Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sometimes he whispers...

... and sometimes he yells.

Who can understand the mind of God? Who can fathom why he sometimes chooses to be silent, or to whisper, or to step back, and why, at other times, he chooses to bend down and yell in your ear, to INTERVENE, to make his presence known?

For no reason that I can determine, for the past few days I have had one line from a song running through my head non-stop, on endless repeat.

"My love is unshakable, my love is unbreakable for you."

For the first few hours I thought nothing much of it. You know, it's just that my brain is stuck on this track, so, okay, move on. Hum, hum, yup - still stuck on this track.

Then, suddenly, it smacked me in the face.

This wasn't just a random line from some random song (I still don't know who sings it, and can't find the lyrics to the rest of the song or the mp3 on the web. If you do, please let me know). Nope - this was something else.

This was a message from God, to me, personally, loudly, and repeatedly.

For several hours, I reveled in it. I love knowing that I'm loved. (Who doesn't, right? Unless it's some stalker person... but then, that's not really love, is it?)

But then, I was suddenly brought up short by my suspicious nature. Why would God want me to know this fact, on this particular day, in quite such an 'in your face' kind of way? Was something about to happen when knowing this would be vital? Was someone I loved about to die? Was something about to happen to me? Was I about to get hurt? And needless to say, I then spent a while in a minor state of panic, contemplating all the possible situations in which I would only survive if I was confident of God's love for me.

Thankfully, more than 48hrs later, nothing untoward has happened. (My suspicious mind says it might still happen.... and I shouldn't think I'm in the clear just yet.)

Nope, I think God just wanted to let me know how much he loves me. Not for any particular reason, just because he does, and he can.

When I behave like this to my kids, they also wonder what's up, why I'm suddenly being affectionate, or hugging them - what I want from them. (I wonder who they get this suspicious nature from?) But, they enjoy it. When they ask, I often tell them that I have to get all my hugs and love in now, while I can, before they become teenagers and want to keep a mile from any affectionate touch with their parents (or, God forbid, PDAs!!). Then they usually smile, and give me great big squeezy huggles (not cuddles, not hugs - huggles!) and lots of kisses. I love those moments. I love the smell of my kids, I love their little bodies cuddled up into mine. In fact, I positively adore them.

So why is it so hard for me to believe that if I want to have that with my kids, my heavenly father would want it any less with me? I have so much to learn!

"Unless you become as one of these little ones, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matt 18:3 (paraphrase)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

She works hard for the money...

So, this holiday, in between doing school work, I have done some freelance work. God has always provided the work for me, for which I'm grateful. I earned nearly a month's extra salary this holiday, which is awesome, but I won't really be able to enjoy a cent of it. Why?

In order to supplement our family income, I have always done a bit of freelance work. If I don't, then we don't make ends meet. I don't think we live extravagantly - we don't have DSTV, if we eat out once a month that's a lot (and it will be Spur on a Monday night, or take-away fish and chips on a Friday night), and all our wardrobes are full of clothes and shoes that are falling apart (literally). We can't afford household contents insurance, so God help us if we are ever burgled!

Because we are among the richest people in the nation though (and yes, I recognise that we are), we are fortunate enough to have a solid concrete-and-brick house to live in, life insurance, a medical savings account, a cheap gym membership (as a bonus from our medical aid), 2 cars (although one is really just a rust bucket with an engine and dodgy lights... I doubt it would pass a roadworthy!), relatively healthy food to eat, and can afford a full-time nanny cum domestic. We can afford to pay our kids school fees, buy them a uniform, and pay for a few extra murals that will broaden their horizons and teach them valuable skills. We also believe in saving for our future (so have a pension/ RA) and in giving to those less fortunate (so we tithe, support a missionary and support a child & his family in Ethiopia).

But with the state of the Rand, all of this is coming at a greater and greater cost to us though. Not a month goes by when we don't have to re-evaluate our lifestyle and wonder if there's any way we cut back on our expenditure. In order to stay out of the red (which is a principle we believe firmly in!), at least one of us has to freelance on the side. When the unexpected occurs, as it usually does, we have no buffer. We have no little nest egg to fall back on that keeps us afloat.

But back to the close on a month's salary I have earned. Over the past few months, we have had to spend a little more on the credit card each month, just to stay afloat - to pay for the odd item of school uniform we need to buy as the kids grow, to cover the car that needed a major service to maintain the warranty, the scooter that needed its electrics overhauled, to repair the family heirloom couch the kids broke, to repair the lawnmower after I accidentally drove over its cable, to pay for the doctors' bills and hospital bills the medical aid won't cover, to give my child a birthday party, to cover the increase in petrol costs (and hence transport costs).... the list goes on.

It gives me great satisfaction to work, to be productive. I get a kick out of completing a big task and doing it with excellence. I even get a kick out of knowing that I am providing for my family (a very male trait, I know). But I wish that when I did earn all this extra money, I could spend it on something other than paying for necessities.

I'd love to be able to - for example - pay for the printing of leaflets for Born Sleeping and someone to then go around to all the gynae's, paed's, midwifes, grief counsellors, etc and hand them out. I'd love to be able to help my friends out of financial trouble through retrenchment. I'd love to be able to save up enough money to take my kids on a holiday to the UK. I've love to have enough money to take a holiday around SA and show the kids the beauty that exists in this nation. I'd love to pay off my bond.

