Belated Easter

They say that Easter is the only time it is safe to put all your eggs in one basket. Nope. Not true.
If I did that, in MY house, by the time I got to the basket there probably wouldn’t even be one left for me. 😛

This is not because my children are selfish. Or because they don’t care about their mom. (In fact, my daughter will tell me it is because she cares, and is trying to help me lose weight 😛 )
It is simply because, well, they love chocolate.
And they know their mom – if it’s left lying around, it’s for us – if mom wanted it for herself, she would have hidden it 😛

Something was missing for me this Easter. By the time Sunday lunch rolled around, I felt a bit restless, trying to determine what it could be. (We celebrate Easter on Easter Sunday – the chocolate overload dished out in the morning, and a delicious roast dinner at lunchtime.)
I put the ‘missing part’ down to the fact that by the time Sunday rolled around I was utterly exhausted, after the events of the last few weeks, both emotional and physical. Pain didn’t help – I’d helped move my mothers care home and lifting boxes, carrying things etc. isn’t quite a great thing to be doing when you suffer from old back injuries.
Plus there was the fact that I had kicked my baby toe so hard, I broke it – but that just makes me laugh. I am a strange one, indeed!

It was only when my daughter came to me in the late afternoon, and made a comment, that I realised what had been missing!

Every Easter Sunday, for the past 20 years, I have woken up early in the morning, to write out clues and hide them with Easter eggs…. sending my children to hunt for their next dose of chocolate. As they have got older, I was able to have even more fun with it, because I could make the clues a bit more difficult. On Saturday afternoon, knowing how truly tired their mom was, both kids had approached me at different times, saying that they were really too old for it, and it wasn’t necessary. And so I didn’t give it another thought.

And then my daughter commented on Sunday afternoon, ”I actually missed the clues this morning – it wasn’t the same.”
And in that moment, I knew that my heart had missed doing it…. that that was the ‘missing part’ for me. Something so small, and seemingly insignificant. That actually had a great impact on all of us – because when I asked my son later if he had missed it too, he smiled and said that even though he knows he is an adult and too old for ‘his mom to be doing stuff like that’, it was weird to get all his share of the Easter eggs at once.

Things change with every year that rolls by. The pandemic brought VAST changes in just a year, that none of us saw coming. If you’re a believer, then you know that God never changes.

But I also realised something else that doesn’t change : the little things really DO make a difference! We need to keep doing them!

Here’s hoping you all had a really great Easter! ❤

vulnerable bridges

It’s been an interesting 24 hours. I’ve felt quite overwhelmed, with good things, and bad things. And loadshedding (read the post here) continues…although not quite as bad as it was – we’re down to only being without power for four hours a day – I can handle that!
The funny thing is that even though we’re conscientious with the scheduled times and switch off plugs etc to prevent damage from power surges, the surprise cuts seem to have affected things somewhat. My modem appears to be confused – it seems to think its function is now that of a strobe light 😛 It’s rather fun watching the internet light go on and off every minute or so. Green…red….green….red…. it’s a special kind of Christmas tree 😛 adding holiday spirit to my home 😉

With regards to yesterdays post :

Thank you to those of you who have offered support, prayers and encouragement. It is very much appreciated at all times, please know that.

Up until a few months ago, I wasn’t aware that I could be reached at my private email address through WordPress. This isn’t a problem for me at all – as you all know, I love to communicate and make new friends – and of course I am always there for support and encouragement. I’d like to thank one lovely lady in particular for emailing me – I won’t mention her name but she knows who she is – your continued encouragement and outpouring of love and prayers touches my heart deeply. 

I did receive another email though, from someone that I wasn’t even aware was reading my blog. The irony of this email is that it’s from an ex-South African, now living overseas, who only returns to SA every few years for a week or two on holiday. I haven’t responded… I guess I’ll do so a little later… or maybe I’ll just leave this here :

I am well aware that yesterdays post was rather negative, and reveals that I have ‘that side’ to me. Unfortunately, living with, working with, seeing and being emotionally involved with the atrocities that are occurring here daily, it sometimes does affect me in a negative way. My heart is not made of steel. While I have the ability to practice ‘tough love’ in situations where it is called for, this does not mean that I do not shed tears when I am alone, and that it doesn’t affect me in any way.

