Category Archives: Drama

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….

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! 😀 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 😀 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

Superpower that’s not so super

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Right so, I may get overly anxious and freak out about things that should not be freaked out about (is that even grammatically correct?!), but I have to accept myself for who I am, and try to work with myself and not against myself. And what I am, at the moment, is Anxiety Girl, yeah!!!! I have the superpower to freak out! Hahahahahaha! Ok, I’ll explain by letting you see the picture my awesome friend Lauren sent to me…

Yip – Anxiety Girl! Hey, it’s good to find the humour in things and when I saw the picture I couldn’t help but laugh. And this morning I was reminded about why this is, in fact, me…I’d received some work a few weeks back and the type of work it was, was something I hadn’t done in aaaaaaages. So what did I do? I put my Anxiety Girl cape on and freaked out about it. “I can’t do this…I haven’t written something like this in ages…this is going to be difficult…I just want to give up…why me….why me…” I’d wake up every morning, not wanting to face the work; I’d sit at my desk wondering how on earth I’d “get through this” – but I did. Before commencing the work, I prayed and asked God just to direct me and calm me. He directed me, but I ‘un-calmed’ myself…

However – I completed the work in record time and it seemed to be ok. When I handed it in, I had the “Ok, well…whatever…I did what I could” attitude. But because I still had my Anxiety Girl cape on, I was already expecting to receive comments from my editors on my work, saying “This is AWFUL…please just rewrite this, and this time, do a good job”. But I was proven wrong twice! Firstly, the editor thought the work was so good, she didn’t have to ask me to implement edits.  I was overjoyed – but then my negativity interjected my positivity and said, “Yeah ok sure…but wait until it gets edited further, but other people…they’ll find fault with it and you’ll have to redo everything, HA!”. But then…I received the work back from the other editors, and got a positive response – so much so I was told that I’d “done a good job” – and in my field of work, that happens very rarely.

So, the lesson I have to learn, I think, is to start packing away that Anxiety Girl cape. I have to resist the urge to jump to the most negative, ridiculous conclusions, and rather, let things just unfold as they’re meant to…

Anxiety Girl, over and out!

Ticks and checkboxes

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As I crept into my bed tonight, all my energy seemed to be completely sapped from my body. I found myself lying face down, head stuffed in my pillow…praying. And my prayer was simple: “Lord, give me rest”.

Next week I have my Visa application appointment (on Tuesday). The amount of papers I’ve had to collate for this application is ridiculous – there’s no other word for it. I swear I’ve printed enough bits of paper to equal a small rainforest (and for someone who loves trees, this is very sad). But this paper-collecting process has been straining – there are so many things to check, double-check, triple-check – and every time I do a check, there’s something I find that needs to be fixed. That was the case the evening too. Something in the back of my mind said “check the papers”. To which I replied, “Oh shuttit – I’ve checked them to death. Anymore checking and those papers will be dead!”…but still, that little something said, “Check the papers”…to which I eventually replied, “OK!…but first I want to watch some TV, so back off.”

Thank goodness that little something stuck in the back of my mind, because in the first minute of (re)checking my application papers, I found a small detail that wasn’t right and I have to try to fix it tomorrow.

But I’m so tired now of all the details – all the checkboxes, all the ticks, all the back-and-forth, all the black and white, all the bold or italicised words, all the small print, all the little asterisks. I swear – buying a house was easier than this – one document, one signature, and presto!

Dog tails and hanging heads

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If I were a dog, I’d be walking around with my tail between my legs right now. My current demeanor: slightly embarrassed, head hanging.

Basically, my good old friend PMS has been hanging around, and he’s been kicking the emotional crap out of me for the past few days. Funny how I know PMS so well, yet don’t always manage to turn the tables on him and kick him where it hurts most?!

I’ve been looking forward to a trip to Namibia with Mani in August, and last night something cropped up that threatened to unsettle my plans for the trip. Instead of maintaining composure and broadening my smile (as opposed to letting it turn upside down), I let the lid off all my frustrations, worries and emotions – and what poured forth were tears, incomprehensible sentences and more tears. I’m sure PMS was loving this – sitting in the corner, laughing his head off at me – he’d gotten his way, again.

So I woke up pretty early this morning in an attempt to see the people with the answers to my problem. I waited two hours to see them, functioning on only 4 hours’ sleep and one bad cup of instant coffee. I saw the people with the answers. They didn’t give me the answer I needed. So actually, they’re the people without the answers. (At this point, the angel on my left shoulder is reminding me that only He has the answers….obviously).

I head toward the car, my dad walking beside me. I notice that he’s getting older, and he’s struggling to walk a little – it warms my heart to think that he came with me in the cold this morning and sat with me for two hours – knowing his daughter needed her Dad’s hand, even though she didn’t want to admit it (and even though the expression on her face gave it away).

I reached the car and realised – ok…so the trip to Namibia isn’t going to happen. I had two choices – scream out to the cold morning air and declare how unfair the world is, how much bureaucracy sucks (well, it does suck), how sad I am that I can’t look forward to my trip. But I decided to do the opposite – simply…accept things the way they are and choose to still be happy. I decided to tell Mani the holiday was not going to happen, and try to get his money back that he’d paid for the flights.

I got to my folks’ place, gave my mom a quick rundown of what had happened at the offices of the people with the answers, and then checked my mail. And there, in black and white, was an email containing the answer I’d wanted in the first place, from someone I hadn’t expected it from! The first words out of my mouth were, “Thank you God, thank you God.”

How…HOW….how is it possible that He could love me so much that He’d continue to be so loving….so gracious…towards me? Me with my tear-strewn face, PMS-riddled emotions, and often pessimistic look at things…how could He still come through for me?!

