Everything has its value. A gold coin is coveted for it value. A nice car, house and lovely kids give us status and value. We appreciate beautiful things and great experiences. We value the opinion of others and value their worth. What about our own value? How easy is it to feel appreciated and valued for your thoughts and opinions and just who you are?
It certainly has not been easy this last year. Mental health issues are constantly debated. The slogan “its ok to not be ok” is found in social media, in magazines and expressed on the television. But is it? When you are told what to do, where to stay and how to behave, our own value seems somehow diminished. Like we can’t decide for ourselves how to think. It seems our opinion is not valued.
It is no secret to those I have confided in that I have struggled and still do, this last year. My whole life has changed, like so many of us. My working life has been full of adapting, not just working from home, but also be stuck in the wrong time zone. When you are the only one in a timezone between the 2 you work in, the demands are very high. Working afternoon/evenings/nights and try and keep some sense of normality is very hard. From being on the road and alone to being stuck in the house with other people equally impacted is very hard. Furlough became a word that has meant being home, getting paid and not being able to contribute to society. It gives its own pressures and somehow feels like you are not valued (not me, but Geert and Melody) Even though it feels there is some light at the end of the tunnel, damage has already been done.
It seems I have put my value on who I am, rather than what I am worth. I have taken all these negative happenings in my own world and attributed that to myself as somehow a negative reflection. And I know we are blessed compared to those who have lost jobs, homes, lives and loved ones.
So it has me pondering. Where do I get my worth from?
In the Bible in Jeremiah 1 the beautiful verse is written that goes as follows: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” This speaks from an incredible intimacy. He puts value on us that is measured from the moment of conception and He wants what is best for us. Or Isaiah 43 where it says: “You are precious in my eyes” Throughout the Bible you can find all these versus that show how much God loves us individually and values us beyond measure. He values us and I am allowed to find my value in Him.
My feelings can’t be trusted, my self worth is often dented by happenings around me. But God loves me and puts so much value on me as His Child that He was willing to lay down His life for me. He was willing to restore the relationship between humans and Him in order to have us in His presence for eternity. I am learning each day to put my value in that. To not trust my own opinion, but to believe Gods opinion of me when He tells me I have value beyond measure.
There is light at the end of this tunnel. Life will return to some new normal. But the life lessons given to me in this dark world will stay with me forever. And I hope it will stay with you also.
“You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you are.” — Max Lucado
It has been many weeks since I last wrote a post. The weeks have totally run into each other, with the latest lockdown that started before Christmas. It seems so long ago already, but with most of December, all of January, February and March still to come, the world has just been at a stand still.
Working from home has gotten really old. Hours run into days, run into weeks. Each day is exactly the same as the previous one. Weekends don’t feel much different. Just existing from one day to the next.
It makes me reflect on the story of Noah. He and his family and all the animals were in the ark for 371 days! (40 days of rain, light rain of 110 days, 74 days till the water receded enough for Noah to see the tops of the mountains, 7 days later Noah sends the first dove, 7 days later another five, another 7 days later and the final dove. Then another 29 days and the ark cover was removed. And then, finally, another 57 days later Noah and his family disembarked.
If Noah can be in the ark with all the animals for 371 days, I know I can endure another month or so of this lockdown.
It will have been just over a year since the first lockdown when predictions in England say we can see some sense of normality. The seriousness of the infections are reduced by the vaccination program. And soon we are sending out our first dove by finally getting our kids back in school. It’s not quite 7 days later when shops can reopen, but I certainly am looking forward to that second dove being send out to search for dry land!
Then God told Noah, “Come out of the ark. And bring the animals with you so they can be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” So Noah and his family came out with all the animals (Genesis 8:13–19).
Noah was faithful in his obedience and devotion to God. He must have felt that God had forgotten then during those 371 days floating around. We don’t read much about those days, but if I feel cooped up after 100 days, I can certainly imagine how Noah and his family must have felt. He waited obediently till God told him to come out of the ark. It was safe for them all to start repopulating the earth.
And that’s what I’ll do. Faithfully wait till it’s declared safe to go about our business once again. Yet, through this all, I am more convinced than ever that this is My Fathers world. He has not forgotten us, He cares for us as much as He did keeping Noah safe.
With only a few weeks to go to Easter, this is a great time to reflect on that. The great sacrifice He made to be our ‘ark’, our rescue.
Speak Lord, your servant is ready to hear…..
CS Lewis wrote the Narnia Chronicles in the 50s, having converted to Christianity in the late 20s. It is based on kids finding a mythical world in a wardrobe and overcoming their own fears in the progress of the story. It’s certainly a series worth reading. Many see the books as a Christian allegory, with Aslan as the Son of God.
Nothing actually says Christmas to me like the story of Aslan in Narnia. Aslan the lion who teaches the kids in the story about unselfish love and self sacrifice. The Lion gave up his life to save Edmund in the story, who had betrayed the Narnians and his siblings. By the death of the Lion, the boy was free to live and repent. It all ends well, the Lion is resurrected and the kids reign over Narnia which they freed from evil.
