Wednesday, December 31, 2008

365 Days

As 2008 comes to an end and we wait expectantly for the New Year to arrive, I’ve been thinking about goals and priorities. At this time of the year I am also able to look back on the past twelve months and actually tick off various goals which I achieved. I thank God for guiding me in these goals; for showing me how to prioritise.
I thank God, too for the many blessings He has showered on me and my loved ones. It is only by His grace that I have life and life in abundance. Amen!
In 2009 I’ve decided to give something away every day. If I can give something tangible, then I will. On the whole though, I’ll be giving away little, no-thanks-expected, intangible things.

I’ll listen more and speak less.
I’ll speak kindly to a stranger.
I’ll release a grudge.
I’ll pray for someone no-one likes, including me!
I’ll apologize if I’m wrong.
I’ll encourage an older person.
I’ll gladden the heart of a child.
I’ll give a soft answer, even if I feel strongly about something.

I will make next year an ongoing gift of myself to others. I’ll do it without announcement, without obligation, without reservation, and without hypocrisy. I will ask the question: What would Jesus do? Then I'll do the same...
May the New Year bring you happiness, joy and peace.
(Note: Various excerpts from

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Veritable Feast

A buffet set out on the pool table in the entertainment area,
made for easy serving.
The beauty of food served on Christmas day, is that you can also have some of the dishes again on New Year’s Day. My dear husband (DH) and I will be Darby and Joan on January 1; we’ll not be doing anything special as regards to meals. We’ll probably just loll about (don’t you just LOVE that expression, conjures up a relaxed, supine posture) in the garden and sip green tea. Ha!

However, for anyone reading this blog, who perhaps ate out at Christmas time, and who’d like to have dinner to herald in the New Year, here is my menu which you are welcome to emulate.
Christmas 2008 Menu

Roasted Gammon, with an apricot glaze
pineapple rings and cherries
Roast Chicken with Cranberry,
Apple and Celery Stuffing
Potato Salad with Dijon Mustard
Greek Salad
Three Bean Salad
Foccasia Bread
Malva Pudding and Custard
Lemon Meringue Pie and Ice-Cream
Demitasse Filter Coffee
Fresh Cream

Christmas gammon, glazed and decorated with pineapple rings and cherries

I scored the upper fat layer of a 3.5kg (7lb) Gammon with a sharp knife. I rubbed it with coarse salt (using my hands) and pressed cloves into the slits. I covered it with tin foil and cooked it in the oven for 2 hours. After removing the foil, I cooked it for a further forty minutes. When tested with a skewer and the juices run clear, I removed all the cloves. I painted a basting sauce of smooth apricot jam and a little brown vinegar onto the meat with a brush. I then secured the [fresh] pineapple rings on the meat and added a glace cherry in the middle. I painted the fruit with the remainder of the basting sauce and popped the whole dish under the grill for approximately 5-7 minutes. (Keep an eye on it; sticky char-grilled is delicious, burnt is not!)

My newly-tested stuffing recipe "made" the chicken

Next, I filled the chicken cavity with cranberry, apple and celery stuffing and secured the forcing with toothpicks. I seasoned the outside of the chicken, drizzled olive oil over and roasted it for about 1 1/2 hours. For the last five minutes, I turned on the grill to brown it. (Note: once again, be sure to watch this process, as mentioned above)

I baked a seperate ramekin with the surplus stuffing mixture. This is way it's also suitable for vegetarians

I’ve decided to post the two above cooking methods as well as the stuffing recipe today. At a later stage in the New Year, I’ll post the recipe for my diet-friendly Three Bean Salad and easy focaccia bread recipes. My sister-in-law brought the Malva pudding. You can find this recipe on Lynda’s blog. I will also post MIL’s delicious Lemon Meringue in the near future.

So without any further ado, here’s the recipe!

