Category Archives: Article

Nothing

When I was little, I told my mom, “Mom, when I grow up, I want to be just like you: nothing.” Some people scoff at these words, but I think moms get it, I think moms understand. Those simple words didn’t mean that my mom was a nobody, that I didn’t respect her or that I wanted to grow up just to stay home and watch soaps and eat bonbons all day (goodness knows, my mom didn’t!). I was expressing the desires of my heart: not be be a career woman, but to be a MOM, just like her.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to bear children and be a mom. I’ve always loved babies. I’ve had other career goals along the way – archeologist, architect, nurse (baby nurse!), doctor (baby doctor!), graphic designer, midwife – but what it all ever came down to was that I wanted to be a mom. You can imagine my EXCITEMENT when my husband and I decided we were ready to start trying to conceive!!!…..

…..Then you can perhaps imagine my utter devastation when my period came, month after month after bloomin’ month. [Who ever expects to deal with infertility, growing up?! I sure didn’t.] We were fortunate to have the means to eventually attempt IVF, and we were gloriously blessed with success on the very first try!! Our son is now 13 years old, and I try to remind myself how so very, very blessed we are to have him.

Following our son’s conception, I was in seventh heaven! I was totally in my element: I loved pregnancy, I loved childbirth, I loved the newborn/infancy stage. I LOVED mothering a small child! I loved being ‘nothing’. In the ensuing six years, we tried, on and off, with greater and lesser intensity, to conceive a sibling for our son. I did fall pregnant from one frozen embryo, but miscarried shortly thereafter; besides that….. nothing. We tried everything under the sun! Herbs, homeopathy, allergy elimination, acupuncture, chiropractic, fertility diet, shamanic healing and past-life regression, for pete’s sake, along with another fresh IVF cycle and the glimmers of hope provided by the remaining frozen embryos, all to no avail. When we moved to Australia – I was nearly 40 years old! – we thought we were done, but a friend turned us on to a nutritionist and herbologist specialising in fertility, so we gave it one more try (one more series of tries),… to no avail. We thought we’d be with her for only about 3 months, but 14 months later, 14 periods later, we just had to pull the plug. We were spent.

While I worked through my grief, the light at the end of my tunnel was that, if nothing else, if I couldn’t bear my own children, if we couldn’t adopt children (with the likelihood of an eventual move back overseas, we wouldn’t be able to honour the terms of an open adoption), I would put my passion for babies into truly needy children: we would become foster parents. It was a shift, going from hoping for our own and growing our permanent family to letting go of that and focusing on temporary care of someone else’s child, on giving my heart to a sweet baby and having it wrenched from my arms a few months or years later, but it was a shift and a commitment I was willing to make. …..Who expects to be DENIED as foster parents?? I sure didn’t. And I didn’t agree with the agency’s reasons, but nevertheless we had to move on.

So……… It took  me a while to readjust to life, to shift my sights entirely: I had to adjust to a life without the prospect of infants in my care. At 45, I’ve mostly made peace with it. I can get tears in my eyes without too much effort, but I don’t think about it much any more. I was forced to rediscover myself, to find out what else I like besides babies, how else I enjoy spending my time besides plotting how we’re going to ‘get’ babies. I’ve learned that I love cooking nutritious food, I love making JennTangles (Zentangle®-inspired artwork), and I love helping other people – in fact, I’ve discovered a way to feed that mama-nurturing part of my soul: I volunteer with moms who need support, who are having trouble adjusting to motherhood or who just need an extra pair of hands. I’m getting my baby fix every week!

As it turns out, having one kid has definitely got its perks – just ask him, as he revels in lots more mom- and dad-time and attention than he would otherwise get! Having a single child makes travel much easier, too, and certainly reduces the number of birthday cakes and parties I have to think about each year. I still wish with most of my heart that our son had a sibling, but I’ve also learned to appreciate our situation as it is, to look for the silver lining, and to make the most of what we’ve got. We may not have all the kids we’d wanted, but we’ve apparently got all the kids we need. We are so blessed!

Blessed Is She

Editors’ note: this week we have a song suggested by Anne. A lovely piece about the Annuciation to Mary, we hope you enjoy this as a part of your lead up to Christmas

Blessed is she who believes
That what was spoken to her would be fulfilled
From this day on all will call her blessed
Because she gave her yes to God
Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord

Lead me on 
Lead me on
That my life might reveal the glory of God
Lead me on
That my love might reveal the glory of God
Of God
The glory of God

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour
Allelu Alleluia 
Alleluia
Alleluia
Alleluia

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour 
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour

On The Eve of Something New

There is often an indescribable feeling of hope and joy when one is on the eve of something new. Change is the most uncomfortable process to adjust to; yet very inevitable. The charismatic Christian movement has mastered the art of selling the eve of something new: a brand new discovery of Christ. This ceremonious event, though practiced and expected every Sunday, where unbelievers are called to the front of the church to receive Christ as their Lord and saviour; is the brink of change at a deeply personal level. It is the eve of the discovery of Christ; the discovery of something New…

The researcher in me struggled to understand for a long while why the research element of our MBA program kept so many of my peers from completing their degrees and graduating? After a couple of conversations with these very bright and intelligent peers of mine, I remembered the innate power of teaching and coaching that lay deep inside of me–forgotten.

