Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gifts of Gratitude

I thought I would tell you about 10 things that I am thankful for TODAY! Not in any particular order...just as my heart feels gratitude...I will write ! :) :)

1) Saturdays - love sleeping in, reading my fictional choice of the week,
and snuggling with my "bokkie".

2) My Arno - being married (almost 5 years now!) to my best friend makes every day life MUCH more adventurous than doing it alone.

3) Radical Worship - the last 6 weeks I have been DIVING into Jesus Culture....words can't adequately describe the way my spirit has been touched.
Deep calls to deep has greater meaning for me...

4) My kitties - they are comforts of "home" to me and in spite of popular opinion are not quite as snotty & independent as the average cat can be...:)

5) Yummy Food - I LOVE to eat -- ice cream, chips, spaghetti, pizza, chili, cheese, Coke Zero, chocolate, rice, get the picture...I could have lived in Italy, France, Greece -- any country that makes an EVENT out of meals...deLIGHTful!
6) Encouraging People - from my mom & dad whose daily words of encouragement fuel me, to my pastors who challenge me forward with grace & mercy, to beautiful friends--old & new--who give me the gift of understanding my quirks and my oddities :)

7) Artistic Nature - from blogging, to REAL worship, to dancing like no one is watching, to immersing myself into a new book, to sharing a TRANSPARENT heart-to-heart, to powerful quotes from the most unexpected places,
I am learning to embrace this artistic soul of mine.

8) DSTV - Arno and I got satellite tv for the 1st time since we have been married
and while maybe silly to some...quite enjoyable & entertaining to us.
(movies, TV shows, World Cup, world news and much more)

9) Our House - moving into our new home has been wonderful -- from the big spacious kitchen (to prepare all the "yummy food") to the design (tiles, curtains, blinds, jacuzzi tub, etc) to feeling like this little missionary kid is living in a guest house -- daily (or at least weekly),
Arno and I turn to each other and say, "We love our house!"
10) Encouraging People - No, this is not a repeat....the encouraging people in my life help me with words in my situations, and then I can have the words to keep encouraging people in my world. Got to share with a lady yesterday out of my own challenges...and she felt "encouraged". She liked that "the pastor's wife" goes through the same things that she does
...her words not mine! :)

These are a few of my "gifts" today.....what gifts of gratitude do you have today?
I would love to hear them! :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Go Team U.S.A!

In honor of the USA win today in the FIFA World Cup moving them into the Round of 16, I thought I would post a little American treat that has JUST come to South Africa that has made Arno ESPECIALLY happy!!

Thank you USA for making us proud AND keeping us caffeinated!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Proudly South African

Well, today, South Africa fought hard and strong and while it was an amazing win against France...the points were not enough to take us to the next round! But I wanted to SHOW you what the game was like in my house!

First Arno comes bursting into the house with HIS version of the "diski dance"....okay maybe not....but I was in such shock that I don't have pictures of that dance....but he effectively scared the kitties upstairs to the bedroom....he was wild! This was the closest that I got to recording his crazy excitement!

Throughout the game, I don't think he sat down longer than 2 minutes...INCLUDING half time! He was a PROUDLY SOUTH AFRICAN supporter the whole time!!

At the end, Arno was QUITE sad.....!!
And wanted some comfort!
Bafana, Bafana, we are proud of you!!! Way to fight hard and beat France!! We are still behind you 100%!!

From the Mouth of Babes...Bye, Bye, Jonah Day!!

I have been a fan of Anne of Green Gables ever since I was a little girl and there is a chapter there on Jonah days.

As most of you know, Jonah was in a storm while out to sea, thrown overboard by his fellow shipmates (at his request), and then swallowed by a whale. He was having a BAD DAY!

Sunday was for me -- a JONAH day.

It seemed like from the moment I opened my eyelids and stepped my toes onto the floor that I, as they say, woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Life felt overwhelming and the day loomed ahead of me.

I got in the car and the pressure surmounted as I thought of the needs and responsibilities of the day, and then we got to church. As pastors, we are there early of course to make sure all is in order for the services....and true to the wake up....all was NOT in order!

