God is Never Late and He is ALWAYS Faithful

I’m officially a student again.  I never had the real student experience though – uni, tech or the like.  I studied after hours, through correspondence for 7 years to obtain the Import and Export Qualifications I have.  Year 7 was a year of doing the same subject twice (and having to pay for it!) and still not completing my Diploma.  One subject, just one subject is all that stood in my way of having an NQF 6 qualification, which while in South Africa is notequivalent to a university  degree, it is in other countries of the world, and, even if it wasn’t – it is an internationally accredited qualification.

I’m a little apprehensive.  After all, it has been 11 years since I last opened a text book.  But, with age comes wisdom (apparently), so maybe this time round I’ll be more grounded in applying what I learn and not just parrot-spewing the words I thought to memorize.  Minor terror aside, I am so grateful for the opportunity to actually be able to complete my studies – without the help of some very special people, I would not have been able to do so.  As I said to my friend, Simon, the other day, International Trade isn’t my first love (writing is), but it is a challenging line of work to be in and it affords me the opportunity to utilize my education.

I was chatting to Cassey, my colleague the other day.  She’s extremely spiritual and has a close walk with God.  I told her that when I started working in 1998, for a company that was just starting up, my boss at the time trusted me enough to leave me alone at the factory after only a few months.  During his absence, documents arrived for an import and I have no idea what to do.  Thankfully I got a call from a customs broker who told me they were looking for said documents, which I obviously sent off.

Upon my boss’s return to the office he told me that for a long while I wasn’t really going to be busy with work – my job at the time pretty much entailed answering the phone, running errands, making coffee and doing a bit of admin – so he would pay for me to study.  Anything I wanted.  Any. Thing.  I opted for something to do with Imports and Exports, because that was what the gist of my work was going to be in the end.  It didn’t seem fair to use his money to study writing or drama.  I can tell you one thing – I didn’t for one minute think I would be working in Imports and Exports 19 years later (granted I’ve changed jobs twice since then).  God knew, even if I didn’t.

In recent weeks I’ve had a very emotional time.  I can’t say too much because many of you who read my blog know my family and I personally, and well, some things are not to be shared on public domain.  Suffice to say though that with this rollercoaster of emotion, a great deal of hopelessness found its way into our lives and it’s in such times that faith is tested.  Really tested.

Today though, after everything, there is good news.  There is hope.  God knows what He’s doing, and to put it in the words of my friend, Marilyn, “He’s never late”.  Everything is working out as it should, as promised in Romans 8:28. 

I’m off to hit the textbooks soon, but not before saying “thank-you” to every person I know was praying for us, and to Him for being so faithful.  The next prayer chain will be for my exams…


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Exodus 20:12 / Ephesians 6:3

I want to be obedient and receive the promise of the two verses that head this post.  Sometimes though, I look at some people and think Thank God I am not them. And then I pray, God, please don’t ever let me turn out to be like them.  I don’t want to hurt the people closest to me.

There are a few situations that I know of, and while I’m not sure where to start, I feel very strongly to voice my (what many will feel is a personal attack on them (but hey, if the shoe fits…)) opinion.

I don’t like to ram my beliefs down anyone’s throat, but one thing I do believe s to “Honour your Father and your Mother”.  The Greek word for honour means “to revere, prize, and value.”  I believe that this honour means all the time, until they are no longer destined for this earth – not only when you as a child live with your parents, under their instruction and teachings, or when as an adult, you deem them to be deserving of it.  We forget that as we are growing up, our parents are growing older and that they may actually need us to be around for them – to revere their wisdom, prize their presence and value (what little) time we still have with them.  I’m the first to admit that I do fail at this, and when I do, I repent and try again, because I want to live a long life.

I was chatting to a friend’s mom, Patty, the other day.  Her dad. Arthur, is in a local old-age village, because he wants to be around people his own age and he enjoys all the activities that take place at the facility.  Every Wednesday, Patty and her husband pay Arthur a visit and on the weekends, Arthur spends time with them, at their home.  It is an arrangement that suits everyone.

