Category: friends and enemas


durbanichurch

This was the 4th book launch i have done for ‘i, church’ and the first one in Durban. And what another incredible evening it was.

Firstly, we decided to do a small change with this one and focus on the Q & A aspect of the evening which was a highlight for me from each of the previous launches. And as a bonus, i got the chance to preach at 3 Westville Baptist church services on the Sunday before the Q & A slash launch so people got a direct invitation to the launch after hearing some of the heart of the book in my preach.

Once again thankx to a bunch of my friends largely including staff and congregants of Westville Baptist church, especially Rebecca Benn who spearheaded the thing while i was still in Cape Town and got balls rolling, the church for letting me use their hall and Debbie and Baz and some of the youth and young adults who got involved. And then my good friend Sammi Taylor who womanned one of the book tables:

One aspect that was different from the Cape Town launches was the addition of two poems from my friend Michael Toy’s poetry book [for the recovering evangelical] titled ‘Blame it on the HueHuetenango’ which i felt fit in strongly with the theme of the book.

My good friends Debbie and Baz did an intro and then hosted the Q & A using a mix of live questions and sms questions that people texted to Barry’s phone while the session was on – definitely stretched me to some deeper levels with some of the questions that were posed at this particular launch.

This was the best mix of people we have had generationally with some youth and young adults stretched out on bean bags and then a range of older people all the way to some seniors who were on chairs and couches and just such an incredible time of engagement and then conversation as i tried to speedily sign some books afterwards as well. Cape Town friends and friends from October Leadership camp 13 years ago and from Baptist Summer Camp many years ago as well as an uncle-in-law all made it a very special occasion.

i am glad we sold some books, but i am more excited about the opportunity to challenge and inspire people about church and possibly seeing and experiencing church as something that is even bigger than the people in the building who meet on that particular day of the week. And also getting a chance to challenge the church [as in those who were present] about the absolute priority that we need to have in matters of race and reconciliation and unity and speaking and acting and listening into areas of pain and hurt and fear and disappointment that exist in our country.

It really was another incredible night of connecting with God’s people and speaking about God’s stuff in love [which sounds very similar to what my definition of church is]…

And of course the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob, was on hand to bring his own special brand of protection to the books that were on sale…

For anyone who was interested in coming and maybe missed out, i will be leaving a stash of books with Debbie and Baz from Westville Baptist church and so you can get hold of a copy from them for R100 or as always it is available online at Amazon.

No_bob

[For a glimpse of the teaser including a short extract from ‘i, church’, click here]

phones inbox

On friday nite we had some mates around for a meal and some in depth conversation.

The picture above is not a group selfie but rather a close-up of the phone basket that was my wife’s idea.

We emailed everyone beforehand to let them know, and as they arrived at the party we held out the basket and they muted their phones and dropped them in and got them again as they left at the end of the evening.

This didn’t work quite as well for J. who arrived 45 minutes late and with no doorbell and no means of contacting anyone inside [we couldn’t remember if he had RSVP’d yes or not] had to eventually leave and miss out on the fun [although maybe, for Capetonians especially, that is its own lesson on punctuality or sending texts when knowing you will not make it on time].

And it was incredible. We did it again on Easter Sunday with the family. Phones in a box and for a crowd who tend to gravitate to our screens when we get together, it was a revelationary process.

What was perhaps most interesting on both occasions was how much everyone embraced the idea absolutely when we told them about it. Almost as if we had given a group of people permission for something they had already secretly been wanting to do.

i share this completely as an idea for you and yours. i have heard of a similar version when you go to a restaurant with mates and the phones all go in the middle and the first person who reaches for their phone, if there is a call or message or something, foots the entire bill. That would seem like a way to get us cured of our ‘connectedness’ quickly.

cell

This is the thing that gets me. On most occasions [and there are exceptions] when you have chosen to spend time with me [one on one at coffee, hanging with a group of friends at a braai, dinner occasion with the family] and then you choose to allow our time to be interrupted by someone you have not chosen to spend time with at that moment, it just feels completely rude. In fact, what you are saying is i am even going to give a wrong number [someone i don’t even know] the opportunity to take my attention away from you. It really is just so much of rudeness.

Also the idea that you will turn your phone off for a movie or a church service or dentist appointment, but not for a time spent with me? Insulting.

We need to learn how to be present and engaged with those who we have chosen to spend the time with.

The phone box is going to be a regular staple at the group dinner events tbV and i are planning to hold, and our family also decided that we should do that every time we get together for a meal, not just that one occasion.

So just try it out. And let me know how it goes.