Cranberry, Apple and Celery Stuffing (

½ cup butter
2 cups chopped celery
½ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
2 tart green apples, cored and chopped
1 ¼ cups dried cranberries
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
4 cups dry bread crumbs
1 cup vegetable broth

In a skillet, melt the butter. Add celery and onion: sauté for 5 minutes
Remove from the heat; stir in next 5 ingredients and orange peel.
Place breadcrumbs in a large bowl; stir in sautéed fruit mixture.
Add vegetable broth; toss to combine.
Using your hands, stuff into chicken cavity.
Any remaining mixture, fill a greased ramekin and bake while you roast the chicken.
Serves 10

I often bake this focaccia bread when I have a buffet style meal;
it 's always a great hit

A taste bud teaser: my mother-in-law's divine Lemon Meringue Pie

Monday, December 29, 2008

Live and Let Live

Snails have their own place in my garden. Strangely the Acanthus mollis (shredded shrub just visible behind the sign), is one or two of the only plants in my garden that the snails really anihilate

This past week of Christmas celebrations and family gatherings has really made me appreciate my garden, the weather and nature more than ever. We’ve spent every possible moment in the garden with my MIL and her husband and various friends and family who’ve popped in. We’ve had morning coffee in the garden; later we’ve enjoyed breakfast together under the umbrella at the garden table. A few necessary chores indoors and then back into the garden it is for morning tea!

A peaceful and calm setting for family and friends' gatherings

Salads and cold meat (yummy left-over Christmas gammon) served al fresco just cannot be beaten. Later after an afternoon siesta - the weather is incredibly hot at the moment - I’d serve afternoon tea ... you guessed it - in the garden!

Even later my son and daughter-in-law would arrive to spend time with grandmother and hubby and to enjoy the sun setting over the garden while I served cheese, biscuits, gherkins, olives and biltong (A South African delicacy : dried meat which is similar to jerky). Life really has been mellow and peaceful these last few days.

Contrary to popular belief, snails do not destroy a garden

While we’re all enjoying freedom and the garden, the snails and other creepy crawlies in my garden are also allowed to live. Regular readers to this blog will know that I do not use poisons/ insecticides in my garden; not only that: I leave everything alone in my garden, not least the common garden snail. (You can read about the wildlife in my garden here) Ironically these little creatures are not out to destroy my whole garden. I have one section in my front garden where the snails can be seen crawling up the wall after a shower and a few Acanthus mollis bear the brunt of their hunger. Last week my husband erected a sign to mark their special place in my garden: "Snails Pub & Grub"...

Healthy blooms abound in my garden

There is enough garden for everyone!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Practical Christmas

Betty enjoying refreshments here at home the day before Christmas

A beautiful gift; a set of matching casseroles from Betty
At this time of the year, the thought comes to mind that I am so blessed with family and friends. While I’m not at all materialistically inclined, I am quite aware of the abundance with which God has blessed me. I have a very comfortable home (read: all mod cons in the form of electrical appliances - household and comfort enhancing) I have transport, resources to run my vehicle and I have a garden in which to entertain my family and friends.

By the same token, I cannot but help thinking of the thousands of underprivileged South Africans who do not even have a roof over their heads, never mind electricity and running water. And while only one of me cannot do much, I gladly give those people who are in my employ (and my son’s employ – see my extended family) whatever can possibly afford to give. My husband and I also attended the Carol Service last Sunday where we all donated gifts to the children in the newly-established orphanage. (My brother-in-law, the Pastor who with his wife delivered these gifts to the children on Christmas day, told us that one little girl just clutched her unopened gift and sobbed uncontrollably; heart wrenching stuff. )

On Wednesday morning I had a surprise visit from Betty, Emily’s daughter from Johannesburg. She arrived here with her son and with her nephew, who comes to work with Emily during the year (see my extended family). Emily poured each a glass of soda and I set out a plate of cookies. They sat in my formal lounge because Emily and Albertina were still cleaning the rest of the house; I sat a chatted to Betty and took some photographs of her and the little ones. Betty had come to greet me and brought me a Christmas present. I was delighted and really touched when I opened it later that night and saw that it was a set of beautiful casserole dishes. These people don’t have much for themselves, yet they can be so generous. When she and the two little boys had had enough to eat and drink, I took them to the taxi rank downtown.

