Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cry My Beloved Country!

Being Zimbabwean is a privilege.

And I'm not sure that I fully appreciated that when I lived in that beautiful land up North.

I'm reading "When the Crocodile eats the Sun", by Peter Goodwin, and so enjoying it, although it haunts me when I fall asleep.

I'm still raw about Zimbabwe...and I hadn't realized that until this book opened old wounds.

It is written about the early period of Zimbabwe's demise, around the year 2000, the year Braveheart and I married, the years land invasions started, the years the first white farmers were murdered ... the years we were convinced Change would come. But that change was challenged by a dictator drunk on the taste of power and greed, and to this day, Mugabe has managed to snuff out all sparks of freedom.

What has been lost by the people of Zimbabwe is incomprehensible.

It seemed to me growing up, and even now when I look back at who I knew, that everyone in Zimbabwe used to farm, have a farm in their family, or be surrounded by people who farmed. The farming community was extensive. And by default, so was the community of farm laborers.

All has been lost.

Reading this book has made me remember with great pain, the loss of homes, the loss of lives, the loss of sanity in Zimbabwe. My life has moved on - the lives of the wives of farmers have been irrevocably altered, and they live with that searing loss daily. I had forgotten. They never will.
Martin Olds body riddled with bullets.
He fought bravely till his death

My aunt no longer has a home - the homestead in Norton is occupied. Her husband's father is buried on that land, and the farm I spent most of my childhood on can no longer be visited. Sure, she has the title deeds and now lives in England trying to make a living by caring...but can you fathom that? She is over 60, and has no where to really call home.

Other life long family friends lost their farm in Centenary - a farm carved out of virgin land a generation ago. There was nothing there - just natural vlei with huge towering masasa and mopane trees. This particular homestead was built by the farmer's own hands...and now? Occupied. Destroyed. Burnt. A highly functioning farm gone fallow. And on both these farms,these women ran clinics, gave medicine out, and on the Centenary farm, provided a school for the laborers children.

All lost.

It's not only my family (including my extended family) and close family friends who have lost out, but it's my children - the next generation. They are South African. They have no idea what it's like to love the rolling hills in Centenary, or enjoy the drive out to the farm in Norton. They won't ever know what it is to swim in the reservoir near the cows, or stay on a friend's horse farm. They won't grow up going to Nyanga and feeling the cold bite in the mountain air, or swimming in the crisp clear water; nor Kariba where I spent every holidays, watching elephants wander through the campsite.

enjoying a maize harvest

I recognize now, looking back, that my parents ensured I had a golden childhood when it came to holidays away and experiencing Zimbabwe. I remember with great clarity mny parents saving for years so that in 1985 we could go right around Zimbabwe on a family holiday.

Yes, my children will have different experiences here. Yes, they'll have different opportunities here. But somehow, it's just not the same. Imagine for one moment being forced to leave your home, your country, your livelihood - all that you have known.

My heart aches for the people who have fled this land, the Zimbabwe diaspora. It aches for the people who still live in the land, and their resilience and hope in the face of insurmountable odds. I ache because for many, returning to Zimbabwe is not an option.

I remember being amused moving to South Africa: I would meet people who on learning we were Zimbabwean would cry - "Me too!" and on further discussion I would learn that they had actually left Zimbabwe at independence some (32 years ago) or in the early 80's - and inside I would look at them quizzically and think, "Well you're not a Zimbabwean then! You've been in South Africa for years!" But now, now, I get it.

Zimbabweans are ALWAYS Zimabweans.

Zimbabwe is in my blood. I will always be a Zimbabwean no matter what passport I hold, or where I live.

And one day, just may be, we will go back.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Have you future-proofed your child?

I have had a superb day with close friends who came over for a birthday tea - about 12 ladies, many of whom had their children with them and the house just absorbed them - I am again, need I say it, supremely thankful!

This came to my inbox a few days ago on an e-loop I'm on. I found it a fascninating read - the future will truly be unlike anything we on!

