Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Have Faith

The end of 2017 is approaching so fast! It feels as if I am on board of a hurtling train and it is scary. Most of us,I am sure are feeling pressured on so many levels. Financially, politically, environmentally and personally we are subjected to trials and tribulations. We may be  feeling overwhelmed by all the problems and choices we are facing. It may feel as if we are being pulled in a hundred different directions at once. It is at such times we often feel like giving up hope. The words, "what is the use?", echo through our thoughts. Doubt and fear stretch their ugly tentacles out into our thoughts and threathen to take our hearts and dreams hostage. We may even become skeptical. Being skeptical is the archenemy of hope, it taints our beliefs and shackles our joy. We often hide our fear of failure, of getting hurt behind the ugly mask of skepticism. It is the armour of somebody who is scared of their own vulnerability. It is their hideout from disappointment. If this is how you are feeling I want to tell you about a powerful antidote. No, I cannot give you any guarantees that you will not be hurt, or that you will be successful or be given all the right answers. I cannot make any promises. However, I can tell you that this antidote will lift your spirit, it will give you peace and it will guide you. It is faith. Faith casts away fear, and it tramples despair. Faith lifts us on wings of hope and it restores our energy. Have faith that God will guide you, He will answer your prayers and when you walk close to him he will protect your heart. Listen, listen closely...hear the whisper : have faith.

Monday, 2 October 2017

I Choose Beauty

October.  The most beautiful month.  That is what a South African poet, C. Louis Leipoldt, called October and I have to agree with him.  This morning when I woke up I was aware of the soft sunlight just tinting the grey morning sky and birds were happily twittering outside our bedroom window.  Their song of gratitude humbled me.  They are filled with such joy and they trust implicitly in the goodness of the day to come.

In my garden I have a pot with violets.  They give a delightful splash of colour to the surroundings still struggling to shake the grip of the drought.  Their gay purple blooms lift my spirit.  On closer inspection I notice that some of the leaves are bruised and broken and some of the petals have blemishes.  Yet, despite these imperfections, it is a beautiful display joy and abundance, a testimony of the beautiful creation of God.  Amongst the blooms I notice a spider spinning its web, I see a worm wriggling deeper into the ground and I behold how a butterfly gently settles on one of the flowers. Its yellow spotted wings quivering in the light breeze.

Looking at this microcosm, I realized that it resembles our lives.  Each of us is a flower planted in the garden of life.  Everyone of us has a few blemishes, some of us are a bit broken or bruised, we have worms and spiders in our soil and amongst our leaves, but that is not the sum total of who we are.  We are also beautiful, we have a sweet fragrance and we can give shelter and sustenance to others.  Most of us are quick to notice the faults and mistakes of others, we enjoy pointing out their weaknesses and revel in their misfortune.  We seldom look for the good in others. We appoint ourselves as judges over the lives of others and pat ourselves on the shoulder, because we are so perfect.  In the process, we become destroyers of beauty.  We are like a swarm of locusts that devour everything in our path.  Where does it stop?
It stops with me.  Today I will choose beauty.  I will search for that which is good.  I will hold onto every morsel of goodness and I will celebrate even the tiniest piece of beauty crossing my path.  We are all a little bit fragile, delicate like the wings of a butterfly.  I will be a shelter for all who need a haven from the storms, and even though my petals are a bit blemished I will still bloom as beautifully as possible in order to be a witness of my Creator.  Even if the whole world only see my imperfections, my Creator knows the very essence of my being and I was good enough for Him.

Today, please choose beauty with me.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

As Constant As The Wind...

