Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

The Drive (some thoughts from the road)

My soul feels light and content as I take to the motorway,
A great night with quality people.
I take in the scenery around me
The yellow rapeseed sprawled upon the hillside in the distance
The blue sky and puffy clouds hang above
There are a lot of cars on the road.
Where are they all going?
People are always going somewhere.
The tall trees that line the road, the lushness of the greenery.
There has always been a charm to the English countryside
I’m still not tired of it.
To be tired of such things is to be bored of life.
I am thankful my car
I am thankful for Spotify. I am thankful for music.
We all have a soundtrack to our lives.
Both these things above transport me places.
As I enter my area, I see the tunnel of trees before me.
From open fields, to vibrant flowers, to rolling hills and now a forest…
The sunlight poking through the tall branches slicing through the cars as we drive through.
Thank you for my eyes to see such beautiful things
Thank You for the appreciation You put inside me.
There is still so much to see.
We’re born explorers.

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

the art of breaking up

“it’s not you, it’s me
of course we can still be friends
but we just need some time
we had a good three and a half years together
thank you
loved all the people I met
the services I led
all the cool youth ministry moments

I still think we will be friends
but for now I needed a clean cut
a clean break
i don’t want to live with my heart in two places
it wouldn’t be fair to now
this new chapter”

Been thinking about my leaving of SMB
From church work to a very different sort of work
From knowing a lot of people to getting to know new people
I am keeping tabs of one or two things back there
But also I believe I need to be present to where I am
Naturally friendships that are meant to stay will stay.
We would naturally stay in touch.

I had to hand over my youth ministry
Even in the state of things in the church
Because God loves those youth far more than I ever would

Because I have lots to learn here
I need to fully present here
God opened this door and so with me standing in the threshold
I open my heart and life to what is here.

(Random music trivia. There is always a song. I did think of the perfect break up song. Anberlin – Breaking.)

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

Village Life

My friend and I live in a little village on the edge of Milton Keynes.
Earlier today, I needed to go to the shops to find some gifts for some people. I headed up to Woburn Sand’s High Street.
I decided to wander into one of the charity stores. As I stood there, a customer from Zimbabwe (I think) was talking about he named his four kids: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. (Pretty clever!) But I just loved how a three way conversation happened.

Then when that customer left, I continued browsing. I then heard one of the three ladies say out loud “If only there was a strong young man to help you carry that.”

I snapped to the present. “Yes, of course, I would love to do that for you.”
One asked, “Are you Australian?” (Is my accent that tainted now?)
I said I was from South Africa.
“Ah, that’s why you are so helpful.” (Proud ubuntu moment!)

So there I am walking alongside this elderly lady, only about 500m to her house carrying a little corner table she purchased. She offered me a tea when I got to her place. I declined, but thought to myself. Nice to do a little good turn.


Later in the day, I realised I needed some wrapping paper. So, I shot back up to the main street. My housemate asked me to grab some Weetabix whilst I was there.
So I thought I would by the cereal and wrapping paper from Tesco. I only got the cereal there. But the guy suggested trying the Post Office. Oh dear, 3 mins before they close…

I ran the 100m to the Post Office, made it in time. I grabbed some wrapping paper.
The lady behind the counter said “Is this wrapping paper for the Weetabix?” We had a good chuckle! Imagine sending Weetabix as a gift? Stranger things have happened.

How nice! People talking to one another, bantering.
Gotta love some quaint village moments.
#OldSchoolEngland

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

A slow burner

I usually effortlessly devour through books… loving the escape to the worlds they create and the joy or tension they share…

However this book is a slow burner. I’m on page 150 of 359… I’m enjoying it But weirdly it’s not an “easy read” – its not heavy in content necessarily… but there are lots of phrases or paragraphs they get me thinking…

And even though it’s a slow brew… I look forward to going back. Learning more and wondering where this memoir is heading…

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, Travel & Explore, Wonder and Beauty

Under African skies (Home to Home)

“I’ll get you to Durban” was a conversation / prayer I was having with God. One of the conditions or challenges He gave me was “be offline, no posting on Instagram.”
Besides the photo and video of the reunion with my mom when I arrived on Boxing Day, I obliged. It was good to be offline and off the grid. Not having mobile data (or roaming) and having limited WIFI helped me be more present with to each day in SA.

