One person who gives me hope in SA is: Nicky Kemele Nicky is one of our 33 amazing foster mothers at Home from Home - an organisation which sets up and runs supported and supervised community based foster homes for vulnerable children in the Western Cape. Nicky was our very first foster mother when we started Home from Home ten years ago in 2005. Nicky, who was working as a nanny for a family in Fish Hoek, started volunteering at a children's home in Khayelitsha where she lives, in 2003. That¹s where she first found out about becoming a foster mom with Home from Home. Nicky says that she was inspired to foster by her own mother back in the Eastern Cape. Her mom had been orphaned at the age of two, and was bought up by other people, often under very cruel circumstances, and at one stage ended up living outside eating with the dogs as no one was caring for her properly. Believing that no child should have to grow up as her mother did, Nicky wanted to make a difference in the lives not just of children who needed a loving home, but also to make a difference in her own and her mom's life. And she has done just that. Five children who came into her care in 2005 are still with her today, together with another girl who joined their family in 2010. Nicky loves her foster children just as much as she loves her own grown up children. Two years ago, Nicky's mom died, but she was so proud of what her daughter had achieved; creating a loving family home for children who have no families of their own. Though Nicky's story is a one-off, our other 32 foster mothers all have their own reasons for taking on this most precious of challenges - caring for children who are not their own by birth. Sadly, there are many children in South Africa who need foster care and a place to call home. Nicky and her sisterhood of foster mothers give us all hope in this incredible country of ours. [as shared by Pippa Shaper] You can learn more about Home from Home by visiting their site over here. Who is someone that YOU think is doing something positive in South Africa that gives you hope. Drop me a line at email@example.com and let's talk about how you can get their story up here... [To read another story of hope, this time that of John McInroy and the red socks, click here]
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So by now you know that there is a book launch on the way [19 and 21 March in Cape Town] and spots are filling up and held by RSVP so make sure you book a spot or show interest for the S West/Stell home launch to be announced.
But what is it all about? Besides church…
Well, with three weeks to go, i thought i would drop a little bit of a teaser so you can get an idea.
In many ways this is a book written for people who love Jesus but have been hurt by the church somewhere along the way and so are a little wary of being associated with one any more… trying to be ‘christians without church’…
In other ways this is a book written for those who attend a church service once a week and yet are not necessarily seeing the transformation in their lives and in the lives of those around them and so on some senses might have slipped into a kind of ‘going through the motions’…
And for everyone in between, this is hopefully a challenge or an encouragement or a breath of fresh air or some inspiration towards some ways you can get your creativity on in terms of life to the full and seeing the kingdom of God grow itself here on earth as it is in heaven.
Not all of it is for everyone, but if you are a follower of Jesus, then i’m pretty sure there is at least something in here for you, hopefully of a significant nature.
Here is a short taste from early on in the book.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
‘That is maybe how it is with the church sometimes. That it is not always intentional. Sometimes it is just through not saying it as opposed to deliberately holding it back. Usually it is because the church is made up of messy, broken people who have been hurt and who hurt, all the while trying to get it right, for the most part.
And so we end up at a place that, if we’re completely honest with ourselves, looks a lot like Augustine might have suggested when he said, “The church is a whore, but she’s my mother”. One of the biggest problems we face, I think, is that some people get way too hung up on “the church is a whore” part while others get way too protective of the “church is my mother” bit. So we are left with a ‘them’ and an ‘us’ no matter which side we stand:
# The church is the best thing in the world, ever.
# The church is the worst thing in the world, ever.
Both sides are right. And both sides are wrong.
The purpose of this book is to hopefully invite each side to take a few steps close to “the other” so that we can move away from that kind of language and mindset altogether. There are enough people both inside and outside the church, who are quick to throw stones at it. Whether we see it as the building or the people or the meeting or the tradition, it has become an easy target.
What is going to be more helpful is if we can take a step back from the muck, put any kind of frustrations or anger or resentment or bitterness aside, and start to look a little harder, listen a little more closely and return to the One who this church thing is all about. Maybe then we’ll truly be able to kiss hating [or just really, really, really not liking] the church goodbye.
