Friday, February 28, 2014

Flourish

(imported from my WP blog)
I took both of these photographs in Italy in 2007.  I have always loved what I call "bits of green".  In the natural these plants, embedded in the walls of ancient ruins, need soil and water at the very least, to survive - let alone blossom.  Yet, in spite of their obvious challenges, they have defeated the odds and blossomed in spite of them.
Picture1
I just felt God saying to me that when a seemingly impossible situation occurs, don't throw up your hands saying "I give up, this is too hard!" Like these "bits-of-green", face your situation and say, "If the Creator of all things can allow a plant to blossom in a rock, He will sustain me and use this difficult time to not only help me break through it, but will allow me to bloom and be beautiful in the end."
Then, just as you admire these bits-of-green, others can see your life and say, "Wow, how awesome is this God who blossoms in the impossible!"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

About Fresh Stuff


Wednesdays are fast becoming a favourite day. My assignments are handed in and I have a day to breathe and relax before I start the next one.

At least 3 times a week I head off to my 'bestest" coffee shop, (which may become my "office" as the beach was!). I order my Cuppacino and when I feel I need it, a nice bacon and egg breakfast.

I love pottering around the Market for all my fresh produce. Usually when you go into a chain store, its pushing the cart, and endless things on shelves, and people and queues, and often (well, anyone who knows me knows I loathe shopping) it's just a pain in the neck.

Somehow the market is different: open air and wide open spaces, time to just stand and stare, not feel flapped if the cashier takes too long because you are too busy trying to understand what the lovely farmer lady is saying to you. So just nod and smile.  I am getting a little better in French now, and have a couple of phrases that I can get away with.


After I have done my shopping, I usually head off for a cup of hot chocolate or coffee - each time to a different place. This morning a friend and I went to one that reminded me so much of Kalk Bay - just the people were not as friendly!


I have found myself wondering about how our food is grown. I say this because if I go into a chain store and buy carrots, they can last up to 3 weeks and still appear fresh.  When I buy them from the market, if they are not used within 4-5 days, I can throw them out.   What on earth preserves them for so long?

It got me to thinking about how good it is to hear freshly from God.  It isn't healthy to survive, or make-do with old revelations that stagnate - but to hear freshly from him, to be re-ignited into a new experience - that's just the best thing ever.

We are still looking for a spiritual family here. Podcasts from home are not the same as a local community of friends that you feel you belong with.


In the meantime, we know He is with us here, He is evident in so many ways, big and small, and perhaps there will be a fresh expression for us in the future.  For now, I plan to just keep enjoying the journey and being open to the experiences we have.


Monday, February 17, 2014

The Bleh Day...

I really am not a fan of those days that you wake up with that feeling of "Bleh".

Today is one of those days. I don't have them often - in fact hardly ever, but this morning I woke up and there it was.  I wanted to say that "out loud" - and then move on, hence the Blog. The last thing I want is pity which is why I considered not sharing this post. However, in case you are considering a big move, perhaps it would be good to see that no matter how much you love your new place, you can still have days that you wish you could bring all your people to you!  I am very practical about this -  I knew there would be days like this initially, and so was half waiting for it. Now it's here and tomorrow it will be gone!

I sat on the bus on the way to work with My Man, thinking that it just feels too much like hard work to make friends and learn a new language. Today I just wanted to be with someone who had knows me, that I can just chill with, where it's easy and I can make a joke that is understood and not have to explain it.

Today just feels hard.

I am trying to focus on completing my assignment, but my mind is wandering and I can't sit still. To make it worse, I just spoke to My Man and he is having a Bleh day too.

I think tomorrow I will take Jack for an outing to the city - he has never been before and it will be fun to see how it goes. I'll pack a picnic breakfast, a flask of coffee and some water for him, take the camera and see what happens....

Ooooo!!  The sun just came out - think I will head off for a quick walk!
Yippee!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Our Anglican Sunday

Today we went to the christening / baptism of a friends 2yr old. I felt really privileged to be invited since we haven't known one another long. It was held during a normal Sunday meeting at the Anglican Church where she is a member, and since we do child dedications where we come from, going to a child's baptism was also something new for us.

We have visited a couple of churches since being here, but the ones we have visited have been less traditional since that is what we have come from.

Although the church is English speaking, and the message was in English, I have to admit to feeling like I was a participant in a foreign film. I had no idea which book to use, when to sit, when to stand, where the prayers came from and when I was supposed to read together with the congregation and where to find what to read.  By the time we found the page, it was over and we were finished reading and into singing.

Having said all that I LOVE FOREIGN FILMS!  I really loved this church too.  Yes, I felt like the odd man out and felt that everyone knew that we didn't have a clue what was going on - but that's OK.  It was quite refreshing to not have 4 fast songs, 3 slow songs, offering, preach, prayer and coffee.

It all felt supremely sci-fi-ish.

I absolutely loved the priest.  In his authenticity he reminded both of us so much of our CG guys, (although he is older and wears robes!)    :)

He strolled around casually as he shared with us instead of standing behind a lectern.  He used no notes, he had passion, sincerity and heart.  He spoke "our language", about being inclusive, about mercy, about sharing the love of Christ with people who are generally excluded. About not always thinking that we are right and "they" are wrong.  He talked about engaging with the Word and never thinking we know it all, and encouraged us to hear freshly from God and to seek truth.   He said (and I may paraphrase this because I can't remember the exact words) something like that if Christ saw Christianity today it would break his heart because it is more legalistic than the laws he came to free people from.  That took my breath away.