Because I like reflecting on this, I thought I’d just journal some thoughts and observations after being back in SA after two and a half years. These are the South African isms and ness, among other things I had noticed during my stay, in no particular order or presentation:

The mugginess of the Durban air is just delightful! (The proper term being, humidity.) As I stepped off the plane, I was greeted by it.

I really did bring too many t-shirts. Most days, I hardly wore a shirt. (Yes, I’m that guy.)

People talking to one another in public. That’s definitely a difference I miss. People in public greet one another, smile and are willing to burst into spontaneous conversation. (In the UK, most often, I have noticed the opposite. People look down, they’ll ignore a greeting or mumble a reply.)
Oh, at another cool thing – on arriving at Border Patrol in JHB – the guy looks at me with a big smile and says “welcome back brother.” 🙂 – love the warmth and hospitality of most people.

Lying on the deck chair under the African sky, noticing Hadedas flying above. (Click here to see what a Hadeda looks like ) Their outline when they fly actually looks quite nice. I have never noticed that before.

Laughing doves, wagtails and weavers visiting the garden. Oh and look, there runs a monkey along the wall. Great to see the familiar wildlife.

The humour and warm nature of other South Africans. Whether at a braai, or just a gathering of friends – people who I don’t know (friends and family friends of my moms), I loved how I natural, it felt to hug and kiss them hello or goodbye.

Walking in the shops, seeing familiar products – but after being so long in the UK I didn’t even know if the prices in Rands were of good value or not. (That experience was kinda cool – meaning that I’ve now been in the UK for that amount of time that I value and measure things – in Pounds.)

Then dodging potholes and seeing old un-cared for buildings. Instead of repairing the potholes, they mounted a yellow road sign near Galleria (Toti) with the warning. “Potholes.” A visual reminder of the constant struggle / corruption of local municipality (council) to have budget to repair necessary things like that.

East Coast Radio plays on in the background. My mom enjoys this station. (After half an hour of it, I was absolutely annoyed!) I have never enjoyed ECR. It grates me! (haha). The amount of songs they repeat, their small repertoire of music. It’s just lame!!

The one afternoon, I got to ride on the back of a bakkie (pickup) – no one caring about the risk assessment of it. 😉 We were dropping off trestle tables and chairs. As we drove just around the corner, I sprung upon the back, shirtless, standing up, the wind blowing in my face. The wildness of it. (It’s the little things.)

Sitting next to my mom, just enjoying the moments with her, playing dominoes, eating ice-creams on the beach, watching Mama Mia 2, having a beer or eating a meal together – all of these things were priceless and the purpose of the trip. To fill my mom’s space. To inhabit her world for a few days. To see her life in the flesh. (For too long it’s been virtual.) Now after these 10 days in South Africa, I can visualise and see the things of her life.

As I lay in bed, I could hear the frogs and crickets outside. What a pleasant night time sound!

The pace of holiday has kicked in. Chilled. I loved how slow my trip was. And yet full. Of people, activities, relaxing and new memories. It was like cooking a potjie. For it to be succulent of flavour, it needs time. Slowly stirring and letting all the ingredients soak in together. The hours went be slowly (in a good way) allowing me to savour a lot more of the trip.

Just laying by the pool soaking up the sun. That majestic blue sky above! (I did get too burnt on the first time – ended up peeling. Idiot!)

Hmmm. Being mindful of locking up, seeing burglar bars on the windows. Alarm beams mounted. At the lovely flat with the wonderful sea view that we stayed at for a few nights – each time – we headed down to the beach, we had disarm and arm a security beam. (This I definitely don’t miss at all!)

