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.

A Stitch in Time

We are staying in our son’s caravan. He bought it second-hand about two years ago. We have been snug and dry in the van and tent during the past weeks of exceptionally wet weather. We are very grateful that they have allowed us to use it.

The lace curtains are old and have stood in the sun for some time. Three of them had big tears and two, smaller tears.

We decided one way to repay our family partially for their kindness, was to replace the worst of the curtains. We managed to buy similar curtaining material and replace two of the curtains. A third one, where the tear was only about 30cm from an edge, I was able to cut off the torn bit and re-hem the side.

However, the small tears worried me. I knew exactly where they were heading. It only needed our five-year-old grandson to notice one of them and decide it was big enough for a finger or a Lego man to fit through it. So I sewed up the tears, somewhat inexpertly.

“A stitch in time saves nine” goes an English proverb. In other words, one stitch in the lace curtains might save nine at a future date because big things all start as little things.

In Song of Songs we read, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” (2:15 NIV)

Sometimes the little foxes nibble away at our spiritual life. Individually they might be of very little importance but unless we catch them in time, we will have bigger problems to sort out later. One of my little foxes is selfishness. I noticed it the other day. I had been looking forward to going out for breakfast and the venue was closed. I was grumpy. The Lord reminded me that life’s not about me. What I had been looking forward to, or had planned is not the main issue. I had forgotten that my time is not my own. It is God’s. My money is not my own either. It is God’s. The end of such a selfish attitude is easy to predict.

Of course, having identified one little fox does not get rid of all of them. I need to be vigilant and look out for attitudes that show that I have not totally surrendered my life to Christ but am trying to run my life my way.

My Prayer

O Lord, please keep me vigilant to identify little foxes while they are still little. May my attitude be like that of Christ, who emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant. I have a long way to go. Please lead me, and strengthen me for one step at a time. Amen.

God-Spectacles

Today we went to visit the Hamilton Gardens again.

I appreciated my eyesight. As the children’s hymn reminds us, “He gave us eyes to see them and lips that we might tell how great is God Almighty who hast made all things well.”

Two weeks ago I had an eye infection. For a couple of days I wore neither my contact lenses nor my reading glasses. Although my eyes received light, technically I could not see.

I might have been able to distinguish a flower close up.

It made me think of a Bible passage I read recently. Jesus had told the parable of the sower and the seeds.

“The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

Though seeing, they do not see;
    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
(Matthew 13:10-15 NIV)

I had not realised before what it might mean to see and yet not see. My daughter-in-law gave me the metaphor of God-glasses. No matter what happens in our lives, we can either see what has happened and is happening through God-glasses or The World’s glasses. Depending which we choose to wear, we will see things differently and act accordingly. Joseph could have seen his slavery and imprisonment in Egypt through The World’s glasses and allowed bitterness and anger at his brothers to define who he was but he chose to use God-glasses instead.

He said to his brothers, “Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19b-20 NIV)

My Prayer

Father, I do not want to be like those who are forever seeing but not perceiving or forever hearing but never understanding. Please grant me the grace to take up my God-glasses before grabbing The World’s glasses. Amen.

It’s a Mind Matter

We recently met a lovely woman who is married to a very intelligent man who was a professor at the local university. In the last couple of years he has had a number of strokes and he is now in a care facility where she visits him every day. He doesn’t recognise her or his children.

It reminded me of the movie, “A Beautiful Mind” about John Nash, a Nobel Prize winner in Mathematics who developed schizophrenia.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Intelligence is a gift from God just like any other ability. Woe betide us if we think that any of these gifts is ours because of our own efforts. Even the ability to study and learn is a gift from our loving Heavenly Father.

Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”(John 15:5 NIV)

There was a king in the Old Testament who forgot that. He said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:29) NIV

While he was still speaking, God took away his sanity and he had the mind of an animal for seven years. Fortunately he was given a second chance and he repented and acknowledged God.

There is a temptation for clever people to pride themselves on their mental abilities. Sometimes they look down on less gifted people. This is a sin and does not please God.

My Prayer

Lord, please forgive me when I think I am better than others. All I am is only thanks to Your design. Amen.

Batteries and Chargers

We’ve been staying in our family’s caravan, in their garden. It is more spacious than our motorhome in South Africa and even has hot and cold running water, without our having to light a gas geyser.

Just over a week ago, a couple of things worked together to disturb the equilibrium. First of all, the water ran out. The pump had been making a noise all night because it was trying to pump but there was no water. We tried to refill it, which we have done before, but the water kept running out again. We decided we had to wait for our son to come back from work to help us. Meanwhile the noise from the pump didn’t seem as noticeable.

