Exuberance in Russia


Stadium at Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Russia

Exuberance is the only word that adequately expresses the goings-on in Russia this past month, with the nations competing against each other at the amazing 2018 World Cup Soccer event.
It will surely be remembered as the Soccer World Cup of last-minute-goals.  This is what brought out the exuberance of the players, the fans, and the TV world watchers around the world,  of which I was one ardent couch spectator.

What excitement and happiness and what disappointment and despair all wrapped up in this extreme emotion of exuberance – blatantly and un-ashamedly displayed for all to see.  How nice to see man at his best –  happy !  (and isn’t man at his happiest when he is chasing a ball !!)    Nevertheless, it was as if a veil was momentarily lifted and license had been given to be who you are and who you shout the loudest for.      All the trappings of pretence and reserve removed in a moment of patriotic loyalty;  done without threat or fear, in the manner that the sport of Soccer provided for four weeks for the whole world to see.

Amazing was the fitness and stamina of these players.  Honed through months, and for some years, hard practise, discipline and dedication.  To be coached, mentored and primed to this pinnacle event, held every four years.   Soldiers of Soccer prepared for gigantic battles to be fought with everything that is in them.    The last time I viewed such absolute verve and determination was with the movie Brave Heart, but that was just a movie – this is real-life passion, played out in Soccer.  The passion that drove these young men was astounding to observe.  Their never give up attitudes, their falling down, some spiralling  extra spins for show and penalties, some vehemently arguing their way out of yellow cards, and in some cases unfair decisions – letting the moment of frenzy play out to their advantage.    Soccer is seemingly not just a sport of great scintillating foot skills, but  clever psychological manoeuvres as well.  A combination of clever head and footwork !   But it is the combination of stamina and that vital ingredient passion that made me watch men at their best, doing what they do best.

Interestingly too, was the transition taking place.  One generation of soccer players moving on to make room for a new generation of younger players.  That was perhaps the reason for the unexpected wins of the less likely teams to go through to the quarter and semi finals.  One could almost see a wave breaking, and  new time players and teams emerging onto this world stage.

Loved “braziliant”  Brazil, as my son named them, and their samba soccer. Such exciting soccer to watch.  The  English and Belgium teams, grounded and steadfast. The Colombians were a little too hot-headed and undisciplined.  The sad, but perhaps timely exit of the “old establishment” soccer nations.   And all the noisy grandstanding crowds ridiculous yet colourful in their apparel of capes and wigs and painted faces.  A real carnival of the nations.

Russian soccer fans.jpg

Happy times make happy memories, and this Russia has surely provided.  What a memorable, and extremely well organised event, that show-cased their nation in the best way possible  – capitalizing on making Russia a definite win, in spite of their courageous team, not quite making it to the grand finale.


Russia's Moscow
Moscow,  Russia


Saint Petersburg, Russia

At the end of it all, Soccer as a sport, scored the final winning goal, by bringing the nations together.
Its been exciting, exhilarating and exuberant to watch – momentary escapism at its best !

Now excuse me as I mount up my munchies bowl and puff up my cushion to take up the best seat, for the last week of this grand tournament of  super soccer nations, my couch.
And may the best team win.

Nations soccer ball




I learned…

These words made a soft impression on my heart…hope it does the same for you.

Munvar Badshah

I Have Learned that:

Being kind is more important than being right.

We can always pray for someone when we don’t have the strength to help him in some other way.

Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

It’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

Under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

The easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

Everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

You should never say no to a gift from a child

The Lord didn’t do it all in one day. What makes me think I can?

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Lessons from My Ostrich

Draw close then back off, and see the whole picture.

I have been at it again.   This drawing thing has drawn me in !  And I find myself so engaged that time flies and things get left undone.

An awful lot of concentration goes into preparing the matrix of a drawing.
Draw rub out, draw rub out and so on until some semblance of sense comes out of it all.  Then comes the rub – chuckle, sorry, full of puns today !! – to create something presentable and colourful that gives me a sense of achievement, and something pleasant to look at and to glee over.
Not every drawing turns out that way.  There are some that don’t get the desired effect,  they stand out as ‘lessons-learnt’ in my art journal – with perhaps a quote to distract from the flop !

But one fruitful lesson learnt came from the Ostrich, a peculiar, but interesting bird. Seemingly easy to draw in its simplicity until you get to the mouth and the eyes.  These  are always a challenge for me.