The times they are a changin’” never before has the title of this Bob Dylan classic been more relevant. Baby Boomers, those born between 1945 and 1964 have witnessed some truly amazing shifts in the world. They watched the dawning of the internet age, they saw the amazing star trek gadget called the personal communication device (cell phone) materialise, and computers that used to take up an entire room can now fit into the palm of their hands.
Generation X’ers (those born between 1964 and 1980) can hop on a plane as easily as a bus, play high definition games on their laptop computers against opponents on the other side of the world. They can view news as it happens instantly via satellite transmissions, and those same satellites can get us from A to B via a GPS - a tool previously reserved for the military.They are now employed in jobs that did not even exist in 1964.
According to Nikki Bush, co-author with Dr Graeme Codrington of best-selling parenting book, Future-proof Your Child, it is anticipated that our children will have had 10 – 14 jobs by the age of 38!  “It is a future we can’t even imagine and we are going to have to bring up our children to be incredibly resilient in the face of change, and who love learning, they will quite literally be learning on the job.”
Children are going to have to ramp up their creativity as innovation will be the life-blood of companies in the future.  With much more automation of jobs coming down the line, our children must be able to do that which computers can’t – utilize creativity and imagination.
Bush explains that entire new industries will become mainstream when our children reach the world of work sometime between 2020 and 2030 including robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, space travel and nano-technology, to name just a few.
Commenting on the impact of the global economic recession, Bush says that if there is one thing that has been highlighted, it is that a job no longer equals security.  Companies can no longer promise you a job or an income based on your commitment and loyalty, because they can’t guarantee employment. Everything today boils down to economics.
We need a generation of children with a huge entrepreneurial mindset because many of them will be self-employed.  Understand that EMS (Economic and Management Sciences) is now a very important subject in the curriculum.  Support it as essential and not just a “soft subject”.  The global trend is to downsize head offices and to outsource or micro-source, in other words, to buy in the skills or talent required for particular projects for a limited period of time, and not necessarily to employ the person who has them.  Automation is also another trend that will replace people in the workplace.
Bush says, ‘being an entrepreneur demands a very different skill set to being employed precisely because there are no guarantees and because you are the master of your own destiny.  The message for anyone who is still employed is that everyone today is at risk, we all need to be able to reinvent or re-engineer ourselves at will, in order to remain current and employable (as an employee or an external consultant or service provider).  You need to be constantly building your brand wherever you find yourself. ‘

By encouraging your children to build their own unique brands, whether they are employed or self-employed, you will be ensuring that your children learn the lesson that they will be their own teachers.

Because we don’t know for sure exactly what jobs are coming down the line we need to future-proof our children so that they are ready for whatever life throws at them. Bush believes that children will need more than just grades to thrive in the future; they will need X-factors for success:

  • Creativity,
  • resilience,
  • a love of learning,
  • relating to others, and
  • self-knowledge.
So what does this mean in financial terms? Well there is one more shocking prediction to digest, it is estimated that the chances of a child born in 2000 living to the age of 130 are 50%. This means that if we stick with old paradigms they will retire at 65 and have another 55 years to fund in retirement. So in effect we are trying to educate our children to prepare for their futures 65 years from now. This is inconceivable given the speed at which the world is changing. For the first time in history we have no clue how to prepare for the future because the future has no guidelines.

Risk products like dread disease, medical aids and disability will become even more important as job security dwindles and life expectancy increases. The only solution is to keep your finger on the pulse of change, you are back in the school room with the best of the best and you need to keep up. Those of us who just ‘let life happen’ will be in a fight for survival. 

Now more than ever we need to learn how the world of money works and instill healthy savings habits in our children. Who knows, by the time they reach retirement age (perhaps at age 110) the worlds governments may have got a whole lot smarter and will have developed an economic system that takes care of the aging population in comfort. Who knows? As it stands, we don’t, all we can do is embrace the challenge and enjoy the ride!