At about the same time, the battery in the big family car was flat so our son fetched the battery charger from the caravan to charge the car battery overnight.

Once we had filled up the water tank, the water still wouldn’t come out of the taps. We concluded that the circuit had been broken by removing the battery charger and all that was needed was to replace it. This didn’t work. Nor was the car battery charged.

Our son took the battery charger to an auto shop to be tested and they kindly replaced it with their demo model. He confidently replaced it in the caravan but after two days the water still did not flow.

We have taken the battery and charger to the auto shop and they charged the battery for two days on their high speed charger.

The problem is still not resolved but our latest thinking is the following:- Because the caravan battery got totally flattened by the pump trying to work, the charger could not charge it fast enough to counteract the power drawn by the pump. Meanwhile, our son discovered that all the interior lights of the car had been left on by the children. Again, the charger couldn’t recharge the battery faster than it was being drained.

The battery charger has two modes. Fast charge and trickle charge. It was set on trickle charge.

Sometimes our spiritual batteries get flat. Spending time with God can recharge them. Attending a church service, a retreat or a community group meeting is like a fast charge. But to maintain our spiritual power for everyday life, we need constant trickle-charging. This includes a daily reading of the Word and prayer, not only during a designated quiet time but constantly, as we go through the day, maintaining awareness of God’s presence with us.

Indications of flat spiritual batteries are personal to each individual. Some people might get snappy and irritable. I tend to get depressed and weepy. Temptations are harder to overcome and our natural character flaws, phobias or besetting sins get the better of us. I know because I have just been there and I’d like to avoid getting into such a state again.

31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

My Prayer

Lord, sometimes I am so powerless that I can’t even maintain connection with You. I know that even though I let go of You, You will never let go of me. Please trickle-charge me through Your Spirit that I might be empowered to do Your will. Amen.

Relocating

We have relocated from 70 Nevada Rd to 74 Nevada Rd. Our family’s neighbour, Roberta Farrell, or Birdi, whom I’ve mentioned before, included us in her invitation to dinner last week. She left for a trip to the South Island with her sister from America yesterday. Unfortunately, the cat-sitter she had lined up for her beautiful Burmese cat came down with a health problem and couldn’t come. She thought that a retired couple living in a caravan might enjoy the luxury of living in a house and she asked if we would like to relocate and look after her cat. We said we’d love to. So here we are in a luxury three-story-house with beautiful views, just five minutes walk from our family.

The view from the deck

The lounge from the library

The library from the lounge

The needy cat

This relocation is not something that we planned. It is something that God organised for His own purposes. Certainly we are enjoying the extra luxury and space, but we were very happy in the caravan to which we will be returning in five days.

In my Bible readings recently, the story of Jacob is highlighted. Jacob had been with Laban for many years and had become wealthy. However, he noticed that things were not as happy as they had previously been. Laban’s sons resented him and his wealth and Laban himself seemed to have changed his attitude towards Jacob.

However, it was God who organised the relocation. He said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” (Genesis 31:3)

God still calls people to relocate for short or long periods, according to His will. He will call specific people to specific places and we can’t assume that because somebody else is called, we are too.

It is not comfortable to move. We would much rather stay in our comfort zone where things are familiar and we have developed some kind of routine for ourselves. But God’s plans always trump our comfort. I think of missionaries I know. Their comfort is not in the equation. Only God’s will is their priority, even if they often have to struggle to accept it.

Fortunately, in our case, our temporary relocation suits our natural desires and there is no conflict. But what of the future? Only God knows our future and the plans He has for us. All we can do is trust and obey, knowing that He will be with us.

My Prayer

Father, I pray for our missionary friends who have given up their own comfort to obey Your calling. Please grow in me the trust and obedience required to follow You implicitly. Amen.

Crying Sticky Tears

I was at the end of my rope. I had had a sore throat and cough for over a week and now I had a weepy and sticky eye.

It had been raining for about a week and both my husband’s pairs of shoes were wet. The caravan was out of water. We tried to fill it up but as fast as the water flowed in from the hosepipe, it gushed out again. I cried to the Lord. “I just can’t anymore,” I wailed. “I just want to cry and go to bed.” The verse that came to me was one that has come to me before – ‘My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I was desperate to buy some ointment for my eye. I remembered the verse from Revelation. “So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.” (Revelation  3:18 NIV)

I hadn’t realised before how important the eye ointment was. These words were written to the Church of Laodicea who were neither hot nor cold. Was part of their problem the fact that they couldn’t see what was important and blundered about after the wrong things? Is that part of my problem?