You see, it was never meant to be a concept… or an organisation… or a meeting… it was meant to be an organism – living, breathing, causing revolution, pointing people towards Jesus, and turning the world on its head.
Maybe you don’t see it like that. Maybe you’ve never seen it like that. I urge you to read this book with an open mind. Head back with me to scripture and see what God says about the church – His plan and idea and mission for it.
Because maybe once you’ve really seen that, you will find a whole host of new reasons to love being an active engaging communitytransforming member of this living Church.’
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
i would love to see you at one of the Book Launches… and if you’re in KZN or even Oakland, USA, get hold of me, cos we are hoping to be dropping in there for a book share of your own…
[For an excellent post on the idea of your church map possibly being wrong, take a read of this one]
I’m single and I love it! Sometimes… Sometimes not so much. Valentine’s day has just been and gone and, while it’s not an occasion that I’ve ever taken very seriously, it does bring one’s singleness to the forefront of one’s mind. I was walking through the shops last Friday (the day before Valentine’s) and saw all the people selling roses and stuff like that. There was a part of me that just wanted to buy one and give it to the next person I saw. There are times like this when I feel like I’m bursting with love and have no appropriate outlet.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about singleness since I started writing this thing and it surprised me just how much I wanted to say. Most of the time I’m hardly even aware of my lack of relationship (I’m a slightly outgoing introvert and a bit of a loner, I spend a lot of time in my own little world). I’ve tried to remove a lot of the rambling, and I’m sorry for the bits that are still left but a lot of this is me sifting through my feelings and trying to find coherent thoughts.
A bit of background, I was in a very serious, long term relationship for a bit over 5 years, from around the age of 20 to 25. I was in love, certain I would marry this girl and then it became clear I wouldn’t. Breaking up with her was quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There was just so much history and comfort with her that it was tempting to stay with her and ignore the problems. Without going into details, I can look at my life now, sometimes lonely, sometimes scared for the future but also knowing that the choice was right. Remarkably, our friendship survived, something that still amazes me (a testament to her kindness).
Which brings us to now: I’m 30 and still single, what a terrifying concept! Sometimes I feel like I’m staring down the path of time and looking at a 50 year old bachelor, coming home to an empty house and I feel more than a little despair! Watching my friends’ kids growing up doesn’t help… Then I look at what I’ve given up in the past for what I have now, future me can worry about the rest. I have a relationship with God that was all but forgotten while I gave my attention to a girl. I know Him in a way I couldn’t before and, for that alone, I’d give up much more than a relationship. I may not get to build my own family but I’m part of a family far bigger than any I could build myself.
I’d be lying if I said I was content but I am mostly at peace. It’s taken me quite a while to get the difference between these two things; I still hope for more but it doesn’t keep me from getting on with life. To be honest, it’s not actually something I think about all that often but, when I do, it’s not always with anguish or anxiety, it’s often with a feeling of hope and bit of excitement at what could be in future. I think the next step is to take that picture of the 50 year-old bachelor and see the hope and excitement that could be drawn into that image. I’m not quite there yet, but I am at peace; I’ll be alright. (I’m not always at peace either, there are times when little wars break out but that doesn’t mean I forget the peace, just that it needs to be renegotiated again.)
There are some great things about being single! Not some click here for 27 reasons why being single is the best, number 9 will make your day type of garbage but real reasons to embrace this life while I have it. I’ve had to learn who I am without reference to another person. I was anchored to a huge chunk of shared history. Once that was cut away, I was adrift in some real existential crisis type zone.
I love people (just in small doses). If you want to know me, there can’t be many people around. One on one is best. After that I’ll need to recharge alone. I don’t need to reserve a large chunk of that time for one person, I’m free to share it out as I see fit. As a result, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know so many people. I’ve had views that I never questioned challenged and I’ve had to mature my thinking a whole bunch. And then there’s the more selfish reasons, I’m a gamer and a dancer and I get to devote a rather large amount of attention to these hobbies.