Later that day as my staff prepared to leave at about midday, so that they could get a little last minute shopping in, I presented each with a Christmas mpho (gift). The local supermarkets make up hampers during this season: a plastic bucket filled with essential groceries and a few luxuries. Sugar, oil, maize meal, rice, tea bags, custard powder, tinned beans, a packet of sweets, jelly, shoe polish, deodorant and much more. Privately my two gardeners and Emily were presented with their annual Christmas bonuses (a "thirteenth cheque”) and I thanked them for work well done during the year. Then my husbanded loaded them up into my little pickup and took them to town.

On Christmas day I phoned Emily at home and wished her and her family for Christmas. I also asked her where I could find the floor-whiz (mop) and told her how much I was missing her. This statement was greeted with much laughter. I’m sure she tells her family how much I dislike housework!

So while I cannot do much more for the masses than pray for them, I’m sure the people who are close to me and help me so well all year, were able to have a good festive time with their own loved ones.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Means Rebirth

One of the most powerful miracles experienced by mankind is the miracle of rebirth. On 25th December we remember the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ in Israel just over 2000 years ago. That miracle opened the way for the miracle of rebirth. When you experience the miracle of rebirth you are "born again" and your whole life changes. As Jesus came into the world, so He came into our lives, if that is what we choose.

Let the fragrance of Christmas flow through you at this time, pointing others to the One who brings joy, hope, liberty, freedom and forgiveness to all who call on His name. Share freely that you have experienced rebirth and that you are a new person because of what Jesus did for you more than 2000 years ago.

God bless you and your loved ones.

(Direct excerpt from "A Farmer's Year" by Angus Buchan

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Wonderful Christmas Day

My husband and my mum-in-law's husband off to town
for last minute shopping before Christmas
Afternoon tea in the garden on Christmas Eve

Hubby and me on Christmas Eve
My MIL, her husband and my husband; you can see by the amount of gifts we don't have children/ babies in the house !
Christmas Lunch was a resounding success

Well, it's all over bar the shouting... The lunch was superb; many recipes to follow in the next few days. *Sigh* I had too much dessert; my MIL's lemon meringue pie was delicious!

As I write this blog on Christmas night, I'm exhausted; Christmas is almost over. The sun has not even set here in beautiful Central South Africa and I'm off to bed.
I trust you all had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Warm Potato Salad with Dijon Mustard

A potato salad with a difference

It's Christmas and for the first time in nine years my husband is home, We're hosting Christmas dinner. I perused my recipes to try at least one different salad as an accompaniment to the two meats I’m preparing. Yes, as a vegetarian, I prepare meat dishes, cook meat dishes, serve meat dishes. All I don’t do is eat them! I’ve also stuffed the chicken with a completely different forcing. It is my own deduction of a ready- made potted stuffing I saw on the shelf in the supermarket. If it tastes good, which I’m sure it will, I’ll post the steps/instructions.

Now back to the salad. Three months ago I was asked to make a potato dish for lunch that our church was serving for a group of delegates after a regional meeting. I found two recipes on the Internet which looked interesting so I amalgamated them. Viola! The perfect recipe. It looked and tasted divine. It is also one of those recipes that you look at, taste and say to yourself, “Mmm, delicious, but next time I’ll add this or that...”

You can serve it with crispy fried streaky bacon as a starter, or upgrade it to a main meal by adding lamb shanks, Eisbein, smoked pork sausages or even smoked chicken.

Warm Potato Salad with Dijon Mustard
(Serves 4)
20 baby potatoes
2 red onions, sliced
8 black olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons soft, sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoon capers, well drained
5 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup fruit chutney
1/3 cup low-oil salad dressing
Coarse salt and ground black pepper
15ml white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard (I used Hot English Mustard)
1 pickled gherkin, patted dry and finely chopped.

Mix all ingredients except for the potatoes and set aside. (Don’t refrigerate)
Boil potatoes in salted water until just done.
Spoon the warm potatoes into an earthenware casserole dish, pour sauce over and garnish with fresh parsley.
Serve immediately.

