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

 

grand-cascade-peterhof-st-petersburg-38418472
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

 

 

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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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The Long Road to Friendship

 

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“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.

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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

 

Road

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

Words to Durban

Hello Durban,

Sometimes it takes words of affirmation to create an atmosphere for going from good to great.  You may be the Cinderella of all the cities in South Africa, but you have the power of attraction for those who need time off from the merry-go-round of life.
But you are more than that.   You are a kaleidoscope of hope, of contrasts and diversity, set in a paradise of green.

Durban you are a port on the East Coast of Africa.

Durban Port
Ships from afar, carriers of merchandise, wait their turn to enter your port, to foster the economy of the South.  And hope does not go unnoticed as the number of these ships have increased dramatically over the years – reminding us that indeed you are
‘a market place for nations’.

Container ship

A  city of lay-back laziness that can trap the diligent and industrious person with a lethargy brought on by the gentle tropical climes of a warm ocean current.   “Tomorrow is another day” well may be the creed you live by – and yet !  The steady onward everyday flow of the inevitable, continues to urge you to perform your duties with diligence.  Your  history is rich, your position is well place for the growth of a new emerging world on the African continent.
Your Oil Refineries are strategic,  as are your marketable industries on the south side of your city.    The southbound road takes your travellers back on a memory road, to old favourite holiday resorts, that have filled up many family  photo albums with sweet memories of lazy sun-filled bucket and spade holidays.

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Quite uniquely, in the heart of your city, are the Durban Botanical Gardens.   Noticed, apart from its magnificence,  is the peace that lingers there.  Now if ever the Good Lord would want a cathedral to live in, it would surely be in this majestic cathedral of green  –  a garden with its huge trees that were planted some 300 years ago.  It is one of Africa’s oldest botanical gardens, and I suspect by far the best on the continent.

Your inner city now scarcely reflects the former heyday of your holidaymakers’ favourite destination.  It has become crowded and derelict, as most inner cities are, with the influx of those desperate for employment and cheap accommodation.   Yet, two or three blocks up, on your sea-side,  are found well-kept paved promenades.  Walkways with tall hotels, all with sea-views, that tell a different story of who you were, and now want to become.

A city caught with one foot in a developed world, the other foot still entangled in poverty.   And indeed is this not the state of any modern city in the world of today ?   A world on a runaway train toward globalisation no matter the cost – for there is always a cost, there is always a price to pay for progress and development !

colonial house
Now going northward  – the touch of your colonial history is still markedly seen in your suburban landscape of the yesterday-wealth. Grand homes in beautiful tree-lined streets with lush green gardens, steeped in your recent history of refined living. Planted and painted into a part of the master portrait of South Africa’s history of diversity. Durban you are a world showcase for diversity.

But time moves on.
And a new era, for some, has arrived.   A time of unprecedented sophisticated living, as seen in the great shopping mall of Gateway Theatre of Shopping, some say the largest in the southern hemisphere, and the brand new developments of the Pearl towers for renowned accommodation.

The Pearls

Umhlanga Rocks reveals your ability to transform yourself, yet again, into an    international  tourist destination with its new modern high-rise Pearl towers and hotels, –  contrasted by the ever loved ‘little village’ where  the locals still meet and converse over a pint of brew.

Light house

Walebone Pier

A promenade of note with its iconic Whalebones Pier that enables one to walk on water!    The recognised landmark of  Umhlanga Rocks, the red and white light-house, a beacon of light,  near the world-famous Oyster Box Hotel.  No expense is spared, nothing but the best is offered to presidents and kings, and the visitors of Europe and the Elsewheres of the world.

Still northward bound on route to the new King Shaka International Airport., the outskirts of the city give a show of brilliant green that is seen in the waving sugar cane fields, and the rolling hills that call out ‘ go the distance !’
sugar cane

Beautiful are the green hills of Kwa Zulu Natal – the green Province with its emerald-green beauty and  flowing hills, a setting fit for prosperity – equally so for the penny and for the soul.

