Nicolette Writes

Professional Freelance Writer and Stay-at-Home Mom

Archive for the month “June, 2011”

Questioning, Pondering, Wondering…


Doesn’t it seem that we are always looking for answers to life? How much effort is enough? How should I live my life? What should I do about this or that?

How much should I eat? Am I eating too much? How do you know what is balanced? What is the ideal way to live my life? Am I making the most of my life? Am I too boring or am I balanced and responsible?

Is it okay that I am shy – is it just who I am? Or do I have a low self-esteem and should I just get over it, stand up and be a ‘man’? In other words – do I embrace who I think I am and is who I think I am really who I am?

Will I be with my husband in heaven? Will I be able to sleep in the same bed with him? By the way, what will we be doing in heaven all the time? What will we be eating and how much? Will there be exercise classes and will we be eating pancakes?

Am I suppose to be sitting here typing or should I rather be walking outside in the sun? Am I wasting time or am I worrying too much? And how do I stop thinking of all thee things? And should I even stop wondering about all these things?

Questions like these can make us crazy and restless. They play over an over in my head without ever leaving me to rest! People say that I should worry less and that I am silly to wonder about these things… They call me an over-thinker.

I have realised that not everyone experiences life in questions as I do. And for those who do not look at life that way, it all seems quit simple – you don’t need to know all those things. They seem to have mastered the art of living in the now.

See, that is something I have heard so much about – living in the now – but I am finding it almost impossible to do it! The moment I try to tell myself to focus on the moment, I know I won’t succeed for too long. For example: we are on the family farm at the moment, and as we are driving through the most beautiful orchards covered in soft orange sunsets and cattle grazing peacefully in the golden mist of the setting sun through the trees (see photo), I can’t help but think of all my questions! They just pop up and I can’t seem to control them. I don’t need to repeat any of these questions – I have listed just a few above!

How do we ever know that we are busy doing the right thing? How do we ever find the ultimate key, the ultimate answer, the ultimate guidebook to life and the ultimate seven steps to the best you? Is life even supposed to be this tricky? Am I making any sense at all?

I don’t know… what do you think? How do we best manage ourselves and our lives?

Questioning, pondering and wondering…
Nicolette *

Surviving Rude Relatives…


I did this article for Natural Medicine Journal, December last year (2010). You are so welcome to add your own (horror?!) stories!!

SURVIVING RUDE RELATIVES

Sarah sighs with delight: she can hardly wait for their Sunday afternoon nap. Just as Sarah and Nic are getting into bed, the bell rings… Sarah hears the bellowing noise of her father-in-law: ‘Come on, come on, put on the kettle!’ She gives Nic the evil eye, jumps out of bed and disappears into the bathroom – slamming the door. The sound barely drowns the animated ‘put on the kettle, put on the kettle!’ coming from outside.

Rude relatives? You are not alone! The greatest challenge with these near (and sometimes not so dear) ones seems to come with the festive season. This did not deter Natural Medicine and we decided to enter the family battlefield. Here are some stories about rude relatives from our readers, and, most importantly, a few handy holiday tips on handling your Next of Kin this season.

Worst Case Scenarios

23-year old Elizabeth Venter* from Port Elizabeth, has an uncle who tries to set her up with random men at the holiday resort where they go every December. “On the beach he usually calls the first guy (never mind if he seems to be half my age), jovially yelling: ‘Check this handsome guy, Beth? Hi there, young fellow, what’s your name? Come here, meet this lovely lady…’”

Ben Anderson* (44, Somerset-West) worries about family members staying over at their holiday home, without saying exactly when they will arrive and when they will be leaving: “I like to prepare myself psychologically for the arrival of people at our house and my wife likes to plan and do all sorts of preparations for the holiday season. I have spoken to family members about this, but they feel I should lighten up and enjoy the spontaneity of life!”

Time in front of the braai is the most stressful part of holidays for Dean Smith* (33, Stellenbosch): “Whenever I braai, my cousin would quietly stand there with a dissatisfied look on his face. When I turn my back for just a moment, he immediately moves in, adding some spices or turning the meat over. Am I just oversensitive, or is that extremely rude?”