I've been up since 4am. I roasted the chicken; (remember, hubby - no eat turkey) and it's waiting to be carved by himself. I've also cooked a huge gammon and will glaze and decorate it with pineapples rings and cherries in a minute. Then it goes back into the oven for that delicious browning until it resembles rich toffee. I've kneaded dough for my special Foccacia; I'm waiting for it to rise. MIL (read Mum-in-law) is making her delicious lemon meringue pie. DIL (yes, that's right, daughter-in-law) will be here mid-morning to help set the table.She does it beautifully. We're placing all the cold meat and salads on the top of the pool table and serve it buffet-style. SIL (mmm, you know the drill by now) is bringing a Malva pudding. (a scrumptious baked pudding with a sticky sauce)

The other guests arrive at 12.30 and we'll have another spate of gift opening.

Last night MIL, her husband, my husband and I exchanged gifts. Great fun. I gave hubby a framed collage of his favourite wife (how about that for being in-your-face? Ha!) Well, he'll soon be off to work in Canada and I don't want him to forget me. He gave me a brand-new pair of secateurs. (pruning shears)

Above all I want honour the most important Guest here today, the Lord Jesus. I dedicate this special day which remembers His coming to earth now and forever. Amen!

To all you beautiful bloggers out there, have a wonderful Christmas.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Food for the Road

Some of the beautiful scenery on our trip through Eastern Free State to Kwa-Zulu Natal
The sandstone cliffs rise majestically alongside the road

Our family (and a few dogs) enjoying padkos yesterday

Having spent five years of my childhood in Zimbabwe, (then Southern Rhodesia) I knew all about long car journeys. No matter where we travelled in that country, it was always a L O N G journey. Once a year, we crossed the border into South Africa on our annual holiday and then the long journey became a three-day-long journey.

In the sixties there were no fast-food outlets to relieve the distances or a traveller's hunger between towns. This was not a problem because my mum would pack “padkos”. Translated, this is “road food”. The night before we were due to leave, my mum would prepare the “padkos” . Traditionally this was a wicker basket packed with cake tins filled with meatballs, boerewors (Farmers Sausage), hardboiled eggs, cheese sandwiches and hot, sweet tea in a flask. She also packed a tin of homemade rusks and fruit in season.

We’d leave home in the early hours of the next morning. The car was always dark and quiet, everyone too sleepy to talk. I remember we’d always fall asleep again and wake up an hour or two later with the sun streaming in through the windows. My mum would hand us a fruit on a serviette. We'd eat this and afterwards we'd sit forward in our seats anticipating the time when my dad would stop for breakfast.
Not long and my dad would pull up at a concrete table and chairs under a copse of trees, with a deep concrete refuse bin to the one side. I always marvelled that my dad would find a spot exactly at the right time. We’d all stand around the table while my mum spread a snowy white linen table cloth on the concrete table. She'd unpack the basket which my dad brought from the boot/trunk of the car. First out was the tin of rusks and she'd offer them around. Then she set the meal out and we’d enjoy what was a feast to us. I still maintain to this day, that nothing tasted better than my mum’s cheese sandwich and hot sweet tea in a tin mug. Other early motorists driving by would hoot and wave just to show they also had the holiday spirit.
Once we'd finished eating, we'd all help tidy up. No paper or mess was left lying around. We'd even pick up litter that was left by others, in case, as my dad always said, "people thought it was us." (!!) To allow our food to settle, my parents would let us play outside around the car as long as they could still see us. My mum sat knitting in the car with her door open; my dad would tilt his seat back a little and catch forty winks. A few minutes later we’d all be back in our seats, my mum’s door closed and my dad would pull out onto the tarmac for the next part of our journey. Everyone replete, relaxed and happy.

As parents,my husband and I, whenever we travelled a significant distance with our children, always stopped along the way for “padkos”.

