Tag Archive: the beautiful val

‘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.



Marriage moment

Another week, another photo challenge and this time to find the right picture or pictures to capture the idea of fleeting.

I could not look past our wedding pics for this, both because I think they really do capture the idea of a moment caught in time, but also give the idea of this thing will move on and this moment will pass. The commitment will continue and is hopefully strong and steadfast and true, but the moment is fleeting. This is what needs to be enjoyed as it happens as the rest will journey with you.

This first one I really love as it just grabs hold of the casual enjoy-the-moment nature of the day and was taken just after the ceremony, when we were able to relax a little bit more.

The next two were taken as part of our wedding shoot in the African township, Kayamandi, where I lived for about 18 months before we got married and both strongly emphasise ‘Fleeting’ firstly by way of the youths who are walking past, completely unaware and oblivious of the celebrations taking place as, for them, life continues as normal… and then through the watchfulness of the observer to the kiss which happens in an instant and is no more…

Don't let this pass you byA moment capturedThis next photo is taken of myself and the beautiful Val [tbV] on the dance floor and captures the moment of a shared joke or just complete awareness and appreciation and presence in the moment of acknowledging being married and everything that is to follow:

Unrecreatable momentWhich brings us to the final photo which was the ‘family shot’ with our fake son, Emo Kev…

Which I can’t really explain beyond that except it was my wife’s idea and for some reason Kev was really game and which really brings home the fleeting nature of having a fake son. Ah, they grow up so quickly:

Our fake son Emo Kev

[For the previous photo challenge on the theme of ‘The Sign Says’ click here]

Wot another great theme, the great ones being ones open to a range of interpretation… so many pictures, so little space, but had a variety of shots that jumped out at me to use in this post, each bringing their own personal flavour to this Patterned Buffet:

Clockwise from the top left we have:

# the patterm formed by row upon row of white fluffy cloud hovering over the water and nature scene below like a flight of incoming U.F.O’s

# the unique pattern+shadow formed by the upside down bicycles hanging in our community house on Potter Street in Philadelphia

# both the shades and the shapes of the tyres and the paint which in this picture are all scattered around but are being prepared so that they can be places in a creative design around the new park area reclaimed for the children in our area

# the leaves that amass in front of the blurred image of my beautiful bride on our wedding day, almost as if they are an army, ready to command to do her every will

# the various patterns and shapes of different colour that individually resemble chaos but as they are crafted by my friend Karim come together in a beautiful design that he says is me and gives his unique nickname for me of ‘Fisher-man’

And then this last one stands out for me. The pattern formed by the water. Not quite Moses parting the Red Sea but my best attempt at it. The uniformity of the waves creating a stunning image of venturing forth’ness.

water spray


[For the previous Photo Challenge with the theme of ‘From Above’ click here]

brett FISH and tbV

the other day i posted an answer to a ‘how much sex in marriage?’ question that someone left after a ‘Singleness’ blog post and it got a whole lot of attention… realising that Sex in Marriage is a bit of a Taboo Topic that doesn’t get much attention, this felt like a healthy conversation to continue and so i had an online chat with Val about some of the stuff that came up in the comments section, so we could share it with you:

[Brett]: Hey Val, so when you read through the comments section on the ‘How much sex in marriage?’ blog, there were one or two things that got your back up. What would you say was the biggest of those that caused a reaction in you?

[Valerie]: Hi B. I think for the most part I appreciated the comments and agree that sex (or at least one or both partner’s interaction with it) can be an indicator of deeper issues in a marriage. I think my biggest issue was the implied suggestion that a lack or reduction of sex is indicative of marital problems. This comment in particular got me: “I think that if a relationship is done properly, and both people are happy, comfortable and secure in the relationship, sex will follow, however if there are issues elsewhere in the relationship, sex will illustrate that.”

[Brett]: Hm, interesting. I agree that if there are issues elsewhere in the relationship then sex is likely to be one of the places where that will be picked up. But I imagine you are more hesitant about the idea that if things are good in a relationship that sex will naturally follow? Is that right or what exactly is it about that statement [in the context of what you’ve said about problems with sex can be an indicator of deeper issues within a marriage] that you are taking issue to?

