Wednesday, 5 February 2014

A fresh start

Hello, beautiful!

Gosh it's been too long, hasn't it? It has for me. And I'm so sorry about my silence; I had some major life challenges last year that took so much of my time and energy, so this dream took a back seat. I'm so happy to say though that I've also been working on my new blog! I've changed over for a number of reasons, but you can read more about it here. I'm all for fresh starts, aren't you? Come on over and visit a while - and thank you so much for taking the time to do it; it means so much to me.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Walking through

Battles. Challenges. Hardships. Trials.

We all have them.

Some of them linger and go on for years.

Perhaps it's a marriage, perhaps it's a home yet unfinished, a lack of patience, a temper you keep trying to master but somehow it gets away from you, lack of finances, a child that's ill, the loss of a job, friendships that have ended, family feuds. Perhaps it's wanting to be content but just not getting there, or maybe because it's just never enough. Maybe it's the mundanness of everyday things.

Life as it is right now.


They're difficult to endure.

I don't like them.

And I've generally tried to pray them away.

Tried not to think about it too much. Not talk about it too much. Not look at it so much.

Or just hold my breath...until it's over. If it's ever over.

I've struggled through.

The Scripture, James 1:2-4, is one I find a comfort and strength in times of trial, but I've struggled with the part which says "Consider it all joy".

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Desert experiences aren't made to be pleasant. They're filled with challenge, discomfort, pain. But there's something about being in the desert that the Lord finds of use. For His glory and purpose.

1 Peter 1:6-7
"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed."

Trials. A time of refining.

Until I see Me reflected in you

Until I see Me reflected in you

Until I see Me reflected in you

The truth is there's always going to be a trial.

And sometimes it feels like you've come out of one and go straight back into another one.

So instead of praying it away, I want to start praying that God will make me strong. I want to pray that He will equip me for the day that will be difficult; the day that will bring me to my knees. I want to learn to lean into the refining fire because I want to be changed.

I want to be all He sees in me to be.

Knowing He loves me. Knowing He has a purpose. Knowing He has a plan.

And then I'll be able to count it all joy.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Loving when it's messy

I have this dream that started stirring up in my heart about two years ago.  With time, the desire to make it a reality has increased. And though there are practical obstacles in the way at the moment, the biggest one has been my heart. I've been challenged.

So here's the dream: to have an extra bedroom in my home for people in transition. Maybe someone who's had some bad luck and has nowhere to stay while they're in-between jobs or the like.  A place where they could come and be part of a family - not a perfect family, but a family nonetheless - where they could have room to breathe, be loved, be strengthened. A place where they can get back up on their feet and go out and fight the world again.

But here's the thing about dreams: they're generally rose-tinted.  

Reality on the other hand tends to be messy. And messy is uncomfortable. 

I recently read a book called Kisses from Katie. I highly recommend everyone reads it because it is a testament to the faithfulness of God to do wondrous things with what we have and are willing to give Him. Today. Right where we're at. Regardless of financial position, the home you live in, the car you drive; all those things we think are important. Reading Katie's story confirmed my dream for me. 

I don't want my faith to be about going through the ritual of going to church on Sunday, meeting on Wednesdays for Bible study, and then doing it all again next week. Those things are so important in the life of a Christian. But there's more to this walk with Christ.

My life has to be more about Him and less about me.  It has to be more about who He is and so much less about what I want.

I want to do what Jesus says.

We're living in a world filled with broken and damaged people. I am one of them. But I have been redeemed by grace! And though I'm not whole yet, He has done wonderful things in me. I'm so grateful Jesus interrupted my life because He cares about me. Because He thought I was worth it, my messy and uncomfortable is now a testimony of His goodness and faithfulness. 

That's part of why He came isn't it? For the broken and damaged? And surely He's called us so that we could be more than just comfortable? So we can show His heart?

I want to get uncomfortable. And you?

PS: The Scripture card I've created can be clicked on and saved as an image which you can then print and put up wherever you'll be encouraged to read it and, most importantly, memorise it. I've tried to make it pretty because I'm a real girl that way. I hope you'll find it a helpful resource.

