutorial / tests! (I love it when teachers use tech!  Oh ja, that used to be me!)

Tonight, we start learning the time... oh Dear Lord - please let it be easier than counting!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Laughing at yourself is good for you.

I have had to laugh at myself A LOT since moving here.  You have to. If you get upset over every little silly thing, you would become a sour and miserable individual!

The first idiotic thing I want to share is that when my FH folks were visiting recently, we went on a scenic rondfahrten on the Mosel.  I had bought the ticket for us and put it in my pocket as we ambled along to board the boat.  As we walked up the gangplank, there were a couple of gentlemen in their "sailors" gear to see us aboard.  I led the way, walked up and put my hand into his outstretched hand, and proceeded to shake his hand, greet him and then moved on so the rest of the family could follow, only to have him reach out his hand again and say "Ticket, s'il vous plait".

Oh. So he wasn't actually wanting to shake my hand?  We all had a good laugh but I still blush when I even think about it!

The other thing happened today. I went to collect my race-day pack for a race this weekend. I was not familiar with the area and had looked at the map to see more or less where I needed to go. I took the busses I needed and got to the village with no problem. I followed the sign pointing down the road to the Centre de Sportif (or something similar) hoping that it would be clearly visible. Within about 30 metres I passed what looked hopeful but saw the sign outside said "Maison Relais" (or something similar!) so reckoned it wasn't that.  Suddenly I remembered something about a shuttle that would take you there from the main road. I retraced my steps to the shuttle stop, and waited about 20 minutes for the shuttle. He arrived, I asked if he went there, he had a puzzled look on his face, and then beckoned me to get in, drove the 30 metres and then pointed at that same building.

OK. So I waited 20 minutes for a shuttle that took me 30 metres..... !

Just to add a bit more hysteria, the office to collect the race-packs can only be collected on Saturday.

So, it was a fun morning.  6 busses and 4 hours to collect race-packs that I still don't have. I admit I enjoyed it all. The weather was lovely, and the bus trip was scenic, my book that kept me occupied at the bus / shuttle stops along the way is the final of a trilogy and completely absorbing! (Edge of Eternity - Ken Follett)

I am definitely not complaining, it's been a wonderful morning.

Monday, September 8, 2014


The sun was shining this morning.

I say this in a sentence on it's own because it has been a rare occurrence recently. Apparently this has been our wettest autumn since 1947!

After my morning coffee I decided to just take a walk around my city and enjoy feeling the warmth on my skin again.  I came across this exhibition in one of the squares which is making a statement about littering.  I am sure I do not need to spell it out for you.

When I was still in Primary School, we went on a camp called "School in the Wild" and at the end of it, we were asked if we would like to sign a "Promise" to ourselves that we wouldn't litter again. Although I don't think I was a litterbug before the time, I was far more aware of littering after the camp and can say in absolute honesty, that I haven't littered since signing that piece of paper.

All that to say that this strong exhibition doesn't need to be translated into every language - because it crosses that barrier and settles directly into ones conscience.

With so many options for recycling these days, so few things are really waste - let's do our bit to keep our world beautiful for the generations to come.

* * * 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Lost in Translation...

I have been visiting the same Bakery/Coffee Shop almost every weekday morning for about 8 months. Slowly but surely the waiters and waitresses are "Bonjour-ing" me as I arrive and it's starting to feel like my beach office.

I wanted to share the funny thing that happened last week.

I walked into the place, and as I walk passed the waitress, heading to my usual table, she says "Bonjour Madame! Cuppucino et escargot?"  I reply "Oui, oui, merci! Ce va?"  She says "Oui, ce va!!"

I go and sit down, take out my book and wait for 'my usual' .... she brings it to me and as she is walking away, she turns around as says "Enjoy your meal", (with a lovely French accent).

I sat there thinking, "What did she say? What does that mean?"  About 10 seconds later, as she was about to go out of the room, I suddenly realised!

I called out after her - "Hey! You spoke English to me!"  She came back and I told her I was trying so hard to "hear to interpret French" that I didn't even realise it was English for a few moments.  She said to me that my French is good, so she tried some English.  Of course, this is VERY funny - I told her that actually, all I can really say in French, is what I say to her each day... as well as Bonn journee, s'il vous plait, and au revoir. Oh! I that I can also ask for bags at the shop....but that I hoped to rectify that with some upcoming French classes.

