Blog Archives

Marie: My Story

For a long time now, I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post about ‘my story’ for those who don’t know me so well – recent friends, new acquaintances, even family, so today I’m actually getting round to it…

During this blog post, I want to mention and highlight a few wonderful people who have all played significant roles in different seasons of my life.

Firstly, I’m truly grateful to my parents (Wouter and Yvette Theron) for raising me in the best way they knew how and for teaching me the values of hard work and authenticity. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe, my home, and attended boarding school in Harare from the age of 5 until 17. When I was 14 years old, a very special friend of mine (who was also my dorm prefect at the time) Joanne Milligan, invited me along to River of Life Church. At first I thought ‘why on earth would I want to go sit through a long, boring, formal, stuffy service listening to an old guy preach at me and singing from hymn books that are not relevant to me today?’ My parents don’t attend church and this is what I thought churches were like, but Jo immediately went on to tell me that the church meets in St John’s high school hall, there’s a band and lots of boys! 🙂 Well I can’t remember if she used those exact words, but it’s what I discovered on the first Sunday that I went along. I remember thinking to myself ‘why not try it out? It’s better than being stuck at school on Sundays’ (as boarders, we would try anything to get out of school). Well, I can honestly say that that day changed the course of the rest of my life…

marie1

I was in my vulnerable teenage years, peer pressure at its strongest, where I could have chosen popularity, boys, sex, drinking or drugs over God any day. But I’m so grateful that God revealed Himself to me through River of Life Church – I asked Jesus into my life and I came to know His powerful love for me, I experienced a true happiness and joy and peace that I’d never known before. From that moment on, I wanted to live for my Father and Him alone, because the Father’s love can not be compared to anything else in this world. So many people search for fulfillment in the things of this world, but only God’s love can truly satisfy the longings in our hearts. If God created us, then surely He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He created us for Himself.

I left school and went on to secretarial college for a year, and sadly stopped going to church for a while. I had a fairly serious boyfriend who occupied my time at the weekends (and during the week), but after about a year the relationship ended and God lovingly drew me back to Himself.

The following year, I started working and studying a BA psychology degree part-time and started going back to River of Life church, which was then meeting in Mount Pleasant School hall. God gave me some real quality friends in church (male, female, black, white and Asian) who I genuinely had loads of fun with and who had my best interests at heart, one of them being Chipo Rwapunga, who was just always there for me whenever I needed a friend to talk to or get advice from. She’s a woman of wisdom.

By this time, I had a fantastic mornings-only job working for agricultural businesses doing their bookkeeping (also still studying at this stage), but River of Life church (which now has its own building in Eastlea) offered me a bookkeeping job. I asked God what He wanted me to do as I was being paid very well and I’d be taking a big pay cut for doing the same type of job and the same hours! It sounds ludicrous to change jobs for reduced pay, but money is not everything. So no surprise there, He told me to take the job! 🙂 So I worked at ROL Eastlea for a year and a half until I finished my degree. To this day, it has been the best job I’ve ever had, I loved every minute of it! There hasn’t been another job that I’ve enjoyed doing more. I had amazing work colleagues and a real sense of passion and purpose for the work I was doing!

However, for a long time I’d been asking God if He wanted me to move to the UK when I finished my degree, and eventually He said yes! I told Scott Marques (my boss at the time) and he said he’d ask around the Newfrontiers UK contacts if there were any available jobs (ROL Eastlea is part of the Newfrontiers International family of churches). To cut a long story short, through the combined efforts of Scott Marques and Sean Mullens, I started work at the Newfrontiers office in Brighton, UK as Matt Simmonds’ PA in December 2007. Matt was responsible for Newfrontiers Media & Comms and Newday event at the time.

At the Newfrontiers church in Brighton, I met my special Australian friend Ali Devitt 🙂 If it was not for her, I don’t think I would have lasted in the UK as long as I did. Ali introduced me to a host of other friends in church, we went to loads of social events and even travelled around Europe! It was a real season of enjoying my youth – fun, friends and travelling 🙂

mariefriends1mariefriends2
mariefriends3mariefriends4

 

After a year and a half of loving life and good friends in Brighton, God spoke to me again and said it was time to move to London! This was not what I wanted to hear as I was nicely settled in Brighton, I had good solid friends and I was loving my job – I didn’t want to start from scratch all over again.

Anyway, there was a job vacancy advertised by email for an Office Administrator at the Newfrontiers London office, so I thought I’d apply for the job and see what happens. I was asked to go to London for an interview and then got offered the job! Within a month, I had moved to London and started working as the Office Administrator at the Newfrontiers London office in May 2009.

When I started the new job, I met my wonderful husband Anthony Somerset who was working as the IT Co-ordinator for Newfrontiers UK at the time. We were friends and work colleagues for a long time before anything further happened between us. Then (thanks to the matchmaking skills of my boss Sharon Mukungu) we finally took a huge risk entering into a relationship because of the fact that we were working together. It would have been hard to continue working together if the relationship hadn’t worked out. However, just 4 months later we were engaged and 4 months later we were married! 🙂

marieant1

For 3 and a half years, I lived and worked in London.