Furthermore, I was not aware of how much I based my self-worth on my relationship status! Being single meant either redefining my worth or feeling pretty miserable for a long time. I am fearfully and wonderfully made! I started out life this way, nothing I do,say, own or make can increase my value in His eyes any more than it was when I started out with nothing, not even the ability to move on my own accord. Easy to say, hard to feel but if your worth is coming from anything else, that source probably needs to be looked at with a critical eye.
Why am I single? I don’t know. I really wish I did but I don’t. There have been some close calls, some lovely dates, the occasional mutual crush even, but even then, God made it rather clear that it was not his plan and so nothing happened. Does He want me celibate? Perhaps so, and I’m okay with that, but I wish He’d just say so and let me stop wondering… Relationships have been a stumbling block for me in the past. I’ve needed time alone to mature and build a real foundation in my life. Now I know I have to be careful in relationships. I know that any relationship I may find needs to start and end with God as a focal point. And so on… I’ve learned these things during my time alone, maybe my list just isn’t complete yet.
I was also asked for advice directed at friends who are married/heading that way. Are there many married folks reading a blog entry on singleness? Anyway, I’d like to preface this with saying it may be terrible advice, people are different and this would probably go awry in a lot of cases. For me, keep being a solid example of loving, caring people. Don’t feel the need to hide any of the joy your relationship/partner brings you, let me celebrate with you. If you have other, suitable, single friends and want to play matchmaker, go ahead but please do it openly. Yes, it’s awkward and weird but if you try be subtle, I’ll miss it. And your sharing the awkwardness makes things many times easier for me.
Cliched lines (“God has someone for you, be patient”, “I’m sure you’ll find someone soon”, etc.) are really not that helpful. I know you mean well but that’s not the way to show it. If you’re the encouraging words type, try things like “What about Susan? She’s lovely…” It’ll either open up a conversation or you’ll get shut down but at least you’ve implied that I am good enough for your friend Susan, that makes me feel good even if I’m not interested in her. (Mum, if you read this, that is not permission to start listing every single girl you know again, I know you already think I’m pretty cool :P)
Lastly, singleness in the context of the Church isn’t something that needs to be addressed in and of itself so much as relationships in general. The Christian concept of marriage is beautiful, I love it! But so often, a sermon on relationships will stick to a rather tired formula: dating and boundaries therein, wait for marriage and so on. I’m oversimplifying, there have been some amazing sermons on the topic but the problem is with the assumed progression of attraction leading to dating leading to marriage. Combine this with the ideal of marriage and there is suddenly huge pressure on dating, getting it right. There’s something of a stigma towards breakups, equating them with divorce. And so there’s this fear of dating and relationships in the church that’s not entirely warranted.
Added to that, there’s the more casual idea of a dinner date that’s completely lacking in modern social situations… I need to form an emotional connection before I can even assess whether I’m attracted to you; I can’t do this in a group. If I ask you on a date, I just want to have dinner with a person and form this emotional connection. It does not mean I am planning our marriage, and you shouldn’t be doing so either. The secular world gets so much wrong in relationships but this they get right (massive generalisation, I know but you get the point) the date is a feeling ground, not always for a relationship but also for a friendship. It’s how we plumb the depths of a bond, be it friendship or romance. You’re not making any commitment by having dinner with me, even after the hundredth time, a commitment to anything more than friendship needs to be agreed upon by both parties, I’m not trying to subtly trick you into marrying me.
I guess I’d like to sum most of this up by saying to all the single people (and those concerned) that we should take things a little less seriously. There are times when it’s hard but the same is true for being in a relationship. Just don’t let it become a central theme to your life. Love easily and keep your heart open.
