Category: the beautiful Val (tbV)


my wife, tbV, and i have a running gag where i tell her things i want at my funeral and she tells me to “write them down cos there’s so many and i won’t remember them all.”

most recently, it was the necessity of playing my two favourite music videos [and happiness-creating-machines – in my life anyways] the wildly popular Ylvis, ‘What does the fox say?” and the actor-filled satirical mess of Mumford’s ‘Hopeless Wanderer’ with Jason Bateman et al playing the band members in ridiculousness. [if you somehow have been away from planet earth in 2013 and missed either of those you can catch up over here and here]

and clearly somewhere along the line a boob cake [no, that’s not a typo, i am not talking about a cake honouring my stuffed dolphin, No_boob, okay that may have been a typo] got added to the mix, probably cos of my controversial tendencies and desire to make multiple people go ‘Um?’ at festive [or not so festive?] gatherings.

i have also always dreamed of being alive at my funeral – you know, one of those unexplained mysteries and somehow there was a misdiagnosis and the raccoon stampede didn’t completely finish me off as previously imagined, and the coffin is open and i get to hear what everyone says about me… [the enhanced version cos clearly people tend to say nicer-than-real things about people who have died so it’s always hard to tell] and then jump out at the end and go, ‘Wah, just kidding, I’m actually still alive, let’s all have some boob cake!’ 

funerals have always bummed me out by the nature of the fact that the person needing to hear all the stuff being said about them is dead.

and so, in the week when i turned 40, my amazing wife, knowing all these things, decided to skip the part where i die and give me a whole bunch of the things i have always wanted…

# She gathered together some of my favourite people on the planet [well those in Cape Town/Stellenbosch where we are at the moment of birthdayage].

# She created a space for them to share dodgy stories from my past [dodgy if you didn’t know and understand the context or apparently if you did] and also things they appreciated about me or saw in me [which was deeply moving and inside crying for sure].

# She managed to get three of my friends to do their own re-enactment of Mumford’s ‘Hopeless Wanderer’ slightly changing it to ‘Homeless Wanderer’ to make it a little more appropriate and somehow managed to get my best school buddy Duncan Houston in dreads with a pizza-box-made guitar for the most fun at a party since his dad gave us all an etymology lesson at Dunc’s 21st, complete with the banjo bit [my favourite part] and an ‘instrument’ smashing at the end.

# She also somehow managed to get my best college friend, who i used to call ‘Saint Mandy’ to her dismay, to make for me a boob cake. Like a cake, but with boobs on the top, made of cake. Ohmygosh. What a moment!

Best funeral ever!

i especially liked the bit where i didn’t have to be dead to be there… although i did try and slice my thumb off in the post-party cleanup while trying to wash a particularly hectic knife. Knife – 1, Brett’s Thumb – 0 [honourable mention to Brett’s thumbernail for stopping the hastily advancing blade]

so what an incredible evening and i will go so far as saying it was awesome because God was definitely in the centre of conversations and a great prayer time they did for me.

[and what an incredible wife, thankx lady, now we will have to zero that funeral list and start again]

which brings me back to the title of this blog: would Jesus have a boob cake? and my answer is absolutely not.

however, i don’t personally believe Jesus would have a Facebook account either [He may have, but watching His life through the gospels He tended to be more of a people person and often chose to interact with individuals over crowds and so i think if He was physically around today that He would more likely be found in coffee shops, mall benches, beachfronts and walking through the streets of the local African township.]

at the same time, i don’t think Jesus would not want me to be on Facebook [feels like it is suited to my particular gifting and i try to use it as a tool to connect and befriend and love and encourage and challenge]

also i don’t personally believe that Jesus would play field hockey, but think he is okay with me playing field hockey… although not when i lose my temper and start chirping people sarcastically or become a bad sport and start blaming the ref for a moment that occurred because of my bad fitness or lack of skills. i think He likes the way it brings me into contact and friendship with people who might be outside of the church, as long as i love them well and treat them with respect.

and so on… seeing a trend here? What Would Jesus Do? was perhaps not the most helpful marketing strategy for the church – but What Would Jesus Want Me To Do? [too long for a bracelet, i get it, how about a belt?] or even ‘How does Jesus want me to live?’ – well, lots more accuracy in that. And i feel like Colossians 3.17 and 23 give some good guidance for that:

17 And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

so no, Jesus would not have had a boob cake, i am pretty sure of that one… but i do think He would have been more than happy with the gathering that we had going last nite and so huge and special thankx to everyone who came and also everyone who helped make it happen. best birthday party ever. [so far]


So these experiments of various disciplines began with tbV and me running a book study of this book called ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ by our friend Mark Scandrette which none of us had actually fully read yet [we’re discovering it as we’re leading it which has proved interesting and fun]. And which i highly recommend that you totally just order and get and work through.

