Thursday, May 22, 2008

Slow lane

Today I decided to take the slow lane into work so that I could finish listening to a great song by "Lights". Made me think about how I need to take the slow lane in life more often in order to appreciate the beautiful moments, songs, sights and people I encounter. We always rush here and there. Even on our vacations we rush trying to jam pack the days with events. Quickely capturing the sights with a digital camera. Instant. Immidiate. Now.

During my studies I came across a photographer and artist called Dianne Bos. She photographs using pinhole cameras. She says about her work "My work challenges the view of photography as a way to "capture an instant in time". By using pinhole camera's and long exposure times I record, not an instant, but rather the passage of time." - Dianne Bos. Using a pinhole camera forces you to sit still in a place for 3 minutes or more (depending on the exposure time), allowing time to take it in. Its not a simple "snap" and off to the next exciting thing, to be more closely looked at on the computer screen, or the print we make once we are back home.

I love the idea of being still amidst the rush that is life today. We are called to "Be still and know that I am GOD" - Psalm 46:10. In order to know God we need to be still. How hard is that? Hard. Personally I can quite easily sit still for a long time, but that is only part of it. Now, trying to still my mind and my thoughts is quite another story. It is constantly going, whirring and buzzing, and to be honest most of the time its not a very constructive, profound or life changing buzz. Just rambling in my head. Most think I am a quiet person, take a step inside my head and you will be deafened. On the inside I am an extrovert, on the outside, an introvert.

Despite the fact that we have just invested in a lovely new digital camera, I think I need to pick up my pinhole camera again and learn to be still. Learn to drive slower, look longer, love louder, speak less and listen more. A wise woman once told me (when I was learning to drive) that it is harder to drive slow then to drive fast. I'm up for the challenge. I am going to finish listening to great songs more often.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New purchases of late: We invested in a Nikon D80 Camera, we Love it, shot a wedding on it a couple of weeks ago, and with the help of our friends awesome lens's we borrowed, I think we got some great shots. This past weekend we also happened to trade in the truck and get a golf (called a "golf four" in SA?). It was quite by chance. We had actually decided not to sell the truck anymore (took down the 'For Sale' sign and everything) and wait until Josh is in a more permanent Job...and then last week Josh saw the Golf. We got an AMAZING deal on it and we love it! My dream car. A long board. We now have 2 and love going for a long board in the evenings or have a long board double date with friends. Josh has also purchased himself a table saw (it arrived yesturday...he is incredibly excited). It will be put to use to build his Dad some cabinets in the garage and to possibly put floors in my parents house.

Climate: Its hot....I both love and dislike it at the same time. Love the heat, love the sun. But heat in the 100's gets to be a bit too much heat. Especially in our little cottage that has no air conditioning and a loft bedroom.....But as I said I love it too....

Recent Events and Gatherings: Our Nephew Luke turned seven. We attended the BBQ celebration. Mothers Day. We gathered again at Lisa's (Josh's sister) for a BBQ followed by a family game of Baseball.... I told them next time we were playing cricket.

Things we are looking forward to: A camping trip to Pizmo (Southern California) this weekend, with Josh's sisters family, for memorial day weekend. Cannot wait to be at the sea! Our trip up to Canada in June/July. We are heading North for 3 whole weeks. We are planning to head up the coast line and camp overnight in Oregon somewhere and maybe even go quad biking in the dunes on our way up.

Things I am thankful for: Josh. My family. The friendships we have made here in California. Our little red cottage. Our car. Life lessons. My job and the people I work for. Opportunities to photograph a couple of weddings. Summer. Sunglasses. Books. Pineapples. Chai tea with vanilla creamer in. My new great big handbag that can fit everything inside of it. Early morning (5:30am) runs. My health. Birds, espeically singing in the morning, cheering me on as I run. That I grew up in South Africa. That I am Loved by an incredible and awesome God and that he has a greater plan for my life then I could even imagine.

Things I miss: Danny. My parents. Familiarity. South Africa. Skye (my border collie from SA). Friends. Plettenburg Bay holidays. Playing Cricket. Perppermint Crisp.

Things that break my heart: The xenophobic violence occuring in South Africa right now. All the people who are hurting after the losses in world catastrophies that have recently occured. The fact that these things don't break my heart more.

New Soul

Yael Naim - New Soul lyrics

I'm a new soul
I came to this strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit bout how to give and take
But since I came here, felt the joy and the fear
Finding myself making every possible mistake

La, la, la, la (21x)
La, la, la, la (21x)

See I'm a young soul in this very strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit bout what is true and fake
But why all this hate? try to communicate
Finding trust and love is not always easy to make

La, la, la, la (21x)
La, la, la, la (21x)

This is a happy end Cause you don't understand
Everything you have done
Why's everything so wrong
This is a happy end

Come and give me your hand
I'll take you far away
I'm a new soul
I came to this strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit bout how to give and take
But since I came here, felt the joy and the fear
Finding myself making every possible mistake

The strength to be weak

So what was meant to be a way and a means to cut down on my "epic" general e-mails has not been too successful. To be honest I have felt really intimidated to write in a blog....Like I have to write really well, or have profound thoughts or something. And so since the last time I posted (March 6th, I think) I have written nothing, neither an "epic" general e-mail nor one Blog entry. And so I sit with a full head, not knowing where to begin or what to say. But today I am determined to write something. Anything.....