I am sure you can share worse stories than these! The meddlesome grandmother, the tipsy brother… But let us be progressive in this matter! Here are some tips for smothering the festive fire.

Disagree Graciously without Arguing

When disagreements arise, stay focused: do not interrupt or raise your voice. Listen to what the other person is saying, as you might have misunderstood the issue. If you simply cannot agree with what has been said, state your position clearly and then immediately change the subject. Arguing will only add tension to the holiday – something you have enough of during the work year.

Avoid the Trigger

If you find it impossible to keep your sanity in the presence of your racist uncle or gossiping cousin, avoid spending time with them. Avoidance is essential to a drama-free festive season. This is a good time for long walks or challenging mountain bike rides (or perhaps a long cup of Chai at your favourite coffee shop).

Another way to avoid family drama is to consider inviting more people to big events: the more people, the more difficult for a diva to be a diva – there are simply too many people’s interest to hold. Supplement your guest list with genuine friends or the relatives you really like: your interaction with difficult relatives will now be varied with time interacting with the people who feed your soul.

Play the Game

Can’t seem to avoid being the butt of the joke? Consider ‘shocking’ the family (just a little!). Tell the aunts who want to know how you survive being a writer, that the colleagues at work are sexy and that you really enjoy the benefits… They probably won’t ask you any such questions again. Playing along with being the joke, also takes the joy out of it for the teaser and the focus will then shift to someone else (hopefully someone who doesn’t mind getting teased).

Time management

Perhaps December is not the ideal time to visit the family… Decide to go for a few days over Christmas and rather go again for another week in the new-year. Three peaceful days are much better than eight days of which the last two are disastrous. Time management is an important part of missing the drama. If it is a one-night event, there is nothing wrong with showing up a little late and leaving a bit earlier.

Consider Loved Ones

You may feel like crying when the holiday draws near, but if it means a lot to your husband to see his parents in December or if your sister really needs your moral support hosting the Christmas supper, swallow those tears and set your mind on what is noble and upright. Focus on your husband enjoying time with his brother or on the fact that you are really helping your sister, mentally and physically.
You now ought to be equipped for the summer holiday! Just one last tip: refrain from saying or doing something that you will later regret: “What’s done is done, and cannot be undone…!”

* This is not the person’s real name
References:
http://www.suite101.com
http://www.sideroad.com

The Divorce Debate – In Matthew 19:6 Jesus says that man should not separate what God has joined together. What do we believe about divorce and remarriage today?


A story I did for the Christian Magazine, Vision.

Comments welcome! Do comment on my blog, however, and not on Facebook ;-P

THE DIVORCE DEBATE

In Matthew 19:6 Jesus says that man should not separate what God has joined together. What do we believe about divorce and remarriage today?

Perhaps you have already made up your mind about divorce: you either believe it is a dreadful sin, or you feel it is definitely no terrible transgression. Or maybe, like me, you are not exactly sure what the Word says about divorce. Let’s explore!

DIVORCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

One of the first references to divorce in the Bible appears in Deuteronomy 24: 1-4:

“If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord.”

At the time these words were spoken by Moses, the position of a wife in Jewish society was very precarious: her husband could order her out of his house during a mere fit of annoyance! Consequently, Moses established the practise of presenting a “certificate of divorce” (from the husband to the wife) in an attempt to banish the frivolous treatment of marriage…

This certificate of divorce protected married women by acknowledging the divorce as illegal: formerly, a woman who has been cast out by her husband and then married a second man, could be taken back by her first husband (if he suddenly decided to like her again!) and she would then be stigmatised as an adulteress, as the former marriage was never legally terminated. Note here that God recognises a legal divorce.

Secondly, marriage was kept sacred through the issuing of a certificate of divorce, as a man was not allowed to take a woman back after having signed the divorce letter: they had to think twice about letting their wives go for no good reason at all. It is “detestable in the eyes of the Lord” (verse 4) when marriage is treated with such flippancy (and it is therefore that the Bible teaches us you cannot go back to a first husband). The bottom line here is that marriage must never be trivialised – partners cannot come and go as they please.

