Trish on the blog: Getting Older

I’m very excited to debut a possible short series…ok, she hasn’t agreed to that yet…but for now, here’s “Trish on the blog!”. My very beautiful, deep-thinking, Jesus-chasing mum sharing some heart food…

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Getting Older

The last few months have seen some changes in me physically as I have stopped wearing make up and colouring my hair. Do I see myself any differently as a result? Sometimes I think I look okay and then I see a photo of myself and think – horror! Why does what I see in the mirror not be the same as a photo?. Am I blinded to my aging? My hair is now going to its natural colour which happens to be brown with lots of grey coming. The decision to do this was partly by changing my hairdresser who suggested it, partly monetary in not spending so much on a wasteful extravagance. I am on a learning curve with this as there are days when I appear to be fine, and there are other days when I look old and grey. I know this makes me sound so vain, and I don’t think that I am – but maybe!

In the middle of all this, I wonder how God sees me. He is not interested in my looks – if my hair is grey or I am wearing make up. It’s my heart and my mind He wants. He sees beyond what anyone else sees. Does He like it, or does He sometimes say, ” Oh dear, I don’t like that today.” I know that God delights in me, He loves me and loves my company, I am a daughter of the King, but I don’t always believe that in myself. The word insignificance has been coming through when I think of myself, my faith, my walk etc. I need to get rid of those lies which eat away at me and choose to start and carry on believing the truth.

Proverbs 16v31 says that Grey hair is a crown of splendour, it is attained by a righteous life. And maybe this is how I should view it. Any time I begin to look at myself or photos in a negative way, I am going to ask God to bring Psalm 139 to my mind, reminding me of how wonderfully made I am. God did not get anything wrong with the plans He had for designing me. Give me a grateful heart O God!

I was reading 1 Peter 3v4 where it says, “You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is so precious to God….”

Do I even see that I have a beauty within? A gentle and quiet spirit? Maybe these are things that I need to be praying for?

I know that in the past (and maybe not that long ago) I would have called myself a people pleaser and tried to fit in whatever setting or group of people I was with, and be the sort of person I thought people expected me to be in that situation. Even how I dressed would depend on whom I was with. Should I not aim to please God first above all else and be a God pleaser instead?

In truth – there will be times when I may choose to wear make up and I may even colour my hair at some point. What I am learning is that I don’t need to do these things to please others or be accepted into social groupings or feel better about myself.

Where does this leave me? I would love to say that I am going to love every photo of me and think that my grey hair looks cool. This probably won’t happen, but I will try and obsess less about it and glow with the knowledge of how much I am loved, even on bad hair days!


on marriage…

Having been married for only two years, we’re not exactly the experts, but having been married for two years, we understand what the first two years of being married can look like…those who have been married for decades may have forgotten the very [presumably] unique joys and challenges of the early days.


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I’ve had moments in the last two years where I’ve thought to myself “what have I done?!!” and asking if everyone finds it this hard, because all I see is the instagrammed bliss of newlyweds. Bliss? Where is our bliss? Did we skip that bit?  The thing is, we have had our share of bliss moments, we’ve had moments of going deeper in our friendship, in understanding our hearts better, of growing towards Jesus together, of full love tanks, of celebration but in all of these pieces, they have been fought for. Growing pains.

To go deeper in our friendship, we’ve had to have the I-don’t-like-it-when-you-do-that or I-don’t-understand-why-you-would-say-that conversation; to understand our hearts better, we’ve caused each other more pain and learned to heal from that place. Because I’ve given my entire heart to Lloyd, he holds it and has the potential to hurt me more than anyone else…the same is true the other way round. In growing towards Jesus together we’ve had to learn that we’re different, that our faith is different and that I’m not always right. Haha. In having full love tanks, we’ve had to experience what it is to have empty tanks from not loving each other well and in enjoying celebration, we have also learnt to mourn together and realise that celebration is important even amidst pain, empty bank balances and challenging life circumstances. We have NOT got any of this right first time!

I’m not saying we only grow through negative circumstances, but I think often we look at the finish line, the happy ending forgetting the uphill to get there.

I would not change the last two years.