Patty did tell me that there are many of the elderly people at the facility whose children don’t even bother to phone their parents.  One lady in particular’s children were here on holiday for almost a month, living it up in a hip beach house – not once did they fetch their mother to have her spend a day with them.  It got me wondering just how many children conveniently forget or simply toss aside their parents, for reasons unbeknownst to me – is it because their parents are no longer employed with an income to bankroll their children out of a bind, or because their parents have become frail and may need some extra care, or as I’ve heard one person say something in the lines of “Mom, you of all people should understand that I don’t have time – my kids keep me so busy”.

Screw that!  Your parents made time for you and were there for you whenever you needed them.  They deserve, at the very least, a visit if you’re passing through their town or a phone call on a day that is not their birthday or Christmas and not for you to hit them up for money, nor to tell them about all the luxuries you’ve purchased, when you know they’re struggling to keep their heads above water.

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Remember that you can get a new car, a new house, a new job, even a new spouse, have more kids, and possibly inherit some if you remarry, but you can never, ever, replace your parents when they are no longer here.

2016: It wasn’t All Bad

I didn’t type a post on January 1st as I have done for ages.  It’s not that I didn’t want to, I wasn’t of much value yesterday having rung in the New Year with Neil, Eliza, Neil’s friend, Grant and his wife, Casey (who happens to be Eliza’s cousin) and only had 4 hours of shuteye.  I’ll admit the hangover was deadly, but if I had to do it over, I would.  I had a great deal of fun and honestly, I was happy to see the back of a year in which I had shed a great deal of tears because of unsolved worries and constant financial and emotional stresses. It was a harsh, unforgiving year in the sense that I not only came to realize, but accept that many people are fickle and that they will only be in your life as long as you are able to give and they are able to take.  Once the proverbial well dries up, those same people who would telephone you once, sometimes twice, a week, can’t seem to operate the telephone anymore, nor can they make a special effort to pop in for coffee when they happen to be in the neighbourhood.  It hurts, and it makes me bitter, but I am not going to allow the bad vibes to cloud my hopes for 2017.  I also realized that there are good people out there too – people who I hardly know and who I least expected would care, who have proved to care more than some people I’ve known for a long time.

Looking back on some photos taken last year, I am grateful for the happy times that I had too.

Dad and I attended the first birthday of the parkrun.  I can’t remember when it was, but I do remember the theme was funny hats.  We didn’t do as many parkruns as we did in 2015, but this year that will change.  Dad has been very tired with his part-time job and the ridiculous hours involved, so I didn’t want to push the envelope too much.  It was good for us though, our bonding thing, so we need to get back into it.  It will also take his mind off the worries he has, albeit for a little while.

parkrun-birthday

Elizabeth’s sisters had babies early in the year – the first being Anna and Miles’s little princess, Karolyn and less than a month later, Ilne and Zachary welcomed their first-born, Harold to the world.  They are both sweet kids, with polar-opposite personalities.  Elizabeth is such a proud aunt, who shares their progress with me often.  Little Harold started walking just before Christmas.

I did a first aid course in April.  The course matter was intense, but the instructor made the day informative, interactive and fun.  My certificate is valid until 2019, but honestly I hope that nobody at work has a serious injury because I think my nerves may get the better of me.

first-aid

June I decided to do some baking.  I made a peanut butter and syrup swirl roll which turned out to be such a resounding success, a friend makes it regularly for her children.

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July I broke away to Shayla-Rae for a few days.  It was, as it always is, spectacular to see her.  She taught me how to stoke a proper wood-oven and she cooked on the stove for me every night because I was totally fascinated.  Let me tell you something:  a chicken roasted in a Dover oven tastes out of this world.

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In August Carla, her friend, Elaine and I went to Benguela Cove where we did a wine and chocolate pairing – a first (but definitely not a last) for me.  It was a special day, a memory etched in my mind.

august-wine-tasting

September was a month of celebrations.  Mom turned 70 and she and dad also celebrated their silver wedding anniversary.  I took them for a fancy lunch and afterwards we ate cake – for days afterwards.

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I also turned 18, for the 19th time and did something different – a Murder Mystery Party.  It took a lot of planning and while nobody was really sure what to expect, the evening was an absolute hit!

