Saturday, 19 May 2012

Not All That Shines Is Beautiful

God took time to create us, one by one. 

The bible says in Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT)

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” God, the same Being who holds time in His hand, created this universe and single handedly takes care of over 6 billion human beings plus another +30 million living organisms(that is yet a wild guess), took time time to create us, one by one and make provision for us.

Beauty according to the secular world in comparison to God's original idea, is daringly different. While we may seek beauty from the outside in(excuse the cliche), God sees through our flesh, searches our hearts, and sees vessels worth an infinite amount.

We fall short, tremendously but His grace catches us midair and sets us back where we should be: in the palm of His hand or somewhere, loosely frolicking in the great expanse of His Holy-oh-so-frighteningly-clean-mostly-perfect robe.

The point is, we were an originally beautiful creation, until sin came into the picture and removed us from God, but could never take that characteristic away from us. Immersed in sin, is treasure only God possesses a map marked 'X' for. Jesus makes us beautiful again, by taking the sin we would be condemned for as His own. 
Here are lyrics to a song(and the video above) by Gungor, that's been in my heart this past weekend:

Gungor - Beautiful Things

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new
You are making me new

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Charity Begins At Home

Imagine if we could have recycling bins for every road in our immediate area. It's nothing too hard to do.

Try to raise awareness about environmental conservation at your next Neighborhood Watch meeting. If there is enough interest, your community can make an equal contribution towards purchasing a set of bins to separate your waste. Whose responsibility it is to make sure the waste is taken to the places necessary, can be shared. Write up a roster of who has to 'take out the trash' every week.


Here's a website with helpful information about recycling depots. Check it out:

Friday, 4 May 2012

Save Energy - It's a Win-Win Situation.

A large population of people live on our planet; an estimated 7.011 billion(according to the United States).

The problem is the measly percentage of our population aware of civil unrest beyond their immediate borders; environmental issues; unemployment in 1st and 3rd world countries; prejudice/racism, amongst other serious issues.

In a world that's forever developing, growing more technologically inclined, we're faced with a problem larger in proportion than any other: a spreading trend of slacktivism.
[SLACKTIVISM:a term formed out of the words slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes "feel-good" measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction.]

Don't get me wrong, this is not another bash at the KONY2012 campaign, it is yet something bigger than that, but easily accessible in terms of being able to make a change. Conserving the environment cannot be done by just sharing heart-wrenching clips and retweeting tweets by 'tree-huggers'.
In the words of the selfless Mahatma Gandhi:
"Be the change you want to see in the world."

Creating awareness for the natural environment around us and learning how to conserve it.

Think briefly about the 3 generations to come, how long until they are your age and consider the speed at which we're "spending" natural resources. What do we plan to leave behind for them? A balding, barren earth?

Here are a few ways to make a difference:
  • reduce our plastic and other non-recyclable purchase, reuse everything we can and recycle. (information about recycling depots is easily accessible on Google.)

  • reduce our water usage. Only ±2% of the earth's water is drinkable(fresh water)

[diagram from USGS website] With the rate at which general pollution is increasing, our water sources are being contaminated and the water cycle cannot function this way for very long- as it is, not all rain water is safe to drink.

  • rather drink water from a filtered tap at home, than buying bottled water off the shelf. 1l of bottled water = 5l of water because the plastic bottles need to be cooled down in water during production. Biodegradable plastic? Rather don't, we don't know how viable that is.

  • install a fabric towel roll in your bathroom. It only has to be popped into the washing machine every so often, and it saves you money on toilet paper.

  • close the tap while you're brushing your teeth.

  • place a brick in your cistern, you will use less water to flush.

  • insulate your geyser, it loses less heat and uses less power to heat up.

  • have your thermostat 'turned down' so your geyser doesn't have to heat your water to levels you'll never require.

  • when waiting for water to heat up in the shower, store that cool water in a bucket/barrel and use it to flush for the day or fill the swimming pool.

  • give old clothing items away, instead of chucking throwing them in the bin. 

  • unplug plugs/chargers when not in use and make sure wall sockets are turned off.