More than a decade ago I assisted high school learners to discover the love for learning science and to find the desire to rise beyond their own expectations in academics. My two year stint of teaching was a great success and the most rewarding job ever. Teaching came so effortlessly to me that I dismissed it as non-challenging career choice. And yet again in 2019, a full MBA graduate, I find myself loving to motivate, elevate and awaken the little boys and girls inside these adult MBA students of mine to rise beyond their own expectations and graduate.

I’m on the eve of something new here; something great! I am pleasantly surprised by their belief and trust in me to pull them through. So much so, that I need to be very close to the one that pulls me through. I read the other day on the new church vine yard website that “While the Lord is the source of all that is good, our response can also be blessing.” I know and understand very well that everything good that comes through me; is directly from the Lord blessing His children. And for that, I am grateful! Being in the midst of people discovering the God inside of them has fulfilled my life to the brink.

I’ve been recruited for over a year now into the ‘strategic advisor’ to the MMC for Finance position in the city of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality. I love my boss, he is as challenging as South African politics could have ever defined; yet very kind, ambitious and completely loyal to his calling. He’s quickly ascended in the ranks of political power and it’s been an amazing journey seeing him rise beyond his own expectations.

As I lay these words on this page right now, he is on the eve of becoming the next Mayor of the City of Johannesburg. Twenty four hours into the announcement I find myself reaching out to my own God, within me, to pull him out of the nerves that are consuming him as the minutes slowly go by. I don’t know if he will be voted in as the new mayor of Johannesburg tomorrow -he is, one of the three candidates in the running. At this time, he’s done everything he knows how to do, we have worked very hard to even receive his own party’s nomination.

The race is about to end, he is on the eve of something new. Change is coming. No matter what that will be; I must remind him of the hope that is God; I believe that it was decided a long time ago who the next mayor of Johannesburg will be; the reveal will be discovered tomorrow. Faith must accompany his Charity now. He’s done well. Those of us who live by God’s will are not afraid. We are hopeful that the best candidate will take the seat tomorrow. In my own article, I have already declared him the mayor. Let His Will Be Done; not my own!

Asking For Help

I would imagine many people have a reaction to this article just from reading the title. Asking for help. Anyone out there like doing that? For myself the phrase immediately brings up a combination of guilt surge, doubt in my ability to even do it, and irritation that it’s needed. And maybe most of all: the rueful and frustrated acknowledgement that asking for help works where often nothing else does. 

This evening I remembered with a sudden panic that I had to write this article before tomorrow morning. I looked around the toy-strewn room, the dirt dusted floor, at the kids beginning to whine for dinner, I leapt ahead to the gathering I was hosting tomorrow night and how I could not possibly get things as ready as I had hoped. I felt myself sliding into *justified* anger at my husband for not sharing my increasingly frantic feelings. And then I did something that is (for me) remarkable: 

I said to my husband: “Hey, once the kids are in bed can you vacuum while I write this article?” 

And his response: a smile and an easy, “ok.” 

Easy as that (in retrospect). 

The other day I was talking to my mom about life and what was feeling hard, and in a moment of brutal honesty I said that the feeling toward my husband was: “why aren’t you taking care of me in all the ways I haven’t asked?” And then we both burst out laughing, because it’s so silly, because it’s so true. 

It’s one thing to know I need help, to want it very desperately. But to actually ask for it? How weak. How vulnerable. And this goes for everything from help with household chores, to asking for a chance to talk, or a hug, a safe space to cry. In asking for help, I have to admit that I actually can’t do it on my own, and I have to give someone power over me. Power to reject, dismiss, overlook, misunderstand: power to hurt. I am quite happy to take help as my just due when it is offered. (And I then feel quite at liberty to critique it when it isn’t exactly what I hoped for). But when I actually ask for it–I then have to wait and be willing to receive what is given back. And that is scary. 

Recently my husband and I watched “The Call to Courage” by Brenè Brown on Netflix (a great couples activity by the way–it sparked a powerful conversation for us). One of her main points is that courage and vulnerability are not opposites, but inextricably tied together. Vulnerability is not a moment of weakness, a failing, but a choice to enter knowingly into a place of “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” And this requires great courage. 

To me there are few things more vulnerable than admitting I haven’t got it all in hand, and that I need help from someone else. Knowing that it is really vulnerability that I fear doesn’t make asking for help any easier, but it reminds me that it’s hard for everyone. And it reminds me that, tempting as it is to believe, martyrdom is not the same as courage. Letting my guard down and letting someone in takes so much more courage than crashing on in silence. 

It’s pretty clear that when I do bring myself to ask for help, the results speak for themselves, as was so simply and perfectly demonstrated to me tonight. And yet despite the evidence, despite the success stories, I still fear it. The potential for rejection when we make ourselves vulnerable is potent. 

The hells want me to believe I can’t win: I don’t get what I need without asking, but asking is too great a risk of hurt and humiliation. While I was thinking about these ideas a line from Exodus kept popping into my head: “Little by little I will drive them out.” Ah yes, big changes take time. And AH, YES–the Lord is the one doing the work. Learning how to ask for help from others is ultimately all practice in learning how to ask for help from Him. 

“Hey, can you give me a new heart while I try to keep my temper with my children?”

And His response: a smile, and an easy, “ok.” 

“Little by little I will drive them out from before you until you have increased, and you inherit the land.”
Exodus 23:30