Green Emerald

Going further north through the sugar cane fields,  the main road will bring us to the mushrooming town of Ballito Bay, one of South Africa’s fastest growing modern real estate developments.

But if we are astute we will notice the road signs that take us off the main highway to settlements and townships that do not enjoy an acclaim to wealth.

Kids at Shacks

And if we travel far enough we may encounter the rural folk of another world.  A folk that have not yet made the leap from poverty to ‘progress’ –  but have so much to offer with their rich cultural heritage.

Rural Hills
The very wide gap from the arrogant and unsaturated rich in their affluent towers and malls to the simplistic living of the rural inhabitants is a screaming silent reality.                                                                                         Rural KZN Acat.jpg

Acat veggie growing

Inequality is a stamp on all our record sheets.
And it is in this ever-widening gap that a paradigm shift  needs to occur, a miracle needs to happen, so that you can go from good to great.   Pay attention also to the needs of the poorest of the poor, so that they can rise up and experience a kind of progress too.

 Herein lies your miracle,  bridging the gap between two worlds,  if not three,  – the haves, the have-nots, and the have-yachts !

Sailing-Yacht

Nevertheless all worlds can offer their own version and contribution toward  ‘being rich’  –  whatever that may mean,  each in their own way.  For sometimes the rich are not rich, and the poor are not poor.  Sometimes the ‘developed world’  has much to learn about being  “civilised”,  the knowing of   ‘Ubuntu’  –  respect – simple courtesy, simple humanity !   Someone once said, ‘ courtesy is the first rung on the ladder toward civilisation ‘  – something the 4×4  riders, taxi drivers and road-ragers need to know and understand !

As a City you have kept up with your own transformation – indeed you have to do so, for your saving grace is in the lucrative revenue that lies in the holiday and tourist trade,  robust business and employment, and of course the fine revenues from the Ports and Customs.

But most noteworthy of all are your peoples – a vast array of cultures  within your social perimeters,  which is  the very fabric of your rich design,  all gems in the crown of your disposition.
Zulu culture

The Zulu people, with their ancestral and stout warrior history with colourful beads that tell their stories;

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The rowdy yet gentle influence of the British, intertwined into your history.

Indian sari

 

 

Bunny chow

 

 

 

 

 

The colourful vibrancy of the Indian culture, with their special cuisine of aromatic spices, curries and  of course the famous Durban Bunny Chow.

KZN politics

The African People with their new-found vehement political clamour, coming to terms with power, and what that truly means, moulding the nation for tomorrow.

Indeed a beautiful mosaic of cultures, living side by side by the sea, in peace and harmony.    Amazing microscopic worlds within a world, called Durban.

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Your people and your children are easy, fun-loving, and sunshine kids – and daring too.  Totally Sports obsessed, with any reason to walk, run, ride, swim, surf or canoe an epic event –  a case in point the Comrades Marathon.  A marathon of well over 90 kilometres between  Durban and the hilly countryside of Pietermaritzburg.  Who thinks out such things !!?

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Sky Car at the Moses Mabhida 
Moses Madheba Stadium
Moses Mabhida Stadium

Moses Stadium

Great are your vistas for sports, but more so are your spectacular views of land and seascapes that lend wings to those who need to be lifted higher.

Durban, you are like a brilliant green emerald gem,  emeraldan often overlooked gem, among the chief cities of South Africa.   Slowly going about your daily business of business, culture and sport, with the determined purpose of welcoming your visitors from afar with warmth and hospitality.  Hospitality that inborn trait you carry off so well.

No better place to see, no better place to be other than in  “Durbs by the Sea”  as our upcountry  folk would say, when they pack for their annual holiday to crowd out your beaches with abandoned glee.

Durban visitors

 

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Durban, as the sunshine state of South Africa, you should surely be on the ‘must see list’ of the global community.  You may take your place with pride, among the ranks of other destinations who strive for the recognition of  ‘most beautiful place in the world ‘  – nonetheless contrasted by ‘new worlds’ waiting to be born into prosperity.