But if we do get divorced, does it mean we are then “defiled”? Verse 4 states that a woman’s husband (who divorced her) was not allowed to marry her again after she “has been defiled.” Bishop Frank Retief (Church of England South Africa) explains that this does not mean the woman was unclean or in the wrong: after a woman’s divorce from her husband, she could not return to him, because to him she was defiled. The word ‘defiled’ must be understood in terms of her availability to her husband. This once again emphasises that we should not make light of the choices we make when we get married or divorced.

THE ANY-CAUSE DIVORCE

The above law (Deut 24: 1-4) was misinterpreted at the time by influential Hillelite rabbis who invented the ‘any cause divorce’ from a single word in verse 1: Moses allowed divorce when the husband found “something” indecent about his wife. These rabbis wondered why Moses used the word ‘something’ when he only needed to say ‘immorality’. They argued that any ‘thing’ (“something”), including a burnt meal (or bad morning hair!), could be a cause for divorce!

BUT JESUS SAID…

It is to this interpretation of the law by the Hillelite rabbis that Jesus refers in the New Testament. The Pharisees asked Jesus whether it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife “for any and every reason?” (Mat 19:3) Jesus answered, “what God has joined together, let man not separate”. Jesus’ answer to this is thus ‘no’ – marriage is not to be considered carelessly. Thinking of Deuteronomy 24, the Pharisees asked Jesus why Moses then permitted divorce? Jesus answered: “because your hearts were hardened” – a reference to husbands’ harsh treatment of their wives (and flippant treatment of marriage), casting them out of their homes at a whim.

Jesus also tells the Pharisees that man should not separate what God has joined together (verse 6). Bishop Frank Retief believes that this does not imply that God has joined everybody together simply through the act of being married: there are marriages that lie outside the will of God. Child, slave and incestuous marriages, bigamy, polygamy, physical or verbal abuse are not the will of God. Sometimes a situation is just patently wrong.

Exodus 21:10-11 allows divorce for neglect. The Lord said to Moses that everyone, even a slave wife, had three rights within marriage – the rights to food, clothing and love. If any of these were neglected, the wronged spouse had the right “to go free” (verse 11). The focus in this verse should be on “let no man” separate. How often do we not allow family or friends to interfere in our marriages?

REMARRIAGE…

What about New Testament scriptures stating that remarriage is sin? 1 Cor 7:10-11 proclaims: “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.” Luke 16:18 says that “[a]nyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who married a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Did Jesus teach that remarriage is a transgression in God’s eyes? Many people argue that in Jewish society of Jesus’ day, remarriage was always assumed for the innocent party, as there is no condemnation for the innocent. They also believe that there are thousands of years between the context in which Jesus’ words were spoken and the time and culture that many of us live in today: we don’t exactly stone gay people today or insist on women wearing hats in church. Many believers also feel that not all marriages that take place fall within the will of God. On the other hand, there are those who feel that emphasizing that the Bible should be read in context is just an easy way out of guilt…

MALACHI 2:16

The notorious Malachi 2: 16 states: “I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Israel, and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment, says the Lord Almighty.” God’s use of the word ‘hate’ clearly indicates that to God, marriage is sacred. Yet, God is not here condemning the divorced – he hates ‘divorce’, not the divorced. He hates everything that frustrates the goal of keeping a marriage in tact: abuse, neglect, adultery. God hates the violence and hurt caused by divorce: The Message states the latter part of verse 16 as: “I hate the violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage.”

In Ezekiel 16:59-60 the Lord says “[Y]ou have despised my oath by breaking my covenant…[y]et I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.” It is not only the divorced, but each one of us who needs this promise to be true.

Sources:
* http://www.christianitytoday.com
* Retief, F. Divorce – Hope for the Hurting.

