ISSUE 3 - JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013
LIVING NOW, LOOKING UP
2013 is the year to: BE WISE WITH YOUR FINANCES (P11) BANISH BUSYNESS (P17) MANAGE YOUR TIME WELL (P20)
TO ADOPT OR NOT Join the conversation
Combating fear... In a crime-filled land 1
Marriage + baby = three’s a crowd?
+simple summer salads, how to create edible Valentine’s hearts and an organised gift drawer
Meet the model: Courtney Jonas Courtney is a 23 year-old Capetonian gospel music singer and songwriter, whose career has soared in the last few years and looks set to only get brighter. “I want my music to create an atmosphere where people can come, open their hearts to God and not feel judged in any way,” said Courtney. “I want to sing to all the lost, brokenhearted, sad, happy and vibrant people out there. Everyone deserves to have a close relationship with God and hear His voice. I want to grow stronger each year by HIS grace, and be HIS instrument in this world”. Read more about Courtney’s musical journey on page 41. 1
Reflect The adoption conversation........................................................p21 Living in fear – the South African experience...................p25 Bringing a baby into your marriage – is three a crowd?..............................................................................p29
Refresh *Your look *Your home *Your plate Gift drawer essentials for an organised year ahead.........p5 Face to face with fashionista Mosa Mokuena......................p9 Simple summer salads – healthy and delicious................p31
Renew Getting to grips with your finances in 2013..........................p11 Busyness: can it be banished?..................................................p17
Redeem A day in the life of Kenyan missionary Loki Swanepoel..........p39
CONTRIBUTORS Editor Nicole Cameron
Food Editor Lara Demnitz
Lifestyle Contributor Carin Bevan
Features Writers Dalene Reyburn Kate Motaung Liza Ender
Layout Stevette de Wit
Relax How to make fondant Valentine’s hearts....................................p35 Meet Jaci Mun-Gavin, a parent with a purpose.........................p37 Singing for the redeemed – a chat to Courtney Jonas............p41
Regulars Ed’s letter.............................................................................................p3 Win.....................................................................................p6, p38, p42 Column..............................................................................................p43
EDITOR’S LETTER It’s the New Year and no doubt we’re full of resolutions to eat better, exercise better, organise better...basically BE better in general! While the chances are slim that we’ll do a full 180 degree turn in areas of our lives where we battle (probably about as slim as one needs to be to fit into those skinny jeans – I speak for myself here) there’s no harm in setting some goals for improvement and arming ourselves with tools that’ll help us get there. On page 11 you’ll find some money management tips for the year ahead, useful if you’ve been looking to get to grips with a godly view on your finances. Then on page 17 the concept of “busyness” is discussed – how many of us ended 2012 feeling exhausted, stressed and in desperate need of a holiday? Perhaps now’s a chance to reflect on how we manage our time and prioritise the things that really matter. Kate Motaung digs into some meaty topics this issue, be sure to read and be challenged by her piece The Adoption Conversation on page 21, as well as Living in Fear on page 25, where she reflects on how South African Christians should respond to the desire for safety in a crimeravaged land like our own. These are both areas where our attitudes and motivations have to look different to those of unbelievers, if we profess to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Personally, I’m very interested in Liza Ender’s article on page 29, looking at the changes a baby brings to one’s marriage – with our first little one due towards the end of March, Lord willing, I’m relying on God’s grace to ensure three doesn’t become a crowd. With motherhood on the imminent horizon, as well as some other solid reasons, Radiant’s format will change to more of a webzine look-and-feel over the next few months. The magazine layout is a concept that I am passionate about, and I hope to return to it down the line, hopefully supported by a greater readership and advertising base. A print version of Radiant is very much a longterm hope and dream! Please keep an eye on the website www.radiantmag.co.za for changes. Happy 2013!
Third edition. January 2013 © Radiant Magazine 2012
CONTACT DETAILS Tel: 084 301 6860 email@example.com Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@radiantmagazine)
MEET THE TEAM THESE ARE THE VERY VALUABLE CONTRIBUTORS WHO ARE REGULARLY INVOLVED IN RADIANT: CARIN BEVAN Carin Bevan lives in Muizenberg with her husband Thomas, a schnoodle (cross schnauzer poodle) named Poppy and the new apple of her eye, her baby boy Jamie. She blogs about motherhood, crafts and pretty things and loves baking, knitting, taking pictures with her toy camera and having Gilmore Girls and Doctor Who DVD-marathons. She also runs a website called VintageMedia.co.za, where she writes about South African TV series from the 70s and 80s. Follow her on Twitter: @handinherpocket.
KATE MOTAUNG Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan and has lived in Cape Town for the past ten years. She spends her days relying on the grace of God to support her South African husband in his ministry and homeschool their three children. Kate writes for the webzine Ungrind (www.ungrind.org) and has contributed to MOPS, Young Disciple and (In)Courage.
DALENE REYBURN Dalene Reyburn is passionate about God, people, and life in general. She is wife to Murray, mom to Cameron and Scott, daughter, sister, friend, aunt, teacher, learner, traveller, writer, adventurer, speaker, blogger, baker, hiker, bed snuggler, barefoot walker, letter writer, prayer warrior, tea drinker, home maker, book reader, chick-flick watcher, and lover of: Africa, music, trees, poetry, cappuccinos, seasons, stars, sunsets, dancing, golden retrievers and catching trains in foreign countries. You can check out her blogs Growing younger on the inside and Celebrating Life, or you can follow her on Twitter: @deereyburn.
LARA DEMNITZ Having studied as a chef in Stellenbosch, Lara pursued her career overseas, working in London, and Italy. She currently lives at home in Cape Town, dividing her time between cooking and working as a part time Aftercare Teacher. She is also the author of the cooking blog, How to cook an Elephant (www.cookanelephant.blogspot.com)
LIZA ENDER Married to an amazing man, who happens to be a minister, and mommy to two sweet little girls, there is seldom a dull moment in this house! I teach a music group for babies and toddlers; ‘Wriggle & Rhyme’, once a week and look after student girls and the young moms in our church community. Love living in Cape Town, writing, reading, running, cooking (…not of the fish finger variety so much…) cups of tea and chocolate!
GIFT WRAPPING ESSENTIALS
Washi tape and deco tape Sticky tape is a gift-wrapping must-have– and not simply to stick the loose ends of wrapping paper together. Use washi tape, deco tape or fabric tape to decorate gift paper, tags, cards and the gifts themselves.
With a drawer full of can turn any present and imp
GET READY FOR A YEA GIVING WITH THESE GI Gift wrapping paper Brown paper Tissue paper CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Pink Diagonal Stripe tape: R28 from Washi Tape. Cotton fabric tape: $2 from Yozocraft. Red and Green Birds and Florals tape: R28 from Washi Tape. Deco tape: Author’s own.
Punches Use paper punches to make and decorate gift tags or cards, or punch shapes from coloured paper to make confetti. Look for them at craft shops or in the scrapbooking section of your local stationery shop. We found this heart punch and bee punch at the Crazy Store for about R10 each.
An assortment of gift bags, boxes and tins
Washi, deco and fabric tape
Washi tape has recently become very p easy to find. It’s a Japanese masking ta in many colours and designs. You’ll find shops:
In Good Company: http://www.heartand Love Letters Stationery and Gifts: http Paper Peony: http://paperpeony.co.za/w Washi Tape: http://washitape.co.za/ We Heart This: http://we-heart-this.com
Deco and fabric tape haven’t yet had th can easily order it from overseas. Fabric cotton and lace. Deco tape is usually ma stronger colours than washi tape. It’s al if you’re using tissue paper or fabric.
You’ll find deco and fabric tape at Yozoc rates): (http://www.yozocraft.com/) and
This sweet set has a stamp for every occasion, whether it’s a birthday, wedding, Valentine’s Day or a simple coffee date. Use them on wrapping paper, gift tags or cards. Love Diary Stamp Set: $6.80 from Yozocraft.
these gift goodies you t into something fun pressive.
AR’S WORTH OF GIFT IFT DRAWER BASICS: Gift cards and tags Ribbon Paper punches Stamps Gift fillers
popular in South Africa and is now quite ape made from rice paper and comes d it at Typo or at one of these online
dhome.co.za/ p://www.lovelettersstationery.co.za/ washitape/
heir big break on our shores, but you c tape is made from fabrics such as ade from plastic and tends to have lso more sticky, which makes it better
craft (with very reasonable shipping d on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com)
Giveaway!! Get your gift drawer off to a good start. We’re giving away a giftwrapping kit with 4 deco tape rolls, ribbon, 10 small brown paper gift bags and 10 manila tags - plus a little surprise or two. To win, email firstname.lastname@example.org with GIFT DRAWER in the subject line. Competition closes 28 February.
Cards and tags
Fill your gift drawer with a variety of cards and gift tags and you’ll be good to go whatever the occasion.
1 Clever, cute and eco-friendly to boot: After their tagging job is done, these plantable gift tags will grow into a basil or rocket plant. R100 for 12 from Love Letters Stationery. 2 These chalkboard gift tags are loads of fun – and can be reused! Chalkboard Heart: R5 from In Good Company. 3 This set of 18 cards and envelopes comes in a tin and is perfect for any occasion. R155 from Love Letters Stationery. 4 Turn gifts for overseas friends into keepsakes with these Karoo inspired gift tags: R16 per pair from PaperPeony.
5 Use your punches, tape, ribbon and stamps to turn ordinary manila tags into one-of-a-kind gift tags. You can buy these in bulk or individually at stationery shops such as The Write Shoppe or Walton’s.
