Sunday, September 28, 2014

On the eve of my 48th Birthday

So as I contemplate another year I decided to make a gratitude list of 48 things I am grateful for. These thoughts are not in any specific order but just as they came to mind! 1. I am grateful I have life. 2. I am grateful that God has chosen to love me 3. I am grateful that I am part of a royal priesthood, a chosen generation 4. I am grateful for a loving husband 5. I am grateful for three amazing children 6. I am grateful that my Mom is still alive to bless me on my birthday 7. I am grateful for a home to live in 8. I am grateful for food on our table everyday 9. I am grateful for a dish washer 10. I am grateful that I have a great job 11. I am grateful for my car 12. I am grateful for my friends 13. I am grateful for the beautiful city I live in 14. I am grateful for freedom to worship the God I love 15. I am grateful that I have a deep relationship with my Creator 16. I am grateful that I have learned to call him “Abba Father” 17. I am grateful for the bursaries that my children have received for their education 18. I am grateful for good health 19. I am grateful that I had a loving earthy father 20. I am grateful that my parents allowed me to make my own choices 21. I am grateful that I have a sister and a brother 22. I am grateful for a jealous husband who always protects me and looks out for me 23. I am grateful that he always has my interests at heart 24. I am grateful that my children respect me 25. I am grateful for music 26. I am grateful that I am meeting friends from other cultures 27. I am grateful for God’s protection over the children at our school 28. I am grateful for domestic help once a week 29. I am grateful for the ability to think and reason 30. I am grateful for Kimmy Mitchell and all that she teaches me about life and being yourself everyday 31. I am grateful that I can read 32. I am grateful that I can feel the fresh breeze on my skin 33. I am grateful that I have a beautiful garden where I can spend time meditating on God’s word. 34. I am grateful for the cross and the salvation of my soul 35. I am grateful for my warm bed 36. I am grateful for beautiful clothes 37. I am grateful for Nelson Mandela and others who fought for our freedom 38. I am grateful friends who pray for me 39. I am grateful for each new sunrise 40. I am grateful for the health of my children 41. I am grateful for good leadership at our church 42. I am grateful for an inspirational boss 43. I am grateful for genuine deep friendships that challenge and grow me 44. I am grateful for all the children in my life 45. I am grateful for friends who have helped me to raise my children 46. I am grateful for the peace of a good nights sleep 47. I am grateful that God’s mercies are new every morning 48. I am grateful that I have been given another year to have an impact for His Kingdom

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Social Justice 101

Today I attended Common Good's "Social Justice 101". What an awesome presentation put together by the Common Good Team. Challenging us once again to think about our response to poverty and the marginalized of our city. Our attitudes to those who are living in poverty and how we respond to social injustice in our city. I pretty much work in a job where everyday I am challenged with poverty. 70% of the children who attend our school are still 20 years after democracy living in informal housing. Informal housing is a fancy way of saying "shack"! We have become so good at disguising problems with our fancy lingo. Basically it means they have no running water, they have electricity if they are lucky and usually this is secured via unstable connections run between shacks. Usually there are 5 or more people living in a tiny structure built with whatever materials could be secured to build their home. Often these homes are ravaged by fire like seen in the picture below. These are some of the children's homes destroyed earlier this year by a fire caused from a gas explosion in one of the shacks. It spreads quickly and the many people are affected as people live on top of one another and the fire is quickly spiraled out of control.
Some days as I deal with these kids I find myself completely overwhelmed with the need, and I am unable to handle the emotions and tears overwhelm me. Other days I get angry at the children for the way they just expect everyone to do everything for them. One of our students is trying to raise money to go on the LRC Camp at the end of the year. It costs R2000 plus, a ridiculous amount of money for a family to raise in Imizamo Yethu. Onela is determined and is fiercely selling hot dogs two days a week for a mere R6! Often I will have kids in my office, "Miss Debbie buy us a hotdog! Please I don't have money", and I get mad at the attitude behind the ask. Often these are the same kids we confiscate expensive cell phones from, or kids we have caught smoking pot which probably cost them a pretty penny. So what is my response to them supposed to be. Often in the poverty cycle we just perpetuate the problem by continually giving handouts. Every person is created in the image of God. Every person derserves to be treated with dignity, respect and deserves "shalom". I cannot say it better than Tim Keller does in the video clip below. Click on the link below. I think as a person who cares deeply for the poor and marginalized of our city I will always find my life in conflict. Does this mean I just give up and say there is just too much or do I try and make a difference where I can and try not to be overwhelmed. I think I often need to ask God to help me discern how I respond and always check the attitude of my heart in my response. Is it to make me feel better, like I have ticked a box or is it because I genuinely care for the person in need. Do I look at them and see that they are intrinsically valued as a person created by God. Cape Town as a city has become really good at perpetuating the divide between rich and poor. The mere fact that our suburbs are clearly demarcated is proof of this. Classism persists and people care about whether they live above or below the railway line. Our southern suburbs schools continue to keep out the so called riff raff by screening children they take in by financial standards. Families will purchase property so as to make sure that a child can go to a certain school. Crazy systems like putting your child's name on a waiting list the moment they are born to try and ensure acceptance to a particular school. We care about social status getting into the "right " schools mixing within the right social circles and when we respond to the poor it is often to make us feel better about ourselves. We don't like to have the beggars at our window so we will try to organize them a quick fix in the hope of clearing up our neighbourhood, or so that we don't have to look at them and engage in uncomfortable conversation. Our constant striving to keep up with the Jones'. Poverty is a complex issue and our response to it is important as followers of Christ. Someone once said teach a man to fish and you will feed him for life, this is true but oh so cliched. I think I prefer the proverb about walking in another man's shoes for a while before we judge them. Trying to understand them and seeing a person's intrinsic worth will help us in our response to their poverty. With all our stuff and need for things sometimes I think we are the ones stuck in a different kind of poverty!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Forgiveness Given Trust Denied