By Lindi Dlamini, Executive, Retail Operations for Liberty Life

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Being on my Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was quite honestly, the best birthday I have had in years. I think it has to do with just 'being' me this year, and embracing all that I am and acknowledging all that I would like to change. Last year on this day I bolted. I ran a million miles from people and hated the day!

Birthdays have that effect on me - I love to celebrate other people's birthdays, but feel intensely uncomfortable when it comes to my birthday. But this year, I placed some boundaries around what I feel comfortable with - like no large extended in-law family dinners, and chose to do something on the day, that I love. Might sound strange to those of you who actually enjoy birthdays :)

As a family we're trying to make birthdays mean something mean something more than just presents for the kids. I love so many of the Jewish traditions, and love how they seek to speak blessing over each child on the day of their birth. With the boys this year, in the morning I told them their birth story and I prayed for them, and then at the end of the day we prayed for them and spoke into their lives what we hope for them in their future...just a small step in the right direction.

So...yesterday morning I invited a good friend to go along with me to a beach - Belle came with and we had it to ourselves! (We went to Boulders - do you Cape Townians know about the Wild Card for Cape Town? Such value for money!)

Filled my soul right up!

The afternoon was harried - the boys had had a rough day at school and so were somewhat testy...and there was to-ing and fro-ing from gymnastics....but then -

to Table Mountain we went! And we were so fortunate because it had been closed for two days prior to this because of the winds, but it calmed down sufficiently for us to enjoy it! And it was stunning - we last did this when King Arthur was about one I think, just after we'd moved here.

The kids loved it, and were  a bit in awe of the cable cars and how high we were. My goodness, I didn't anticipate the stress I would feel with my boys, running and jumping on the top of the mountain. Heebie-jeebie stuff!

And then I get to celebrate with my girl friends tomorrow morning. Sigh. A wonderful birthday!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Culture Chaos

This post  has been in my head for over a month, but with all that has been happening it hasn't made it to the blog. Bear with me as I try and capture what's been churning in this head of mine!

Whilst still in our old house, a new neighbor moved in next door. Now as it was a semi-detached house, we could not help but embrace whoever lived next door, and over the years we lived there we made some good friends due to the nature of being so close. However, this last family, a single mom and her three kids, altered my world view.

Have you ever noticed that there's a lot you can infer about someone by what they call their children? From names like Forgotten, or Mercy, to Love, or Happiness (seriously, these are real names from students I've taught in Zim). We've certainly chosen names for our family that reflect that we believe in God, believe he gave us our children and that show we believe them to have a destiny. The two boys in this new next door family - (I use poetic license now as I don't wish to use their real names) are called Sky and Basil, and the girl is called Indigo. 

The first tell tale sign. 

Then one evening whilst cooking dinner, it became increasingly apparent by our hacking coughs that something in the air had changed - and I realized that the fragrance of incense from the house next door was so strong that it was overpowering us. Clue number #2!

I did eventually invite the mom over for tea which was, all things considered, fairly normal, but when asked to reciprocate the visit, well let's just say I was found myself completely out of my depth.

It wasn't so much the ancient Indian poster proclaiming the 10 commandments, or the colourful interior of her home, or the ostrich plumes, or the Tibetan prayer was the enormous sense of difference. I realized that I had not the faintest clue how to really relate to this woman, or what to talk about. She is from a sub-culture of people I have never really interacted with. I had no words for a comeback when she told me how the universe was aligning so that  her life could carry on when the father of her children left her (they never married). I was confronted, with no way of escaping, with a completely different world. 

(As a humorous aside - do you know that those of us that live in the deep south are referred to as living beyond the lentil curtain? I heard that this weekend and it cracked me up! Like the boerwors curtain of the north!)