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My Herbalife business picked up systematically throughout the year, and I’m trusting that the trend will continue upwards this year.  My upline had a promotion for the members in their team and I qualified for a Hawaiian themed-party in October!  Pictured here are all the qualifiers.

herbalife-qualiiersw-dinner

The same month I decided to give my hair a bit of a chop and while I hate selfies, many of my friends wanted to see the new look.  I like it, but sadly, finances don’t allow for a short do that requires constant upkeep.  By the end of 2017 my hair may very well be long enough for me to sit on!

haircut

One of the most special events that happened in October was the birth of Neil and Eliza’s second son, Leonard.  I am the first person that will tell you I am scared of babies, but he is special.  I have really bonded with him and look forward to cuddles from him when I go to visit them.  Their eldest son, Noel, who is three now is such a good big brother.

November Carla treated a number of us to a weekend away for her birthday.  We went to a tiny little place called Nature’s Valley (about two hours from here).  We had a special time, bonding as friends, over wine, laughter, food and the tranquility of the nature there.  I’m sure another weekend will be on the cards this year.  Topping the last one may prove a bit difficult, I think.

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Elizabeth also had her birthday and my gift to her was an open-air movie at the Botanical Gardens in George.

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The last month of the year brought with it summer and with that, the annual Colour Run.  It is marketed as the happiest 5k on the planet and I think it lives up to that statement.  I was man-down afterwards because the heat was extreme.  It is fun and the positive vibe is electrifying.  The only downside is the struggle to get clean afterwards.  It took me three days to get all the paint out of my hair and off some parts of my body.  Will I do it again?  Absolutely!

colour-run

Dad also bought Mom a hand-reared cockatiel, who I named Marley.  It means misty meadows and she is grey, so it was a no-brainer.  She has proved to be a real joy.  She is only nine weeks old, and can be a bit of an attention-hog.

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The saddest thing that happened in December was the devastating veld fires which raged for a few days.  There was speculation that someone had tossed a cigarette butt out of the car window, but it turned out that it was arson.  One of the fire-starters was caught red-handed and arrested.  People could have lost their homes and so many animals would have been displaced, or worse, killed.

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There were other gems throughout the year – random drives with Mom to The Point to feed the seagulls, or simple pleasures like a beautiful sunrise, entering the American Green Card Lottery (I’ll know later this year if my application was successful, but I have a really good feeling that my dream of writing a novel in The Big Apple will be realized) a homemade grilled cheese sandwich, real boerekoffie in an enamel mug and even a spontaneous cheese and wine with a friend on the back of his bakkie.

In closing…

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Not Quite “Mull of Kintyre”, but Close Enough

Many of you may know, that despite my age, I am a huge fan of the Fab Four.  While not The Beatles, the band that followed, Wings (of which my favourite Beatle, Paul McCartney, was a member) didn’t make bad music – in my opinion – either.

Yesterday afternoon, after a bit of time-out from the stress of the past week, I had to stop to capture these shots of the mist rolling in over the sea.

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My mind immediately drifted to Mull of Kintyre, a song written by Sir Paul and his fellow band mate, Denny Laine.

I found myself particularly reflective after breathing in the fresh, foggy air.  I was once again reminded that everything happens for a reason; in everything there is a lesson to be learned.

Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea…

…Far have I travelled and much have I seen

Dark distant mountains with valleys of green…

The lyrics resonated with me.  Let me know if they do with you too.

Not sure if it is my Scottish heritage, but I absolutely love this rendition.  The bagpipes, while almost melancholy, lift my spirits.

Mull of Kintyre – Youtube Video

 

 

 

 

Just When I Lose Faith, God Reminds Me that He has Heard my Prayers…

After my pity-party-rant on Tuesday, I was once again reminded that there are people who really do care.  One online friend, Madelyn, sent me a long message of suggestions to make my situation a little more bearable and reminded me of the power of prayer.  Aunty Carol got me some info about what to do regarding a representation application to get the fine reduced, Elizabeth gave me special chocs to cheer me up – a mint Sweetie Pie, a regular Lindor ball and an almond one too.  Connor and Collette listened to me rehash my frustrations and, despite the early hour, gave me a glass (and then another) of good red wine to calm my nerves.

Wednesday Theresa came to visit.  Tonic for the soul, that was.  She spent the night because her car was being serviced at a local workshop the next day.  As we’ve done before, she dropped off her car, I picked her up, and she brought me to work in my car, used it for the day and then collected me from my office, in her car, having had it washed before coming to pick me up.  We got my car, said our goodbyes and she drove off.  Knowing she said she would put some fuel in for using my car, I didn’t for one minute think she meant that she would FILL it.  I was so overwhelmed that I burst into tears, partially out of relief, but also out of gratitude, because she herself is in a wobbly position.  The last time my car was full was over 8000 Km ago!  I know this because I only every trip the meter back to zero is when I used to fill the car.  I think the car was so surprised to be full, it nearly popped its wheels!