I had deeply engaged with the Ostrich until in exhausted frustration I tossed him aside, to take a walk.   As I passed him by, I threw him a sorry look.   That is when he popped out at me !  I saw him from a distance, I saw him as a whole, I saw him as quite beautiful in his peculiarity, and I saw where  I had to make adjustments  to make him more presentable.

My Ostrich taught me a lesson in drawing – draw close, then back off and see the whole picture.   And isn’t that too, the way we see some people.   We look to intently at them and see their peculiarities, their faults, inefficiencies, even uglinesses,  but when we back off  – from our judgemental notions and ever-ready criticism  – we may see them differently.   Viewed from a distance, as a whole in a bigger setting, they become acceptable, and sometimes their silly faces can even make one smile surreptitiously !

My Ostrich is not a perfect image of the reference I used to draw him from.   But then who of us are the perfect image of the original intention of our Creator ?  We’re all less beautiful than we should be, a little distorted even dysfunctional and in no way perfect, but we are accepted and loved nevertheless in the Beloved.



My Ostrich, may not be a master-piece, more a piece of the master !   But to me he is just fine, not perfect but acceptable in his ugliness – and his silly face does makes me smile.  But you be the judge.

scale with 3d man

My Ostrich and I have spent a lot of time together, rubbed off of each other you might say ! –  but the important life-lesson,  read more  reminded me of the wise words found in  Matthew 7:1

    Judge not, that you be not judged.








The Power of Influence


wind in trees

Now Influence is an interesting thing.
Perhaps we should ask the Scientists to explain it more readily for they would surely understand it better, even give an equation or formula to help us recognise its force ! But to a layman’s eye, we can only but muse and observe, and venture to write about its power.

Influence is invisible, but to the observers, its effect is at times a visible thing.  Just think of the wind.  You cannot see it, but you can see its effects on trees and clouds.

There is also, Influence of a different kind.
Outside one of our local suburban grocery stores they had put up a bright stand with a canopy, to sell pancakes and doughnuts.  I love pancakes.  On this particular autumn afternoon I decided to buy pancakes to take home to my family.  I placed my order and sat down on a bench to wait.  Along came a man and his daughter and bought doughnuts.   “Mmmm,”  he said, and I could almost hear his lips smacking as he took his second bite “they’re still warm”.   Well, I am going to buy pancakes, not doughnuts !  As I went forward to collect my pancakes I heard myself say, “and I’ll take three doughnuts too”.    doughnuts.jpg

Such is the power of invisible Influence, seducing my taste buds
and will power.

Let me go more regional.
I have a friend who lives up-country in the heart of South Africa, where the winters get really cold, with frosty winds that cut across anything warm.    She is a  passionate woman and is always crocheting blankets for community projects.
This winter Ronelle and her sister Dalene have embarked on  a campaign by making up community bags filled with necessities to distribute to those in service of others.  They have  influenced other knitting friends to help in their projects, and so their efforts have been able to extend and multiply.

R's Project bags
Community Bags ready for delivery.

The need is great.  She tells me that two Bloemfontein State hospitals frequently request blankets for the premature babies that are born there.  These young mommies, often unmarried women from the poor communities have nothing as they come in to deliver their babies.    These crocheted blankets provide for the babies to be wrapped up in kindness, as they go out.

R's blankets
A show of Blankets for Premature Babies

Then there is her outreach project to ten guys who go through garbage bins to collect anything recyclable, which they resell.   All this to create a job for themselves, to alleviate their poverty, and sustain their lives with a miniscule income.  They too receive a parcel of goodies from her project.
Furthermore, one of the Churches in Bloem have an outreach project to feed needy children with soup once a week.  This projects needs faithful volunteers who gather, cut, slice dice and make up the soup.   Ronelle has made up  parcels for these eight ladies who are instrumental in feeding 1500 children every week !

Ronelle is a community observer and worker at heart.    Not only does she influence and encourage others to participate in her community projects,  she acknowledges those volunteers who serve others,  observe those who alleviate their own poverty by standing up and doing something for themselves.
I would say that Ronelle is a strong Influence in her region.
You could say that the power of influence equals the power of one !   It takes just one person to make a difference in someone else’s world.