Change.  It is a word we are all familiar with.  It is a condition we have all experienced in some way or another.  It is something most of us resent or resist.  Yet it is the one thing in life which is inevitable.  Every single day, every single minute we are in a process of change.  Seasons change, people change, climates change, political parties change, we are surrounded by change, it is interwoven into the very fabric of our lives.  Most of it is so subtle, the effect of it is only visible ten years down the line, some of it is radical, sudden, catching us by surprise. 
Change is the one constant in Life.  Whether we welcome change with open arms or try to resist it with all our being, every change comes with its joys and its regrets.  We gain something and we lose something, it is like the ocean tide with its high and low tides. 
Change cannot be avoided, all we can alter is how we adapt to it and how we utilize it.  A quote from Richard Bach says it so well:  "What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the Master calls the butterfly", it is all about point of view.
Every encounter we have in life, every situation we find ourselves in brings about change in us, but also in those we pass by.  Do we bring about positive change, or do I deposit seeds of destruction? Realizing that we are part of the process of the constant change taking place, helps us understand the responsibility that comes with it.  We will most likely never know what change it is that we have helped create in others, we will never be able to press the "undo" button, therefore it is important that we tread carefully in the lives of others.
Contemplating "change" makes me again realize how precious "now" is.  "Now" is what we have, appreciate it, enjoy it, love it, LIVE it.  It never comes this way again.  That is why I am now going to post this and going to hug my husband who is here NOW!
I leave you with this well known quote from Reinhold Niebuhr:
"God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The Courage to change the things I can'
And the Wisdom to know the difference."

If you flutter by here, please feel free to share some changes you've had to face in your life and what has been the result of it.  I'll be happy to hear from you.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

A Little Fragile

Butterflies enchant us with their beauty.  The way they float effortlessly on the breeze captivate our attention.  Butterflies are often depicted in jewelry items, made from delicate silver or exquisite gold.  They are painted in soft pastels or vibrant colours.  They carved from wood or gently formed from clay or porcelain.  It does not matter what they are made from, they remain an object of beauty and they are all a little fragile.
It is a quality we as humans share with these sweet creatures. Fragility.  We are all a little fragile.  On the outside we often seem strong and even a little fierce, but beneath that hardy exterior most of us are fragile to some degree or other.  
However, in this fast-paced, dog-eat-dog world we have become insensitive to people's feelings.  We expect them to handle anything that is thrown their way.  Being rude has become the new "funny".  Our so-called "speaking-the-truth" is nothing more than an excuse for being tactless. We disregard people who are sensitive, and view them as being weak.  
Relationships and friendships are fragile, because they are made up out of flawed and fragile people.  Often we take our relationships and our friendships for granted.  We fail to recognize them as precious and not easily replaceable.  In our easily disposable world we think that we can replace any relationship as easily as we can pick a can of beans off the supermarket shelf.  We believe -erroneously- that being in a relationship entitles us to treat our partner or friend with disrespect, selfishness and abuse, whether it be physically, verbally or emotionally.  We believe it is our right to take and give little in return.  
However, I was brought up to value every relationship for its special brand of uniqueness.  One of the things my sister-in-law taught me as a little girl was to keep your friendliness cheap, but your friendship expensive.  It took me a very long time to understand that, but today I still apply that rule to my relationships.   I am friendly towards anybody crossing my path, but quite careful when engaging in any relationship.   However, once I have formed a friendship, I try to be a friend for life.  Even when distance separates me from my friends, I keep them in my heart and prayers.  Every relationship, every friendship I have ever had, has been valuable to me.  I carry their fragrance with me, entangled within my soul. I hold them still dear.  I have learned from them, grown through them and celebrate them.

Every relationship, whether it is romantic, parental or platonic, is built on  five cornerstones.  These are:
Companionship - togetherness, sharing similar interests as well as supporting the other person's interests. Mutual respect and trust are key components of any companionship.
Conversation - Being honest and open with one another.  Telling your friend/s how you feel, but also listening.
Compassion - It goes beyond caring about the other person, it involves being tolerant of their faults, forgiving their mistakes and being sensitive to their issues.
Comedy - Laughter is the best medicine, they say.  Relationships need humour. Being able to laugh at ourselves, each other as well as with one another is essential to our well-being.  Laughter relieves stress.  A smile can reach across a divide.  Humour can strengthen the bonds of a friendship.
Counsel - this is a very valuable part of any relationship. Advice from somebody who has our best interests at heart is valuable beyond measure.  Loving guidance gives us a feeling of security and worth.  