I would not change the arguments, the tears and the big whoopsies.

I would choose to be kinder with my words.

I would choose to laugh it off more than fight it out.

But I wouldn’t change what we’re growing, because it’s beautiful, right?

Although on the surface Lloyd and I may look like this polished, got-it-all-together couple (really just on the surface, most of our people know the truth!), we have found two years of marriage really hard. Both of us were close to 30 when we got married and so had lived very independent lives up until that point: suddenly we’re accountable, we’re in each other’s’ faces, and we’re making decisions together. This is both the hardest thing and my favourite thing. I really believe in family, I believe family is what God gave us to figure out what it means to be alive, and have life in its fullness, I love that I’m not alone** and that I cannot do things by myself, because difficult as it can be to navigate this, I have someone to have my back, to fight for me and with me and that has been my greatest joy in the last few years. I am blessed with a warrior – life has been challenging on many levels, and Lloyd has been my backbone when I’ve felt like crumbling, he’s listened to my rants and helped me move past it through holding me when I cry, or helping me laugh when I’ve forgotten…THAT is my joy, not the shiny pictures on facebook, because, frankly, neither of us do very well when we’re trying to get the perfect selfie!

**[I’m not going to get into this now, as this is a blog about marriage, but I believe in a family across blood lines, into community and friendships that look like family…marriage is NOT the only way we can create family]

What I’ve learnt in my marriage is that it’s ok to ask the hard questions, it’s ok to ask “what have I done?” or “is this the right thing, can we really do this?” and I’ve found the same thing to be true in my walk with Jesus. I’ve had my moments of admitting that I feel crazy, “what am I giving my life to?” but in those moments of my darkest doubts, I’ve heard the voice of God (sometimes through other people, sometimes the Bible, sometimes circumstances…) say that it’s ok and then he steps in and blows my mind with his kindness, with his love, with his grace. I’m at a point in my faith where I have seen too much to doubt if this is real but I still have my questions, my fears and my insecurities to work through – Can’t we speed this thing up God? Can I get this patience thing down yet?

And I’m reminded my faith, and my marriage, is a journey, that if we’re so busy rushing to the finish line, we miss the joy of journeying uphill together, of pushing through, of looking at our rubbish in its face and with my family, yelling a resounding NO in the face of lies. When we get to the end of those small hills, and see the sunset, or get new perspective, we can look back together and say we did this, we made it.

IMG-20150813-WA0005My faith is richer because of the battle.

My marriage is stronger because of the battle.

So I honour my husband for walking with me, for the fun he brings and the real wisdom he carries in our marriage. My prayer is that day by day, we learn to walk better, that our relationship muscles only grow stronger and that we continue to choose each other when things are hard.

Let’s do this!


knitting

I can’t knit, much as my nanny tried, it never quite caught on. But God has been using this metaphor of knitting, of being knit or created, to help me understand my heart and where I find myself currently.knit

The image is of me as a jumper and the intention was always that the jumper would be perfect, but along the way a few stitches have been dropped and knots have gotten into the pattern; it doesn’t make the jumper unwearable, or even noticeably broken, but the one who knit it knows, they know how it was supposed to look.

And so, a few months back, where I found myself was in a place where it felt like the knitter had decided it was time to fix some of the gaps, but in order to reach the holes that had formed, the entire jumper needs to be unraveled. I went through a season where it felt like my entire identity unraveled before me – I was confronted with lies I was believing about myself, lies about God and I had a few moments of panic… is this it, God? Am I losing it? And then, he spoke to me and said,

‘I knit you together in your mother’s womb, with all of my best bits, from me, from Jesus and from Holy Spirit. You are pieced together with love, each stitch brought us joy as you are the expression of us. You are our love song on earth’

And, breathe.

Suddenly I felt safe in this unraveling as I was able to look to the creator and trust – trust that I was being unraveled so I could be re-made, trust that this was happening now because I was ready, I could face some of this ugliness in a way I couldn’t have before and trust that if I could find peace in this process, I might just come out stronger. He said,

‘I have put my safety net around you so you don’t have to create and live in your false net built of insecurities, disappointment and fear of failure. You are a risk-taker, you don’t have to be afraid, jump.’

