thankful: 11.9.12

1. Friday was a long day. After assembly in the morning, Amy and I drove into Ballito (about 40 minutes away) to run some errands. We made it back just in time for my  back-to-back tutoring sessions. By the end of the first, I was tired. Just really, physically tired. I love being with the kids, but I wasn’t sure if I could muster the enthusiasm for another group without a few more cups of coffee.

The coffee wasn’t going to happen. I breathed a prayer for miraculous energy as I drove back into San Souci and loaded up the next group.

My prayer was instantly answered. The entire way back, the voices of the children drowned out the roar of the bakkie and instantly lifted my spirits. How could you listen to a chorus of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” followed by a harmonious rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” and not have an immediately improved mood?

As we pulled into Sunbury again, they sang the song we’d sung that morning at assembly. I learned the song when I was last here and taught it to the first grade Sunday school class back at our home church in Zion. Then, just a few weeks ago, the South Africa team from this summer introduced our congregation to the song during their convocation report.

“Akekho Ofana no Jesu” — There’s no one, there’s no one like Jesus. There’s no one, there’s no one like him!

2. My grandma, Neda Petreman, who is celebrating her birthday today. Decorating the church, working on craft projects, having sleepovers, games in the car, eating popcorn, birthday lunches, trips to the beach, trick-or-treating, campfires in the backyard– so many wonderful memories over the past 21 years!

3. The smell of rain. 
4. A sea of green sugarcane blowing in the wind. 
5. Great thunderstorms (particularly great thunderstorms that don’t lead to power outages!). 

thankful: 11.8.12

1. The chance to help a child learn to read.
2. A healthy body. I worked out this morning and was quickly reminded of my ungrateful neglect. Ouch.
3. Piano music. I’m so thankful for my husband’s ability- I can’t imagine a life without music!
4. Banana “ice cream”: blend 1 frozen banana with 1/2 cup coconut milk. Add cinnamon and nutmeg or a spoonful of cocoa powder. It’s delicious.

thankful: 11.7.12

Today I am thankful because:

1. King Jesus is on the throne. Always.

2. Wednesday night is pizza night with the Sunbury family. I’m thankful to share life with these people, even for a short period of time.

3. Kids that make me smile. Today in the car:
    “Miss Kirsten, are you from North America or South America?”
    “North America,” I reply, “but I’ve been to South America before.” We talked about South America   for a few minutes before one girl in the back seat asked, “So, have you met Will Smith?”

4. I am unfairly blessed. Sometimes, this truth is especially difficult to swallow. Why was I born in the United States to a solid Christian family? Why is it that I have never gone a day of my life for want of food or clean water or acceptable clothing? Why are some born into prosperity and others into destitute poverty? Why is it that I have had every opportunity to tease out the questions and implications of my faith with every resource at my fingertips when thousands of amaZioni pastors are pleading for someone to come and teach them the Word of God? Or, what’s more, what about those who have never heard? Why me and not others?

The truth is, it is unfair. Any goodness, any blessing, anything except hell is unfair. It’s grace.

And so I am challenged to live by these words:

“Give your life away in exchange for many lives, give away your blessings to multiply blessings, give away so that many might increase, and do it all for the love of God.” 
-Ann Voskamp

thankful: 11.6.12

Today I am thankful for:

1. French pressed coffee and good conversations at the Bisher’s
2. The privilege of spending the afternoon with these guys:

 My Tuesday 4th-5th grade group. 

3. The joy of the children. They exhibit remarkable enthusiasm for something as ordinary as punctuation and get excited over the simplest things, like viewing photos of themselves or seeing monkeys (I’m glad I’m not the only one still a bit excited by animals regarded by most South Africans with about as much enthusiasm as a squirrel would render in the US). Last week, we had to stop everything we were doing to rush outside to watch the monkeys.

Oh, and the kids  LOVE to sit in the front seat of the baakie. “Miss, miss, isihlalo” is a request I receive at least twice from each child every day. We were on our way back to San Souci today when I realized that the child sitting in the front seat beside me wasn’t wearing her seatbelt. Now, it’s not like the kids in the back have any form of restraint whatsoever (apart from my reminder every day that they must sit still because the road is very bumpy), so it almost seemed silly to ask, but I suggested that she use the seat belt.

She had no idea what I was talking about. “Excuse me, miss? Seat belt?” I explained again, showing her my belt. She was still completely confused. I pulled over to help her and realized that getting to ride in the baakie at all is probably much more exciting than I could ever possibly understand.

Philasande, Zinhle and Lihlethemba walking home.

I am so blessed!

thankful: 11.5.12

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.” – C. S. Lewis 

1. The Choose to Wait Curriculum. It’s so, so good. More importantly, I’m thankful for God’s perfect design for marriage, sexuality and family. We’re using the CTW curriculum as a framework for teaching God’s plan for the family at school assemblies each week. Then in December, we’ll present the whole program to the upper grade kids. 