Unfortunately, some relationships are not meant to last.  Some are only seasonal.  People pass through our lives for a brief moment, like a shooting star.  Even these I value, although they often leave me sad.  They leave with a part of me.  I very seldom forge friendships without caring deeply.  My mother taught us to be careful with people's feelings lest we trample their wings, thus I try to tread softly through their lives. I try to be a balm for their hurt and a breeze beneath their fragile wings.  I always try to let the sun into their lives, and to help them to fly away from the shadows. 

Yet, sometimes that is not enough.  Despite one's best efforts, some relationships have a Best Before Date. I never thought so before.  I always believed that if I give my best, if I am the least, tolerant and forgave easily any friendship should last a lifetime. It seems that I was wrong.  Sometimes my wings are also a bit fragile.  I do not handle rejection well.  Then I came across something Celeste Erlach wrote:
"Not all friendships are meant to endure, and that’s OK. As much as I wish I could make everyone happy and be lifelong friends with everyone, it’s not realistic. I’m going to embrace my lifetime relationships. I will encourage my season relationships. And I’m going to be grateful for my reason relationships." http://www.scarymommy.com )

Thus, today I would like to say thank you to my Lifetime friends, I love you, you are simply amazing, even if we so seldom spend time together, you are always within my heart, my fondest memories.  To my friends of a season, be it Spring, Summer, Winter or Autumn, the scent of you will always linger, you still fill my thoughts with the beauty of your being.  And those of you who passed through my life for a reason, I hope you too met me to fulfill a purpose in your lives.  Be blessed one and all!

Monday, 7 August 2017

More Than Rubies

We, as humans, like to evaluate everything in life.  We learn from birth to attach a certain value to things.  We attach price tags to everything.  We weigh and calculate everything from the physical to the spiritual according to our own and other people's standards. We even equate time with money.  Sadly, we even measure our own self-worth and usually find ourselves unworthy by the world's standards.  We judge ourselves and summarily dismiss ourselves as unworthy.  Discarded and de-valued.

However, when God evaluates us, He considers our value as far above that of rubies.  Rubies in Sanskrit are called Ratnaraj, meaning King of precious stones.  Rubies were worn by royalty and a highly sought after gem. They are valued for their stunning beauty as well as the mystical powers associated with them. They were believed to bestow success, wealth and protection as well as wisdom, and power to the wearer.  Some say that the ruby is the most precious of the twelve stones created by God.  Therefore, when the Lord says that we are more precious than rubies, we are indeed valuable. 

In Proverbs we read that a good wife's value is far more than rubies.  A woman is more valuable than a crown of precious rubies, she is an asset for above material value, priceless.  If the Lord, the Creator of all, the Creator of women, attach such a high value to us, we have no right to judge ourselves by worldly standards and label ourselves as worthless, or as not good enough.  We are good enough, we are precious and it is our duty to raise our daughters as women who acknowledge their own self-worth.  We have to teach our daughters to believe in their own worthiness, to value themselves as precious.  

Let us during this month re-evaluate ourselves through the eyes of our Maker and realize that we have been wonderfully and uniquely created.  We are extraordinary human beings and have so much to contribute to life and to our families.  Let us celebrate the beauty of being a woman.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Blessed Are The Meek

I woke up this morning to a beautiful mild winter's day. I always feel invigorated early in the morning, excited for the day to come.  I am usually the first person to wake up, even before the alarm clock.  So I took the time to read my scripture for the day.  It came from Matthew 5:5 (NIV)

"Blessed are the meek for,  they will inherit the earth."

 As I was contemplating this, the early morning news came on and brought with it reports of war, industrial strikes, murders and retaliations. I realized how far we as a human race have strayed from the concept of being 'meek'.  The world we are living in today teaches us to take a stand for our human rights.  We march the streets with placards shouting slogans against every conceivable infringement of our rights. Often these protests result in violence and riots.  In the name of our rights we break one another down, we plunder and destroy. In the name of human rights criminals, rapists and murderers have more rights than the victims of the crime.  Of course I am not against human rights and standing up for them, but I am wondering if how we go about it, is really the way we should do it?