 

This is a post Dimakatso posted on the Education Ambassador’s blog which you can find over here, but she gave me permission to post it in this section as well, sharing the story of someone who lost a best friend in Claire:

The 7th of April is fast approaching and I’m already feeling a wave of emotions that sometimes cannot be adequately explained. When I feel like this, I know prayer helps and another remedy would be to put my pen to paper or in this case, fingers to keyboard. You see, the 7th of April is not just an ordinary day. From the day my best friend Mangese ‘Claire’ Buthelezi and I met back in varsity, we made this day our “friendship’ day because we were both born on the same day.

claire

On the 16th of June 2014, Heaven got another angel, my friend Claire. She was more than a friend to me, she was like a sister. I still tear up like a little child every time I think of her. In fact, I’ve just realised that writing this blog post is not going to be easy. I know that almost everyone has lost someone, and that losing a parent or an aunt or a partner must be painful (I’ve lost my father and many others too) but losing the woman who taught you to be happy in tough times, convinced you it was OK to admit you’ve gained some weight, and made jokes about your ugly feet in front of the whole world is one painful experience. Claire’s death was the most shocking and painful thing I have ever gone through. A pain which I still don’t understand. Soon after she passed on, I couldn’t call her to tell her how mad I am about her leaving, about how I was feeling, because I would discuss these things with her.

Even when she was weak and going through the world’s most deepest pains, she would visit with a smile on her face and listen to whatever I had to say. She didn’t want to talk about her circumstances a lot, she wanted to focus on the bright and positive things of life. I had a beautiful friendship that I will cherish forever but I can’t deny the hole that has been left. I wake up and wish I could talk to her about how hard it is. But I can feel Jesus giving me the strength and reminding me of our love to carry on.

The last time we were together, I drove to Pretoria and as always, whenever I was in Pretoria she was the first to know. I went over to her place and she had wanted us to go watch a game of football between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs the next weekend but she suddenly got sick. This June will mark a year since Claire’s passing. And although the deep pain has altered to certain numbness, some days the grief paralyses me all over again. Claire will always be 26, the girl who loved clothes and looking good, who used to wash dishes after a fun and crazy night out (which I still don’t understand up to this day :-) ), who used to put up with me listening to Simphiwe Dana in her presence (our taste in music was sometimes different). What would she have been like at 30? Would we both have had our kids on the same day too (that would have been uber cool)? Would she still be into fun times and fashion? Would she have helped her little sister and nephew like she always wanted? Would I be the maid of honour at her wedding? Would she be the maid of honour at mine?

claire2

When someone close to you dies, everyone seems to understand. They want to hug you. They give you encouraging scriptures. They write you inspiring messages and they say things to you… “She’s in a better place”, “It’ll get better with time” “Celebrate her life and existence” etc. But I’ve realised that when dealing with death, whatever anyone says really doesn’t make sense. The pain is unbearable, distasteful and unpleasant. When you get these messages from your loved ones, the messages eventually stop coming in. Everyone starts to move on, but you. I’ve found it a little difficult to move on and I’m really thankful to God for the strength because I still don’t know how I could have dealt with all this without the strength from Jesus. Yes, sometimes it seems as if my grief only amplifies with time. Sometimes I would go to sleep thinking of her, dream about her, and then wake up only to be reminded that it had not been a dream. It had really happened, and she was gone.

I’m certain that a day will come when I won’t cry over her like I do now. But sometimes I’ll find myself listening to music and I’ll hear a song that we both loved by Rihanna “Life’s too short to be sittin’ round miserable, People gon’ talk whether you doing bad or good, yeah… Cheers to the freakin’ weekend, yeah-ah-ah-ah” and I’m once again singing along with her. And then I’m reminded that I am blessed; I have had my best friend for as long as I can remember.

I’m comforted by knowing that one day we will see each other again with Jesus by our side. I believe, mostly because I have to believe to keep standing, that Claire never doubted that she was my best friend, that I adored her, and that I would never have been half as awesome a person as I am without her influence. But I want to make sure that if I ever again lose someone, I can stand up under the weight of all the grief, knowing, at least that, that person never doubted my love. Even if it’s too late, there’s some comfort in knowing that I’ve learned a crucial lesson — about love, friendship, paying attention to what really matters, about letting petty disagreements go, about sharing my feelings. And also about washing dishes no matter what (lol).

Dimakatso and Claire

Dimakatso and Claire

I’ve also learnt that loss is survivable. It feels like suffocating, like drowning, like having something vital ripped out of your body without anaesthetic, but you live through it. Like many of us do, I had imagined loss. I had imagined what it would be like when I inevitably had to say good-bye to a loved one. But I had never imagined losing her.

I would like to dedicate this blog post to anyone who has lost a loved one to death. My advice to you is to never question God and to continue to show love to your loved ones. Remember that our time on earth is short, you have no clue when this ride will end. Never stop praying, stay present and live fearlessly.

” Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” – (Matthew 5:4 ASV)

[For more stories of people who have dealt with the grief of losing someone they love, click here]

anec

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.

anec2

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?

duncshower

This is my buddy Dunc, who is my best friend from school and who tbV and i are currently staying with while we try find a place to live [as well as his wife Megan and sons Connor and Ryan].

Three times a week he intentionally causes me a lot of pain…

…and it’s great!

