Saturday, August 28, 2010

'Let us read, think and write' - James Adams

What makes books so charming? Even if I just stroke my hand over the cover, wonder about the author's unusual names or admire the picture of the author inside, they always leave me with food for thought. When I visit a new friend, I often have a peep at her bookshelf and the books she chooses. Why? Well, that could give away a whole lot about her!

I always tend to be busy with books. I help out at the school library, the church library and sometimes other charity bookshops. I find comfort in these spaces where I am surrounded by books. Even when they smell musty or the dust make me sneeze, they leave me soothed and inspired.

Some people see books as trusted friends. They are able to speak to you in different ways. They can take you to travel destinations that you might never reach, they can teach you much about life, the past and others. Yes, books make me feel rich - I agree with Thomas Babington Macauly who said, 'I would rather be poor in a cottage full of books than be a king without the desire to read'. I have to admit that I have, at times, skipped a meal or not bought a new lipstick so that I could afford that new book.

I always imagine that readers are good, kind and giving people. I am involved with a group of avid readers who read a book and then leave it for someone to find, whether it be in a coffee shop or on a park bench. We are called 'bookcrossers'.

When I'm on road trips and do a quick stop in a new town, I always wonder where their library could be and what it's like. I thank my parents for reading to me from an early age as I have done the same with my own children. I am sure the talented authors out there are appreciative of us, their audience too - what would their thoughts mean if we did not read them! That brings me to the most wonderful author of all - the One who wrote the Bible which has been proved to be the first printed book ever!

PS I asked my husband to edit this piece for me which he did and then he showed me a poem he wrote while passing time at a coffee shop at Exclusive books. Mmmm, great minds think alike! I added it with his permission.


Surrounded by shelves, more than four hundred
Surrounded by books, more than ten thousand
Surrounded by words, More than ten million
Surrounded by stories, facts, figures and pictures

Each cover carefully designed luring like a moth to a light
Each story carefully constructed to thrill and delight
Each author satisfied by the fruits of their labour
Each reader gifted with a story to savour

How many books have ever been written?
How many words committed to paper?
How many stories have ever been told?
How many books have ever been sold?

The spoken word, spoken and lost
The spoken word, never to be unsaid
The spoken word, with beginning and end
The spoken word, for no one to lend

The written word, captured forever
The written word, edited to perfection
The written word, having life without end
The written word, to possess and to lend

Books, as living as they are, will never know
their worth like the authors who penned them

© Andrew J Smith 23 June 2009 All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Not so long ago I did a post on trees. I spoke about their importance and how we should look after nature and the environment. I mentioned the fun memories that I have of the trees in my gardens over the years. I also mentioned how trees should not just be chopped down for no real reason. Then a friend reminded me of a time that a certain tree needed to be chopped down for the most significant reason of all!

The wood of that tree would be carried a long way by the most important person to ever walk the earth. Jesus was fixed to a wooden cross and He was tortured and crucified there. What kind of tree it was made from, does not matter. We all know about His extreme suffering and His pain and heartache. What matters is that you and I were set free by His blood shed on that cross. We can be forgiven because our God’s will has been done! He gave up His only son for us and this is the greatest love we will ever know.

I decided to leave all my burdens at the foot of that cross once again and live in the precious knowledge that He will be shaping, moulding and guiding me until He returns. I will try my best to walk in His footsteps daily…a hard act to follow!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Friends are friends forever if...

So much has been written about friendships and I wonder if I could possibly think of something that has not been said already! But because my friendships are so important to me, I have to do at least one post about them. This thought was inspired by another wonderful blogger and child of the King who recently wrote a short post on how she appreciated her friends. She added the signature song from the TV series, The Golden Girls, called, Thank you for being a friend. How many other lyrics have been composed about friendships through the years, I wonder? My favourite ones are, Friends by Michael W Smith and the ever popular, You've got a friend, by Carol King.

My childhood friend, (from Grade 2) came for supper last night. We enjoyed a hearty meal, looked at photographs and spoke a bit about the good old days, shared new ideas and had a fun time as always. She lives many miles away and so every visit is cherished and new memories are made. When she left I wondered to myself what has made this bond between us survive 47 years! It could be that through these decades there has been genuine concern for one another - my heart will not forget those things that made it feel so light - the cheery voice on the phone, words of encouragement when I needed them or even a shoulder to cry on at times. I have several wonderful friends, so many to mention. Erma and I were introduced to each other by our sons in the eighties. Our boys were only in Grade 4 then. She lives far away now too. There are regular letters in my postbox from her. They bring sunshine on the gloomiest days. This friend seems to know the art of thoughtfulness and understanding and I miss her smile so much when we have not seen each other in a while.