One of my all time favourite quotes says it best, from C.S. Lewis’ book The Four Loves:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
My friend, Michael Toy, who lives in Americaland and is a real person writes some incredible poetry that speaks deeply into things and as i am slowly working my way through his book i thought it was time to share another gem – this is taken from the book, ‘Blame it on the Huehuetenango’ which you should order online cos he has such an incredible gift at this kind of thing:
christian men and christian women
christian men and christian women
often hae sex, and find it to be
an excellent sort of thing to do
we are very careful, however,
to never discuss this activity
using any language which
might bring to mind
the slightest hint of
the remembered or anticipated
the emotion or the experience
even words like “evocative” and “nuance”
are avoided, being a little bit
christian men and christian women
often stand in a room with
a thousand strangers singing
all unfettered adjectives and adverbs
of overwhelmed beauty and
longing for a completion
which shatters the secret soul
and fulfills creation
stretching out their hands
to touch the divine
oh, to be the beautiful bride
on the night she finally
gives herself to her lover
christian men and women
this is one reason why
don’t take us seriously
= = = = = = = = = =
Anyone can point out real evil, the genuine kind of evil that is actually evil [and knows it!] and there is clearly enough of it in the world to go around…
But what takes real skill and precision is being able to discern the evil that not everybody notices – the more subtle evil that parades itself right in front of peoples’ faces and which most people will be able to stare directly at without flinching. or even giving it a second thought.
This particular type of evil is usually to be found in different types of so-called food, although on occasion is may take on other forms and it is high time that somebody drew some attention to it.
Don’t be alarmed if this list does not seem quite right to you – with this particular brand of evil, everyone will have their own list, but you may nod your head somberly at some of the items, knowing that they too would make your own personal list.
What am i talking about? well, in an absolutely overwhelmingly particular order [as this list is completely relative] from not quite so evil to absolutely bastardly evil [oh i know you know what that is going to be] i’m talking about The Evil List Feb 2015. i have decided to make it date specific as i imagine tastes and fears change and something that seemed really quite evil may be overtaken by something that was pretending to be just a little evil. But for now this is…
THE EVIL LIST
#10 Likes instead of Shares – let’s be honest internet people, if you really liked a thing you would share it, liking is along the lines of saying to a new mom, “Your baby has character” when we all know what you really mean. Sharing is, “I might even consider holding your baby if you’re absolutely convinced it’s not going to throw up on me.” Likes is, “I want you to invite me to your birthday party”, whereas a Share suggests that, “I am going to invite you to mine!”
#9 Survivor spoilers [or spoilers in general] – maybe take a moment to realise not everyone in the whole world is going to be watching Survivor at the exact same moment as you and so tweeting, “I can’t believe Trevoux won!!!!” two seconds after it happens might be unhelpful and ragifying for people, say, watching it on another coast or in another country. The flip side of this is people who do not let you mention what was so significant about the Bruce Willis role in Sixth Sense because they haven’t seen it yet. IT’S BEEN 16 YEARS PEOPLE. Spoilers have a statute of limitations. Within a week = too much. Seven years after the fact = you’re probably fine.
#8 Traditional Emoticons [this used to just be emoticons but since Facebook brought out angry clam, dancing Snoopy and Fishface man, i think we need to be a little more specific]
#7 Freaky Giant Emoticons [how do you ruin a perfectly evil traditional emoticon? simple – enlarge it 15 times and make it take up my whole message box and seem like it is laughing at me]
#6 Adam Sandler movies. i’m not taking about when he used to be good, like in ‘The Wedding Singer’ and ‘Happy Gilmour’ – i’m talking about the last five or ten where he has phoned in the script, casting and acting. Note to self: Stop watching Adam Sandler movies. This one is not the one that will make it all better. Oh and Will Ferrell movies too. He’s okay as an animated voice.
#5 “I took the [insert tv programme/movie character/weather pattern/type of Victorian door knob] test and I’m HufflePuff.” To be honest, number 5 feels a bit generous to this one. This needs to END RIGHT NOW. You are not going to be Hermione Granger. With your skills, let’s face it, ‘Guy in Red Shirt’ on original Star Trek episode is about the best you have to hope for.
#4 Cat videos. And baby videos. [I understand that you like cats and babies, but i really think there should be some etiquettal law about keeping them on your own page. Although one day i finally will make that video of a kitten riding on the back of a baby and the internet is going to implode] My friend Sam gets a bye on this one, but only as far as cat pictures with fun sayings on them.