  • when buying soda, purchase one small bottle of it and however many large(2l usually) bottles you desire and decant that soda into the small bottle.

  • rather don't flush sanitary products down the toilet.

  • install water-saving shower-heads in your bathrooms.

  • buy products placed on white polystyrene trays- they are recyclable, unlike black polystyrene trays. 

  • cover your pool with a pool cover, less water loss.

  • put together a lift club.

There are obviously more, but these are good to start off. We need to #THINKtomorrowDOtoday.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Whole Truth - My Story

This is my story.

I was born on the 11th of January 1996, into an average, somewhat Christian family. My mother was saved and my father was still being weaned off Catholicism and ancestral worship.
I grew up at Free Methodist Church, the church my mom's family had been members of for generations. 
At Free Methodist, I was taught to: pray; sing worship songs in Zulu and sometimes English; be a good Christian; to speak the right way; not ask too many questions; to be obedient.
I was never a rebel child, so this came easily to me. At that time, I had always thought I was fine, that everything was perfect the way it was, I was perfect the way I was, and I was made righteous by my own efforts.
For those few years, dad worked in Harding and would stay there from Monday to Friday and come home every weekend. Mom and dad had serious marriage problems then, but I never witnessed much of them, because there was never time for them to argue.
I can safely say, I lived my first seven (or so) years without a dad. He eventually found a post at a school closer to home, which enabled him to come home every day. I can’t say my life changed much, but we had an extra car in the yard to take us to school, church and so on. Mom worked 7 days a week, so I generally spent my days at home with my sister, a nanny or my dad.
I got saved on the 13th of January 2007 at a Free Methodist service after a young man preached something that moved my heart. Our church didn't cater for newly born again Christians very well. I had to fumble through darkness through my first few months and eventually gave up on my walk with Jesus and faked my relationship with Him with religious talks, referring to myself as a Jesus freak and doing everything I had been taught at Free Methodist. It worked for many years.
My sister, Vicky, had always been unhappy with the way things were handled at Free Methodist and had taken it upon herself to take care of her relationship with God. This made me curious, and question myself about the life I lived and I said that I was.

The questioning went on for many years subconsciously while I went on about my life aimlessly.

Before grade 5 I was a 'cute, fat kid', but that year I lost weight drastically and became frighteningly beautiful. Everyone around me noticed. Mom had started telling me, nearly since I was born, that I was beautiful. Only at that point did I start believing her.
With my growing maturity and 'upgraded' looks, came new attention I had never known. I apparently looked much older.
In grade 6 I reached my peak and my popularity with boys, of a range of ages grew. The attention I received from my parents grew less by the month- mom was pregnant with the first boy of our family.
Everything was not perfect but nonetheless, I was a good leader, a diligent learner and popular with high school boys.
In grade 7, I began to fill the gaps in my life (my much needed relationship with God, the discipline I should have received, a good relationship with my dad and a good church) with strange things that ranged from clothing, accessories, expensive hair, expensive cell phones and toxic relationships. I got involved with boys much older than myself and found myself giving up pieces of me for temporary happiness.
I was wiser and older but still blind to the truth. I needed Jesus to take over my life and give me another chance to start over. I needed more than midnight phone calls, and cheap outings to the movies where I would be paying a higher price for the mistakes I made than the price of a movie combo. I needed more than long hugs and shallow compliments from boys who knew only my body, but not the empty being that lived inside of it. I needed love. I needed acceptance.
My most recent relationship was my breaking point. It lasted for two years, on and off, with buckets of tears shed. I gave more and more of myself until I felt I had nothing else to give, except the one thing I treasured most. I fought with God about it, denied it and still remained blind to the truth. All I needed was God. All I needed was His truth- to know who I am, and how much I am worth.
For four years, I chose to forget what Jesus did for me. The sacrifice God gave to make my life better, to enable the existence of my relationship with Him. I forgot what was in the bible, what God promised. I forgot that I could be accepted just as I am, if only I gave Jesus permission to take my life as His own, and take the blame for my sin.
I fought with myself and God for these two years that I dated this guy and finally, after being cheated on countless times, -which in turn had also caused me to do some regrettable things- being dishonoured, lied to and after all the lies I told. I saw that all I was doing was taking a drive down the same road, only to be met by a dead end, hitting a u-turn and driving back down the same road again.

met Jesus again, at Westville Baptist every Friday night- through this guy I was convinced I would marry.