We agreed that in future, she will practice her English with me and I, French with her.

Sounds good to me.
* * * 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It's Been A Year...

Today a year ago we arrived in Luxembourg.  It was just the beginning of what has been thee most amazing time where I have learnt so much about myself that I probably would never have known had we not taken the leap.

I had in my my mind to blog things that I felt / thought over this year - however, I came across this blog post and it really just said everything far better than I ever could.

I have copied the article, written by Angie Castells word for word just to make it easier - but you can find it here with all the pics.  

So, except for #7, (I don't know if I will ever master this, because I see everyone as a possible life-long friend!), and the fact that we live in Luxembourg and not Edinburgh -  this speaks loud and clear for me too. It's long-ish, but I didn't want to edit it, because it is so beautifully written....

* * * 
17 Things that Change Forever when you Live Abroad....

"You face new challenges, you get to know parts of you you didn’t know existed, you’re amazed at yourself and at the world. You learn, you broaden your horizons. You unlearn, and after coming down and embracing a few lessons, you start growing in humility. You evolve. You feel homesick… and you shape memories that will stay with you forever. If you’ve ever lived away from home or embarked on a long journey, I’m sure you too have felt these 17 things that change forever when you live abroad.
1. Adrenalin becomes part of your life.
From the moment you decide to move abroad, your life turns into a powerful mix of emotions – learning, improvising, dealing with the unexpected… All your senses sharpen up, and for a while the world “routine” is dismissed from your vocabulary to make space for an ever rising adrenalin thrill ride. New places, new habits, new challenges, new people. Starting anew should terrify you, but it’s unusually addictive.
2. But when you go back… everything looks the same.
That’s why, when you get a few days off and fly back home, it strikes you how little everything has changed. Your life’s been changing at a non-stop pace, and you’re on holidays and ready to share all those anecdotes you’ve been piling up. But, at home, life’s the same as ever. Everyone keeps struggling with their daily chores, and it suddenly strikes you: life won’t stop for you.
3. You lack the (and yet you have too many) words.
When someone asks you about your new life, you lack the right words to convey all you’re experiencing. Yet later, in the middle of a random conversation, something reminds you about ‘that time when’…, and you have to hold your tongue because you don’t want to overwhelm everyone with stories from your ‘other country’ and come across as pretentious.
4. You come to understand that courage is overrated.
Lots of people will tell you how brave you are – they too would move abroad if they weren’t so scared. And you, even though you’ve been scared, too, know that courage makes up about 10% of life-changing decisions. The other 90% is purely about wanting it with all your heart. Do you want to do it, do you really feel like doing it? Then do it. From the moment we decide to jump, we’re no longer cowards nor courageous – whatever comes our way, we deal with it.
«It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.»
5. And, suddenly, you’re free.
You’ve always been free, but freedom feels different now. Now that you’ve given up every comfort and made it work thousands of miles away from home… you feel like you’re capable of anything!
6. You no longer speak one particular language.
Sometimes you unintentionally let a word from another language slip. Other times you can only think of a way of saying something… with that perfect word which, by the way, is in the wrong language. When you interact with a foreign language on a daily basis, you learn and unlearn at the same time. All the while you’re soaking up cultural references and swear words in your second language, you find yourself reading in your mother tongue so it won’t get rusty. Like that time when Homer took a home winemaking course and forgot how to drive.
7. You learn to say goodbye… and to enjoy yourself.
You soon realize that now, most things and people in your life are just passing through, and you instinctively play down the importance of most situations. You perfect the right balance between bonding and letting go – a perpetual battle between nostalgia and pragmatism.
8. You have two of everything.
Two SIM cards (one of them packed with phone numbers from all over the world), two library cards, two bank accounts… And two types of coins, which always end up mysteriously mixing when you’re about to pay for something.
9. Normal? What’s normal?