I want to thank you for taking the time to comment. Each time you do, I recognise you're leaving a piece of yourself here and it blesses my heart so. Thank you so much.

Thursday, 25 July 2013


There are times in my life where I go very quiet. In a sense, I withdraw. Pull back. Shut out. 

It gives me space.                               To think.                               To listen.

The noise and demands of the world and my life become too much.

I can give. no. more.

And all I want to do do - need to do - is just sit at the feet of my Lord, and be quiet.

Those times for me bring so much needed refreshment. And they also bring much needed direction. I'm so grateful He's given me ears to hear.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” – Mark 4:9

In the quiet, in the listening, I am filled with truth. Sometimes painful truth. And always truth that requires obedience.

And here's the thing I know. I know that if I obey, if I do what's being asked of me, I will have a miracle. A testimony. A healed heart.

So why fight it?

Because truth be told some things are difficult to obey. Just obey, not even immediately obey. And so I digest, I ponder. Ok, if truth really be told, I rebel.  Because what I've been asked to do isn't easy. Everything in me is saying, "BUT...".  Yes, my pride steps in and boldly states its case.

I've been in that place.                               In the middle.

You know, the place between knowing what you must do - what you need to do - and actually doing it. And if I want the ending, I know I must first die to self.

So I've been quiet.

And He's been gracious.  He's been patient.  He's been gently leading.

And I've decided, I will obey.

Because I love Him more.

The next few posts will be on some of the truths He's been teaching me.

I'm walking toward my miracle.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Compassion in my words

I recently read something which, wonderfully, brought me a new perspective on communication.  It focused on the Scripture fondly known as the Golden Rule.  

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12

When I read that Scripture my mind takes me to the homeless person; it's a reality I can relate to. My story includes that too. By God's immeasurable grace it no longer is my reality, but I can relate. So I want to treat that person the way I had hoped someone would have treated me when I was in that space. I know what it feels to be hungry and not have two coins to rub together for an apple.

Compassion is a gift I'm grateful to have. Putting myself in other's shoes is something I try and practise each day. So reading that verse again I thought "I get it", but in truth I've never thought about "do to others" in the context of communication.

I sadly confess that my attitudes and words don't always line up with that Scripture, specifically when I've been hurt. And most commonly in my personal relationships. Perhaps because they matter more; perhaps because my expectations are higher. I don't know. The truth is my natural instinct is to react, to defend, to hurt back. 

It's awful. I know. 

It's my weakness.

I recognise it.

I want to change it.

And I'm grateful the Lord has highlighted it for me; now the work must begin.

So this is where perspective comes in.  Consider the law of "do to others" this way.

"Get your feelings hurt by others in the way that you would want their feelings hurt by you."

"Get treated defensively the way you treat others defensively."

"Give the cold shoulder in the same way you would want others giving you the cold shoulder."

"Have high expectations of others in the same way you want them to have high expectations of you."

"Let your mistakes not be easily forgotten the same way you don't easily forget others' mistakes."

I don't know about you but that makes me cringe; I want to crawl out of my skin and pretend this is not my mind, not my attitudes, not my heart.

And here's the lesson.  

Even if I'm the one who's hurting, the responsibility lies with me. Treating others the way I want to be treated.

Compassion in my words. 

Do not hold onto the wrongdoings. do to others. Do not use your situation to be unloving. Even when you may be in the right, do not repay the hurt with hurt. do to others. Show love the way you want to be shown love. Listen the way you want to be heard. Be understanding the way you want to be understood. do to others.  

I want it to always be said of me: 

she opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”  Proverbs 31:26

I'm going to be practising doing unto others.  Join me?

Disclaimer:  All the images contained in this post are not my own.  If you have copyright to them, please contact me and I will remove them immediately.

Friday, 24 May 2013

He's becoming a man

My son told me he asked a girl out.  As in, to be his girlfriend.

I gasped.

He's not quite yet 14.  A girlfriend?

