Unconditional

When we took a trip to make deliveries to a neighbouring town, we stopped in at a shop owned by people who always come and say hello when they’re in our area.  The couple recently became parents for the first time.  I enquired about the baby as I hadn’t seen her yet.  Her father indicated that she was sleeping behind the counter.  Because I just can’t resist babies I went behind that counter and there she was fast asleep on a little mattress on the floor covered by a big fluffy blanket.  I touched her hand and she woke up.  My first thought was that because I had startled her she would start crying.  Well, wasn’t that what I would do if I was woken up and a stranger was staring down at me?  She opened her huge brown eyes, looked at me and gave me the most beautiful smile!  I was so amazed.  And she continued to smile.

It was such a humbling experience.  I was just so filled with love at that moment.  This little person who is only four months old didn’t ask any questions.  She didn’t mind what political party I voted for; she didn’t care what my skin colour was; she didn’t  mind what religion I claimed to follow;  she didn’t try to ascertain whether I was straight or gay;  my bank balance and the friends I hang out with wasn’t her problem.  She saw a fellow human being and she smiled.  How many of us can do that?  Which of us can unconditionally hand out smiles and expect nothing in return?  Are we capable of taking people at face value – maybe even something beyond face value, because if your face is scared and your clothes are ragged you would be considered “different”.  I learned a great big lesson from a four month old infant.

IMG_20160824_183551.jpg

Delicious cauliflower fritters

 

Let me share a recipe I made the other night.  I used a food processor to chop 1 small head of cauliflower into grains (cauliflower rice), I added some fried  rashers of bacon and onion, and three eggs and mixed it all together.  Next I added tapioca flour to make a stiff mixture and flavoured with parsley, salt and pepper.  Drop spoons full into a deep fryer and fry till golden brown.  Crisp and delicious!  I think next time I’ll add some fried mushrooms as well.

Everything we do is based on decisions.  Sometimes we make the decisions, and sometimes other people do.  Every action has a reaction or a consequence. My decision for this week is to see people in a different light.  To try to see them without prejudice and without any preconceived ideas.  I will try to be like that baby and smile.

Advertisements

Moments in time

You know that feeling when your heart just seems to swell way beyond it’s normal size just because something seem so momentous that you can’t seem to contain it in your soul.  Your emotions soar and your whole being cries out to God because He is so good and so amazing.

Acts 17:24 reads: “He is the God who made the world and everything in it.  Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples.” That is how I felt at 3:30 this morning.  I woke up and after having a drink of water looked out of the bedroom window.  The sight of the night sky was so amazing it took my breath away.  The stars were so bright and they looked to big it was just too much for me to take in.  I put on my dressing gown and left the house.  I stood in the garden and stared up at the sky.  There was a crescent moon and even though the street lights were burning they didn’t detract from the brightness of the stars.  Isaiah 40:26 says “Look up into the heavens.  Who created all the stars?  He brings them out like and army, one after another, calling each by its name.  Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.”  I could feel the greatness, the immensity and the enormity of God’s power while I was watching creation.  My soul sang and my heart was full; how could anyone see this and doubt that there is a God who created it all?

night sky

My daughter took this photo of a night sky; she has given me permission to use it.

 

This afternoon I decided to water my garden because we’ve had a few days of sunshine.  Here where we live seasons are a little bit of a joke.  We live in between the summer and winter rainfall areas, and whether that is the reason or not I have no idea, but seasons are just a vague reference to the weather we actually experience.  People often say we can have four seasons in one day.  Children don’t really understand why they have to learn about spring and autumn at school because they last for about a week.  During winter it can get quite cold and we even have frost sometimes, but temperatures have been known to soar to the high 20’s – that’s Celcius.  During summer the same story.  I never even think of packing away clothes I won’t need for a season, because the chance that I will need them is very real.  Most of us have become experts at layering.

Ok, back to the point.  When I looked at the garden I realized that it has actually become a real garden.  When I started it from nothing – just bare earth – and the first seeds germinated I was so excited, but it still looked like nothing.  Now it really looks like a garden.  I felt so overwhelmed by emotion.  I’m just wondering what God felt like when He created the earth out of nothing …

 

Life is good

​I must be the most privileged people alive. I am sitting outside my back door enjoying the beautiful warm weather. There are a few whispy clouds in the sky. I can hear doves cooing and birds singing. In the distance some hadidas are giving their cries for help.  a joke about hadidas having a fear of heights. I laughed about it for days when I first heard it.


