Keeping my Mouth Shut

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My Weekly Musings # 8/2017

I have so much to muse about. About so many things. But I can’t muse about them out loud. The reasons preventing me to say whatever I want to say is always one or more of the following:
It’s not diplomatic.
It’s not politically correct.
Or it’s insensitive towards religion/s.
It’s not in line with popular opinion.
Or in line with liberal belief.
Or with conservative belief.
It’s hate speech.
It’s offensive.
It’s racist.
Or sexist.
Or not gender sensitive enough.
And always too Biblically literal.
And too old fashioned. (Ah, and there were simpler times, weren’t there?!)

Anyway, my father taught me that actions always have consequences and that you don’t utter words if you are not prepared to have them testify against you in the black and white of ink on paper. A wise man he was indeed. I lived my life by those words. And it didn’t only teach me a lot – it saved my butt many times. I even treated love letters I wrote during my younger years according to that principle. (Of course when I write to the beloved I throw all caution to the wind – just because I can.)

But I’ve learned over the years that living by a rule like that not only saves one embarrassment, it also builds you up. It makes you think before you speak your mind. Because even if I have an opinion about everything under the sun, it doesn’t mean that the world needs to hear it. That also doesn’t mean that I may never air an opinion, because that would just make me spineless. But there is a time and a place for everything under the sun, and sometimes it is time to keep quiet.
Fortunately, there is One Who is always listening and to Whom I can talk about the undiplomatic, politically incorrect, unreligious, unpopular, unliberal, unconservative, offensive, racist, sexist, gender insensitive, too Bibilcal and old fashioned stuff all I want. It’s called prayer. And it is private. And it can be done any time, anywhere. Nobody has to shout at me to do it. I’m not restricted to a time or a place. I can do it anywhere, all day long, without anyone realising. There is also no paper trail so that this post-modern society can accuse me. I’m only left with the relief and the knowing that He has it all in Hand.

The defiled one destroys his neighbour with his mouth,
but the righteous is delivered by knowledge.
(Proverbs 9 verse 11 – From the Bible)

© Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock
Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Friendship

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My Weekly Musings #7/2017

There is something as precious and beautiful as gold and very often as rare. It is free and yet it costs much. It starts with the utterance of a single word and yet is not to be found in every easily spoken one. And like gold, the real thing only becomes better when tested. Other than family, it might just be the most important thing us humans are being blessed with while we live our earthly lives.
Friendship doesn’t always come easy. Not all friendships last. Not everyone calling themselves ‘friend’ is one. Sometimes friendship comes from strangers or people we don’t consider friends. Some friends betray, let down, lie, don’t keep their word, walk away, fade, can’t stand the heat or just don’t care enough. They hurt you, but when the hurt subsides, one realises that it happened for the better.
There are friendships though, that last. They are formed between people who never stop caring and never will – no matter what happens or how difficult circumstances become. Because real friends never quit on each other. They always make time. They walk the extra mile. Sometimes friendship takes hard work, perseverance, forgiveness and being forgiven. It takes unconditional love, keeping secrets and speaking harsh words if it means helping and not contributing to a path that leads to destruction.
This week we are visiting friends who we haven’t seen in a few years and who (literally) live on the other side of the world. We have made many wonderful memories together in the past and we have shared quite a bit of heartbreak too. And it is when the conversation just continue as if we saw each other the previous day, and you still laugh at each others’ silly jokes and have made a new worth-to-remember memory within the first few days together, that one realises how blessed and fortunate and lucky you are to have real friends. And to be called someone’s friend. And that’s how they say you get real friends – by becoming one.

Thank You, for giving us friends.

Ointment and perfume gladden the heart. So one’s counsel is sweet to his friend.
(Proverbs 27:9)

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock
Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Keeping One’s Word – a Trait Extinct

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My Weekly Musings #6/2017

This is not a post about the new American president or on how good or how bad he is, so you can keep on reading. In order to get to my point though, he has to be mentioned indirectly. As I was writing something else this morning, the TV news was on in the background. I must have had finger trouble, because it was another channel (it wasn’t FOX though) as the usual (BBC). There was a panel on video call discussing the subject that I won’t mention in this post only due to the fact that you might already suffer from fatigue on the topic.

I wasn’t focussing, so I wasn’t sure if the three men were supporting the above non-mentioned person, or if they were making tongue-in-the-cheek comments. All I knew was that my head bobbed up by the one man’s words.

