Tag Archives: Family

Deb Moore: A Friend

We lost a dear friend last week.  We joined the family and other friends on Friday to share our tears and to celebrate her life.  Debs was a private person, and I can’t claim to have known her well, but she always made you feel special, as if your joys and concerns were all that mattered.  Her faithfulness in prayer, and her courage in the terrible suffering she endured, were a gift and an encouragement to all.

The tributes paid by her family and friends echoed the love and the loss of all our hearts.  Her daughter said she loved coming home—how many teenagers would admit to that?  And not many students, except for the laundry benefits.  She loved coming home because her mother was so positive.  “She believed in me.  She made me feel that everything was possible.”

That’s not easy for a parent to convey.  There are so many pitfalls, so much for us to worry about.  How many of us manage to set our children free, to give them the gift of believing in them instead of restricting them with the impossibilities of our own fears?  Of course they are legitimate fears, we fear for their safety, for their future, but they restrict nonetheless. 

As Deb’s daughter spoke we could nod in appreciation.   This was indeed the Debs we knew and loved.

Debs pointed her family to Romans 12:12: “Be joyful in hope; be patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.”  It is a verse that sums up how we experienced Debs.  Joy was a constant companion, and hope her driving force.  Her patience in the terrible suffering she endured was heroic (not that she would ever have considered herself a hero).  I often thought that Debs wanted to be free of it all, not for her sake but so that her family and friends would not have to endure it all.  And Debs was a prayer warrior.  She was one of those who left you feeling a little more secure, a little more confident, because Debs was praying.  But her prayers were not intellectual exercises; they led her to action.  Debs was one of those who would pray as if God was our only hope, and act as if God had left it all up to her.

One of her friends said that she (the friend) had only been a Christian for ten years, a spiritual youngster in the prayer group she belonged to with Debs.  But she always knew that, when she grew up, she wanted to be like Debs.

I echo that, but such love and faithfulness, such joy and peace, do not come overnight.  Paul rightly calls these fruit of the Spirit.  Fruit grows and develops through a long process of watering and nurturing; it isn’t stuck on at the last minute.  The fruit of the Spirit grows within us as we offer ourselves to God every day; it develops little by little through random acts of kindness; it ripens as we make small decisions to be positive, to put aside our critical inclinations, and to offer encouragement and hope to a daughter, a friend, a stranger.

It starts, perhaps, through being faithful in prayer as we ask God every day for opportunities to live out our prayers, and courage to take the opportunities presented to reach out to others.

Thank you Debs for the gifts you gave us.  Thank you for encouraging us to live as Jesus in the world, and for demonstrating that it is indeed possible to do so.


Filed under Community, Family

Grandpa’s Christmas

Christmas gifts.
Image via Wikipedia

One of the advantages of being a Grandpa is that Christmas doesn’t take forever to arrive.  As a child I remember having to wait a lifetime for the year to pass and for December finally to arrive.  Even then it seemed to take another few months to get from the first to the 25th.

Now that I’m a grandpa, it takes no time at all.  “Wasn’t it March just the other day?” one asks on 31 July.  And it seems that, by the time we receive an answer, it’s already the end of October.  I find myself rather wanting to slow the calendar down as we race towards the end of the year.  But don’t tell my grandson that I have such scandalous ideas.

I have no culinary or gift-buying skills—both weaknesses carefully honed.  As a result I am not very involved in the usual frenetic round of buying and baking that accompanies the build-up to Christmas.  I am able to enjoy the more leisurely pursuit of Christmas Carols, contemplation, and the gathering of friends and family, not to mention the benefit of other people’s baking.

One of the disadvantages of age is that one’s pile of presents has dwindled rather drastically over the years.  “Your pile of presents is over there” has been replaced with, “This one is yours, and you can open that one; it’s for both of us.”  However, while my grandson won’t believe it for another few decades, there are more meaningful things for grandpa than presents.  Friendship and good conversation, a chance to relax away from the pressure of work, and the celebration of Christmas with a deeper understanding of its true meaning; these are the benefits of a grandpa’s Christmas.

That is not to say that presents are not welcome or that a slightly larger pile would be wasted on a grandpa.  Each to his own, but this grandpa would love to settle down with a good book—a book token from a local bookshop or money to spend at a second-hand bookshop would do the trick.  A meal out and coffee with friends would go down a treat.  Of course, if your budget allows it, you can send a couple of plane tickets for me to visit my sons and grandson on the other side of the world.  But if your budget does allow it then you probably aren’t on my Christmas list.  In that case a cool T-shirt will have to do.  At least my grandson will think his grandpa is hip (if anyone is still hip).


Filed under General Writing

Coffee Shop Tales: Hannah

(This and my next post comprise two stories I wrote while in a coffee shop, observing people around me, and waiting for inspiration.  No real names are used.)

She walked in with her mother and they looked around the room for an empty table.  She was about eight and still in her primary school uniform.  She pointed to the stairs and they climbed to the top.  They sat at one of the tables that overlook the customers eating their lunch below.  She was clearly excited.  This would be a special time with her mom.

A waitress followed them up the stairs and took their order: a milkshake for her and coffee for Mom.  She looked around the walls fascinated by the pictures of Nguni cattle, while her mother sent an SMS on her cell phone.  Mom put away her cell phone and said, “So, Hannah, what happened today.”

Hannah thought for a moment.  “Mrs Lightgood was cross with Stephen,” she said.

“What did Stephen do?” asked her mom.

“He forgot his costume.  Again!”

“Oh dear.”

Hannah drew her chair closer to her mom.
“He had to stay inside when we went to break.  And he had to tidy all the books during swimming.”

The waitress brought their order and there was silence for a while as Hannah sipped her milkshake and her mom stirred her coffee.

A man walked up the stairs and stopped at their table.  He had been talking with other customers around the shop.  He greeted Hannah’s mom like an old friend and soon they were chatting away.

Hannah finished her milkshake and looked at her mom.  She glanced at the man and back to her mom.

“No, we moved,” her mom was saying.  “We now live in Jack’s old house.   You remember Jack?”

Hannah slipped off her chair and looked over the rail at the customers below.  She slumped to the floor still scanning the shop and stealing a glance at her mom every now and again.

“We struggled to find a buyer at first.  The garage was the problem.”  The conversation went on.

Hannah got up and wandered over to the pictures on the wall.  The Nguni cattle seemed just as bored as Hannah and she turned away.  She sat on the top step, leaning against the rail.

“It was nice to see you again.”


The conversation ended and the man moved off to his office.  Hannah’s mother got up from the table and walked to the stairs.  She followed Hannah who walked down with heavy feet.  Hannah waited by the front door while her mother paid for their order, before they walked off together.

I sat there wondering whether the mother realised what had just happened.


Filed under Coffee Shop Tales, Odds & Ends