For almost 2 years of marriage, Anthony and I lived in London together.

Then we both felt that God was wanting us to move back to Zimbabwe and start a family, so in August 2012, we packed up and moved to Zim when I was 4 months pregnant.

On 22 January 2013, our first child Ronnie was born 🙂

ronnie1

On 12 September 2014, our second child Rosie was born 🙂

rosie1

Both our children are such huge blessings to us and they’ve brought us so much joy and happiness and laughter 🙂 Yes indeed children are very hard work, but we love them to bits and would lay down our lives for them and we’re so grateful to God for each of them!

kids1

Anthony, being the incredible husband and father that he is, has provided for his family and looked after our financial needs, which means that to this day I’ve not had to go out to work, but instead I’ve had the huge privilege of being a stay-at-home mum. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever done, and day after day I’m having to rely on God to give me the grace and patience and love to discipline and raise my children in a way that leads them to Him, our Heavenly Father, who created them and loves them more than I do, because He literally laid down His life for them.

I’m so excited to see what God has in store for us in the future, I love living a life of adventure with Him!

Until next time….




To Serve

I’m currently reading a Bill Hybels book, and as I was lying on my bed reading this evening, the Holy Spirit impressed the following message on me: “The reason why I’m calling you and Anthony to move to Zimbabwe is very simple: to serve”.

Now this had absolutely nothing to do with what I was reading in my book, it seemed to just come out of nowhere, but I felt that God was speaking to me at that moment.

Both Anthony and I know that God’s called us to move to Zim, but it’s always nice to know the reason why J So I was filled with joy and peace and encouragement after hearing it, thanking God for the privilege of hearing His voice and having Him as my father.

Then I thought, ok God wants us to serve in Zim – to serve where, to serve whom and in what capacity?

So I thought about how we are serving here in London at the moment, and the things that we are passionate about, and it gave me some ideas. God wants us to serve the church we’re going to join, the people in the church, the leaders of the church, the teenagers on Zam Hols camps, the people that we work with, the non-Christians around us, and of course our family and friends!

What a massive joy and privilege it is to be able to partner with God in serving others!




New Year, New Adventure, Same Jesus

So its 2012 already, Happy New year! 2011 has been a blast in so many ways to count. God’s done amazing things in Mine and Marie’s life this last year and He’s calling us onto new adventures this year. It’s no secret Marie and I are planning on moving to Zimbabwe this year, we have talked about it a fair bit. Well the hard deadline is now set, we just booked our tickets to go for 30th August.

So we are on a new adventure from August, we are off to Zim, i plan to continue doing my business from there, Marie is going to be doing some volunteering for a Church out there assuming she has the time to do it and we will both be getting stuck into a new church plant/evening service called One which meets at the SevenArts Cinema in the Avondale area of Harare, more info here: http://www.facebook.com/ONEpeeps

Matt Ellis made a great comment at church yesterday, “It’s a New Year but its still the same Jesus!” which reminded me that although we will be going to a new country, We’ll still be following the same God that is with us in the UK. and just following on from that Andy Tilsley’s talk on Greed and Contentment, he was talking about being content with what we have and what God has blessed us with. These are going to be powerful words when times are challenging in a whole new country.

After his preach Andy got Lydia and the band to sing an old Hymn over the congregation called Give me Jesus, its actually on the end of the podcast itself over here i had the pleasure of editing the podcast this week because of the song, from our Multi-Track recording of the service so have the song on its own. It’s such a simple song that i want to make my philosophy for the year. you should have a listen to it.

Give Me Jesus

This was taken direct off one of the sound desks yesterday and has only had a little processing done to it, no re-recording or over dubbing. It’s a really beautiful track.




Fireproof – Review (Kind of)

Marie and I watched a film called Fireproof last night. One of Marie’s work colleagues lent it to us, it’s a Christian movie and at first I thought it was going to be a cheesy movie about some bible story or just plain bad acting. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to watching to start with.

The film is basically about a couple who after 7 years things are just drifting apart to the point they consider divorce, The main character Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron) is challenged by his father to take on the “Love Dare” for 40 days rather than just signing the divorce papers and while it starts hard he sticks at it. He hits rock bottom around day 20 when his wife Katherine Holt (Erin Bethea) tells him that she no longer loves him. At this point he speaks to his father who comes down to visit and shares the gospel with him and he gets saved.

Now that he is saved he has a new heart to continue on the Love Dare through to completion and beyond even though he hasn’t been shown any appreciation up to that point. The film culminates in the (somewhat expected) ending of his wife coming to him and saying “Something’s Changed in you & I want that too!”

While my brief synopsis doesn’t really do much for the story or the film itself I can say it was excellent and quite moving in places, I dont want to give too many of the story points away, but at times it was humorous, especially the tabasco sauce drinking scene! and at times it was very moving, when Katherine suddenly realised who paid the $24,000 to supply her Mum the right bed and wheelchair she needed after suffering a stroke.

I did particularly like the similarities in the middle when Caleb was asking his Dad, how can he (Caleb) love someone despite constantly being despised and rejected – Remind you of Jesus much?