We've chatted about this on many occasions.  I've always told him it's ok to have a friend that holds a little more of your heart than another, but that he had time to get serious about one girl.  I reminded him that whenever you're in a romantic relationship you give a piece of yourself away, and it's best to keep all of himself for his forever girl.

I shared with him my mistakes at a young age.  Mistakes I don't want him to make.  Regrets I don't want him to have.

Deep breath.  Slowly exhale.

So it's finally arrived.  Manhood.  And I'm having to let go a little more.

He shared with me that she, like him, wants to be a doctor, and that like him she loves cooking. She cooks for her family every night; and watches the cooking channel all the time. He shared with me her dream to one day own a cafe, while she practices medicine.

He told me he prays for her.  That they discuss Jesus and the things of God and encourage one another to live their lives His way.  He told me how he counselled her about a bullying incident: to love the one who bullied her because that's Jesus' way. But he encouraged her to stand her ground; that bullies are powerless when confronted. He told her he wouldn't allow her to get hurt.

He shared all this.  And my tears flowed.

He's leading her.  Teaching her in the ways of the Lord.  As men are to lead their women.

I've always encouraged him to take his place of leadership where he can.  When he's the only, or oldest, man in the house, or wherever we may be, he takes the lead and prays for us.  Men were created to lead.

My heart is full.  Years of prayer. Of sacrifice. Of doing it alone. It's bearing fruit.

I had him when I was 24.  I had been surviving for years.  His dad and I were in a relationship, but we were unmarried.  We'd been together for five years by the time he arrived.  I had travelled a little and had come back home to study.  I was one of three selected by a large law firm to start work in the new year.  Things were looking promising. 

I remember it clearly.  I had given my life to Jesus in October, and in November I found out I was pregnant.  In that first week of decision making many suggestions were made, including abortion.  The facts were real: you're not married, you're still studying, you're going to lose your job before you even begin it, no medical aid.  It was a long list of fear.  But in the deepest depths of my heart a voice gently whispered "no".  When my friend who had first taken me to church called with urgency and, before I even had a chance to sit down, said "Jackie, God wants me to tell you not to kill your son", I knew.  That was the answer; I would have him.

My prayer was simple: "Ok. I don't really know You, but if You want me to have this child, You must look after him."

And He did.

After speaking to my future employers, choosing to tell them the truth, they decided to keep me.  I had a job, I got medical aid and a month before he arrived, his dad and I married.  

I started a journal and wrote him love letters.  So many love letters. I was teaching him about life before his first breath. I put earphones over my belly and shared with him my favourite music.  I talked to him all the time.  

Just over a year ago, he found that journal and asked if he could read it.  It had been my intention to give it to him when he was 16 - when he could understand with the depth of his heart - but I agreed to give it to him then.  He wept at those words.  Knowing how much he was wanted.  How dearly he was loved.  

When he was born, like Hannah, I gave him back to God:  "He's yours; Your son."

So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” - 1 Samuel 1:28

He's not without fault.  I know his flaws well.  Through the years there have been challenges, but I've never been alone.  Christ has never forsaken me. He has remained ever faithful.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” - Deuteronomy 31:8

And when the struggles overwhelm, I'm reminded of His goodness to me, and I humbly say, "Take care of my boy; Your son."

And now, today, as I'm learning to let go, I am reminded of His faithfulness, that my son belongs to Him.  That I trust Him because He has been by my side always.

He was with us then.  And He's with us now.

And He's with my son, as he's becoming a man.

Monday, 20 May 2013

A Mpumalanga adventure

It's not often that we get out of the city for a break away; our schedules, and budget, don't allow for it.  But with my godmother's daughter's impending wedding came an opportunity for the family to get away from the routine of our usual lives and head out to Mpumalanga; a part of the country I spent the first years of my life living in.  

Last year while looking for potential accommodation I came across a lovely place out on Lake da Gama, en route to Hazyview, that ticked off all my boxes {you know, budget, easy driving distance of the wedding venue, pretty. Always pretty}.

