Forty. 

Not an update, really. Just a quick post. First time I’ve posted within a month of my last post. I’ve just been watering the garden. There is a drought here, not as bad as the one in Zimbabwe, but we have water restrictions all the same, and after 4pm on Saturday is a permitted time to water. It takes time to do it by hand, but that reduces the likelihood of me forgetting a sprinkler completely until 2am when I would wake in a cold sweat from visions of our house floating down the road. It turns out here in Cape Town that watering the garden with a hosepipe by hand is half watering, half showering. Damn wind. It really whips up that spray and before you can even close your eyes, you’re drenched. Not a bad thing actually, as the temperature today is 36ºC (97ºF) and tomorrow is worse-37! Tomorrow is also my fortieth birthday.

IMG_5811.JPGSeen this one coming, as all my schoolmates have turned 40 during 2015, as I have always been a year young for my class. So I send messages all year all over the world to all the new old people, and now I’m about to be one of them. Back to the hosepipe- there was a point to that. Yes, so standing there waiting for everything to be wet is boring. But I got to thinking. What is it about water and thinking? Revelations in the shower and all that? Weird. Geez, I can see that I’m going to struggle to keep this one short.

SO. I got to thinking about how very grateful I am. We have been in Cape Town for 18 months now, and I am always overwhelmed by thankfulness. It does run a little deeper than, Oh, thank goodness I don’t have power cuts or potholes. It’s more like, Thank you God that I have found myself again. Or maybe not even again…maybe just that I’ve found myself. Maturing, AT LAST. Note I didn’t say matured. Maturing, work in progress. I still second guess myself, I still become introspective of situations and the way I respond and the IMG_5182.JPGwords I said, and wonder if I came across in the right way. I still have expectations way too high of myself and possibly others, but I am learning every day, and I find that wonderful. A teachable heart is so important, even at 40. And I am realising that the fullness of my life is not in my material possessions (there’s only so much that you can fit into two carloads and 18 suitcases), but in relationships. Heath and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary in early January, a day of remembrance that always amazes me in how marriage has surpassed those corny teenage fantasies of happiness and companionship in life together. And Heath has learned a new skill!! He has learned to surprise me. I could write paragraphs (don’t worry, I won’t) about the many occasions like  birthdays, baby showers or mother’s days where I have, with my intuitive and suspicious nature, sussed exactly what is going on. And sometimes it wasn’t even going on. Sometimes (maaaaany years ago) he would forget, or get the date wrong, and because I love gift giving (err, honestly…gift getting) it would shatter me and I would be a selfish, sobbing lump of misery. But teachable hearts learn, and today he surprised me with a get-together with 7 of my Cape Town friends. I did not know. I did not suspect a thing. In fact, when I recognised some people out of the corner of my eye at the venue, I thought, Oh no, someone I know is having a birthday, and I haven’t been invited. How embarrassing. Heath and I will have to sit on the corner table over theeeere.  And then they said, Happy Birthday! and I realised they were talking to me and Duh, the lights came on. I have an excuse for my thickness- it was 8:30am on a Saturday morning. Heavens, I’m usually fast asleep. But Heath and I had decided on a “breakfast together,” as Joshua had an early dropoff at a school function. Clever, clever, clever, sneaky husband. First surprise in my life ever. Well, you know, a birthday surprise, not like those surprises in childbirth and parenting. Good surprise. And he arranged a special menu with my name and age all over it. And helium balloons with 40 all over them. And cupcakes for everyone to take home!  Like a party pack for middle-aged women. And he had invited every woman there by secretive phone calls without my suspecting anything. Okay, the last part is a little worrying, but I am really proud of him. He’s usually too excited to keep a secret for longer than an hour. And he even managed to tactfully ignore my conversations about my own plans for a coffee morning with friends next week by mumbling an indifferent answer. And all of them were awake early and looking so pretty just to have coffee with me. Hooray!

A beautiful morning, where God’s blessing of friendships was driven home to me, and I was given gifts that I have never had before. Okay, so I know I said my life is full because of relationships and not material things, but GEEZ I love getting presents. There is something so cool about someone else buying you something that they think will be cool for you, and when it is cool to you, then it’s even cooler because it means that they know you well!

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Look! Look! It’s like a second Christmas. Champagne and chocolate. A gift voucher for Woolies, my happiest place in the world, and I shall not be using it to buy more school socks for my children. Maybe I’ll spend it in the lingerie department, I mean, one can get reckless when one gets older, right? Luvly juvly smelly things from the Body Shop, and smelly things to hang in my cupboard. A journal which acts as a pre-cursor to this whole writing thing. A huge photo frame that says live, love, laugh, which is what I’m trying to do. A beautiful just-my-colour necklace. Candle holders (pretty deep when you think I gave away all my beloved candle things in Zim.)  A whole selection of special teas and yummy things together with a huuuuge travel mug for my taxi-mother days spent in my car- it says Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle– which I shall apply to all potential road rage situations, and child-has-left-sports-kit-at-home-again days. Two beautiful funky mugs which match my kitchen perfectly, and I just want to sit and look at them all day. This is not the kind of stuff you can buy for yourself. It just made me feel special.

IMG_5819[1]And these women have been sanity savers in my last 18 months of finding myself. Most of them have, at one time or another, fed my children boerwors rolls. That’s in another blog post if you don’t know what I’m talking about. My children swim in their pools and feel comfortable at their houses. They fetch my children from school when I can’t, and help me with dilemmas of how to manage crazy social engagements of teenagers. They send me information of where to shop for cheap loo paper (can you even imagine how vital that is to a mother of 4 boys?!) and other great bargains that I could never find on my own. They have been a resource of invaluable advice, support, prayer, consolation and laughter. An answer to prayer.

IMG_4158.JPGI was an answer to prayer for someone once. My best friend whom I met in Zimbabwe is not Zimbabwean, she’s American, but her husband has an African soul, and God keeps calling them here. We helped them settle in Zim when they lived there for 2 years, and although our age difference is 13 years (yeah, she wishes she was 27! Other way around, she’s older) we have that weird bond that is only by the spirit of God. After 4 years back in the States, they came to Cape Town and stayed with us with their 3 kids for 9 days after Christmas. It was a worry having 11 people in one household, as we still only have one set of bed linen, towels, mattresses etc, but my sanity savers all pulled in and saved the day with resources from their own households. Having her company daily was sweet, and there was no mundaneness in meals, laundry or dishes anymore. There’s a well-known fact that after 3 days, you’re usually ready for house guests to leave, but the ease of having them stay made everything pleasurable. Today we spoke on the phone today for two and a half hours, half of that I was rolling on the bed laughing at her pronounciations of Afrikaans names and words, and the word vehicle (vee-hick-ill), and recent ministry experiences in Limpopo where she nearly killed African babies by feeding them Lego, unintentionally of course.

So really this post is a shout out to all my friends and family, near and far, who have helped to shape me into who I am today. It’s still a clarifying process, but I could not have done it on my own. Old friends, foreign Americans, and new country-mates tucked away in the Boerwors Curtain, surprising husbands and awesome children, thank you. I am grateful to God for you, and for the vital role you have each played in sharpening, encouraging, supporting and challenging me. Keep going, God’s not finished with me yet.

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