Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Upside down economics

A family connection posted this photo on FB, shared from someone else's status (Elevate). Beneath it was a quote from Mother Theresa: "Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and start with the person nearest you." I initially just glossed over it, but something caught my eye, and I came back to have another look.

There's a beggar, possibly homeless; probably sleeping in a shack or somewhere worse. There's a guy who obviously isn't. He notices that she doesn't have shoes, so he stops, takes off his sandals, and gives them to her.

Then he walks away, barefoot.

I'm not a typical girl - I don't have oodles and oodles of shoes. Those shoes I do have, I wear until they are literally falling apart before I resort to buying new ones. When I buy shoes, I buy practical, long-lasting, shoes; shoes that are comfortable; shoes that I eventually fall deeply madly truly in love with because I spend so much time in them.

I've been in situations like that before, where I could have given my shoes away. I've not done that because then I would walk away barefoot.

Yet, does it matter if I'm barefoot - I can afford to buy another pair. The beggar can't. 

And that's the bottom line of God's economy - those to whom much is given, much is to be given away. It's the get-to-give philosophy. I often dream about winning the Lotto, but I never buy a ticket because I know God wouldn't let my number come up. I know this because I know that a) he wants us to be reliant on him alone and b) he knows that if I did win, I would keep most of the money for myself.

I keep coming back to this photo. That guy's got the right attitude to money. He's got an attitude of generosity, while I still have a mentality of selfishness. I've got a long way to go still.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Losing my marbles?

It's happening. I'm getting old. Yup, no doubt about it.

In the past 2 weeks I have got lost twice, forgotten umpteen things, and.... darn! Now I can't remember the other thing I wanted to tell you. It feels like it was important.

Oh well, it'll come to me at some point.

Now I'm not normally someone who gets lost. I'm a together, competent, capable woman. But I usually rely quite heavily on common sense. e.g. There's no need to take a copy of the email with me that tells me which room we'll be meeting in at the venue, cos there'll be someone at reception to help me, except... there isn't. Blast!

or what about - I won't bother looking it up in a map book, cos I have my phone GPS with me - except that it loses signal and can't re-establish it. Blast! (and I don't have a map book in the car cos I'm in hubby's car, not mine...)

There are two conclusions one can draw from all this (not just the getting lost bits):
1) I'm getting old.
2) I'm so stressed and tired my brain can't keep up with me.
3) I'm losing my common sense.
4) All of the above.

So which is it??? Straw poll says... ? (See poll at the top of the sidebar (it will only remain there for 6 days, so vote NOW.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A stitch in time

Sat evening, after AWESOME rugby (I should do a post on that...) I'm out, watering the garden in the coolth of the evening. Graeme is out at a work party. The kids are asleep. It's just me and my garden. I'm lovingly tending my jasmine, and weaving the new branches through the fence, when something brushes up against my side. In the dark, and over the sound of the hosepipe, I'm not sure what it is, so I get a fright, and jump towards the fence. Then there is pain - not a lot - felt like a sore pinch - on my arm, and I suddenly realise the following:

1) Graeme has come home and opened the gate.
2) The gate has me pinned between it and the fence.
3) My arm is hooked on the spikes at the top of the fence.
4) The gate is not registering my extra weight, and so is not stopping opening.

I YELL - more out of fear than pain. I'm not really in pain... it feels like just a scratch.

Graeme stops the gate.

I spot the dog outside the gate, running across the field.

I yell again.

Graeme opens the gate again - with me still hooked on the spikes.

I yell again.

The gate stops again. I quickly get myself un-hooked and finish threading one branch.

That's when I see the blood running down my arm. GASP!

Apply pressure. Run inside. Get the plasters, Dettol and cotton wool. Don't freak out - it's just blood, and not a lot of it. Right?

In the light of the kitchen, I see that I have not just been hooked on the fence. I have been impaled on it. There is a 2cm gash on my arm, and my subcutaneous fat is now on the outside of my skin.

And suddenly, it was SORE!!! And I'm trying not to throw up at the sight of what should be inside my body being outside it.

Think! Think! Think fast! What do I do? I can't touch it - my hands are full of dirt and bacteria and stuff, but I've got to get it back inside me before it gets infected or I bleed too much.