Think again about this sentence: 

"Blessed are the meek..."

Most people understand meekness to mean weakness.  We think of somebody who is meek as a person without spunk, unable to think for himself, feeble, dull and powerless.  Yet when we look at the Bible's definition of meek we discover a totally different scenario.  The Bible translates "meekness" as "strength under control".  When a person is thus referred to as "meek', it does not imply that he is weak, but rather that he is a person who has control over his actions, his temper and his reactions.  Meekness is one of the fruits of the Spirit and through an attitude of meekness we testify that the Spirit of the Lord is at work within and through us.  Moses was one of the most influential people of the Bible, yet he is said to have been a meek servant of God.  He had submitted himself to the Lord's will and obeyed His decrees with patience and humility.

Being meek does not mean that we allow the world to walk all over us, or give people the right to take advantage of us.  It does not mean that we condone injustice or persecution, or are too weak to stand by our beliefs and convictions.  It means that we submit our will to the will of God.  Our actions are governed by our faith and our submission to the Spirit of God.  When we take action it is always under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

It is easy to go out into the world with fists flying, cursing and standing our ground with a show of power.  We are quick to threaten, we write long letters to the newspapers about injustices and we sue those who wrong us with ease.  It is far more difficult to control our tempers, and to seek the Lord's guidance.  Being meek and gentle go directly against what the world demands that we do.  Yet, if we act with meekness, when we exhibit strength under control, our reward will be peace as is promised in 

Psalms 37:11 - But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Go then, walk in the strength of meekness and gentleness, and conquer your adversaries by the power of the Spirit within you.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Come along, let's run!

So, you want to become a runner?
Well, if you are anything like me, you would answer "It is something I have dreamed about, but me, run, NEVER!"
Today, people find it hard to believe that I never used to run.  They are astounded that I evolved from walking 2 minutes and running 1 minute, to running marathons.  To tell you the truth, so am I!  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would be possible!  Four years ago I would have called you crazy for even just thinking I could run 5k's!

So how did I do it?  This is a question I am often asked.  First of all, I am NO expert.  Any advice or information I share I only share from personal experience and nothing more.  However, this morning at our local parkrun I was once again asked how did I do it, thus I decided to share some thoughts on running, here on my blog.

My journey started three years ago when my daughter announced that she would love to do one of the world's most beautiful half marathons, the Two Ocean's in Cape Town.  However, she did not want to do it alone, and as we know mothers never want to disappoint our children, so I said that I will do it with her...

...as soon as I said it, the shock set in.  The first thing I did the following Monday was to visit our doctor.  So MOST importantly - go see your doctor, tell him about your plan and let him do a full health assessment.  I was declared healthy if not fit. (I think I was secretly hoping he would declare me insane!)

Walking out there I was at a loss of how to proceed further.  Any previous attempt at running I had made started with me running at full speed out of our yard and collapsing near death three blocks down the road, thus ending with me declaring that running was not for me!  Now, I realized that I needed a plan.  At the beginning of the year my sister-in-law had sent me a walk/run program.  I went home looking for it and started following it.

So, after getting yourself checked out by a physician, the second thing to do, is to find a good program suited to your needs.  I am a firm believer in the walk/run program for novices like myself.  It slowly but steadily introduces a person to running, keeping injuries and despair at bay.  Jeff Galloway is the father of this program and I share the link to his website below.  Please check it out.


The very next day, April 2014, I started the program.  I still remember that it was quite a hot day and I felt as if the 1 minute running was never going to end.  Half an out later I was back home, having done 20 minutes of walking and 10 minutes of running.  My journey had started.

The third most important piece of advice I have to give you is this:  DO NOT put it off.  Get out there now, and DO IT!  I forced myself to stick to the program by setting a reminder on my phone for every time I have to go train, and no matter what I was busy with at the time, I would stop doing it and go run.