Comments welcome! Do comment on my blog, however, and not on Facebook ;-P

Desmond Tutu on Homosexuality – What Do You Think?


I did this cover a while ago for TODAY magazine on Desmond Tutu. His views on homosexuality elicited quite a response! What do you think? Comments (here on my blog!) are welcome!!

DOMINO OF JUSTICE!
by Nicolette Ferreira

In February 2009, 1400 of the world’s top brains gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland. It was not a scientist; a high flying businessman or a wealthy entrepreneur that they invited to present the final address, rather, it was cleric and Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu who challenged all these CEOs: “Business asks ‘Is it profitable?’ God asks ‘Is it right?’” Today asked journalist Nicolette Ferreira to find out a little more about this icon of our nation.

Tutu’s vision for the family

My old Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of (not so) Current English, defines ‘family’ as “parents and children”. Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s understanding of what ‘family’ comprises, however, is not so confined. The “Arch”, as Tutu has been lovingly dubbed, believes in one human family – God’s family.

In 1976, Prime Minister, John Vorster, accused Tutu of working for the African National Congress. The Arch boldly claimed in response: I do not work for the ANC. I work for God. That South Africa was indeed not one blissful ‘fandamily’, was further felt by the establishment (by the Establishment!) of the infamous Tricameral Parliament in 1984. Tutu scorned the first election under this unjust system, calling it a “non-event”, as black people were not allowed to vote and neither were they represented in government. This was not Tutu’s idea of family. Rather, Tutu revels in the idea of an all-inclusive rainbow nation.

Backing up this more extensive idea of the human family is a more intimate understanding of this concept: Tutu believes that children learn about power and justice, peace and compassion within the household – the nesting place of a just society. It is thus the family that will realise what Tutu once said to Madiba: “Never again, nooit weer, ngekhe futi, ga reno tlola!”

Keeping watch over their own nesting place with Tutu, is Leah Shanxane. They were both studying to become teachers when they met and by 1955 the deal was sealed! They have four children, Trevor, Mpho, Naomi and Theresa. Indeed they were never the ever-happy bouncy Brady bunch – in conversation with Tutu’s daughter, the Reverend Mpho, she told me that the Tutu children could pick a fight out of thin air and brew up a thunderstorm of passion: “She was in my room!” “It’s his turn to put away the dishes” “Don’t breathe on my sweater” (this one made me chuckle!) “It’s my turn to pick the t.v. show!” She also remembers that her father travelled often and that he would then send them each postcards:
I remember a batch of them that spoke of the importance of family ties. [He said that] [w]hen we fight we are like separate twigs, any small force can snap us. When we are united we are like a bundle of wood; strong enough to face any challenge.

Tutu and Leah are also oupa and ouma to several grandchildren.

Tutu on Homosexuality

Oupa Tutu believes in a warm, welcoming God. Despite biblical imperatives such as Leviticus 1: 22 which states to men that “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman”, Tutu has consistently fought for the rights of homosexuals. According to him, homophobia is a no lesser abomination than apartheid. He believes that homosexuality, just as a person’s skin colour, is not a matter of choice. Therefore, he describes the abhorrence of gays and lesbians as a transgression against humanity – as a disavowal of who a person really is: “We struggled against apartheid because we were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about. It is the same with homosexuality.”

The Arch believes that the Church has lost its way and that God is lamenting at seeing the misplaced priorities of the members of his Body. According ‘to Tutu’, the Church is obsessed with people’s private lives, rather than greater issues of war, disease and oppression: in other words, the church is not obeying the divine properties of Christ. As a patron of Changing Attitude, an organisation which works for the inclusion of homosexuals in the Church (see http://www.changingattitude.org.uk/home/home.asp), Tutu implores the case for an all-embracing Church.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Tutu’s peaceful struggle against all forms of marginalisation, awarded him one of the noblest prizes of all. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded annually to the person who worked the hardest at fostering unity between nations, abolishing physical acts of violence and promoting peace congresses. In 1984, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to this domino (or dominee!) of justice. The awarding committee made it clear that through their granting of this prestigious prize to Tutu, they wished to direct attention to the non-violent ‘fight’ for liberation to which he belongs – a fight which was especially characterised by the global light he shed on a government of injustice.

