Zuma must go – or must he?

“Zuma must go! Zuma must fall!”

That’s what we’ve been hearing for the last month or so. There have been marches, peaceful protests, petitions on social media and old ladies with petitions in supermarkets. It has been the topic of discussion at every opportunity. It has even surpassed the weather in farming communities. Of course no-one is giving a working alternative. Who will be the successor? Will the person who follows be better? … or not? I saw a Facebook post this morning that mentioned a possible successor to our president and my blood froze. Seriously? Maybe we should just be happy with the devil we know.

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There are prayer meetings being arranged to pray for peace in the country. Excellent! Praying has never been bad. But what are the motives? I’ve heard people say (or ask) that God will (or please should) change things because we have suffered enough. Really? There are farm murders and there is crime and violence. It isn’t safe to walk alone in certain places. There are parts of cities where you surely will get mugged or robbed.

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We can go to church without being persecuted. We can speak our minds without being thrown into prison. We aren’t being persecuted like people in some countries who are not allowed to say a word which is contrary to the beliefs of the state. There are many places we can enjoy which are very safe. We have a free market system. Yes, there are fears, and I believe most of them are very real fears that the situation could become worse.

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I’m just wondering if people are (going to be) praying because they are afraid of being out of their comfort zones or if the prayer is going to be about really seeking God’s face and His will for our country? I remember the little verse about the teabag that only produces a beverage when it is soaked in hot  water. What if we can’t grow spiritually without a bit of suffering? What if we need to be pushed a bit to discover some hidden talents and some compassion and mercy? Maybe, just maybe, we have to get outside of our comfort zones so that we can reach our full potential. So that we can become what we were meant to be. So that the tea bags of our souls can do what they were made to do.

 

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Photos courtesy of TS Photography

 

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To forgive …

I am at the shop and my plan was to get my admin up to date. I have a cup of coffee next to me, Jesus Culture playing on the computer and my mind is everywhere, except where its supposed to be. I started thinking about what forgiveness is all about  so I wrote a poem. . All of us, at various stages of our lives have issues with forgiveness. Here it is, please give me feedback about your own experiences with forgiving.

FORGIVENESS

 

Holding onto the past is what I do

Remembering every word and deed

Going over it every day

It soon becomes a great, ugly need

 

The alternative is unthinkable

How can anyone, most of all God, expect

Me to let go of what hurt me so much

As if nothing was ever there?

 

How can I say it’s all over?

How can I live without the pain

That has been part of me for so long?

How? I ask you how is it done?

 

I cannot even start to think where to begin

How do I start to leave it all behind?

My life will be emptied of all the grief

But will there be anything at all left behind?

 

Will I not then be just an empty vessel

Making a lot of noise?

The pain has sustained me and I thought,

Given me good reason to be alive.

 

“Take My hand my child and turn your back

On all the pain and hate,

Take my hand and follow Me

I bore it all for you on a cross on Calvary”

 

My body is trembling at the words I hear

My voice is breaking,

The fear of letting go is too strong but

My heart is crying out for the freedom I need

 

Father, You say I must forgive

But how? How can I say its all OK?

They hurt me so bad, I never was the same

Life is not fair, I did not deserve the pain

 

“Follow Me,” I heard it again

I listened to my heart.

I needed to be free and not caught up

In this trap of fear and hurt

 

Here I am Lord, take me just as I am

Ugly and broken and full of scars

Lonely and hurting with my life in a mess

I sob till the tears wash the mud off my face

 

“That is the only way I ever could.

You are now ready to be washed clean

With My precious blood

Just like all those who are weary.”

 

I have forgiven those I thought I never could

I have put the past where it belongs

I have become a new creature

The kind of perfect imperfection Jesus wants

 

My sins are forgiven, my life is empty

Of all the hate and grief and mud

I am a person proud to call

Jesus my Saviour and my Lord

 

All the ugly has been purged

And even though I thought emptiness

Would be the replacement

I’m all filled up with love

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Pray for the leaders

I have had a very difficult week. Emotionally taxing. On Thursday residents of a certain area were protesting about housing. Apparently the money that was supposed to be used to build hoses had been misappropriated. These people were blocking the main road through out town. Trash, large stones and old car tyres we deposited across the road at various strategic points to prevent traffic from entering and leaving. Soon the tyres had been set alight and the police came along to disperse them. Nobody was injured, some damage was done to the potted palms in the middle of town, and there was a lot of debris to be removed from the street. There were a lot of irate motorists and the businesses in town who are dependent on passing traffic lost business. Then the next day the president fired half of his cabinet and replaced them. This obviously had nothing to do with the protests in a small insignificant town. Speculation as to what the repercussions will be for the country are all over the newspapers and internet. And then one of the opposition parties is saying that farms belonging to white farmers must be redistributed to black people.