Living abroad, like traveling, makes you realise that ‘normal’ only means socially or culturally accepted. When you plunge into a different culture and a different society, your notion of normality soon falls apart. You learn there’s other ways of doing things, and after a while, you too take to that habit you never thought you’d embrace. You also get to know yourself a little better, because you discover that some things you really believe in, while others are just a cultural heritage of the society you grew up in.
10. You become a tourist in your own city.
That tourist trap you may not have visited in your country only adds up to the never-ending list of things to do in your new home, and you soon become quite the expert on your new city. But when someone comes over for a few days and asks for some suggestions, you find it really hard to recommend but a few things – if it were up to you, you’d recommend visiting everything!
11. You learn how to be patient… and how to ask for help.
When you live abroad, the simplest task can become a huge challenge. Processing paperwork, finding the right word, knowing which bus to take. There’s always moments of distress, but you’re soon filled with more patience than you ever knew you had in you, and accept that asking for help is not only inevitable, but also a very healthy habit.
12. Time is measured in tiny little moments.
It’s as if you were looking through the car window – everything moves really slowly at the back, in the distance, while in front of you life passes by at full speed. On the one hand, you receive news from home – birthdays you missed, people who left without you getting the chance to say goodbye one last time, celebrations you won’t be able to attend. On the other hand, in your new home life goes by at top speed. Time is so distorted now, that you learn how to measure it in tiny little moments, either a Skype call with your family and old friends or a pint with the new ones.
13. Nostalgia strikes when you least expect it.
A food, a song, a smell. The smallest trifle can overwhelm you with homesickness. You miss those little things you never thought you’d miss, and you’d give anything to go back to that place, even if it were just for an instant. Or to share that feeling with someone who’d understand you…
14. But you know it’s not where, but when and how.
Although deep down, you know you don’t miss a place, but a strange and magical conjunction of the right place, the right moment and the right people. That year when you traveled, when you shared your life with special ones, when you were so happy. There’s a tiny bit of who you were scattered among all the places you’ve lived in, but sometimes going back to that place is not enough to stop missing it.
15. You change.
I’m sure you’ve heard about life-changing trips. Well, they’re not a commonplace – living abroad is a trip that will profoundly change your life and who you are. It will shake up your roots, your certainties and your fears. Living in Edinburgh changed us forever in many ways, and if it weren’t for that experience, we probably wouldn’t be about to embark on our next life adventure right now. Maybe you won’t realise it, or even believe it, before you do it. But after some time, one day you’ll see it crystal clear. You’ve evolved, you’ve got scars, you’ve lived. You’ve changed.
16. You fit your home into a suitcase.
From the moment you squeeze your life into a suitcase (or, if you’re lucky with your airline, two), whatever you thought ‘home’ was doesn’t exist anymore. Almost anything you can touch can be replaced – wherever you travel, you’ll end up stockpiling new clothes, new books, new mugs. But there will come a day when you’ll suddenly feel at home in your new city. Home is the person traveling with you, the people you leave behind, the streets where your life takes place. Home is also the random stuff in your new flat, those things you’ll get rid of in the blink of an eye when the time to leave comes. Home is all those memories, all those long-distance calls with your family and friends, a bunch of pictures. Home is where the heart is.
17. And… there’s no turning back.
Now you know what it means to give up comfort, what starting from scratch and marveling at the world every day feels like. And it being such a huge, endless world… How could you choose not to keep traveling and discovering it?"
Again, you can find her complete post here with all the pics. 

* * * 
What an amazing year it has been...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Rohr-ing problem in my head. Help!!

I read this interview with Richard Rohr, and to be honest, I am reeling a little.

I have heard and read some of Richard's stuff, largely posted (or referred to) by others whose opinions I respect, but this answer of his has me really .... feeling aarghhhh!

This is only a portion of the interview, and the bit that is bugging me...What are your thoughts?

Interviewer:The question people go to again and again is What about the babies who die in Egypt? What about the villagers who get slaughtered in Judges? What about all the violence?