GIFT FILLERS Make sure you have a bunch of little gifts in your drawer for those last-minute birthday party invites! Gift fillers are like stocking fillers: small presents that can make a more generic gift like flowers, chocolates or gift vouchers seem just that much more special! 1 3
2 1 Tape one of these pretty Flying Teacup Decorations to the wrapping paper or gift bag: R50 from In Good Company. 2 Write edible notes to complement your gift. This packet of Love Notes includes 15 heart-shaped wafers and a food colouring marker: R35 from Nicoletta’s online store. (We’ve also spotted these at Pick ‘n Pay for slightly more). 3 Fill a pretty tiny tin with sweeties, buttons, or little notes: $3 from Yozocraft. 4 Tie these heart-shaped cookie cutters to a bunch of flowers with a cheerful ribbon. Or use them to make your own conversation hearts – see our craft project for instructions. Set of 5 cookie cutters, R19.99 from Mr Price Home. 5 Use these colourful erasers as a gift filler with a cute notebook and pencils. Set of 12 Fun Erasers: R30 from In Good Company. 6 Slip a gift voucher into one of these lovely fabriccovered card pockets: $5.25 from Yozocraft.
6 4 5
STOCKISTS STOCKISTS Crazy Store: http://www.crazystore.co.za/ Crazy Store: http://www.crazystore.co.za/ Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/ Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/ In Good Company: http://www.heartandhome.co.za/ In Good Company: http://www.heartandhome.co.za/ Love Letters Stationery and Gifts: Love Letters Stationery and Gifts: http://www.lovelettersstationery.co.za/ http://www.lovelettersstationery.co.za/ Mr. Price Home: http://www.mrpricehome.com/ Mr. Price Home: http://www.mrpricehome.com/ Nicoletta: http://www.nicoletta.co.za/ Nicoletta: http://www.nicoletta.co.za/ PaperPeony: http://paperpeony.co.za/washitape/ PaperPeony: http://paperpeony.co.za/washitape/ Waltons: http://www.waltons.co.za/ Waltons: http://www.waltons.co.za/ Washi Tape: http://washitape.co.za/ Washi Tape: http://washitape.co.za/ We Heart This: http://we-heart-this.com/ We Heart This: http://we-heart-this.com/ The Write Shoppe: http://www.thewriteshoppe.co.za/ The Write Shoppe: http://www.thewriteshoppe.co.za/ Yozocraft: http://www.yozocraft.com/ Yozocraft: http://www.yozocraft.com/
FACE TO FACE
WITH MOSEWAMOSA Mosa Mokuena is a Free State born, Jozi-based fashion designer who established her label MosewaMosa in 2006. Radiant chats to her about inspiration, being a Christian in a tough industry, and what 2013 holds in store â€“ both for her brand and on the worldwide fashion scene... Photography by Simon Deiner 9
Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?
Is it difficult to be a Christian woman in the fashion industry? What are some of the challenges/opportunities you come across? The fashion industry like any industry has its own pros and cons. Besides all the beauty and creativity coming out of it, it is fuelled by sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. My identity as a Christian really helps me to stay grounded. It reminds me of who I am and who I am here to serve and that in itself helps me keep my eye on the ball. I’m not perfect but I strive to remain true to who I am. Yes, I work hard to please my clients, but above all I strive to honour God in what I do.
What are your hopes and plans for MosewaMosa in 2013? In the year to come my focus remains growing the business from the ground up and continuing to build the foundation. I’ll be launching a more generic brand (still under MosewaMosa) that will house a commercial line targeted at working women aged
What are some fashion must-haves for the season ahead? Whenever I’m asked this question I respond that personally I don’t follow trends! I’m an artist first and foremost, and work to set trends rather than mimic them. The MosewaMosa brand is classic and timeless, with a focus on ethereal elegance; quite different from what is out there at the moment. To remain relevant we do however do our research on upcoming trends and try to incorporate them into our own language. For those wanting to keep up with trends everything continues to be big, bright and ostentatious from clothing right up to shoes, accessories and even nails. Prints and florals still continue to be enormous and take on different mediums such as digital and photographic. So you may want to stock up on printed dresses, anything that is coral and gold, and chunky and bold accessories, as this will continue beyond this year. After all this I still want to say, find your own style that complements your character and tweak it here and there to add fun to your wardrobe and your life. To see more MosewaMosa creations, visit www.mosewamosa.co.za
I’m mostly inspired by nature. I’m also blessed in that my work has taken me all over the world and having a family that lives overseas has allowed me to explore the world all the more. As a result I’m inspired by the countries that I visit and the diversity of culture that I see there. Countries like Morocco and Turkey stand out for me, and Paris and New York are two cities that are an obvious source of inspiration for me.
between 25 and 45. I have identified retail spaces that reflect the brand’s identity; I’ve learnt from previous retail spaces I supplied that you’ve got to know exactly where you want to place your brand in the market and not compromise on that. MosewaMosa will be reserved for bespoke services to our private clientele. At the moment I sell my clothing from my showroom in downtown Johannesburg on 3 Loveday Street.
REFLECT RENEW RELAX
TOP MONEY MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR
They may not be quick fixes, but getting your mind around these points will help you to establish good practices that honour God and best serve His purposes... By Nicole Cameron
1 UNDERSTAND YOUR MONEY WORLD-VIEW
2 TEST YOUR SPENDING HABITS AND WHAT
We may believe the biblical view in theory, but in practice it may look a little different. In The Treasure Principle Randy Alcorn says Jesus put such an emphasis on money and possessions (15% of everything Christ said relates to this topic) because there’s a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money. Is your heart deceiving you? Ash Carter (author of The Money Mentor) points out that the only reason advertising works is because we are sinful – “at every point in history, human beings have looked to their harvests, their families, their trinkets and their toys to fill the deep longing in their hearts that can only be filled by a relationship with God”. Diagnose where your heart really lies by asking these kinds of questions: How would I feel about losing X (your job, for example)? If I had to choose between X and Y, which would I give up? How do I actually
3 KNOW GOD’S
PRIORITIES FOR YOUR MONEY
Fortunately, the Bible is not quiet about how we should order our priorities in order to reflect God’s concerns and be responsible stewards of the limited financial resources He provides us with. Carter defines our responsibilities as starting with providing for our own needs (so that we are not a burden to others), then for those of our family (this includes our parents, whether they are believers or not) and then the local church followed by the global church. Remember that allimportant differentiation between needs and wants when it comes to looking after ourselves and our families! Ultimately, the more we appreciate the ongoing generosity of God to us, the more willing we will be to give freely from all that we already have (2 Corinthians 9).
Our relationship to money is very complex – in most cases we have grown up with a certain understanding, either as a result of our parents’ model or as a reaction against their principles. We define ourselves as “spenders” or “savers” and, in both instances, are quick to fall into the trap of following the world’s view that our money is our own. It’s little wonder; when we are bombarded by advertisers telling us that this is the case, and that true satisfaction is possible through consumption (or wise investment). We are happy to give a percentage of our income for ministry purposes, but all too often simply add a Christian gloss to a view of money that looks no different from that of our unsaved friends and family. Getting to grips with a godly view of money starts with reflecting deeply on whether we really believe that God owns everything, that He provides for all our needs and that we are living for the new creation, where we’ll leave behind all the possessions we stashed up on earth.
spend 168 hours a week? Where does the money from my salary really go? (Recording these details over a two-month period may reveal a surprising reality). And ultimately, ‘In 100 million years, will it matter that I...?’
4 GET OUT OF DEBT This is when it starts to get practical. Most developed countries are struggling with massive national and personal debts. Living on credit, through unsecured loans (where you have not pledged an asset of equal value) may be “manageable” if you can maintain the monthly payments, but it reveals the underlying problem of living beyond one’s means and the strong possibility of an attitude towards money that is not honouring to God. If you find yourself in this situation, the starting point is to make a list of what your debts are, what they cost you over a year, and whether you have any items that you can sell in order to reduce these loans. Develop a strategy to pay off the most expensive debts first – it may require a change in lifestyle to free up more money to get out of debt quicker. The advice of a professional can be invaluable here.
5 BREAK DOWN YOUR EXPENDITURE The Money Mentor divides spending up into five headings: fixed necessary expenditure (essential basic, unavoidable costs - rent, electricity, water etc), flexible necessary expenditure (these costs can change from month to month, for example groceries, depending on our consumption habits), long-term financial planning (we need to make provision for our retirement), giving (Randy Alcorn recommends thinking of tithing as training wheels to get you going: “Start at 10% of income, and then ramp up your giving from there, removing the stabilisers”) and variable discretionary expenditure (the category that covers everything not listed above; and also the easiest to overspend in). Information is power, so once you are clear on the above (in practice, not just on paper) you can start planning to re-order the things in your financial matters that you are not happy with.
6 MAKE A PLAN This is where the word budget comes in! To design an annual budget, set up a spreadsheet with the next twelve months across the top and your categories down the left-hand side. Put the income at the top, and expenses underneath, and using your records, estimate what you will spend in the year to come. Remember that plans change, so be prepared to be flexible. Also build in contingencies – there are always surprise expenses! Try to think through one-off items that will occur, for example, a holiday, as well as events like Christmas and birthdays that will predictably break the regular pattern.
7 THINK THROUGH
FUTURE INVESTMENTS CAREFULLY
Bear in mind that all investments need to deliver returns. This is the case even when it comes to things like education, where we can be tempted to put sound financial practices to one side for the sake of emotional or other reasons. While there are many nonfinancial reasons to invest in your children’s tertiary education, at the end of the day their subsequent career needs to yield an appropriate return.
10 KEEP RECORDS
Any businessman knows that running out of cash spells disaster – and it’s the same when it comes to personal budgeting. Be sure to understand how your cash flows so that there is no point in the month when your expenses are more than the amount in your bank account, despite the theoretical availability of the money at a later point in the month.
Making real progress and change in the area of personal finance requires a long time – so commit to the long haul and keep going as you started. This means keeping your spreadsheet up to date, even when it seems that watching paint dry would be a more entertaining alternative. Over time, you’ll develop a system that works for you, but don’t expect it to be instinctive. And don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t it right 100%. Success starts with that initial step – all the best for a disciplined and rewarding financial year ahead!