“He is doing everything he promised.”

Now, I know about the jokes going around about that same sentence, but it wasn’t until this man said it on TV this morning that the penny dropped.

I suddenly realised that I was ‘participating’ in something that I really thought I wasn’t involved in. I was accepting lying as ‘normal’ behaviour. Oh, I realised it somehow, but I don’t think it had ever really sunk in, because I thought that I was above that.

We are so used to people making promises when they are running for office and when getting elected, they do the opposite. And we accept it without much resistance, because – well, we knew it would happen! I heard the above non-mentioned person also making promises, but thought by myself, “Meh, he won’t do it.” and “He can’t do that!” and “He won’t be allowed to do that!” Now he is starting to do everything he promised and the world (me very, very included) is shocked!

We got so used to people promising us the sun, the moon and the stars, but instead delivering garbage to our front doors that we have accepted it almost with thanksgiving! We have learned to pardon it. Even those under us who see ourselves as not ‘foolable’, have gotten so used to being fooled that we accept it as the norm. And in the world we live in these days, we are being fooled by almost everyone  we are suppose to trust – politicians, business people, religious leaders and of course every person working on the other side of  an enquiry who promises to call you back.

So, when suddenly someone comes along and keeps his promises – how far reaching the consequences might be – we are suddenly reminded that we are not used to living in a world where people keep their word anymore. And we are fooled when they do. (Like the media and the pole analysers were after the particular election that the non-mentioned person above won.)

Thankfully, we learn from the Word of God that ‘whoever guards His Word, truly the love of Elohim (God) has been perfected in him’ (1 John 2:5). And we also learn that there is One who will always keep His Word.

“I shall not profane My covenant, neither would I change what has gone out from My lips.”

(Psalm 89:34 from the Bible)

 

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

46 Is not an ‘Appropriate’ Age to Die

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My Weekly Musings #5

This was a difficult week to be away from home. Our friend died. She was only 46. She had health problems since long before the 14 years that we knew each other. She had more than 30 operations and had been in and out of hospital all the time. We knew that her body took strain that no human body can sustain on the long haul. But we never wanted to acknowledge it. We got used to her being in and out of hospital and life going on in between.

So last week she was in hospital again. On top of her ‘normal’ problems she was fighting a resistant bacterial infection for over a year. She was sent home after treatment with strong, long-term antibiotics. But on Monday morning when her husband woke up, she had left this world quietly next to him during the early hours of the morning.

We were of course, in shock. Still are.

We were still trying to come to terms with Adri’s death, when I got a message from home that my loving godfather went into a coma and not long after that, that he too went to heaven – on what would have been my father’s 90th birthday.

Although any death is always difficult, I’ve learned in life that loss feels different when people die at different ages. My dad died at age 73. That is an acceptable age to die in my books, although it doesn’t make it any easier that one’s father dies at an appropriate age when you stand next to his bed watching how the artificial life orchestrated by machines, leaves his body. Two years later I learned that 49 isn’t an acceptable age for someone to die, when my beloved ouboet (eldest brother) was taken from us in an instant.

We were expecting Oupa Koos’ death. Both he and Ouma Mienie, his wife, was/is very sick. And they were nearing 90. Still, when he died he didn’t only leave a person that would be missed dearly in my and his closer family’s lives. He left and took a whole part of my life with him. A whole part of my history was intertwined with his. Fortunately, as long as I stay mentally healthy, I will have those memories to cherish. He was one of the few left of their generation in our family. And now we are becoming that generation. That is life. What a sobering thought!

We didn’t expect Adri to die young. 46 is an inappropriate age to die. But then – life and death isn’t in our hands. It isn’t ours to give or to take. God gave Adri a wonderful life, in spite of her struggles and she leaves a testimony of His great glory behind through the many lives she touched. She sang like an angel on earth and I believe she is having a ball worshipping the Living God with the real angels now.

Until we see each other again, my friend. Sing your heart out.

And say hello so long to Baas Wynie and Ouboet Piet, Oupa Koos. Tell them they are in my thoughts. Every. Single. Day.

 

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I return there. יהוה (the LORD) has given, and יהוה has taken away. Blessed be the Name of יהוה.”