If you are married it’s an excellent book to work through with your spouse and if not then with a group of friends or small group. It is practical and inspirational and challenging and just really helpful. For some of you this will literally change your lives. For others of you there will be some helpful stuff. But yes, so good.

txSo it started off with an experiment of inviting people to slow down the rush and take time every day for a week to be still for ten to fifteen minutes and just be and meditate and pray and observe and listen… and a bunch of people got involved in that and it was really great reading through some of your comments over here.

And then next up was the invitation to keep a Gratitude Log for ten days [i have done 8 so far] and to come back and share some of your reflections with us in the comments section below here [so please do that!]

In the meantime, here are two of my days from this last week or so…

I am grateful for…

an old crazy friend visiting for two fun-filled nights

the opportunity to lead a listening to God exercise at a home group from church

a request met on our behalf that will lead to urgent dental work being covered for Val

an inspiring marriage blog post by Rachel Held Evans

corn/mielies left in the fridge for me by my beautiful wife to eat while she is away

God completely showing up and rocking the house at the home group tonite

I am grateful for…

a repaired bicycle tyre

date nite with my beautiful wife

some great 3D ‘Gravity’ movie action

the likelihood of getting to see my Jhb/Pta friends in January

some fun online connection and silly banter with Re:Generation church okes

what has stood out for me is that it has been so incredibly easy once you actually make the effort to sit down and write things down.

i tried to find a range of things to be grateful for, from simply daily pleasures like a good meal or drink to deeper experiences and realisations.

i found that relationships and people tended to dominate many of my entries as well as awareness of and experience of God moments.

today i sat outside and combined the being still and just taking in everything around me and the meditating on things to be grateful for and found the combination to be completely inspiring and life-giving.

doing this has caused me to want to make time for it more often and to continue to notice and speak and write and relive and above all be grateful for things both large and small that i have in my life and that take place in the world and people around me.

i have two days to go, but it is not too late to start… if you begin today then when you are done come back and share an entry or two of yours with us.

So what do YOU have to be grateful for today?

[For the next part and the challenge to Fast Something you Enjoy, click here]


one day you will be old. and then dead. hopefully in that order. preferably without skipping the first part.

and a lot has been said about that… like the much shared list of top 5 regrets of the dying according to a nurse who hung out with a lot of dying people and got to hear a list of their regrets apparently [no Patch Adams noodle baths from this fun lady it seems] and these are the top 5 that emerged:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

we were also given that Baz Luhrmann ‘Sunscreen’ song/speech that reminded us of the long term benefits of wearing sunscreen, which contained such gems as:

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it.

And then one of the most classical of them all:

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.

And on it goes – lists about climbing more mountains, picking more flowers, taking less photographs and living more in the moments you are capturing and so on…

Which is all great and important and true but can end up being another overwhelming set of ideals and wish lists and if onlys that you never actually really get to and will one day end up on your regret list.

So what do i want to suggest?

2 simple things – CELEBRATION and GRATITUDE:

The title of this post is ‘What do you celebrate as your head hits the pillow?’ – I remember one year where i kept a journal for a whole year and all that i wrote in it was at the end of each day one thing that i was grateful for from that day. From as simple as a friendly note from a friend on Facebook to something more powerful like witnessing life transformation in a friend or an answer to prayer or being able to resist temptation in a moment. Being intentional about taking a moment to stop in your day and celebrate a win or a thing to be grateful for. There is always one thing.

The second one has been noticing in tbV’s Facebook feed this last week or two what has felt like an intentional daily or close-to-daily moment of ‘Today i am grateful for…’ and usually a list of two to seven things that she has gratitude for on this particular day. i have found this so encouraging and it spurs me to consider my own list every time.

Regret is such a useless emotion/feeling/state because it accomplishes nothing except making you feel like a tit. And i don’t know anyone who enjoys that feeling particularly. So rather replace it with celebration and gratitude, even just of the small things that are worth celebrating and you might be amazed at how the bigger picture starts to be affected as well.

What will you celebrate tonight as your head hits the pillow? Take a minute and share one thing below in the comments that you are grateful for. Let it start here. 

