Monday, January 15, 2018

Your Presence Matters

Job's friends were so grieved that they had no words. For a week, they sat there, with Job in his pain. Their presence was so welcome, their grief palpable. They came together. He was so important that they took the time to go and see their suffering friend.



And then they spoke.

And by their speech, they increased his suffering a hundredfold.

Words have power. And sometimes though we plan for them to heal, we are but making the wound deeper.

Sometimes it's our presence that matters more than our words. Advice does not heal, it only solves a problem. Advice does not comfort. Presence does, even if that presence is silent.

Sometimes we can be blessed enough to know what kind of silence is necessary. I was not wise, not mature, just a 19 year old. But when I went to visit my friend upon hearing her mother had died, somehow God whispered to me what she needed. Not what I felt she needed in that moment, but what she needed.

My presence. Silence regarding the grief. Just presence.

And later she told me, "I am so grateful you did not come in crying and making me cry too. People had come and gone the whole day and I was tired of their tears. Yet you came and treated me like you normally do. And it was a breath of fresh air. The grief was too heavy for me to bear. Thank you for knowing what to do."

I hadn't known. The whole way there my heart was burdened, heavy and I honestly had no clue how to act, what to say. But God sometimes takes our stupidity and adds His wisdom to make something beautiful out of a horrendous time.

As I think of the hug I received from a sister after many losses in 2009, and how its impact remained with me more than the words that were spoken in that time of grief, I remain convinced. Sometimes our presence -perhaps accompanied by a plain, "I"m sorry for your loss"- is everything someone needs to actually FEEL comforted. The honesty and vulnerability in saying, "I don't know what to say. Please may I hug you?" go a long way in confirming that indeed, one is suffering raw pain. Pain that renders one speechless.

We need to sit with someone in their suffering, as uncomfortable as that is. It's easy to tell someone what to do. It makes the speaker feel better. But it's time we made the grieving one feel better. Our discomfort is nothing compared to the situation they are facing.

May we desire to be present even when we fear that our presence is inadequate. God can cover our weaknesses and fill each moment with grace.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Ha!

Last week I was put to sleep in order to have a quick surgical procedure. I woke up after they'd moved me from theatre...

Or so I thought.

My specialist, who is much older than me walks in and tells me, "You know! When you woke up you said to me, 'I'm very disappointed in you! You woke me up too early! I was having a nice dream!'"

He he he. I guess it could have been worse. But ja, I've never told anyone except my children that I was disappointed in them. To tell a grey-haired doctor that was crazy.

There.

Just a slice of randomness.

His response was that it wasn't his fault, it was the anesthetist who woke me too early. 😀

Friday, January 12, 2018

I Am South African

I have written extensively in the past about how I always viewed myself as purely a Sabbath-keeping Christian. If any extra labels were to be added, it would 'mother, mother of four, adoptive mother..." My role of daily and hourly mothering was my label, my title.

But besides the 'small' things that have happened since becoming conscious of how apartheid didn't mean people's mindsets suddenly changed, it was 2014-2016 that showed me that my chosen identity didn't matter to certain people, only my colour.

From then on, I became Black. Not because they saw my colour and hated me for it, but because the only way I could recover from the wounds inflicted was to love my blackness. It would have become too easy to curse it. I've heard enough of us lamenting, "It's so hard being Black" when they get passed over for promotions despite people in the workplace vouching for them being better candidates than the pale folk that got chosen. Better workers, and more qualified. We say it when stats reveal that even in the corporate space and the business world, Black people earn less than White people while performing the exact same job. It's just how it is. You are disadvantaged if you're black. They complained about BEE but look at most board rooms, look at the people at the executive level and only one colour (especially in the Western Cape) dominates yet they don't even comprise 10% of the population.

Point being, being Black actually has an impact on my life, and the life of others. I cannot pretend not to be Black when it has an impact on my life.