All in all, today was fresh air.  Yes, there were the traditional trimmings, but there is nothing 'religious' about this priest - he is all grace.

Thank God for today. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Adventures in Buses and Bustops

The bus system here is phenomenal.

Some bus routes run almost every 10-15 minutes and others are only hourly.  Note to self: It's essential to find out which is which before the journey.

There is not a shred of pride in me anymore that will stop me from chasing a bus.  I am over it. I know the time you come and if I see you approaching the stop and I am not there yet... I will race you.  I don't always win, and I sometimes have to laugh at what I must look like, and then still end up waiting for the next bus - but it's always a bit of a rush trying.

Before our holiday, I had gone to a friend and when I left I was offered a lift home to which I replied that I was quite happy to grab a bus since the exercise was good. So off I walked, (in the -2 on that day), to the bus stop only to find that I had just missed the bus. The next one would be there in an hour. That's a long time to stand at a bus stop on a road through a meadow, with not a coffee shop in sight. It's during that hour that you replay where you could have cut your time to get there so that you would not have missed it. If I hadn't read the sign by the garden or waited for the green man to walk, I would have made that blasted bus! In the end I was grateful that I had my Kindle with me and could pace and read, but I am fairly sure my toes did not defrost until bedtime.

Yesterday, as I was on my way to visit a friend I hadn't been to before - I thought I was very smart. I went online, saw the names of the stops prior to hers (so that I knew when to ring the bell to get off). Of course, what I didn't bargain on, was no-one getting off or on at these stops, which meant that the over-enthusiastic bus driver screamed past all stops and just about gave me whiplash trying to read their names as we whizzed along.  The result of this little adventure was that I missed the stop and ended up back in the city where I needed to jump back onto another bus and head back the way I came. This time though, I asked the driver if he was going to my stop, to which he replied that he was, and was kind enough to slow down for me to get off.

Leaving her place and arriving at the bus stop I saw again that I had just missed a bus, and the next was in about 15 minutes. It wasn't long to wait, and it was warmer, about 5deg. However, I knew it was only about 20 min walk into the city, so I decided to walk to meet My Man instead of waiting for the bus. I was really glad I did, because the shops that we usually speed past on the bus could now be peeked into, I could check out gardens and various prettinesses that usually go by too fast to see from the bus.

This really proves that even if you DO do your homework with regards to buses and stops  - things are bound to surprise you. Just go with it - because sometimes the mistakes turn out to be rather fun in the end!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Exercising the Grey Matter

Having established that using my brain via a work scenario is about as certain as hell freezing over, I have decided that I shall take the bull by the horns and do a module through Bible School - Yes, if I were there, I may have been "roped into" teaching some of this module, but now I am the student.

The last time I tried to study via correspondence wasn't pretty. In fact, the last two times weren't pretty. Let's just be brutal and say I have never been successful in correspondence learning....

I don't know what makes me think this time will be different, maybe because I am older, although I seriously doubt it.  All I really have, is my friend and mentor from Bible School who will very gently breathe down my neck and encourage me along the way - which is better than a kick in the pants.

So I have decided on doing the "Doctrines that Divide" module. It's looking at the history of the church and how certain doctrines took hold, what they believe and how it corresponds to Scripture as we understand it today.  I have always believed that unless you understand what another persons faith is all about, you can't really engage in
a proper conversation because of your ignorance.  Conversations that don't try to persuade but instead seek to understand.

I have this dream - in fact it's not even a dream yet.... but more of an idea that is beginning to brew in my brain. When it takes more shape I will share it with you - until then, if you are the praying type, pray that I can keep my butt in gear and start the way I want to finish.... well!

Please feel free to challenge me every now and again and ask me - "So, how is the studying going!?"

Monday, February 3, 2014

Braaivleis, Sunny Skies, Theatre & Cricket

Time has flown by. It feels as though we have just arrived back in Cpt and it's time to head back 'home'.

Mom and I share a birthday - and celebrate with a (very full) glass of wine
and a lovely dinner out.
Some expats from various countries had exclaimed at how unwise we were to come back here so soon, saying that we wouldn't want to leave and go back - but, as much as we have loved the visit, I am not sobbing into a pillow wishing I didn't have to return. 


We have done most of what we wanted to do here. We wanted to be here for my Moms 70th and just hang with family and friends. I've been so happy to see the nieces and nephew! Time is marked by how children grow even when it feels as though nothing else has changed!

Enjoying my now rather grown up niece

There are a handful of people on the other side of the mountain and sea, that I would love to have seen, but transport was a thing.

It was lekker to shop the Kalk Bay strip with my mom and sister and soak up the whole Kalk Bay vibe. 
Excellent to hang with mom and sister and do the Kalk Bay crawl!







We have stayed at my folks and been able to hang at their place as though it were our own, we've seen Our Girl almost every day, we've had meals with friends, and visited places where the views can leave you speechless, we've been to open air theatre and a cricket game - we've had cocktails and braaied - we've had sunny skies everyday.  Sunny SA (and even when it's not sunny) - is just a treat!


Beautiful long sunny days and gorgeous sunsets - happiness!


Now it's back to negative temperatures, rain and sleet, to coats, scarves, boots and beanies - and I am excited about feeling that fresh cold air, about forest walks with dogs and bird watching, about exploring, about greeting bus drivers and seeing new friends again, about learning French and spending time in my fave coffee shop with my book and a crossword. 

I feel very blessed to be able to be so happy in two very different surroundings.