Many talks would make sense to me, would be relevant to me. Many times God spoke to me about this great hurdle I had placed in front of myself, yet had not realised I could walk right around it.
One night, I made a commitment to reinforce the commitment I had made years ago.
I said to God,
 "You know what; I'm actually quite tired of living this lie. I'm hungry for You and I'm tired of denying it- trying to satisfy this craving with other worthless things and habits. I want to put You first, and I want You to work through me. Enough is enough."
It took me months to give up people, habits and things that stopped me from getting to know God better. I had given Him my life again, but would, now and then take my life back, nearly forgetting what I had said to God. After a while of getting to know God's character, His unconditional love, His grace, what He likes and absolutely despises- all these 'bad' things became smaller in the great scheme of things.

I went to Summer Camp last year in December, and by God's amazing grace, came back over-flowing with love and wholeness. It felt as if He had taken me, a cracked pot of clay and filled all my cracks and tiny crevices with new clay or 'Heavenly Poly-Filler'.

I found that the more I actively work on getting to know Him better, the more I spend time with Him, the fuller my 'pot' feels, the more I have to give and the easier it gets to worship Him. Every time I take a 'time-out' or get to busy, I begin to feel empty again, and get tempted to look for other things to fill that empty space.

God has done so much for me. Looking at my life from the very beginning, I can say, with sincere delight, that I have had a reflex take place in my life. I'm swimming against the stream and am walking in the opposite direction to what I was a few years ago.
Jeremiah 18:1-6
New Living Translation (NLT)
The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

Then the LORD gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.  

Teenagers on a Quest to Save the Planet, One Park at a Time.

A definition of a teenager composed by a parent: 
"A young individual, stuck in an awkward phase of self-discovery; self-absorbedness and personal development. One who likes to think of himself/herself as an adult, but acts otherwise."

It is a sad reality, adults (both parents and family friends alike) share a generally common idea about us. We are wasteful, sometimes selfish and often unappreciative of the opportunities handed to us on silver platters. It is not too often that you hear about teenagers saving the world, or teenagers fighting for a good cause. It hurts to think, that that minuscule minority of teens who want to take responsibility are never spoken or heard of. This upcoming generation has been born to put such opinions to sleep.

A group of girls within Westville Girls' High School, who like to be called by the alias 'Eco Girls' have, for many years, been trying to raise awareness in the Westville community about environmental issues. This year we have/are dealing with alien plants in our home gardens.
As a popular saying says, 'Start small,' our girls have done just that. Every Tuesday afternoon, we spend an hour and a half at Jubilee Park: planting new indigenous plants in replacement of alien plants, weeding an allocated area- exploring nature as it should be.

These past two weeks have been particularly exciting. After speaking to Mariam and John, two environmentalists who have made Jubilee Park their home away from home in America, something urgent was brought to our attention. The water running through the park apparently came in many variations: some streams appeared clean enough to drink, some with an oily lustrous coating and others with orange-yellow slime.

Mariam and John are the park's salvation, their concern was understandable. We collected three samples of water from various streams, took these samples back to school and had them tested for organic materials. Our findings were interesting but lacked obvious expertise when Louise (a professional microbiologist), asked us to explain what exactly were our findings and what we had tested for. We had to collect a second batch of samples in sterile containers, with lids wrapped in foil to ensure there would be no contamination. We trudged through the park and collected six samples this time, which ensured that our results would be more effective and accurate. These samples were labeled A-F and stored in a refrigerator overnight till they could be dropped off at the laboratory. A map was drawn to indicate where each of six samples was collected.

Once all the scientific work was done, we were given the opportunity to plant trees. Come to think of it, that is a big responsibility: nurturing a tree may equate to teenage pregnancy. A tree may not demand as much attention as a new born infant, but it demands a lifetime's worth of attention.

We are Eco Girls: saving the planet one tree, one park at a time.