As my daughter and I are living more than a 100km apart, we were not able to run together, but as soon as either of us went for our run we would let the other one know.  It helped to keep us motivated and focused on our mutual goal.  So, my fourth piece of advice: get yourself a running buddy or supporter.  Share your goal with them and enlist their help to motivate you.  Joining a running club is a good idea. Running with like-minded people is inspiring.  Often helpful advice is shared among the members.  Running in a group helps those kilo's to pass by in the blink of an eye. No, you do not have to be a strong runner before you join a club.  Running clubs are always happy to help novices in the sport.

That is it for today.  I hope this has helped and inspired you to take up the sport of running.  Watch this blog for some more thoughts on running next week.  I leave you with this thought:

Thursday, 20 July 2017

You Are Worthy!

We live in a time of financial upheaval.  The cost of living is rising at an alarming rate.  When comparing the prices of goods from a year ago to today's prices it is clear that everything has increased considerably.  Money is very important in our daily lives and we are constantly looking for ways to make more money as well as ways to save money.  We want the best possible product and service for as little money as possible.  We value most things in terms of their monetary value.  However, we are all aware that there are many things which money cannot buy.  Yet we still attach a certain value to it.

We even weigh ourselves and attach a value label to ourselves.  Sadly, we most often de-value ourselves. We think of ourselves as unworthy.  I have an art student who has really made phenomenal progress in a very short time.  I asked her recently why she is not using her sketchbook, but only draws on scrap pieces of paper?  Her answer was that she was not good enough yet to spoil the pages in her sketchbook.  I asked her when she thought she would be "good enough"?  She did not answer me, but I could see the answer in her eyes: "never".  She will never think of herself as good enough to draw in her sketchbook.  She deemed her work and talent unworthy of a R60 sketchpad.

Most of us are guilty of this.  We under-value ourselves.  We wait for somebody to put a stamp of approval on our work, we wait for an award or the accolade of people before we would think of ourselves or our work as good enough.  We compare our work, our talents and ourselves to others and according to our own observations, we attach a price tag to our efforts.  A price tag which states "not good enough"!  We believe that we have to earn the approval of others to be worthy.  We believe that, only if, we are first over the line, or in the top of our class or made president of the company or get the award for achiever of the year have we earned the right to make a mark on the sketch pad of our lives.

This misguided evaluation of ourselves leads to disappointment and despair.  We start to believe that we are a failure.  In the end, we give up trying and we give up on our dreams.  Yes, it is important to measure ourselves in order to take note of our progress and to evaluate the areas where we may have to improve.  We have to take stock of our abilities and our weaknesses in order to determine the areas of our lives which we have to still develop further, but it is important to give ourselves recognition and to evaluate ourselves fairly.  We have to give ourselves credit and reward ourselves along the way.  Be proud of your own achievements and progress.  Value yourself for the uniquely gifted person you are.  Above all acknowledge that you are worthy.  Come on, take out that blank book you have been saving, and make your mark in it with a bold hand!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tribute to Mr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandel

                            Today is the birthday of one of the world's most amazing human beings,                              Mr. Nelson Mandela, and I would like to share a poem I have written after                 his death in December 2013.

Tribute to Mr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Rejoice people of Thembu,
lift your hands and shout, Mvezo,
for a child of pride and joy
has been born
in your humble village.

Lift your head, oh Africa,
hold your breath and wait,
deliverance is on your doorstep,
justice is awaiting its day.

A young cub has risen,
a mighty lion has roared
and his touch has transformed
the hearts of all races,
bringing democracy
to our dark continent.

Son of Africa,
prisoner and president,
father of a mighty nation,
we honour you.

You filled our eyes
with a new vision,
you brought hope
to your children,
reconcilliation and peace
were upon your lips.

Today we mourn,
we bow our heads and pray:
Nkosi sikelel' iAfica,
Hamba Kahle, Madiba.

© Charmaine Fourie, All rights reserved.