To this ‘atrocity’ – the awarding of an internationally acclaimed prize to a black man – both Minister P.W. Botha (die groot krokkedil) and his Foreign Minister at the time, Pik Botha, reacted with a “no comment” – a response pregnant with meaning. Added to the negative responses from the apartheid government, was television footage that featured the Bishop delivering an impassioned speech, with no context at all, featuring only the word, “violence” (see Tutu’s authorised autobiography, Rabble-Rouser for Peace). Such responses, however, could not pinch Tutu’s prize and opportunity. He made full use of his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to bring the veracity of segregation home to the audience. One of the most attention-grabbing images he used in his speech was one of black mothers reduced to sitting on soaking mattresses, with their household effects strewn round their feet. He also described South Africa as microcosm of the world: it is an example of how, with injustice, there can be no peace.
Tutu on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Ten years after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, the Arch still had the domino effect! In 1995, post-apartheid South Africa gave birth to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Tutu was chosen as Chairperson of this challenging endeavour. The TRC was established to investigate the violations that took place in apartheid South Africa between 1960 and 1994. Broadly speaking, the Commission held court-like gatherings where those who suffered at the hands of the oppressor could tell their stories. It also gave the opportunity for the oppressor to confess their guilt and consequently receive amnesty.
Roshila Nair’s “an unforgiving poem”, highlights the complexities of the TRC: “[t]oday I watched an old woman/ recoil from the contrite hands of/ patriot men who murdered her son/ many years ago…” Thus, although the TRC gave the opportunity for people to voice their stories, many people felt that mere words were no sufficient remedy for their affliction and loss. As Chairperson of the TRC, Archbishop Desmond Tutu warned against such ‘unforgiveness’. According to him, remaining in a state of hatred, locks you in a state of victimhood, chaining you to the perpetrator. In his speech at the handing over of the TRC report to Nelson Mandela, an immense document of 3500 pages, he made use of a striking biblical image, prompting South Africans to let the waters of healing flow from Pretoria as they flowed from the altar in Ezekiel’s vision to cleanse the land.

Tutu’s wisdom on the big ‘C’

The man with the purple cassock, as we have come to know him, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1996. This malignancy, however, never had a chance – Tutu planned on giving it a ‘tough tackling’ from the start. And trust the Arch to call cancer a “big boogie” in an article for the American Cancer Society:
Almost everybody begins to think they should begin composing their obituary. But it’s not true. Cancer is a good thing because it reminds us of our mortality… I experience things with a new intensity: my wife’s love, my grandchild’s smile, a sunset. We must remember that we are not forever.
Early detection of the disease is of vital importance, warns Tutu. He urges men at the age of 40 to have a regular prostate exam. Tutu describes the examination ‘back there’ as no more uncomfortable than going to the dentist for an examination!! I am not so sure about that, Mr Tutu!

Tutu – a political priest?

Although Tutu had various political squabbles in the past, amongst others being arrested and charged under the Riotous Assemblies Act under the apartheid National Party, he emphasises in his book, The Rainbow People of God, that he is not a politician:
I am a church person who believes that religion does not just deal with a certain compartment of life. Religion has relevance for the whole of life and we have to say whether a particular policy is consistent with the policy of Jesus Christ or not, and if you want to say that is political, then I will be a politician in those terms. But it won’t be as one who is involved in party politics.
Tutu’s reluctance to be viewed as a political priest does not mean, however, that he does not have strong opinions about our country’s political leaders. In contrast to the Arch’s warm, welcoming humour, stands the notorious rallying cry of ANC leader, Jacob Zuma, “Umshini Wami – Bring me my machine gun”. Desmond Tutu states that he would be ashamed to have Jacob Zuma, the man tainted with so many allegations of corruption, as president of God’s beloved rainbow nation. Tutu feels the fact that allegations against Zuma were not cleared by a court leaves a cloud (a cumulonimbus one!) over South Africa’s governance

Over our bent world Tutu sits brooding. And when injustice endangers our common humanity, he stands up, fights the fight of a righteous man and causes a chain reaction. Tutu – our domino of justice!