My Prayer

Lord, please forgive me when I am neither hot nor cold. Please send the fire of Your Spirit to rekindle my flame. Amen.

All Creatures Great and Small

On Monday we went to Auckland to visit the Sea Life Kelly Tarlton Aquarium.

From the entrance there is an iconic view of the Auckland skyline.

Inside are tanks and displays of all things marine, from large sharks and rays to starfish and bioluminescent “jellies.”

One thing I particularly enjoyed seeing was a life-sized model of Scott’s Hut in the Antarctic.

The fact that one of our family’s neighbours, Roberta Farrell, is a professor who has led expeditions to the Antarctic, made it even more interesting to me. Her teams studied fungi that survive in temperatures in the region of minus 80 degrees. These organisms caused some degradation of the timber of the hut.

What the children enjoyed most was an interactive play area where outlines of fish and other sea creatures are available to colour with wax crayons. The child then places the coloured page into a scanner which links via a computer programme to a screen along one wall where the coloured-in-fish is made life-like and can be seen swimming around in a marine environment.

In spite of this amazing technology, only God can create real-life fish or any other creature. Even the intelligence to create such programmes or the ability and stamina to study Antarctic life-forms are gifts that God has given to mankind.

As Psalm 8 declares, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! …what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? … You made them rulers over the works of your hands; … the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.” (selected verses, NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, I stand in awe of You. Thank You for Your amazing and diverse creation. Thank You for the creative gifts You have bestowed on mankind. May I use my gifts to Your glory. Amen

Tree Branch

We don’t know the future. We can make plans but they are always only provisional.

Yesterday morning we were in the caravan, having just gotten up and made the bed. Suddenly there were strange noises that seemed to come from above. At first it sounded like hail or stones falling on the roof. Then there was an unusual rumbling and a loud bang.

I went outside to see what had happened. As I unzipped the tent door, leaves and branches came in.

Foliage trying to force its way into the tent.

It turns out that a long branch of a eucalyptus tree at the border of the property had torn off and fallen just outside the tent.

It missed the caravan and tent but damaged the hothouse.

I believe the Lord protected us, directing the angle of the fall of the branch. If it had fallen on the caravan, we might not have escaped injury or even death.

It’s not that we specifically prayed for protection from falling branches. However, our loving Father sheltered us under the protection of His wings.

Jesus assures us, “… for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8b NIV)

When we put our faith in God, we can trust Him to look after and protect us just as earthly parents protect their children.

My Prayer

Thank You Father that You know how to care for those who belong to You. Thank You that I am Yours. Amen.

Unpredictable As Weather

New Zealand is currently experiencing rainy and windy weather, to the extent that many holiday-makers have abandoned their holiday park reservations and headed home. Beaches have been closed, and storm warnings are in place for the Coromandel. Power cuts have occurred in parts of Auckland as a result of the storm and there are predictions of another storm next week.

Meanwhile, our daughter, who is visiting her brother in Russia, sent us their weather prediction.

No matter how much money one spends on a holiday or trip, nobody can guarantee ideal weather. We know full well from our stays at the South Coast that, out of perhaps 60 days holiday, there will not be more than about ten days which are beach days.

For all our technological advances, Man has not been able to control the weather. Only God can do that. The Old Testament contains many accounts of God directing winds, storms, withholding rain or even sending earthquakes.

Exodus 14:21b “…the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, …” 1 Kings 19:11 tells of the earthquake, gale and fire that Elijah experienced although God was not in any of these mighty forces, He sent them. Jonah 1:4, “Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” Later on, “God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint.” (Jonah 5:8)

It is no wonder that when Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples “were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:31)

What Man cannot do, God can do. There is also no storm in our lives that He cannot control.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You are God. You are my God. I trust myself to You, knowing that there is no storm in my life that You cannot calm if You will. Amen.

Cuddles from God

As you might have expected if you know me at all, I enlisted the help of my youngest grandson to set up a bird feeder in a fejoah tree outside the caravan in which we are temporarily living.

Bird feeder from a recycled bottle

So far, we have seen two sparrows on our feeder but I was excited when I saw two fantails in the tree. I had tried to photograph two in Mt Maunganui but they were too fast for me.

My daughter-in-law told me of a time when she was feeling down and went for a walk in the gully below their house. Two fantails followed her, dancing around cheerfully. She experienced them as cuddles from God.

We know God loves us, but sometimes we need something physical to remind us.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zeph 3:17 ESV)

Be it singing or bird dances, God finds ways to remind us of His love when we need cuddles.

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for Your love which is around me all the time. even when I don’t feel it. Amen.