And, if I'm honest, initially it scared me. Actually it terrified me. But after a while, those emotions grew into a deep sadness. I believe, wholeheartedly, that in his day Jesus was completely relevant to all people at all times - he hung out with the outcasts of society, he spoke love to prostitutes in broad daylight. I came to realize, that whatever I have adopted as a Christian culture, is actually so irrelevant to the world in which I live today, it is sad. It deeply troubles me. I want to have a culture, a Christian underpinning, that no matter who I talk to or converse with, they sense the FREEDOM of Christ and his love. My life felt so narrow, so sheltered, so protected. And folk...all my experiences of church, this 'holy huddle' stuff, this 'brand'of  Christianity has not prepared me to be able to really love the world as I am convinced Christ did.

We are out of our depth Christians. We've lost the plot. I don't know that we are relevant to this society in which we live anymore. And that friends is sobering. And deeply troubling.

O God.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Books On My Bedside Table

Here's what's on my table:

An Intimate War by Donve Lee.
My (previous) neighbor wrote this book, it's taken her close on 13 years - we attended the book launch last week. It is beautiful in its own way, and written really well, but it made my heart bleed. It's a tale of two people, and the way their relationship becomes a battlefield. I think it will haunt me for some time, not because there is some erotic content, but because it has made me aware or how whole my life is. Honestly. I married my high school sweetheart. I know so little of the ache and agony of people who have been in love and used one another. Or of the loneliness that single people face. It makes me ache for the lie so easily propagated in today's world that sex is meaningless and only for pleasure - and yet here is a real story, an insight into a mature woman's life and the hurt and the heartache that is evident as a result of relationships outside of the way I believe God intended them. Not only that, but her characters are set up for this war long before they meet each other because of their upbringing and the way their parents treated them - just a further revelation on the calling we have as parents. Recommended.

A Proper Pursuit - Lyn Austin
I loved Lyn Austin's Chronicles of the Kings (I'm a sucker for historical fictional Biblical novels), and took this out with interest. It was completely different...but it was a good read whilst I was in bed this week - light hearted, amusing, and well written for a Christian novelist.

  • Dinner with Mugabe by Heidi Holland
Can't say too much about this as I've only read a few chapters, but anything that can offer me an insight into this man's head will sure help!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

life or death

Christianity is Life. Or Death. Depending on how you live it. How I live it. How we interpret the Bible. And how we talk to each other about the interpretations we have.

Let me give you an example. We feel for our family, that it is not right for us to be in debt, in any form. We believe it is a biblical mandate to owe no man money. Because of that core belief, we do not have accounts, we do not spend beyond our income, we even feel it is right for us not to have a mortgage, because in essence we will owe the bank money. Now I know that that concept is foreign. It goes against what the world teaches about money, saving, investing, and against pretty much what all churches teach about good stewardship. But for us, it's Life. It''s a Spirit thing. And perhaps it'll change one day, I can't say for certain. But I do know that we have complete peace in this.

We also feel free to not have health insurance in this season - and we have the grace for it (and just so you know, we have had it in the past!). By that I mean He seems to have given us such a clean bill of health. Are we foolish? Depends whose eyes you're looking at me through :) !

But if you feel condemned, or coerced into living my way, under the illusion of Christianity, then it's actually death.

Life when led by the Spirit.

Death when you follow others under the illusion of Christianity.

If you try to be me, or I try to be you, we lose the freedom he promised us.

It's only in the Spirit we can see clearly.

It's the unsettling freedom of Grace that scares us silly.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's Greek to Me

A few days later RH and I met at a friend’s birthday lunch and then proceeded to one of the most enlightening conversations I've ever had about my faith:
Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near!”
How often have you heard this phrase in Christian circles, or had it preached at you? I'll wager that each time it's been spoken of it has been used with connotations of fire and brimstone, or penitence, or the more common charismatic understanding of 'turn away from and turn towards' something else. (As an aside, I am fascinated by etymology, the study of words and their origins. Interesting to note Webster's definition of the word has become the common understanding of the word today, BUT it wasn't always that way. The change happened when the Classical Greek was translated into Latin.)
The original Greek, the word 'metanoia', meant to change one's mind or heart about someone or something. So when John the baptist was out preaching in the desert and telling everyone to “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near,” he really literally meant, 'See things a new way – look at this God again. Change your mind, change your heart – it's not as difficult to know him as it seems! It's so much easier to believe! In fact, God is all around you and right here, right now – look his kingdom is here and now!'