9 INCREASE GIVING AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY Remember that our goal is to serve Jesus with our whole lives, so as soon as you receive an increase in income, or an unexpected bonus, consider how it can be used generously. Budgets are useful but at the end of the day they are simply tools to help free up more money for giving.
(Insights from this piece were taken from Ash Carter’s book ‘The Money Mentor’ and Randy Alcorn’s ‘Treasure Principle’ – both recommended for further reading.)
8 REMEMBER CASH IS KEY
PASTORS’ WIVES WEIGH IN
WITH THEIR BUDGETING ADVICE: What are some of the budgeting tips you’ve learnt over the years that you’d like to share with other women? My husband has been a great help to me in this area. I do most of the shopping, but he helps me by breaking down the exact amounts of how much we can spend in certain areas. So, for example, I try to do one big, monthly shop for the main staples (toilet paper, flour, sugar, etc.), then do one additional shop per week to top up on bread, fruit, milk, etc. We’ve worked out how much we can afford to spend for each of these, so I know from week to week what my limitations are. It also helps to keep cash in envelopes for each week, so there are visible, tangible banknotes in hand to keep me from going over budget on the credit card. We’ve also tried to use our credit card more like a debit card - depositing money into the account each month and using what’s actually in there, to avoid going into debt and accruing interest.
Kate Motaung, married to Kagiso and mom to Kabelo, Dineo and Caleb
How do you manage the challenge of feeding, clothing and entertaining a large family on a tight budget? The Lord has been incredibly good to us in this area. I think this is what I appreciate about the body of Christ in South Africa...so many people are willing to share possessions and pass things on that they’re not using anymore. If we are honest and humble about our needs, people have been more than willing to pitch in and help out. Sure, we’ve had to say ‘no’ to several things that other families may get to enjoy, but we make the most of the things we can afford. For example, instead of going out for pizza and a movie, we may make pizza at home and take out a free DVD from the library to watch together as a family. Or we may not go to the Spur whenever we’d like to, but now and then we may take advantage of Spur’s Monday special with twofor-one burgers. We’ve tried to teach our kids not to complain that they don’t get to choose whatever they want from the menu, but to be grateful for whatever they do get.
When it comes to gifting and hospitality, do you have any advice for cutting costs without giving gifts or meals that seem meagre? Don’t underestimate homemade baked goods! Find a handful of fail-proof recipes that can stretch, buy a packet of pretty paper plates, some clear plastic bags and some ribbon, and you’ve got a gift! Homemade goods are often more cost-effective, and also show that you’ve put time and love into the gift. There are a few different types of muffin mixes that are quite good. All you have to do is add oil, water and an egg, and you can get 24 muffins for R18 instead of the pre-made six muffins for R18. It’s just a matter of looking out for cost-effective options that are manageable with your schedule and resources.
WHAT READERS SAY:
What are your little saving secrets that help you through the month? Carin Bevan Cash! I only put my week’s spending money in my wallet and make sure I leave the credit card locked up. I think much harder about what I spend money on when I have to take out cash.
Janice Cameron Save your till slips! Natalie Mayer (1) Keep a little notebook in your handbag, and write down what you’ve spent at the end of every day. Seeing how fast it adds up helps me to put the brakes on spending! (2) Train yourself to wait a month (or even more) before buying something you want. After that, you will be able to see whether you actually need the item or whether it was just a passing fancy. Say no to impulse buys!
Grocery prices seem to be soaring on a daily basis. What practical steps can women take to save in this area?
Get the cheapest.
Camilla Marx, married to Bryan.
Although it might be a little difficult to branch out sometimes (especially if you’ve always bought a particular brand), it’s worth looking out for the cheapest makes of each item. These can change as prices go up, so it’s good to check every time. If you find that you don’t like that brand, you can always try something different next time – but with many things, it won’t make much difference, if any, and you’ll be surprised how much you can save this way. This even can apply to buying different items at different shops. Our favourite cereal is cheapest at a shop very near to us – so we always buy it there, although I do most groceries elsewhere. Of course, there is no problem with having certain non-negotiables – for us, tea fits into this category!
Look for specials. I love specials and sales! The free local newspapers usually have specials pages for at least a couple of grocery shops – a good idea is to go through them and tick off (or write down) the items you want, and to use that list the next time you go shopping. You’ll find you can save quite a lot that way. I also find it’s worth glancing through the aisles while at the shop, for specials that one might have missed. But bear in mind-a deal is not a deal unless you wanted it in the first place!
Stock up. This follows on from the previous point. Some items come on special less frequently than others –and quite soon you’ll get a feel for how often they do. If you think you’ll run out before the next special, try to stock up to carry you through. For example, our favourite tea has gone up in the past few years, but every few months it is available at several Rands less than usual. By buying a couple of boxes whenever it’s cheap, I’ve found that the tea we drink costs me the same as it did about three years ago (most gratifying!). Stocking up does require spending a bit extra to start off with, as you’re buying more than you need for that month– so depending on your budget, you might want to start slowly. However, it very quickly starts paying off. You may be stocking up on cheese this month, but you don’t need to buy chicken or coffee, as you bought those last month.
Buy marked-down goods. Checkers has a wonderful system of selling off vegetables and baked goods cheaply once they reach their ‘sell-by’ date. This might sound a little off-putting – but bear in mind that they can’t sell ‘off’ produce, so just after the sell-by date the vegetables are usually still fine. I find that they can last about a week.
Beware the enemies of saving! Everyone has her own particular one. One notorious pitfall is impulse buying. If this is a temptation, it’s very important to make a list, and to avoid the tempting aisles as far as possible. If necessary, avoid malls! ‘False economy’ can also be a threat. If one is travelling 10 km extra to save a rand... it might be worth reevaluating!
Avoid wastage. This is fairly self-evident, but wastage is a thief of money. So try not to let anything go off, and see if you can find creative ways to find a use for geriatric groceries. If milk goes a little sour, boiling it will either extend its life briefly, or curdle it (in which case it can be used in rusks).
I’ve found that there are a lot of practical cost–cutting steps that one can take. Here are some of my favourites:
BANISHING THE BUSYNESS Is there a way to enjoy a balanced and restful year ahead? By Nicole Cameron 17
dash to the finishing line. And when I chatted to friends they felt exactly the same way – a
crazy set of to-do lists combined with an attitude of perseverance would surely see us survive till “breakup day” and the promise of a few weeks in the sun with family and festive celebrations – a chance to rest and recover from a year that was just way too busy, and to reflect on how next year would be so very different. Only problem is, I’d convinced myself of that very notion exactly a year ago, and invariably the year before that. Most people feel like their lives are over-full. And as Christians, we have even more commitments when we consider church meetings, Bible study, building community and serving the needy – how can we possibly balance time between work, friends and family and church life? Many of us feel trapped in our lifestyles; like we know too many people to keep up with properly and that we take on too much most of the time. Clearly, there’s a problem, and as is most often the case, the solution lies not in finding an extra hour in the day, but in getting to the heart of the issue...
HURRY SICKNESS In his book The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness, Tim Chester reminds us that God doesn’t make mistakes – 24 hours a day were part of the world God declared very good. “The problem is not that there isn’t enough time for what we want to do, the problem is that we’re trying to do too much. We haven’t come to terms with the fact that we are finite and limited,” he says. He goes on to say that busyness in itself isn’t bad, and that most of us enjoy doing a lot of things, and when we feel we can cope then we are content in our busyness;
it is only when we try to do more than we can that we feel stressed about the extra demands. It’s at that point that our whole lives can feel crammed, when really it’s just a few things beyond what we can cope with that makes everything feel impossible. “Here’s a foundational truth,” says Chester. “God does not expect us to do more than we can. So the key question is: why are you trying to do more than you can?” More often than not, it is because we are slaves to our sinful desires that drives us to “idolatrous
busyness” that ultimately causes harm, in our bodies, our families, our churches and in our relationship with God. What reason can you give for the last reason you said “yes” to a request instead of “no”? And what truth should encounter the false belief beneath it? Blogger Dalene Reyburn puts it this way: “It’s easy to use busyness as a cover – to shroud ourselves in a feel-good kind of ‘I’m-so-busy-I-mustbe-successful aura. It’s also easy to develop a Messiah complex – for example, ‘These people need me. I have to be there/do this/ etc’ and to forget that we are least like the Messiah when we are frazzled and overwrought.” Our lives are about putting the Kingdom of God first and being faithful with the time we’ve been given – if we’re going to be measured by our faithfulness why do we put so much emphasis on achieving for the sake of our pride and others’ approval? The sad reality, Chester points out, is that Christians can be the busiest people of all because we want to have it all. “We have a foot in both camps – we have better things to do – gospel, kingdom things, but we also want the trappings of this world. We work hard for the treasure of heaven. But we also work hard for the treasure of earth. So we’re running around twice as much as non-believers. We want God’s life, but we want the good life too.”
or me, getting to the end of 2012 felt like a mad
ACHIEVING A WORK-LIFE BALANCE Once we’ve explored the deeper, darker side of our busyness, we’d do well to remember the very practical outline the Bible gives to attain what many of us see as the holy grail – that elusive work-life balance. God’s solution: The Sabbath pattern of working and doing chores in six days and having one day totally devoted to rest. While holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy God’s creation and spend time with people, they are in fact quite a recent thing – it’s only in the past hundred years that most people have received paid leave. We often feel like we “need” our holiday because our lives are so out of balance, whereas it’s not a sustainable solution – one in three people find the days before a holiday the most stressful of the year, and it hardly takes a week back at work for the holiday glow to have faded completely, with the grim prospect of 350 days of stress to get through before the next respite. We can even spread this pattern up over
a lifetime – 40 years of work in preparation for a retirement of leisure. Give yourself the freedom of a day of play – whatever that might constitute in your mind -preferably without technology and a dependence on too much leisure “consumption”. You can also try to bring a few activities/habits into your day or week that you find restorative; for example going for a brisk walk in the early evenings or booking yourself in for the odd facial or massage.