2. Waking up to singing birds. 

3. God is still sovereign, regardless of who wins the election. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. 

4. Hot soup for dreary days.

 I discovered this recipe last week. I may or may not have already made it twice…

Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup

– 2 roasted sweet potatoes (peel and roast with a splash of olive oil, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground cloves and a dash of nutmeg. I don’t think I’ve actually measured yet, but it’s been great both times. 
– 2 roasted carrots
– 3 cloves roasted garlic
– 1 1 inch piece of ginger
– 1 can coconut milk
– 1 small apple, peeled and sliced
– 1/2 tsp. salt
– 1/8 tsp. ground cloves or allspice

Blend until smooth, then heat until gently simmering. It’s excellent with cracked pepper. I’m sure it’d also be amazing with crusty, hot bread.  

thankful: 11.4.12

1. Coffee and a walk on the beach with Amy before church.

2. The beauty and power of the ocean. Today was not the first time Amy and I have very nearly been taken out by an unexpected, enormous wave crashing onto the beach. Incidentally, we had just been joking about the last time we were unexpectedly drenched when it happened again. Needless to say, we went to church dripping and laughing!

3. A nice lunch and fellowship after church.

4. The Seghers’ dedication to this ministry. After a full weekend of ZEBS, Greg attended an all-night service and, running on just over 5 hours of sleep since Friday morning, still made it to a church meeting and lunch today.  I don’t know he does it, but I’m thankful that the Lord continues to sustain him.

thankful: 11.3.12

Today I’m thankful for:

1. Warm, sunny days to dry laundry outside.

2. AmaZioni singing before each meal.

3. An afternoon spent studying God’s Word. I’m thankful for the opportunity to gain a solid Bible education through Moody.

4. God’s provision as we search for our next home in Mississippi.

5. Banana-coconut smoothies with cinnamon and nutmeg. Seriously amazing.

thankful: 11.2.12

“The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.” – Ann Voskamp
1. Today is my dear friend Jessica’s birthday! Jess and I formed a friendship over coffee and Africa conversations, so you know we were off to a good start! I so cherish our friendship and each opportunity we have to spend time together. I admire her love for the Lord and the way her joyful, graceful spirit invites others to discover the source of such joy. 
2. Cleansing, mud-making, constant rain that makes each hillside gloriously green. 
3. Breaks from the rain when the sun seems to come out of nowhere. 
3. Sweet children splashing in mud puddles. 
4. The open invitation to teach the Word of God at a public school twice each week during their morning assemblies. 
5. The ZEBS classes happening at Sunbury this weekend and all over southern Africa each month. 
6. God’s ridiculous, radical grace that allows us an opportunity to reach the amaZioni with His Word, imperfect, insignificant, sinners though we are. Sometimes stopping to think about it just reduces me to tears. Why Zion? Why CCC? And who am I to be here?! 
7. An abundance of fresh food. 
8. Technology that allows me to see John so that while we are thousands of miles apart, we can stay connected.

9. 9 pairs of muddy shoes belonging to 9 great kids in my tutoring group today.

thankful: 11.1.12

thank·ful \ˈthaŋk-fəl\

1: conscious of benefit received

2: expressive of thanks

3. well pleased

Having fairly recently read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts (which everyone should read– twice, probably), I’ve been keeping a running journal list of blessings for the past several months. It’s not something I’ve been faithful to do every day, but I definitely feel I experience a greater joy on the days I am intentional to see God’s grace in my life. Because really, it’s all grace, every moment of every day. And so a list of things to be thankful for, while expected in November, shouldn’t be reserved for one day or one month of the year. I want to be thankful because in my consciousness of His goodness, in my expression of gratitude, I see God. 

I want to be more thankful. I want to see more of God. Listing blessings on journal pages helps, and I suspect that committing to list them here each day this month will, too. 

“Life changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless 
nailed through with one very specific nail at a time.” 
– Ann Voskamp

And so today (or yesterday, rather, to begin November 1st) I am thankful for: 

– My neighbor who lets me raid her closet for my old clothes and loans me socks because it happens to be freezing and raining and not exactly the summer heat I packed for. Thanks, Amy!

– A house with four walls and a solid roof to keep out of said rain and fierce wind. The things we take for granted! I doubt the children I see each day can all say the same. 

– God’s provision in bringing Harry and Bobby Bisher to Sunbury. They seem to be so well suited to meet the needs here; what an answer to prayer!

– A smooth relearning experience in driving stick. On the opposite side of the road. In lots of mud. 

– Dad Langley, who celebrated his 60th birthday this week. We couldn’t ask for a better pastor or father/in-law. 

– Restored electricity.