It is winter in South Africa and we are having an unusually cold spell and the buildings here are not made with central air or heat and the gas bottles had run out! The clip that gets played during the offering was still at the main campus (40 minutes away) when our 1st service started. One of my Sunday school coordinators was stuck at home because of transportaion issues and the other one is 9 months pregnant so limited in what she can do and when she can get to church as she also has a 2 year old in tow. All of these things changed the order of service for the day putting pressure on Arno and my "wrong side of the bed attitude" was NOT helping. To top it all off, it was Father's Day and we have special gifts that the children pass out to the dads that must be coordinated. Plus, my daddy is far away....!

So, the point of this post is NOT a rant on my BAD DAY, but to show you how no matter how big or small our problems are God works it out....and the chosen vessels that God used on Sunday were all under the age of 10!

After all of the problems had been sorted and gifts had been delivered to the fathers in the main auditorium, I was in our children's church, 3CKidz!, along with the teachers, helping the children make cards for their dads and within 20 minutes, these little minds & hearts radically shifted my day.

Their completle unawareness:
1) Lionel, 6, goes to Chantall M and asks, "Why is Auntie Chantell (Herbst) so big?" (She is 9 months pregnant and he comes to church EVERY Sunday!! :)

Their new discoveries:
2) Little 4 year old girl asks, "Teacher, can you help me with my card?" I say, "Sure, my sweetheart, what do you want me to help you with." She looks at me quite puzzled and says, "Why do you talk in THAT voice?" (My American accent is not SO familiar to her little ears)

Their heartbreaks:
3) One of our 10 year old boys, was sitting with the other children doing cards with his head down and his card turned upside down. I turn the card over and he has written "un-Happy Father's Day". I try unsuccessfully to find out what is wrong as his parents are both in church that day and live with him. He simply hangs his head with no desire to share.

and finally,

Their unconditional love:
4) Bontle, 5, comes running up to me while I am standing in the middle of the class watching the children with a HUGE smile on his face and hugs me.....JUST BECAUSE!

My JONAH day suddenly seemed so insignificant. The realization of new things, the wonder of discovery, the pain of a tender little heart, and the spontaneous love from such a little one showed me a world outside of my own personal sorrow & frustrations. A world that is equally as real and intense but on a smaller, yet completely significant, scale.

Their worldview transformed mine.....and my Jonah day??....well.....even Jonah eventually got spit out of the whale and back on track again, right? :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Morning After

So the morning after brings up all kinds of negative thoughts....and thoughts that you would NOT associate with my life....well, you would be right.

Today is the morning after the opening day of the World Cup here in South Africa. For anyone who doesn't know which sport I am talking I would have probably had I not been living is soccer.

Growing up in a country (Haiti) where soccer is the national sport, soccer has always been a part of my life and I played (with the boys usually) throughout my childhood. However watching the game was never really big on my list. I sort of just rejoiced if others did.

I have been hearing about the World Cup coming to South Africa in 2010 since I moved here in 2007. The government started building a new transportation system called the GauTrain for Johannesburg. The road works haven't stopped since we moved here. The hotels/B&Bs/motels and even private citizens homes were preparing to welcome guests. Businesses -- small & large -- furiously planned to received customers and revenue, of course! :)

Now I have realized the economic UP potential for South Africa due to so many nations coming here. To a country working to establish itself as a future 1st world leader, the World Cup coming here was an EXTREMELY positive event!

But I don't think I fully realized until yesterday, the full magnitude of what THIS World Cup has the potential to do in South Africa.

Driving from Pretoria to Johannesburg yesterday morning was quite an event. About 10 days ago, the cities finished decorating the highways with flags of all the nations participating that spanned miles/kilometers. That was already exciting....but yesterday a new excitement hit me. Hitting a bit of traffic where the highways merge, the cars began to slow down. That's when I heard the sound that is not only synonymous with soccer in South Africa, but with South Africa as a nation: THE VUVUZELAS.

So, not to be left out....of course!.....I pull out MY own vuvuzela, conveniently in the back seat and begin blowing out the window (oh, by the way, Arno was driving!). Other passengers in cars/taxis blowing their vuvuzelas smiled and waved to was such an exciting feeling.

Now for any of you who do or have EVER lived in any city, you know that you do NOT, especially as a woman, just wave at strange men....but there was no hesitance in people's hearts or spirits......In that moment, that is when it hit me....the significance for this nation, for this season, for this time.....the unity of the people!