Sources not cited in text:
Hadland, A. Desmond Tutu. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman, 2001.
http://www.motivationmatterslimited.co.uk/news/230.htm
http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1984/tutu-lecture.html
http://www.southafrica-newyork.net/consulate/speeches/tutuspeech.htm

Ten (Eleven!) Things I Would Do Differently – If I Had To Go Back To High School


Ten Things I Would Do Differently – If I Had To Go Back To High School

I think very few of us ever wish to go back to school. Perhaps the sporty and cool kids in school do longingly look back on those days, but for the rest of us who had to suffer through High School, those days remain best in the past.

But if I really had to go back to high school, I would want to go back, knowing what I do now. You see, I only learned at University about that sneaky thing called ‘Society’ that makes us believe that there is one way of doing things and that if you do not do something in that exact ‘Way’, your future will be a disaster. You won’t find a job and you won’t find a spouse (the word life partner was probably not even uttered back then – GASP!).

Anyways – I am digressing, which is indeed easy if you have as many thoughts and opinions about school as I do. If I had to do High School over, here are ten things that I would do differently:

1.) I won’t be so afraid of everything – teachers included. I also studied teaching and I had teacher friends. You should rather be scared of your teachers’ lack of knowledge than of what they can do to you.

2.) I would wear my hair as wild as school rules could possibly allow. I wouldn’t have worried about straightening my curls or taming them in any way. The bigger, the better.

3.) I would wear mascara and blusher – they really won’t know.

4.) I would not participate in all the extra-curricular activities that we were expected to participate in: no hockey, no netball, no target-shooting. I would have chosen only ONE thing that I really loved to do. If school did not present me with something that I loved, I would have found something outside school (be it mountain biking, dancing, writing).

5.) I would have spent all the time off from Saturday target-shooting, hockey and choir practice to watch DVDs, browse through magazines, listen to music and write. Or I would have painted more for fun.

6.) I never would have gone on until grade 11 with Science. I merely kept on doing this for such a long time as teachers told me that many doors would close for me the day I drop Science. I initially did drop Science for History of Art. Wow – I should have done this much sooner. I haven’t found any of those closed doors that they talked about yet.

7.) I would learn Xhosa

8.) I would hang out with the ‘black’ and ‘coloured’ kids. When I was in school everyone was still in their own group.

9.) I would laugh at the girls eating their carrots and celery at school, while eating something delicious!

10.) I would never do any embarrassing kind of athletics, even if teachers told us we had to. I would simply say ‘No – I am a sensitive person… my psychologist says I don’t have to participate in any such activities’. Ha! I wonder what they would have said…

Wow – I could continue to write many other things… but seeing that I said ten, and this can indeed become a very long list, I will stop here. Perhaps just one more… I would look at all those cool (or so they thought) boys and I would think to myself: ‘WHATEVER – You really have no clue!’ (And I am not saying this because I am a lonely lady with a cat – I am happily married, for three years now). I would laugh, forget about them and continue reading my magazine, writing my book, watching DVDs, hanging out with my best friend drinking LOTS of cappuccinos and walking with our dog. Oh man – now I ‘kinda’ wish I could do high school all over!!

What would YOU do differently??

Love,
Nicolette

Cover Article For Vision Magazine May 2011


Yah! I did Vision Magazine's Cover article for May this year!

Not a good quality photo that I took here, but just to give you a glimpse of my article

The lady whom I wrote about in this article is an amazing person – do read her story here!

KATIE SOUZA: FINDING GOD IN PRISON

Katie Souza is the inspiration behind Expected End Ministries, a non-profit ministry that teaches prisoners to find their God-given purpose in life. It is hard to imagine that this beautiful lady met God while serving a sentence in jail… Nicolette Ferreira spoke to Katie about lives changing in the midst of captivity.