(From the Bible – Job 1 verse 21)

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Living outside of One’s Comfort Zone

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Just before having to get out of the way

My Weekly Musings #4

Last week, our American friends invited us to visit the camel bazaar outside Cairo (on the Giza/Sakkara road). We’ve been living here now for just short of three years and I have never been outside of my comfort zone so much in my life. It is literally a daily thing. It is good for me – especially for spiritual me. Not only does it teach me plenty about the world around me, the people of this country, their strange culture and their fanatic religion, but it also teaches me a lot about myself. Living in a culture where you do not understand the language and isn’t even able to read their alphabet or have the same traditions and customs or worship the same God, things can get quite uncomfortable.

It isn’t necessarily a bad thing being out of your comfort zone. It confronts one’s own beliefs, upbringing, culture, customs, world view and lifestyle when you are thrown into a world where nothing is familiar or make sense to you. Not only do you question the behaviour of the people around you, but you question your own. It is not a once off thing, but an ongoing everyday introspection. And not only do you learn to value what is ‘own’ to you, but you also learn to embrace and appreciate diversity. Very early on in our stay here, I have decided that I don’t understand much (not even a reasonable bit) of this culture, but that I am not even going to try to understand it. It makes life here a little bit easier and less complicated to observe rather than to label.

Back to the camel bazaar. I’m sure that this place wouldn’t even exist in a Western country. It’s a raw experience. Camels, by their hundreds, maybe even more, are brought together on a Friday morning to be sold I was told, mostly for meat. Men and (some very young) boys herd the animals – hopping along on three legs as one of the front legs is tied with rope to keep the animal from running away – towards the various ‘auction stations’ with long bamboo sticks. It isn’t a pretty picture to see. On the surface and in the viewpoint of a foreigner like me, it is a harsh place for a camel to be. And also for the people involved.

Upon arriving there, we were only four females in a sea of males – something that already pushes the discomfortometer into the red. The sticks hitting the camels’ bodies – be it on the humps, legs or head – is another difficulty to deal with. Furthermore, none of the camels looked like they had the potential for dinner I would want to see on my plate.

But I realised that it wasn’t my world. It wasn’t my place to judge. With that I don’t condone the behaviour of the people or the suffering of the animals. Sometimes in life things just are what they are – people making a living, surviving the only way they know how to the way they did for centuries – maybe even millennia. My disliking it, my discomfort and the fact that I might disapprove of their way of doing as a foreigner in their country, is not going to change that. I’m not going to alter a country’s culture, customs and actions which are way older than my own culture. What I should do is learn to appreciate it for what it is.

I realised that I would probably be out of my comfort zone many, many, many more times in the period we have left here in this interesting, phenomenal country. How I handle my discomfort is what is important. If I can’t change people’s behaviour or world view, I can at least work on my own. I can learn to value the diversity of this place and the other countries we are visiting, as well as that of my own country when we go back. Hopefully, when we are back in our own culture – which is just as diverse – I will be able to feel less uncomfortable in the mixture, while still staying true to my own upbringing and beliefs and being more tolerant towards people who are different from me.

In the end, when one sees the bigger picture from a forever-living-worldview, we are reminded that we who confess Him as our Saviour are one body in Messiah (Romans 12:5). One day we will be immersed into His culture and all the discomfort of worldly customs, poverty and illness will be something from the past.

PS: I spelled necessarily correct without using spell check or a dictionary.

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

The Hole-in-the-wallet, Laborious, Frustrating Process of Acquiring a Travel Visa

My Weekly  Musings #3/2017

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We are planning a visit to friends in New Zealand next month and with that, we are trying to obtain travel visas – something that wasn’t necessary for South African citizens only two or three months ago. But thanks to people abusing the system or hypocritical red tape or whatever, the New Zealand government now finds it necessary for us to get that little hated stamp in our passports. (And now the South African government reciprocated by implementing visas for Kiwis to visit SA! It makes no economic sense.) We are currently residing in Egypt and to get a visa, one’s passport has to travel to Dubai for this privilege! As if that is not uncomfortable enough, the costs are enormous! Not only is there the fee for the sought after stamp or little paper glued into your passport, but there are handling fees for the passports to get there and more separate handling fees for them to get back. And apart from the cost, the effort is just silly. After all the documents they’ve required were attached, they requested some more documents after receiving the passports.