Richard replies:When it says Yahweh says… I know they [the writers of the Bible] wouldn’t like this but Yahweh didn’t say that. They said that. Like we do. We project our own consciousness onto God to justify our own evil behavior. We still do that-but that’s a totally different narrative for an evangelical. To them, it sounds as if you’re really relativizing the Bible. But you have to start with the human if you get the divine. Protestantism didn’t really get the incarnation-they so overplayed the redemption cross salvation through the cross thing. See from the Franciscan school the incarnation was the redemption…once God chose to be human it was good to be human! The choice of the incarnation was everything. We really popularized Christmas, Christmas was not the big feast in the first 1200 years of Christianity. Easter rightly so, was. But because of the whole Franciscan school we really sentimentalized Christmas which we still have to this day.
The incarnation solves the problem. Problem solved. I don’t need blood sacrifice to know that it’s good to be a human being.
* * * *
(read the whole interview here) (ALL EMPHASIS MINE)
  • "God didn't say that?"  SO then how will we know if everything else he said was in fact, him?
  • "The choice of the incarnation was everything.  The incarnation was the redemption. The incarnation is enough - we don't need a blood sacrifice to know it is good to be a human?"                           What's good got to do with anything?
  • "Protestantism didn’t really get the incarnation - they so overplayed the redemption cross salvation through the cross thing."  

THE CROSS THING??????????? 
  the cross THING????   
I really want to understand what he is saying here, I have heard so much that I really have loved that Richard Rohr has said, and yet this - this, "overplaying the cross thing" - what does that even mean?
The incarnation IS the redemption??  
Help me out here people.  I am not looking for a theological beating for either myself or him, I just want your thoughts on this too. 


Lost in Translation...............

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Week 1 - Awe and Wonder

A number of people have expressed interest in being part of this conversation after writing this blog. Which is great, please feel free to participate as much or as little as you like!

I have begun Chapter One of Brians book "We Make the Road by Walking" - It's called Awe and Wonder.  It's been difficult not to forge ahead because it's just so easy to read.

Genesis 1:1-2:3
Psalm 19:1-14
Matthew 6:25-34

Here are points from his "Engage" section at the end of the chapter:
  1.  What one thought or idea from today's lessons especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped or surprised you?      
  2. Share a story about a time when you most felt the humble awe and joyful wonder described in this chapter.  (If you don't have the book, he is talking about the goodness of creation as it was intended - so if you have a story to share about a time you felt humbled by the beauty of creation you would like to share - please feel free.)
  3. What is the most beautiful place you have ever seen? What was so special about it?
  4. This week, choose one facet of creation that you love - birds, trees, weather, soil, water, light,... etc. Observe it, think about it, learn about it whenever you get a chance with this question in mind: If that element of creation were your only Bible, what would it tell you about God?

 Q.2 is a no-brainer for me.  This is emblazoned in my memory as the only time that I thought "if I died right now, it would be OK".

I was 16 and had gone to the stables to head off on an "outride" with a bunch of other horse fanatics.  I was ahead of the pack by quite a way, and went on to the beach. As I arrived through the bush and onto a dune, I looked out over the bay. The sea was almost glass, the breeze so gentle that the wild grass just danced slowly with it. The sand seemed whiter than white and the sea bluer than blue. The sky seemed bigger, the sun felt warm on my face and the wispy clouds just hung there watching us. There wasn't another soul in sight and not a sound that didn't belong there.  It was just me and the horse.  I felt like I couldn't breathe for fear of breaking the moment.

It wasn't long before the rest caught up and the spell was broken - but even writing this makes me feel a little teary because I can still remember how incredibly small I felt and how incredibly beautiful it was.

* * *
I will be thinking about / making notes on Q.1 as I read and will blog them and  Q.4 next week before we start the next chapter.  I think I will meditate on trees since I find myself falling in love with the forest more and more. Q.3  needs some thought.

Creation sings.
Taken on Earth Day 2014.

If you have a story to share, or anything you would like to comment on regarding any of these Engage Points, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.  (Remember to ask to be notified if anyone comments after you so that you can continue the conversation!)

Enjoy the read & meditation time this week.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Everything you wanted to know about our lock and other adventures....

