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.

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)

When God Does Nothing

We’ve been having a cold snap at the moment. (After all, it is winter.) Days are quite pleasant, around 15 degrees C but nights tend to be much colder, at about 4 degrees. We’ve had our gas fire on some evenings and we’ve put our fluffy blanket on the bed.

On Fridays I often take my grandson to Cubs. He was ready in his uniform when I came to collect him at 4.50pm last Friday. In the car he told me with pride how he had been made a sixer (a leader of a small group) the previous week.

I dropped him outside the Scout hall grounds and watched as he ran to sign in, sanitise and have his temperature checked. It was only then that I realised that he hadn’t brought his jacket. The evening was going to cool down and, although I knew they would probably be playing some active run-around games, I thought he would probably get cold. I determined to quickly drive home and fetch his jacket but on the way home I had second thoughts.

How embarrassing might it be for this new little leader to have his Granny interrupt his Cub meeting by bringing him a jacket? If he got cold, he might remember next time to bring something warm to wear. He might learn to take more responsibility for himself.

So I did nothing. It wasn’t easy. I worried. I couldn’t wait for him to get home so I could find out how he had coped.

“How was Cubs?” I asked.

“Great! I got to do the flag.” His face lit up with excitement.

Nobody talked about cold.

Sometimes God does nothing. We wonder why He is not helping us in a difficult situation. Is it possible He trusts us to cope using the skills He has gifted to us? Is there some area of growth He knows we need? Sometimes a little bit of discomfort can teach us things we might not easily learn otherwise.

When Lazarus got sick and his sisters sent an urgent message to Jesus, He did nothing for two days. At first glance this seems very unfeeling. Lazarus died and both Mary and Martha pointed out to Jesus that if He had been there, their brother would not have died. Jesus had a greater plan. Mary and Martha got such a faith boost when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. (John 11: 1-44)

Jesus had just fed five thousand men, plus women and children. “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side… Later that night, he was there alone and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” (Matthew 14 :22, 23b,24.)

Jesus knew about the storm. He knew the disciples would battle but He sent them out into the storm anyway. Again, Jesus had a greater plan. If the disciples had not had to face the storm, they would not have witnessed Jesus walk on the water and Peter would never had stepped out of the boat to walk on the water towards his Lord. How much their faith grew in that one night!

When God does nothing we usually don’t understand. Our best action is to trust. Trust in the love of God. Trust in His wisdom and overall plan for our lives. It is not easy. But God know exactly what He is doing.

My Prayer

Father God, I don’t understand when You don’t answer my prayers the way I think I need. Please teach me to trust You in every circumstance of my life – even when things are uncomfortable for me. Help me to grow in the areas where You are stretching me and to learn the things You are trying to teach me. Amen.

Spiritual Diet

Most of us know what we should eat. We’ve been told we need lots of vegetables, fruit, and enough protein. There are different schools of thought about amounts of fats and carbohydrates but we all have an idea of what is healthy.

Funny how it’s so much nicer to eat things that we know are unhealthy. A carrot doesn’t remotely have the appeal of a chocolate, or cream scone or lemon meringue pie.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

There is a balanced diet for our spiritual growth too. Our pastor told us about it in church on Sunday. It is in 1 Timothy where Paul is warning Timothy about false doctrines that were prevalent in the church at the time.

If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.” (1Tim 4:6-7)

There also appears to be spiritual junk food. Paul talks about godless myths and old wives tales. I think fake news and over-forwarded social media posts can fall into this category. However, just as junk food has more appeal than healthy food, our natural sinful state is to be drawn more to spiritual junk food. We need God’s help to be able to maintain a balanced spiritual diet.

My Prayer

Father God, thank you for the wonderful array of food that you have created for us. Please help me to be wise in selecting physical food and to remember to nourish my spirit with the truths of the faith and good teaching. May I have discernment to be able to identify and avoid godless myths and old wives tales. Amen.

Dust Collects Everywhere

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt for today is “collect.”

Our neighbours are doing alterations – breaking down walls and eventually building new ones.

Anybody who has ever been involved in any kind of renovation or building will know that the dust collects everywhere. We can see it creeping over the wall.

Sin is like dust. Sometimes it’s easy to spot and we can avoid the area. At other times it is subtle and hardly noticeable until a shaft of sunlight reveals the dust that has collected on a surface. If we ask Jesus to shine the light of His Holy Spirt on our lives, we will see things that we hadn’t noticed, not blatant actions but tiny attitudes of mind, a grumbling spirt, a covetous thought or regarding our time/money/life as our own.

When Jesus washed the disciples feet, Peter objected. When Jesus explained that unless Peter allowed Jesus to wash him, he had no part of his Lord, Peter replied, “Not just my feet, but my hands and head as well.”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.” (John13:9-10a NIV)

The roads in those days were dirt roads. Nobody could walk along them in sandaled feet without collecting a lot of dust on their feet – even if they had bathed and put on clean clothes for a special celebration like Passover.

We come to Jesus once in repentance and He forgives our sin, based on His atoning death. That is like the bath; but every day we collect the dust of sin on our souls and it is necessary to ask for forgiveness. That is like having our feet washed.

I am certainly not going to dust my house every day just because the neighbours are building but I will try to get my soul dusted every day.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, as You did to the disciples, please wash my feet and show me those little dust sins that collect in my heart. Amen.

Panic Button

Last night my mother fell again. She is 87 and is unable to get back into bed from the floor. She lives in a cottage on the same property as my brother, sister-in-law and nephew.

In February, after the third fall, my brother started investigating a panic button device that my Mom could wear around her neck if anything happens to her and the family is not around. It is monitored by a security company and they will contact a member of the family if it’s a simple matter or send an ambulance if it is more serious. Last time my brother didn’t hear the phone call and they sent an ambulance.

I got the call at 1.30am. They had tried to phone my brother and got no reply. I explained I am in Randburg and my mother is in Gqeberha but I would try to contact my nephew which I did and Mom was soon back in bed.

Yesterday my husband read a section in his devotional guide of how God sometimes impresses on people to pray for somebody. There were accounts of how Christians had felt an urge to pray for somebody specific and how they had later found out what danger or trouble that person had been in. Sometimes we will be woken in the middle of the night with a burden to pray.

It is something like my mother’s panic button. Our Father has a whole network of people on whom He can call to pray when there is a need. We should take these promptings seriously and act immediately. We might never know the cause, or the result, but God’s panic button will bring help.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1 NIV)

My Prayer

Lord, I have committed my life to You. That includes my time. When You call on me, may I not be spiritually asleep or too distracted with my own life to heed your call. Please make me sensitive to Your whispers. Amen.