This amazing woman I barely know, moved from Modesto to South Africa with her family as missionaries. Although we never had coffee or met up before she left, we have been e-mailing back and forth for the last 6 or so months that she has been there. We share our similar feelings and struggles with moving to new countries and cultures, each others countries and cultures. She writes a blog regularly. She writes beautifully, eloquently and humorously. I wait a few weeks to catch up on her blog so I have more to read. Sometimes I sit here at work and giggle while I read. Other times I cry, her words echoing the ache deep inside me. Usually, after reading her beautiful blogs, I feel less likely to write my own, I am not nearly as eloquent of a writer as she is . But today I was inspired after catching up on her blog to re-visit mine and write. I used to begin most of my e-mails...since I last wrote...:o)

Josh and I went with our churches high school group to Mexico over Easter.

Before I left for Mexico I had been seeing a counsellor and she had asked me, for homework, to write about 2 Corinthians 12:9

‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness”.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my
weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may
rest upon me’

So this is a part of what I wrote for her immediately following the trip to Mexico....

The strength to be weak.

I decided last minute to go to Mexico. Josh really wanted to go. I wasn’t sure I could get off work and I was doing a Beth Moore bible Study the same night as Mexico training. Finally I decided to go. Initially I wanted to continue my bible study and just go and help where ever I was needed. There where 2 weeks that the bible study didn’t happen, so I went along to Mexico training. Turns out the lady that was leading the lunch and service team (Slunch) was ill those two evenings so I was asked to lead. On the surface I calmly agreed , “sure thing, yeah sure”. On the inside I was freaking out, I was a mess, “what the heck, I have absolutely no idea about Mexico or a lunch team…what’s a lunch team? And as for being a leader….I am NOT A LEADER!!” . One thing I have always been confident about is the fact that I am not a leader. However no matter how hard I tried to avoid leadership (in situations of youth groups or VBS or camps) I seem to somehow always land in the middle of it. I went home in tears those two evenings; I was overwhelmed and ‘not good enough’. After these events I decided I needed to prioritize and so I quit the bible study so that I could commit fully to Mexico. I also made peace with the fact that I was going to be stretched in Mexico. And stretched I was.

Upon arrival in Mexico I was handed a set of keys to drive the lunch team around if need be. “Drive in Mexico?...Me????”. Shortly after that I was informed that the lady leading the lunch team was ill and so by default I was the leader. Is anybody listening to me? I AM NOT A LEADER!!! So I shakily stepped up, completely overwhelmed. I tried to pray with the kids in my team as we faced making 1000 PBJ sandwiches (a day) together; I started crying. So I stopped my prayer mid sentence, hoping no one would notice and someone would pick up the prayer from me. Tammy (another adult leader and friend) wrapped her arm around me. Support. And away we went.

I was stretched like a piece of gum to the point where it is so thin it flops. Only I didn’t flop. Instead I learnt a great thing about my Lord. When God places you somewhere he doesn’t leave you there, He is there too. And there He was, supporting me, holding me up so I wouldn’t flop. He surrounded me with people encouraging, supporting and loving on me. I couldn’t have done it without them, without Him. I was weak in every way possible (except physical). I was weak in knowledge, never having gone to Mexico or been on the lunch team. I was clueless to how it worked and what was expected, I could have failed miserably. On top of that I was weak in the area of leadership, especially a group of teenagers (from America). I lacked confidence in myself in general.

I had 2 Corinthians 12:9 on my mind, and so I decided that each morning I HAD to start the day with God in order to get through without flopping. Each morning, somehow, I woke up (without an alarm) with plenty of time to spend with the Lord before Josh woke up, or rather before the “wake up music” was played.

God’s grace was abundant and sufficient. I was carried through each day with peace and patience. God showed up, especially in the people surrounding me. I experienced 2 Corinthians 12:9 for real in Mexico. Now the challenge is to experience and believe it in my “real” life. It’s a challenge, a process. I believe 2 Corinthians 12:9, I believe Gods power is perfected in my weakness, that his grace is sufficient, it’s ‘good enough’. I want to be changed by it, forever. Who I am, solid in who He is.

We made 1000 sandwiches a day, and then some. the sandwiches were given out by our VBS teams to the Children at their sites. On the last day I took my team (Yip I drove in Mexico, I followed someone there, but I drove) to one of the sites to hand out the sandwiches themselves. After spending three days straight doing nothing but making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I thought it would be awesome for my team to see the children they had made the lunches for. That day my heart broke. Even though I knew what we were doing was good, I couldn't help thinking that it wasn't enough.

We came home from Mexico changed, broken hearted, aware, full of fish taco's and much more stretchy. I pray these things I learnt, I saw, I felt, will be etched into my heart. That this experience has changed me forever and won't just get hidden under a pile of other experiences, but that the need out there will continue tugging at my heart until I am tugged into the place I am meant to be.