Let me be totally honest, this hasn’t been a quick process, I’m pretty sure I’m only half way there in it and a lot of it has NOT been fun. I shared with my church family some of the more ugly moments that have brought some of the biggest victories, and I’ve had friends celebrate the little milestones when they happen…but it’s hard. It’s forced me to ask some really difficult questions about my life, my work, my relationships but I am thankful for God’s kindness. I am thankful that God holds the mirror up to me and gently reminds me that that wasn’t how he made me, I am thankful (through gritted teeth at times) to learn what humility looks and feels like and I am thankful to be reminded that we are unfinished pieces of art, of great worth, but in progress…and our life of faith means figuring that together.

recent snapshot from our Tree of Life family baptism day – doing this thing together


this is not ok.

I don’t quite have the words to express how I’m feeling right now. I don’t have the words to explain what I just witnessed, but I feel compelled to write, compelled to communicate what is happening so close to home, for many of us.

Everyone knows there’s gang fight in Manenberg, there always has been, it’s almost boring, right? At least that’s how it seems. But there is a war going on in Manenberg that is SO evil, SO unfair…so destructive to an entire community, and yet no one is taking any notice.

I’m calling the church to pray.

I don’t normally like to write so openly about Manenberg’s messiness, but we need you. We need you to know what’s going on.

On Monday morning, I woke up to a message, “be careful coming in today, there’s been heavy shooting this morning”. Great, no better way to start your week than a backdrop of gunshots. I got into the office as shooting broke out. Two of our staff members pulled up in the middle of the shooting and had to make the decision whether it was safer to sit in their car or make a run. They ran…cars really aren’t that safe, and in that split second where a decision was made, the thought also passed by “‘shit, I haven’t written my will yet”.

All a bit shaken, we had a check-in and began to worship. Let me tell you, there’s nothing sweeter than God’s presence when there is gang fight, and God meets us, we need him, we know we do, and it’s in that place of utter dependence we find our reserve to make it through the day. Worship and shooting continued for about an hour, continuously, and as the gunshots finally petered out, so we allowed our worship to draw to a close – energised and ready for the day, and thankfully, the rest of the day was quiet.

where it's all going down-not so picturesque today

where it’s all going down-not so picturesque today

Today one of my colleagues got half way to work only to be told to go no further, a lady had just been shot. In between moments of shooting, she ran to work and got safely to the office. We’re learning to become more aware of trauma and what it can do to our bodies, so we did a body scan and released a bit of adrenaline through dance…

We began the set-up of our 24-7 prayer room which is kicking off on Sunday. Outside we see a bunch of women start to salvage all the metal and “steal-able” items from building site of one of the blocks of flats across the way from our office where refurbishments have been abandoned because of gang fight.

A couple of hours later I find myself alone at the office working on relatively boring stuff…

I hear a commotion from outside – I look out the window to see close to 100 people out on the street, most of whom are young, male gangsters facing off at one another, with the same bunch of women and a few more mums and aunties joining in. The press are there with cameras.

The noise turns into shots, the police are there, they have their weapons out, the gangsters normally don’t shoot when the police are present, but all of the normal “rules” seem to have gone out of the window… In all the gang fights I’ve witnessed, I’ve never actually seen the police have to use their weapons, they are now driving their vehicles with one gun-filled hand pointing out the window. For the next 20 minutes this chasing of young men continues, the community pointing the police in all directions – I’m not totally convinced they’re helping. The press stands on the road and takes photos – he doesn’t seem to be afraid.

While this is happening, aware that one of my colleagues is out visiting our girls, I call her to tell her to stay put, she can’t walk this side anymore, another colleague is trapped between two places of shooting and is having to reverse the car up and down roads to find safety. He finally arrives back, visibly shaken and frankly, we’re both over being there for now. We close up office and move our work elsewhere.

IMGP0160All of our prayer weeks have had gang fight connected to them, we’re used to that, but for the first time in the history of 24-7 in Manenberg, I find myself questioning whether we should cancel it, or move it. Maybe this is the weakness of my flesh crying out, well, it definitely is that…but it is also the fact that THIS IS NOT OK. We know and believe that our call is to pray, and we will pray, we will pray our way back to hope, back to the face of Jesus, back to a joy that sometimes looks like laughing at the devil but sometimes looks like weeping until we can find Jesus again, but what happens on earth? We can only hope.