BUSY READERS GIVE THEIR TOP TIPS FOR KEEPING STRESS AT BAY: What one thing do you do every day that brings you rest? I make a point of making an arrangement to meet a friend from work in the canteen for a quick chat and cold drink every day. Even if it’s only ten minutes, it makes the world of difference to have a break and share the day’s struggles with someone who understands – we can laugh about things that would otherwise frustrate us and that re-energises me for the rest of the day.
What is your top time management tip?
Blanche Cupido, 33, cardiologist at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town
On a Sunday night I look at the week ahead and work out when I will have some spare time and what I can get done in it. Because my free hours are so limited due to work commitments I need to make it count – if I don’t plan ahead I bumble through the week only to realise how much of it I’ve wasted. I’ll plan things like how many birthdays I have in one month, and then allocate a spare hour in the week to go to the shops to buy presents.
What one thing do you do every day that brings you rest? When I get home from school every day I make myself a cup of coffee and go and savour it outside on my verandah. This is my “me time” before I hit the afternoon routine of helping my kids with their homework and getting supper ready.
What is your top time management tip? Being organised is everything. I try to get the kids to have their bags packed and lay out their school clothes the night before. I have a schedule of extramural activities so I know what time everyone needs to be fetched etc. Planning ahead is the only way to keep things running smoothly.
Caroline Fredericks, 39, teacher at Kyalami Preparatory, Gauteng, and mom to Cameron (11), Matthew (8) and Ethan (5).
READ ALL ABOUT IT...
– let’s make 2013 the year when we reflect honestly on our priorities and make the necessary changes in our lives.
Insights for this piece were gleaned from:
THE BUSY CHRISTIAN’S GUIDE TO BUSYNESS
BRILLIANT TIME MANAGEMENT
by Tim Chester
by Mike Clayton
EFFECTIVE TIME MANAGEMENT Sometimes we’re too busy because we simply don’t manage our time well. Effective time management is the subject of many books, and most will agree that it’s important to work out how you spend your time, and then re-evaluate how this reflects against your priorities. The book Brilliant Time Management (Michael Clayton, Prentice Hall 2011) outlines six fundamentals of time management. They are: COMMUNICATION Whether it’s in the workplace or at home, failing to communicate why, when or how you are doing something can be a big time waster. Clayton says that the secret to good communication is simple: always take responsibility for your communication – say to yourself that it is your job to ensure that others understand what you are saying, or that you understand what they are saying. DISCIPLINE Discipline is about remembering what you must not forget, planning what must go well, reviewing what you must learn from and organising what must not get lost. It’s about making the effort to do things that are easy, when you’d rather do nothing at all. It’s important to establish routines that work – after ten to twenty times of repetition, they’ll become a habit. MEMORY Your memory will help you to get done the things you need to do before they become so pressing that you feel they are taking over control. A bad memory is no excuse these days what with the many tools available to aid recall. PLANNING Plans will change, but planning is indispensable as this process prepares you to understand what is going on and what the options are. Planning is the mark of the proactive person. REVIEW Rather than work at something doggedly, it’s more effective to take breaks and review your progress, weighing it up against your priorities and being honest about successes, failures, and the overall process. ORGANISATION An important part of being organised is being tidy, but be sure to apply your “own sort” of tidy – some people need regimented neatness, while others prefer the cosy familiarity of objects that yet others would deem clutter. Being organised will help you look forward to tasks without that foreboding sense of “it’s such a mess”.
As Christians, we are meant to be “poured out” and busy – we are made to serve God and other people. It’s easy to mistake a desire for time-out with a desire to withdraw from responsibility and pamper ourselves – when we’re surrounded by a culture of self-indulgence we can fall into the trap of believing we deserve unfettered “me time”. But it’s just as easy to spiral into over-commitment and stress
THE ADOPTION CONVERSATION Is there an even better reason for Christians to adopt, beyond serving our broken society? By Kate Motaung
ave and Emma had been married for a handful of years and already had two active children to show for it. They were happy, and life was as smooth-sailing as it could be with two toddlers underfoot. Yet at the back of their minds, they both remembered a conversation they’d had before they had said, “I do.” “I’d love to adopt one day,” Emma had mused aloud to Dave one sunny afternoon as they sat in peak-hour traffic. “Really? Me too,” Dave affirmed. Pleasantly surprised, Emma pushed gently, ““Even if we already had biological children?” “Yes, I could do that,” he’d replied, half-concentrating on the road. Now, four years later, the topic re-surfaced. “Now?” Emma thought to herself. “Now, when our budget is already stretched with two kids in nappies day and night?” But she and her husband shared a common foundation – they both trusted in an all-sovereign God, One whose timing was always perfect. They began to pray about it, and even began the application process at a local Christian adoption agency. But life meandered on its way, day after day, like a gentle, winding river. Then one day, they heard: A teen mom had chosen their profile as the parents she wanted for her newborn son. In just six days, they would become a family of five. Countless emotions elbowed at each other, fighting for a place in the spotlight – excitement, fear, apprehension, joy. Then nerves prevailed, and questions pelted their minds like a hard, relentless rain: “What would he look like? How would the other kids respond to having a new brother? How would we feel about him? How would our extended family react to the sudden addition?”
SEEKING WISDOM Emma decided to use the limited time she had to enlist the advice of experienced friends. One morning after a church function, she found herself side-by-side washing dishes with an adoptive mother in their congregation. She articulated her qualms as best she could to her new confidante, who reassured her that she, too, had experienced similar misgivings before their own adopted children had come home. The words that this kind, gentle woman spoke to Emma over soapsuds and dishtowels stuck with her for years to come. “As we understood God’s love for us and our own adoption in Christ, adopting children became a no-brainer! Our mental barriers to adoption were removed and it became an outworking of what we believe – ‘We love because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19) and Ephesians
5:5-6 – ‘In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One he loves.’” The truth and conviction of scripture washed over Emma like warm water cleansing a clouded glass. Suddenly she could clearly see God’s big picture when it came to adoption.
THE UNSPOKEN FEARS The woman at the sink continued, confessing that she, too, had wrestled with similar fears about her adopted children. Then she concluded, “Ultimately, we realised that God would have prepared this child for us from before conception - because that’s how sovereign He is! So we needed to trust that He had the child picked for us and wouldn’t give us anything we couldn’t trust and depend on Him for. Also, there were no guarantees that our biological children would be perfect -they may well have inherited some biological imperfections from us. In the same way,
our children by adoption may not have our genetic physical impediments like needing glasses or having eczema! We would love and care for whoever God gave us.”
MOULDING AND SHAPING Feeling as though they were indeed making the right decision, Emma decided to phone one more friend, who had very recently welcomed a oneyear-old boy into her home in addition to their two other biological children. When Emma asked how it was going, the friend replied honestly, “We have felt God’s sovereignty in so many details helping to reassure us that the boy we have is just the boy God wanted us to have, which has given us the strength to cope with
God Himself had adopted Emma into His eternal family, on the pure basis of His amazing grace, and not because of anything whatsoever that she had done to earn or deserve it. He hadn’t chosen her or set His love upon her because she was loveable – she knew in her heart of hearts that Romans 5:8 was true: “…God demonstrated His own love for us in this – that while we were still “We are not the sinners, Christ died for solution to the orphan us.” Yet what would it take for Emma and Dave to set aside their nervousness about the future to wholeheartedly imitate the sacrifice that God had made for them? Was it even possible? Again, another portion of scripture popped into Emma’s mind as she weighed out the pros and cons: ‘…with God all things are possible’ (Matthew 19:26).
crisis, the cross is. It is the solution to our crisis.” Dr. Russell Moore, author of Adopted for Life.
the early challenges and up-and-down emotions. By the grace of God, our feelings are slowly but surely catching up with our commitment!” As soon as Emma shared the news with her friend about their decision to adopt, her friend was
ecstatic, but she did offer this advice: “Remember that God is our heavenly Father who has good purposes for our lives, to make us more like Jesus – trust His sovereign hand and be willing to be moulded!” Upon hanging up the phone, Emma felt as though she was ready for whatever God had planned for their family. The next day, Dave landed in a similar conversation with another dad, while pushing kids simultaneously on the park swings. The topic again turned to the unknowns, and the Christian man with whom Dave was conversing laid it out, plain and simple. “Look,” he said frankly. “It’s not your sense of noble duty to society that’s going to get you out of bed at two o’clock in the morning when the kid is crying after a bad dream. It has to be – it can only be – for the sake of the gospel.” Dave considered these words of advice thoughtfully, grateful for the wealth of experience of another Christian brother who had already walked the densely crowded path that lay before him. But what if it turned out to be a disaster? What if it was all just a big mistake? No, they had to do it. After all, they had the privilege of having Christ in their hearts and in their homes. It would be selfish to keep Him to themselves. But surely they could rather just volunteer their time at an orphanage every
Saturday? Surely that would make a difference, right? It would make a difference, but as another parent had reminded them, “discipleship takes place in the home.” How could they pass up this opportunity to live out the love of Christ on a daily basis to a child who might not otherwise be exposed to the gospel?
PART OF THE FAMILY Four days later, through no small feat of God’s provision, they met their new son for the first time. Both Emma and Dave were overwhelmed by the way they felt when they held their new baby in their arms for the first time. A few days later, Dave confided to Emma, “It felt the same as it did when I first held the other two kids after they were born!” “For me, too!” Emma agreed. The early weeks were difficult, but the Lord was gracious. Dave and Emma were amazed by the way their church family rallied around them during this time, providing an abundance of supplies, resources and support. The moms and tots group which Emma was a part of even threw them a surprise “Welcome Party,” in lieu of a regular baby shower. There were numerous challenges, and Emma found that she had to rely on the Lord’s grace more than ever before – and yet the blessings outweighed the trials. Months later, Emma stumbled upon a wonderful
book called Adopted for Life by Russell Moore. In the first chapter of the book, Emma read, “Not everyone is called to adopt. No one wants parents who adopt children out of the same sense of duty with which they may give to the building fund for the new church gymnasium. But all of us have a stake in the adoption issue, because Jesus does. He is the one who tells us his Father is also ‘Father to the fatherless’ (Ps. 68:5). He is the one who insists on calling ‘the least of these’ His ‘brothers’ (Matt. 25:40) and who tells us that the first time we hear His voice, He will be asking us if we did the same.” Emma closed the book and considered all of the people who had poured into their own lives before, during and after the adoption process. Without a second thought, she realised, “Yes. Adoption is something that everyone can support and be a part of, whether they actually adopt or not.” Author note: This article is comprised of a compilation of experiences and quotes from several real-life adoptive families in South Africa.