I phoned her to say thank you and she said that she did it because she loves me, her honourary little sister.  That just made me weepier.  I tagged her on Facebook last night, with an image containing the text, “Your biggest test comes when you’re able to bless someone else while you are going through your own storm” and I told her that she had passed with flying colours.

This morning I received this from a friend I haven’t heard from in probably at least two years.

Blessings

Unless she happened upon my blog entry, she would be totally oblivious to what is happening in the life of Yours Truly.

As I said I would, I went to the traffic department this morning and spoke to the gentleman who deals with the summonses and he said that because the license had been renewed since I received the fine, half the charge falls away by default and he will see what he can do about obtaining a reduction on the other half.  The wait is approximately two weeks.  So I will wait, in faith, as I should have all along.

The anger and despair I was feeling on Tuesday has been replaced by new hope and renewed faith in God’s timing and the people whom I so often take for granted.

 

My Name’s not my Name, and my Address is Wrong too…

So, I got a R1000 ($72) (summons, which I had to sign for) fine today, because my car’s license had expired – at the end of last month already, and while South African law allows for a 21-day-grace-period after expiry to settle the amount, it means diddly-squat if you thought the license was only due at the end of this month.

The one thing that I don’t understand though, is why the hell the authorities decided to do away with the notifications of pending expiry in the first place.  I have heard of two people this morning who suffered similar fates – My uncle’s car’s license had expired, as had his wife’s which cost them R3710 (± $265) at the end of the day.  My other friend Collette, was informed by someone at her child’s school that her license had expired, five months before.  Where she was lucky is that she was pulled off by the cops twice in that time, and not once did they tell her that the license renewal was overdue.

Why couldn’t that have been me this morning?  I was all spritely and happy to be coming to work this morning.  Really, I was full of positive energy, which was sapped in a nanosecond by Officer What’s-his-name.  I know he was only doing his (often thankless) job, but I am so far up Shit Creek, having lost the paddle months ago.  I said to Aunty Carol this morning that I am so tired of trying to make ends meet and just when, by some miracle, I seem to be doing so, some idiot moves the ends.

Great, now I am saddled with not only the license renewal fee, but penalties and a fine – (I’m looking at about R1700 now ($120)), which I want to mention has some incorrect information on it – my name is wrong and the address noted is non-existent, but according to my attorney-friend, Lisa, spelling errors don’t void a summons.

In my not-at-all-educated-with-regards-to-the-law understanding, this effectively boils down to the fact that the whole thing can be filled out with flawed info, you have to pay up.  I’m wondering what the literacy rate is for traffic officers these days, because when my dad was in the force, they were super-strict about capturing data correctly.  How else are they going to deliver a warrant of arrest (if it had to come to that) if the address listed on the summons doesn’t even exist?  It’s just a question – feel free to crucify me, if you feel you must!

Sure, I can write a representation letter, pleading my case, and I will very likely receive a concession on the amount owing for the fine, but it doesn’t help when Yours Truly is living literally from pay cheque to pay cheque, turning every cent over – sometimes without much success because two to three weeks after the cheque has cleared, there are sometimes Zero Rands in my account.  Had it not been for my colleague, Nicolette, with whom I get a lift to work most days, I probably would be without a job because there isn’t money to fuel the (now unlicensed) car.  Last week I had to rely on someone else’s charity to go to the doctor and get medication, because I didn’t have disposable cash of my own to do so, and surprise, surprise, the medical insurance, like the rest of my life, has gone for a ball of shit.

The license is going to be paid on Thursday, and I will go to the traffic department in person on Friday to hand in my (what I’m sure the people that deal with the fines, must think is ‘yet another sob-‘) story.  Who knows?  Maybe by some mystical magic, things will get sorted out.  Either way, I’ll keep you posted – either about the successful outcome, or I will be regaling you all with tales of mouldy bread, toilet water, cold showers and candles, because I seriously have no idea where I am supposed to find this extra money, without cutting on the essentials.

Time will tell…