Long-awaited update!

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Oh my, I really haven’t posted anything in a long time, have I! Apologies!

So much has happened since I last had the desire/time/energy to write and I think it would awful of me to just dump all the happenings on my readers in one go. So, I’ll opt for doing it bit by bit. And simply.

First thing’s first.

My wedding last August was amazing! Although I’d been a nervous wreck for the entire year leading up to its planning, I made it through unscathed on the day and can say, without a doubt, that it was so far one of the happiest days of my life. Before I get carried away, let me put a stop to the post already and direct you to the photographs taken by our awesome friend Valerie – who just so happens to be the best photographer in the world!

Here’s the link, enjoy!

10 days and counting

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There are about 10 days left until my wedding – the official one. And I would say the term ‘freaking out’ doesn’t describe my state well enough. Though, to give myself a little bit of credit, I seem to be a little calmer these days than I was about a year ago, when life just changed completely.

I must admit though – I am starting to get excited, but the excitement is still completely outweighed by nerves. And the whole process has been one complication after another – all I can say is that when it comes to having to deal with people, things always seem to get complicated. Add financial strain and general ‘I’ve-moved-to-another-country-and-don’t-feel-I-fit-in’ stress to that, and you have a recipe for disaster. Oh and don’t forget to add the ‘I-miss-my-family-and-friends-so-much’ feelings too – those are the cherry on the top that just make you lose your footing every now and then (more now than then). Then there’s the issue of faith and trying to remind yourself and believe that God is in control (because He has promised that He is), and feeling like you’re losing your belief and grounding just because everything…literally everything…is just completely out of control. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like this is all one big disaster, but it sure has been one heck of a roller-coaster ride, and I’m still feeling a little dizzy.

So on Tuesday I fly out to South Africa and there is one thing I am looking forward to the most (and as I type this, I just can’t help but cry): hugging my dad, mom and sister. You know, as a kid…when life just gets a little too much, it’s always so reassuring to be able to run to your mom or dad and just  feel their arms around you…reminding you that everything really is going to be ok. But these days I have to put my big girl panties on and face the world by myself: make my own decisions (though often I can’t help but email my mom to ask for her advice), make my own mistakes (oh I hate those), somehow make my own way, try to use my own brain and figure out my own answers…

And somehow God has remained faithful in the big and small things. I’ve cried out to Him often over the past year and He’s answered me all the time – though sometimes I wish He’d used my sense of timing and not His. So, if it’s like maths, then 1 + 1 = 2, which means, if He’s kept me going and answered me before, He’ll do it again…

And again…

And again….and again….

The untitled post

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I think sometimes life just runs ahead of you. And you’re pretty much left trying to run after and perhaps catch the tail-end of it.

If anyone ever told you that moving to another country whilst trying to adjust to being a married women, and still planning your wedding is easy (yes, the order may seem odd, but that’s how it is for me)…then that person lied to your face.

Life doesn’t stop to give you a break just because you’re ‘going through some things’. Sometimes, I wish it did. And people don’t stop demanding things from you just because you’re ‘going through some things’ either. I sometimes wish they did.

Those closest to me are all stressed at the moment. That makes it really hard to support and encourage one another. Instead, demands just increase, but the ability to comfort and soothe decreases. And you’re left not wanting to talk to anyone, but rather, retreat and try to sort things out yourself.

Last night I lay on my bed in the dark thinking…if only I were a little girl again. Not worried about anything. Not expected to do anything, or be anything. Without the pressure to perform lumped squarely on her shoulders. Just a kid, making a playdate with a friend in the park, or getting into trouble because she stayed out playing in the road past dark.

Ninja rolls

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Change is never easy and transition is a (slow) process.