So my rational brain takes over. I disinfect it (had to take a deep breath before that one, and pretend it wasn't my own arm I was dealing with) - amidst yells of pain - attempt to seal it, and stick a plaster over it. I then noticed all the other puncture wounds - 3 on one arm and 3 on my other hand. They're not too serious, but I know I can't drive with the ones on my hand, so I have to disinfect them and plaster them up too. Then I see blood on the floor - and discover I've got another puncture wound on my foot as well. Graeme disinfects that one and plasters it up for me.

Then, quick thinking - I need to get to hospital right away and get stitches. Choice - do I wake the kids and get Graeme to drive me, or do I drive myself. It's a no-brainer really: drive myself. I'm going to be stuck in a queue for hours because this isn't urgent or life-threatening. If I wake the kids, they're either going to be miserable (and insufferable) or they're going to wake up and then we won't be able to get them BACK to sleep when we finally return home. Nope - definitely a no-brainer.

So I drive to the ER with one hand putting pressure on my arm, and the other on the steering wheel, and trying to keep my arm straight (as it seems to bleed more when I bend it).

I get there, park, and get myself admitted (which takes about half an hour). I'm then told it's at least another hour wait. At least the TV was on, but the coffee machine was broken....

After a 1.5hr wait, I'm taken through, only to have to wait some more as there's only one doctor on duty.

Once she arrives though, all is dealt with in about 15 mins. As much as I was entranced by seeing my insides on the outside, and actually fascinated by seeing my own fat tissue (I'm a biologist, remember!), I was very glad to not have to watch or feel the stitches going in. The tetanus shot I felt (OW!!!) and the 2 injections of anaesthetic I felt (OH GOD HELP ME THAT BURNS!). So I eventually got home in the early hours of Sunday morning.

What hurts most? The tetanus shot, the minor wounds on my hand, and the bruising around the wound on my arm. The actual wound itself doesn't hurt at all - unless you touch the stitches... then it hurts like hell. The skin where the hospital plaster was is also red and very sore - I think I might be slightly allergic to the adhesive, just to add to the mix.

The doc told me afterwards that I was actually VERY lucky. One cm up and I would have hit the major vein that runs in the arm - which would have meant serious bleeding (and no driving myself to hospital for that one!). In addition, if it had gone slightly deeper, I would have severed some of the nerves that run down to the hand. 

So things could have been worse - I might have lost partial use of my hand and had to have a blood transfusion. Count your blessings, eh?

Dream.... dream dream dream, dreeeeeeeeeam...

I dream in glorious surround-sound technicolour. I think I might have mentioned this before. I'm used to having incredibly vivid dreams. But sometimes, my dreams freak me out.

Like the one I had last night/ this morning.

Totally freaked me out.

I dreampt there was an American boy who was in my class on an exchange programme. While he was here, I discovered that he was involved in a cult in which astral travel was something used to engage in a sort of gaming activity (you know, like a LAN event, but on the astral plane) in which he was getting bullied and beaten up. When he'd been beaten up "out there" he would come to school with physical marks from his spiritual beating. In addition to the physical markings from being beaten, the kids who were part of this cult developed these moon-like (alien size) eyes of solid colours (mostly red, blue and dark green) when they'd spent quite a bit of time "out there", and the colour of their eyes would cloud over if they were bleeding internally. He had these clouded over moon-like eyes a lot. Enough to really scare me, because I didn't how how close he was to being killed.

I told you it was weird. But wait - there's more!

Then I dreamt that this boy was actually the son of someone I know, the brother of a girl I teach. He was given away for adoption at birth, and his adoptive parents moved to the US soon after. They didn't know that he was here, or what he was involved in.

As the dream continued, it became clear that my job, in addition to being his teacher, was to save him from this group, to save him from the bullying and beatings. I tried to get to him, to talk to him, to help him, but to do that, I had to be circumspect, because otherwise the group would kill me. I managed to get to him, and to start talking to him, but he was unwilling to let me help him, because "out there" it was very hard to keep secrets. Then, the group leaders began to suspect something, began to suspect me, so I had to come up with a plan that would still gain me access back to the group, so that I could save this boy, but not be a lie (since in this dream-world lies were as plain to see on the astral plane as a flashing red light is.... and these teenagers were walking around totally aware of the astral plane all the time (the serious 'gamers', that is, who were the cult leaders).