LEFT: Aaron and Nichole Marshall with their son Zurich
Our motivation for adoption flows out of God’s love for us and our gratitude for His gospel. Adoption is a powerful illustration of the Gospel. God adopted us into His family through the ultimate sacrifice of His Son. This is key for us, and we really tried to root our motivation here throughout the entire adoption process and still do on a daily basis. Obligation, duty, guilt, or emotion would never suffice. Out of the overflow of what God has done and continues doing for us, is our motivation for giving ourselves to a child in need. God pursues us as orphans and adopts us into His family. The adoption process showed us a beautiful picture of how God adopted us into His family. We are so undeserving and unworthy, but yet He still pursues us and loves us as His very own. We are beyond grateful for this beautiful picture that we are reminded of daily through His sovereignty and through the entire process of adopting our son Zurich. We fought hard for two long years until we were home with our son from Ethiopia and we would do it ten times over again. It has changed our family for the better and we can’t imagine our lives without him. Our God is bigger than we can ever imagine. The adoption process showed us what a big God we serve. There are so many orphans and children without adequate care all over the world. Ethiopia alone has over five million orphans. God is bigger than we ever can imagine and He knows each child by name. He has called us to care for widows and orphans (James 1:27). Adoption is such a beautiful way to display the power of the Gospel in our own lives and what Christ has done for us on the cross. We are reminded of these truths daily and grateful for the unending grace that is poured into our lives. We have been so blessed by adoption in our family and hope to adopt again in the near future.
THE LONG JOURNEY HOME
aron and Nichole began their adoption process in February 2010 and brought their son home to US soil in February 2012, after a gruelling battle to pass court in Ethiopia. Nichole says, “Zurich was actually abandoned in a ditch by the side of the road, just down the street from an orphanage, when he was about one month old. There is no trace of biological family for him that was found. We are grateful to now be his forever family.” She adds that they were in Zurich, Switzerland, around the time when he was born. “We felt like it was a strong name for one of the wealthiest cities in the world, and such a beautiful picture of how God brought this sweet little boy from being abandoned, into our family and ultimately His family of wealth.” ADOPTED FOR LIFE by Dr. Russell Moore Nichole Marshall says: “It is a gospel-centred book on adoption that truly changed our lives.”
3 THINGS WE LEARNT THROUGH THE ADOPTION OF OUR SON, ZURICH ABRAHAM MARSHALL:
Responding to the desire for safety in a crime-ravaged land By Kate Motaung
t was ten thirty in the morning as I unlocked the front door to our home and ushered my three kids inside. They had barely set foot in the house when they pleaded, “Can we go play outside, Mom?” “Sure,” I answered, and walked through the lounge to unlock the glass door leading to the backyard. “That’s odd,” I thought to myself, “This key never used to stick before. I wonder why it’s so difficult to open today.” As I struggled to get the key to turn, my gaze fell to the window on my left. Broken glass. The reality did not register. I continued to fidget with the key. More broken glass, on the floor below the window. Finally the reality sunk in. There had been an attempted break-in. My mind kicked into full gear as my eyes rapidly assessed the damage. Thankfully, the burglar bars were still in tact, so it did not seem likely that anyone had actually succeeded in entering the house. Still, my heart pounded. I stepped cautiously through each room, checking behind every door, determined to make sure that we didn’t have any unwanted guests in our midst. Then I went for the phone. My husband was speaking at a conference an hour away that day, out of cell phone reach. Unsure as to whom I was supposed to call first – landlady? Insurance? Police? – I found myself dialing our pastor’s number to ask for his advice in the situation. As I held the receiver to my ear, recounting the events to our pastor, my eldest son interrupted me: “Mom, there’s a guy in our backyard!” I told my pastor,
who told me to call the police. Within seconds I had corralled the kids out of the lounge into their bedroom and locked the door behind us, phone in hand. In a mild state of panic, I told the kids to get under the bed, and I dialed the police, my eyes fixed on the burglar crouching against a wall in our backyard. While we waited for the police to arrive, I tried my best to maintain a calm outward appearance for the sake of my kids, though my heart thumped against the wall of my chest. Did he know we were inside? Could he hear me talking through the window? Was he armed? What would he do when the police came? How could I shield my kids from this reality, when there was no way for me to conceal it? All these questions raced
Finally the police arrived, and to cut a very long story somewhat shorter, the perpetrator managed to hide in the shower of our granny flat for three hours before finally jumping over our wall into the neighbour’s yard and escaping without being caught. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep a wink that night. The glass remained broken, and the wind howled relentlessly from sunset to sunrise. Of course, in my mind’s eye, every single blowing leaf and cracking twig was the sound of a ‘bad guy’ trying to gain access to our abode. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I knew I should be thinking about other things, but my elevated blood pressure and echoing pulse prevented my mind from being calmed. I finally got up the next morning and saw my reaction in a fresh light. I could not live like this. I could not live the rest of my life crippled by fear. I had seen it happen before to friends of mine, and I was determined that
it would not happen to me. I refused to be imprisoned in my own home because of the thoughtless whim of a teenager to snatch a wallet or two. But how was I supposed to rein in my fear? Should I change the locks on our doors; get stronger burglar bars; add spikes to the tops of our existing concrete perimeter walls? Would any of those changes get to the root of the issue and calm my anxious heart?
DOCTRINE THAT DEFINES AND REFINES A Christian friend of mine was mugged in broad daylight on her way to work one morning, with multitudes of people milling around. Recounting the aftermath of the event, she admits, “I was angry and hurt and convinced myself it was alright to feel the way I did. ‘It’s unfair,’ I thought, ‘that I should be expected to accept being mugged as a ‘normal’ South African experience and just get on with life.’ Encouragement from family and friends helped me realise I could not carry the bitterness around with me.” Crime and traumatic events will affect different people in different ways. For my friend, the
Lord used her mugging experience to highlight the fact that each one of us, regardless of background or history, is fallen before God. She writes, “The whole incident, interestingly enough, made me reflect on fundamental Christian truths. We live in a fallen world where crime and pain is a reality. The realisation that struck me most was a direct conviction from the Lord that even though I am a church-going, tax-paying citizen, I am as wretched in my transgressions as the man who assaulted me. Before the Lord, we are both sinners. I have been saved by grace.” After our attempted break-in, I, too, began thinking about the character of God, and the promise of salvation. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that even if something did happen to me, I would be much better off – enjoying eternity with my Creator. The following passage from Matthew 10 came to mind, as I considered the fact that mortal man can only do so much harm: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your
through my mind as the seconds loudly ticked by on my watch, the burglar unmoving. I prayed out loud with the kids, in an attempt to calm my own nerves as well as theirs, and to direct our thoughts to our Almighty God for comfort. We prayed for our safety – but mostly, we prayed for the guy outside.
REFLECT RENEW RELAX
Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-31). Another related passage that helped me was Psalm 56: 3-4: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” I quickly realised that the Word of God was going to be a very effective tool in putting my mind at ease. I decided then and there to find a handful of verses to memorise and meditate on to combat this mounting post-breakin anxiety. I won’t pretend as though these verses were magical in any way – I still had moments of tension and gripping fear. It took several days after the incident before I was able to confidently hang washing on the line at the back, in full view of where the perpetrator had hidden. We all know there is no way to prevent crimes from being committed against us. Bad things can happen to anyone at anytime. But as Christians, we have something that no one else has – a firm belief in the sovereignty of God. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD What happens when bad things do happen to us? Do we let Satan win and just throw in the towel on our faith in an Almighty God? What about Romans 8:28? “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him ….” What? How could a crime be considered good? No, it doesn’t say that all things are good … it says that God works all things for the good of His people. It’s often through traumatic experiences that the rubber hits the road and our faith is tested. Do we really believe that God could use even a mugging, a break-in or a hijacking for the good of those who love Him? We may never see the good that comes from a particularly unpleasant event – but it doesn’t diminish the truth of God’s character and promises. In my friend’s case, the Lord caused her to reflect on His sovereignty as it relates to His vengeance and justice. She writes, “I was greatly encouraged by many scriptures detailing God’s sovereignty over my life and his neverfaltering hand over me. Through it all, though, this passage still speaks to me: ‘Do not avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’’ (Romans 12:19).
You see, in South Africa where crime is rampant and we are faced with these situations all the time, it’s easy to believe: “I did NOT deserve that!”; and it’s easy to feel vengeful. I needed to remember that I don’t actually deserve anything, but God is gracious. I do not deserve to be His daughter, but He accepted me freely and justice in Him is perfect. As John Piper said, ‘God is a God of perfect justice. He sees every wrong done. His memory is infallible. And he will repay with perfect justice.’ But the justice belongs to Him, not me.” LIVING IN THE LAND OF “WHAT IF’S” As difficult as it was, I refused to let one incident make me paranoid for months. Not only for myself, but for my kids as well – would it be fair for me to lock them inside, just in case something might happen? If that were my approach, I would never be able to travel in a car, for fear that it might crash. If the line of thinking is followed to its logical conclusion, nobody would be able to do anything or go anywhere for fear of the “what if’s.” We all struggle at certain times and in different ways. Parents will always fear for their children’s safety. Women will often be fearful when walking alone at night. Don’t get
me wrong – I’m not saying we should be unwise or careless.