Imagine you are from Luxembourg, visiting Cape Town, have never been to the coast before but you really want to experience surfing. So you pop off to Muizenburg and ask for a lesson. They take you to the beach and give you a board which you lay out on the sand,  lie on it, and as per your given instructions, you 'pretend paddle' in the sand furiously, waiting for the wave - the wave comes, you get on your knees, then you slowly stand and assume the position - and off you go! You're surfing!  So you head to Kommetjie, cos you totally know what you are doing now.


This is kinda what happened on our boat trip.  The instructions on what to do were perfect and our instructor was thorough. However, nothing prepared us for "the lock."

The entrance to the lock on our way in.
Pic Credit: http://wbavalon.blogspot.com/
The pictures I had seen of locks before were snug - where you got your boat in and it fitted neatly into the walls without the ability to drift!

With this one, it was huge, we were the last boat in and there were (I think) 6 others in before us. The water was low, and the wall must have been about 2m tall.  We didn't know (or see) the rings in the wall that we could moor to, all we saw were the mooring  goodies on the top of the wall. My Girl was on the front of the boat, and I was on the back. No railings between us and the water, only behind us to hold onto. We could not throw that rope up and over the mooring goodies and My Man struggled with the wind and drift to get the boat into a position for us to do anything.  We didn't have the fancy side-thrusters and all the techno gadgetry that make this sort of thing easier.  Eventually, when I was almost hysterical, watching My Girl trying to jump and throw it, some people on the side took pity on us and helped her and then me, while yelling instructions across the water to My Man on how to come alongside in that wind.

It was one of the scariest things I have ever done. You can laugh all you want - but I know now where that saying "Swears like a sailor" came from, because I realised that maybe I was a sailor in my previous life.  I was not proud of myself.  (It probably wasn't too bad - but it was bad for me).

As a mom, you picture every possible scenario that could happen to your child and partner ...  it spun me completely.  I didn't even consider the possibility that I could fall off the back, I was more worried about My Man's anxiety levels and My Girl.

We made it through - but we were all completely frazzled.  We had to call ahead and book a place in the Marina for the night which we did. We arrived and they motioned to us to pull in in front of the clubhouse. They HAD to be joking. It meant alley docking / reverse parking the boat between two luxury boats that were double our size. My Man went pale. We just waved, smiled and then sailed right passed - then freaked out because there was nowhere else to go. The canal ran out, we saw a space where we could sort of "parallel park" - the wind was up and try as we might, we could not get close enough to throw the rope over the mooring thing. This time My Girl was on the back of the boat, eventually an elderly lady offered to help and we tossed her the rope and she pulled our back in - the front kept turning out because of the wind. I just had no idea what to do, we were all yelling at each other. It was not pretty....  Two young guys walked passed, and I just thought, "Stuff it, I am not proud!" and yelled "Oy, can you help me please, grab the rope and bring us in?"  Thank God they understood English and had a great sense of humour.  They helped and we got moored eventually.

But that was it. We decided there and then we were not doing that again. So we stayed moored there for 3 nights, visited the cities we wanted to by foot and others by train,  and eventually psyched ourselves up to get out of there and back through the lock again.

We got out fine. My Man had worked a way to do a U-turn that worked like a bomb, and we sneaked out of there quietly... :)

My Girl saved us at the lock going home. The water was high this time so we were much higher up and we now knew about the rings. She was so scared but so brave. She just did what she had to do, walked to the front of the boat and threaded that rope through the loop and singlehandedly held that boat to the side until the water was low enough to get out.

Getting the job done.
Just before arriving back at the base, I called ahead and organised for our "guardian angel' to help  us bring the boat in. Which he did since again it had to be reverse parked in a full marina.

I do feel slightly validated though because the morning we left, after we had slept and relaxed a little, we were joking with him about our experience and he told us that it is one of the most difficult locks in Belgium and we had one of the oldest models which are the most difficult to handle, especially in wind.

Having said all of that - except for those two incidents, we had a lovely time. It was fun being on the boat, and going through all those insane bridges, and seeing the scenery. I would choose a different route if I could do it again - and a new model boat that has all the stuff to make life easier.

I would still recommend it as a holiday for anyone - it has the potential to be very relaxing!

* * * * 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Rescued Into Conversations

It's almost a year that we have been in our new other home - Luxembourg. We love it. It's quite a weird feeling but I actually feel as though this was always meant to be. It feels right.

