Author Archives: Fuzzy Panda Barista

About Fuzzy Panda Barista

I am a wife, a mother, a Grandmother, a Christian and a writer. My mission is to achieve my full potential and to enable others to achieve theirs. I am interested in Girl Guides, the environment, parenting, inspiration and books. I believe that God has a plan for my life.


This seems to be the year of the Visa. Two of my good friends have had sons and daughters emigrate to the United Kingdom. In both cases there was a lot of stress and hardship because the visas didn’t come through in time. There seem to be so many hoops to jump through. My best friend’s son expected to spend last Christmas with his wife and two little girls in England. They had sold their house, the girls had said goodbye to their school, and they expected to leave South Africa within a week or so. They waited and waited, the mother super stressed trying to parent the two girls on her own, having to find somewhere to stay, and money was an issue because her husband had found a house and bought her a car and they now had to maintain two households in two countries. It was only in August this year that the family was finally re-united.

I’ve mentioned the difficulties with the New Zealand visas for my husband and I to visit our family in New Zealand. Ukrainian friends of ours, who had fled to South Africa with their three children, have had endless problems with passports, citizenship of the baby, and visas. In fact, they were all ready to fly to Poland and were stopped at the airport because there was no agreement between two sets of officials.

It is not easy to get into another country. Citizens of the country, even if they are living abroad, have no difficulty getting into their country of citizenship. Many South Africans whose parents or grandparents came from England, have been able to get British passports. It is not cheap, however, and takes some time and effort getting documentation and clearances.

Image by cytis from Pixabay

It is no surprise to find that heaven is not an automatic destination for people who die on earth. The entry requirements are so strict that nobody on earth can fulfill them. The only option is to become a citizen of heaven and for that one needs family ties.

John says, “He (Jesus) came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. but to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13 ESV)

So Paul can proclaim, “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior” (Phil 3:20 NLT)

The Kingdom of Heaven does not operate like any country on earth. Even while we live in the world, we have to abide by the customs and rules of the Kingdom to which we belong. The King has deposited His Spirit in our hearts to help us with that and we won’t get it right until we get there.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, in my own strength I can not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Thank You that You have done it all. You made a way to save me by dying on the cross for me. thank You. I trust You alone with my final destiny. Amen.

Messages of Affirmation

For my 70th birthday party, my best friend wanted to give me seventy messages of affirmation. She and my husband contacted people who know or knew me in the past. They sent WhatsApp messages and she wrote them down on colourful paper shapes. This was the result.

The brief was to write one sentence and some people did and others wrote more. They varied from things like, “I enjoy your inspirational blog,” to some quite long ones wishing me happy birthday and prayers for the future. Some things I found out about myself that I never knew. For example, three people mentioned that I am a person who gets things done. I have never believed that of myself.

I got messages from people that I haven’t seen for twenty years! I even got a message from somebody I don’t know but who reads my blog.

I was so blessed and encouraged by reading the messages. How wonderful if we could encourage somebody every day in this way. Everybody has some gift, some attribute, some quality that we can focus on and affirm. More often we see people’s faults and don’t even look further to see their good points.

The Bible says, ” Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing our of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,” (Philippians 2:1-3 NIV)

What fun it would be if we imagined it was the birthday of everyone we met and we thought of one sentence to affirm them and we said it to them! Surely we would lift their spirits and may even inspire them to great things.

Let’s give it a try – even if it is only one person a day.

My Prayer

Father God, thank you for all those wonderful people who took the time to send a message of encouragement for me. As I have been blessed, may I bless others. Please remind me when I meet people to value them above myself and to notice something good about them. Inspire my words in my communication. Amen.

Living Water

For my birthday, my three children clubbed together to buy me a birdbath. t

Two concrete birds perch around the edge.

It will take a while before birds visit the bath. They are suspicious of new things suddenly appearing. So, for the moment at least, there is a generous supply of cooling water and no birds slaking their thirst or cooling their feathers.

Jesus said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:37-38 NIV) “By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” (38b)

The offer is for anyone and everyone. Just like the bird bath is for all birds. But not many will come, whether from suspicion, disbelief or pride in their own ability to cope.