[Valerie]: I think what I heard some folk say is that a lack of sex is ALWAYS an indication of deeper issues and marital “rot”. I don’t like the idea that the natural result of happiness, comfortability and security is SEX! The implication being that sex is directly correlated with happiness, comfortability, security and general health of a marriage (the more you’re having the better it is; the less you’re having the more “in danger” you are.) My concern here is that this plays strongly into the dominant role sex plays in our culture, both within the church and without.

For many churches, the prime focus on relationships before marriage is sex. Don’t have it!

And the prime focus on relationships after marriage is sex. Have it!

So sex dominates our understandings of relationships, marriage, love, mutuality, fulfillment, sin and right living, and health – in the church. Meanwhile, outside the doors, sex dominates too. We have a culture driven by sex and sexuality – it pervades our music, movies, the market place, books, magazines, and is placed at the forefront of relationships.

I feel uncomfortable with this preoccupation with sex both in and out the church, both before and after marriage. is all

[Brett]: I hear you on that and definitely agree with you. The church could definitely improve their stance on sex in terms of the way it is presented and spoken about [and not spoken about]. Ultimately if the church is not speaking about sex, then we have to turn to the other voices on it which will primarily be the media and Hollywood, not great proponents of healthy attractive sexuality.

Karen seemed to have a similar opinion to you on sex not being at the centre of marriage, but also spoke of how it can be a good indicator if something is not healthy.

“Many counsellors and leaders in churches that I know, when helping couples will ask what the sexual relationship is like to get an indication of the health of the marriage. So although it is not the be all and end all and both parties should be happy with the amount of sex that happens in the marriage, we have to make sure our marriages are healthy, that our relationship with God is healthy so that we lack nothing, that He fulfills our needs and makes us happy, so that we don’t expect our spouses to make us happy.”

Is that something you would agree with? That a good marriage is not defined on how much or little sex you are having [other commenters mentioned things like emotional issues, abuse in the past and other aspects which can affect your sex] but that it might be a warning sign, a smoke alarm if you will, to the possibility of there being a fire needing to be taken care of?

[Valerie]: In short, I don’t think the strength or health of a marriage should be defined on how much or little sex is happening. But, if one or both parties are finding the amount of sex (shall we leave the quality to the side for now?) an issue, which I believe is where the first blog post started, then by all means that needs to be addressed. And I think the first blog did that well – in essence you flipped it on it’s head from “how much am I entitled to” to the deeper issues that could, and often do, underlie a question like that. The back-story if you like.

My main concern is that we don’t perpetuate the myth that sex is the pinnacle of a relationship. It’s what we tell Christian young people before they get married and create in essence a mythical “IT”, much like Hollywood does. When the newly-wed couple eventually gets down to it we have bogged them down with so much guilt, shame, expectations and assumptions along with an idealized vision of “IT” which, let’s be honest, has little to do with the actual messy, fun, awkward, emotional, vulnerable, experience of sex-in-real-life that it’s little wonder they get so easily entangled in the complexities of it.

And I’m worried that similar discussions of sex and it’s place in marriage do essentially the same: elevate sex to being the “IT” of marriage – the purpose, the indicator of health, the thing we should be striving for (more or better of), the reason why we do the things that make our spouse feel loved etc (ooh, and that last one especially, the “I’m buying you flowers because I love you, but secretly I’m really just earning brownie points and we both know it.”)

[Brett]: Yes, exactly. You’re talking about the ‘No sex til marriage’ whip that is held above Christian young people [which becomes completely guilt-inducing every time they mess up in any way sexually] and then at some stage they get married and are instantly meant to change to a “sex is allowed and great” mentality. That is such a confusing thing we do to people and it can take years to work through that one.

Sex in marriage IS great. But you know what is also great in marriage? Cuddling. And cooking a meal together. One of my favourite things [and I think yours] is to lie next to each other at the end of the day and just talk about life and ‘solve all the world’s problems’ [well, most of them]. Also playing board and card games together. Watching a series we both enjoy. And so on. I think this is a message that could be given out a lot more on this one – that sex is great alongside a lot of other things that are great.

