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.

Windy Wanderings

Yesterday we met a couple on the beach. The wife was arranging her husband and little dog on a log to take a photo. I asked her if she would like me to take a photo of both of them. Later she came over to take a photo of my husband and I.

We got chatting. They live in the area and this was only their second visit to the beach in five months. She told us about a lovely nursery within walking distance that we hadn’t known about.

Today was a windy, overcast day. Instead of going to the beach which we usually do, we decided to take a walk and look for the nursery and a little shop not far from it.

What a lovely day we had. We found the nursery.

Illovo Nursery

Besides the nursery itself, there was a restaurant, a second-hand book shop, a scratch patch, a pet shop, an art gallery and a lake with benches at strategic viewing points.

After nearly three weeks, mostly confined to the caravan park, I was sorely in need of a sit-down tea. We ordered a cappuccino each and apple crumble to share.

After tea, we wandered around. I bought a book at the book shop and a cup of shells. We drooled over huge pots and trays of flowers at very good prices compared to our usual shopping haunts. We admired the colourful plants in all their variety. One looked like it had painted finger nails and we named it the finger-nail-plant.

finger-nail-plant

I felt like I had stumbled into a treasure trove. Afterwards we explored further and found the little shop then decided to see whether we could return along the beach. Armed with directions from a lady who worked at the little shop, we made our way to the Illovo station and across the railway bridge. The station itself was almost in ruins which was very sad to see.

Returning along the beach might not have been such a good idea because we had forgotten about the wind, which was much stronger on the beach than in residential area.

Nevertheless, a lovely day and a satisfying long walk.

I think this is a parable of life. We can stay in the same old routine, stuck in a rut and not even realise the wonderful sights and places that may lie around us. Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zones (yes, it was a challenge walking into the wind with sand smashing against our legs) and explore beyond our everyday life. Who knows what treasure we might stumble upon.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

I believe that the abundant life includes being able to appreciate the wonderful nature God has created, as well as the works of man inspired by His Spirit of creativity.

My Prayer

Father, give me the courage to venture beyond the familiar and taste the abundant life You have given me. Amen.

Just Another Example

Last Saturday, in the late afternoon, I fell off my bicycle.

We are staying in the Karridene Caravan Park in KwaZulu Natal. We are allowed to use the facilities of the Protea Hotel Karridene, including a much stronger Wifi signal than the wispy, come-and-go signal we receive at the edges of the caravan park. I had cycled to the conference centre and was on my way back to our site.

I landed on my elbow. A concerned fellow camper came to see if I was all right and walked my bike back to our site. My husband was a hundred metres or so behind me and soon arrived to look after me. My arm was very sore and I could feel the blood running down the inside of my jacket sleeve.

We managed to stop the flow of blood after washing the area well and my husband bandaged up the wound. Remembering my first aid training, I thought it best to put the arm in a sling and used my other jacket with a safety pin for that purpose.

I put my feet up and rested my arm on a pillow while my husband pampered me and made the supper. I took Aspirin and felt warm and snug. Soon I decided to go to bed. I went into the bathroom and changed into my pyjamas. Big mistake. My elbow started bleeding again. Blood soaked through the bandage. We found a dishcloth to use as a pressure pad but I couldn’t get the bleeding to stop. However, we tied the pad tightly, sent prayer requests to our family and I entrusted my arm to the Lord, hoping I wouldn’t find blood all over the duvet and pillow in the morning.

It was, of course, all right but I decided in any case to try to get to a medical facility and have the wound properly dressed and have a tetanus shot.

So Sunday saw us at Intercare in Amanzimtoti. While we were out and about, (it takes quite something to disconnect the motorhome from electricity and gas and wind up the legs so we can use the vehicle as a car) we thought we might just as well get a repeat of our tablets which we had planned to do on the Friday.

On Monday, South Africa went crazy. Shopping malls were attacked, looted, burned. The main highway between Johannesburg and Durban was closed. Rumours were rife, people were afraid. Those shopping malls that weren’t totally destroyed were closed. Most of them are still closed. Food became an issue.

Now it’s a week later. My elbow is so much improved, just three scabs and two sections of bruise that are changing from purple to yellow. Things have quietened a lot. The beach is now open, the roads are open and slowly smaller shopping areas are opening with long queues and limited access. In some cases people have queued for up to eight hours to go into a shop. Clicks stores, where we get our tablets, are not yet open in our area.