Mine is an impact resulting in visceral fear. Fear from age 11 when government schools were opened up for Black children to also attend them. I was terrified that the angry White people who did not want 'us' at their schools would kill me. I walked to the Mowbray bus station from Rondebosch terrified that a gun would be aimed at me. I walked where there were cars parked on the pavement so I could duck down should I be attacked.

We've always heard of what happens to black farm workers on too many farms. Mark Scott-Crossley just happened to be caught. It feels physically unsafe at some points, being Black. And the adrenaline that courses through the body at verbal racial attacks cannot be described. You feel the hatred, the anger, the venom, the way they deem you to be sub-human.You feel dirty.. It's hard being Black in a 'White' world like the Western Cape. Long time readers know our trials and travails house-hunting. You cannot ignore race when your race means people think you aren't worthy to live next to them or in their homes.

I'd decided I'd not comment on race stories. There are so many that it becomes tiring. And who wants to dwell on how they're hated? But the Mthunzi Sibuyi thing has rocked me mainly because IF THE ACCOUNTS ARE TRUE-all he was doing was having fun with people of all races. He is in ICU because he dared to look beyond race and see the humans within, and some guy didn't like that. Fear. How many others are out there, wishing they could also knock me to the ground and cause brain injuries? How many are there who I really did need to avoid like I used to in Moorreesburg when I'd walk far away from the road in case someone felt like driving off and smashing into me as has happened to others?

Fear of what those who hate me are capable of doing to me even when I'm minding my own business.

And so I want to share something that was posted on a friend's blog HERE. He asked some of us to write a "Dear South Africa" letter. Needless to say, being loved is what came to mind. In it, I beg for us to be loved. Not hated, not villified, not negatively stereotyped. Just loved.

And PS, before someone starts to tell me not to fear. Growing up with police casspirs and tear gas and huge guns and news reports and current racist crimes means you have no choice but to be vigilant. They may hate me only with their words and attitudes and behaviour today, but I do not know that tomorrow they won't come at me physically. It's just the way it is. Do I live every day fearing people? No. But it's like when there were lots of Blacks being killed by police in the USA. My friends' children, their husbands, sons..were scared. Just like jhijackings and car accidents can happen. I do not fear per se. But I do stay vigilant. And that is sad and wrong. Just like all crime is sad. And wrong.

May our Sabbath be filled with love. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. All of us. All loved by God. May we love each other as He loves us.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Appointments Begin..Soon

Each pair costs R3800. My boy has already outgrown the first pair. He's two years old, he's going to wear orthotics till he's 5 at least. Growth is always good. But not when it comes at such a high price! His toes are over the front edge so it's time. We were meant to go on the 16th but I received an email today asking us to move it to the 25th. I don't know that we can wait that long without causing him discomfort. Maybe he'll take a break from them till then? Hopefully it won't set all the progress back. I did ask if there was no sooner date available, will see.

But that will be it. Just appointments for feet. Measuring and casting, then the fitting and finally the collectiony, though the first time it was perfect so we took them on the day of the fitting. Good thing we don't live far away from the city!

That's where we are today. In 22 days' time we'll be recalling the day he joined the family two years ago. Time flies! He's such an integral part of the family and my older children STILL beg us to adopt again, they just love having little ones around. Diaper changes included :-) It really warms my heart. I pray they'll always deeply love their siblings and never harbour any resentment. I also pray that the adopted ones will be 'ok.' There's a lady I know who has two children, and then took on her niece and is basically raising her as one of her own. A couple of years ago she had to chastise her for something, and the girl felt as if she was being singled out more than the others. And so the question came, "Is she treating me like this because I'm not biologically hers? Why is she nicer to the others and not to me?" The teen years are tumultuous, I'm bracing myself for such feelings, if not already coming in the primary years.

As for Amarissa, there was a time she asked for her adoption story every night. Now it's all distant and unimportant. For now. Who knows what the future will hold for her and how interested she'll be in her full story? Let's hope she'll get everything she needs to thrive.


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye!

                                       

I am grateful for life.
For progress.
For full tummies and happy smiles.
I look forward to more of that in 2018.