There are many reasons governments give for requiring visas. Some might be legitimate, but I sometimes wonder if the visa process doesn’t just keep the good guys out. Because when there is an attack somewhere in the world and everybody is surprised by a person on a terrorist watch list carrying out the attack, l really question the system. Obviously, he loopholed the visa requirements. How can they get into a country so seemingly easy and us good guys have to carry out time consuming efforts and pay the financial penalties? As if travel tickets aren’t expensive enough.

We’ve received our passports back yesterday. There are no visa stamps or stickers in. Instead, they informed us that the visas are electronically issued against our passport numbers. We will get an email to confirm that.  An email! All that effort for an email! Where is my visa stamp?! I hope it works, because when we arrive in New Zealand after two flights of four and sixteen hours respectively, and they don’t allow us into their little country, I will leave a piece of my mind there!

Thankfully, after our patience being tested going through the process, I’m reminded of a place where we won’t need visas to go to one day. All we need is to confess the Truth. It is that simple. Or that Complicated. The choice is ours.

“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.” (From the Bible – Luke 8 verse 10)

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

The Myth of Free Speech

My Weekly  Musings #2/2017

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“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

― George Orwell, Animal Farm

A lot of things happening in the past months and recent years made me think real hard lately. Life had changed in almost every way in the past decade, thanks to technology and other developments – some for the better and some for the worse. Our world had become used to terrorist attacks in the form of shootings, knife attacks, sexual assaults, cars and trucks ramming into people, people getting beheaded etc. This last year we saw laws, policies and governments change – strange changes that are still very difficult to believe or to get used to. I’m starting to think that maybe it is a totally natural thing that is happening. In history we had build-ups like these which led to the tower of Babel, the Flood, the Crusades, the First World War and WW2. Talk is that we might already be in the middle of a Third World War of sorts.

When a bucket gets too full of water, it overflows – naturally. There is a saying: Give a person enough rope and he hangs himself. Bucket overflowing or too much rope? It’s the same thing. Balance always needs to be restored somehow. The Western world is playing with its very, very long rope and so is the anti-Western world. And as individuals, agreeing or not agreeing with current directions, we are all steered into, hanged along and sacrificed in the process as collateral damage.

We live in a world where our words, our Twitter feeds, our Facebook statuses, our email (only normal people, not presidential candidates apparently) could get us fired – not only for big things like threatening state security or threatening people or libelling or acknowledging theft (except if you find yourself in certain positions in certain governments) or something immoral like that, but also for being moral. For having values and principles. For believing in the God of the Bible and the Word of God. And for having the audacity to have opinions about religious or any other fundamentalism, abortion, marriage, parenthood, crime, gender issues, sins and the likes. Defend unborn babies, marriage between a man and a woman and stand up for your rights if you are not a person of colour and whatever you say is branded as ‘hate speech’ – no matter if and how sympathetic you are towards these issues in general.

There is no room in the world anymore for a person to speak freely without being branded or bearing far reaching consequences. We are being told what opinions to have, what to think and what causes to support. Would anyone in the Golden Globe audience have had the courage to disagree with the actress’ speech the other night? Probably not, because she was speaking on behalf of the ‘trend’ right now and no-one with a reputation to uphold can afford to think differently? There was a time when, even if they were wrong, people could speak their minds in the democratic West.

We are navigated into believing that it is our right and even our privilege to live perversely. Consequences for our actions and responsibility for our choices aren’t relevant anymore. Sin had become a non-mentionable word. And where does God fit in? Well, He just doesn’t, does He? Modern man – oops, sorry! – Modern, genderless, colourless, faithless person is its own god now. All that matters are ‘it’, ‘itself’ and ‘its’ inner-god, and happiness is its ultimate goal and religion. Its behaviour, lusts and needs are to be practiced to ultimate satisfaction. Anything goes in our little ‘self-god’ world. And the little gods are not bothered for one moment that they are ignoring their Maker’s Instruction Manual. It is like a person trying to use a refrigerator as a washing machine. The plug will fit into the wall socket and the power will go on, but the water put in will freeze as the clothes stay dirty. Eventually, the person would have to reassess and use the appliances for the purposes they were manufactured for.

Life is like that too. Nature has to go its way and imbalances have to be addressed. If man doesn’t do it, God does. And His way is never the easiest way for man.

Be blessed and stay strong, because we are living prophesy.

The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. (Proverbs 16:4)

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.