These things are causing a lot of negativity. Every time you log into Facebook or other social media there are negative comments. There’s a petition that people can sign which is demanding that the president must be taken out of office. Then I saw another Facebook post where a friend of mine said that we have to pray for our leaders instead of demand that they be removed from their jobs. It was not what I expected to see given all the negative and aggressive talk. I thought about it and I realized that this was exactly the reminder I needed. I have had such negative thoughts racing around my head that I was in a bad mood. I was walking around with a frown and finding it very hard to be joyful. I asked God how I am supposed to handle the situation we find ourselves in.

Phillipians 4:4 says “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” and further in the same chapter, verse 8 says, “Finally bretheren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” So, if we want to be joyful and always rejoice we have to think about good things, great and beautiful things, not negative or ugly things. We have to fill our minds with purity and beauty and things that are praiseworthy. How on earth do we do that when the world is in the mess it currently is?

The Bible clearly instructs us to pray for our leaders. 1 Timothy 2:1-3, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our saviour.” I don’t think that Paul said this because he and the ruler had a good relationship. The emperors and kings of that time actively persecuted Christians and Nero gave the order to have Paul beheaded. If we think we’re having a hard time with our ruler I think we ought to update our historical knowledge.

This is how I practically see these verses.

If I want to be joyful I need to think about positive things, but how do I do this when everything I hear and see is negative? I have to start praying for the leaders of my country. I don’t have to like people to pray for them but if I’m praying for them I cannot be negative about them. That means my mind can’t be filled with negative thoughts. If I’m not praying for them I will be thinking about all the negative things I hear and see. Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” I don’t want to be like the rest of the world who are angry and negative and depressed. I want my mind to be renewed so that I can be in God’s will.

I have to pray for them to receive salvation, to be able to make Godly decisions even if they aren’t godly people (yet) and for them to be guided by the Holy Spirit. I am sure that there will be many more things I’m going to discover that I can pray for as I go along. But for now I have to just start praying.

Hope

I have been busy with a lot of things and I haven’t had time to focus enough to write my blog. Maybe my mind has been busier than my hands. A friend who I look up to has been diagnosed with a life threatening condition. She is a committed believer and such an example to me especially now. As always she is positive and lives every day to the full. 

I have been thinking about how people react to bad news. How should I handle situatsions that are beyond my control? The answer I get is one little word – hope. Instead of trying to explain it I wrote this poem. 

HOPE
To live in hope is to be free

From the bondages the world creates for us

So that we can see

Beyond everything life expects 
Hope is the heart that beats

When everyone has given up on us

Hope is the smile that greets

Even when sadness and grief overwhelms
To have hope is to stand up and face

The day that brings us evil

Without thinking of the place

We have been – just looking forward
Hope is the tiny flickering flame

That was planted in the heart

On the day when we became

The plan God made for us
To see hope is the biggest gift

That we can ever receive

For it gives our spirits a lift

And strengthens out faith
Hope never dies

Not even when our bodies do

Hope never lies

Not even when our minds do

Camille sleeping on the couch – I think we all ought to take time out and just chill. 

Eulogy

My friend Joan passed away peacefully. I know she’s in a better place. I know she was totally prepared for dying. She had battled cancer for some years and she knew. She knew what was coming.

But … my heart aches so much. Even though I know she’s pain free and she’s in heaven. I’m glad that she isn’t suffering anymore and that her life can be celebrated. Our friendship began in primary school and after she left that school and went to a boarding school we wrote letters to each other for a while but eventually lost contact. Many years later I found her on Facebook and we took up our friendship an caught up on all the years in between. She led a remarkable life having grown up on a farm in South Africa and then, as a young woman emigrated to Australia with her family. She was a wonderful daughter, wife, mother and friend. Everyone who knew her loved her. That was just how she was – she was loveable. Always positive and inspired and passionate. Joan had such a wide range of interests and passions. From teaching to geocaching to family history to quilting. No matter what she did she worked at it with every fiber of her being.