I suppose if I have to nail down something that I really miss - it's conversations with people.  People I knew, and even people I didn't!  Largely conversations revolving around life and faith and how we see both of them. Not knowing too many people here, combined with where I find myself on this spiritual adventure and the language barriers to talk to many people, I have felt quite isolated and starved for authentic, open conversations.  I know that the longer we are here, this will begin to happen - but, like I said before, this IS something that I miss a lot.

We_Make_The_Road%20uk.jpgSo I was pretty happy when Brian McLarens "We Make the Road By Walking" came out the other day and was quick to download it.  I have always enjoyed his writing. About 10 years ago (or was it more?)  I read his book, "A New Kind of Christian" and it pretty much saved me during a time where I felt that maybe I was losing the plot, feeling that I was missing something and there HAD to be more....  when I read that book, I cried. I really did, because I realised that I hadn't lost the plot and that I wasn't alone. It was a liberating read for me.

Anyway, I am getting sidetracked now - I do love FB, because my first thought after downloading the book was to invite friends who wanted to "bounce on the trampoline" (as Rob Bell would say), to join me in going through it together as a group since there are discussion questions and thoughts for each chapter.

Selfishly, I now get my conversations back again with people I value and respect. I know that we won't always agree with one another, or with Brian even, but that's OK. My hope is that any friend will feel welcome to join the conversation no matter what their beliefs are. We are all in different places and that's what makes this exciting.

So, in a way, I guess My Rescuer has rescued me again, using another of Brian's books, this time though, rescuing me back into a conversational community of people who enjoy looking at things from various perspectives without feeling threatened or defensive.

I am looking forward to this.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Quick Fox Runs In Front of the Alert Dog

Most days I take the hounds for a walk individually. I have taken them together once which I regretted afterwards, because combined they have a weight of close to 60kg and when they spotted another dog, I was the one who got dragged.

So, I made the wise decision that I would take them one at a time in future.  I took Tigger first today, and we headed up into the forest. I usually let her off the lead because she doesn't tend to take off like Jack does, but is happy to run a few metres and then check on me, smell here, pee there and run and then come back. She is a wonderful walking companion.  

As I headed up the hill, I let her off the lead and she trotted up as she usually does, but I just had this feeling to have her lead on, I called her back and put it back on. We walked around the corner and suddenly, instead of her doing her "kid-in-a-toy-shop" type of walk, her ears pricked, and she walked absolutely straight ahead, completely focussed.  She is a REALLY alert dog.  Suddenly, not two metres in front of her a fox ran across the path. At first I thought it was a cat, but just for a split second it turned, and I saw the face and then the tail and I realised what it was. 

Well, I thought Tigger was going to go into overdrive! She just took off with me attached to her, attempting to hurtle down after it into the bush. She seemed to double her strength because I felt as though I had to literally dig my heels into the path and lean back to restrain her.

Eventually, I just decided it was easier to begin to run and called her dragged her after me.  After that she was so hyped she was ALL OVER the place probably thinking there was a fox in every bush. Eventually I thought I should just run with her a little to tire her out.  

I remember the day we saw the deer coming down from the rocks with her, and for weeks afterwards every time we walked past that corner, she would stop and stare up there as though daring more deer to take a chance....  I wonder if every time we walk up this path she will be in stealth mode?

So... that was my fun afternoon. I was hugely relieved that (a) I listened to that little voice that told me to put the lead back on, and (b) that I didn't try and take them both because I would STILL be in the forest being dragged through the bush!

I guess all that is left to see is a boar. 
I don't really relish the thought of a boar though. I think it would be more menacing than a fox.

* * *

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

First City Run

This morning I had to go and collect our newly converted Drivers Licences and decided to go and have a solo run in the city on the way home.  The weather was grey, a light drizzle and, in my view, perfect!

It was lovely. I had intended it to be a quickie because I knew I needed to take the hounds out later too. However, it was just one of those days where it felt effortless. I wondered why I should stop if I still felt good, so I just kept going, and I would have gone longer had it not begun bucketing down!  My face was as red as a tomato (as usual!) but I felt as though I could have gone on much longer.