#3 Cooked pineapple [actually probably any cooked/stewed fruit but pineapple gets the special nod because it ruins perfectly good bacon-encrusted pizzas. “Hey, this fruit tastes good, let’s make it evil by cooking it!”]
#2 Gerkhins and Olives – [i’m not sure they’re not the same thing but i would give them an equal quotient of evil points because they ruin otherwise perfect sandwiches and salads and empty jars with weird toilet water in them]
#1 raiSINs [number 1 is unlikely to ever change – it even has the word ‘SIN’ hidden in the word, that’s how obvious this particular one is – and no it doesn’t matter if you have them in things or if you have them by themselves or if you lyingly try to convince me “You won’t taste them!” They are the evilest of non traditional evil and they must be stopped!] it is a known fact that all squishy fruits are evil and so sultanas, currants, prunes all go into this category, but raiSIN is their king.
Special mention must go to people who push into lines [standing or driving], cigarette butts out of car windows [or litter in general], pepper [yes, the condiment, it literally only makes things taste like pepper], lighting up your cellphone screen during a movie [you had better not be in throwing distance, coins hurt!] and people who only use two words, or even worse, two letters, on your birthday to wish you a happy birthday, [although people who use a sentence or more are right up there in my loves list!]
How do your feel about my evil list? Do you think giant freaky emoticons are not as bad as recent Will Ferrell movies? Would you bump cat videos above the culinary heatment of pineapple? And what items from your evil list didn’t feature on mine at all?
So my friend Kevin Smuts [who has been one of my biggest cheerleaders in general life matters over the last three years while we were in Americaland in particular – side note: very encouraging to have cheerleaders! who are you a cheerleader to?] is part of an a capella band that he started called AnecNote [which is an amazing name altho i feel like i contributed at least 87 viable alternatives when they were going through their name-finding phase… so close… i helped weed out the bad ones, perhaps.
Anyways, being Kevin i suspected they would be good. He is a super talented muso and hoping to make movie music some day [pay attention Hans Zimmer!] and i’ve heard his stuff and i never doubted for a second music-wise it would be any good.
But an a capella band? Apart from Graham and Christine Weir’s most incredible Not the Midnight Mass who i got to see live on a few occasions back in the day, what other a capella groups spring to mind? That’s right. None. So talent evenings or school shows perhaps, but that’s about it.
Anyways, tbV and i got to go to a show on Sunday night after a day of Improv workshopping for me and house-warming for us both and by the time it came to ‘going out to social event with a bunch of people we would probably kind of know but mostly not really’ we were not super amped. But i did want to see Kev and support the band and so that clinched it i think.
[cue tbV and brett fish being blown away]
Because basically that is what happened. Not only are they musically fit, but they brought the funnest vibe you can imagine and it was a completely insanely amazing evening. Comprising five very different but extremely talented individuals, currently going by the names of Leah Adams, Emma de Goede, Morné Kahts, beatboxer supremo Daniel Nambassi and my main main Kevin Smuts, they rocked the house. If you’re in Cape Town, you need to make a plan to see them – having already played at TEDx, Kirstenbosch, 5FM and a bunch of other places.
i have some video clips [and you can find more on their site and on the You Tube] to give you an idea of their talent and diversity, but these really don’t do their live performance justice – fun, frivolous, a little bit cheeky and adventurous as they basically finished off the evening pretty much half making up a song and just giving it complete wings.
Here they are covering Titanium by David Guetta ft. Sia:
Then they took a dab at Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off:
And finally Problem by Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea
Don’t you just want to pick them up and eat them? Well you can’t, so stoppit! They have a strict non-cannibalism policy when it comes to themselves as band members. You can however find out a whole lot more about them though…
You can stalk them at their web page over here, on the Tube of Youing over here, on that most Instant of Grams by clicking here, or on the Twitterer as @AnecNote and you can even get hold of an original never-before-worn AnecNote t-shirt to display yourself as a true Groupie or AnecNotie as they are not called.
Have you ever heard AnecNote live? How would YOU describe their gig?