I think that maybe earth couldn’t contain all her passion. This world as we know it was too small for everything she embodied. A week before she passed away, when she was very, very ill, she was planning a friendship quilt. Selfless right up to the end.

Joan I will love you for ever and I miss you dearly. You are at peace my friend.

 

Because He Lives

I haven’t been writing about my garden because there’s really not much to say. There has been so little rain and so much wind and heat that most of my garden has died. There are a few herbs left that I’m keeping alive. About five minutes ago it started to rain. Thunder, lightning, the whole package. I can hear the rain beating down on the tin roof. What an awesome sound.

 

Last week I spoke to a local farmer who is in his 80’s and he’s farmed in this district for all his life. He told me that he’s never seen a drought like this. He doesn’t want to check on his cattle anymore because he can’t bear to see them starve. My husband spoke to a young farmer who was in tears when he told him how hard it is for him to know that there isn’t enough food for his animals.

 

This is real life. This is where the tyre strikes the tar. Grown men don’t shed tears easily. When a man cries (especially a farmer) you know that his heart is hurting. Does God care? Does He send a drought to force us to get on our knees and become humble again or does He test our faith with harsh circumstances? I don’t know. I really, honestly don’t know. I do know that if things always go well with us we won’t need God and we won’t need miracles. We probably won’t even be thankful for what we have because we’ll take it for granted. I don’t think that God brings bad things over our paths to make us better people or that He tests us with things like disease. I do know that we as humans have free choice. I also know that God is love and that He would never do something bad to us. Romans 8:28 says that God lets all things work together for the good of those that love Him. So, if bad things happen to us and we keep holding onto God and His promises He will make it good for us in the end.

 

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A beautiful rainbow representing one of God’s spectacular promises

 

There’s a song that says “Because He lives I can face tomorrow.” I believe that no matter what happens here on earth there is a bright future for us and if it’s not so bright here on earth it will certainly be very bright in Heaven where the streets are paved with gold.

 

If it only rains enough to wet the top layer of soil so be it. If it rains so much that everything is washed away and I have to start all over again that’s OK too. Because Jesus lives I will face tomorrow with a smile.

Comfort Zone

 

Why does everyone react with fear to the word ‘diet’? Well, I suppose it is a 4 letter word but there are a lot of 4 letter words that nobody even bats an eyelid at anymore. They have been used so often and so publically that they have become part of everyday language. People have become desensitized to them. That’s actually really terrible but why isn’t the same thing true about the ‘d’ word?

 

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Firstly it takes us out of our comfort zone – and we don’t like being out of our comfort zones. Comfort zones are comfortable and nice and easy. Comfort zones aren’t like a worn-out couch with the springs that are popping out and sticking your rear end every time you sit down. They aren’t like a bed of nails that’s going to hurt you every time you move. Not at all. That’s why we don’t like getting out of our comfort zone. Food is even named after it – comfort food – it should be called comfort zone food. When you don’t feel well your first reaction is often to reach for some starchy, sweet, sticky familiar food and feed your unwellness.

 

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Now someone mentions that your girth is growing or you double chin has doubled up. Your bathroom scale groan when you step on it as if you had dome it some bodily harm. The dreaded word starts to form in your head and you immediately go into denial. There’s no way you need to lose weight, you convince yourself that there is something wrong with your scale and that your friends need glasses. But it just won’t go away. The scary little word keeps following you around and each time you open a magazine or go onto the net and you see the skinny bodies in bathing costumes and you know that your belly fat will be flopping over the edges of that miniscule piece of fabric. When you buy a chocolate bar at your local supermarket the cashier’s eyes widen ever so slightly. Your husband starts buying you diet soda and when you ask him about it he shrugs and says he didn’t realize it was sugar free.