And that’s why I feel embarrassed. It’s not that I doubted Him, it’s just that I crossed the (risky) line from leaning on Him to leaning on myself. I’m being a typical human being, constantly running into the same wall and then being surprised when I hit my head. Changing your thinking and your personality takes time – it’s a journey that’s not complete within 1 hour or even 3. It’s a slow process, but it’s a good one. And eventually, you will reach the desired destination. God’s gracious and patient enough to continue to hold my hand as I try my utmost to change these silly parts of myself – I just pray that the people who surround me have the same patience and graciousness to bear with me as I learn a new way of living.

When I got home, all the events of last night and this morning were concluded and put to rest with the following email I’d received:

Dear Carmen

Here is your word for today:

Verse:           Psalm 103:13

As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear Him.

– You have a wonderful heavenly Father.
– He has a heart full of compassion for you.
– It’s like the compassion you often feel for your children.
– Just greater!

PRAYER:
Lord, thank You for the compassion You have towards me. I receive Your compassion now. Amen.

Looking back

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It’s amazing what you’ll find in your old dusty journals that have been banished to a box that’s stuffed in an obscure corner of a cupboard you never open. I found a journal I’d used to make notes for my daily Bible study/readings, and opened it up on a random page. And there, written in big, bold letters were two words, with associated explanations:

Hupomone – Greek for ‘perseverance’; patience or endurance in difficult circumstances

Anecho – The Greek word for ‘endure’; to patiently wait

God gives the believer inner strength to enable him to be steadfast, to patiently wait in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Ok right, well didn’t those seemingly random words scribbled in my journal over a year ago speak straight to me when I read them today! I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with the process surrounding my Visa application and my emotions ebb and flow from negative to positive – changing almost as often as I change my underwear! And somewhere amongst those emotional fluctuations, I just want to reach out with my hand and grab a branch that’s sticking out of the swirling mass of nonsense that threatens to engulf me. Just so that I can stay afloat and catch a breather.

As I gather the little, but important, bits of paper that I need to hand in with my application, I often feel a tightness in my chest because of the fear I have for the outcome of all of this. It’s almost been a year since I made the decision to move to Germany, and all I’m wanting now is resolution – some sort of conclusion.

But as I was reminded today, God gives the believer inner strength to enable him to be steadfast, to patiently wait in the midst of difficult circumstances.

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…

Leaving on a Jetplane

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I had a plan for how things were going to happen this morning. I was going to wake up, place the last of my things in my suitcase, hug Mani as many times as I could and then board a plane headed to South Africa without crying.

None of my plan actually worked out. I was too busy with the last-minute things to remember to hug Mani as much as possible – but also, I knew that if I hugged him too much, the tears would start. Which is silly, because they started early in the morning…and still haven’t stopped. I sat, in the middle of Starbucks, trying to enjoy my Chocolate Mocha coffee, but my lip was quivering too much and a few times I nearly choked on my Chocolate Mocha coffee mixed tears.

It never gets easier…saying good bye….it just never gets easier. Each time it feels as if my heart’s being ripped out of my chest – looking at him, not wanting to turn the corner because I know that if I do, I won’t see his handsome face for a long time again.

Anyway – I’m sitting in Doha airport, waiting for my flight back to Cape Town – I’ll be boarding in 11 hours from now….yes, that’s right…11 hours. And all this time waiting just gives me a lot of time to think – think about the journey that I’m on and the steps I’ve taken thus far. I’ve been stretched beyond what I’m used to, but I’m believing that it’s all for my good in the long run. I’m going to be a better person after all of this – that’s for sure.

But in the meantime, I miss Mani, I miss the people I met in Berlin…I just miss everything I had there – everything that I wanted to claim for myself. And I’m reminded about what Mani said to me a few nights ago, when I was packing my things and trying to hide my tears, “It’s just not right that people are kept apart”. And that’s the truth of it – it really is just not right – especially when it’s something as silly as bureaucracy that keeps people separated. But I will roundhouse kick bureaucracy in his face when he least expects it, so just watch this space!

A raging storm

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The thunder-storm this morning represents what’s going on inside my heart. I love thunder storms – I love sitting in the warmth of this room, rain pouring down outside, grey clouds gathering and making things a little eery. But with this comes a little bit of fear…a little bit of trepidation – and when the thunder’s particularly loud, I want to run and hide under the covers.

This tug-of-war between enjoying something and at the same time being scared is exactly how I feel about life at the moment. Next week this time, I’ll be sitting in the airport, waiting to board a plan back to South Africa. On one hand, I’m loving the idea of seeing my family and friends again, but on the other hand, being pulled away from what I’ve grown to love here in Berlin is, quite simply, heart breaking. I think it would’ve been different for me if I was assured of the fact that I’d be returning to Berlin – but that’s not a certainty. So this time, when I leave Mani at the airport, I just don’t know when I’ll see him again. I don’t know if I’ll experience the joy of being able to utter the words, “I got my Visa, I’m moving to Berlin!”; I don’t know if I’ll experience the joy of being able to plug into the church here that I’ve grown to love, or invest properly in the friendships that have started to develop in the three months I’ve spent here.

My tendency in these situations is to allow the dark clouds to hover over my head; to allow negativity to have its way with me, to the point of losing all sense of positivity. But that’s not what I want for myself – instead, I want to see this as an adventure – I want to enjoy every step of the process, no matter how absolutely annoying it can be (and let me tell you something – bureaucracy is darn annoying!).

I think about the situation I’m in and all that comes to mind is ‘bitter-sweet’. What I’m learning through all of this though is to trust God completely – to do all that I can, but to leave the rest to Him and to know, and accept in my heart, that He’s in control, no matter what.

It ain’t easy…