Category Archives: Cape Town

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!

Out of the blue

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So I was retrenched in December 2011. It was a shocker, yes. It’s one of those things you never see coming, and then *BAM*, it hits you square in the face. I’ve had a little difficulty finding something temporary to bring in some cash while I sit and wait here in South Africa for my documents from Home Affairs (the docs that will allow me to apply for my German Visa!) Once people realise I’m not here to stay, they’re not interested – and those who do offer me anything, offer way too little – not enough to even cover my petrol costs.

This whole situation was making me a little edgy and I fell into the trap of lifting my hands up in anger, shouting…”WHY Lord?!” (I still do that sometimes…)

I decided about a week ago however that I’d just make good use of my time and volunteer at my church. It’s a decision I’ve not regretted and though I still sometimes worry a little about my financial provision for the next few months, I’m happy to be rooted in a place that makes me feel secure, and feeds me spiritually. My days are filled doing all sorts of things – from setting out thousands of communion cups, to inputting information on the church database – whilst at the same time, enjoying Hillsong’s well-known worship songs as they waft gently from the speakers, filling the entire building with magical melodies. I’m also meeting wonderful people, and there’s just nothing that could be better than that!

This morning, whilst clasping a cup of hot coffee in my hands and driving through the beautiful suburb I live in, I heard something on the radio which grabbed my heart, so I thought I’d share it:

“Lifes Lessons” by Paul M. Connors, an Inmate in Texas

I learn, as the years roll onward
And leave the past behind,
That much I had counted sorrow
But proves that God is kind;
That many a flower I had longed for
Had hidden a thorn of pain,
And many a rugged bypath
Led to fields of ripened grain.
The clouds that cover the sunshine
They can not banish the sun;
And the earth shines out the brighter
When the weary rain is done.
We must stand in the deepest shadow
To see the clearest light;
And often through wrong’s own darkness
Comes the very strength of light.
The sweetest rest is at even,
After a wearisome day,
When the heavy burden of labor
Has borne from our hearts away;
And those who have never known sorrow
Can not know the infinite peace
That falls on the troubled spirit
When it sees at last release.
 We must live through the dreary winter
If we would value the spring;
And the woods must be cold and silent
Before the robins sing.
The flowers must be buried in darkness
Before they can bud and bloom,
And the sweetest, warmest sunshine
Comes after the storm and gloom.

And there was more!

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So the 23rd of January was my birthday, but I tell you what – as the week progressed, I was more and more blessed!

Firstly, I was treated to all-you-can-stuff-in-your-mouth sushi with my friend Susan – something which made my heart skip a joyous beat, because – I LOVE SUSHI! 😀

This rather fuzzy picture is just a sample of my first plate of glorious sushi (and there were two other plates that followed. Though..I have to mention, I couldn’t get through the third!) But not only did Susan bless me with one of my favourite meals – nope – she also gave me this!…

A lovely, lovely, lovely necklace with a lovely, lovely, lovely cross on it! 🙂 I remember us discussing the fact that I’ve always wanted a necklace with a cross, and she remembered that conversation and decided to make my wish come true! Thank you Susan!

So that was Tuesday – but it didn’t end there. Nope! I met up with my friend Lauren for a coffee-catch-up and after blessing me with an awesome hug (I miss those from her!), she blessed me with an exciting hamper!

Yes, how lucky can one girl get?! A hamper full of some things that just make me smiiiiiile! Chocolate, muffin mix, chocolate cookies, wasabi rice cake biscuits, pasta sauce, white chocolate coffee sachets, and a copy of Good Housekeeping (I reckon she purposefully included this last item as a way to get me off reading the You magazine!) Thank you La!

Then later in the afternoon, I received a notepad and purple pen from Karrie, much to my delight. I can’t add a photo of this, because it’s in my car and already has many, many scribbled notes on it! Thank you Karrie!

On Wednesday and Thursday evening, I went out to dinner with my (looney) friend Tara, from London, who’d been in Cape Town on business. The two of us crack one another up and it was lovely to be able to see her while she was visiting – there’s nothing quite like a good ol’ catch-up with a friend! Thank you Tara!