I think I currently resemble one of those travel suitcases that have been plastered with many stickers from all over the world – not because I’ve been travelling extensively – but rather, because I’ve had various stickers stuck to me. If I were to count them all on one hand, I’d need at least 7 fingers…which would make for a very odd looking hand. What I’ve done over the last year and a bit is I’ve sort of ‘ninja-rolled’ into different statuses (really, the plural of status should be stati…just seems so much nicer….but I digress): I’ve gone from single girl to long-distance dater; permanently employed to casually employed; long-distance dater to long-distance fiancé; casually employed to retrenched and unemployed; long-distance fiancé to long-distance wife; sane to insane; unemployed to employed in a company that speaks a language I have yet to master; living by myself to sharing an apartment (and everything else) with another person; South African citizen to Immigrant in Germany; once a native, now a foreigner…

Unfortunately for me, sprinkle a slight tendency to be negative, sad and anxious to this, and you have someone who’s just completely overwhelmed and seems constantly frazzled. You see, in my mind, I had this all figured out. I’d arrive in Berlin and voilà!..all would be ok with the world! But it’s not like that, and I’ve had to come to the realisation myself that all these changes require some getting used to…and getting used to them requires some time…and that time requires a whoooooole lot of patience (and understanding, and prayer, and tears, and smiles, and tissues, and comfort food…).

But hey, life is full of seasons right? And this is just one of mine…and soon there will be another. But let’s hope by the time the next one rolls in, I’ll have learned a thing or two…

Adjusting…

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It really seems that so much of my move to Berlin has been bittersweet – don’t you just love it when life throws oxymorons your way?!

I was on a complete high when I landed a week ago, but as I’ve started to come down from my high, reality has set in and it’s sometimes made me wobbly. I think…stupidly…in my mind I thought I’d arrive here and everything would be awesome. But you’d think that at the age of 28, I’d kind of know that life doesn’t always work that way – especially when you have a few OCD tendencies sprinkled with anxiety.

The reality is that I’m really missing my parents and my friends. Another oxymoron I had to deal with back in South Africa is that I prayed and prayed and prayed for friends for so long, and only within the last few months of me living there, did I get them – go figure.

I think everyone would tell me that it will take a while to adjust to a new country (and on top of that I still have to get through a wedding and all its stress and logistics), but part of me is a little disappointed…in myself. I kind of think I’m supposed to somehow be ‘stronger’ and ‘better’ at all of this.

What I’m hoping will happen though is that in a few weeks’ time (or months?), I’ll be a little more of well-adjusted Carmen and a little less of freaking-out Carmen.

 

Booty IN Berlin!

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So, I made it!! I made it to Berlin!

Last Monday I received ‘The Call’ from the German Consulate to say that my Reunification Visa had been approved and I was free to move to Berlin :) This was the best news I’d received in a while and my heart skipped a few beats. I was so happy that I had to ask the official on the other end of the telephone line what day it was! :D I decided not to tell Mani, because I wanted to just arrive in Berlin and surprise him.

But I must admit, between getting the news and getting to Berlin, some days were tough. Over the last few months I’d met some amaaaaazing people and started to form such wonderful friendships – and now I found myself having to say good-bye. As if saying toodledoo to friends wasn’t bad enough, I had to say good-bye to my family as well. And I just couldn’t help but thinking I’m just a simple South African girl – what do I know about moving to Europe and living it up in Berlin of all places…nevermind stepping into the role of being a wife!? Admittedly, there were a few times when I thought, ‘Can you do this’ – but that’s where God is so clever (actually…He’salways clever!)…He placed people in my life – friends and family alike – who supported me and spurred me on – people who gave me the necessary nudges in the right direction whenever I seemed to veer off my path :)

So after flying from Cape Town to Turkey, Turkey to Berlin, and not sleeping for about 40 hours…I’m finally placed my feet firmly on German soil. I surprised Mani at work (which in itself should be left for another post) and then made my way home. And as I walked to the U-Bahn, I passed some old buildings I remembered, and my heart seemed to feel a little lighter. Then, as I entered the U-Bahn and smelt its familiar smell, I couldn’t help but smile to myself and think, ‘You’re home’ :) This is very reassuring for someone who’s left all she’s ever known 9,622.83 km’s behind…

And what better way to spend my first full day in Berlin than by doing some shopping for my apartment at IKEA! We don’t get IKEA in South Africa, so when I stepped into the store, I was so excited that I must have looked like a complete fool – wide eyes and mouth hanging open :D In fact, I was so excited that I accidentally dropped my jacket and didn’t notice until the announcement came over the loudspeaker. And well done to me for understanding the announcement was about MY jacket, because it was in German obviously :)

So that’s that…I’m in Germany, and now the next few chapters begin. Scary but exciting times!