 

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All the signs are plain to see. You have to make a plan. But the pull of your comfort zone is so strong. It’s like a drug, a habit, something you just can’t leave behind. We all know that feeling. What you have to do is see it as a challenge. Make a decision that eating healthy food is going to be the new normal. Don’t call it a diet, call it and eating plan or a lifestyle or you could invent a brand new word that’s going to make you sound super cool when you tell your friends. Just get out of that comfy chair and face the big ‘D’, take it by the horns and face up to it. Don’t let it rule you and intimidate you. You can do this. You can get out of your comfort zone and not only if you need to go on a diet, but with whatever you want to do.

 

 

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A healthy alternative?

 

 

DO IT TODAY!

 

Weather the storm

Psalm 1:3 says, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,

That brings forth its fruit in its season,

Whose leaf also shall not wither:

And whatever he does shall prosper.”
That sounds great, I mean really, really awesome. Imagine always being positive and prosperous. Sounds like a dream. It must be possible because it says so in the Bible. I believe that. But what about the times that aren’t so great? What about the storms and the drought and the famine? There are times in everyone’s life where we just aren’t on top of the world and when everything around us seems to be falling apart. What about those times?

We went to the beach this morning and despite the fact that the weather here in town is unbearably hot, it was quite windy and cool at the beach. Not so bad I couldn’t take a dip in the cool water, but certainly not an ideal beach day. After I came out of the waves I noticed that on top of one of the high rocks there were plants growing. It’s actually quite a famous rock called Carriage Rock and it has a hole going all the way through.

As I looked at the plants struggling to survive on the top of that rock I wondered whether I would be able to survive in such harsh circumstances. There is absolutely no shelter whatsoever from the wind, rain and sun. The soil that there is can only be extremely shallow. So with almost no room for roots to grip, and not shelter from the elements how do these plants survive? I think it is by shear willpower. For the seeds to germinate in the first place is a miracle and now they are growing despite everything being against them. There are people like that. People who survive against the odds, who just press on and keep on going despite everything that life throws at them. They don’t look to others to sustain them, they don’t ask for handouts. They are the survivors, the salt of the earth, the overcomers.

Carriage Rock

Just like those plants on to of the rock they have built the houses of their lives on the rock and the winds and the rain cannot wash them away because they have found the Rock who is their firm foundation. In spite of their circumstances not being ideal when you see them you would think that they are the trees planted beside the waters because they are bearing fruit. They are positive and they are thriving. 

Let us all be like these plants on the rock and not allow our circumstances to determine our attitude.

Work and Passion

Matthew 6:21 – For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be

 

Read in context this verse says you must not lay up treasures on earth where they can decay, but you should rather lay up treasures for yourself in heaven where they will be eternal. I’ve heard a few explanations and I have had a few theories myself regarding this verse. Then I started thinking. What if I give away everything I have and decide to trust God for food, clothes and shelter? Will God provide for me? I’ve heard a few people say that that’s what you should do to prove to yourself that God will provide for you. But, the bible also says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 – “If you don’t work, you don’t eat”.  So, in other words, we are actually expected to work.

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My next point is: Does it matter what work you do? Is there some divine plan that goes something like, “If you don’t do the work that God had in mind for you before the creation on the world, its going to be futile and you’re going to lose all the rewards that you would have got in heaven …” ???

 

I do believe that God puts dreams into our hearts and that there is something that is perfect for every one of us. I really believe that with all my heart. I do not think that it will necessarily be our job that we get paid for. I also do not think that everyone will only have one thing – one passion – that they will follow all their lives. Some are lucky enough to know what drives them from a young age, and others take a number of side roads in their search for their passion. Some people never find it.

 

I decided last year that I don’t want to be an old woman who lives with regrets. I must decide on what it is that makes my heart beat faster while I still have the energy to follow it. I prayed and I thought and what I decided was that I want to write. In fact, I remember that ever since I could read I have wanted to write a book. So I took action and enrolled in a creative writing course. This was at the beginning of December and I am having so much fun.  I wake up in the middle of the night and think about characters, lots and scenes. I am very motivated to get my assignments done because it doesn’t feel like work.

 

I just want to urge anyone who hasn’t found that elusive “passion” not to stop searching for it. It does exist and you will be so happy when you discover it. In the meantime, carry on working, you don’t want to starve!

Grace

Thank you Lord! It is raining. Soft soaking rain. The kind of rain we need. It is only by God’s grace we receive any blessings. 

I was inspired by the rain – the glue isn’t quite dry yet!

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