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.

Guide Dog in Training

A friend of mine is a Puppy Trainer for the Guide Dog Association. She is an art teacher in the studio that is on the same property as our cottage and once a week she brings Jarvis with her. Last week, the dog galloped into our lounge, clearing out the old ginger cat who was lazing on the couch. My friend was close behind. I commented that this did not seem like a responsible Guide Dog and she said I should see him in his harness.  When he wears it, he knows what is expected of him so behaves appropriately. Jarvis is only a Guide-Dog-in-training but that doesn’t get rid of his doggy nature.

I am a Christian-in-training. I have consented to be in Christ’s harness and I qualify for all the benefits He died to secure for me: forgiveness from sins, His presence and involvement in my life, guidance, His inexplicable peace, and eternal life where I can be forever with Him forever.

However, I am not perfect. My human nature, or sin nature, is never far away.  I take comfort in Phil1:6 which says, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” In this life I will never reach perfection, but I trust my trainer for “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:12-13)

I am sure that Jarvis will become a wonderful Guide Dog, bringing independence to a sight-impaired person. His trainer knows what he is destined for and what he can become. Christ, my trainer, knows the purpose for which I was created and can help me fulfill that purpose and become the best version of myself.

 

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Wonderfit

I had a spare slice of time this morning so decided to go jeans shopping.

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Last week I had been attracted by some jeans in a shop window advertised as “Wonderfit.” They have special features to make one look slimmer. Last year I bought some of the same make and they were very comfortable, so I was quite optimistic about my success. I tried a size 40 … much too big around the waist. The 38’s fitted snugly and were fine as long as I stayed standing. As soon as I sat down, they dug into my waist.  Jeans are meant to be comfortable through all the activities of normal life.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)

One of the translations for my yoke is easy, is my yoke is well-fitting, comfortable in all phases of the journey.  The yoke is crafted specifically for us individually. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. No problems with fitting in some places and not others.

Notice Jesus doesn’t offer to remove our burdens but to give us rest. He invites us to submit ourselves to His yoke rather than the one we currently struggle under. His yoke is well-fitting, making the burden comfortable to carry.  He will not put anything on us that we are unable to bear with His help.

I needed this reminder because I have been feeling over-burdened and overwhelmed recently. Perhaps when I wear my new trousers, I will remember it. (In the end I didn’t even get jeans but something more comfortable.)

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Blending

Adult colouring books are not really my thing. I thought I’d give it a try (since everybody else was so enthusiastic about it) and bought myself a book. Well, I have half coloured one page. I saw a journal in a Christian book shop with bible verses and small pictures to colour on every alternate page and plenty of space to write so I considered I might manage that.

My daughter is an artist and taught me to blend with Aquelle crayons. “Use different colours,” she said, “and blend them together with your wet paintbrush”. It worked quite well for a non-artist.

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It occurs to me  that is what God does in a marriage or in a family. He uses different colours (people), puts them together artistically, and blends them making a more vibrant and dynamic picture.  My husband and I are very different but God has managed to blend us together so the “Us” contains elements of each of us but also of a combination of both of us, making the whole more than the sum of the parts. In the hands of the Master, each marriage and family is an unrepeatable masterpiece.

The Ice Cream Machine

It was a hot day. My husband, his sister, brother in law and I were in Cape Town for their step-mother’s memorial service. As we passed Steers, I decided to buy us all  ice creams. I watched the friendly lady pull the lever on the soft serve machine and expertly twirl three ice cream cones. When it came to the fourth, mine, the machine gave a little prrrhp and spurted a last blob the size of a marble and stopped. The lady trotted off to the back and returned with a large plastic container of ice cream liquid. She put in about a third of the contents and tried the lever again. Understanding a little about the freezing process, I told her I would come back in five minutes. Five minutes obviously wasn’t long enough. She pulled the lever. She switched all the switches off and on. She opened and closed the door. she pulled the lever. Nothing. She got help. He switched off and on and opened and closed the door. No matter what they did, no ice cream came out of that orifice. Finally I got my money back and left ice-cream-less.

photo of person holding ice cream

Photo by Sittisak C on Pexels.com

This was a parable for me. God is not an ice-cream machine and praying is not pulling a lever. Even if we try tricks that we have been told about, like fasting, or naming and claiming, sometimes our Father just wants us to be patient. Nothing we can do will speed up the process. At the time, the Lord had wonderfully undertaken for us in ensuring that my husband and I got cheap plane tickets and organised that the cottage which my brother-in- law rents out was vacant for two nights. (I can thoroughly recommend it, by the way.) We knew He was going to provide for another two nights but, although all four of us had sat on our cell phones for over three hours looking for accommodation that was reasonably priced and could accommodate us all, we still had nowhere to stay by that evening.