It just struck me yesterday, as I refilled my tablet container with the new stock. If I hadn’t fallen off my bike and damaged myself badly enough to be beyond my own first aid resources, I would not currently have tablets for my hypertension and hypothyroidism.

Falling off a bicycle is not a good thing. Is it possible that this is just another example of God using something bad for my good? After all, the Bible says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)

My Prayer

Lord, please open my eyes to the working of Your hand in all the circumstances of my life. Amen.

Slippery Slope

The caravan park where we are staying is separated from the swimming beach by a railway line. An access bridge has been built across it, made out of what appears to be recycled plastic.

Recently, we decided to get up early so we could see the sun rise over the sea. What we are not used to, coming from a much drier area, is the condensation that collects on any solid surface. As we walked across the bridge we left wet footprints.

My husband nearly slipped three times on the slopes and I had to hold onto the rail which made my gloves wet.

Life is sometimes like that. A person is on the right path, going in the right direction when suddenly his feet slip and he loses balance and lands in a mess, possibly sustaining an injury. It can be caused by something out of the blue or circumstances that are beyond his knowledge or experience.

Even in those circumstances, God is with us. We have faith that He is with us, no matter what.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrew 11:1)

My Prayer

Father God, thank you that You are with me even when my feet slip. May I always trust You and put my hope in Your eternal plan. Amen.

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday. Today’s prompt is the word, “hope.”

Sunrise over the sea

O, the Vastness

Today we took our chairs, the makings of coffee, biscuits and ourselves across the railway bridge and on to the swimming beach. We weren’t the only ones there. There were a number of families and we watched the children jump in the waves or dig deep pools.

I was struck again by the vastness of the ocean. If I turned my head in both directions, there was surf as far as I could see.

I was reminded of a song we used to sing when I was a teenager.

Wide, wide as the ocean,

High as the heavens above,

Deep, deep as the deepest sea

Is my Saviour’s love.

I, though so unworthy,

Still am a child of His care,

For His Word teaches me

That His love reaches me,

EVERYWHERE!

It was so awesome to be reminded again how vast God’s love and power are. Paul writes in Ephesians 3:

And I pray that you…may…grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”(Selections from verses 17-19 NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, may I know Your love and power that are endless. Please fill me to the measure of all Your fullness. Amen.

Making Decisions

Recently my husband and I made an uncharacteristic decision.

Since the beginning of the year, we have been planning to escape the winter cold of Gauteng and spend two months in our motorhome at the South Coast of KZN. We planned, researched, made bookings, paid deposits. We were due to leave on 4 July.

Then the uncertainty came. South Africa, and particularly Gauteng, the province where we live, is in the throes of the third Covid wave.

Then news articles started filtering in. There is a new Covid variant taking over, especially in Gauteng. On Saturday 26 June, our daughter sent us a news article about the president addressing the nation the following day.

We didn’t know what to do. We prayed for guidance. We didn’t have all the facts. We had no idea what the president would say although we suspected he might restrict travel out of Gauteng.

All the guidance we received was to seek the counsel of the saints.

Where there is no guidance, the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory. (Psalm 11:14) The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel. (Prov 12:15)

I phoned my best friend and prayer partner. She suggested I shouldn’t think of it as panicking, but as rather having an extra week of holiday. My husband’s friend pointed out that if we left and the provincial borders were closed, we could always come back whereas if we didn’t try, we could be stuck in Gauteng. Our son-in-law helped us to look at worst case scenarios either way.

We worked frantically to squash a week’s worth of preparation into a couple of hours, packing, defrosting the freezer, washing, securing bikes, shopping.

We arrived in Harrismith in the Free State just after sunset. We couldn’t listen to the president’s address because we were having internet problems but we could see the details afterwards. Travel into and out of Gauteng is prohibited but there is no restriction on crossing other provincial borders.

We made the right decision but it could have gone either way. If the restrictions were merely a change in curfew and alcohol sales again, we would have looked and felt foolish. If all provincial borders had been closed, we would have been stuck in the Free State. If caravan parks and places of accommodation had been shut down, we would have had to turn around and come home.

We are now in Karridene, in a lovely caravan park within walking distance of the sea. We are going on to Scottburgh in just less than three weeks.

Setting up camp
A short walk to the beach

It is very difficult to make decisions when we don’t know the future. Fortunately we know the God that holds the future. He knows everything and while we can still make bad decisions even if we follow Him and trust Him, He will always be with us through all the consequences and confusion.

My Prayer

Lord, please keep me close to You and help me to recognise Your guidance when You give it. May I always commit all my ways to You. Amen.