So in a round about kind of way, this post is actually about vulnerability.

I am an extremely vulnerable person. And no matter how you try to convince me otherwise, I will never see this as a weakness. 
I AM an open book. You can pretty much ask me anything, and I will answer you. But I won’t just give you facts. I will share in a way that exposes my emotions and will ultimately open me up to the possibility of getting hurt. How else will I connect with you?

And you see, that’s the thing…. I truly believe that I am designed for the purpose of connecting – not just with God, but with other people. In order to achieve that purpose, unfortunately, I need to make myself vulnerable. 

And yes, it means I get ’emotionally hurt’ sometimes. (Other times it is the most rewarding thing for me!) But through all those experiences, the rewarding ones and the hurtful ones, I learn life’s greatest lessons, and the crucial skills that I need to continue with living this life.

Raw truth is necessary to connect. But it has another function too. If I am not prepared to be vulnerable and share the truth of my experiences and failings, then how will anyone ever be able to walk away from me knowing hope, kindness, goodness, grace and joy? 

I am about to make a statement that many are going to possibly attack me for :
I understand and a part of me has to agree with Ghandi : ”I’d be a Christian if it wasn’t for Christians.”

Except I AM a Christian. And now you’re as confused as a chameleon in a bag of skittles.

So I’ll explain it like this : I grew up in the church. And there were some who didn’t preach God, but showed me who He was. But from a little girl, through various stages in my life, I was emotionally, physically and sexually abused by people in the church who were in positions of leadership. I left in my late teens. I have returned many times, to different places, and found much of the same, sadly – except now it has added judgment for some of the bends in the road of my life.
It has been preached to me on numerous occasions that I am a dying ember – because to be a burning light, I need to be with the coals in the fire – a church. While I understand what they are saying, and agree that it is an amazing thing to worship with a group, I remain a dying ember. I guess? Well, in the churches opinion (and the opinion of most of my family members too). That’s where it all gets confusing, even for me…and we’re talking about me… so confusion reigns! 😛

It has taken me a very long time to fully appreciate the statement that ‘God is God, and I am not.’ In the same way, all those people seated in church, as well as all their leaders, are also not God. Which means that like me, they also suffer from sin – hidden or exposed, their choice. They choose to wear masks, instead of being vulnerable enough to admit to their failings. And this means that they never learn anything, and can never be helped. It discredits any good that those who know their secret sins could ever glean from their words or their seemingly perfect lives. By not making themselves vulnerable, they have prevented growth, not just in themselves but in their ‘victims’, because many of those ‘victims’ have turned their backs on God as a result.

I am no longer angry about the abuse I suffered personally. It’s been a long and very difficult road to get to that place. The circumstances surrounding those different types of abuse affected the options that were open to me – and while I could have made different choices, at those times the circumstances affected me negatively and I made a long list of bad choices.

In the past few years, I have grown. And here’s what I know :

I will never come into contact with someone who isn’t loved – I need to be kind always.

I have learned NOT to judge – because I don’t know what choices you actually had. And here’s an additional thing to add to that – take time to find the person they are at that very moment, and not who they were yesterday or last week – based on fact or rumors. Change takes time, but the choice to change takes a minute. By judging and making it known, you may just undo that choice.

Don’t preach it – be it. At the end of the day, my words are meaningless if I can’t show you.

Unconditional love. The hardest of all. So important though because it sums up all of the above, and so much more. I struggle with this particular one a lot. It is hard to love others, especially those who have hurt us. It’s a journey all on its own. 
I love my children dearly – but they know when they disappoint or upset or anger me – a statement often used in my house is this : I love you, but I don’t like you right now because…..
And my children have free reign to use it on me. And they have. I have learnt from those moments – sometimes I am unreasonable, and sometimes I have worded things in a hurtful way. If they did not have the opportunity to tell me, “Mom, I love you but I don’t like you right now because…”, we would all live in a war zone in our own home right now. Being able to say this, and then walk away, leaves time for what has been said to sink in. When the initial anger and hurt has passed, there has always been apologies, calm discussions and resolution. And the freedom to continue loving and liking one another.

So yes, I am vulnerable, even with my kids. How else do I teach them that not everyone is right all the time, and that even parents/adults fail?