The birdsong there is delightful. Maybe even the screech of the hadedas. But then again, maybe I am now observing things here with “touristy eyes.” Because I also noticed – even though I may be on “holiday” that around me there are just ordinary folks doing their best to get by. Usual life is upon them. (As obvious as that statement is, I am always mindful of that.) From little Toti to a little estate in Milton Keynes, there are can people who are just scraping by, doing the best they can, enjoy the smallness of life too.

On “touristy eyes” or ‘rose tinted glasses’ as the other phrase goes – maybe that is one thing people need to be aware of. Holidaying and living in a place are two very different things. But as I said above, I noticed the birdsong. But truth is, I do notice birdsong (a lot) here in the UK too. So maybe being on holiday and trips, we are reminded that when we are back home to be mindful of the ordinary joy-filled things in own lives and neighbourhoods.

The one day we were in Scottburgh at the Blue Marlin hotel. We just sat there looking out at the ocean, with two guys playing some familiar covers. That was a peaceful moment.

The ocean just lies there so vastly and big in the background…

One think that irks me is when South Africans speak in ignorance. “I would never live in the UK. The weather, blah, blah.” – but such a statement is made without actually having lived in the UK. (In some of those moments, I just bite my tongue.)

I remember being part of a prayer session before I left for South Africa. The guy mentioned “The Southern Cross” in the southern hemisphere. I knew I would get an opportunity to see it. But throughout the trip, it was cloudy and I had simply forgot to look out for it. But thankfully, on the last morning, I randomly woke up around 3am and looked through my mom’s window and there as if waiting for me was The Southern Cross and the two pointer stars. What a great final gift!

It was also nice to “cheat” my winter by 10 days and be in the peak of summer in South Africa and actually bring back a tan. I never set an alarm (except for the early morning surf with Richard) – but each morning, I loved how the natural early daylight woke me up. So there I was around 5am, greeted by the early sunrise. And how it only got dark after 7pm. (Meanwhile back home, it’s still pitch black at 7am in the morning and be 5pm in the afternoon, if not earlier.)

I am a rubbish surfer. (I have always called myself an attempted surfer.) But that early start on Monday with Richard was epic. 05:30am. Drinking coffee from flasks and looking out to the sea and catching up. 06:00am. We head into the water. I managed to catch two or three waves and falling off very quickly afterwards… (I think Richard probably caught about fifteen for my three. haha!)
But I have always enjoyed being in “God’s swimming pool.” Something spiritual about that early morning surf.

I have always been one for exploring new things and new experiences. So seeing the new extension to Durban Promenade was a treat! My friend Tamar and I went to go check out a dolphin show and the aquarium at Ushaka. On arriving, I noticed that the promenade now spreads out from Ushaka all the way to the harbour! At there end there is a great shed with various eating options and of course good beer (finally) by Durban Brewing Company. Epic!

There are many other things and moments I can write about and tell you. But I’ll leave it at this. I could tell you about my food poising, or running along the beach or seeing the stork or about our delightful game drive – but let’s meet up. I’ll tell you over a cup of coffee or a beer. (if you’ve got this far in the blog, thank you!)

To all my friends who I was able to meet up with. Thanks a million for new memories and moments (even though brief) – my heart is filled! 🙂

So, two days, before heading back home, I was ready for it, excited for it, actually.

UK is now home. I missed it. I have started a life here. I have a long way to go (don’t we all?) – but I am glad I have moved to this country. I enjoyed SA, but I don’t miss it too much. God blessed me with a wonderful 35 years of South African experience. But He has give us the world! So I have taken the opportunity to live in a new place!

So it was great to be home, go home, see home. (Home is where the heart is. So carry you heart with you everywhere.) The best part being the quality time with my mom and new memories made. Thank you Jesus for a great opportunity!

PS. If there are any typos or grammar errors, apologies!

