Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Textbooks, and textbooks

It is with an increasing sense of dismay that I've watched the textbook debacle* unfold. In addition to that particular scandal, there is another textbook scandal brewing - one about the selection of authorises textbooks. In this scandal, it would seem that there is yet more corruption at the highest levels. I say this because of the lack of transparency regarding the issue of the process of the selection of textbooks that occurs in Pretoria.

I have chosen not to comment on it thus far, because I felt that this was a conversation that needed to be held through the proper channels. However, those proper channels appear to have failed us. Thus, I have decided to go public. Following a meeting with my academic head today, I have been given the go ahead to contact the papers, and to forward to them the various emails I have seen/ received/ written to the WCED. 

Suffice to say, after I had only just begun to have my faith in the provincial education department restored following a few really positive steps, my opinion of them has hit rock bottom again because of the manner in which they have handled (or failed to handle) this situation. It would seem that a leopard really can't change its spots. 

I'll be posting all the details over on my education blog - nimming - so if you want to follow the saga, you can head over there for more. (I will be posting as the story unfolds.)
*For the non-Saffa's, there are schools in Limpopo province who STILL don't have textbooks - and this is the start of the 3rd term. Textbooks have been found dumped in the veld, and, reportedly, burnt in a warehouse - this after several missed deadlines to deliver them over the mid-year/ winter holidays to schools.

Transformation, not preservation

The saying goes that you never know what you've got till it's gone. There's truth in that, which I guess is why I appreciate my little groupie group so much.

Last year, in October-ish, G and I started leading a new cell group at our church. 3 months ago we took a break so that we could attend a parenting course. At the time, I was grateful for the break, as I'd found leading more intensive than I'd bargained for - as usual, too many other things on the go.

As much as I really enjoyed the parenting course, and loved the people in my new group, after a few weeks, I really started to miss my little groupie group. So it was with great joy that we finally met together again for the first time tonight.

I am re-energised for the next 6 months. I am looking forward to growing with these people, being challenged by God and held accountable by them, leading them to deeper depths and higher heights in their relationship with God and each other.

Maybe that sounds all a bit airy-fairy and pie in the sky - typically religious. Hmm... yet it's true, never the less. One of the things that has stuck with me from the past few months is a statement that one of the preachers made: if you're in the same place that you were a year or 18 months ago, then you're dying, because God is in the business of transformation, not preservation. That sums up what I believe God has been challenging me on. It's time for me to respond.

So, these next 6 months I am going to do my best to be intentional about this group - about challenging them, about challenging myself, about making this group really accountable (we have a safe space, so that's possible), and about doing my best to respond to God's challenge to move forward and not stay in the same place. You can hold me accountable to it too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sing a song...

This afternoon our nanny brought #2 into the kitchen before she left to perform for us. He sang a complete, and correct, rendition (2 verses) of Jesus lives the little children...all by himself! He's never done that before. Bits of a song, or an incorrect version (wrong words, or tune), yes, or he gets so shy he won't complete the song, so this was huge!

I wanted to record it, but felt that staying in the moment was more important. I was fit to burst from pride!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The sky is everywhere

When I read a book, I often can't put it down. Once I start, I want to just immerse myself in it until it's finished. Then there are books that change your life. Then there are books that could change your life, but you' re just too tired, or scared, to finish.

This book is none of those. Initially I didn't want to read it because the main character is deep in grief, having just lost her sister. Once I started though, I couldn't put it down. But more than that, I found myself reading the most incredible story of someone coming to terms with her grief. It was such a heart-warming story, and so healing to read.

I still sobbed my heart out at the end, thinking about all that Zoe will never know, or experience, our share in our lives.

What I loved most tho, in this story was the way that the author was able to express the effect that a deep grief has on the way you view life forever after. There isn't a day that goes by when I don't think about losing someone else I love: my other kids, my best friend and husband, my parents... I know some would say that's morbid. Well, it is, but it's also so realistic, so NORMAL. Death is inevitable, it is a part of life and I think we do ourselves a disservice to pretend otherwise, or to live with our heads in the sand.

This story manages to make that point without bring too moribund about it.