So - that's really weird, right? Freak-out weird, right? Stuff to make a really serious horror movie out of, right? (Now you see why I don't watch horrors - they just feed my brain stuff it really doesn't need.)

At this point, I half awake. I know I'm awake. I know I've just had this totally weird dream, but I'm not sure how much I'm awake, whether any of what I've just 'experienced' is real and how much is just my dream. Lying in bed, I start trying to work out what's what, and I begin to ponder this dream - why I had it, about the content, about whether it means anything (I firmly believe that God speaks through dreams). God has given me dreams before, and they are always weird. Always. This one is weird enough to potentially be from God. So the question I'm left with is - is it, or isn't it?

I gave God a "fleece" test, which didn't work out, so I'm going to assume that it wasn't a dream from God - just an INCREDIBLY weird one. What freaks me out though is not just the subject matter - astral travel - but the violence I witnessed in the dream, and the combination of the two.

As I said, it's not often that a dream freaks me out, but this one definitely did. It has remained with me all day, in the back of my mind. I have no idea what sparked the contents, so I have no idea how to prevent a recurrence. And unfortunately for me, past history shows that when I have an 'ordinary' dream that is totally weird, I dream it recurrently (anywhere from once a month to once a week, sometimes for years)..... I really don't want to dream this one again, let alone dream it several times over.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The glory of the Lord shone around

Do you ever have those moments when you suddenly catch a glimpse of something so beautiful it literally takes your breath away?

I had one of those last week. I was driving home from a meeting in town, as the sun was setting. As I came around the mountain, back to the southern suburbs, along De Waal Drive, I suddenly noticed how the light of the setting sun was falling on the Hottentots Holland mountains. It was so beautiful that it literally took my breath away. If it hadn't been for the traffic around me, forcing me to watch the road, I think I might have just stopped, right there, in the middle of Hospital Bend, to watch the sun set (or rather, to not watch the sun set, but to watch the dying light playing across the mountains).

Words don't do it justice - and I'm not a wordsmith. I wish I could capture the image stored in my memory, complete with the emotions I felt at the sight, and share it with you like a 4D movie (3D plus emotions!). It was majestic, and awe-inspiring. The peaks of the mountains were lit up in such a way that the entire mountain range was highlighted. My eyes truly felt ravenous as I tried so hard to imprint the beauty of the moment into my ridiculously poor memory. I felt like singing Julie Andrews' "The hills are alive", but instead of with the sound of music, with the sound of light!

The mountains declare the glory of the Lord. I tell you what, if that light display was just a shadow of God's glory to come, then we are going to be utterly speechless when we see the full glory of God revealed. I had a fresh revelation of why the Old Testament prophets bowed down with their faces touching the ground on those rare occasions when God spoke to them personally. It's the only response to such a vision of glory.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Tonight I reached another milestone in my journey of healing. It's been a long time coming, more than 5 years, and I'm thrilled to have finally reached it.

It's late, so I don't want to go into all the details about how I got here, or why this is such a big one - maybe one day I'll have the energy for that. What I will do, though, is to tell you what happened.

Tonight, while praying in a group of 3 at the end of an education plus church meeting, I took a step of faith. I asked God to speak to me for the other 2 people in my group. I haven't done that in 5 years. Then I took another step of faith, and decided to accept that what I "heard" was from God. Then I took yet another step of faith, and decided to share what I felt I'd heard with the others in the group.

This is SUCH a big deal for me. This represents SUCH a huge step forward for me. In some ways, I can't believe I've reached this point again. Part of me believed that I would never get here again, that this point was out of my reach. Yet, here I am.

Of course, this is all thanks to God, who has been steadily, but slowly, drawing me back to himself; who has been slowly but steadily working in my heart and in my mind, reminding me of the truths I already know; of softening my heart to trust him again. It's a work of grace - from beginning to end.