I have to mention Caroline. I was her teenage babysitter when she was just a little girl. They lived in South Africa for a few years and then returned to Holland. We kept in contact, first with letter writing and later over the Internet. We even compared notes when our baby girls were born a few weeks apart. I was wonderfully surprised when this special lady booked a flight all the way from the Netherlands to be with me after my traumatic diagnosis and operation in 2005. My heart was filled with gratitude when she attended my 50th birthday tea to celebrate the new life that awaited me after the trial and tribulation of my crisis!

Then there is Inki whose wisdom brings me strength. I love Fiona and Adele's love and care. By the way, it's thanks to Fiona's technical skills that she is so willing to share that I'm now blogging! There are so many special people whose hearts are in tune with mine. I wish I could mention all of you, but this post will become too long!

How I look forward to meeting many new friends on this journey called life, but never forgetting the old friendships! Why don't not make contact with that long forgotten friend soon?
Remember, a friend's a friend forever if the Lord is the Lord of them.

My prayer today: Thank you so much for my friends, Lord. Please bless them today and always!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why blog?

We had a problem with our ADSL line and I could not get onto the Internet for a while! I felt very sorry for myself and wondered whether anyone had missed me but to my surprise I utilised the time wisely...some shelves were tidied, I answered two letters in long hand, sewed a pretty scatter cushion and added a few recipes to a recipe book. Then a dreadful thought crossed my mind and I started panicking...what if I could never get onto the Net again...what about my online friends and the worst, what if I could never add to my blog again! Why has this adventurous thing, called blogging, become so important to me was the next question. Mmmm.... some material for a new blog, so I started jotting down some ideas.

Blogging for me has become a fun-filled space where I am able to communicate with other like-minded people - find out how they think and their views of the world we live in. Here I feel free to also voice my own thoughts and opinions. It's a place where I can think things through and become creative. Blogging is exciting and often surprising as it brings something new to one's life every day. It's definitely always educational - I am learning more while messing around with the technology that I once was so afraid of and also am more aware of my environment. It forces me to read more and find out about life to be able to share more on my blog. I enjoy giving of myself and like everyone, so love receiving - blogging is the ideal place to do just that.

The only negatives that I can think of is that one could easily become addicted - I often need to keep my eye on the clock while busy, else nothing in my household will get done. So you see, blogging could possibly get one into trouble too. Right now however, there is no doubt that I am enjoying every moment sharing my little corner of the world with anyone that seems even vaguely interested.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Trix's Trees

I have mentioned before how sad I become when winter arrives, stripping our beloved Pin-oak's branches bare. I know it's just a tree, but it's the sight that greets me as I open my curtains each morning and it can uplift or dampen my spirits somewhat. As a child I loved daydreaming - nestled high in my leafy hide-away I would observe the world down below. Did I maybe learn something from that tree? Perhaps from my hidden spot in the sky I was taught a little about the weather, living creatures and the mystery of God and His creation?

A few years ago a neighbour cut down a beautiful, healthy Oak tree! Why? To have a better view of Table Mountain from their second floor. I felt upset by this. I'm sure nature has value in itself just because God created it. I suppose there are reasons to cut down a tree - to build a house or to make a fire - but to just cut it down? Surely a tree is worth more than bark and sap.

At a local school the teachers and children had a special remembrance service when an age old Ilex tree on the premises became sick and died. This is going a bit far and it seems like even us Christians are sometimes getting confused. Like the environmental movements, who, have been joined by the New Age followers getting involved with saving the planet for their own reasons only. Because we love the Lord and that which comes from His hands we should be even more motivated to love and nurture what He has entrusted to us - that was what Adam was instructed to do. We know that the earth won't be our home forever, but God has stamped his identity on everything we see and it's our responsibility and our joy to use it wisely.