One day, Jesus was walking alongside the Jordan river, when He came upon a man who was so drunk, he was almost incoherent. The man looked up at Jesus and asked Him for some money to buy food. Jesus looked at him and loved him. “Are you willing to give up your drinking to follow Me?” Jesus asked the man.
But the man ignored Jesus’ question and once more begged him for some money. “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you,” Jesus answered, and with a final compassionate smile at the man, He continued on His way.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
i imagine this made-up parable [yes, you won’t find this one in the original scriptures] will initiate strong reaction in a lot of people. ‘
How did it make you feel? Angry? Confused? Ready to jump in to the comments section in full attack mode?
Well, give me a few more minutes and let’s look at this story and try understand it a little more.
The idea came to me after tbV and i stopped to chat to and help a man lying on the side of the road the other day. We chatted and i really did struggle to understand him as he had been drinking quite a bit and was not making a lot of sense. Also he was Afrikaans which puts me completely on the back foot, or maybe him when i started attempting to speak it back to him.
It was not a big deal at all – we bought him a meal and got to pray with him and said goodbye. We did not give him money for the train ticket he said he needed.
And as we drove home, it got me thinking, ‘What would Jesus do in that situation?’ Like really, what would He actually do? Engaging with drunk and homeless people would have been so much easier if we just had the parable to turn to. Oh, there we go. Sorted.
So i decided to write it. You know, to help everyone else who was wondering the same thing.
And the gut feel is that of course Jesus would have helped the man and possibly healed him of his alcoholism [if that is what he was suffering with] and maybe conjured a meal out of the air and led him to a transformed and God-praising life. But is that really what Jesus would do
WHAT DID JESUS DO?
However [and this is a wrestle piece, so please jump in and give your thoughts] there are a few things that i think we can see in the Bible that might help inform our decision on this. [Be warned: some of these may seem to contradict each other]
# Jesus gave invitations or responded to requests – Typically throughout the Bible, we see this as a trend of how God works with people. A call or a dream or a messenger and the opportunity to respond. In Matthew 19 we see the story of Jesus and the rich young man where Jesus tells him what he needs to do to be right with God and the young man walks away disappointed, because Jesus has targeted his money which had a greater hold on him than the desire to follow God. Jesus doesn’t chase the young man or try to convince him or compromise on the ask. Jesus allows him to walk away. Even at times when it seemed obvious, for example, when Jesus asks the blind man, “What do you want me to do?”
So if it came to an encounter with Jesus and a drunk person, i have to imagine there would be an invitation to change, to receive healing, to change but also the opportunity to refuse that invitation and continue to live in the same way.
The parable of the prodigal son [an actual parable!] shows a father who allows his son to pretty much spit in his face and leave without arguing or coercing or reasoning or threatening. It also shows a father who is committed to keeping an eye out for his son and who is seen running down the path to greet him the moment he is heading home.
On another occasion we see Jesus [ironically in John 6.66] lose a lot of His followers, except for the 12, because some of His teaching is too hard for them to hear: 66 After this, many of His disciples drew back (returned to their old associations) and no longer accompanied Him.
Again, he allows them to leave.
# Jesus didn’t make it easy – Jesus tells the rich young ruler to give up everything. Then in Matthew 15 we see an interesting interaction with Jesus and a Canaanite woman where He tells her He has come to the last sheep of Israel. “Sorry, I can’t help you. You’re not one of us.” And yet when she persists, He rewards her faith and heals her daughter. With the woman caught in sin in John 8 Jesus lets her know that He refuses to condemn her, but He also sends her away with the command to, “Go and sin no more.”
# Jesus does call us to meet the needs of those considered to be the least of these – In Matthew 25 we see the story of the sheep and the goats where it seems to be saying that our actions are what prove significant to God [feed the hungry, clothe the naked, vist those in prison] and while drunk people are not mentioned specifically, are they not considered ‘the least of these’ by so much of society?
# The letter of James, in chapter 2, says this: 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
i’m not sure about you, but this one seems a little complicated.
What would Jesus do if He came across a drunk man, on the side of the street. One thing is for certain, He would love him. But what would that look like and how does it play out?
What do you think?