Yesterday we met John and Debbie (our older son and dil) in Kwa-Zulu Natal. He’d brought his grandmother and her husband to this point; we collected them there and brought them home for the Christmas holidays. Earlier this week John phoned and asked if I’d bring “padkos” along so that we could enjoy it together in the outdoors. (Like me, my son had not forgotten this enjoyable part of his childhood.)

I’m pleased that the tradition lives on...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Four-legged family members preparing for Christmas!

Angie helps sweep the patio!

Chip keeps a close eye on my husband in the workshop. He built her this special "place" above his workbench where she loves to lie all day!

Tigger has all the gardening and birdwatching under control

Pudding supervises the cooking and baking from the top of the fridge. My husband had to secure the freezer door with a cord. Pudding pushes it open with her hindleg when the heat gets too much!
Clarice keeps an eye on Emily cleaning the entertainment area!
The refurbished cathouse welcomes all visitors!

Felix checks to see if I'm cleaining the cathouse
The cats have their own table to eat on and baby carry cots to sleep in

When this post appears, we’ll be travelling down to the Natal Midlands to meet my older son and his family. He's bringing my eighty-year-old mother-in-law and her new husband to that point from Durban (you can read about their recent wedding here).

Meanwhile, the days leading up to this point have been filled with activities as we prepare for the Christmas holidays. A dab of paint here, a new outdoor light re-wired there. My darling husband has even refurbished the cathouse. David, the gardener has painted the floor a brilliant green. (Eewyeww!) Hubby removed the bulky storage unit I had in there and erected beautiful and practical shelves .

Of course, while everyone on the property is getting the house and garden ship-shape for Christmas visitors, the four-legged members of the family just lie back and relax.

I captured a few "action" photos...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Traditional Christmas Carols

"Oh Holy Night" beautifully rendered by a men's duet
at the Traditional Carol Service last night
People brought gifts for underprivileged children while Izelma, with the window behind her, sings a solo. On her right, in the corner is the organ which I played for fifteen years

Last night we attended the annual Christmas Carols held at the Methodist Church here in our town. The event always reminds me of the many years I was the organist in this same church.

I remember one particular Christmas Carol service where I played the church organ while one of the other younger women, Izelma, set her keyboard in up in the front of the church. By arrangement, I accompanied the congregation on certain carols while she had other carols to play.
As normal at this time of the year, the heat was unbelievable. Just prior to the last carol, I looked at my watch and saw that, although it was almost seven o’ clock, the sun was still blazing through the window behind me. Under cover of a Scripture lesson by one of the other people involved in the carol service, Izelma turned around and asked me what key she should play her carol. When she whispered “Do I play this song in ‘G’?” I thought she’d said “Would you like a cup of tea” (Crazy, I know, but I was hot and thirsty and thought she was offering me refreshment!) So I nodded. Well, as the crowd began to sing, we realised the notes were far too high and after a bit of juggling, Izelma managed to transpose her keyboard and the carol was sung with much more ease.

Yesterday, 21st December, the longest day in the Southern Hemisphere, was also very hot. Once again I watched the sun pour in through the window behind the organ. Only this time I was sitting in a pew joining in the singing and not playing any instrument!

The church was packed evveryone enjoyed the singing very much. At the end of the proceedings, people placed wrapped gifts in the front of the church. These will be handed to the children of a newly established orphanage in town.

After the service we all repaired to the Retirement Village where the ladies of the Methodist Church had prepared a finger supper for all to enjoy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Summer Storms

Above a storm gathers momentum
as the sun prepares for bed

Regular visitors to this blog will know that I love rain. Rainstorms, raindrops, showers of rain; anything to do with rain! I also love storms. Dark, ominous, black-clouded, rumbling, flashing storms. Why do I like storms? Because generally they herald rain. Now WHY do I love rain? Because it brings new life; it refreshes the earth; it rejuvenates the spirit.

Here in Central South Africa, with a prairie-like landscape, rain is not something we take for granted. We are grateful for every drop that falls.

My "baby" cat, Manduline is afraid of storms. I always know heavy weather is imminent; I find her in this corner of my diningroom. If you look carefully, you'll see her tongue protruding from her mouth!

