All posts by Verna Brown

About Verna Brown

Verna Brown was born in the north of Scotland in 1942 and followed the sun with her parents and grandmother to Durban, South Africa in 1948. She joined the New Church at 20, and was married to Kenneth Brown in 1964 in the Musgrave Road Church. They have 4 married children and 8 grandchildren. Verna has a DLitt et Phil degree, as well as a further degree in education. She has taught and lectured, and loves her lively Sunday School class at Buccleuch in Gauteng (Transvaal) as well as the classes she offers in her own home for U3A (the University of the Third Age: i.e. retirees). She looks forward to contributing to New Christian Woman as a mature (?) member. Greetings to you all.

Life In The Eighties

I am a New Church old woman of three score years and twenty-one, which is why this is my last contribution to the journal. There comes a time in our lives when ‘enough’ presents itself as a desirable option.

In the interests of the positive I believe that I should focus on gratitude. Our world today is not so different from the one I was born into: 1942 in Bonnie Scotland with the world at war. I could almost say that it is the same script with different players. Ego, revenge and greed continue to dominate action. But the earth is still vibrant with people of character whose principles and love of the Lord safeguard them against the most noxious evils.  Because we are all beloved children of God, we can freely choose to follow Him and fight our weaknesses with His help until we face the ultimate challenges of forgiveness and love for all. Hopefully, our aim will be to live long enough to overcome our grievances.

One of the sweet balms of old age is thankfulness. As I look at my life, I can clearly see the hand of the Lord’s agency at work.  I give thanks, too, for my children and grandchildren, whom I love and admire, and friends who have become family of choice. A happy marriage, too, is a constant source of blessing. Ken and I will celebrate our sixtieth wedding anniversary in January to mark a lifetime of comfort, support and joy. Perfection, of course, is unattainable in life, as we are fallible human beings, but eternity promises abundance.

Continue reading Life In The Eighties

Languages of Love

An appraisal of ‘The Five Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman

Does your beloved really love you? How do you know?  Because he says so?  But do his actions match his ardent avowal, or does he merely provide the financial wherewithal and dispense knowledge like the household oracle? Nothing more?

As good New Church women we value the wisdom of our husbands, but sometimes despair when our unaided Martha chores overwhelm us.  If our menfolk persist in remaining oblivious they should learn ‘the five languages of love’ advocated by Gary Chapman. And what is more, all of them are endorsed by the Marriage Love teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg.

Chapman explains that after thirty years of marital counselling he has come to the conclusion that each one of us has one or more love languages which delight us when we encounter them. He identified them as:

Words of Affirmation:  complimentary words of appreciation.

Quality Time: giving undivided time and attention, and doing things together.

Continue reading Languages of Love

Healed By His Stripes

“And by his stripes we are healed. ” (Isaiah 53:5 )

Healing is a miraculous process, and yet we never seem to give thanks for it. It would sound rather humdrum, like ‘thanks for the maintenance’, no more than an afterthought. We glory in creation and if we are responsive to the Lord’s bounty we give thanks every day, but maintenance is generally considered to be rather menial although it keeps us going. 

I am presently reminded of it as I am recovering from a minor foot operation in which a stainless-steel plate and eight screws were removed from my left foot. They had been inserted there three years previously, during a lengthy foot reconstruction, and had never settled comfortably in my flesh. Without them I feel liberated, though the scar makes its presence felt from time to time: mostly at untimely moments when I crave total healing. The worst aspect of feet is that they are forced to bear the full weight of the human being before they are ready.  Not my favourite body part – we are not good friends.

Spiritual healing is even more demanding. As we examine ourselves, we inevitably stumble across an area of our lives that badly needs reconstruction and repair. We are obliged to act in the opposite way from what we have been used to although we have only damaged tools to use. We are, because we are human, operating within the limits of mediate good. The Lord does not expect perfection at once, but if we try, and ask for His lavish help, He will help us to heal and enjoy the happiness that He has designed for us. By His coming He has enabled us to be liberated from the tyranny of pain and evil ‘and by his stripes we are healed’. He has freed us to be healthy through the strengthening of our will and love. ‘Thank You for the maintenance’ comes naturally at last.

A Child of God

Have you ever asked yourself who you are? You might be an amalgam of so many constructs that you are finding difficulty in locating your ‘real self’. Or you might find that you have become a stereotype that you no longer find valid –  a member of a clique, a group, a tribe that practices ‘groupthink’ and pressures you into following its precepts. You might find at times that you have become a caricature of who you set out to be and are deeply dissatisfied with certain aspects of your being. Your discomfort is better than self-satisfaction, which is often a sign of complacency, when rigorous introspection and self-examination would be more appropriate. Perhaps you feel that you have taken the wrong fork in the road and would like to retrace your steps. We all make mistakes, and in learning from them, we achieve growth, with the Lord’s help. In that we are blessed. We have a reprieve so readily at hand that we will be amazed.  The Lord has promised: 

Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11: 28-30

By renewing our vow to become a child of God we are given clear signposts to forge a new identity. We can follow Psalm One in overcoming scorn for those who are unlike us; we can release our love for others in practicing the Golden Rule. We can obey the Ten Commandments with a new intensity when we work on those that we find difficult to follow. We can try to measure up to the rigours of the Sermon on the Mount in ‘doing good to those who despitefully use us’. We can try, knowing that ‘the truth will set us free’, to become the best possible version of ourselves. Instead of living in a reactive haze, we can become liberated, proactive, and protected to the core of our being. We can invite the innocence of wisdom by willing ourselves to be obedient to the truths that are anchored in good.  We are promised that we can be as joyful as children in becoming who we are meant to be in the Divine Design.