So the other nite i was sitting on my step sipping coffee out of my uber cool Marvin the Martian mug and i had some life epiphany thoughts on things that make Jesus sad and then took it a step further by standing in front of the metaphorical mirror and asking what makes Jesus sad in my life with one of the simplest conclusions being that me not knowing the guy’s name who greets me by my name every time he sees me and who lives in the apartment beneath us… and i made some form of commitment to change that.

And i just got back into our apartment after what must have been close to an hour long conversation with Will – that’s right, his name is Will – and his beautiful daughter’s name is Suri [just like Tom Cruise’s daughter but with  little more street cred] and heard a whole bunch of his story and invited him and his family to come and have a meal with us sometime.

i know – awkward and embarrassed face – it was THAT easy.

i think it’s largely about Intentionality which i wrote about recently as being one of my favourite words not just because of how cool it sounds [come on – say it out loud, no-one’s looking, well they are but do it anyway] when you add the ‘ality’ part on to the ‘intentional’ part but because of the meaning and the action it promotes.

bee2so that’s just one step but it has lifted my spirits no end and will affect my relationship with Will and our relationship with his family from now on because I now know what he does and what his wife does and that is 14 year old son is in grade 10 and that when i went outside he was using tbV’s flower pots to teach Suri a little lesson about pollination…

[and that he has been the mystery waterer of the plants looking out for them and not watering them in the heat of the day because, like us, he knows it can burn them when the sun reflects off the water] and i know how he feels about the neighborhood and gangs and drugs and so on…

i hope these posts encouraged some of you to go and dig out your metaphorical mirror and see how you’re doing in the living-out-what-you-believe department, and that like me, if you noticed a bit of maggotry [it’s a word… now] that you will find something small and simple to get you on the way to aligning those things again…

it is tremendously life-giving and suddenly Jesus feels that tiny little bit less sadder… who knows, He may even be smiling down at me a little bit.

changeA little bit of a catchup on how tbV [the beautiful Val] and my work is going at Common Change

Things are going pretty well – we have moved from a space of setting things up and getting them ready to having them ready and seeing people start to slowly come on board and so it is an exciting time but also feels a bit like a time of pregnancy [no, we’re not!] in terms of something has happened but the main event still feels a little bit in the future.

I have moved from doing a lot of bug fixes and testing on the new site to a space of marketing and sharing the vision of Common Change and seeing people take steps to sign up. We had a really successful online webinar a few weeks ago and most of the people who were part of that have started or continued a journey with us at Common Change. That is a great way to get started and have some of your questions answered and we will be doing two more on Tuesday the 6th of August so if you are interested then check out the event and sign up.

Val does a bunch of stuff involving policy and procedure but is also largely involved with moving people from being interested parties to joining Common Change and becoming part of functioning groups [when a group is fully active and functioning it gets passed on to me to keep an eye on and walk alongside] and there are a bunch of groups at the moment that are close to full on launching stage and so that can be really exciting although hugely-patience-enducing too as we just want to see them jump and get going. She does a really excellent job at managing that side of things and staying in touch with people. She has also recently jumped into the finances side of things as well so learning and contributing much there.

So the online phone call is one way to get involved. But we have recently added another which is a great way for people who are excited about it but maybe have not got a group of people around them who are interested or at the point of jumping-in’ness yet and are really wanting to get moving. We have started a group called CONNECT [with a monthly contribution of $25 asked for] and one called MOVE [monthly contribution of $50 required] as a 6 month commitment for anyone who is wanting to try this Common Change thing out and see how it works and get started with it. The hope is that as you take part you will have some stories to share your friends or colleagues and that after the 6 month participation you may have found the people in your life to be able to start your own group with. So a great way to get ones feet wet with a fairly low input.

Another part of Common Change that we are excited about is the Two Cents blog we have going which looks at aggregating [collecting] and also creating articles and other media looking at the intersection of where FAITH and FINANCES [or economy] meet up [with a healthy side order of JUSTICE] and so we have three to five articles added there every week and are inviting people to get involved in the conversations and discussions that emerge as people engage with what is going on around the world. We would LOVE for you to stop by there and add your two cents. Bookmark it and visit it regularly or simply subscribe to the blog to stay in touch with what life-transforming conversations are being had.

At the moment Common Change is set up [from the money perspective largely] specifically for American groups but we have had a lot of interest from countries as varied as Costa Rica, South Africa and Holland and so people are wanting to get going with this and we are definitely investigating ways in which people from other countries can more easily become involved.