Chasing Influence wider, allow me to go global.
Mr Trump of the United States of America and Mr Kim Jong Un of North Korea have agreed, then disagreed,  and maybe will agree again,  that the summit planned to neutralise the use of the missile power-play of the North Koreans should go ahead and be resolved.     What hangs in the balance is the possible aversion of a global nuclear war !  Mr Moon of China has been very influential in the persuasion of Mr Kim to not only negotiate with the Americans,  but perhaps be a catalyst in freeing his very own people from the terror oppression of his former generation – for seemingly it was a reign of terror that put dread and fear in the hearts of the North Korean people, that have held them down like dead men standing !
Of course there are many working behind the scenes.  A lot of influencing, a lot of negotiating for the benefit for all the countries concerned – but that is just politics, and politics is all about power and influence !
The outcome of these talks can be disastrous for a world tottering on the brink of self-destruction, but if positive influence and common sense, and good sound negotiation, can prevail the outcomes will be so much more meaningful to a world wanting to grow and to be free, in trade and harmony and peace.

But Influence is not only the prerogative of politicians and the rich, it goes way beyond our world. Look at a night sky full of sparkling stars.  Gasp at the orbits of the planets !  See the influence of our moon on the ocean’s high and low tides.   Remember Newton’s apple ? – and wonder at gravity.    Gravity, now there is a powerful Influence of note, whose mystery still needs to be told.    There is Influence everywhere !

Stars in orbit


But of all the areas of Influence, the pinnacle, to my mind, is personal Influence.
Take Jabez for instance.  We do not know much about him.    He may have been a warrior king or a farmer.     We do not know.  What we do know is that he was an honourable man,  perhaps even a sensitive man, for he prayed the following prayer

…… Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!”    So God granted him what he requested. 
He’s story is found in 1 Chronicles 4:10  in the Bible.   To this very generation many, including me, often pray the Prayer of Jabez.   How is that for Influence down the ages !

Having said all that, it must be noted that the power of Influence, although invisible is very important.   For that reason I must, more often than not, ask myself – who is influencing me ?  And even more astutely – who am I influencing  ?

We are not merely an entity of being but a sphere of influence too, whether positive or negative, good or bad.     And may we have the wisdom to know, and the courage to make, big or small,  an influential difference in our world.






The Way of Love


Love suffers long
and is kind;
love does not envy;
love does not parade itself,
is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely,
does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
thinks no evil,
does not rejoice in iniquity,
but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never fails……

  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

     Red rose

The Long Road to Friendship



“I forgot to buy water to take for the long road.”   “What long road?” my husband asked.
“I am going to meet with my friend who is holidaying at Ballito.”     Just short of rolling his eyes he said with a sort of sniff   “that’s not a long road, it’s a thirty minute drive !”  Well, I hadn’t left the confines of the busy city for a while, so it seemed to me, that it was going to be a long road ahead.

It was a sunny day and a pleasant ride, not long at all, and before I knew it I was at her gate.  The joy of seeing a familiar friend is so delightful.  We fell into chatty conversation that filled a four-hour visit.

cups of tea

We had crackers and cheese with our tea, as we did the catch-up on current events,  the state of the country, the state of the Church, engaging on doctrine, remembering co-hearts from our former circles, sharing  some family news, and shed a tear or two on little heartaches we had known.   Tears in friendship are good.  They make us real, and take the edge off being the super-women we sometimes need to be to those around us.
That is what a friendship can look like.  It’s a safe space for sharing, a space that is conducive for necessary and honest conversations, that are undemanding, neutral and
comfortable.  A lot of talking, but a lot of listening too.

But to get to a real friendship will require we take the long road.
Real friendships are not instant, they take time to form, time to be distant, time to be tested and moulded into whatever shape they will eventually become.    Friendships can be fragile things, and can break at any time along the way.   Real friendships need to be cherished and nurtured and watered to grow.

Oak sapling
As woman we thrive on friendships.  Probably because of the release of the feel good hormone called oxytocin in our system.    Or, more than likely at the core we are talkers and need listeners.   Or, perhaps we meet each other more easily at the emotional level.  Women understand “heart-talk” – women understand women.    Rare is the man who can say that he understands a woman.  Probably it should be so, for each in his or her own role, compliment each other.  Like a lock and a key – different, yet fulfil the purpose they are designed for – effective combination that unlocks potential.
And beautiful,  beautiful is the soul-friendship of a husband and wife team.


There are many types of friendships.   The “bromance”,  is a compatibility of personality that can grow into lasting friendships.    Men friendships have a real strength about them, it makes the world a better and safer place.
Of course it would also take time for these friendships to grow.  Men are more cautious, because men understand men, and their protective and productive natures allow them to scan for the hidden agenda, the intruder, and for the thief.  They are the providers and protectors of their domains their families and their homes.  And will vehemently guard them, regardless of friendship.