And so here I am. Finding my Christianity in a state of transformation. In a state of flux. Where I am examining everything I thought I knew and holding it up to the illuminating light of grace and finding myself, mouth agape, saying, “Really? It's this freeing? It's not about all these other petty things?” I'm learning to see how much my Christianity has been shaped by churches too afraid to embrace the liberty of grace, too scared of the ramifications....

It's an exhilirating, unknown journey...a journey, yet again, to the beat of a different drum.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Legalism and Grace

A dear friend of mine, RH, is one of the few men whose walk in Christ is inspirational and noteworthy. A while ago he sent out this email, which really struck a chord within me. After reading it, I felt so convicted about how little I understood about Christ, and how little I really knew the freedom of his grace. Here's the beginning, and some of the ones that resonated with me. (You can join Grace Rising and receive his posts here)
The comedian, Jeff Foxworthy, has gained worldwide fame for his " might be a redneck" jokes. Here is a take-off on his routine, referring instead to " might be a legalist."

These are the some of the ones I ticked off – (and some of them I'm just still thinking about....musing over them, thinking things like – there's another way to think about this? Really? Go ahead, read the list and see. What resonates with you?)

  • If you think that God's Law can effect right living...then you might be a legalist.
  • If you think that a man can keep God's principles and precepts...then you might be a legalist.
  • If you think that there is a right answer and right action for every circumstance (if you could just take the time to figure it out)...then you might be a legalist.
  • If you think that obedience is doing what the rules indicate...then you might be a legalist.
  • If you feel frustrated and defeated in that you just don't seem to be able to do it all right and perfect...then you might be a legalist.
  • If you are burdened by self-condemnation for your failures in life...then you might be a legalist.
  • If you think the 10 commandments are still authoritative for Christians today...then you might be a legalist.
  • If you think that abstinence is a virtue...then you might be a legalist.
  • If you think that tithing is the standard for Christian giving...then you might be a legalist.
  • If you've ever felt guilty for driving up in a new car, or buying a new dress, or even a new home...then you might be a legalist.
  • If you've ever tried to impose your perspective of modesty on another...then you might be a legalist.
  • If you men have ever felt condemned for having taken a second look at a beautiful woman (in a short skirt)...then you might be a legalist.
  • If you think that Christians shouldn't practice birth control...then you might be a legalist.
  • If you've ever taken off jewelry or wiped off make-up to capitulate to another's religious scruples...then you might be a legalist
  • If you've ever looked down upon another for their living arrangements...then you might be a legalist.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

It appears I am back - mump free! Has been a long four weeks, and today it all caught up with me. I am so thankful that my in-laws live near by, as they had the kids for the majority of the day, and I rested. Literally. On my glorious bed. My body has halted me - causing me to be horizontal with a racking cough and sore throat - today I just gave in. Tomorrow I shall soldier on, but for now.....the peace and quiet is exhilarating! Pity this had to happen on the first true day of summer - sigh, there had better be more round the corner!

So I'm now playing catch-up with posts - here's a few pics from LAST weekend of Aragorn's birthday and party - a Bokkie one where only one other little boy was invited!

the cake -
Cake Creations in Fishoek must be credited
with the rice paper print

the food....
note our lovely new
SPACE to have it in!

and our special visitor
(a.k.a Braveheart who almost fainted with the heat!)

and poor Belle, who had  to be quarantined!

And then this week was King Arthur's party (my boys are born a day apart, and I cannot bring myself to give them a joint party - I wouldn't if they were born 6 months apart, so it just means a lot of planning! But it is exhausting remaining up beat for each of them on their birthdays, and giving 100% at their parties. The looks on their faces tell me it is well worth it!).

the cake
All the flags round the sides were edible
again, courtesy of Cake Creations

the now 6 year old with his cousin B

the best part of his day -
the soccer match!
And now that season is done. I'm looking forward to finding the right space in my house to get writing from my heart again, and I'm looking forward to unpacking those few stubborn remaining boxes...but I think, for the next few days, I'm just going to chill!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Merriment and Mumps no 3!