So ja, exciting but looking forward to to when the groups that are processing take the final leap and start presenting and meeting needs and we will have more stories to celebrate together.

For those of you who may not be familiar with how Common Change works, in a nutshell it is about connecting resources to people in need through already established relationships. The idea is for a group of people to commit to contributing a certain amount of their finances each month into a common pool. At any point anyone in the group can then share a need of someone that they know [a person they are in one degree of separation of relationship with] and the group will share wisdom and ideas on how best to meet the need long-term and then vote to approve the need. The question we generally hold on to is not whether or not we will meet the need but how will we meet it. This is based on the early church in Acts method of everyone sharing their resources and no-one being in need and feels like a really healthy way of helping us to be intentional in stewarding that which we have well.

For more information check out the website at, jump aboard one of the phone conversations on Tuesday 6 August or check out our blog at

is an oxymoron!

And for those of you struggling with the English language I am neither calling my wife an ‘ox’ nor a ‘moron’ and in fact the ‘oxymoron’ part should be informing you that i am not calling her ‘lazy’ either.

What she is, is [the less offensive word for ‘bloody’] amazing.

All this happened today. Firstly she sanded and painted and put together this amazing bench that she got for FREE off Craigslist [we like to think of Craig as this uber generous person we know with a list of things he is just waiting to give us] and then she rose to the challenge of our ‘one new dish per month’ meals and created this masterpiece, starting with a recipe as a ‘rough guide’ and then tbV’ing it up a notch til it reached quite close to perfection. Best meal we’ve had in a LONG time.

So uber proud of my lovely lady and excited to see what she does next…

‘I buckle my helmet, check both ways, and pull out slowly into the intersection. As I do a car comes out of nowhere, breaks hard and I swerve. We miss each other and I pull around so I’m on the right side of the road. And then I am assailed by the swearing, the shouting, the angry words pouring out of the car towards me. I am called names and the driver threatens to kill me, moving to force me off the road as she does so. I pull onto the sidewalk and she gets out of her car. I keep cycling. She catches up with me at the next intersection where I wait for a red light. As I make to cross she whips her car in front of me, cutting me off. I avoid eye contact but the barrage of hate directed toward the “f-ing white bitch on the bike” crashes into me. I wait silently and as she pulls off she swerves in again to hit my front wheel. She speeds off and I cautiously cross. I’m shaking and a tear runs down my cheek. Once again I am caught up in the dramatic and chaotic fallout of an emotionally volatile and unstable community.’

[my beautiful wife Valerie, aka tbV, excerpt from yesterday’s blog post titled ‘On passivism and peace.’

She left the office after morning prayer to go and work at home [the incident happened on the way to work] and i stayed til 4pm and then cycled home.

As i am cycling i come up to this four way stop or at least i think it is. Before i have even figured out if it’s a stop the other way or not the car coming from my right to left slows down completely so i figure it must be and start to cycle across the intersection. Then he starts to go and I’m like, ‘What?’ but i am pretty much across now and so he stops again and i cycle past. He hoots [honks his horn for the Americanese among us] loudly and shouts as he drives away and i point at my eyes in a ‘Look where you’re going dude’ way and continue straight. i am very aware the whole time of what happened with Val this morning and as i pull up at the following traffic light there is a car behind me and i start to semi panic but surely this guy can’t have followed me [he went straight so it would have meant a whole block turn]. but the truck next to me at the lights is dark blue and the one i had moments with was white. crisis averted.

The light changes colour and i start cycling and the blue truck goes past and i am just down the road from the turn off to our street. Suddenly i am aware of another vehicle next to me and the next second i hear a loud bang and something has hit my back wheel.

That’s right. Two bicycle attacks in one day. This dude has driven around the block and come up alongside me so that his son [aged maybe 14 to 16] can throw his half full Arizona iced tea bottle at me on my bike. As they drive away the kid is repeating his action out the window [like a cricket player replaying at attempted shot] probably showing off to his dad how he accomplished the deed. Great parenting technique dad.

So mine was a lot funnier than Val’s for sure. More a case of ‘What the flip? Did that just happen?’ But it was just bizarre that both happened on the same day. And just seeing the level of aggression that exists with drivers in this area.

Val showed a lot of sensitivity and care for me when i got home and recounted the story of my violent street attack. Well, once she stopped laughing, that is.

Warning: Tea may be closer than it appears.

Warning: Tea may be closer than it appears.



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