Hope with us. Stand with us. Let’s get the worldwide church praying with us, for Shalom for this community, knowing that this is but one community in Cape Town with the same issue. Pray that the gangs not yet involved don’t join in, pray for revival. Pray that guns would jam, pray that the heavens would open and some sort of rain would come and cleanse evil away, pray for safety. Pray that we as a team would know peace, find joy, and learn what it means to be fearless…

The answer is Jesus, and a church willing to cross the lines and love and love and love


confessions of an ostrich

I didn’t mean to be underground, I honestly didn’t know I was for a long time…but then I looked up and saw it was November, not May, and realised I may have been hiding a little, weathering the storm like a good ol’ ostrich…with my head in the sand. One of the things I value in life is telling an honest story, and so haven’t felt particularly able to write because I haven’t wanted, or felt able to share the fullness of the story I’ve been living in. That hasn’t necessarily changed…but I do feel like I’m choosing to enter into spring a bit more intentional and lift my head up.

These are some of the share-able moments of this last season:

The Good: 20141108_155225Despite the bleakness of this intro, there has been SO much goodness, learning and joy in the last season amidst the hard stuff. One of the most fun parts has been almost daily, falling more in love with the hubbie, realising what an incredible person he is, and seeing him realise a bit more of who he is and what has been placed within him. He really has been a place of (very patient) refuge, support and pushing me back into healthy, happy spaces. Those who know me, know how seeeeerious I can get, and Lloyd is so a perfect partner for me in helping me move from those deep places of pain, that I’m called, and are my joy to carry, back up to a place of finding hope and God’s goodness.

I also had the opportunity of travelling to Madrid for the 24-7 prayer gathering, with the leadership team of our wee church family, Tree of Life. This was an incredibly redemptive time of remembering dreams, remembering my passions and re-engaging with bigger picture Kingdom stuff that had slightly gotten pushed to the side with the hardness of life in my small locality. I was reminded of my love of intercession for the nations, being part of movements of people doing amazing things around the world, and hearing stories of hectic moves of God in my homeland 🙂

The Bad: One of the things that has been hardest in the last season is watching my little butterfly girl struggle through incredibly hard life circumstances, and how she’s landed up in very broken places of addiction and abuse. It’s been a time of me feeling completely out of my depth and simultaneously, completely believing I’m in the right place a
t the right time. I’ve had to step into a parent role for an 11 year old, and at times, for her family too…I’m at school meeting with teachers and principals, having to make decisions about this little treasure’s future and so desperately just wanting her to be free and happy. Thankfully, I’m not alone on this journey, there are a bunch of “big sisters” fighting for our girl, there’s an amazing play therapist pushing into the hard places with her, and a group of praying people who have our backs. I long to be writing a different story about her this time next year.

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The Ugly: I started to write about what I’ve found most ugly in this last season, but I’m actually done giving it more voice than it needs…especially when I have processed, I’ve cried out to God, and I know he hears our cries and answers. And so I’m leaving it there. I’m trusting in the kindness of my father that calls people back to him, that restores weary hearts, that starts little families of families, that fills me with hope, that gives me what I need…even when it’s not what I want, or think I need! I’m choosing to look to the wonderful partnership God’s given me in Lloyd, the opportunity to journey with my little butterfly and the incredible family in Manenberg who call me into my best self and lift my head back up when it has fallen.

More than ever, I need your support and prayers…I’m living in the deep end and while it’s terrifying, it’s one mighty exciting adventure!


those little moments that change everything

It was Friday of our prayer week, day 5 and I was already more than tired…but, I had made a promise to a little girl (butterfly girl’s little 9-year old sister). I had promised her a sleepover at the Manenberg prayer room. A sleepover shift means very little sleep, getting up in the middle of the night to pray and, with it being a Friday, the general noisy party atmosphere outside. It’s worth saying that this had been one of the more stressful weeks in terms of work and more than once I had questioned my ability and calling to be in Manenberg.