Peace, contentment and sweet moments to you for the coming year. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017


I remember the first time I knew something was wrong with his hearing. It was because the babbling..hmmm, there was no babbling. The first paediatrician I took him to tossed all of my concerns out the window and as I desperately sought to show him that there was something missing, I asked at the end of that horrible doctor's visit, "But what about his lack of babbling?" And he said that if I was really worried, I could take him to an audiologist somewhere.

Fast forward three months past a paediatrician who saw exactly what I was seeing and past a paediatric neurologist who saw even more than I was seeing (in terms of fearing that he'd lose what skills he did have) and we had the first hearing test.

SPD and probes in ears and strange places and people do not mix. It was time to send him elsewhere to be put to sleep for the test.

And then the test found abnormalities and we had to wait 6 months for another test.

Each test fraught with pain and fear. I remember the final one. His blood dripping onto the floor as they used his jugular vein for the anesthetic. I prayed we'd never need to do it again. He'd had enough. Too many needles after too many pokes and prods as this arm then that arm then that hand and then this hand was pricked only to not be able to get a vein. It was hard. Hard watching his body jerk in reaction to the needle finally entering his neck.

The final results those months ago in laymen's language..."Hopefully in 6 months time as his brain matures even more, his hearing will be normal."

It has. I realised this week, that it has. My son can hear normally. He can pronounce consonants and more importantly, he has intonation! He emphasises syllables-he no longer speaks like some robot from the movies I used to watch. He can sound excited! I'm sure part of it is improvement and progress-he has global developmental delay so this could also be his brain maturing too-but I'm just glad. I believe his hearing is as good as it can get. He can hear well.

2018 will be more restful. Just the next orthotics appointment for his feet next month..and each time his feet grow until hopefully around age 5 when he no longer needs to wear them. And a neurology appointment when he turns 3 in September. 2018 will be a better year for him. Therapy at home.

And I am glad! He deserves it. He deserves the world. Don't they all?


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Testimonies You Tell May Help You One Day

I used to share a lot of my struggles and triumphs with my church family. And online, truth be told. long time readers know about my infertility struggles, health challenges and chronic pain conditions. I either spoke to solicit prayers, to testify how God's grace was sufficient or to encourage others.

In September this year, at the height of feeling utterly bereft, someone called me to commiserate. We'd both found out some terrible news on exactly the same day last year, though he had only had to go through it once, I had yet another date later on to mourn over. During his call he mentioned as an aside that his faith had been severely tested and only now was he coming back to his senses. I shared what I shared in my deleted posts-the way I felt like God was far away from me.

He basically responded with, "No but you see, you are under attack from the devil. And like it or not, you will always be under attack as long as you live your Christianity. You have no idea how your work was making an impact. People don't tell you, but we talk. Satan tried to get to you by making you infertile but it didn't work. Instead you have two beautiful biological children. He tried to get you down by taking away your health, but still you clung to God. Now he's decided find a surefire way to make you forsake your faith. You cannot let him win."

It wasn't the words that reached my heart, it was the fact this person, a man no less, remembered the testimonies we have given over the years. It jolted me, I'd even forgotten some of the things I've shared. Yet he remembered. Long time readers know how one of the things I struggled with with blogging was how I felt like I was speaking to the wind, hating the lack of community and responses. I don't write just to put my words out there into space, there are enough words out there as it is. I want them to do something to someone else. The fact that words can be remembered so many years later, means they did do something.

And maybe by blogging the good and the bad, something can be done to someone else who needs it. More importantly, your sharing your testimony today might not only help someone now, but it might very well be to your own advantage in the future. You might very well be held up by the words you used to hold others up. 

The early church both in New Testament times and in our early SDA history was rich in sharing of their truths and goods. Maybe it's time we went back to that lifestyle. We'd find strength in being made to look back at how God has led us in the past when our dark and painful circumstances blind us to the beauty we once lived.

Share your truth. You were created to be a living epistle known and read of all men. Share it. It might save you once more.