So yesterday I made the first and biggest mistake when handling money. I counted out cash and then put it in an envelop and gave it to someone whom I had no issues with trusted that she had watched me count it and then handed it over to her I did not make her recount it and sign that she had received it. OMG what a stupid thing to have done. We were in a rush and I did not see the point as on Monday I would have had to redo it as I had taken money from three different places to make up the money I gave her and thought it would be easier when I had just reconciled everything. I made little sticky notes for myself so I would know where I had taken the bits from. Well it turned out to be a disaster, in my frustration I screamed at this woman on the phone. Oh it was nasty I cannot even begin to recall it in a blog. I was however called a white racist who does not know how to talk to people and told that I talk down to black people and rude and arrogant. I will take the last two. Was I rude yea, can I be arrogant Yes sometimes I think I do come across that way. I guess a flaw I need to work on. But do I talk down to people who are black. Hell NO!!!!! Anyway long story short I was offended hurt and totally screwed over as now I have lost R60 of my own money which she denies receiving. I know its only R60, in all my years working with finance to have to fork our such a pathetic amount of money is really not such an issue but for me it is the principle, that I know she received it. But it was my mistake for not making her sign for the money. And then she had the nerve to tell me and preach to me that money is the root of all evil and I responded back no you are wrong but it is the love of money and not money itself. The worst part of all this is, this is someon I used to be good friends with. Someone I have invited into my home. Flip I was so shocked and hurt by what was said to me that I decided as of yesterday I no longer am going to be a friend at work. My sister has always said never get close to your fellow workers always keep your distance. Work and pleasure don't mix. I would have saved myself a lot of unnecessary heart ache had I listened to her. So I promptly deleted all my colleagues off my facebook profile. I decided that was the first place to start. I will socialize when I have to at staff functions but it will remain platonic an not personal. Always listen to your big sister! Second mistake I made was to offer to help when actually I should have left it up to the teacher who is responsible for our green club. But my stupid heart gets in the way and once again I went beyond the call of duty and pfff what a f@#HHY!!!!!!!!! mess it all turned out to be in the end. I can't help feeling compassion and love towards the children I work for. I love these kids. Darn they had won a competition and yesterday was the last day they could make use of prize tickets to go to the Aquarium. I really wanted them to have the experience and I really did not mind giving up an hour of my Saturday to lift four kids of the eight that were going. Maybe also because I saw first hand how they had been let down in the July school holidays when they all arrived dressed in their best and the plans fell through. I have a soft heart and I really wanted to help. My problem is I care too much, I go beyond the call of duty to much, I give too much of my heart away. I feel too deeply. No more .....It stops today!! Sometimes it takes something like this to learn the hard way. As of tomorrow when I go back to school I will just be doing what is required of me in well, my Job Description! Actually I need to have one drawn up because that is another area where I tend to overstep my boundaries and do much more than is expected. It is because I love my job I really respect the man I work for, he has taught me so much in the last 18 months. In fact I admire his work ethic so much and have learned so much from him, that is the reason I go beyond a stupid Job Description! What is one to do come fellow bloggers and readers of my blog help me out here. I need to get into a better head please. Do I change this heart of flesh for one of stone?