So yes, though Mr De Pro is still hanging around a bit – wanting to poke and prod me – I’ve been quite positive this week! I think what’s helped is the fact that I’ve avoided plonking my arse on the couch in an attempt to feel sorry for myself. And also – this week has just proven to me how important friends are and how they really can make such a difference to your circumstances, even if they don’t realise it… 🙂

Birthdays and bars of soap!

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Yes indeed, so 23 January has rolled on and I’m feeling kind of special. Why? Well, yeah, it’s my birthday…but besides that…I just feel completely blessed by all the birthday wishes I’ve received. Has it made me all warm and fuzzy inside? YES, it has!!!

The day started off with my parents picking me up and taking me out to a very yummy breakfast! I realised, however, as I got ready to go out with them, that I wasn’t feeling too well…nonetheless, we went out. Besides taking me out for breakfast, they loaded me with yummy veggies, 2 minute noodles (LOVE THEM!), and peaches. Perhaps an odd gift some may think – but for me – one of love! (And one that’s much needed, being unemployed at the moment and all 😉 !!)

As the day progressed, I realised I must have eaten something dodgey in the past few days, as I really started feeling worse. I eventually got home, put on my pj’s and spent the rest of my birthday on the couch with the telly on. I didn’t watch much, because I was passed out, but I guess it was good to rest! And besides, all my friends were busy anyway, so it’s not like I was missing out on a huuuuuge birthday party!

I also received some luciously lovely nail varnish and nail products from a dear friend who’s visiting from the UK – and these were even wrapped and tied with a purple ribbon – much to my heart’s delight! What also got me smiling ear-to-ear was the fact that these travelled in her handbag aaaaall the way from England – lucky me!

And what did I get from Mani?! Ah yes, well! I couldn’t resist, and I did some poking and prodding of his gifts…and I managed to correctly guess what they were – but I was still so very pleased with what he got for me!

Firstly…some lovely earrings!

Ah but not only did he get me them lovely earrings…nope…he also gave me a gift card from Woolworths (score!) and a bar of soap. Ok let me explain, because really…who gives someone a bar of soap?! Instead of the gift card simply being handed over in a little envelope, it’s presented as part of a little pack, which includes a lovely vintage-looking Lemon and Verbena soap – yaaaay!

Oh I’m happy! Even if I am at home feeling a little sick…I know tomorrow I’ll be totally fine again and besides – some people wissssh they could just spend the day on the couch! It’s been a good day (though it’s not over just yet!); and receiving messages from family and friends in South Africa and Germany has just made it all the more special!

Wall-hitting

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Why does it always surprise me when God’s good to me – when He comes through for me (as He always does)? Why do I stand in amazement and think, “Wow, You just did that for me?!” Why, after He’s just blessed me, do I let my mind wonder what bad thing’s lurking around the corner, out of sight of this blessing? Nothing’s out of God’s sight and all I do by thinking this way is miss what He’s so freely giving me!

Yesterday I had a slight panic about something that I felt was completely out of my control. To an extent, it is out of my control, but things are never out of His control. This ‘obstacle’ lay before me like a ginormous mountain and I didn’t know how to tackle it – over, under, around, or through?! But then, the answers started coming, and by this morning it was a thing of the past – done and dusted – a solution found – a way forward. How could I ever have doubted Him and His grace and mercy for me? How could I ever have doubted that He loves me so much that He has a plan…

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — Jeremiah 29:11

This verse has come up over and over and over again in the last year. Sometimes through the radio, through a random verse I read on a piece of paper, through a devotional, through an e-mail, through someone just saying it, on a random, blank page in a notebook….! It’s clear – very clear – that this is God’s message for me at the moment.

Yet still I remain defiant at times, struggling with things and trying to make them work out by using my own strength – which is no strength compared to His. And I still get the same results – hitting my head against some very hard walls. But slowly, I’m realising that wall-hitting is not part of the life God wants for me, and as much as possible, He’ll try to help me avoid it. But just like a little kid needs to learn some lessons the hard way, so do I. It’s wonderful though to know that besides what my emotions, thoughts or feelings are telling me, He’s still got a plan and He still loves me.