The day before we were to leave, a colleague mentioned that she'd received notification of flood warnings in the area we were going to. News of people being swept away in their cars bothered me. Some. After some urgent calls to said godmother she convinced me to drive down anyway.  So we did.  With children in tow, we headed off.

Five and a half hours later - 9pm or there abouts - we found ourselves happily stuck in a traffic jam in the middle of a pine forest, cars at a complete standstill, the sky bright with the light of the stars and the air thick and crisp; oh just to take a deep breath of fresh, country air! I was tempted to get out the car to take it all in, but with only the light of the stars for visibility, and me being a Joburg girl, I didn't think it wise to do so. Instead we did what all good Joburg residents do when they find themselves in such situations: we opened up the windows and generously {loudly} shared our taste in music with our fellow traffic jammers and let it echo through the forest.

We eventually moved on after about 20 minutes and made our way down a little meander off the tarred road.  My car is really low and not suitable for off-road driving so I was exceptionally happy to find the majority of the way paved. My children laughed each time I said, "Yay, paving!". We were also greatly encouraged by the signs along the way, like the one that appeared just after I said "Where is this place?!" which read "You're just around the corner, just 2kms more to go". Yes. It did freak me out a little. Mind reading signs and all.

We awoke the next day to thunderous rain.  It was spectacular.  But the view even more so.

I sat on the deck for a few hours just listening to the rain, watching the clouds and mist roll in over the lake.  Somehow, despite the torrential downpour, there was a stillness that permeated the air.  The kind that finds its way into your soul and settles there.


Just what I needed.

The children on the other hand could not wait to go exploring regardless of the downpour.

My baby girl did it in style.

And as with all adventures, food must follow.

And the obligatory photos of just my girl and I.  She loves being in them and loves me taking them.  I happily oblige. {That's me sans make up.  Just in case you couldn't tell}

And then of course, just of my baby girl. She's the sweetest.

With our bellies now full we decided to explore the lodge, and we all agreed it must be spectacular in summer. 

My sweet girl's interpretation of what it means to be a "lady".

It was short lived {and yes, those are my boots}.

My boy looking awfully grown up.

He prides himself in having "discovered" the library.

I love that they built around that enormous tree trunk; I think it so beautiful.

Look out the window to the right.  The rain was pouring down.

I did say I like pretty.  And it certainly was.

Carefully planning the timing, we eventually headed off to the wedding.

Three hours later, hopelessly lost thanks to my GPS, and after a search party came to our rescue, we managed to make it to the wedding...reception! 

It was an adventure; that's what we tell ourselves.

And it was a gorgeous reception.  The most elegant wedding I've ever attended.

She wore a dress.  Just for me.
And my boy, looking more and more like a man, looked so handsome.

She loves me.  And the camera - a lot.

My baby girl's kind-of date for the evening. They kept their distance. Despite both sets of parents encouraging communication and the kindling of a friendship.  I know: it won't always be this way.

They're both opening the gifts they received from the bride and groom.  A very sweet, thoughtful touch which was greatly appreciated.  And loved by my baby girl.

These two on the other hand got on famously.  They enjoyed each other's company, and my boy even got contact details (ha!).  And what a lovely, grounded, passionate and ambitious young lady.

I've been a witness to the bride's life through the years. Her mom, my godmother, has been a part of my life since I was in nappies. My godmother has been a friend, counsellor and mother figure to me through the years; I adore her. They are my family. It was a treasure to be part of this significant milestone in the sweet bride's life.  She is a beautiful, graceful, young woman.  

The sweet, ever graceful bride in her spectacularly beautiful gown imported from Spain.  My photos do it no justice. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.  We love you, sweet girl.

The following day brought with it a sense of new beginnings which was apt.  Everything looked and felt  fresh; the clouds now but a memory, the sun shone brightly and the heat of the lowveld was welcomed.

Taking advantage of the weather we decided to explore the lodge a little more before heading back home.

I could live here, but the city beckons.

All the images contained in this post are my own.