A Season of Blessing: For the Day

I’ll be honest with you … I’ve feeling a little fragile today. My family is in flux. Everything feels fragile—jobs and studies and my children’s future. Over the last week or so, a heaviness has settled into me that is quite at odds with my generally upbeat outlook on life. The mood doesn’t lend itself to the writing of encouraging blog posts, especially not ones that seek to bring blessing to others. So, I’m cheating a little. Instead of writing a blessing, I’m sharing one written by my daughter Nicole in 2014, when she was in Grade 11 at school. These words lifted something in me today and my prayer is that they do the same for you. Continue reading

A Season of Blessing: For the Lonely

‘All the lonely people; Where do they all come from? All the lonely people; Where do they all belong?’ These lyrics are from the 1966 Beatles song Eleanor Rigby, which became known as ‘the lament for the lonely’.

More than fifty years later, loneliness besets our society as never before. Statistics reveal that more and more people consider themselves lonely. One study I came across said that half of Britons over the age of 65 consider their television or pet their main source of company. And loneliness, particularly amongst the elderly, has increased during the corona crisis, as people are forced into isolation. Continue reading

A Season of Blessing: For the Young

This week, as we observed Youth Day in South Africa, I asked myself the question: what kind of world will we bequeath to our children?

The world we leave behind

In many parts of the world our generation has not succeeded. We have not made great strides towards eliminating unemployment. We have not built adequate systems to uplift and educate the poor or care for the vulnerable in our society. We have not done enough to protect our natural resources. We have not eradicated religious intolerance and extremism. Many of the leaders we elect are selfish, corrupt and unconcerned with anything other than their own power and prestige. Continue reading

A Season of Blessing: For Those who Grieve

How are we to respond to the loss, sorrow and grief that swirls around us right now?

I’ll be honest, I have often tried to shut out grief. When my father died at the end of 2018, I put on a ‘brave face’, trying to ignore the raw wound in my heart. I also have a tendency to shy away from other people’s grief, avoiding making calls or visiting a friend in the wake of a loss or tragedy. But this is not the vulnerable, courageous and engaged life God calls us to. Continue reading

A Season of Blessing: Rekindling a Lost Art

Bless you, we say as someone sneezes. God bless, we hurriedly scrawl on a birthday card. Blessings, we sometimes breezily sign off an email to a friend. In my own culture, the concept of a blessing has lost its deep and profound meaning through such daily overuse of the word. Some cultures and traditions still retain the sense of power in a blessing. In this blog series, I hope to rekindle the ‘lost art of blessing’. The world is caught in the grip of fear, grief and upheaval. The covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage nations. In the USA, the callous murder of George Floyd by a white policemen has led to angry protests, unrest and deep division. Our world has never needed blessings more. So I invite you: together, let’s make this a season of blessing. Continue reading

Seeds of Hope in a Storm

Our world has been plagued by the Covid-19 virus for 5 months, and my country South Africa has been in lockdown for 2 of those. It’s a time where we’ve all come to realise the power of words. We’re bombarded with news and interviews, opinions and statements from world leaders. Our phones ping with messages that warn or threaten or seek to inform us. We’re constantly trying to discern words that are real from those that are fake.

And, although I’ve always known it, it’s never struck me more that the words we speak or write have power. Power of life or power of death. No wonder the writer of Proverbs said:

“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” (Prov. 15:4)

Continue reading

My lockdown reading list, and the epiphany that led to it

What can be better than a good book when one is stuck at home, right? Wrong – it seems it’s not quite that simple. In our last book club Zoom meeting, many of my friends confessed that they’re struggling to read during lockdown, and I can tell you that’s coming from some pretty hard-core readers!

I had the same sense of lethargy and frustration early in lockdown. With my thoughts constantly circling around to the pressing issues of our day, I couldn’t concentrate on the words on a page. Nothing ‘grabbed’ me. I’d start a few pages of one book and then put it down to try another…and another, not able to figure out what I was in the mood to read.

Then I had an epiphany. Continue reading

The Lockdown Mother’s Day Tribute

Her children arise and call her blessed. (Proverbs 31:28)

I had all but forgotten that Sunday is Mother’s Day. Lockdown restriction, news of the pandemic, worries about the economy… these were the thoughts consuming my mind. I’m grateful to the person who reminded me however, because it’s given me time to pause and think about God’s beautiful gift of mothers. Continue reading

Letter to my Future Grandchildren

One day in the distant future I will be napping in a chair, book on my lap and reading glasses perched at the tip of my nose. One of my (hopefully many) grandchildren will sidle up to me and say, “JoJo*, what was it like to live through the pandemic of 2020?” My memory—already a somewhat redundant asset in my late-40’s—will be even hazier then and I might struggle to mutter more than, “a difficult time, my dear…yes, yes, very difficult indeed.” Which is why I have decided to write my grandchildren a letter now … in 2020, the actual time they will one day ask me about.

And this is what I want them to know: Continue reading

Lock-Ups-and-Downs

How are you really feeling in your lockdown life?

In the three weeks since lockdown started, we’ve all done our best to ‘look on the bright side’, ‘keep our chin up’ and ‘stay positive’. I wrote a rousing blog called My Seven Choices going into Lockdown and another one called How to Stay Joyful During Lockdown. All excellent advice—I meant every word. Continue reading