All that I’ve got to be thankful for
All that I’ve got to be thankful for
In the heat, try to love these streets


In this town, it all went down
Our chromosomes in sepia tones
In my mind, in my mind

Where you lead your lives
Before from our small island
Brought right back to these shores
To these shores, to these shores

It’s alive, It’s alive
When I see it through your eyes
It’s alive, It’s alive
Now I understand your lives
When you take me there
You show me the city
I see it through your eyes
When you take me there
We drive through the city
Beneath the Durban Skies


(Bastille)

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

God of Miracles (oh so anxious!)

This month has been one of so many lessons in my relationship with God.

At the end of Oct I had this idea to fly to South Africa to surprise my mom. (A few friends I know have sadly lost their moms recently.) So in my gut and soul it just felt right to make this journey. And I’m learning to follow that gut (spirit) more often…

Tickets Booked.

The start of Dec, I had this phrase imprinted on my heart “God of miracles.” (As the mother of Jesus, pondered such things – so did I. Why was that phrase in my thoughts?)

Then Omricon rocked up! Grrr! Borders closed. Flights cancelled. I was bummed for other saffa friends who were planning to visit parents / family too. I was okay, if I had to just wait till April 2022 to see my mom. I knew I would get a refund. But still it would have been good to see my mom…

But in my gut I felt like things would change again before Christmas. Where did that thought / feeling come from?

(The whole time my mom has no idea about my idea.)

I had then made plans to see my friends for new years. I was content and fine with just being in the UK then. But there was that obvious disappointment that hung on in the background…

I told my friend I’m still hoping to go to SA. He said that I’m being too idealistic. That won’t happen. But I just said I felt I have hope that things will change just before Christmas…

Then 14 Dec happens. A lady from my church says to me. “You can still go.”

That night I was in such shock! Really I can go? I rebooked my tickets. Oh my gosh, I actually could still be going.

But then then the cases of covid increase… Would Boris change his mind again? (I was praying so much that God will make him and his team look at the science etc.)

Then the Wed before Christmas, a public announcement goes out. Christmas will go on. No changes will be made… I can relax a little (trying to trust politicians is very precarious.)

Then on Thursday when leading morning prayers, a white dove lands on my window sill. So beautiful. And it felt like a sign. God assuring me. I’m learning to pay attention to these things.

So all was good to go… But the big concern was: would I pass that PCR test? I had passed many lateral flow tests… but this “fear” or anxiety hung over me. Was crazy!

I kept praying. A friend, Joan said I need to declare it in faith. I’m going!

A friend had lent me a medium travel bag. When she gave it to me it was the week that SA and other countries were put on the red list. But I kept it as an act of faith. I would be using it!

Budget wise, I paid for the 24 hour turnaround time of test results, but oh my, the 24th… went on so long… I tried busying myself, I tried distracting myself. After all, it’s a day to focus on Jesus’ birthday…

In the week, I felt so inhuman, I avoided people like the plaque. And that’s not me. I love people. But I just didn’t want to catch any covid from others. Flip, avoiding people is no way to live!

Midnight – still no result! Sure it had only been 14 hours… but still…

Then finally 04:30 am, I woke up and checked my email… woohoo! I got negative! All clear. This is happening!

And so finally Sat 2pm arrives. Catching the coach (bus) to the airport. Then boarding!

What a week! Shaping my faith.

“God of miracles.”

(I also wondered about people who live with anxiety on a regular basis. that’s just tough! For one week, my stomach was in knots, worry consumed my headspace. Definitely, no way to live! )

Sipping that cornish cider in Heathrow just before I took off – was so rewarding! I was going to be taking off!

Then on boxing day around 7pm I got to mom. The delight and surprise with it.

After two and half years I get to have a beer with my mom

This month I’ve learnt to trust in God more. And I’m just grateful for those gut feelings He puts me in. Listening to that deeper places within us.

May your 2021 end well and 2022 is going to be an amazing one! See you on the flip side!