 

Berlin

A Happy Birthday!

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Today marks the birthday of a very special person…my Mani!

I’m ever so happy that God brought this wonderful man into the world all those years ago. It’s so funny to think that we grew up in different countries, but that our paths still crossed 8 years ago – a seemingly ordinary meeting that eventually developed into our very own romantic (and sometimes bureaucratically frustrating!) journey.

God really does create someone especially for you. I believe that now! Mani and I are evidence of that. Sure, our personalities differ like night and day…no, more like…honey and water…but we’re still perfect for one another. We balance one another out so well and our strengths and weaknesses, combined, are the perfect mixture!

He’s my best friend. My life partner. Someone I can sit and chat to until the early hours of the morning. Someone I can laugh with. Someone I can run to and cry with when things seem too much – but also, someone who always reminds me that He is actually the one I should always go to. How lovely is that? A husband who directs me to the One who has me in His hands, no matter what…the One who cared so much for me that He blessed me with the perfect partner. As I always say to Mani – we’re not perfect, but we’re perfect for each other…

So…happy birthday Mani! It sucks that we can’t be together to celebrate this day, but hopefully this will be the last time we’re apart on a birthday. Thank you for what you’ve meant to me and my family. You’ve been such a lovely example of someone who has a heart for many :) You’re amazing! xxx

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The going under and the Rising up

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A few (important) things have happened over the past week. I guess I should’ve blogged about them immediately, but I resisted the urge. Not because I didn’t want to blog about them, but rather, I wasn’t too sure what to say.

Last Monday I woke up with a heavy feeling leaning on my heart. I lay in bed, thinking, “I just can’t go through another week like this. Waiting, crying…waiting.” It was difficult to will myself to place my feet on the ground and get out of bed. I just felt there wasn’t much to look forward to.  Physically I felt tired – as if any energy I’d had up to that point had now completely vanished. Emotionally, physically and spiritually I felt depleted.

I walked downstairs and sat infront of my computer. “Why?” I thought. “What is going on…what is it that’s really happening?”. I didn’t want to be alone and decided to call my mom once I’d got dressed to tell her I’d come through for the day – just to be around someone…to avoid being alone with my thoughts. Whilst in the shower, I heard my phone ring. When I checked, it was a missed call from my mom. When she called back, she said, “Your certificate is ready, you can go collect it at Home Affairs.” I cried like a baby – I couldn’t speak, and totally broke down. This time, however, the tears were tears of joy and relief. After the call, I found myself on my knees thanking God. And then He said something simple, but profound, to me: “Now will you trust Me?”

So I collected my certificate from Home Affairs last Monday and my father and I went to the Cape Town High Court to have an Apostille seal applied to it. My spirits had lifted – the weight of so many worries had been removed from my shoulders. I was able to smile again and mean it! Then, on Friday, I had an appointment to see the German Consulate in Cape Town – and I handed in my application for a Reunification Visa. My spirits were high and I felt good – now I’m one final step closer to being reunited with my husband!

It’s bitter-sweet, because more and more I realise that there’s so much I will miss here in Cape Town. And it may sound odd to some, but God’s prepared this time for me to Rest and to Enjoy. It’s not easy – in true OCD-style I still have nagging worries and thoughts in my head about what bad things could possibly be waiting around the corner, but then I think to what Pastor Phil Dooley said yesterday…when you become a Christian, life doesn’t miraculously become easier. Instead, you as a Christian decide that you’ll meet the bad news with an attitude of an overcomer who has the most powerful Father at your side.

This message was quite significant because yesterday I was baptized. I don’t think the full impact of the baptism has hit me yet, but it has stirred something in my heart. I stood before quite a few people and explained how I didn’t think I’d make it through the past few months. But in the end, I did, and although I’m still completely imperfect, it was time for me to be obedient to the One who’s been there every step of the way.