Back on African soil

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I can hear the pitter-patter of the rain’s feet outside my window. My surroundings seem so familiar to me, but at the same time, so unfamiliar. I’m back in South Africa and I’ve just slipped into the welcoming arms of my warm bed – the last time I slept was on Tuesday night, but I’m on a high at the moment – so much so, I’ve even tackled some work for tomorrow.

My emotions got the better of me at the airport when I caught a glimpse of my parents waiting for me. I was prepared though and had a tissue at hand. As I lugged my heavy suitcase through the security checkpoints, I eventually made it out to the arrivals waiting area and could do nothing but bow my head and let the tears stream down as I walked towards my parents.

It was a mixture of so many emotions that all came tumbling out of me – it was like a domino effect – one emotion knocking the next, which knocked the next – and soon they all just poured forth. But isn’t that the lovely thing about parents – how you can just lay yourself completely bare, without any inhibitions? What I received as I reached them was two warm, loving embraces. My parents know me so well – so they know about the personal journey I’ve been on for the last couple of years – and the stage I’m at now is sort of like the peak of it all. And they’ve been amazing – so encouraging.

And so I meet up with an old friend of mine – Mr Long Distance Relationship. Him and I have come to know each other well over the last 10 months. We’re not so fond of one another – in fact, he’s probably more tolerating of me than I am of him – but we get along for now – only because we’re forced to. I don’t plan to stay friends with him for too long though and I’m doing all I possibly can to get rid of him.

So back to emails and late night chats with Mani; waiting for my phone to ring, signalling that he’s online; sitting on the other side of the world wondering what he’s up to; what he’s wearing; what he had for breakfast and how messed up his hair looks…

It’s just a season…

Fun in the sun

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A few days ago I wrote about Mani’s birthday and posted some pictures of the birthday cake that I made for him. Ok, that’s not entirely true – I didn’t actually bake the cake myself, so I should say, the birthday cake I put together for him. Well, I realised I didn’t tell you what I got him for his birthday 🙂

There were various gifts – one of which is still on its way to Germany from South Africa…it should be somewhere over the Atlantic at the moment I think. Another was a pot of olives – you may be thinking, “a pot of olives?!”, but that was a spur of the moment gift idea. In fact, I saw the olives in the store when I was buying all the things I needed to construct the birthday cake and thought, “Ah! He’d LOVE some of those!”…and he did love them 😀

But the main present was something I’d had made in South Africa about a week before I left for Germany. Mani was always talking about sending me on a photo shoot and how he’d love photos of me…so my friend Dee, who’s aspiring to be a photographer – and who’s darn good at it!!!! – suggested that I go on a photo shoot with her and we get some pics for Mani. It was a lovely idea and it really was something personal that I could give to him for his birthday – not something that’s store-bought or a product that has a million replications – this was something unique that I could give to him.

So off Dee and I went on a sunny Saturday afternoon to two local parks to take some photos. I even had my hair straightened for the photos (which, for anyone who knows me and the amount of hair on my head, is a mission in itself!), and put on more make-up than I usually wear; I donned my black Levis stilettos and then changed into my leopard-print stilettos – there were plenty of giggles and laughs as I used a swing as a prop and tried to come across as nonchalant as possible whilst people in the park watched. It was a great experience, and the pics came out beautifully!

The process for me turned out to be a life lesson – a gentle reminder to have fun, let go and love yourself!

Click on either one of the links and enjoy the pics!

http://www.unspoken.co.za/posts/profile-carmen

http://www.facebook.com/#!/UnspokenPhotography

18/02/2011 – Cape Town Snapshot

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Greenpoint Stadium

Cape Town has been a hive of excitement today as the (awesome) band U2 gets ready for their concert at Greenpoint Stadium this evening. The crowd tonight will consist of 73,000 fans – yes, 73,000! Needless to say, the city has closed off certain roads and public viewing points and I can just imagine what town centre must look like right now.

To those attending the concert – 😛 to you, ok! And enjoy….!