I like to think of “rivers of living water” as fountains – an endless supply of water with energy and power. I picture a solar fountain spurting like a whale in the middle of my bird bath.

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your gift of the Holy Spirit. Please continue to fill me that I may be a source of refreshing and life to others. Amen.


“God always puts us around someone who is like sandpaper to smooth off our rough edges…a testing that takes place before we get promoted. If you want to lead, you must first serve in circumstances that may not be ideal and learn to behave wisely. This prepares us to be greatly used by God.” Joyce Meyer.

When I am at the beach, I enjoy collecting little pieces of driftwood, especially if they have some resemblance to an animal or a bird. This one reminded me of a crested bird.

I dried it out and used sandpaper to smooth it. That just brought out the beauty of the wood.

My Prayer

Lord God, You know exactly where my character needs work. Please help me to work with You and not against you when You use sandpaper to smooth me. Amen.

This post is part of One-Liner-Wednesday.

Birthday Wishes

Tomorrow is my 70th Birthday. My cousin gave me a lovely magnetic Birthday card.

I thought it would be fun to try to find a Bible verse for each line.

Be the best you can. Col 3:23: Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, God. (MSG)

Inspire yourself and others. Thes 5:11: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (NIV)

Reach for your dreams. Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (ESV)

Treasure your best moments. Psalm 143:4: I remember the days of old; I meditate on all you have done.(ESV)

Hold on to special friendships. Prov 18:24: Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. (MSG)

Dare to conquer any challenge. Romans 8:37: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (NIV)

Accept yourself as you are. Romans 12:3: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each one of you. (NIV)

You are simply the best. Psalm 139:14: I thank you, High God- you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration- What a creation! (MSG)

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord God, for my seventy years. You were involved in my life before I even knew You. I remember all You have given me, all Your blessings, great and small, and I worship You. As I go into the next chapter of my life, may I know You more clearly, love You more dearly, and follow You more nearly, day by day and year by year. Amen.

Who is This?

The disciples were in a serious storm and thought they would drown while Jesus slept. They woke Him and called for help. “And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?'” (Matthew 8:26-27 ESV)

I understand the awe of the disciples. Those who read my blog will know the frustrations I’ve been having applying for visas to visit New Zealand. My son in New Zealand waited two hours to speak to the help-line and the information he got was not very helpful. I went along the rabbit warren of links and websites again and tried to make an appointment to hand in our passports. At least I found the sub-category that applied to our visas but the message was, “There are no slots available for this visa at present.” I discussed with my husband whether we should pay R1 104 to buy a walk-in appointment. We had almost decided on that but to buy the service we first had to make an appointment. So I tried again. This time there were two slots available, one on 30 September which is only a week away. We booked it, deciding not to go for the walk-in option which would show a lack of trust in the Lord.

Later, idly looking through accumulated emails, I found one from Immigration New Zealand. It said our visas had been approved and we could download our e-visas. The letter requesting us to present our passports has disappeared from my dashboard.

I was overwhelmed and filled with awe. When does an official government directive just disappear? I serve an awesome God. I have no idea what happened. The God who stilled the waves and the winds can also cause websites and technology to do what He directs. My God reigns!

Image by axonite from Pixabay

My Prayer

Lord, I am overwhelmed by Your sheer power. Thank You, thank You, thank You. I don’t understand what You did but I praise You. Amen.

The Prayer Chair

On our last day at Glenschillen in Nottingham Road, we rambled into the wooded area behind the dam. We had seen a map of the walks in the area and decided to find the “Prayer Chair.”

At first we took a wrong path and came to a log cabin that looked newly constructed. There was no path after that.

We retraced our steps and found a lower path. At one stage the path was blocked by a branch. We managed to carefully step over it. At a fork in the path there was a printed sign and an arrow showing the right path. We came to a pine glade where the pine needles were so thick on the ground that they covered a knee-high log that we thought might be the prayer chair but then we found it, not five metres away!

The Prayer Chair

We sat down and prayed because that is what it was there for. There was a beautiful view over the dam and the deck although they seemed so far away.

Life is a lot like a journey. The scenery keeps changing. Sometimes the ground is treacherous underfoot, like pine needles obscuring hazards. Sometimes we take a wrong path, but even that can bring new discoveries. God knows how to use a wrong path for our good. Sometimes obstacles block our way and we have to make our way over them with care. We need to look out for signs and directions, even if we think we know the map. If we look around and are alert, we might find a prayer chair, a place to be still for a while and survey where we used to be.