Joy is so good for the soul and it costs nothing, just like sunshine. There are so many things in life that are absolutely free and that we overlook so often. I have never gone to bed hungry because I didn’t have food. I’ve never had to wonder where my next meal would come from. I have a happy marriage and two beautiful children who are such a blessing.


God has been good to me and continues to be good to me. I have received way more grace than I deserve – not that any of us deserve grace. It wouldn’t be grace if it was deserved. 

Life is good. 

Spinach and clover

​I really need to write!! I haven’t written in more than a week and what’s inside of me wants to jump out onto the paper. 

After the lovely rains my vegetables have grown so much, but so have the weeds! Last Saturday I spent almost 2 hours just weeding. While I was waging war on the undesirable elements between my beautiful veges, I noticed something extremely interesting. Only certain weeds were growing between certain vegetables. There was no clover between the spinach. Not a single one. The clover was very luxuriant around the onions and also the garlic, but where the spinach started there was a straight line where the clover stopped. I wish I had taken a photo to prove it.

My theory is that elves came at night and stole all the clover … I wish!! If that was so I could train them to take out all the weeds. On a serious note, I suspect that spinach and clover are simply not compatible and cannot exist in a symbiotic relationship. In companion planting we see that certain plants grow well together and others don’t. 

These are the first peas that actually made it to the pot from my garden home!

It works that way with people too. Some people just don’t get along. There’s no apparent reason; the relationship simply does not work. I think when we realize that there are people who, despite our best efforts, we cannot get along with we should do what the clover does and keep away from them. I know that I should be saying you should show them love, and by all means do, just remember that not everybody will be your friend. 
Coming back to the spinach, I harvested my first leaves for spinach and feta pies. When I weighed them they came to 2,4 kg. Enough for quite a few pies and the first vegetables from my garden that get used for the shop. 

I’m going to share a recipe I made during the week. These snacks are excellent as an appetizer.

I gratted baby marrows (about 2 cups full and blotted up some of the moisture with a kitchen towel) added 2 beaten eggs, 1/3 cup of flour (I used gluten free) and salt. Mix it and press it into an oven pan that’s been lined with baking paper. Its less than 5mm thick. Bake for 25 minutes @ 180°C. Remove from the oven an sprinkle liberally with cheddar cheese. Replace in the oven just till the cheese melts. Cut into squares and serve. They’re really delicious. 

The baby marrow bake before it went into the oven.

Have a lovely weekend. 

Reaping

In his letter to the Galatian church Paul says (Chapter 6:9) “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not loose heart.”  I’ve often read it and always seen it as a spiritual encouragement.  In verse 7 he says that God will not be mocked because whatever a man sows, he will also reap.  And that is so. If you fill your head and heart with rubbish that’s what will come spouting out.

Today I ate an apple and saved the seeds.  I decided that I would plant these seeds.  Once I had made the decision thought about how long it would take before I would actually be able to eat apples from my trees; assuming they actually grow!  I have no idea, but I don’t think it will be a quick process.  I have often heard people say that they wouldn’t plant certain trees because they take too long to bear fruit.  I immediately thought of the above-mentioned verse and how we would reap if we don’t loose heart.  For the first time I saw this verse in a more practical sense.

IMG_20160810_143239.jpg

My apple seeds.

 

 

Oh my goodness! I just discovered how to do a caption!!! Never too old to learn.  So, I’m going to be planting these seeds very soon and I’ll be sure to keep you (and anybody else who’s willing to listen) up to date about their progress.  Coming back to Paul – he said that we shouldn’t give up on doing good and if we don’t give up we will eventually reap the fruit.  If I hadn’t started my garden I wouldn’t have had any beans or spinach or lettuce to eat. If I hadn’t dug over the ground and watered the seeds they wouldn’t have germinated and grown.  If I don’t remove the weeds the plants will get choked and their growth will possibly be stunted because the weeds will be competing with the plants for water and nutrients.

IMG_20160810_143822.jpg

Lettuce

IMG_20160810_143805.jpg

The peas are reaching for the sky.  Amazing what a bit of rain can do.

I think that in whatever we do we should remember Paul’s letter to the Galatians and we should learn patience.  We should think about what our goals are.  What are we aiming for?  Don’t get discouraged when things look like they’re taking way too long to happen.  Apple seeds take a long time to grow into apple trees, but once they are mature they bear apples for many years.  In the end it is worth it.  Sometimes we put a lot of effort into something (even into people) and we don’t see the results.  Just remember that the results always reflect the effort.  What you sow you will reap.  If you plant apple seeds you will reap apples.  Therefore if you invest positive time and effort in a project the reults will be positive.  The only thing you can’t always predict is how long it will take to see the results.