Friendships are not just for woman and in essence are built up on good honest relationships.
Are good personal relationships the open secret of happiness ?  That may well be true.
Friendships at best are reciprocal, a give-and-take.   Often the highway of friendship will become a dead-end street when one just gives, and the other just takes.  That is what you find out on the crowded highway called Life.

Friendships require mutual understanding, with mutual deposits and withdrawals into each others lives.  Like a banking system, only with emotions, and feelings.
To build up a good balance  – make big deposits often, keep the withdrawals small, with no obligations.
If we do this, not only will our relationships grow,  but our finances too!

Good friendships are a gift,  a rare find.  It takes time to grow friendships, and that is why the road to real friendship is a long one, travelled lightly, with plenty of sunny  spaces in between.   And don’t forget to take a water bottle !

The friendship road is a road worth taking, a road to travel well, and along the way, with bumps and bends and all,  will make of us better people.  Let us celebrate our friendships.

A friend loves at all times…….  Proverbs 17:17

three butterflies







The Road of Rejection



Well I have finally arrived on the road of rejection.  And I am delighted !

I have always written things down. I have written tons of journals on my thoughts and aspirations.  Writing is my go-to-place for clarity and direction.  At first it was just little Scriptures and words of wisdom that I gleaned from the Bible.  Words that became instructions on life, precepts and concepts, and building blocks for thoughts, belief and values – constructs of my mind for moral,  social, economic and environmental issues.  It is amazing the influence it has had my mind, and on my life.  And for that, I am so grateful.

I have tried to write fiction, and failed dismally !   I have tried to write poetry, and did not even make the water’s edge, never mind plunge the depths that poetry may require.  Maybe a report here or there flickered on a path called journalism – I would have liked to pursue, but never did.  But words and thoughts and writings, particularly other people’s writings,  always had a special place in my life.   I must just be a Word person.

Words are immensely powerful.  Someone once said  they are carriers of  emotions, of faith, hope, of love  –  and the stirrer of lies, fear, hate and wars !   They are containers for knowledge and education. They are the record keepers of history.   They express the revelations of science.  Words communicate, that is simply what they do.  Where, indeed would we be without words?   We would be in the dark, with no candle !

WordPress,  and the world of blogging has been a delight for me.  I get to read and I get to write.   It is such an interesting place, this virtual space of words, where we get to embed our personalities  in our writing, and just maybe someone reads us, once in a while. And even better, makes a comment or two to say that they passed by this way.
Blogging has a way of growing you.   I started blogging to keep my dream alive.   I once read somewhere that,  writing will bring outside what is one the inside.   I found that this is true, and its essential for growth.  It is a getting to know yourself, a learning curve of life.
I have deviated from the original purpose of my blog.  Now I write about all things that interest me.   I write longer blogs.  I have found pictures help dull posts.
I have even made a submission to a magazine calling for a writing on a certain subject – and been rejected !!    I am delighted, because I recall the words of another up and coming author who said :  you have to be willing to be rejected at least fifty times, before you finally get published.  Forty nine to go –  I am on my way !!

I have yet to find my genre of writing.  Perhaps it is the essay, perhaps I will be an essayist one day –  who knows ?  But the pinnacle for me would be to write and publish a book.   I am a wannabe writer who wants to become a published author !   You gotta have dreams man !!
It was for this reason that I attended a  Writer’s summit, where they kindly and gently laid out the path on how to become published.  It’s quite simple : Think, Write and Publish !
Think,  Write,  Edit,  Design a layout and  cover for the book,  get an ISBN number, the Printing, and the Distribution.
Not to mention the royalties you get from each book sold, that is if you sell any at all !

Of course there is much more to this simple formula.  It is finding the avenues you have to follow,  the process is difficult.  But one thing is sure, I will have to travel on the road of rejection before I can conquer the mountain of being published.
I was secretly encouraged by a comment I made to a lady who was sitting next to me at the summit.   She told me that she had written three children’s book, her husband was an editor, but she has never published her books.  I quite cheekily said  “why would you write a book and not publish it ?”  –  words that I keep in my head, to keep me writing my book !
I know my journey with words may take forever, but each rejected submission I get, will bring me a little closer to my aspiration.   The rejection road may be long and lonely, but I am sure the scenery along the way will be splendid !

  The grass withers and the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.
Isaiah 40:8

light peach blooms