More signs of stormy weather to the northeast of my garden

Over the past two weeks, the days have dawned sunny and bright. By midday we are sweltering in the summer heat. By 4pm, the clouds begin to gather overhead. Within forty minutes, the first drop of rain splashes on the ground. We’ve had heavy electric storms followed by good showers of rain. In the Free State, electric storms are violent and have claimed many lives in the past. It's best to take care in a storm; not to be out in the open and near any rocky outcrops . Do not shelter in a tin shed. (many of these storage barns in the area).

Eventually the rain arrives and pours down

and down, and down...

Of course, due to the profusion of rain, my garden has flourished. It is lush and cool; and it's my pride and joy at the moment. Early this morning, while doing my Quiet Time, I walked through the garden and all I could do was to thank God for the bounty of blessings which He has showered us with this past year.

My garden after the rains.

A cool shady part of my garden

The green path draws the reader's eye to even greener pastures!
My three ponds are all interlinked; two have waterfalls and this one in the foreground has a fountain which is only just visible in the photo. The whole effect is tranquil, cool and relaxing

It would be great if it rains on Christmas Eve. As we’re having quite a large family gathering on Christmas day, I’ve decided to serve lunch in the garden. If it has rained, the air will be cooler and the flies will be less inclined to share our meal!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Too late for tears

One minute she's there and the next she's gone. It is indeed every parent's worst nightmare not to know where their child is, or what's happened to her.

While in the city a few days ago, we noticed many families in the malls; young families. Mum, Dad, little guy and little girl. Sometimes, a really young mum, dad and baby in a pushchair. At breakfast in a fast-food outlet, we sat across from a middle-youth (Ha! I'm not getting myself reprimanded for saying middle-aged) woman with two beautiful teenage daughters and a little boy of about four. In my wild imagination, I often make up stories/create lives for people I see. In the case of the above, I imagined that the lady had two daughters from a previous marriage. At some stage she married a man with no family and they wanted a child together. Hence the little boy who is so much younger than the two girls. When I voiced my thoughts to my husband, he said he noticed nothing “different” about the group I was referring to. I told him I’m glad I don’t rely on him to help me with my writing!

By the same token I often feel panic if I see people walking along with their little boy/girl tagging on behind. Don’t these people know how often little children are stolen in broad daylight? And no, I’m not a doomsayer and I don’t "do" negativity. It just makes me mad to see how nonchalant people can be with the most precious possessions they’ll ever own. I mean, would they leave their handbag/wallets/backpacks with credit cards, cash, and cell phones, not to mention all manner of personal items, on the floor of the mall and saunter ahead? I think not.

I was still thinking along these lines when I popped into the ladies restrooms. As I passed a row of closed doors, I saw one door ajar. Just before I pushed it open completely I realised it was occupied, albeit by someone whose legs didn’t reach the floor. Even here I wondered, “Why is this child in a toilet on her own?” No matter what, the safe thing would be to take her into the toilet with you.
I managed to find an open stall, and when I came out again, the little girl from the half-open toilet was at the washbasins chatting to the cleaning lady. (No harm in this; black people in this country love little children and would never harm them) The cleaner helped her with soap as she was too short to reach the dispenser. Then the little girl stood on tiptoe and tried to reach the tap over the basin next to the one I was using. I leaned over and turned on the water. She thanked me politely and I asked her where her mum was. She said her mum was at home. So I said, “Who are you here with?” And she answered: “Auntie Miranda”. Then she asked my name (this blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl was as cute as a button and not at all shy, which could bode worse for her if she was dealing with a stranger with bad intentions) When I told her I was Jo, she said her name is Chantelle Smith. (Not her real name) Then I asked her where Auntie Miranda was, and she pointed to a closed door halfway down the row of cubicles.