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When butterfly girl found her freedom  just over 6 months ago, I felt like God push me to start connecting more intentionally with this little sister butterfly (or perhaps she’s a caterpillar…not to take the metaphor too far!). I wondered if someone had only intervened a few years earlier in butterfly girl’s life, would her path have turned out differently, and so I felt the invitation to jump in to my little butterfly’s life. I suggested this tentatively to the Fusion team and obviously we were all in total agreement that we were to go above and beyond for this little one. What a treat to work with such wise and compassionate superstars.

And so there we were, two firm friends, who are navigating more difficult life circumstances than we should have to deal with, but doing it together with soft hearts and often bleary eyes. We sat cross-legged on the prayer room floor and in my best Afrikaans, we started praying together…I would say “Thank you Jesus for…” and then she would tell Jesus what she was thankful for, “Jesus, I ask that you would…”, and she, “Jesus I ask that you would…” and so we went on. Frankly, it was one of the most beautiful, honest moments of prayer I’ve been part of and then she prayed this lovely prayer,

“Jesus, I thank you that you my sister is in your hands”

Aside from trying not to snot all over the floor, I asked her if she’d like to try to paint that picture of her sister in God’s hands. She said she couldn’t draw hands but someone had already drawn some on the prayer wall and so I pointed them out to her and left her alone for a couple of minutes with this beautiful promise from The Father and some paints. When I came back and saw her picture, I could not believe my eyes, she had painted God’s hands with a pink butterfly inside them. A butterfly! A freakin’ butterfly! I told her what a brilliant painting it was, knowing that she had no idea of the significance of what she had painted, but that I couldn’t wait to tell her this story one day.

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That morning I had the 4am slot and reflected on what had happened earlier in the evening. I was blown away by God’s kindness to me, that amidst my stress and exhaustion, he was continuing to speak, to encourage me, to remind me that I’m on this path for a reason and that more than ever, he is fighting for the freedom of his girls.

Please pray for this little one, life is not easy, not without its trauma and she continues to wrestle very honestly with her grief. Pray for wisdom for me and the team at Fusion for how we love her day-to-day and that God would start to show us more of what life in its fullness looks like for this little butterfly here on earth.

 


waiting, dreaming…hope

hope

I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams recently. Thinking about some of the dreams I’ve been given and am still waiting for. I’m past the trying to make it happen by myself stage, but I sit with this “what now?” question. How do I keep these dreams alive without jumping five steps ahead of myself? How do I continue to hold out hope for what I thought might have happened five years ago and still hasn’t?

Where does my hope coming from?

I’ve just finished reading the memoirs of a man from Northern Ireland who was hectically caught up in drugs, dealing and all that goes with it for the best part of 30 years. I was struck at the depth of brokenness in my home town, struck by how empty so many people are, struck by how we’re all looking to fill the same hole. And this isn’t a blog about us all having a God-shaped hole (although I kinda think I believe that completely) but rather about our source of hope**.

I finished the book by reading his dramatic story of deliverance (there is no better word) from a lifestyle of destruction, instantaneously… apart from being slightly frustrated that I don’t hear that story every single day where I find myself, I finished the book filled with hope. And I wondered, how do people cope who never hear stories of hope? And how good are we, am I, at searching out hope, filling myself with information of goodness rather than negativity? I wondered how helpful some of the shows and movies I watch are, and wondered how society could look different if we all had hope to hold on to.

I thought about the young men and women I work with and how hopeless they are, how de-sensitised to pain they are at times, and how, if they only saw more stories of hope, real people, in their faces, seeing breakthrough and enjoying life…what that might do for them?

And so back to my dreams…

I may not be seeing fulfillment of some of my dreams in this moment, but I am seeing promises fulfilled in others, I am seeing five-year old dreams coming true for other people, and so I have hope for the things I think I’ve been given. I have hope in the giver. And I trust that as I hold what I have, it wasn’t given to me to cause hurt and disappointment but rather to move me into richness and fullness of life…and that the giver of dreams is way more creative and kind than I, and so I keep dreaming…

 

** the book is: “No Deals” by Jackie Burke


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