Vulnerability HURTS sometimes! It opens me up to judgment and criticism, and nastiness and negativity. But it also grows, helps and heals.
There may be ten people judging me, attacking me, and hurting me when I am vulnerable enough with admissions of guilt and failings. But there may be ONE person who is listening…. and hurting…. who connects with me and experiences hope in their seemingly hopeless situation; who somehow finds healing in a broken piece of their heart; or feels a kindness that no one else has ever shown them and sparks a ‘kindness seed’ that they in turn sow themselves. 

Vulnerability is also sometimes VERY REWARDING! I would not make the beautiful connections and friends that I do along the way if I wasn’t. And many of them patch up broken pieces of my heart in their own way.

And that, for every person who is reading this, is MY purpose in life.

Words and actions WILL hurt me. I WILL spend time crying and experiencing a form of brokenness. I WILL wish that I had a steel heart. And I will have my moments where I fight being ‘good’. I have tried being bitter and angry – I even think nasty thoughts. I have the potential to be all those things – and I’d probably be very good at it. In my head, I do great…for about twenty minutes.

But I WON’T change. And I have come to accept that. I am, and always will be, vulnerable. 

(there’s green light on the modem, so I’m hitting publish! 😛 😉 )

1 grateful person tag

I got tagged! 🙂 Thank you to herrychiccounsels for the honour 😉

I have to be entirely honest here – I am not one to post about religion or politics. These are very sensitive areas, and best not argued about on any social media platform or blog.

I have been criticised in the past for this, particularly when it comes to religion. I have been accused of being ashamed of what I believe, and that is very far from the truth.
But my own upbringing makes me a little wary of how and when I share my beliefs.

Probably one of the greatest things I have learnt in life (other than the time that I learnt that I will never be able to moonwalk like Michael Jackson 😛 ) is that we are all different and should respect each others differences and embrace them. Being critical and nasty and refusing to consider that others have different views to us doesn’t benefit anyone.

I had the Bible shoved down my throat growing up. It wasn’t about relationship, it was about religion. I promised myself that I would never do that to anyone.
The religion vs. relationship thing also taught me that people don’t care to hear the words if there are no actions to support what is being said.

AND THIS IS TRUE OF LIFE IN GENERAL. Don’t just say it, show me that you mean it.

So if you’re averse to Christianity, you can stop reading. I’m certainly not going to hold it against you. I’m thankful that you stopped by anyway 😉

On with the tag :

The 1 Grateful Person Tag is based on Luke 19 and the account of Jesus with the 1 out ten lepers he healed who came back to thank him. Let us aspire to be like the 1 who thanked Jesus and not the 9 who did not.

The ‘Rules’:
1- Share what you are grateful to Jesus for.
2-Share a passage from the bible about gratitude that means something to you.
3- Tag whoever you wish to.
4- Please share a link to my original post. 1 Grateful Person
5- Use any picture in your post that expresses gratitude
6. Share the intro

1 Do we have till the end of the next year? Could any person really read for that long? 😛
Yes, that is my way of listing that there is just so very much – simple things and complicated things. A myriad of things.
But I guess I’ll share this one : I am grateful for the difficult times. No, don’t scoff. I really am. When I look back at them 😉 When I have been in those dark and difficult places, I’ll admit that I didn’t like them, and I certainly wasn’t grateful for them. But when I look back and see how far I have come and learnt along the way that has made me a better person, I can’t help but be glad that I had them. I still experience difficult times, and I still don’t like them..even though I know that there’s going to be a rewarding change for getting through them. I don’t always tackle them gracefully, and I am definitely still inclined to complain in that dark place – even though I know the outcome will hold valuable lessons. But these days (after years of practice and tough times) I am more inclined to react with, “What am I supposed to be learning from this? I wish there was a better way of teaching me!”
Would you believe, it STILL sometimes takes me a ridiculous amount of time to learn the lesson!!! Sigh!