Maybe we should be hugging a tree from time to time...I smile to myself.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Winter in Cape Town - 2010

On the whole this was a better one for me...perhaps because I feel quite content in myself this year or maybe it was the happy vibe (noisy vuvuzellas and all) that the World Cup soccer brought to our city that did it

Cape Town winters are normally cold and wet. I don't like the dark feelings that come over me at the end of autumn when I see all the signs of winter appearing. I'm sad to see my favourite tree bare it's branches around the end of May.

I don't like freezing feet and I dread the cold mornings. Luckily my husband takes my daughter to school in the mornings and I don't have to leave the comfort of my home or especially my warm bed too early. Layering my clothes is no fun either. The scarfs and jackets that have been waiting patiently in the cuboard during the summer months smell funny and the unpleasant whiff of the first fire of winter takes a day or two to disappear. Walking through puddles and seeing muddy prints on the carpets adds to it all. Winter makes me lose motivation and I struggle to find inspiration because it is unfriendly, grey and at times just plain nasty.

Feeling half-alive is not how I want to spend my days, so I just have to find reasons to enjoy winter and make the most of it. This is how I'm getting through this one:

Wearing my warm flannel pajamas (sometimes even all day long)
Drinking steaming hot chocolate and toasting marshmallows over a flame
Cooking yummy thick soups and stews and enjoying it with the family or friends (no reason to be lonely)
A cosy fire, good book, blanket and stretching out on the old couch (if I get there first)
Being forced to be indoors allows more time for my arts and crafts and of course the well-loved boardgames

Apparently some flowers flourish only in shady spots and some need no sun at all to encourage them to bloom. Would I really appreciate summer so much if there wasn't a cold or wet winter or maybe even no winter? I think winter might teach me patience, tolerance and perseverance. I look forward to the optimism in the air and that fresh feeling and look that one can't pinpoint exactly, that comes with the start of September.
But for now I will make the most of winter - easy to say when spring is around the corner!

Friday, August 6, 2010

On being creative

A pen, a needle, brush or some kind of tool - I will always have one or more of these things in my storage boxes. I also pick up every little lost feather, button, pretty leaf or anything that catches my eye - probably with some arts and crafts in mind. I don't just want to, but I need to create something beautiful every now and then. It's a good way to express myself and I normally learn a lot when I paint, sew or write. Some people might wonder whether there is any useful purpose to this. Well for me, it's a way to take everyday items and shape them into something special so that they will remain in my life and in my heart. Maybe in a way, I am bringing a little bit of God into the world too. I read somewhere that our wonderful God of everything dwells in all loveliness in form, colour and texture. God made some things just for His pleasure, and our pleasure too - did flowers have to be so delightful and magnificent mountains so breathtaking? God went through so much trouble to make our earth a beautiful place. So, I almost see it as my duty to beautify my own little corner of the world in some small way. Beauty nourishes the soul and makes a still place for itself in our over stimulated minds. Creativity refreshes us and make us fall in love with the universe all over again.

Today I will once again pull out that waterpainting kit. Who knows who I'm about to bless with a kind gift!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Letters to prisoners

For the last couple of years I have been corresponding with inmates in a local prison. At first I found this task difficult - what does one say to people living behind bars? I feel such pity for them and often shed a tear or two when I read about their concern for their families - not bringing in finances to put food on the table, not being able to see to their children's well-being and not being in control under the circumstances. Their letters touch my heart as I read about how these prisoners miss sunshine and just the normal things that you and I are fortunate to enjoy on a daily basis. Mostly they regret the crime they committed which landed them in this situation in the first place. They seem to be thankful however, for even the tiniest thing - a facecloth, a tube of toothpaste or some reading matter. Not that it is always easy to get these items to them.

To my surprise I was invited to a special dinner - a thank you from the prison ministry for the work I have done. Do I deserve this? I thought to myself. These prisoners have actually been doing me a favour by sharing their feelings and thoughts on paper...I am far more appreciative of the many blessings in my life and am taking nothing for granted these days. It's a privilege to breath in fresh air or feeling the wind in my hair while taking a walk in the Newlands forest or the promenade. I realise how great it is to have the freedom to be able to go shopping, stroke a kitten, write out a postcard or play a boardgame with my family. A grateful heart is a happy heart and so the thank you should go to the inmates!

Please pray for me as I continue to try to encourage and bring hope to these folk while finding joy in my own journey!