In years gone by, a person could afford to pay off a house in 25 years. In fact, by saving hard, it was possible for an ordinary person to pay off a house in 15 years. We've owned our house for 11 years and have hardly made a dent in the bond, even though we're paying back capital.

The value of the Rand is decreasing, which makes life all the more expensive for us. The gap between the wealthy and the poor is increasing, and the people who feel it most are not actually the poverty stricken, but the middle class who are worse-off now than at any time in the past.

[I'm not saying the poverty-stricken aren't feeling it, but it's a bit like the situation with the education system. In 1982 the government used to spend about R1200 per white child, R500 per coloured child, and about R150 per black child. Now, the government gives schools anywhere from R800 to R130 per child depending on how rich the school's suburb is. In most cases, former white schools are able to push up school fees, so their standard of education has not fallen. Former black schools have seen a dramatic increase in their government subsidy. It's still a pathetic amount, but it's better than it was. Former coloured schools however have seen their subsidy decrease and are often not in areas where the parents can afford steeper school fees. The result? Former coloured schools have felt the pinch the most.]

Don't get me wrong, I'm not feeling sorry for myself. On the contrary, I feel blessed, for all the reasons I stated in the beginning. However, I do wish things were financially easier. I wish I didn't have to work so hard, and have so little time to relax, or to spend with my kids, just in order to make ends meet. I long for the day when the principle of "a worker is worth his wage" would be implemented fully, the day when no-one will lack anything, the day when the shalom of God would cover all of us. I long for that day.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Adult bed time story (warning: PG 18L)

I know I've blogged about this before, but it needs saying again.

This evening, while trying to get our kids to sleep so that the adults could get on with playing their games, I was reminded of the adult bed time story 'Go the fuck to sleep'. You can read the text on

Every time I read the lyrics I can so clearly recall the hours and hours I have spent feeling exactly those sentiments with at least #1 (not so much with #2) who, in her younger years, simply would not. I wept with laughter when reading it again this evening. 

Yes, it uses the swear words and so, theoretically, is not very Christian, but I'm afraid that sometimes you can't express the gut emotion without using swear words. I confess that there are times when i think swearing is funny. This is one of them. If that offends you, then I'm sorry. If that makes you think less of me, then I'm sorry. In that case, can we just agree to disagree?

I love the sense of the rising ire, the exhausted defeat, then elated triumph, then despairing defeat. That roller-coaster is so true to life, to my own experiences when I was a new parent battling to work out how to get my kid to JUST. GO. TO. SLEEP.

So, if you have kids, and have battled at one point or another to get them to sleep, go and read this. Bookmark it, and return to it every now and then when you need the reminder that:

you are not alone 
this is a common problem
Gina Ford/ Dr. Spock / whoever the latest guru is does not have all the answers
the Pinterest/ yummy mummies with the perfect kids aren't the only valid experience of parenting
it is better to laugh at yourself than weep at your predicament
life goes on
and, that this too shall pass.

You owe it to yourself to get real.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mind the gap

In SA, as a middle class whitey, I don't ever take public transport. After all, I have my own car... Why would I want to swap that for being squished like cattle on their way to market, and inconvenienced by having to wait on someone else's schedule? Besides, my memories of the train in SA are of a filthy, unhygienic, and unsafe environment.

Yet, today we decided to grab a train to Simonstown to see the statue of Jus Nuisance. I was surprised by the experience. Firstly, the trains didn't look like the new in my memory. Yes, they were still filthy in many respects, but it was at least litter and graffiti free. However, the seats reminded me of the Tube in London, just slightly wider carriages.... Even the yellow stripe on the platform rang a comforting bell.

Sitting in the train, contemplating my class list life style, I was amazed at how normal it felt to be sitting there. I guess all the years of public transport use in the UK has not been lost. Sure, I did feel uncomfortable with some of the passengers - I confess I did wonder whether any of them were criminals - but then, I felt uncomfortable with some passengers in the UK too.

All in all, it was a good experience, one I would like to repeat soon. I don't get much opportunity to, living and working where I do, but maybe I can create opportunities.

Along similar lines, I learnt yesterday that it costs R1 to catch a minibus (black) taxi from Howard Centre to Mowbray station. Imagine that! That's so cheap!!! Even using a scooter isn't that cheap. And again, how middle class and how classist that I never knew that. Maybe, just for the experience of it,  ought to catch a taxi... 

A grief unending

Today I came across this blog post about a mother losing her children. Read it. That is all.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Just Nuisance

Once upon a time there was a dog. Not just any dog, but a Great Dane. (He stood 2m tall when he stood on his hind legs.) Not just any Great Dane, but an Able Seaman.

He is the only dog to officially be a sailor in the Royal Navy. He was drafted to prevent him being out down as a result of accompanying sailors on their day trips via train to Cape Town. You see, sailors got free travel, and the railways threatened to have him euthanized if his fares were not paid.

His duties involved whatever he saw fit to engage in, but he was a huge morale booster to the troops during WW2. His name came from the fact that his favourite resting place was on the gang-planks of the ships moored in Simonstown Harbour, making a 'nuisance' of himself to anyone trying to board or disembark the ship.

This past term #1 has been learning about him in class, so she wanted to go and see his statue. We took the train from Muizenburg, to make a day of it. We saw seals, penguins, and ships; ate mussels, calamari, biltong and ice creams; climbed rocks, walked for miles and slid down the zippy slide. What more could a family want?