            “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
                                                    Proverbs 17:22

Wait, what? It’s supposed to be a verse or passage about gratitude?!?!?! Well….to me, it is. I’ll make my explanation as brief as possible. If I can somehow manage to keep happiness in my heart despite my circumstances or the bad situations I encounter, I am more inclined to express gratitude. When I sit in the dark depths, my spirit very much does feel crushed and I am more inclined to lean towards feelings of bitterness and despair – and we all know that those don’t push us towards gratitude.
That doesn’t mean that when something devastating or bad happens that I don’t feel sad or angry, that I don’t hurt. A ‘happy heart’ is not immune to bad feelings. It just has a quiet type of joyful peace that manages to draw on gratitude despite it.
(Okay, so I am not very good at explaining it 😛 )

3 Hopefully there will no offense in this… I’m not tagging anyone. BUT..if you WANT to do it then you are definitely worthy of the grateful person tag. Please tag me if you do – I’d love to read your choices 🙂

4 Here’s the link to the lovely lady who nominated me 😉

5 The image I chose kind of goes with my chosen verse of scripture 😉

images
Photo Credit : soulutionary.com

And I’ve already completed task number 6 at the top of this post.

 

Politics and Religion

On Friday I received a surprise phone call from a friend who is a medical representative, saying that she was in my area and wanted to know if she could pop in for a quick coffee. I am always up for a cup of coffee, even more so when shared with good company, and so of course I shifted things around in my schedule to make time for her to come over and visit.

We haven’t seen each other in a few months. Four, to be exact. Where has the time gone? I don’t like the times that life gives me things to do when I’d rather be doing something else. But it happens. A lot. And I have come to accept it. It’s made ‘catch up’ time something that is that much more dear to my heart, and I treasure the times I get to do the things I want to be doing.

I greeted her with a giant bear hug, and the first thing she said to me was, ‘I’m so glad it’s finally Friday’. I laughed out loud, because of my recent post referring to naming my days. She hasn’t read it, because ‘who really has time for blogging and then still reading what everyone else has to say’? Um, like with everything else that might possibly be important to you, you make time. I can’t be offended by her opinion though, because it’s her opinion and I respect that – and I also accept that while blogging is somewhat important to me, not everyone needs to share in that feeling. I did tell her about my post though, while pouring our coffee, and she loved the thoughts and ideas.

We moved on to other topics, and as only women can, we jumped from one subject to another – returning back where we started when another reminder of the ‘more’ we had to say on that topic entered our minds. Thankfully, we think alike, and neither of us were out of breath from the exercise 😉

There is one topic that I always try and avoid with this particular friend though. Most times that we’re together, I am successful. Friday was not a ‘most’. I guess now would be a good time to mention that her husband is in politics. I happened to mention to her that I was thinking about doing a few blog posts on where I live, but was trying to find a way to do it without ‘focusing on all the negatives’. I explained to her that I don’t want to harp on our current political climate – and then realized my mistake, too late! I blame it on the fact that I had not had sufficient coffee yet that day to equip my brain in the topic of avoidance.

I won’t go into great detail regarding her reaction to this, but suffice to say that she was not impressed. Apparently I am ignorant when it comes to politics, and if people like me were more committed to getting ‘the truth’ out there, then we wouldn’t be in the place we currently are in our country.
By the time she left, we were still friends. I think this is largely due to the fact that I was willing to admit to my political ignorance, and apathy.

Here’s the thing though: I am not ignorant to what is happening in the political climate of my country (although I am confused by the weather climate, since we have experienced such strange weather lately). I think that when you have a social media account, it is difficult to be ignorant about things like politics, and religion. My Facebook news feed is constantly inundated with the ‘latest political shortfall or scandal’, and the same goes for religious problems and issues.
When I was 23, I shyly admitted to my father that I felt like I was finally growing up. He asked me why I felt that. To which I responded, “I now read the newspaper and watch the news, almost every day”.
So I don’t just have Facebook to rely on as my political source – but I definitely have facts from the news too. Although, admittedly, these days I don’t watch the news on TV and I don’t buy a newspaper. I visit a variety of news sites via my web browser, and when I get tired of reading about all the horrible things that are happening and my heart feels like it can handle no more of seeing what people are doing to each other, I just click close. I wish I could do that in real time too sometimes.

If I absolutely had to get involved in a political debate, I think I could hold my own – for a short while, at least. I’d be able to hold my own a little longer if the debate was centered around a religion – particularly if it was focused on mine.