Posted in Faith & Church, People, short story

Two journeys to the stable

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my 100 words per day Advent challenge.  Because I like to write stories and because I want to help add joy, peace and hope to this Christmas season I will embark on this writing voyage. Here in this blog post, I have put them ALL together. I pray this short story will take you on a journey to the Saviour and fill your heart and mind with wonder. We’ll follow two lives: One being a shepherd in AD 0 and the other an accountant in Amble in Northumberland, now in 2021.  We will take a peek into their lives seeing how things unfold as the approach the manger.
(The italic writing are the thoughts of the accountant in Amble.)

LIFE RIGHT NOW

DAY 1 – AD 0
The twilight gives way to the light of dawn.  My body clock is perfectly attuned to getting up at this time daily.  Before I stand, I find a soft patch of grass nearby and get on my knees; to say my morning prayers.  I give thanks God to for my livestock.  As I offer my thanks, I hear them nearby, bleating – as if in agreement. I have a flock of twenty-two sheep.  Another day looking for good pasture.  It seems my life is stuck on repeat.  At least I get to see the others today… 

DAY 2 – AD 2021
My spirit feels unsettled today. I can’t pinpoint what it is; but no time to dilly-dally, it’s almost 7am.  The day is upon me.  I can’t believe it’s already the 2nd!  As I hurry to get the kids up, fed and ready for school – I can already hear the town groaning below. (The paradox of our little place has always made me smile.  The west side shows a world so hasty and noisy… But in the front, it’s vastly different.)
I like Christmas usually, but I’m dreading this year’s one.  It’s the first one without her…   

THE COMMUTE

DAY 3 – AD 0
With my crook in hand, I stood on the ledge and whistled.  It’s remarkable how all their heads lift up and turn in my direction.  They recognise my voice.  So off we headed.  (The last time with Abel and Saar, we had arranged a rendezvous for today.)  We had planned to walk in three different directions with our flock to scout the land and see where the best grazing was.  The areas I explored were barren.

Time with the lads was always good company.  Better doing this job with others than alone.  Turned out the others also had no luck…  

Day 4 – AD 2021
Phew! They’re finally in the car.  Doing this singlehandedly is so difficult.  With Avril and Simon buckled in, we head along Links Road towards the school.  In the rear-view mirror, I noticed Avril gazing out the window looking pensive.  “I miss mommy,” she says.  I wipe the tear that runs down my cheek.  “Me too, my angel.”  Rachel died a mere six months ago.  Stupid cancer!  “Hey, look daddy, it’s a dolphin!”  Simon blurts out.  Avril and I both look to where he points.  He is five and his sister is eight.  He is definitely dealing with Rachel’s absence differently.      

STATE OF THE WORLD

Day 5 – AD 0
Abel, Saar and I found a vantage point where we took a breather, allowing our flocks to roam nearby.  Besides not finding great pasture, we also shared of how we sensed a tension in the surrounding regions.  Something in the air was different.  There was a hostility and despair among the local villages.  The Roman Empire was getting stronger and the people were getting anxious and fearful.  Neighbours were skittish with one another.  Townsfolk were less hospitable.  In the past, we were sometimes offered a drink or a meal – but not now! Now, people just ignored us.  Society was sick! 

Day 6 – DEC AD 2021
It’s been heck of a year!  With Rachel’s passing.  And this bloody covid.  Closed borders.  The uncertainty.  When will this end?  I feel emotionally heavy.  Back to wearing masks again.  The hollow in my heart is noticeable.  Crying won’t bring her back.  I’m not angry with God.  But I am in no mood to celebrate His birth into the world.  But yet still, I am on my knees with my kids, each night, praying for strength.  Praying for Him to look after our beloved mum / wife.  How do people go through tragedy without God, baffles me? God, I’m hurting.
 