FINE-TUNED THEOLOGY I heard an account of a woman whose husband died in the hospital emergency room. Following the tragedy, she said, “The hospital is no place to sort out your theology. It has to be in place before the emergency strikes.” The same could be said for crime. We should prepare ourselves in advance, so that we are ready to cling to the truth should the need arise. How much do we depend on our burglar bars, our alarm systems, our panic buttons, our cans of pepper spray – and how much do we depend on the Lord our God? Is Psalm 20:7 really true for us? “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD
I’m also very aware that, particularly in South Africa, horrendous crimes take place every day, and the lingering trauma will likely have no quick fixes. It may take years to recover from a particularly traumatic event. But it is possible, with God’s help. Above all, we have to believe that nothing – absolutely nothing – happens apart from the perfect, sovereign control of our Lord and Saviour.
our God.” Honestly speaking, do we worship safety and security more than the One who can provide it? A few days before our break-in, I read the following passage:
“I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretches out the heavens and who lays the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction?” (Isaiah 51:12-13) As we consider our own fears and anxieties, let’s reflect carefully on this passage and honestly consider:
In whom or what do I find my comfort?
In what ways do I fear mere mortals?
In what ways do I forget the Lord my maker?
In what ways do I lack faith in the power and sovereignty of my Creator?
In what ways do I live in constant terror every day? From what do I need to repent of before God and ask for forgiveness? When I asked my friend what advice she would give to someone who has had an experience with crime, she replied: “Know that the Lord is sovereign. If, for some reason, He allows you to go through a painful experience, He will carry you through it.” That’s it, folks. It may sound easier said than done, but with God, all things are possible. May He help each one of us to strengthen our faith in Him.
Three’s a crowd
Marriage is often described as a tool for us to see our selfish hearts. What happens when you add a baby to the mix? By Liza Ender The other night we had an all-nighter; not the self-inflicted kind I remember from yesteryear; not the result of work left ‘til the last minute, nor (sadly) because of a great celebration. Our youngest little one was vomiting for most of the night. Two nights on, and we had a repeat of the whole thing with our three-year old. A few days later, I was down... Now, I am very aware that for some mothers, the all-nighters from colicky babies or sick children are more the norm than the exception, so I recognise that this experience is mild in comparison. I tell you about it simply because in between clean up ‘shifts’ and efforts not to grumble and delve into self-pity; I reflected on how motherhood, in fact parenthood, is really a pathway to putting others first... always. Every minute of the day, even the minutes between 12am and 4am, it’s my life, my money, my time, my body, my food, my sleep... for yours! It begins before we’re even aware of it. When a woman falls pregnant, her organs shift a little higher up every week to make space for this growing life. God has so wisely created our bodies to seamlessly jump into ‘selfless sacrifice’; why is it then that after the ‘honeymoon’ period, our hearts seem to take forever to shift into gear? SERVING NOT BEING SERVED... LIKE NEVER BEFORE! Three’s a crowd? Truth be told, even two’s a crowd when we’re called to hold another’s interests as more important than our own. When my husband and I got married, we were told that sharing a life together would be a platform to see how utterly selfish our hearts are, more so than we’d probably noticed before. That certainly was the case. In our experience the same can be said when it comes to having babies... only, on steroids! No matter how easy or colicky the baby, how compliant or rebellious the toddler, your ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ and ‘creature comforts’ as individuals, and obviously as a couple, come last. In our experience of God’s kindness, the love He has placed in our hearts has at times made it feel easy as pie to deny ourselves for one of these precious little people – but
certainly not all the time! As we serve and sacrifice daily, an exhaustion and resentment can start to grow in our hearts... and whilst we probably see much of that reflected in our speech and attitudes toward our children, it undoubtedly causes distance and difficulty towards one another in marriage. KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS Getting married and having a family is such a wonderful gift and blessing from the Lord. However, it does not bring the contentment nor the fulfilment that can only be found in a relationship with Him. In fact, marriage and family are both gifts that point to Him. The family unit is another one of God’s genius designs for proclaiming His wonderful salvation available in Jesus.
If we know and belong to Jesus, our behaviour needs to show it, and for married women this looks like being taught and trained “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands.” Why? According to Titus ch2:5 “so that no-one will malign the word of God”; and in v10 “so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive.” (Take a look at Ephesians 5 and Titus 1& 2 to read more) Marriage and family are God’s idea, and so we turn to Him for the enabling power to live life His way; life lived the good way – in fact, the best way. Titus tells us “Our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ... gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:13 and 14) Jesus gave Himself for you. Sacrifice and service is tough, and I believe motherhood requires at times the deepest levels of selflessness we might ever know. But no matter how much we might serve, we will never have served and sacrificed more than our King Jesus. Fix your eyes on Him. Imitate His example. Draw your strength from Him. Pray for wisdom, pray for more of his unlimited patience and then pray some more! Trust His promises and His endless goodness.
When we love and respect our husbands and teach and train our children, we are pointing them to Jesus. Even the watching world gets a glimpse of our God; His goodness, wisdom and rescue mission.
My marriage is having a baby! How will a child affect your marriage? There are lots of answers to this question, but let’s look at five: FOCUS CHANGE You will no longer be able to give your spouse all your personal attention. Both you and your spouse must commit to not take this reality personally. You are not neglecting your partner, just taking some time that you would have spent with each other to devote to your new baby. However, it’s important to continue to make time together a top priority. Infants take around-the-clock care, so what happens to your marriage relationship during this time? Ask God to give you a realistic glimpse of what your current priority list looks like and if any adjustments should be made before the baby arrives.
LESS TIME TOGETHER Making time for just the two of you (without your baby) may become your new creative project. It was so easy before to be together. There were no distractions, but soon things will be different. It will take more effort from you and your spouse to make sure that you are continuing to nurture your relationship. Consider regular date nights or spending time together when your child is asleep. Remember, you can’t have a growing relationship with someone if you neglect to spend time nurturing that relationship.
ONENESS How in tune you feel with your spouse has the potential to decrease after having a child. But this doesn’t need to be the case! Remember that technically you are one. Genesis 2:24 says, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Both you and your spouse MUST make the effort to continue nurturing your marriage relationship. Your oneness will affect the life of your child. It really will. Think about your own parents. Did they enjoy one another? What did that look like to you? What does enjoying each other look like in your own relationship? How do you know when your spouse is enjoying you?
HOBBIES Now that you have a child, you may not find time to train for a minimarathon, or your husband may not find time to rebuild the engine on his ‘66 Mustang convertible. Both of you may discover that your hobbies and interests change to include your child. Consider using free time as family time or take small family outings, such as trips to the zoo, picnics in the park, or shopping trips to the store. Yes, even your shopping trips will change. Although you may increase in shared interests, continue to hold on to some essential individual interests too. Try to create a healthy balance between both.
FREEDOMS Both you and your spouse will have less time to do your own thing. You may even reminisce about the days before you had kids, days when you could visit your friends without packing up a minivan. Freedom changes do not have to mean life sentences for either of you. New beginnings will fall in place. This can be a difficult transition for some men (and some women too). Pray that you and your spouse will be able to release individual freedoms in order to gain new family devotion together. Your spouse plays an important role in how you will parent. We know that within marriage we “become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NIV) with our spouses, and we also know that “a house divided against itself will fall” (Luke 11:17, NIV). So if we are one we must act as one and parent as one. The only other option is to fail based on division. Without God, it isn’t possible to create the oneness He intends. But with Him and with pursuit, we “can do all things” (Philippians 4:13). This content appeared on www.growthtrac.com and is an excerpt used with permission from Rebecca Dawson’s book Help! I’m a Mom To Be (Blue Room Publications and Production, LLC).
CRISP, FRESH, HEALTHY. NOTHING QUITE SAYS “SUMMER” LIKE A GREAT SALAD... By Lara Demnitz
I am a huge fan of salads. I judge a restaurant or food establishment based on their presentation and freshness of their salads. If a
restaurant puts that much care and attention into the most simple
of their dishes, then you know that their more complicated dishes will
surely be a win. That or clearly they have a genius in the cold kitchen.
You generally can’t go too wrong with a salad if you keep the balance of flavours right and follow these simple rules Always use fresh ingredients If you have some dodgy looking veg, use it in stews, where it is okay for them to be limp and soggy. Salads need to be crisp and fresh.
Wash your ingredients well Spinach and fresh lettuce are nefariously known to have sand and grit hidden in their leaves. Wash vegetables really well to make sure that they’re dirtfree. You WILL notice the difference.
Don’t over complicate with too many flavours Choose a theme, i.e. Chinese style, Thai flavours, or Greek etc. and stick to those type of flavours. A
“Greek influenced Chinese salad with a Malaysian style barbecue blue cheese dressing” is a bit like experiencing culture shock on a food scale.
Keep a balance of textures A good salad will have crisp veg, something with a crispy texture or an intense crunch, and then softer, easily chewable items. You don’t want a salad that has too many crunchy textures, as it will feel like you are chomping on gravel.
If in doubt keep most of the ingredients bland Good salads work because they don’t all have intenseflavoured ingredients. Lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes are generally soft
flavours, and are enhanced by one or two intense flavours, such as a spicy meat or vegetable, and a flavourful dressing.
Don’t experiment on guests Rather save that for the comfort of your own home. If you are entertaining, use a recipe that you have used before that has been successful.
Serve the dressing last Most dressings contain an acid and an oil. The acid will firm up the salad ingredients, and start to break them down, and the oil will make them floppy. Dress your salad just before serving.
Roasted beetroot, butternut, feta and bacon salad with toasted pumpkin seeds Serves 8 1kg beetroot (about 10 medium ones) 1kg butternut, peeled and chopped 250g bacon, diced 200g feta, drained 100g pumpkin seeds 50ml balsamic vinegar 2T brown sugar Olive oil Salt Pepper 400g salad leaves 1 cucumber 150g baby tomatoes (optional)
Preheat oven to 150째C.