I have to add that I doubt I'm about to jump off the deep end and suddenly start sharing words with all and sundry. In many respects, I feel like a new Christian in all this again, like this is the first time I've ever done this stuff. I know that to be sensible, I also need to go slowly with this, to ensure that what I'm hearing really is God. BUT!!! But, I can testify that tonight God spoke to me for someone else, and that is just SO huge for me.... I feel like I've just run a marathon and beaten my own time by half.

What a milestone! Thank you, Lord! You are indeed faithful, even when we are faithless; you are loving, even when we feel unlovable. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

To all the [friends] I've loved before...

Friendship, true friendship, is such a precious gift. It's so much more than the camaraderie one has with colleagues, or the parents of your kids' friends. True, deep, abiding friendship is sweet to the soul, a shelter in the storm, a balm in the darkness.

Building those kinds of friendships takes time. Spare time is something I don't have much of, really, which is a function of the season of life I'm in (full-time working mom with small kids and a large extended family). I get that, and I wouldn't want to make my life busier by trying to squeeze time in for building new relationships, nor do I want to give up the time I currently spend with the extended family or my kids.

Never the less, I find myself yearning for those deep friendships. The ones I had before we left SA have waned. The ones I had in the UK are not really possible to sustain at the same depth over the long distance. I am, essentially, starting all over again (although we've been back for 4.5 years already!).

With the start of the new school year, I was struck again by how much I suck at making new deep friendships. I'm great at socialising with colleagues, or chatting to other parents in the playground, but I really suck at taking the relationship deeper and making it real. In one sense, I want that deep friendship with everyone, which is COMPLETELY irrational and impractical. I know that I shouldn't still be seeking the complete and perfect acceptance and affirmation from everyone, yet that's what I want. I also know that if I were to truly TRY and get that, I would burn out completely.

Yet, there is a lot I can still do. For various reasons, I haven't. I need to select the three or so people I really want to build relationships with, and then actively pursue it (assuming, of course, that they want the same from me). I need to accept my own limitations in terms of building deep, abiding friendships. I need to be intentional about the small things - dropping them a one liner sms/ whatsapp during the day, calling them every now and then, considering them and letting them know I'm doing so.

I reckon I've become increasingly lazy about friendships.

Thinking about it, I'm generally lazy about relationships. I can't remember the last time I took the initiative to do something special for the people I love, to surprise them, to truly bless and appreciate them.

Hmm... okay, so, new task for the next 2 weeks: every day, to send ONE sms/ whatsapp message/ email/ phonecall to ONE person I love, enquiring after them, telling them I love and appreciate them, etc.

Which of you is brave enough to keep me accountable on this? LOL!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening....

Picture it - around 6.30am this morning:

  • Me in the shower, hair and ears full of suds, trying hard not to get it in my eyes.
  • Dog #2 trying to melt herself through the shower doors before the thunder eats her alive (or so she thinks)
  • Child #1 trying to tell me how scared she is, but having to yell cos I can't hear her.
And then I remembered the washing on the line from yesterday....

That was how my day started, more or less.

All told though, it was a relatively good day. I got to spend it outdoors with about 125 Gd 11s in the sun and in a river; some of whom are just too ... snobbish? cool? scared?... to actually get wet or dirty. Oh dear God, help me! I'm going to strangle them.

For many of them, it was the first time they've ever caught tadpoles, or crabs (the invertebrate kind, not the STD kind!)

(Speaking of which, I finally got around to getting an HIV test last week. It's something we actively promote at the school, to help destigmatise it. The nurse didn't realise that I'd never had one before - I was apparently so calm and collected she assumed it must be a regular thing for me. That's me - Miss Cool, Calm and Collected.)

However, right now, I'm still feeling a bit out of sorts. I'm really hoping I didn't get burnt (doesn't feel like it), but I suspect that I've got a touch of heat-stroke. It was SO humid in the river itself, and HOT as hell.

Of course, I'm also so tired, I've done no school work tonight, which is not good either... no lessons planned for tomorrow, no marking done, etc. But as I'm going to gym at 5am tomorrow, I think I need to sleep now. Sleep is more important, right? Let's hope that my sick kids (yup, AGAIN!) don't wake me up and that my loving hubbie doesn't snore too badly.