It was lekker to see other runners, nod and smile and move on - all of us enjoying the early-ish morning. People walking their dogs, construction guys busy at the bridge - lots of activity everywhere.

Here are some of the paths from today's run. I did take all the pics, but not today - maybe this will explain why I didn't want to stop - it was just very pretty.  
I still prefer the trails of the forest.... definitely! May not be as fast, but speed is not the point in the forest...

I did clock up a new personal best! I can't be too happy about it though, because tar is so much quicker than trail and the trails are much more "hilly'.

* * * 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


I wonder if Sheldon Cooper has watched "Indescribable"?

Big Bang Theory is one of my favourite Series - although I have no clue what Sheldon's "String Theory" is that he is intent on proving / finding / uncovering...

I was thinking about our walk in the forest on Sunday and was reminded how small we are in the greatness of the forest, of how easy it is to become disorientated, and probably how difficult it would be, to be found.

Today I just felt I wanted to watch "Indescribable" again, to be reminded that we are small, but that God is great - and that no matter where I am (or you are) - we are not lost to him.

He is waiting to be found.

We may be small -  but we are not insignificant in him.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A day of wrong turns but good company.

It was a gorgeous morning. We had a big day planned to meet friends and picnic and visit the Butterfly Park that we were both looking forward to.

But the morning was just so lovely we thought that we would head out for a quick walk before the lunch picnic. I had asked My Man if he could continue along a path that I often run to see where it goes to, since I was looking for a circular route. This morning we decided to QUICKLY check it out. We left at 08h45.

After about 2 hours we realised that we probably should have taken "Option 2" in terms of the fork in the road. However we dutifully followed the blue arrows and carried on. We crossed farmlands, and hothouses, forests and roads.... it was all very pretty.
Still thinking we knew where we were...
We ended up in a village we hadn't seen before- so I suppose that was a good thing. Then to figure out WHERE that village actually was, and how to get home from there.  At that point I said to My Man, "Hey what about that "Where Am I?" feature on the phone.  Bloody genius I tell you, cos we didn't have a cooking clue where we were... we walked to the bottom of the village and saw signposts to other villages that we had never heard of, never mind been to!

Forest and Farmlands begging to be explored...

I won't ever knock the "Where are we? " feature on a phone again!!   

We found out the name of the town and decided that probably the safest thing to do was to go back the way we came, which in theory was wonderful.... and we began the journey until we saw another forest trail and thought it was heading in the right direction. Shortcut - yay. Only to discover that it was not a short cut. We finally located a tar road that pointed us in the direction of our neighbouring village and we decided to just walk up the tar road.... it's narrow and people drive fast. There are no such thing as pavements. It was faaaar.  At some point I thought it looked familiar and got quite excited thinking that we were almost home! However, we were nowhere near where I thought we were.  I know it sounds odd - but farmland and forests can look the same!  

Villages we overlooked along the way...
As we approached the village next to ours, we saw a forest road and thought - (you guessed it!) SHORTCUT!  SO off we hurtled. We sms'd our friends telling them we were a little delayed, apologised and walked like the clappers for ages. At some point we passed a steep incline with some steps and I said to My Man, "We need to go up there, that's the direction home".  He didn't agree and we carried on going for about 20 min before I asked him to please check the phone again. I am seldom right when it comes to directions, so I am going to milk this - I WAS RIGHT! We were now walking ALL THE WAY BACK from where we had just come up the tar road, but going back via the forest. Eish. So turn around we did, headed up and over the stairs and suddenly we were on familiar territory at last. It still took about 40 min to get home from there though. 

We walked for 4.5 hours non stop briskly from start to finish. We were tired... and we are both fairly fit. Up hills - literally and down, can be quite tiring.

The Looonngggg Walk Home
I am glad we are both adventurous. Neither of us were in the slightest bit concerned about not knowing where we were, but we were both completely freaked out about being late for the lunch!  

I knew we were tired when My Man said to me at one point... "Just stop quick there is something on the back of your leg," so I stopped and he flicked something and I asked what it was. He said a horsefly or something. I asked "How do you know it was a horsefly?" and he said "It said Neigh man when I swatted it".  We usually get very silly when we are tired.  