You will have guessed it. We were not left to sleep in the streets of Cape Town. We had another two lovely days together, exploring Kirstenbosch and Stellenbosch and interacting with family and friends.

Shoes

I am packing to go to Cape Town for my step-mother-in-law’s memorial service. It is an un-budgeted trip and our budget tickets only include 7kg hand luggage. We are going for five days and I’m debating which shoes to take. Something smart for the funeral, something comfortable for site seeing, something warm because Cape Town is cooler than Johannesburg at present, something to slip off on the beach……  The Roman soldier had no such dilemma.

Ephesians 6:11 tells us about the armor of God. We must have our “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of Christ.” (vs 15)

Roman legionaries footwear was not designed so much for protection as for surefooted-ness on varying terrain, for speed and for comfort.

Romans 10 vs 15 says “How can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’

The readiness in Ephesians is to be sent. Imagine a soldier, kitted out in full battle gear, running against the enemy on his own. Without the instruction of his commanding officer, he is doomed to failure and probable death.

We need to be prepared every day to be sent, to share the good news. However it’s not something we do in our own strength. All we are called to do is to be ready. Let’s pack our shoes!

Taste Test

Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)

Every baby knows that one can’t tell what a thing is like unless one has tasted it for oneself. Unlike sight and hearing, where one can experience something in a big crowd, taste is very personal and has an element of risk. Anybody and everybody can admire a glorious sunset but, while it may be uplifting, there is no direct interaction. A rousing  overture can be heard by thousands of people at once but they are not personally involved. Smell is indiscriminate. Nobody has a choice regarding what smells might waft in and out of our nostrils although we can move our bodies to get closer or further away and we can breathe in deeply or block our noses.

Taste is normally a choice. We can choose to interact with something by putting it in our mouth or, if we are more cautious, putting a tiny bit on our finger and transferring it to our tongue. There is always some degree of faith required. Do we trust the person who is inviting us to taste something, or might they be trying to poison us or play a practical joke?

What we taste cannot be tasted by anybody else – it is changed in the process. There is real interaction. We make ourselves vulnerable to possibly find something that we never knew before and is really delicious.

The psalmist exhorts us to not rely on other people’s experiences of God to know He is good. Taste and see for yourself.

Prayer. Lord, I am willing to take a chance. Please interact with me and show me how good You are. Amen.

man holding ice cream cone under cloud

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

X rays and Conditions

When I was in my early forties, my mother’s doctor suggested that I go for a bone scan to see if I had osteoporosis like she did. What a ridiculous idea! I was still young. I couldn’t possibly have an old peoples’ disease! Nevertheless the scan showed that I had, indeed, suffered from loss of bone density. I have a condition that I didn’t know I had and would have staunchly denied while I laughed.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

My daughter also has a condition. A different condition. Last week she took her three children to check if they had inherited it. They had.

We probably all have conditions. Or syndromes. Or illnesses. Or weaknesses. Many of them we inherited. Although they are many and varied, we all suffer from one hereditary condition. We will refuse to believe that we have this condition although it is usually obvious in others. The global expert will tell us we have this condition but because we don’t think we have it, we might not accept his opinion.

This condition is called Human Nature. God calls it SIN. We inherited it. It is in our DNA. None of us in immune. “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned – every one- to his own way.” (Isiah 53:6a ESV)

Those of us who go to church and maybe read our bibles think we are immune. We are not. God’s X ray of our heart will reveal it. I was reminded again of my condition this morning. I had slept very badly and, twenty minutes before my alarm was due to go off, I was woken by my husband’s footsteps. He asked if I wanted coffee then of after seven. I felt grumpy and irritable. had not slept well. My sleep had been interrupted.  needed my sleep. A couple of minutes later when I did wake up, he brought me cappuccino and a rusk. He could not have coffee with me because he had to leave to do a Gideon Bible placement at a school. Later I found his coffee cup with a spoon of coffee powder.

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I had not thought of him, had I? Only of me, me, me. This is a symptom of my condition. Total self focus.

Fortunately, God has provided a therapy for this condition we all suffer from (or ignore.) Isiah goes on to say in verse 6b, “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus had paid the consequences for our condition and, if we are willing, will give us a transfusion of divine nature that will slowly change us to the image of Jesus if we submit to his regime. That does not mean that our human nature disappears. It is still alive and kicking and only with God’s help can we tame it to some degree. I long for the day when my first waking thought can be Good morning , Lord rather than Good Lord, it’s morning.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you died for me. By your Spirit, please transform me into your image. I submit myself to Your authority. Amen.