In a dark prison cell, a woman sits studying her Bible. She looks up, staring at the walls… she has only completed a few months of her sentence and testing times are still to come. But a smile returns to her face: at least she is not alone any more: she wipes her hand lovingly over The Bible in front of her.

Katie Souza has experienced both hell and heaven. As a child (born in 1963), she lived her life carelessly, hunting and fishing with her mother on a rural ranch in Wisconsin (USA). The carefree little girl grew up and by the age of 36 she found herself in prison…

WHEN THINGS GO WRONG

When Katie was ten, her family moved to Hawaii. Here she experienced a racist attitude towards whites: ‘I stood out like a sore thumb, because I looked different than almost everybody else. I constantly got into fights and eventually started drinking, smoking pot and eating mushrooms that I got from friends I hung out with in High School.’

Katie left Hawaii for California when she turned twenty. She landed a job in radio and quickly advanced into television. At this point her drug use was daily. Katie soon moved on to Los Angeles, where she was hired as a model for a Home Shopping Network show and she also acted in a few movies and theatre pieces.

Engrossed in the Hollywood drug scene, Katie dropped out of television and started a rock band: ‘I mostly sang about dope, rebellion, and all the different kinds of pains that were in my soul.’ Her life now consisted of drugs (she manufactured speed herself), high-speed chases, gun shootouts and many arrests. In February 1999 she was arrested and sentenced to twelve and a half years in federal prison.

THE CHANGE

It is in prison that Katie’s life took a wild u-turn: ‘I had been fighting and running my entire life. The first year I was down I was fighting against everyone! One day I found out that one of my co-defendants was going to testify against me in federal court. Later that day, I ended up throwing down with her and her girlfriend in the yard. We all got taken to lockdown. While I was there I went into a diabetic seizure. When I awoke I was so tired – I was done! I had been running and fighting non-stop for over a decade. As I slid down the cold cement wall I said to myself, “I give up”.’

‘Immediately God spoke to me and told me to surrender to my captivity, because it was His perfect plan for my life. I remember running to the cell door and asking a Correctional Officer if he could bring me a Bible. When he rudely refused I held back a slur of obscenities and turned my face toward heaven, asking God to bring me His Word.’

‘The next day, when I was taken out of my cell to shower, I went to throw my dirty uniform into the clothes bin, which was normally overflowing with dirty linens. This time it was empty – except for a copy of The Bible. God had answered my prayer! My transformation had begun.’

After she found The Bible, Katie spent hours in her cell, reading through it. She started working on a book for convicts, for all of God’s captive people, urging them to take hold of their created purpose during their incarceration.

In 2001, six months before her Federal appeal was heard in court, God revealed to Katie exactly what her new release date would be. When her appeal was approved in July of 2002, seven years were taken off her sentence and the release date the Lord gave her came to pass!

A BOOK FOR CAPTIVES

After her release, Katie continued working on the book she started in prison. She titled it The Captivity Series: the Key to your Expected End. Currently, The Captivity Series is being read or taught in facilities all over the world!

This key study for inmates is based on Biblical stories of ancient Israel’s captives: Katie took Israel’s journey in, through and out of exile and directly paralleled it to the incarceration experience prisoners go through today.

The ultimate goal of The Captivity Series is to teach every prisoner how to take possession of their God created purpose, right in the middle of their captivity. Katie calls a person’s kingdom purpose their ‘Expected End’ (Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you an expected end!” KJV). She believes that once we have possession of our ‘Expected End’, it changes or lives, fills us with purpose and empowers us to never return to captivity again.

HEALING MINISTRY

God also showed Katie in prison that her ‘Expected End’, or kingdom assignment, involves healing: prisoners need to be well and healthy in order to walk out their life purpose: ‘There are so many people who are sick,’ says Katie, ‘physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. 3 John 2 says that we will be prospered and be in health “as our soul is prospered” (NKJV). Therefore, when I go inside prisons to minister to those incarcerated, God helps me to release an anointing that heals people’s souls, enabling them to get healed in their physical bodies. When we pray we bring people ‘the glory light of God’: according to Malachi 4:2, “…the Sun of Righteousness arises with healing in His wings…” (NKJV) Every time we come into contact with the glory of God we are changed in our souls, we are healed!’