Seriously. You'd think if my kids were going to get mumps they could have got it all at the same time - but no, this lovely disease has chosen to blindside me three weeks in a row! Seriously? I kid you not, I am not amused.
Belle before the mumps,
with her R6 crown (pocket money!).
 A true princess!

Dressed to kill!
But look at her face -
she points at it all day and
says Owee!

Going for a ride

Little Belle has a swollen left side - and this weekend is a BIG weekend for this family. Aragorn's birthday and party are tomorrow, and King Arthur's birthday is on Sunday. That means I have to quarantine my poor fever ridden, swollen daughter for tomorrow that Aragorn can have the day he has been counting down to for seemingly forever (I'm not lying - he made a sally worm when there were 62 days to go or something like that!). She's going to miss out on a party she would love...and she's clever enough to know what is going to happen. Poor thing. I cannot though, postpone this party in light of Aragorn's anticipation - nor would it be fair to guests to have her here. Sigh.

Needless to say, I am taking some strain today. I have just finished planning a treasure hunt and wrapping a few extra layers on the 'pass the parcel' parcel, and once I hit the publish button it is to bed! Hopefully I will wake up tomorrow with fresh grace and endless energy!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Some more House...

Priming the shelves in the playroom
(what was a storage room I gather)
- aren't you proud of me remembering to
take photos during the process?!

The finished result -
after a week of painting.
Walls left to paint...yellow or blue?
That is the question!

King Arthur getting involved -
a gun safe used to be in this corner,
go figure!

Family bathroom

Boys shared room - Aragorn's side

King Arthur's side -
some glow in the dark planets hanging around!

Our room -
space, and nothing at the end of
our bed - a first!
...and to celebrate all this space each boy is allowed to bring home two boys to play at the same time - so today is King Arthur's turn (Aragorn's next week) - and my nerves are frazzled! (and to think I'm doing this in between birthdays and parties....goodness). As I write they're trying to catch bees! And Belle won't/can't rest which is making me more frazzled....good thing I've planned a late afternoon ride to cleanse the system!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Mansion Revealed

Uploading these photos has taken me over an hour and half - o the agony! So this is the first installment....just to wet your appetite! We are rattling around - there is just so much space!

the dining room and kitchen

the lounge - this danish oven
works like a charm! the first rainy day
 we tried it out and are looking forward to winter!

I have a laundry - it changes my life!
Someone once said to me a housekeeping
key is that everything has a place
and there's a place for everything
 - and i have that!
Woo hoo!
I am giddy with delight!

my future study and homeschooling room!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Moved...and Mumps no.2!

Well, it's been a while, to say the least. My fingers have been itching to get back into typing, but moving house has been, shall we say, somewhat time consuming!

Belle helping to move

But here we are ... in our new house, or rather, my mansion....and I am deeply, serenely peaceful. I have desired this for years, longed for it, hoped for it, and now that I have it, I am so thankful. I feel so privileged. I walk around grinning to myself!

Unpacking was just amusing - how did we ever fit so much stuff into such a little house? And the fact that King Arthur then came down with mumps meant that pretty much everyone avoided us as if we had the plague, so we moved with very little help! A few friends were just superb. One packed my kitchen whilst my sick children were at their gran's, and the other two brought me dinner - the best gift to give anyone when they're moving, trust me.

I would post some lovely photos here but Blogger is not co-operating with me and I am losing patience  FAST!

So here's a sneak preview  (let's postpone that shall we?) - I'm pretty sure King Arthur's mumps are on the way out, which means visitors! Oh, and if any of you want to offer us some interior decorating advice, comment away - we've never had so much space in our lives! My kids play ALL day - inside, outside, unprompted by incredibly awesome!