There and then decided I could not go for two reasons: one was that I didn’t want to leave the little girl alone in the restrooms while her “aunt” stayed in the toilet for goodness knows how long. The second was, when “Auntie Miranda” (whom I imagined was the little girl’s mother’s not-too-responsible-younger sister,) emerged from the toilet, I wanted to point out to her that it was not safe to leave young children alone in Shopping Malls, let alone in a public toilets where any pervert could pick them up and whip them out of sight in no time at all.

Finally Auntie Miranda came out of the cubicle clutching at least six shopping bags (see, it’s more important to keep your recent purchases under your watchful eye than a five-year-old.) At once I saw this was no younger sister. The woman was at least in her forties and immediately it dawned on me that she is a childminder or Day Mother as they are known here in South Africa. These women look after the children of working parents; often caring for them “privately” which means they’re not affiliated to any official body that checks up on you where you’re minding these children. For instance, do you have enough space for the amount of children; do you supervise them at all times; are the facilities adequate and clean, etc. Now, while I don’t want to go into the dodgy Day Mother/ Care Centres in our country, once again, my mind jumped to the fact that here was a Day Mother who had only one child at this [holiday] time of the year. She obviously had to come to town and of course, the most natural thing was to bring the child along. However, surely she’d be extra vigilant with a charge in her care?

I looked her straight in the eye and said: “Good morning, I waited here with little Chantelle. I didn’t want to leave her alone while you were in the toilet; it's not safe.” (My family has often said that I stick my nose in – interfere - where I'm not wanted) The woman looked at me and said: “Oh.”
Just that.

When I met up with my husband waiting in the Mall, I told him the story as we walked quickly to the escalator/moving stairs. He asked if it was a young woman with this child and as I was about to answer him, the woman walked past him and around the bottom of the stairs. So I quietly said: ” There she goes” and then I realised she didn’t have the little girl with her. My husband turned around to look at the woman while we ascended on the stairs, and saw that she was walking back in the direction of the ablutions. She had left the little girl behind!

I don’t know the outcome of this story. All I know is that I felt sick for the rest of the day, worrying about this little girl (who was probably OK, as my husband pointed out) and hundreds of little children who are not held onto securely while out in public with the adults.
I am not generalising here, please don’t get me wrong. We saw many, many a mother holding a child securely by the hand, or a father carrying his toddler. I’m talking about the odd person who doesn’t care enough to watch their child or charge when they’re out shopping. And to me, ONE child lost/abducted is a tragedy.

I remember, shortly after I had my second son in 1979, a friend and I went on a three day shopping excursion from the farm in Zululand to Durban, at the coast. She had a baby girl whom she strapped to her chest. I did the same with my tiny baby. My older son, then four years old, was secured in a pretty blue child harness with teddies on the straps; I clipped the matching leash to the ring the back of the harness (on my child's back) and in this way, my friend and I kept our children safe and close to us. While walking down the sidewalk, an elderly lady coming in the opposite direction, stopped me and pointed a gnarled finger at my son in the harness. She said I should be ashamed tying my child up like a dog and then she stalked away. I was young, sensitive and felt terrible at her accusations. Nevertheless, I kept my son on the leash, and used it later with my second child. Today I know I did the correct thing by ensuring my children were always safe when we went out into the public. I have always taken the same care with my grandchildren...

Friday, December 19, 2008

God's light reflected

I pray that God's light is reflected in my life

When you get to know Jesus, it is like stepping out of darkness into bright sunlight. God does not only provide light; He is Light. The advent of Jesus which is the period now until Christmas Eve, is a revelation of an earlier mystery. God’s purpose for mankind was shown when Jesus was sent to earth. The light that He brought is available to us all.

There is a moral aspect to the assertion: “God is Light”. Darkness is related to the Evil One and sin. Crimes and sins are often committed in the dark. People who commit these deeds think that God cannot see them but then the guilt which originates from the deeds, cast a dark shadow over their conscience. God’s untainted holiness and purity stand out in stark contrast. There is no darkness in Him.

Our lives on earth should be a reflection of God’s light in Jesus.

I pray that God’s light shines upon every facet of my life; that He makes my life on earth a reflection of His light to brighten and lighten the situation of those around me, through Jesus Christ. Amen.