Thursday, February 21, 2013


If you were asked what you value most, you might answer with something lofty, or something humble - wisdom, or integrity, or clean bedsheets, or the laughter of children.

Most of us, I think, value kindness very highly without realizing it. I recently asked a new acquaintance how some plans of hers were progressing, and received this (written) reply:
Thanks for being kind to me. I appreciate it more than you know.
Her reply stopped me in my tracks. Surely I had just acted normally, just asked about something? Yet to this person, it had shown kindness, met some need...Kindness can be almost effortless; its effects, dazzling.

Gary Chapman (Living Love) said this week:
When we act kindly toward others, they will be drawn to us and to God. That's why being kind is so energizing. When we are kind, we are acting as we were created to act. 
I don't know about you, but I need energizing! May you give and receive kindness, welling up from inside and washing over you from outside; kindness, within and without.

Regions Beyond

We've had a stirring, exciting, challenging time at church this past week, hearing from Steve Oliver about his work at Gateway Church in Dubai, and how it is opening links into nations around the world (hence "Regions Beyond", the group of churches he disciples). On Sunday our church will be changing its name, in line with the new directions we believe God is taking us. Watch this space!

Turning to changes in the country at large, South Africa has a new "political party platform", "Agang", headed by Dr Mamphela Ramphele. I've just looked her up on, and she seems like a dedicated, extremely hard-working lady, who has certainly done her part in empowering people on many fronts, from growing food, to medical health, to political liberation. I intend to read more about her and her ideas. Here, for the moment, and for those interested, is Steven Friedman's comment:
Whether, as this columnist believes, the game will finally be changed by another split in the ANC or, as others argue, by an erosion of the ANC vote, the shift is likely to ripen in time, not burst forth with the arrival of a new messiah.
In party politics, as in anything else to do with society, the hope for quick fixes often hides the more important processes growing slowly but more surely beneath the surface.
• Friedman is director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy.
Source: Business Day Live, via

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The sound of money

"Tick! Tick!...Tick!...Tick, tick, tick!" This sharp sound is the bamboo hitting the electric fence and making a "crack" as the voltage is discharged. After three days, the sound was becoming more than irritating; it was grating, jarring, disturbing. The electric fence runs along the back of our property, forming the bottom border of an estate called Rome Homestead. After a few fruitless internet searches and phone calls, I decided to walk round to the house.
There is a small office just inside the automatic gate, staffed by a very polite and helpful security guard. After I had explained my problem, he invited me into his office, showing me the aerial view of the property. I could then point out to him exactly where my property is, and he promised to get the bamboo cut.
"Is this still a guesthouse?" "No, it is the home of just one lady."
She has her own security staff, groundsmen, and housekeeping staff. The latter are transported in their own mini-bus to and from work daily.
The bamboo on my fence, "Tick! Tick! Tick!" was the sound of money...

Monday, February 11, 2013

"I can't forget that feeling"

I've been meaning to share this quote with you, from the inimitable Maya Angelou:

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
This may be true for most of us. Feelings create powerful memories, and shape the course of events if we let them. A feeling of rejection can harm many future relationships in a person's life; a feeling of being accepted and loved can give a sense of security that carries you through countless difficulties. We can react on the spur of the moment to a feeling, and the result can be thrilling or tortuous or just disappointing.

If you had your last half-hour on earth, what would you re-live? If it were your last second, what would you rather NOT relive? When a group of us answered these questions, most of them had to do with FEELINGS: the powerful freedom of flying; the quiet satisfaction of family-time; the intense pain of identifying a loved one, dead...

Let's try to give others feelings that build and encourage and warm and nurture them, as we go through each day. Let's forgive ourselves, and others, when the negative feelings take hold. Choose life!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Gathering threads

I see there are a few things I have promised to update you on...
The bathroom remains unpainted. We tried out a turquoise kind of colour, and decided it is too bold, possibly even institutional. So it's back to neutrals - well, in theory. That might have changed by the time the painting actually gets DONE!

Sad news of the Blue Car: due to inferior parts corroding, those parts and one other part all need replacing. Thankfully (mercifully) the metal has not spread round the whole engine. We are hoping the part-suppliers will meet the whole bill, including labour...

Some new ideas inlcude thoughts on electricity: we have met a family who is off the grid, using solar and gas power only. Do give me your comments on this issue: whether you have solar power in any form, would like to, prefer using gas, or any other relevant ideas.

February Firsts

On Saturday I started a new job (or in a sense took up an old one), and caught my first cold of the year...
Let's focus on the job! I'm teaching for a local study-franchise called Kip McGrath, after a break of a year from them. The Saturday session is a gentle way to begin again, especially as I already know one of the students.

The cold meant having to pull out of the worship team for Sunday morning – SOOOOO disappointing!!!!! No more of that depressing subject.
We have had a few "I don't want to go to school" mornings with Alexander. He is making friends at a new school, but also telling me he misses me. He and his class have a rather difficult boy to cope with, who doesn't wait in line, jumps around, and generally lacks classroom-discipline. After we had talked about this last night, Alexander decided to pray for the boy, for him to settle in and make friends. What a gift: a soft and caring heart.

William is rising to the challenges of Grade 4, with longer sport practices and more homework. After a few humphs and derailments, he has seen the wisdom of doing homework FIRST, and then playing. Victory for Mom - long may it last!