I’m still silly – I still get tossed about by change and circumstances – but what’s happening now in my life really must be something big and it’s not even started yet – this really just is the beginning!

Five letter word

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I had one of those moments this morning in which I was faced with truth that seemed hard to grasp. (I seem to have those moments often actually). I know that all too often I’m so easily thrown around and battered by the storms that come my way. I would love to say that I’m able to stand my ground amidst these storms, but that would be a lie.

My daily struggle, it seems, is to stand firm when uncertainties, disappointments, frustrations, and emotions (and hormones!) are swirling all around me. I know that as a Christian, I’m expected to have Faith – “…the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see,” but I have to be honest…I really do struggle and all too often I collapse in a tired heap – too tired to continue placing one foot in front of the other.

Today’s quiet time piece spoke right into my situation, and into something that’s bothered me for some time. This lack of Faith I seem to have (do I really lack it?), annoys me and I often hang my head and squeeze my eyes shut – wondering what on earth I can do to ‘get it’ – to let the concept finally click!? Why is it that so many people find it easy to have Faith, yet I try grabbing at it, but never seem to really grasp it? It’s like wanting that pair of shoes for so long, and then having your best friend buy them for herself, and parade around in them – so effortlessly, so easily…loving every moment. Like I said to a friend of mine a while ago – if there was a Faith switch I could flip on, I’d dash for it immediately. I’d run to that switch like I’ve never run to anything before, and I wouldn’t let anything stand in my way.

So back to the part of my quiet time piece that poked at me – the Apostle Paul had what I want. In Philippians 4:11-13 he talks about how he’s learned to be content in any circumstance. He wasn’t tossed about by any storms – in fact, if I remember correctly, the dude was even happy in jail! Like my quiet time piece put it this morning…”…he never allowed himself to get upset with where he was at the moment, he was always looking forward to where he could be.” He was enjoying where he was, on the way to where he was going.

Now this just makes me sit here and say, “Darrrrnnnnn Paul! WHY! How come you got it?! And how come I don’t get it?!” I think this is a situation in which I’m allowed to be envious :)

I long after the revelation (and subsequent peace) that Paul had. I want to sit next to him, chat with him, ask him what he did to flip that switch. Some days I think it’s hopeless – one of those “if you don’t get it now, you never will” situations – but at the same time, I’m always hearing about how God will give you the things you desire the most. And for now, put aside all the things I want that I cannot get; the crappy situation I’m in that I hate…apart from all that…what I really desire is to gain insight into having that Faith that cannot be shaken…to be able to say, with complete conviction that “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

The Waiting Game

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I’ve never been much of a waiter. And by this, I don’t mean the person who serves you your food and drinks…no, I mean…I’m very impatient when it comes to waiting. I remember whenever I used to upgrade my mobile phone contract – I could never wait for the new phone. Sometimes, I’d even just go for a less attractive deal, just so that I could get a new phone sooner.

And now I’m being faced with one of the most significant waiting periods of my life. I need my unabridged marriage certificate from the South African Department of Home Affairs – once I have this, I can apply for my German Reunification Visa. I applied for the certificate on 30 December 2011 and was told it would take 6 – 8 weeks. I’m currently well into week 8. My mother called their offices yesterday to get a progress report and she was told the following: “You should’ve gotten it already?!”…yes, duh, thank you for that bit of information. Apparently they’ve ‘escalated’ the matter and it should be on its way soon. *sigh* Ok. Well, what can I do? Just continue to sit and wait (and cry and scream and curse the world).

I know I’m supposed to be positive and ‘strong’ – I should be walking around with a geeky smile on my face saying “all’s going to be ok, yaaaay” – but I just really don’t always feel like that. Have you ever wanted something SO bad, but you just never know when, or how, you’re going to get it?

The waiting game is not my favourite game – rather give me Monopoly or Scrabble any day! This waiting game is one that really can break your spirit and test you. I guess I’m not supposed to give in to it, but some days, I just can’t help myself!

Hopefully though, by the time I post another blog entry, I’ll have better news.