*TIP: Wash your hands thoroughly and spread a small amount of oil on your hands, rubbing it in to your fingernails. This prevents the beetroot juices from staining your hands.* Peel the beetroot and wash them well. Chop into quarters or sixths for the larger beets. Place in an oven proof dish or on a tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Roast for an hour. Mix the balsamic and sugar together and pour over the beetroot, place back in the oven for a further half an hour. Peel and chop the butternut and place in a separate oven proof dish or on a tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Place in the oven when the beetroot has already roasted for 50 minutes. When the veg are almost finished, with 15 minutes roasting time remaining, crumble the feta over the butternut, and sprinkle the bacon on top, and continue roasting. Wash the salad leaves and set aside.
Slice the cucumber and add to the leaves. Splash the salad leaves with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and toss. Season and then divide between eight salad bowls or plates. In a hot pan, toast the pumpkin seeds until they brown slightly and start to pop. Divide the beetroot, butternut, bacon and feta between the eight bowls and serve warm with more balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top.
Strawberry, feta and black pepper salad Serves 4 120g salad leaves Half a cucumber 100g baby tomatoes 2 rounds of feta, cubed 8 strawberries, quartered 5 radishes Olive oil Balsamic glaze Black pepper
Preheat oven to 180째C. Wash the salad leaves and arrange on a plate or in a bowl. Halve the cucumber, and arrange on top of the salad leaves. Scatter the washed baby tomatoes over the salad. Cube the feta, and quarter the strawberries, and arrange on the salad. Finely slice the radishes and layer on top. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Grind with a generous amount of black pepper and serve immediately.
Warm sticky chicken salad with almonds and apricots and a honey and mustard dressing Serves 4 For the chicken: 1t olive oil 250-300g (2) chicken breasts, de-skinned and deboned 2T apricot jam 2T teriyaki or soy sauce 1T sesame oil 40g (12) Turkish apricots For the salad:
For the dressing:
100g salad leaves
25ml olive oil
1/4 cucumber, sliced
20ml lemon juice
100g baby tomatoes, washed and halved
1/4 red onion, sliced
2t wholegrain or plain Dijon mustard
40g toasted almond flakes
Preheat oven to 180째C. Wash and cut the salad ingredients accordingly. Place on two separate plates and refrigerate. Make the dressing:
Cook for a further two minutes and then add the apricot jam, the teriyaki or soy sauce, and the sesame oil. Cook until the sauce begins to bubble, about one more minute.
Mix the olive oil and lemon juice together. Whisk in the honey and mustard. Continue whisking until it forms a smooth, slightly thick dressing. Taste and adjust according to your palate - I like my dressings to be acidic and not too sweet. Set aside. Make the chicken:
Check that the chicken is cooked all the way through, and has no pink shades in the centre. Spoon the cooked chicken and apricots over the prepared salad ingredients and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.
Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Heat a saucepan on the stove and add the olive oil. When the pan is hot add the chicken.
Drizzle over the dressing and serve.
Stir-fry until beginning to brown, about three minutes, and then add the sliced apricots.
Fondant hearts an edible project for valentines day Surprise your sweetheart with these handmade conversation hearts this Valentine’s Day. Not only do they taste and look sweet, but you don’t need to be queen of the kitchen to whip them up – in fact, you don’t need any baking or cooking skills at all! By Carin Bevan
YOU WILL NEED Marshmallows Icing sugar Food colouring and flavouring (optional) Rolling pin Heart-shaped cookie cutter Toothpick
STEP 1 Put a handful of marshmallows in a microwave-safe bowl and splash with water. If you’re using flavouring, now’s the time to add a few drops.
Tip: Our favourite flavour is caramel essence. We added about 1 1/2 teaspoons to 7 marshmallows. Be careful not too add too much at this stage, as some of the flavours can be quite strong – you can always put in more when you add the icing sugar in Step 4.
Microwave on high for a few seconds at a time – the marshmallows should just begin to melt and become puffy.
The plan is to make the dough soft, not sticky, and easy to roll out. When you’re done, the dough ball should look like pizza dough or soft play dough.
STEP 3 Stir the marshmallows with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until smooth.
Tip: You can add the food colouring now – just remember that the colour will fade when you add the icing sugar. Or you can add it when you knead the dough (see Step 6.) Adding it now is ideal for liquid colour, while adding it in Step 6 works well for colouring gel. You can always put in more when you add the icing sugar in.
STEP 7 Roll out the dough with a rolling pin. If the dough sticks to the pin, sprinkle it with icing sugar. We rolled out our dough to about half a centimetre thick, but it’s up to you to decide how thick you want your fondant hearts to be.
STEP 8 Cut out the heart shapes.
STEP 4 Stir in some icing sugar, one spoonful at a time. The goal is to turn the mixture into a soft dough that you can roll into a ball, so add enough sugar to make the mixture less sticky, but not so much that it becomes hard and stiff.
Tip: As you add the icing sugar, taste the mix to make sure that the flavouring is still strong enough. Add more if needed.
STEP 5 When you can easily shape the dough into a ball without it sticking to your hands, place it on a table or baking sheet that has been sprinkled with icing sugar. (This is to make sure that the dough doesn’t stick to the surface.)
STEP 6a Dip your hands in icing sugar and start kneading. Do this by rolling your fist and knuckles over the dough or by squeezing it through your fingers.
STEP 9 With a toothpick, write short messages on your hearts. It may take some practice to get the letters small and neat, but making mistakes is no problem – if you’re not happy with the result, just scrunch up the dough, roll it out, cut a new shape and try again.
STEP 10 Leave the hearts out for a few hours, or overnight if possible, to make them slightly harder and crunchy. Fondant hearts are very sweet, so serve them with dark chocolate mousse and coffee or pop them on a chocolate cupcake. Or put them in a pretty gift box, bag or tin and give them to your sweetheart!
Jaci Mun-Gavin: A parent WITH A purpose...
This devoted wife and hands-on mom to six children is a robotics engineer by qualification, but finds being married to the leader of a church, raising her kids and writing books now keeps her busier and more challenged than a career in engineering ever did. Together with her husband Richard, the family â€“ Jada Grace (10), Kiara (7), Jed (5), Rourke (4), Kade (2) and Tyden (8 months) make their home on the Kwa-Zulu Natal South Coast. Jaci chats to Radiant about her latest book release...
Can you tell us, in a nutshell, what your book Purposeful Parenting is about?
What inspired you to write on this subject and how did the book come to be? God tells us that, of all His creation, people are the ‘work’ that is created in His image. And I believe, of all the things people do, parenting children is the one picture that most accurately represents how God relates to us, and how we can relate to Him. This book is about representing God to the world in a way that is a true reflection of His kindness, love, and gentleness, so that our children, and people who witness our parenting, might be drawn to want to know their Heavenly Father because they like what they see in us as parents. How has God challenged you personally, as you wrote on this topic? God is so kind! The opening chapters of the book that explore the purpose of parenting and why we would ‘subject’ ourselves to the incredible strain and hard work was written while I was in the throes of feeling horribly nauseas with my 6th pregnancy - and looking after five little ones! My question to God, “Remind me why I am doing this?!” was very real and personal, and He answered with such astounding clarity and really inspired me with a strong sense of the usefulness and incredible value of what I was doing..
I absolutely adore being with my kids. I love reading to them. I love sitting on the floor and playing with them. I love going for walks with them. I find that if I put aside everything ELSE I have to do and just concentrate on being with my children, then they’re not hard work at all. It’s trying to get the rest of life done with six kids trailing along that is hard work. Are you working on any new material at the moment? Yes! I feel like my brain and my heart are going to burst from all the ideas God is pouring into me. It’s trying to get them down on paper one at a time that is going to take a while! But I’ll just have to pick one and hopefully I’ll have something more for you to read (or watch - one of the ideas is a play!) soon.
If you had just one piece of advice to give new parents, what would it be? Love covers a multitude of sins… and errors! Hold them while you can and number your days correctly - they will fly by! South African readers can purchase Purposeful Parenting from www.publisher.co.za for R114.00 (http://www.publisher.co.za/cart/details/209/41/parenting/purposeful-parenting.html) or internationally (and for Kindle) it is available on Amazon. (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=jaci+mun-gavin)
Giveaway!! Radiant is giving away a copy of Purposeful Parenting by Jaci Mun-Gavin. To enter, simply send your name and postal address to email@example.com with the book’s title in the subject line. Competition closes 28 February 2013.
Purposeful Parenting is a book to give parents a vision and direction for the why and how of parenting God’s way. It gives parents a reason to start or continue down this daunting road, and lots of helpful biblical rules and guidelines to producing children that will fulfill their God-ordained place and role in the world.
What do you enjoy doing to relax on your own/with your family?
A DAY IN THE LIFE... Loki Swanepoel chats to Radiant about being a missionary in rural Kenya...
Can you share a bit about when and how your family came to be living where you are?
One of the things that attracted us to each other when my husband Grant and I met at Bible school was the fact that we were both very interested in missions. After we got married, God used various older Christians to encourage us in our desire to pursue cross-cultural missions. Someone specifically recommended to us that we should consider Kenya as a mission field. My husband had grown up in Kenya as a missionary kid, since his parents have been doing translation and literacy work here for many years. We came to Northern Kenya as Bible teachers/missionaries in 2004 and spent the first six years here ministering in Korr, a small town in the heart of the Rendille people, and reaching out to several of the nomadic pastoralist groups in the area. In the middle of 2011 God surprised us with a new assignment and we moved to a different people group, the Samburu. Before we were living in the desert; now we live in a green valley full of magnificent acacia trees, but our passion is still to advance the gospel in Africa through applied
What are some of the simple things we take for granted that you and the people around you do not have access to? For me as a missionary wife there is no supermarket, no post office, no bank, no tarmac road for many hours’ drive, no hospital (just a very basic little clinic in the neighbouring town) and for the last year our closest colleagues and Western friends were at least two hours’ drive away from us. Where we live now, internet is a huge struggle, so emails get typed with a finger on my phone. But our lives are nothing of a struggle compared to that of the local people. They live in tiny, dim-lit huts. They have to carry all their water to their homes and look for firewood to cook their often meagre meals. There are many people groups around where polygamy and giving very young girls away in marriage is the order of the day. Very few children are in schools and the vast majority of the adult population cannot read or write. Life expectancy is low and all of the pastoralist groups up here feel marginalised and ignored by the majority of their countrymen.