The best thing to have on a hike is a guide, somebody who has followed the trail before. Psalm 23 tells us that the Lord will lead us in the paths of righteousness.

The Bible says, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
{Psalms 37:24 – 25 NIV}

My Prayer

Thank You Lord that You lead me in this journey of life. Please open my eyes to the Prayer Chairs You have scattered along the way where I can rest and regain my perspective. Amen.

More Original Ways God Answers Prayers

We have tickets to go to New Zealand on 25 November. As soon as visa applications opened, on 31 July, we started the process of applying online. We had already started our 6-week holiday. It took about a week to get the application completed and posted, taking into account limited internet options at the caravan park. Two days later, I got a message saying we had to present our passports to a visa application centre. The only one in South Africa is in Pretoria. No chance of getting there until we get back home.

I began to worry about if it was God’s will that we go as planned. If so, I could trust Him to organise the visas to come through on time. If not, we could change the booking but that would incur more cost to our son. I asked for a sign.

On Saturday we journeyed towards Harrismith on our way home. Our little underpowered motorhome did manage to overtake a number of long transport trucks up Van Reenen’s Pass. But one overtook us. This is what I saw on the side of the cab as it rumbled past.

This photo is actually from the other side of the truck. I didn’t have my phone ready when it passed us.

My husband knew the reference of Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you. ‘ declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future. ‘”

I take this as a sign. We plan to go to Pretoria tomorrow to hand in our passports and then we must trust the Lord with the timing and the process.

My Prayer

Lord, I praise You for Your ingenuity and originality. Thank You for hearing my prayer. Amen.

Quiet and Peace

We are now in Nottingham Rd in a caravan park called Glenschillen. It is an oasis of tranquility. We have a site overlooking the dam.

   The Bible says, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.“‘ (Isaiah 31:15 NIV)

On Wednesday, soon after we arrived, we wandered down to the common area, where there are tables and chairs, a pool table and various other amenities for general use. We came across three elderly gentlemen who were having their weekly Bible study and discussion. My husband mentioned that we are members of the Gideons.

Yesterday the oldest of the three, David, who happens to be a co-owner of this place, sought us out. We had a long chat with him. He told us of some miracles in his life and how God has always been faithful, even though he’s had many struggles in his life, including the death of his first wife after three months of marriage.

David is ninety-five and he ended our chat with these words, “The waters are calm, my compass is true. I trust my Captain and I know where my ship is heading.”

I believe the Lord arranged this meeting to bless us and as an illustration a life based on quietness and trust.

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord for this place of quiet and rest. Being here is almost like a retreat. Thank you for enabling us to meet Your servant, David. Please continue to bless him and his family.

Empty Boxes

We are leaving Scottburgh tomorrow and heading for a caravan park in the Midlands of KZN. In preparation today we disconnected our electricity and gas and took our motorhome to the nearby mall to get groceries for our last five days and to get our monthly tablets from Clicks.

Included in my prescription are two supplements:- Caltrate Plus for my osteoporosis and Piascledene for my osteoarthritis. We usually collect those from the shelves before going to the pharmacy section.

When I picked up a box of Caltrate Plus, it seemed very light and it didn’t rattle. I checked the box to make sure it was a thirty tablet packaging and it was. I tried another box. Same thing. Suspiciously light and no rattle.

Finally my husband opened a box. It was empty. There was an assistant nearby and we asked him what was going on. He told us all the boxes were empty because people steal the supplements. He took a Piascledene box and a Caltrate Plus box to the back and brought them to the pharmacy counter with their proper contents.

I was reminded of the story of the prophet, Samuel. God told him to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king. Samuel took one look at the oldest, Eliab, and thought that the future king stood before him.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ ” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)

Jesus expressed the same sentiment when he called the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs.”

If we have the mind of Christ, we will not judge people by the packaging, the outward appearance but rather try to get to know their heart.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, please give me eyes to see people as You see them and not as the world sees them. I know my heart is open to Your gaze. Please fill it with Your love. Amen.