[Valerie]: Totally. We follow up the “no sex outside marriage” whip with the “sex in marriage” whip (that’s another story!) that creates a lot of guilt about how much is being had, shame about what is and isn’t allowable now that the general veil has been lifted, expectations about what it’s going to be like. So phrases like “if a relationship is done properly, and both people are happy, comfortable and secure in the relationship, sex will follow” just add guilt on guilt and shame on shame and resentment and disappointment and even blame at its worst. Yes, it IS wonderful. It is messy and awkward and vulnerable. It is fun. But it is also one – yep, just ONE – of a myriad things that make my relationship good and fun and healthy and fulfilling and satisfying and comfortable and secure and and and. Let’s get a little perspective in here, yo!

We would LOVE to hear your thoughts and comments on our thoughts and comments and any follow-up questions you might have…

[to read the original blog post that started this all, click here]

Be the change you want to see...

many of you may know that the beautiful Val [tbV] and i flew over to Americaland just over a month ago to start working in Oakland, California with a non-profit called Common Change [formerly known in parts as Relational Tithe] and i wanted to just share a little about that because we are hoping that the grand launch is going to be in a few weeks time, so it is a good space for you to start thinking and engaging with people and wrestling and plotting about this and potentially getting involved…

tbV and i have been part of Relational tithe for coming close to a year now and have seen people helped with medical funds and procedures, a few start up businesses given impetus, prayer and encouragement given to the sick and dying and those journeying with them, support to friends who were pushed out of their job and had to leave the country, and a woman who lost her house in Hurricane Sandy among other things. so when we were invited to be a part of seeing this simple strategy and tool that had worked for a group of about 50 people experimenting for the last 6 to 8 years we didn’t need much convincing – we have seen it in action.

the idea is simple – if you have a group of people [which can be from as few as 3 people although 6 to 8 households seems to be the sweet spot] ready to embark, you sign up [as soon as the site goes live, which as i said is looking like being really soon] and make a commitment to give ten percent of your earnings into a common pool on a regular basis. at any point, anyone in the group is able to share a need for anyone that they are in one degree of separation from [must be someone they know and are in some level of relationship with, so not a friend of a friend’s gardener’s dog for example]. the group discusses the need and shares their wisdom on how best to meet the need [sometimes money, sometimes networking, sometimes alternative ideas] and then when a certain amount of support has been given the need is met and the person who shared the need gets to walk alongside the person they shared the need for and meet the need through relationship.

sounds very simple but quite exciting, right? think about it, ask questions if you have, why not bring it up at a dinner table or meeting this week and see what other peoples thoughts and ideas are… and then head to CommonChange.com and watch the short intro video and if this feels like something you would like to know more about, sign up to receive our latest news or keep an eye here so you can see when we launch…

Common Change is coming soon… are you?

for a sneak peak at the site, with the intro video and a chance to reserve your spot for when it opens, click here…

the theme was a day in the life of me, and to a large extent this is what a regular day looks like: hanging out with my beautiful wife, looking deep and contemplative in many different ways and poses, messing around with technomology, being different in some way, playing some kind of sport, game or improv to the full [sometimes resulting in africa shaped injuries], appreciating bobblehead [or 3D] Hulk, taking time to worship God in nature or other ways, and more posing and deepful contemplation… only thing missing from this day is some food appreciation…

[For the previous Photo Challenge with the theme of ‘Future Tense’ click here]

this week’s challenge is a little more vague than normal which is great cos it allows for a wider scope of creativity and so i came up with these two pics which for me contain the idea of ‘Future Tense’

first up, the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin whose name is No_bob [i was going to call him ‘Bob’ but he doesn’t bob hence the name and the lack of a huge number of entrants in the ‘stuffed dolphins of the world’ category means i can be pretty convinced that he is it] sticking out of my jacket pocket [which was taken at a Christian worship camping weekend called Namrock, held in Namibia].

he’s in a pocket so clearly he’s going somewhere – this is a temporary picture, promising something more – a journey perhaps, a destination not yet discovered, the moment of reveal… whatever it is, it gives the whiff of something to come which creates intrigue, mystery and suspense. and besides i just really love the pic:


and the second one is taken on the deck of a restaurant on the outskirts of Austen, Texas, when my wife the beautiful Val [tbV] and i were visiting my older sister and her family… the day slowly drawing to a close, some form of conversation or ‘just being’ happening and in the background the sun begins to set, letting us know that this day is being brought to a close, but another day will surely follow… again the expectation of what we see in the photo leads us on in our minds to continue the story and imagine for ourselves what possibilities may life ahead…



[For the previous Photo Challenge with the theme of ‘Lunchtime’ click here]

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