What does your life look like on a day-to-day basis?
Our main aim at the moment is to equip the leaders of the young church in Kurungu, so that they can better reach, lead and teach their own people. Grant meets weekly with the elders and I
with the ladies (mamas, as they are called here) so we can study the scriptures together. We are trying to build relationships with the local people in any way possible. That means frequent medical trips to a nearby town where there is a clinic, involvement in one of the local schools as a board member, welding broken motorbikes for some of the local men who are trying to earn a living transporting goods, or employing people in some of the various ongoing projects on our compound and visiting folks at their homes whenever the opportunity arises. I am first a wife and a mom, so most of my time goes into normal housewife stuff. On weekdays, I cook our meals (no corner café with convenience foods or a take-out restaurant in our one horse town), home school my two six-year-old girls while keeping an eye and or ear open for my two two-year old boys, and attend tea-time (national institution in Kenya at ten every morning) where I have an opportunity to talk to our workers and listen to Grant sharing from the scriptures. I have to communicate almost exclusively in Swahili with people around me, which means talking feels like work sometimes, even though I am an extrovert. Since I am a
FROM FAR LEFT: Grant Loki and family, Grant preaching, Kurungu church, Grant teaching devotions
normal sinner and there are often challenging situations, I spend a good bit of time repenting too:)
What has surprised you most about missionary life? On the one hand, it has been much harder at times than I had anticipated and that in a very unglamorous way. Sitting under a thorn bush somewhere on the plains waiting and praying for safety while your husband fixes the car doesn’t sound glamorous and it isn’t:) Getting all kinds of horrible tummy bugs for more than a year when we first arrived had no particular adventure attached to it. Just like any major change, for example, getting married or becoming a parent, becoming a missionary is another chance to discover how selfish one is. I read in a biography of a lady traveling by boat to the Far East long ago how an older missionary got all the young newcomers together and told them “Now then, girls, when you arrive on the mission field all the scum in your soul is going to rise to the top”. A bit of a come-down for someone who has been told by many that she is so
brave and spiritual and they would never be able to do the same. But wonderful because it makes the cross seem so much more precious! On the other hand, missionary life is an amazing “career”, with so many opportunities. We have had a chance to learn many new skills since we came to Kenya. We have had to learn everything from installing solar lighting and how-to-buy-all-your-foodfor-three-months-in-one-go to drawing up detailed financial plans for donors and attending committee meetings where some points have been on the agenda for the last twelve years. We’ve learned new languages and cultures, eaten new foods and seen some breath-taking scenery. We’ve also made friends with people whom we would never have met had we stayed at home.
What is your vision and prayer for the work that your family is involved in, currently and in future, and how can we pray for you? As we live here longer, we are more and more aware of the fact that there are no quick and easy roads to a mature, indigenous church. That is
the desire of our hearts - to see mature Christian leaders leading the church in a godly way. In people groups with such a high illiteracy rate, especially amongst adults, this is fraught with difficulty but God wants some of these people in His kingdom so we trust He will make a way. Our prayer is that us living here will make the gospel attractive to people. My whole ministry philosophy as a young mom is summed up in Titus 2:3-5. I pray that my being kind and loving, busy at home, showing hospitality and respecting my husband’s leadership will commend the gospel to people. We covet your prayers for the things mentioned above; and that we would be faithful and that God will show us the good works that He has prepared for us to walk in every day. Please also pray for our communication project that we started recently in order to get reliable internet here in the bush. I love the charge of Paul to Timothy and if you pray just this verse regularly for us it would make such a difference. “Keep your head in all situations, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil all the duties of your ministry”.
Singing for the
redeemed Courtney Jonas has achieved a lot in her 23 short years. In addition to performing roles in High School Musical and Evita straight after graduation, last year saw the exciting release of her first solo album We Are The Redeemed. Following a career as a gospel artist has always been her dream, so Radiant chatted a little more to this up-and-coming star about her musical journey thus far...
I was very fortunate to grow up in a Christian home – my mom was devoted to the Lord and I even went to a Christian school, so I was surrounded by a Godfilled environment. Obviously though, there comes a time when you need to make a decision for yourself, which for me happened at an early age by God’s grace. Around that time I started picking up Christian CDs and I would turn them over to see the label of the recording studio, and the dream of one day being signed as a singer and songwriter began to grow.
You’ve achieved success both in the secular entertainment industry as well as in the Christian music industry. Was there a point where you needed to decide it was one or the other? There definitely came a point where I had to make a decision. Just after I graduated from the Waterfront Theatre College I got offered my roles in High School Musical and subsequently Evita, which were just the most amazing experiences. They fell into place really quickly and easily and I believe God gave me those opportunities. But being a solid Christian in the secular music and theatre industry doesn’t come without its struggles, and there came a point where I knew I needed to pursue the gospel else I would get caught up in musical theatre. My childhood dream of being signed as a gospel singer and songwriter came true in 2011 when my first major deal came through, starting with the iShine Southern Starz TV show (an extension of America’s enormous tween ministry, flighted on DSTV’s ONE Gospel channel). My career direction is now firmly rooted in the Christian music industry and I haven’t looked back.
There’s no doubt about the struggles a Christian faces in the secular entertainment world. Are there any particular challenges that come with being an artist in the Christian music industry? As a Christian artist you are expected to be perfect in every way, which obviously isn’t possible as we’re human! It can be challenging but at the same time it’s just a reminder to strive to be a godly example to your fans. This is especially true when it comes to being a role model for the youth – you don’t want to shame God in any way and ultimately be responsible for leading them astray in their impressions of what a Christian life should look like.
You released your album in 2012 so that was a huge step. What are your plans for 2013? Yes, releasing my first solo album, “We Are The Redeemed” towards the end of last year was a major highlight for me and from what I hear the album sales are doing well and I hope they continue to in the year ahead. I am actually expecting a baby in the next couple of days (!) so the year ahead will be very much about motherhood, and writing new songs as I’m inspired by this new journey. I feel that becoming a mom can only enhance my work and I’m looking forward to carrying on, keeping my eyes fixed on God.
Win!! Christian Art Media is giving 2 CD hampers away to lucky Radiant readers. Each hamper will contain We Are The Redeemed, the Oslo Gospel Choir album Stay Amazed and iShine Southern Starz (all featuring Courtney). Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “CD hamper” in the subject line.
I read that you decided you wanted to be a gospel artist at the age of nine. When did you become a Christian?
Christian Meyn at Free Digital Photos.net
So here’s the thing. About a year ago I had coffee with a friend. She’s wisdom with skin on. She shared an idea that God had been evolving through her experiences. It might not be brand new to you, but it was to me. She said: “Your greatest strengths can so quickly – too easily – become your greatest weaknesses.”
The brightness that leaves the deepest shadow The paradox deceives us. We think that our weaknesses are opposite to our strengths. So we think that our weaknesses are our greatest weakness. (D’oh.) But they’re not. We know our weaknesses. (Mostly.) It’s obvious when we suck at something. And so when it comes to our weaknesses we operate in humility. We graciously avoid – apologise – defer. It can be quite beautiful to be bad at something. It gives us a chance to celebrate someone else. Point the glory away from ourselves without being false or self-deprecating. It’s our strengths that make us dangerous. Dangerous to the enemy if we play them right. Dangerous to ourselves and others and the Kingdom if we don’t. Our real weaknesses – our blind spots that have us pushing on oblivious and self-assured – are our overdeveloped strengths. Which means, the incredible, city-set-on-a-hill things about you that draw people to Jesus can be just the things that push people away. I blogged here http://growyounginside.com/2012/08/28/ when-you-wrestle-with-ambition-and-gods-agenda/ about one of my Double-Edged Personality-Strength disorders. Maybe you can relate. For example, maybe you’re that confident-decisive-energetic woman. A go-getter with clear ideas. You sweep people up and away. With you they’ll go places. Wow, you are so attractive. Except when you’re forceful. Domineering. Opinionated. Then you’re so not. Maybe you’re that caring-kind-sensitive girl. Always concerned. You feel things hard and you would climb skyscrapers to help people. You’re so beautiful. Except when you’re over-sensitive. And when you ask too many questions because you just don’t know when to turn down the intensity levels and give people some space. Then, girl, you are such high maintenance. You get the idea, right? So what’s the answer? How do we enjoy our strengths – live them out unapologetically and for God’s glory – without allowing them to become liabilities? You need to know what waits on the other side. If you are good at being dynamic and decisive, know that you might also be good at being impetuous and impatient. If you are good at self-sacrifice, know that you are probably also good at playing the poor-me martyr. You need to surrender your agenda and your ego. A dam
is a massive body of water. Everyone can see that. (FYI: In the dam analogy, you’re the dam.) The dam doesn’t need to prove how much water it has by every day opening the sluice gates and destroying all forms of life in the valley below (with its life-giving water). There might come a time when a massive show of strength is necessary. Then for sure the dam should create a magnificent deluge without apology. But day to day, the dam should look at the crops in the valley. Listen to the people. Decide just how wide to open the sluice gates. Some days there’s just a trickle of water down the wall. Some days there’s a steady stream. And on very thirsty days, the people know where to go. Also, the dam has no reason to boast about its water. Because, ‘What do you have that God hasn’t given you?’ (1 Corinthians 4:7) I find this stuff so overwhelming, because I’m terrified I don’t see it in myself. I pray for you, radiant woman, and I pray for me, that we would look with Holy Spirit eyes. Listen with Holy Spirit ears. Decide in faith. Then go with the strength we have, because the God of peace and power is sending us (Judges 6:14, 22-24).
By Dalene Reyburn