Sunday, 18 October 2009

Girl with Two Red Cases

A few months ago, I accepted Cec Murphey's generous offer to sponsor me to the Florida Christian Writers Conference in March next year. A few weeks later, a writing friend in Johannesburg agreed to come with me. Woohoo!

We both needed new cases, so decided to go with burgundy as it is not as common, and the cases would be easier to pick out of the masses.

Marion being Marion, went first and within days she had her case. Shirley being Shirley priced, prayed, and went back to work! I'm delighted to report that I have now got myself a duo of burgundy cases: one for the hold and one for the cabin. My laptop will ride piggy-back on the small case.

So we are now officially "The girls with the red cases".

Oh and as a note of interest, burgundy seems to be the new "IN colour". Every shop in town is selling them. Ah well, Marion . . . maybe we can buy S.African straps to put round them to make them stand out?

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Creating Sense from Cents

I don't know about you, but I get sick of findng that my purse jangling with money only contains cents. Here in South Africa, the 1c coin has already been made obsolete, and now they're doing away with the 2c coin. When the teller rings up your purchases and sees you're due say 53 cents change, she gives you 55c. 

So our lowest official currency is now the 5 cent coin.

Nearly three years ago, David (youngest son) and Pam, visited us before Christmas with the two little ones. Two-year-old Timmy was concerned to find that the white box outside our front door was empty. At home, he posts money regularily through the slot in his money box. Poor Granny and Grandpa didn't have any money in their box! 

Of course, the white box is actually a post box, but he didn't get that. The box has a slot. And boxes with slots are supposed to get money posted in them. So he trotted inside to Daddy and came out with a 5 cent coin, which he put into our "money box". 

Daddy drew the line when the child returned to ask for coins to put in all the post boxes along the road "'cos they're empty too".  

So why am I telling you this? Because nearly two years later, that 5 cent coin still lies on the bottom of the box. In South Africa -- where nothing is safe if it's not bolted to the ground -- no one has bothered to steal it. It's only 5 cents. It's worthless. 

Or is it?

Yesterday in my Quiet Time, I read of a couple who decided to be proactive over their high-school daughter's future wedding dress. They and a few friends saved their pennies, rolled them into paper wrappers, and stored them away in a secret hiding place. 

Years later, their daughter announced her engagement. With a local photographer and newspaper writer standing by, the couple used a wheelbarrow to roll the money to the bank. They bought the dream wedding dress with pennies.

Rob & I have a dream. We want to go and visit our daughter and family far away in Eurasia. So we've decided to follow this creative couple's idea, and we're going to collect our 5 cent pieces. We don't plan on hording them until we need a wheelbarrow though. We'll deposit each month into a special account and see how much it amounts to. It'll be fun. And you never know . . . 

So here's a challenge for you. In these tough economic times, why don't you join me in this venture? Set yourself a goal, and start storing up your lowest value coin. See how it mounts up. You never know. It might not buy a wedding dress or take you half way across the world -- but you might be surprised.

Please comment on this post by telling me what you're going to do with your cents/pennies. Let's lighten our purses and increase the balances in our money boxes. I'd love to know what ideas you come up with. And feel free to report back and let us know how it's going.

P.S. The first 5 cent coin in our collection is the one donated by two-year-old Timmy.  

Monday, 14 September 2009

A Time for Everything

I've reached the end of my first two-week cycle of night duty at the frail care. It's been a challenge in many ways, but on the whole it's good. I've learned a few lessons apart from nursing responsibilities.
  • The Internet, including Skype, Email etc, swallows way too much time. Sitting at my laptop for hours at night without Internet access is far more productive.
  • It is possible to keep my Inbox under control. I send and receive when I get home, and receive once more before I leave for work. I allow half-an-hour each evening to answer the emails and send them to the Outbox for the next morning.
  • Sleep is good. When I walk in the door after a night on duty, I can't wait to hide behind my blindfold, pull the duvet up to my chin, and pass out for a few hours.
  • Tomorrow does come, but I'm probably on duty. So a task's either important enough to do it today, or it doesn't need to be on my "to do" list at all.
  • Time is precious. Rob and I now make a point of sharing quality time together when I'm off duty.
  • There's time for everything that needs to be done--if you think ahead. Solomon had it right when he said, "He has set the right time for everything." Ecclasiastes 3:11 (GNB)
So enjoy your week, and remember, if it's meant to be done, you can do it!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Be Still . . . No Matter What it Takes

As I write this, I'm sitting with my feet up, facing a sparkling swimming pool. Birds twitter in the trees overhead. The blue African sky is streaked with what looks like soft silky fibres of cotton wool. The pool motor hums gently in the background.