The Birds and the Bees

Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81 :10b NIV)

This is the verse that spoke to me today. Then I saw a black collared barbet eating from a half orange on the birdfeeder. He was taking big bites, seeming to enjoy himself. I looked down and saw a thrush. I haven’t seen any around for a couple of months. He was pecking in recently watered soil looking for insects.

Black collared barbet eating apple earlier this year when apples were in season.

It occurred to me that God was feeding them both. He was filling their mouths with what they each individually needed. I thought of what I need today – stamina, wisdom, peace. God does not provide the same spiritual nourishment to all His children like a chicken farmer feeding chickens. He knows our individual needs and provides accordingly. Our job is to merely open our mouths wide and allow Him to fill us. Quite often our needs overlap. I am sure many others besides me need peace. His promise is to all of us.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27 NIV)

Likewise, oranges sustain other creatures beside barbets. Bees buzz constantly around the bird feeder, taking tiny sips of the juice. When we were at the game reserve recently, we saw piles of oranges which had been put out for the wild animals. The monkeys helped themselves from the trees.

My Prayer

My Father, You know exactly what I need today. Please breathe Your Spirit on me and fill my mouth as You have promised with Your gifts, physical, spiritual, emotional and relational. I open my mouth wide. Amen.

Driving with a GPS

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday.

My hairdresser moved about two months ago. Her business took a serious knock due to the lockdown and she could no longer afford the rent in a small shopping centre where she ran her salon. She decided to operate from her home instead.

I have always travelled about half an hour to have my hair cut. In the past I have seldom been happy with hairdressers and once I found one I liked, I stuck with her, even though she moved out towards the West Rand about five years ago. Her prices and pensioner’s discount are also the best I’ve found.

The first time I went to her home, I got lost. I had looked at the directions on Google Maps before I left and had a general idea of the first couple of kilometers. Then it was time to switch on the GPS.

I have two cell phones. The one that is connected to the cell phone network has limited connectivity (WIFI, Bluetooth and GPS) after it was dropped on its face and repaired. My backup, which is old, has limited battery life. I stopped at the side of the road to connect my main phone. Predictably, it gave me the first instruction then lost the GPS signal. I drove straight, hoping it would regain connection but it didn’t. There was nothing for it but to call on the backup. To do that, I had to pull over again, create a hotspot on my main phone and connect the backup. I connected the backup to my phone charger because I saw there was only 20% charge left although it had been fully charged just three hours earlier. I sent a message to my hairdresser saying I was running late but on my way.

By now I was in territory totally unfamiliar to me. After about five minutes, my backup phone gave me the low battery warning and then went dead. Obviously it was losing more power than it was gaining. I couldn’t switch it on again.

I was lost.

I looked at my WhatsApp messages to see that my hairdresser hadn’t read my message. I was about to phone her when she phoned me wondering where I was. In the end she came to fetch me and I followed her home and charged my flat phone while I had my hair cut so at least I could find my way home.

If we get lost using a GPS device or app, there are three possible reasons.

  1. We think we know better and ignore the instructions.
  2. Our reception of the GPS satellite is faulty or intermittent.
  3. We run out of battery on our device.

The spiritual life is like driving using a GPS device. The signal is the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13 NIV)

Romans 8:14 says, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”(NIV)

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” (Galatians 5:18 NIV)

All Christians receive the Holy Spirit when they accept Jesus into their lives as Lord and Saviour. However, we can still get lost on our spiritual journey. This can be for similar reasons to getting lost with a GPS.

  1. We think we know better and ignore instructions.
  2. We do not hear the Spirit’s promptings because our minds are filled with too many other things. Our reception of the signal is faulty or intermittent.
  3. We have run out of power. We have not been in the habit of plugging into Jesus for daily prayer and scripture reading. We have not spent enough time with our Lord to recharge our batteries.

There is one other reason for getting lost, both in the physical drive and the spiritual walk. We misunderstand the instructions. The voice on my phone says turn right and I turn immediately into a building site when I was meant to turn at the next road.

Spiritually, it is when God calls us to something and we try to do it in our own strength immediately and run ahead of God.

I’m happy to say I have been to have my hair cut subsequently and I did not get lost. I took precautions. I made sure my backup phone was charged 100% and I plugged it into my car charger as I left. Moreover, I had gone to Google Maps on my computer and printed instructions to my destination.

I am sure there are precautions we can take in our Spiritual walk too. By constant communion with our Lord, we can make sure our spiritual batteries are charged.

My Prayer

Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” (Psalm 143:10)