For sure the acting is not hollywood level, but its not bad either, it’s pretty respectable and it did lack the cheesy cringe factor that I’ve witnessed when seeing some other christian videos, they even apparently filmed it on location in 30 days!.

Watching the film left me with an interesting thought and in many respects a warning to myself and probably any other married couple – marriages don’t just break up overnight, they break up slowly over a long time, so subtly perhaps that you probably don’t even notice something is wrong until its often too late. In fact the DVD extra features includes a music video and the film itself has as part of its sound track, the song by Casting Crowns – Slow Fade, heres the chorus:

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

This really got me thinking how easy that could happen to Marie and myself if I’m not careful, it’s not one big mistake that would cost me my marriage one day, its would be a systematic and constant assumption that “everything is fine” or making compromises for things that really shouldn’t be compromised in the first place.

For example in the film Katherine talks about the “trash” on the internet that he views, and there are further references to it, and it basically means looking at porn. while i would consider myself blessed that I don’t struggle with that temptation anymore it got me thinking is there anything that I do that might be considered to be valuing more than my wife? it’s a good reality check to make sure I am keeping anything like that in check, like the desire to always have the latest Apple gadgets like the iPad or Working too much.

The film is a good reminder that marriage is hard work and there are times when it’s not easy and it’s not just about feelings sometimes but just as much about making conscious decisions to love someone even when its hard, probably one of the cheesiest lines of the film was “Just because you fireproof your home, it doesn’t mean fire wont come to it” such a great reminder that yes as you work on your marriage, it doesn’t guarantee you safety from tests and trials but it should warn you not to get complacent

So I guess my review ends with a warning to any married couples out there to keep checking on your marriage and making sure there’s nothing that would cause you to make compromises on it or your partner. I’d actually recommend the film as well as a good watch too!

The film ends with this song, Love is Not a Fight by Warren Barfield, and I think it does a fairly good job of summing up what love (and by extension marriage too), i thought i would post the lyrics up:

Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It’s a house we enter in
Then commit to never leave

So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We’ll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for

To some, love is a word
That they can fall into
But when they’re falling out
Keeping that word is hard to do

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for

Love will come to save us
If we’ll only call
He will ask nothing from us
But demand we give our all

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for

I will fight for you
Would you fight for me?
It’s worth fighting for

I’ll end with this question, Is your partner worth fighting for? and if so, Why aren’t you fighting for them, even when the times are good as well as bad?
That reminds me of the Mark Driscoll line: “if you don’t date your Spouse, Somebody else will”
My answer: I’ll fight until God calls me up to make his websites run fast!



God is Funny!

God has got a brilliant sense of humour! He tends to give me things I haven’t even prayed for, but things that I’ve thought about and want. There are a number of small examples I could give, but for the sake of time and my fingers, I’ll just give a few…

For example, the other day when I was on my way to work during rush hour, I knew the tube would be packed as it is every morning, and that I’d have to stand up, packed in like a sardine. I was in quite a grouchy mood, and I was thinking about how much I miss the chivalrous well-mannered men in Zimbabwe who offer up their seats to women, so that women don’t have to either stand or sit on the floor (depending on the situation). Anyway, I got on the tube, rammed in by people on all sides of me, and the man sitting in a seat nearby stands up and offers me his seat, and he sounded English! Now that never happens to me when I’m travelling on the tubes, and the fact that it occurred just at the moment when I was grouchy and complaining about it in my head, how ironic, that’s God’s humour 🙂 So of course I gladly accepted! (Thank You God for giving me a seat even though I didn’t ask You for one 🙂

Another example, when I was 22, I went on a Zambezi Holidays youth camp to serve as a leader. For those that don’t know, Zam Hols is the Zimbabwe equivalent of Newday (except on a much smaller scale), where youth from the Newfrontiers churches gather for 7 days during the school holidays for worship, teaching, bible studies, games, water sports, abseiling and much more. Anyway, I was really excited about serving on Zam Hols camp, and I was thinking ‘Phew! Praise God I wasn’t one of the leaders who got asked to do a talk or bible study! Yessssss!’ However, a few days before the camp, I got asked to lead one of the bible studies, and the topic I got given was ‘sexual temptation’! Apparently they hadn’t yet found a leader to take that slot. At that point I had never done a talk or bible study before, let alone on a topic such as this, so I was like ‘God that’s not funny’ but I think He thought it was! Apparently it went well, and somehow God got me through it, phew! (this example is slightly different, as God gave me something I didn’t ask for, and that I definitely didn’t want!)

A final example, many years ago, I think when I was about 19 or 20, I remember thinking how nice it would be to get married to a businessman and do bookkeeping in Zimbabwe. I never prayed for that, it was just a thought. And the irony is that I’m married to Anthony who runs his own business, and I’ll be doing his bookkeeping in Zimbabwe in a few months time 🙂

Now I’m not saying that prayer isn’t important, because I firmly believe in the power of prayer, but what I’m saying is that God knows the desires of my heart and sometimes He gives me things that I want or think about even when I can’t be bothered to pray for it, because He’s so kind and good and gracious and wonderful and loving! 🙂