But here’s where one of my favorite words comes into play: choice.
The second definition at Dictionary.com seems to suit my post better, and so that is the one I will quote: “the right, power, or opportunity to choose”.
(I love the example they use: ‘The child had no choice about going to school.’ I tell my children this regularly.)
I have a right to choose my battles, even when it comes to matters that are of great importance – like politics and religion. And that’s what it boils down to for me. I find in my daily life, with a preteen and a teen who is almost a man, that I am constantly having to choose my battles. I also choose my battles with minor things – like when something breaks in the house. Am I going to get upset and have to call someone in to fix it; or am I going to Google this little challenge and fix it myself?
(I successfully fixed the leak in my drain pipe the other day, and for me this was a major achievement, and I’m proud of it!)

I am not trying to avoid any truths, and I am certainly not trying to ‘hide them from the world’ either. I am not entirely apathetic. But the world has Google, and if they really want to know the terror of my country, then they can look it up. I do not need to be political, and immerse myself in every bit of negativity associated with our current political climate. I am not sticking my head in the sand, and refusing to do anything – I still vote, even though it appears that it makes no difference. I try and assist those who have been affected by the horrible things that are happening; I give of myself as much as possible to my local community.

But there’s a reason why I am not a politician. And I never want to be.
I will do my small part with everything I have – but don’t expect me to focus and dwell on the negativity. I will ‘tell it like it is’ when necessary, but apart from that, I choose to not get caught up in the hype and choose to not participate in those conversations.

I think it also comes down to respect – and this is where religion comes into it too.
(I didn’t always feel this way, but as I have grown and had more life experience, I think I may have matured in my thinking. Although if you do not agree with me, you’re probably finding the faults here and have written me off as apathetic and ignorant. And that is your right, and your choice.)
Not everyone is going to believe what I do when it comes to ‘religion’. And those who do may be either more passionate, or less passionate, than me. And that’s okay. Because we are all different.
I have the right to believe what I believe, and am fortunate enough to be able to have the opportunity to choose, and live out that belief – because in some countries, people are dying for their Christianity.
And I respect the fact that others may have very different beliefs. I don’t involve myself in religious debates, or try and prove my point, simply because as far as I am concerned, no one has the right to judge me, and by the same token, I do not have the right to judge them.
I could say a whole lot more about religion, but then I fear I would be swaying towards giving you my opinion – which I am happy to do in a more personal way, if you wanted to really discuss it – but harping on about religion in this setting is not my style.

In the same way, I believe in respecting political views. I know a couple who are American, and they keep abreast of politics there, and their Facebook wall reflects this, as they post links and statuses relating to political happenings, and failings, regularly. That is their right, and I respect it. Do I ever comment? No.
Another word comes to mind though : Passion. It’s all about where yours lies. I am not ‘passionate’ enough about politics and religion to constantly be pushing for others to be more aware and agree with me, and that is my choice. I don’t criticize your passions, so maybe you could just please leave my lack of them alone?
Each and every one us has the right to choose to either be politically minded, or not. We have the power and opportunity to try and make a difference – even if it is just by voting, but we are not ignorant and apathetic if we choose to not share constantly in things revolving around politics.

And I suppose, at the end of the day. all this applies to life too. I wish we could all try and respect each other enough to be careful with our words, and afford each other the right to make choices. I wish we could stop using social media to attack each others opinions on things. I wish we could just agree to disagree. Most of all, I wish we could all respect human life enough to not take it in the name of politics, religion or whatever other reason we may have. But then again, if we were all doing all these things, then life would be perfect – we would all be perfect, and although the world would be a better place, it may not be as interesting.
I guess we ‘need’ politicians to spice things up a bit 😛

Reading through this entry, I do wonder if perhaps ‘I’ am what is wrong with the world (which was something else my friend hinted at). Perhaps if we were all as passionate as ‘them’ things would be different? I don’t know. I suppose I am entitled to my opinion, as everyone else is to theirs.
am working on some posts about my country, because it’s always great to learn about a new place – especially if you’re considering travel – and I will do my best to keep both politics and religion out of it. I guess there are some truths that will need to be told as I go along…but I am taking some time, and trying to present them in a way that are more entertaining and informative, than just an endless stream of negativity.

I leave you with this funny little thought, “If women ruled the world we wouldn’t have any wars – we’d just have a bunch of countries that were not talking to each other”.