TRANSFORMING LIVES

Katie and her team at Expected End Ministries are constantly working on bringing people into contact with God’s healing love. They are currently busy with a new project, The Transformation House. This will be a home for people who were recently released from prison: ‘We are only starting with two women, but are in the planning stages of building a dorm that could hold up to 40. Our residents will be taught basic principals from The Bible, as well as The Captivity Series. They will be taught a new way to live so they will never have to return to prison again.’

Katie Souza was once in the pit of prison life. Today she runs a successful ministry, has a loving husband and partner in ministry, Robert Souza, and she is actively living her kingdom purpose. Do you have a loved one in prison? Or perhaps you yourself have a history of exile. God is calling you… even in the midst of bondage.

For a copy of The Captivity Series, go to http://www.ExpectedEndMinistries.com and click on Prisoners – Request a Book.

My Article in Elle Magazine!


See caption on left: 'Why We Love To Dress Up' - my article made ELLE!

THE BLESSING CALLED DRESSING

By Nicolette Ferreira

Between 8am and 9pm every day, you will most certainly find a colourful pile of hopeful clothes on my bed. Am I bad at housekeeping? Not at all – just desperate to have a good day!

Dressing up for any occasion (and an ‘occasion’ involves anything from house cleaning to collecting the mail in the complex) is essential for having a successful day. The right combination of clothes and accessories, for me, does not only involve what is fashionable, but, most importantly, must reflect the mood that I want to be in…

Dressing up is a matter of magnitude! It is a time for making critical assessments: do I want to feel funky, or sophisticated? Do I want to be cute or sexy? What will empower me today?

My 6-door closet is a fortress – always equipped with everything I might need for the battle called life… I have clothes for feeling like a ballerina and clothes for feeling like Elle’s summer shoot model. Then there are house-cleaning clothes (for feeling like maid in Manhattan) and something way at the back in case I ever have to, goodness forbid, paint something around the house.

I have pajamas for spring, summer, autumn and winter (yes, even going to bed requires dressing up). There is a pair of boots that says ‘I am cool and funky and I have just spent the entire day surfing’ (even though I have never done such a thing in my life) and a pair that says ‘Don’t mess with me – today or ever! I am a modern, emancipated woman!’ I have a short, little blue thing that makes me feel like a celebrity when I wear it with high heels, as well as cute ‘frilly flowery frocks’ with white cardigans for feeling as cute as a button.

Once I have decided on my battle gear for the day, it is not simply over and done with: I probably wear 3 to 4 different outfits each day – and that excludes my nightwear!

Does it frustrate me one bit to change clothes every 4 to 5 hours? Well, it is rather annoying when I get to bed at 11 pm and find my whole wardrobe on my bed, shoes scattered everywhere. In fact, my shoes and clothes will be scattered all over the house – in every room with a mirror: I seem to believe that one mirror works different than another…

But besides all this, I love the process of putting together a killer ensemble. Personally, it is quite similar to the pleasure I got from childlike activities, like dressing Barbie or colouring: shall I give Charlie Brown a red sweater or a yellow one? Blue shoes or red ones? The joy comes from having both the power and freedom to decide and create.

Dressing up gives me a sense of being armed. My clothes are my most useful and perilous weapon. I wage war against anything that wants to bring me down. Leave-in conditioner, mascara, long string pearls, jeans and a soft, flowery cotton top… it’s war time! Just think about underwear: No one has to see them, but the moment you put on that white bra with the pink lace – you are a conquering lady.

Tousling my hair, putting on a dress when it is not quite summer yet, and glossing my lips to the extent that I cannot kiss my man, works for me. Even walking around with my big black shades and a take away cup of cappuccino is part of dressing up and boosting my confidence. Life, you can open fire! My closet has me covered!

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