When your visitors step into this green paradise, they will surely hear the wind and the waves softly whisper :  “You are welcome here”.

Go Durban !green-emeralds stones

 

 

Fear Fear Fear

Crossing over from fear to joy – a beautiful poem !

SOULWRITE EMPIRE'S BLOG

Hello Fear,
Before you sit down, theres something I need to explain.
I should tell you things have changed.
See Im tired of being broken hearted,
So I made a list and your on it.All of my hopes and my dreams that you stole from me, I want those back, before you leave.
You can have your guilt, shame and depression-
but I’ll keep my joy.

Hello Fear,
take a good look at these tears, cause soon they wont fall anymore.
Im no longer afraid, Im better this way.
Oh and one more thing before you leave.
Never again will I love you; my heart refuses to be your friend. So apart from you is where I belong.
Its not me, its you.

Hello Joy,
Its so good to see your face. Im sorry I forgot what your touch feels like. Sorry that fear took your place.
No more will…

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Pause to Ponder

 

Cross

Easter.    It’s that time of year again when the world slows down just a little, and there is time to pause and ponder on the things of God.   He has been around forever, and will be with us even when we are unaware of His presence.  He just is, and yet we miss Him, if we do not look for Him, or take a little time to listen for Him.

There is more to life than just living, and not everything is as it seems.  There is a mystery at play, a mystery in full view, if we were to pause, to ponder and to perceive.
Easter time is a good time to ponder on The Great Story of God, the story of righteousness, redemption and restoration, and all things good.  And for that we need to look at the cross, and the finished work of Jesus Christ.

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The cross is a place of brutal suffering – where Jesus was lashed with a whip of seven tails, that tore and ripped the skin off his body; where a crown of thorns mockingly pierced the flesh of his skull.   And so when we are in pain and suffering – God knows.
He was nailed to a wooden cross and crucified by a people that was called to be His own.
And so when we are betrayed – God knows.
The cross is a place of sacrifice – where God deemed it fit for His Son to die for the sake of mankind,  – that is you and me.  And so when we sacrifice for the sake of others – God knows.
The cross is a place of rejection.  He was rejected by man, and abandoned by God.
And so when we are rejected, abandoned and all alone – God knows.

Rejected rose

As the song goes   “Like a rose trampled on the ground, He took the fall and thought of me above all”

The cross where the significance of self and its sin, melts into the sacrificed life of Christ Jesus, that makes us acceptable, and worthy, and beautiful before a Holy God.

The cross, is a place of salvation – where forgiveness is given, but so often not received, because we do not ask for forgiveness from God, from others, even from ourselves and are hard-pressed to give forgiveness to those who have done us wrong.

So often are we pre-occupied with only ourselves, and don’t listen or  ask after the promises, and the ways of God.

The cross, is pivotal to the story of God, and to history itself.
The cross is a place of death, and death has to be breached, so that new life can begin.  The cross is a place of life – the place where heaven opens and righteousness and restoration happens.   The veil is lifted between earth and heaven –  and so He opens the way, for those who choose to believe in God and in His story.

holycross
Jesus died,  and rose again.  The miracle of all the ages.   He is the resurrection to the new life, the new creation, through a new covenant – a covenant of the heart !
And the new creation is what it is all about !  He is the beginning of our story, and He is the end of our story.   But it is not the final end, for if we receive His invitation to heaven, and ask Him to come and live in our hearts today, we join Him, and reign with Him in His resurrected life, and continue into the new creation that is coming.  A new beginning – a new story !!

So take time to ponder the old old story of Jesus and His cross, and accept His invitation today to real life, life bought by His sacrifice and His blood, and by His love,  for mankind, that is you and me, to shine before God.

John 14:6    Jesus said to him  ” I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

This Easter, pause to ponder,  and to pray … Lord Jesus Christ, forgive me for going my own way, and not following You.   Thank you for dying in my place.  Please come into my heart, and live Your life through me.  Thank You for the precious and miraculous gift of salvation.  Amen.

Red rose    Easter blessings to all.