Be Still.

I grew up in a musical family. That sounds weird… Kind of like we all just broke into random song and dance in the middle of our Saturday mall outing. Rehearsed and pitch perfect. A lovely thought, but no. I mean my mom and dad both come from families where music is pretty much woven into every day life. My gran (on mom’s side) studied music, my gramps was a tenor. They started an acapella choir in the 70’s that traveled South Africa, Europe and Israel. My mom pursued a career in music before she went into psychology. My dad sings. My aunts and uncles sing. My cousins sing. My sister and I sing. We’re basically the Trolls. Without the sparkles, felt and rainbow hair.

You know those crazy, loud, emotional families depicted in films. Yeah, that’s us. I’ve grown to be a master in the art of following several conversations at once. I love my family. We’re brilliant at a lot of things. Being quiet just isn’t one of those things.

I think we can all relate, in some way. Being still is not something that comes naturally to human beings. If you ask me, it’s part of the human condition. Even when our lips aren’t moving, our thoughts most certainly are. Being a woman also doesn’t help. Checklists. Overthinking every minute detail of conversations. Analysing body language. Pondering the complexity and simplicity of life. Connecting the dots. If my body was only half as active as my mind, my epic jean battle every morning would turn into a very civilized nod and hand shake.

(By the way, thank you Winter for making it nearly impossible to lose weight. My fat cells salute you.)

The older I get, the more I find myself turning the volume down. Suddenly I can relate to those people who are familiar with “the middle of nowhere”. You know, those little primitive mountain settlements and ghost towns people break away to, where you can hear your own cells divide at night. We are constantly enveloped in an ever growing wave of noise. There’s always so much to do, so much to see, so much to hear, so much to say. We’ve completely forgotten how to quiet down. To be fully present. To be still.

If you’ve ever faced burnout, you know how it feels to feel completely alone in a room full of people. To feel irreversibly disconnected. Sinking deeper into a numbness that’s comforting in a way… At least you don’t have to feel anymore. Right? It’s just too much, and too little at the same time. Limbo.

I’ve been in a season of burnout many times throughout my life. Most of the time it was the result of allowing an overwhelming amount of noise into my heart. I forgot one of the most fundamental rules of the music that has been my companion throughout my life, and that is: For every beat, there’s a rest. Balance. The rests within a musical score create anticipation. Breaths, if you will. The stillness in a melody gives more meaning to the notes that are played. Those are the scores that move us.

Sometimes life’s most significant penny drops happen when we quiet down. When we take a minute. Climb onto Father’s lap.

Reflect. Breathe. Rest.

Be still, dearest. Your penny awaits.

The Apple and the Tree

I love everything about this time of the year. Icy mornings. Snuggly blankets. Grande cups of coffee goodness. The winter winds warm my heart. I know, it’s weird. I’m complex. You’ll get use to me. Winter in South Africa also means pink lady apples. A crunchy, yummy, bite size vitamin booster. My snack of choice. Obviously. It just feels like every bite of a pink lady apple makes up for last night’s Oreos and Milo. The Oreos were completely involuntary. I plead not guilty. Just putting it out there. Oreos are mean.

I always nibble away at my pink lady apple as a mental break during a work day. So there I was, crunching away when my colleague interrupted me mid-bite. “You know you can eat an apple upside down, right.” As per usual, I replied with a very ladylike “HUH?”. According to him you can eat an apple upside down, core and all, without tasting the core… And all. That way you get in all the nutritious fibres, and don’t waste a perfectly good apple core. My thoughts? Nope.

He continued excitedly. Apparently when you peel an apple pip, it tastes exactly like a raspberry. Fascinating. My thoughts, yet again… Nope. You should know my face has a way of letting me down in the art of hiding feelings. I’ve often said it needs deliverance. When you’re terminally honest, it kind of comes with the territory.

I had no interest in eating an apple core, nor peeling a rasberry-ish-apple pip. As I was about to shake my head, he added “Just try it, it’ll change the way you eat an apple forever.”

There it was. Penny drop.

All too often we’re so content with just eating all around the core. It’s juicy and easy to swallow, but we miss out on all the nutritious goodness of the core and pips.

A good leader once asked me what the main purpose of an apple tree was. The answer? Not to just produce apples, but to produce apple trees. Within every apple core, lies a potential tree. How can we willingly miss out on those trees? How can we pass up the opportunity to chew away at the core, enduring the discomfort and pieces of bitterness, so that a tree can be planted in our hearts?

See, life is much like a pink lady apple. It’s easy to stick to what we know. To not face the deeper, uncomfortable, and sometimes offensive truths. Jesus said He came to give us life, and life in abundance. That’s the ultimate truth. An abundant life is not complete without the core parts. Those parts plant seeds for future trees.

So,  I want to challenge you to eat the apple upside down. It’ll change your life forever.

Deer Reader…

We all know the feeling. That moment of complete clarity. All at once the world comes to a complete stand still, waiting in silence for the rumoured penny to drop. This is what this blog is all about. A penny.

I’ve always loved creative writing. I love how the written word can transport you to undiscovered worlds, and reveal parts of your spirit you never even knew existed. I live an extraordinary life. Not because of who I am, but because of who my Father is. I’ve experienced many a penny drop because of His grace, and would like to share these pennies with you. You should know that every penny carries a story. Stories of love found, love lost. Stories of victory, of defeat. These stories are real. These stories are mine.

My prayer is that if you’re reading this, you’ll join me on this journey. If there’s something I’ve learnt over the years, it’s that we reside in a poverty stricken world. Not just poverty of the heart, but poverty of the Spirit. And what better means of enriching this world, than one penny at a time.