JOYS OF THE JOB

Day 7 – AD 0
But it’s not all doom and gloom.  In everything there is joy to be found.  In our culture (Hebrew) we believe everything is spiritual. We have this deep connectedness to the earth and God sits quietly behind all things.  As shepherds, out in the countryside, away from the city and villages, the only lights we see are those of the stars.  Some nights, we just lay down looking up.  It’s breath-taking!  Often, we don’t need to say anything.  The silence is enough.  And it’s in those moments it almost seems we can feel God’s heartbeat. A silent night, holy night. 

Day 8 – AD 2021
Simon is right.  The dolphins here are amazing!  As I told you earlier, the one side of the apartment overlooks the busy street, but the other has a breath-taking view of the bay.  There aren’t many accountants in Amble so gratefully that allows for me to have a big clientele.  With the government suggesting that we stay at home and work – I have enjoyed the office setup I have made in the dining room.  I can peer over my laptop and gaze out to the sea.  The morning sunshine spills in and today the dolphins are at it again.

WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?

Day 9 – AD 0
The others had drifted to sleep.  The occasional sheep bleated into the night.  Sleep had overtaken us, yet I lay there wide awake.  A question poking at me:  What is this all about?  We tend to our flock each day, then in season we sheer the sheep and sometimes sell their meat too. We get by.  But to what end?  It feels good to provide for our families.  Then the restlessness in the towns.  The cruel reign of the Romans.  Demanding too much.  Greed always seems to be at the centre of all hurt. There must be more to this?

Day 10 – AD 2021
My emotions are a seesaw.  Some days are so hard.  I know we’ll all live on in her honour.  It takes time.  I imagine her looking down on us. 
It’s strange at Christmas time, it seems that many people are busy-ing themselves – in order not to do with stuff that is happening below their surface.  What is this all for? 
Then, I looked out at the North Sea below. It dawned on me – we pass on love.  As if it were a baton.  That’s what I’ll do.  Her love for our kids – I can pass that on.

THIS SAVIOUR

DAY 11 – AD 0
I startled awake.  I’ve been speaking of the despair in the surrounding regions.  But in my dreams, I see a Figure bathed in light saying to me: ‘What about me?’
What was that?  I sat there, watching the morning light creep over the horizon.  I think back upon my recent wanderings and my previous knowledge.  The ancient words and people have mentioned the coming of a Saviour?  He would rescue us. We’d be free.

Saar and Abel got up soon after me.  I told them about my dream.  They also have heard about this Saviour? But when would He appear?

DAY 12 – AD 2021
Around 2pm I need to go fetch the kids.  To avoid the traffic by the school, I park just on the other end of Queen Street, along Bridge Street.  I’ve always liked that walk along the high street, feeling connected to others, with casual greetings and taking in the hive of activity around me.  I noticed this vacant store on my right.  In the window, stencilled in with that glitter to give that snow effect is the word: HOPE.  I definitely need that.  I, then subconsciously veered off towards St Cuthbert’s Church.  I ventured in and sat in the silence…

UNEXPECTED MOMENTS OF KINDNESS

DAY 13 – AD 0
So, you probably assume that we Shepherds are a kind of ragtag type of people?  I don’t blame you.  We don’t carry a change of clothes and don’t get to wash every day.  It’s part of the job. 
But there we are on a nondescript Monday and we come across this little boy.  He seemed sad.  Abel crouches by him and chats to him.  Then he gives the boy one of his sheep and sends him away.  Saar and I stand there aghast.  Abel shrugs, “What? His family were hungry. God has blessed us with so much.” Wow, such kindness! 

Day 14 – AD 2021
After I left that church, my soul stirred – I fetched the kids, I love that daily ritual as we walk up the high street, both Avril and Simon recalling their day.  As we neared the car, we observed an unexpected scene…
An elderly lady had dropped her shopping bag spilling the contents as she was crossing the street – a teen wearing a hoodie and joggers (how often I usually judge that look) ran towards her, stopped the cars and helped her gather the things carrying them to the other side.  He also got her another bag.  Such kindness!