This is a book I'm glad I bought. It's money well spent, and I would highly recommend this to anyone.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Soul space

Following the sermon on Sunday I've ben thinking again about how I do, or don't, make enough time for soul reflection. I need to have space, time and quiet for reading God's Word, and prayer. I need to find space and time to worship privately, individually. I need to find time to feed my soul. Soul space.

God help me, cos I just don't see how to change my life to get that space. This isn't about spending every moment in God's presence, or practicing the presence of God.

This is about finding those still quiet moments, quiet enough to hear the still, small voice of God, to appreciate the scents on the breeze, the colours of the creation around you. This is about 'be[ing] still and know[ing] that [He is] God'.

My soul craves this. My soul needs this.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

For sale: one used shoulder

About two weeks ago I did something to my shoulder. I know exactly what I did... I worked too hard at marking. My body's way of sending me a message is to cramp up. After 2 weeks, I'm finally fed up enough to go and see someone.

I've done the heat, rest and compression thing. I've stretched, exercised and Voltaren-ed. I've Neurofen-ed and warm-bathed, and massaged.

Clearly, none of that worked. So, I admit defeat. I surrender. I will call a physio on Mon.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Happiness is...

I've been thinking a lot about a throw away comment someone made to me recently. The comment was that you make your own happiness.

This person, I should point out, is of a different faith to me. When dealing with people of other (or no) faiths, I try really hard to hear the truth in what they say, because I don't believe that Christianity is the only source of truth (although I do believe that the God I believe in is the ultimate source). Sometimes it's really hard though, because when I hear what others believe, warning bells go off in my head to warn me not to be duped by false truths, not to be sucked into lies.

So I've really pondered this comment. This person believes that everything in life is the result of what yourself do, or fail to do, that you really can make your own happiness. Oprah also seems to believe this sort of thing, with her publicity of the 'Secret of happiness" (I think that's what it was called). Is it true though?

I know what the Bible tells me. Happiness is fleeting, temporary, and depends on the circumstances around me. Joy, on the other hand, is a deep, abiding, everlasting contentment that comes from internal factors that are not dependent on external circumstances - like our faith in God, or his faithfulness to us.

So, when Zoe died, I was NOT happy. However, I could still have been joyful, if my faith in God had been sufficiently deep and secure.

Maybe, when this friend was talking about happiness being something we create for ourselves, what she really meant was joy. Joy is still something I'm trying to figure out, because I'm still working on getting my daily walk with God sorted out. But I reckon that's what she was talking about.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Have we cracked the nod?

I've just had such an exciting phone-call. Many of you who have been reading this blog for a few years will know that G and I run a support group for parents who have lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death, based in Cape Town, but for all South Africans. For a long time, we pushed on doors at various maternity hospitals and wards, to publicise our work, to no avail. We had several positive meetings with various people, but since then, we've heard nothing at all.

In retrospect, it was probably a good thing, as I doubt we could have coped with much more than we were doing at the time. On average though, we get about 4 or 5 contacts a month, several of whom take it no further - just needing to know that there is someone there if they need it. However, we've been having about one meeting a month of late, so things are slowly picking up.

Which leads me to the phone call I've just had. I don't usually answer my phone for numbers I don't recognise, but for some reason tonight I decided to answer. On the phone was a trauma counsellor who works for Discovery, wanting to know whether he could refer someone to us!! I'll skip the bit about the woman involved, and jump straight to the bit I found exciting. I asked him how he got our number, and he said he's not sure. He didn't know of anyone offering a support group for stillbirth, so he contacted a friend at Cape Town municipality, who then contacted someone else, who then contacted someone else, who just 'happened' to have our number (not even our website url or email!).

Now I ask you - if that isn't Providence, then what is?

So - it seems that news of our small support group and the work we do is slowly starting to filter around the city. This thrills me beyond words! Not because I want to be famous for anything, but because it means that the men and women who are in deep distress can be reached, and comforted, and given hope. I'm not expecting much to change in the immediate future, really, because our experience is that Saffa's don't like to talk about death, or about losing a child.

Yet, just knowing that the right people out there are becoming aware of us, and can refer others to us, means that I know that our work of bringing hope and support and comfort to these very broken people will increase, and that excites me intensely.