In 1995, when South Africa won the World Cup for Rugby, it changed the face of this nation and turned the tide from the potential civil war that most certainly would have been a reality.

Now the FIFA World Cup 2010, is bringing to the nation of South Africa a level of cross-cultural togetherness that will cause the world to stand up and take notice. In fact, I think one day, world leaders will come here to take NOTES....

In both situations, a sport seems to have brought this rather uncanny spirit of unity. Nelson Mandela said when questionned about his dogmatic support for rugby (a pre-dominately WHITE sport at that time) in 1994/1995 that this was not a political calculation but a HUMAN calculation.

I stand in awe of our God today. We often see things that are marked up to chance....but it doesn't matter WHO or WHAT situation brings the change in the natural, what we see with our eyes. I take Madiba's (Nelson Mandela) words one step farther -- THIS is a GOD calculation!!

He knows what He is watch out South Africa!! And, look out world.....the tides are shifting.....we are excited for what is coming!!

KE NAKO -- It's Time!!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How Much God Loves the Muslim People life has lots of ups and downs and having experienced a bit more of the "down" side internally lately, my blog writing has taken a bit of a back the spirit of knowing that our FATHER holds us in His hands I wanted to share my evening with you....

Having been invited to a meal at an Indian family from our church's house tonight, I found myself making new friends this evening.

One lady in particular who is a born again Christian and married to a Muslim man. The Lord took her through such a journey of learning how to love Muslims long before she met her now husband, Ebrahim.

She grew up here in South Africa in a predominantly Muslim area and her family experienced a lot of racism and prejudice from the Muslim community so she had an internal hatred for all Muslims.

She shared the process of the change that God did in her heart to eventually lead her to marry Ebrahim, a Muslim man, who gave his heart to the Lord 2 weeks ago at church! So exciting!!

Her story reminded me of my trip to South East Asia 10 years ago and how God radically challenged and changed my heart for people -- specifically Muslims as well. He showed me how HIS love for them was so great that he would take 8 people on a difficult summer journey -- having raised thousands of dollars to travel half way around the world, to be in a place where you cannot overtly minister, nor do you have great numbers to report of salvations due to the ministry restrictions, as well as on being a part of a team filled with EXTREME opinions and diversities....the Father would ask us...ask go through each of these experiences if just one Muslim person...not got saved...but if one Muslim knew that they were loved by a God who gave ALL for them.....JUST ONE!!

And in my own personal journey, it reminded me tonight....that that is how God loves me. That is how He loves the people of this nation in South Africa. That is how He loves YOU! He will rearrange your life and even allow you uncomfortable experiences in order for that ONE person to be reached who needs to know how much you are loved.

The family whose home we were in tonight were in crisis 3 months ago -- lost home, jobs, family, dignity, purpose....and tonight we were invited to supper to celebrate in the 180 change God has effected in their lives.

3 months ago....I sat for 2 hours with this couple that I could see was on the edge....God used several leaders and pastors in the church to love on this family.....and tonight I sat on the couch with a whole new family! My role was very small, yet I realized tonight that the little piece I played on that day was important in their journey.

This family was my purpose.

This family was my destiny.

Does it mean that I am finished and that that was the only person, the only family? No!! Never!! Because I can never know the extent of God's reach through my small offerings...yet I can just be obedient tomorrow to be His hands and His feet.

Tonight, just remember that whether you are in joy or crisis, God's love has placed you in a position in this journey we call life to be either the recipient or the giver of His love and mercy....whether you feel like it or not.....He is using you for His beautiful purposes.

So don't quit today. Just keep showing up. You may feel that your efforts are nothing or worth nothing...well....guess what? Even on our best day...the Bible says....our BEST is like a filthy rag....

I read this Scripture today on my Facebook Daily Bible reading:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. --Galatians 6:7-9

Today, I am reminded AGAIN that God is in control and I am not. He is the GRAND CONDUCTOR and I am just a piece in the string ensemble.

Thanking Him for His Master plan even when I don't understand....which is OFTEN....and thanking Him that He still uses me when I don't see it or know....happy to serve ONE such as Him!
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