IMG_20160803_174221.jpg

These are peas I harvested from my garden at home. I sowed these seeds before the seeds I sowed here at the shop.

I want to encourage you to sow.  Sow seeds, sow effort, sow love, sow whatever you have to sow and look out for the harvest that surely will follow.

Judging

I’m watching gymnastics on TV. The Rio summer Olympics, and its amazing. I love watching the girls on beam, vault and floor, and also on the uneven bars. These girls know their stuff. Some of them have been training since they were toddlers. Their leotards are shiny and colourful. Their makeup is perfect. I sit on the edge of my chair and I lap up every move. 

I think back to 1976, just a couple of years after South Africa got television. The olympics were aired every evening and Nadia Comaneci was the star of the show. She was the first person to get 10’s on all four aparatus. She made history and I fell in love with gymnastics. 

Nadia Comaneci at the Olympics in 1976 

Years later my daughter got the chance to take up gymnastics as a sport. She loved it and she was an average gymnast. She got provincial colours and we did a lot of traveling to all the different venues where competitions were held. One day the coach asked for volunteers to be trained as judges. I volunteered immediately. Now I would be able to get up close to the kids who were potential Olympic stars. 

I went for training. It was hard. I had to memorize names of moves and diagrams that went with those names. Each exercise had a certain amount of points attached to it and, of course, there was a specific way it had to be executed. Oh my goodness, it was so hard!! I had never done anything that was so far out of my comfort zone!  I judged for two years and then had to go for train I again. I didn’t. I gave up. 

My daughter participated for a few more years and I still supported her through all the sore muscles, ripped hands and disappoints when competitions don’t go as well as they could have. Sometimes a gymnast practices really hard and on the day falls off the beam or bars and her heart hurts more than her body. Gymnastics is really hard on the body and on the emotions, and I suppose any competitive sport is the same. There are mothers who get so caught up in the competitiveness that they are way more emotional than their daughter’s who are competing. There are mothers who video the routines and then afterwards take the video to a judge to find out why her daughter lost points. It can get really nasty. 

Even though I’ve seen the bad side and I’ve been through the discomfort of being a judge … I wonder now if the other judges weren’t relieved when I decided to give up … I still love the sport. Its beautiful, its romantic and its magical. 

This is a link to a YouTube video of Nadia Comaneci getting her first 10. 

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Yi_5xbd5xdE
I’m just thinking about how hard it was for me to judge gymnastics but how easy it is to judge what others do without even thinking twice. I think next time I catch myself making a judgement I must remember gymnastics. 

Clutter

​Have you ever wondered why you are so relaxed when you go away on holiday? You’re probably in a new environment you’ve never been in before, and its not the bed you’re used to sleeping in, but you are relaxed. I have just embarked on a major de-clutter of my house. I started with my clothes. We don’t have wardrobes (closets) in our bedroom, but a walk-in shelving and hanging area. I’m not going to call it a dressing room because its a bit too small and primitive for that. That part of our bedroom used to be a miniature kitchen before we renovated the house when we bought it. The one side of the space has a rail for hanging and the opposite side has the kitchen cupboards. I took the doors off so that they would be shelves. 
The bottom ones are too wide to favourably accommodate clothes, then there’s a large gap and there are two shelves above. This place has been an irritation and an eyesore for the last eight years. I have often considered hanging a curtain in front of it to hide the messiness. 

Then I read a book on tidying. Yes, there are books that tell you how to tidy. I was really impressed with what I had learned and on Saturday morning embarked with enthusiasm. I removed all my clothes from their place of rest and started to sort them into a keep pile and a black bag. I ended up with 5 trash bags. The clothes that were left are the ones I like and that fit me. I organized them into shoe boxes on the shelves. What I learned from the book is that you fold your clothes in such a way that they stand upright alongside each other. The result is that you can see everything you have and when you take one item out to wear you don’t disturb the rest like you would if they were folded and piled up on top of each other. You also won’t be re-folding constantly. I really don’t like tidying, therefore this method ensures that I don’t constantly have to tidy my cupboard. 

A shoebox of tights

T-shirts happily rubbing shoulders. Now I can see what I own and the one at the bottom of the pile doesn’t get neglected!

That brings me back to my holiday theory. When you’ve away on holiday you don’t have a lot of clutter around you. A chalet, hotel room or B & B all have minimalist interiors. I told my husband on Saturday night that I was considering leaving the light on all night so that I could see my tidy space. It just made me feel so good. This morning when I woke up I looked at my cupboard and it brought me peace. What a lovely place to be. Now I’ll have more time to spend in my garden, or write without any guilt about an untidy closet.