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Well, to be more accurate he ensures that i am in the place of pain.

i usually use that verse from Proverbs 27.6 in the Bible to talk about accountability and someone who is not scared to love you well by telling you when you are doing something foolish or hurtful. But in this case it’s slightly different, although i guess still a form of accountability, as Duncan is my 100 push-ups partner.

When i was in Stellenbosch i did this before about four years ago, and i think both of us are quite skeptical as to how i could have finished it back then, but Dunc was doing it when we moved in and so i joined him.

It is a six week program that you can find at hundredpushups.com although the reality is that if you don’t complete a week you do it again and so we are on week ten or something but in week 5 of the program. Today we attempted sets of 20, 20, 24, 24, 20, 20, 22 and then as many as you can with a minimum of 50. All with 45 second intervals in between.

i use the word ‘attempted’ as mine looked a lot more like 20, 20, 24, 24, 13, 13, 13, 18 which as you can see is far off the mark.

But it is also 145 pushups in about 15 minutes, which is not such a bad thing. Especially as we go on to do five different arm muscle builders with some hand weights.

What makes it easier though, and far more enjoyable, is that i have a good buddy doing it with me. And even more than that, no matter how crap i am, he is constantly cheering me on and telling me how good i’m doing. He nailed all of them except the last one and i was short on four of the sets [having given blood yesterday, as he kept telling me, may have had some small effect] and yet he keeps on shouting out, “Good work, buddy. You’re doing great.”

pushups

We’re probably a couple of weeks away from bottles though.

So friends who push you to be the best you can be, who hold you accountable, who challenge you three times a week to do something that will stretch you and cause you a fair deal of pain but which will have good results in the end… you can’t buy these with money.

And i truly do have some of the best friends in the world…

Who hurts you? i would LOVE to hear about someone in the comments section who is your Duncan… tell us a story!

And of course, who are YOU Duncan to?

rob

From Chapter 20 of ‘Robert Sobukwe: How Can Man Die Better’ by Benjamin Pogrund:

‘We [Robert and Benjamin] had three days of incessant talking and sharing emotions and thoughts. My dominant sense about him was his optimism about himself and South Africa. It helped him to endure the experience of being plunged back into the reality of everyday apartheid living. We also went through the details of a brotherly pact. I would continue to do whatever my means allowed to help him and the family, whether financially or otherwise; there would be a minimum of thank yous. In due course, if our roles were ever reversed and I landed up in need of help, he would help me to the best of his ability – and again, with a minimum of thank yous. Both of us would be frank in stating our needs and what each of us could do for the other. As Sobukwe was to say in a later letter, ‘the truth between us; that is our bargain.’ 

Short and to the point, but this paragraph stood out to me. Both for the strength of the brotherly pact between two, on the surface, very different looking men, and for the slogan of honesty. We will say what we need and we will do what we are able to and with a minimum of thankx. The realisation is always that if i am in your shoes the same thing will happen. What a strong bond and a challenge to us in our friendships. I can list many names of people in my life who have been this for me or done this with me. I’m not giving to you so that one day you will give to me. I am giving to you. One day you may give to me. Whoever can meet the need, does. Love it.

[For the next part on being the bigger man, click here]

Continuing sharing some thoughts and extracts from the really great book i just finished, ‘Robert Sobukwe: How Can Man Die Better’ by Benjamin Pogrund and if you missed the first ones, you can catch up over here.

Who better to kick us off on the topic of criticism, than my good friend Jack Handey:

jack

This extract is from Chapter 20 and this is Benjamin, the author, speaking:

We had to delay our first meeting. I could only get away from Johannesburg and the trial over weekends, and he [Robert Sobukwe] was available for only part of the time because of his house arrest restriction. It was a tough period in the trial, I told him, as the prosecution was summing up its case ‘with a flood of abuse flung at Gandar and me and our attorney [Kelsey Stuart, who had four years earlier, cleared my reports on jails for publication in the Mail]. Had it been justified and related to facts one could not and would not mind. But it has all been entirely unrelated either to actual events or to our evidence, so I have found it sick-making… and at an extraordinarily low intellectual level.’

Sobukwe was now following the trial day by day as the Rand Daily Mail reached Kimberley by lunchtime on the day of publication. Once more he stepped in to give comfort, at the same time reflecting his own ability to retain tranquility in the face of the poisonous attacks on him over the years: ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘the prosecution had a field day: a real stryddag [an Afrikaner party political rally]. But what my attitude has always been, Benjie, that what matters is what my friends think of me. It bothers me not a damn what my enemies think of me or say of me. They would not be normal if they showered me with compliments.’ 

i feel like there is some good wisdom there in terms of being comforted and encouraged by those who know you [and like you] – it can be helpful to listen to those who think differently from you for sure, as that is often how we learn – listen and weigh up and hold on to the good and let go of the bad – but not to take everything your detractors say about you on board [yes, i imagine this includes faceless comment trolls!]

[For the next part looking at a brotherly pact, click here]

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