Anyway - we made it to the picnic. We were just over an hour late, but fortunately we have gracious friends who didn't pack up and leave!

In the end we really had such a lovely day... OH! And there was a diversion going home in the car and we nearly ended up in Germany!  

It was a day of wrong turns but good company.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day 2014 : 10 Creation Gifts

I saw Brian McLaren's post today that encouraged us to go outside and find 10 gifts of creation to enjoy to celebrate Earth Day 2014:

Here are mine: 

1.  Spring blossoms on the trees....

2.  Tall tree-lined paths that get greener every day taking you wherever you are in the mood to go...

3.  Mossy "feet", climbing ivy and autumn leaves...

4.  Lots of beautiful rock formations that make imaginations flow as we fashion them into faces of people and shapes of animals on our walks...

5.   Carpets of wild flowers...

6.  Fields of green - dozens of shades of green...

7.  Wide open spaces where the deer forage and we are able to maybe glimpse them...

8. Butterflies, bees and insects everywhere...

9.  The early evening sky with its pretty clouds....

10.  The colours of sunset...

and... to be a little sneaky, I have added an 11th - the sounds of the birds at dusk in the forest...


It's not too late to list your 10 gifts of creation.

* * * *

Friday, April 18, 2014

Grace - Not a debt, but a gift.

It's Good Friday.

It's not a public holiday here like back 'home'.  While everyone there is with family, or on holiday or doing what people do on Good Friday, I found myself thinking about grace.

What a loaded little word.

Unmerited favour. Not a debt to be repaid but a gift. A gift of new life, of new beginnings, of restored friendship with the Father.

A gift to be his.

I remembered this clip I made when doing a study on Romans almost 8 years ago and I was again reminded how amazing grace is.

* * *

Monday, April 14, 2014

Two Brave Ladies

This morning I watched this clip and I cried like a baby pretty much all the way through it.  Not because, as the author put it on the original site, that we take things for granted. That's true, but it's not what "got to me".

What got to me were two things specifically:

  • How differently people respond and prepare for something new, and
  • How much of their lives they missed out on

 Obviously I don't mean taking stupid risks or chances, but rather choosing to be safe in what we know, rather than stepping out, even in small ways, to experience something new.

It's a heartwarming and fun clip - but it's also deeply reflective.

* * *

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ticks: Small Meltdown & Big Decision

Of all the things that I could have become unhinged about who would have thought it would be about ticks.

I come from a country where these are as much of a threat, but living in suburban bliss there I was seldom needing to deal with them.  Here, near the forest in the country it's a different story.

This is not funny. It's not meant to be funny.  I have this thing that all the ticks have conspired against me and are waiting on every long blade of grass and hanging from every overhead branch just to jump on me. I am neurotic about changing my clothes, I feel as though wherever I look in the house, I may see one ambling over towards the fridge, maybe in search of a beer.  If you have ever seen the movie "Joe's Apartment" with the cockroaches - picture that. This is how I feel about the ticks.

The more I think about them, the more I feel as though they are on me, the more I feel like I am being bitten and strip down, check and change my clothes.  If you have ever worked in a school when the lice epidemic hits... you know how suddenly your head itches, even if you don't have lice.  It's all in your head. (excuse the pun). (Am willing to bet you will scratch your head now just reading the word "lice!")

I know that as I write this it's completely over the top, paranoid and neurotic. The more I try to talk myself out of it, the more freaked out I become.

This afternoon I have made a mental decision that as difficult as this is for me to deal with, I refuse to let it destroy the time I have in the forest with the dogs. I know in my head I can't live in the "What-if" mode of this thing... I will adapt the old idiom to say "Better to have lived and walked in the forest, than never to have walked at all".  Which sounds very dramatic.... but I FEEL DRAMATIC about this!

The dogs now have collars, we bought spray we can spray them with before we go out as a deterrent. We will check them and us when we get back and I will do my level best not to have a small meltdown every time we find one on the dogs.

I guess a real bonus of winter is that this is not an issue.... but I'll be buggered if they will ruin my summer.

Helpful tips & encouragement are welcome. Horror stories are not.