It's a perfect scenario for writing, although it would be better if I could see my laptop screen. As a result of the glare I have to keep my eyes focussed on my typing. If I take my eyes from the cursor I lose it. Still, it's worth the effort. Sitting outdoors is one thing we miss in our new P.E. lifestyle.

This break is the result of an unscheduled, spur-of-the moment decision. Yesterday morning I was still in bed, enjoying my Quiet Time, when I read in the devotional book I'm using, "God calls us to be still."

I know that, I thought. Especially with me now doing night-duty.

As I meditated on that verse I thought, Sometimes we need to create the space to be still. It doesn't just happen.

We hadn't been away from home for a while and perhaps we needed a break. But I've just started work -- and I'm back on duty on Monday night. Yet as I thought about our calendar I realised, we had an almost clear few days. That's just about unheard of.

Into my mind came thoughts of my son and daughter-in-law's home in Sedgefield, less than four hours away from Port Elizabeth. I phoned Steve.

"How would you feel if we came to you for two nights? We need a break."

"Sure, that sounds good. Hannelie's away until Sunday, but we can get back to you."

"Ahh well no. That's too late. We need to come now."

Stunned silence, followed by, "Now? as in now-now?"

"Yep, as in as soon as we can throw things into a suitcase and get there. We'd need to leave again early Monday."

A quick call to our daughter-in-law, Hannelie, who was away at a conference to confirm it was okay, and everything was set. After quick showers and breakfast and an even quicker pack, we headed out the door less than two hours after I'd first had the thought.

We arrived three-and-a-half hours later, minus pyjamas, toothpaste, jackets and hairbrush. But otherwise all intact.

We only have one full day here. We head off home tomorrow morning, Rob to a meeting and me to sleep prior to going on duty for the night. We also have Rob's pc that's on strike, awaiting the technician's tender loving and expensive care. However I know we'll be refreshed and more able to cope because we followed the Lord's injunction to "Be still." According to Ecclestiastes 3:11, God sets a right time for everything. Even being still.

Hmm. I see verse 6 of the same chapter says "a time for finding and a time for losing". Right now, that's an encouragement for me. I've had my time for losing. Let's hope once my time of being still is over, I'll arrive at the time for finding. Read more on my conference blog.

'Till next time. Be good - and find a time to be still.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Case of Changed Identity

After several months of waiting, it's finally a reality. I'm back in the work field. 

Some months back, Rob and I decided, complements of the current recession, it would be a good plan for me to go back to work for a while to boost our capital. 

The decision was made just about the same time as Cec Murphey's invitation for me to attend the Florida Writers' Conference. (See below) Panic! Did I now have time to work and write?

The Lord was ahead of us. Isn't He always? I have a full-time night-duty post at a frail care. My work will be mainly supervisory, and of course the RN responsibilities. The final deciding factor? I have permission to write when the 60+ residents / patients are sleeping, which will hopefully be a good amount of the time. 

So we'll give it a go. It's a long time since I nursed adults. Heck, it's a long time since I nursed. But it all comes back and this is truly "real nursing". 

I spent a couple of hours there yesterday afternoon. The matron showed me the work I'd need to cover, and introduced me to the patients and staff. For the first half hour my thoughts were I can't do this! There's too much to remember. How do I tell her? 

Then she took me on a tour of the building and my thoughts changed to I need a map. I'm going to get lost. Worse, I'll lose a patient. 

The two floors have rooms on either side, plus of course a kitchen, bathrooms, sluice rooms, lounges and a beautiful chapel. There are a few rooms tucked away in strange places, and those are the ones that caused me to panic. 

After I left, I went and sat in a coffee shop and drank a strong cappuccino. I came to a number of conclusions:
  • The first week or so will be tough, and I'll have to keep writing notes and drawing diagrams so that I don't get lost or lose anyone.  
  • The first month or so will be tiring as I train my body to keep irregular hours. (Two nights on, two nights off. Alternate weekends of 3 nights.) 
  • Writing on duty may be difficult in the beginning until I gain confidence. But once I have established a routine, I may well get more writing done than I do now. No Internet!
  • The work is straight-forward and the hours should work well, once I get used to them. I just have to persevere.
  • The Lord found me the job, so He seems to think I can cope. Why has He placed me here?How can I best be a blessing to these folk? I look forward to learning the answers.
So Shirley Corder, freelance writer, is once again Sister Corder, or Sister Shirley as they'll call me at Nazareth House. I'm looking forward (I think!) to the change of identity, but the writer title stays with me too. I'm sure to get plenty of writing fuel from the lovely old folk that will be my charges.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Long Before any Red Case

Okay, so this photo goes back a "few" years. The uniforms are more practical today, our knees less flexible, and praise the Lord we don't have to try and keep those caps on our untamed hair.