 HARD TO BELIEVE IN THE UNSEEN

DAY 15 – AD 0
I feel so complex sharing my story with you.  Because sometimes, I feel like a yo-yo with my emotions and thoughts.  We wander this wilderness and at times, I feel as if God is right there with us: the stars displaying His glory and the silence showing us His heartbeat.  But then the murmurs of the villages… have me wrapped up in doubt.  The things we were taught from the Torah growing up, filled me with hope… but now: where is this God?  A saviour they said? My dream, the other night?   “It’s difficult to believe when You remain, unseen.” 

DAY 16 – AD 2021
I hit an all-time low today.  The kids are sleeping.  But I am wide awake on this sofa with my grief.  ‘She’s not coming back.  She’s not coming back…’
‘God, where are You?  It’s so hard to believe in You when I can’t see you and when life is so riddled with pain.’

The wind drives the rain against the windows, the pitter-patter of the raindrops sounds aggressive matching my anguish.
There are pretty Christmas lights strewn across the houses of our street, but still the people look so glum.  Why so, who did they lose? Christmas spirit, yeah right…

THE VISITATION

DAY 17 – AD 0
It was rather unusual – we see thousands of stars every night, but this one; it was strikingly bright!
There we were, our hearts a tug-of-war of downtrodden and hope.
All of sudden, it seemed a hole in the night-time sky was opened and there They were. ‘Do not be afraid, we bring you good news.’  The Angels proceeded to tell us about the long-awaited Saviour to be born in Bethlehem. That wasn’t too far from where we were.
And you know what, we were the first they talked to about the coming Messiah?
So humbled – God sees us.

DAY 18 – AD 2021
Another Christmas, I didn’t want another familiar Nativity play.  I needed something more, something real.  One Saturday, Simon begs to take his sister and I down to the beach.  He wanted to show us something.
He tells us to look out to the sea.  Standing between Avril and I, holds our hands, staring hard as if trying to will something out of the water. And then, they appear, three or four dolphins.
Then Simon pulls out a pendent from his pocket.  It’s of a dolphin.  ‘Mummy says when I see the dolphins, I can be sure she is near.’ Priceless!

EVEN ME?

DAY 19 – AD 0
Saar just sat there.  ‘We must go see this baby.’ I spoke.  ‘Messiah’ added Abel.
There we were the weight of the moment between us.
Saar speaks ‘I have dreamt that a Saviour would come.  That the ancient prophecies were actually true.  But I’m not worthy…’ and he goes on to list his many mistakes.
I extend my arm lifting him to his feet and quote the prophet Isaiah, ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’
‘Even me’ Saar muses.
I reply, ‘Even me.’

DAY 20 – AD 2021
There at the seaside, seeing the dolphins playing – God met me in my pain.  ‘Your fingerprints have been all over my life, I just didn’t realise it.’ I muse. Avril squeezes my hand in agreement.
Simon retells how in the hospital in her final week, Rachel gave him the pendent.
I had given it to her ten years prior on a trip in Tenerife.
It was the first time I had told her; I loved her.  She replied, ‘Even me.’
That cute little reply became our thing.
Avril read the moment well, smiled and said: ‘Even me.’  Thank you Jesus!

THE JOURNEY

DAY 21 – AD 0
Our steps were lighter.  A weight had come off our shoulders and we hadn’t even met Him yet.  We were overcome by joy.
I noticed lizards scurry across the rocks.  I saw little shoots had burst through the arid ground.  Some stars shot across the sky too.  It was as if creation was excited as well.
How was a baby to help? (I wondered.) As if reading my thoughts, Abel declared, “This is God stepping into our humanity.”
And Saar added, “He has indeed seen the misery of His people.”
Our journey went quickly.
And then, we saw the star…

DAY 22 – AD 2021
My shoulders felt lighter.  I will always miss her, of course. And yes, there will still be those difficult days.
But I had felt seen by God.  He has stepped into my world vividly.
All three of us carried little pieces of Rachel in us.
We would live well, because that’s what she’d have wanted.
And more than that, the gift of daily life that God has given.
That Christmas eve, we stood together in the little church, holding our Christingles and sang:

“Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings”
Our journey could continue…

THE HOLINESS

DAY 23 – AD 0
I remember entering the stable and being surprised.  It was fairly crowded.
There were magi there from the East.  The mom, dad and the Child.  There were even some animals inside.  (Our very own sheep wanted a peek of this King too.)
Every so often the baby would burst into tears.
But how Mary (I found out that was the mom’s name) held Him.  So tender and mild.  You could feel the adoration.
I can’t quite put my finger on it.
But there was a certain holiness about the place.
The hay, manure and dung didn’t distract from the awe.

DAY 24 – AD 2021
Our house is quiet.
The kids will be awake soon.
I am sitting here with a cup of coffee.
And I look out to the darkness.
I know the sea is below.   Although I can’t see it yet.
(There is probably a lesson in there.)

The sun may shine.  Or it may be a grey day.
But still.  It will be beautiful day.  Christmas day!
In this quiet I sense a holiness.
Jesus is born.
Here in this moment.
It’s been a journey to get to this moment.
The loss and memories of Rachel.
But He has started the healing.

JOY IS HERE

DAY 25 – AD continuous…

Joy is here
Joy is here

Don’t miss the significance of this day.
Embrace the holiness of it.
As the shepherds who met the Saviour all those years ago.
As the widower up in Northumberland has started his journey of healing.
We too are on a journey
In the thick of life.
The rising cases of Omicron.
The rollercoaster of emotions

Joy is here
Joy is here

We celebrate Jesus’ birth all those years ago.
But He can be born in us. Everyday.
Faith, Hope and Love Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

Every December – Matrics are going to die…

I saw the title of this article the other day:

(I confess, I didn’t read the article.) But just the title, upset me!
Again, some more senseless deaths.
So young. Adult life was just about to begin…

In South Africa, I think how it’s the same every year…
(I am not saying it’s the case in this above incident.)

But may these three deaths be a wake up call!
This may have been a genuine accident!

But to the others who think they are invincible, you’re not!
Don’t drink and drive
Don’t text and drive
Don’t show off and drive

Life is a fragile. Life is a gift!

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, Poetry and Prose

Visiting

St Mary’s Church, Bletchley, UK

The prophet of old
Says as the snow always hits the ground
So it is with You, Your word
Stepping into our world
In the voids in us
Those spaces of longing
Those spaces of loneliness
Those spaces of emptiness
You are visiting
You are filling them up
Advent is here again,
Yet, You have always been here
But I turn that truth on and off
Life a light switch,
Oh Light of the world,
May your light seem under the door
Through the cracks
In every nook and cranny
Sometimes things weigh heavy
But your burden is light
Sometimes as the snow visits
A visual reminder
Of You in the midst
I need these visitations more often
Because I am so forgetful and fickle
The endless sermon of creation
Always pointing to the Creator

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life

Capturing the Day

I wish you could have seen what I saw
My windscreen become a gallery
Of ever changing beautiful scenes
As I drove on, the picture changing
But all filled with such joy!

I see the road ahead with me, bordered by a thousand leaves
The vivid blue sky peaking through the trees
Trees that are becoming bare, losing their foliage
A stark contrast, and the sunshine getting in on the act too.

As the cars ahead of me drive, the leaves are churned up
The wind catches them and blows them across the road
My car drives through the spray of leaves
It’s as if everything is feeling the joy of this day,
A dance of nature and machine

I think about just before I stepped in the car
As we walked from the hall to the church
The wonder of the blue sky day
And the crisp chill in the air

We’re in single digits now, brrr!
That wind blows through
Thankful for warm coats
My soul is alive!

Could we paint these scenes in our minds
For the times to come
When the grey looms and lingers
The darkness hovers.

But there will always be the memory of blue sky,
Sunshine and everlasting joy
Let us not forget.
Because these picturesque moments will carry us through.