Tick Tock

There’s something holy about a sunrise. All of creation falls silent just before the first rays of sunlight reach the earth. It’s like everything stands still for those few seconds. Awaiting the light. As the day breaks the birds of the air break into song, flowers open up to receive the sun’s warmth and all the earth awakens to praise their Creator for the gift of another day. It really is something spectacular to behold. It’s a shame I’m not a morning person.

Okay, I know a lot of people say “I’m not a morning person”, but I’m afraid I embody this saying. Anyone who knows me will testify to the scary shadow of a human being I am before 8am. After a few years of working in the music and film industry, I’ve had to train myself to function in these ridiculous hours of the morning. But I’m afraid I still fail miserably. I try. I really do. Alas.

I haven’t attempted watching a sunrise until a week ago when we traveled to Limpopo for an onsite edit for a corporate client. After weeks of spending time at the same office desk, I welcomed the change of scenery with open arms. Even if the change of scenery came with 20 hour working days. Details, details…

So there we were. On a deck. In the bushveld. Freezing. Shooting a timelapse of the sunrise to include in our story, after sleeping only 3 hours and being seriously decaffeinated. What a time to be alive.

After fighting the haze of negativity and side effects of sleep-deprivation, I lifted my head as the sun peeked over the hills. The sky was painted with shades of red, purple, blue and yellow. Spectacular. I had to fight the tears, as I beheld the beauty all around. I could feel a new day break in my spirit, and all that remained was a thankful heart. There are countless times that we get so caught up in all our discontentment, that we completely miss the beauty in the moment we are in. If we could just learn to be fully present in the gift of the present.

I’m celebrating my birthday tomorrow. My perspective about turning older has shifted radically in the past 5 years. We all fear time. We fear that it’ll be too much, or too little. We fear that it’ll be wasted and slip through our fingers. We resent the periods of waiting, and regret that we didn’t make more of the time we had. The all too familiar “what if?” creeps into the crevices of our doubts, and feeds the fire of fear.

Today I was prompted to ask “what if?” in a different way. What if time was a gift? What if the ticking of the clock was something to be grateful for? Time was never meant to drive fear into our hearts. Time was made to create beauty, growth, healing. To give us hope, and to remind us of how precious this life is. Without time we would just be like me before 8am… Scary shadows drifting along with no purpose.

If there’s anything I could pray for in this new year of life ahead, it would be that I would devote myself to being fully present. To stop living in the past, or striving towards the future. To look at life through Heaven’s eyes. To look beyond all of my fears and discontentment, and see the beauty all around. To stand in awe and wonder with all of creation. Arise and shine, for a new day has come.

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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.

Cruffins and Coffee

I am a coffee snob. There. I said it. I can’t help it. There are times I wish I could go back to the simpler me. The me who was okay with dissolving a spoonful of instant coffee into boiling water. Allas! I’ve tried. Seriously. But there’s something about the complexity of a single origin or blended aroma that keeps me coming back for more.

This week I waltzed into one of my favourite coffee spots in my hometown, and as I sipped away at my upsize cap, I spotted the most amazing creation. You should know, pastries are my absolute downfall. Just putting it out there. Back to the story: The owner informed me that this was called “The Cruffin”. A Croissant-Muffin hybrid. Done. I know. Where have I been all these years, right? It was destiny. Cruffin and I connected in a most spectacular way, and he has now taken up full residency on my hips. So worth it.

Over the years I’ve heard countless arguments about how single origin coffee trumps blends, and vice versa. (Ha! Trumps… budum tss. Too soon.) I’ve found myself identifying more and more with the cup in my hands. The complexity of a blend. The fact that the beans from single origins were combined in perfect balance. The coffee roaster knew that the density and consistency of beans differ and adjusted the blend accordingly. I felt a nudge. And the ever clever penny made its way into my Spirit.

This is me. A unique, odd-looking, sweet, layered concoction, combined with a creamy, roasted, bitter, blended aroma. Created to add a specific flavour to this world. Roasted to unleash a pleasing aroma, a fragrant piece of the Father’s heart.

Let’s be honest. It begins with you. With identity. The sooner you realise that you are a unique blend, beyond compare, the sooner you’ll be able to pin point your purpose and calling in this world. I’ve found that coffee is less about the coffee and more about the Roaster. The cruffin is less about the cruffin, and more about the Chef.

My life for His purpose. My blend for His Kingdom. And that’s more than enough.

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.