In her latest blog, Marion refers to impressions. She wonders what sort of impressions we will leave behind after the Florida Christian Writers Conference in March 2010.

In 2010, South Africa is set to host the Fifa World Cup. Across the country we're seeing new or renovated stadia. Our road system is in chaos as new roads and bridges are built. New high-speed transport arrangements are being planned, buildings upgraded and general chaos prevails.

Unions and strikers have added to the mayhem and demanded higher pay on top of the critical state of finances world wide. At times it looks as if it'll take many miracles for the country to be ready.

For Marion and I, 2010 will be remembered as the year we attended the Florida Christian Writers Conference in America. We are already busy planning, upgrading and building as we work on our manuscripts and make travel arrangements. At times, for us too, it looks as if it'll take a miracle for us to be ready.

As if this is not enough, I am returning to nursing next month after a long break. I have been offered a post as night sister at a frail care here in Port Elizabeth.

When I first heard the hours, I said an emphatic "NO!" I work two nights on, two nights off. How will my system ever know whether it's on day duty or night duty? I wondered. Then I paused and thought, Wait! My system doesn't know whether it's on days or nights anyway. So what's new? I can take my laptop and work when my charges are asleep, so this could work really well.

Marion's post started me thinking about the memories we create as we go through life, and I dug out this old photo. Back row left is Brenny, who as far as I know is still in Zimbabwe. We've sadly lost touch. Di, grinning at the camera, was the first person I ever led to the Lord. That in itself was a miracle as I'd only been a Christian for a few weeks and had no idea what I was doing. Somehow the Lord overcame my fumbling and Di's decision"worked". She married a doctor and they served on the mission field for years.

Front row on the left is Moi (Moira) who was my flatmate for most of our training. She too came to know the Lord and she and Ray are in the ministry today, as are Rob and I. Three of the four of us, all serving the Lord. As for Archie? His spiritual state remains a mystery. I fear he is dead in his sins.

Indeed the years have gone past yet they hold some fun-filled memories. If I had them over, I would certainly do many things differently, but as the saying goes, "We pass this way but once". What's happened is over. We must keep moving forward.

So yes, Marion has a point. We only have one chance to prepare for the conference. We will only live 2010 once. Marion wonders how people will remember us. I ask, "What memories will we create?"

As we look back at the Florida conference, will we have happy memories? Will we remember 2010 as the year when ______ happened? As we look back will we know we achieved whatever the Lord planned for us? Will we have brought blessing to those we meet?

How about you? Are you preparing for 2010? Maybe you're also attending a conference, and how super if you join us in Florida. Whatever your future holds, one thing is sure. You will be creating memories. Will they be happy ones? Will others smile when they remember time spent with you?

What is your greatest dream for 2010? Have you thought that far ahead? Drop me a note and share your thoughts.

Till next week . . . Shirl who still hasn't got her red case. (If you don't understand the red case bit, read Marion's blog, or watch this space . . . )

Sunday, 26 July 2009

In Need of a Red Case

It's official. I'm going to America in March.

A year ago I awoke one morning with the clear sense that I would be attending a Christian writers conference in the United States of America in the near future. It didn't make sense. Financially we couldn't afford to travel across South Africa, never mind a trip to America.

I prayed for a few days before sharing this growing conviction with my husband, Rob. I expected his amazement. Instead I received his whole-hearted support. It would take a miracle, but we serve the One in charge of that department.

Nearly five years ago, I attended Sandy Cove on my own. I told Rob I didn't want to do this trip alone too. We agreed to pray that the Lord would provide a way for me to attend a Christian writers conference in the States. We also agreed to ask the Lord to give me a companion for the trip.

A few months later, I met Marion Ueckermann, a member of my online Christian writers group, for the first time. She flew to Port Elizabeth for a work appointment and we had breakfast together. During that time I shared my desire to go to a conference, and she immediately said she'd pray about coming with me. For her too it would take a miracle.

The recession hit, and I confess the vision faded as Rob and I considered ways to augment our income. I signed up to get back on the roll of the S.African Nursing Council and then "The Email" arrived. Cec Murphey, a multi-published writer, wrote to offer me sponsorship to attend the Florida Christian Writers Conference in Leesburg, Florida in March, 2010.

The next day, I contacted Marion and gave her the news. You can read her side of the story at her new blog.

At the beginning of September, I start night duty as a nursing sister at a frail care home. Before accepting the post I explained my need of leave in January, when my daughter and family will be visiting from Kazakhstan. The matron agreed without hesitation. I drew a breath and said I would also need leave to attend an American writers' conference in March. That too was immediately granted.

I had two periods of leave granted before I accepted the job! Indeed, we serve the God of Miracles.

I invite you to follow the highlights of our conference preparation on the Florida Conference page of my website.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about the title of this blog, see Marion's post!