That’s the story of Christmas to me. Jesus came to this earth to teach us how to live with each other. Ultimately we betray and hurt each other, and in order to give us an opportunity to reconcile with the Father, Jesus gave up His life for us. The story starts of course with the babe Jesus, born in a manger.
Christmas is now past, but remembering Jesus is not just for Christmas. We remember his birth, but it’s worth to also look at His life and the lessons He teaches us daily. Maybe that would be a great way to start the new year 2021, which is almost here. To care for each other, to live in harmony with those around us and put our trust of these uncertain times in the life of Him who came to show us how to live.
May 2021 be the best year yet!
In Europe we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the same way our American neighbours do. However, that does not mean we are less thankful!! It’s actually a great opportunity to reflect on the last year and give thanks to Him who has blessed us greatly.
This year has been a hard year, with Covid being on the forefront of everyone’s mind am sure. Sickness, death, job losses, money problems, mental health issues… you name it… Life as we knew it is no more.
Still, I am thankful for all He has lead me through, good and bad.. He is still in control and still the Saviour of my life! And that makes me feel blessed!
So I am taking this moment to also thank all of you. I am grateful for the support I receive in all that I do. I hope I can be as supportive of you.
Thankful for another year, grateful for all my friends and family and blessed because He loves me and cares for me!
Another year has passed. It’s less than 8 weeks to Christmas. The US presidential election is still undecided. And we are back in a total lockdown… events just keep unfolding, and time just keeps on flying. It certainly gives me time to reflect and think about all that is going on in this world.
As I write this, I can hear the family walking up the stairs singing. So sweet, they are bringing cards and little presents. Still I can’t shake the feeling this is just another one of those days of which many have passed already in the last 9 months. I don’t know why I struggle so much with this forced lockdown. Even though I rarely go out anyways, when someone tells you you can’t do something it feels just worse!
Since I have come back from the US I have volunteered at the One Vision (link below) where I can. Sorting food, clothes, refilling the store etc. And by doing so I am focused on others more than myself. With each foodcan I put down or plastic bag I fill I am reminded how blessed I truly am. N
I have no financial struggle, a warm house, and still the ability to enjoy another birthday! It sure puts things in prospective.
Melody and I are also about to attend our first virtual Christmas market with our handmade crochet items. You can find the (growing) collection on our Shopify page (https://tapandco.myshopify.com). This will be a totally new experience, thanks to the lockdown. A little reminder that Christmas is coming!
With that, I can truly say I am thankful. And blessed.
I would encourage you to find light in this dark tunnel. And find a listening ear if you are struggling. There are many wonderful support groups that can be reached, and many individuals who unselfishly give up their time to care for others. It provides a different prospective. And I am also very willing to be the listening ear, or be the other face on a zoom social. Just contact me and let me know.
A Time for Everything
1Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.
2He sets the time for birth and the time for death,
the time for planting and the time for pulling up,
3the time for killing and the time for healing,
the time for tearing down and the time for building.
4He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy,
the time for mourning and the time for dancing,
5the time for making love and the time for not making love,
the time for kissing and the time for not kissing.
6He sets the time for finding and the time for losing,
the time for saving and the time for throwing away,
7the time for tearing and the time for mending,
the time for silence and the time for talk.
8He sets the time for love and the time for hate,
the time for war and the time for peace.
9What do we gain from all our work? 10I know the heavy burdens that God has laid on us. 11He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what he does. 12So I realized that all we can do is to be happy and do the best we can while we are still alive. 13All of us should eat and drink and enjoy what we have worked for. It is God’s gift.
14I know that everything God does will last for ever. You can’t add anything to it or take anything away from it. And one thing God does is to make us stand in awe of him. 15Whatever happens or can happen has already happened before. God makes the same thing happen again and again.
Yesterday was the global mental health day. The world health organisation finds mental health important enough to have a yearly day dedicated to it. It’s even more appropriate this year with so many people suffering from poor mental health, of course brought on by the Covid pandemic restrictions.
I too find myself impacted by and barely coping with all that has gone on in the world in the last 8 months. The world as we know it is no more. The outlook of it returning to something similar is slim. And I too am wondering what that means for my long term goals. The speed of change is so fast, it’s very hard to keep up. Every day something else changes from the day before.
By now I am probably Covid fatigued. I understand the need to protect, but something inside me is starting to be rebellious. The impact of the restrictions are now being felt in all layers of society. More and more people are not taking the restrictions serious, tired of being told how to live.
Geert has been furloughed since April. He is now working just 16 hours a week. For a pastor that is so hard. Just when people are looking for guidance and answers, our pastors are not able to be the spiritual leaders we want. And the uncertainty that goes with it.. will he loose his job? Even the ‘street pastor’ program in Watford town centre is on hold for fear of getting or spreading Covid. People will miss out on the opportunity to have someone pray with them.
With him there are many others in similar situations. At church we have a charity called ‘One Vision’ which is busier than ever bringing food to people who can’t go out or have no means to buy. They also launched their branch of Mental health wellbeing yesterday to coincide with World Mental Health day. You may want to check out the website or find them on Facebook.
Jesus said not to worry. He knows the little birds and cares for them as much as He knows and cares for me. Borrowing trouble from tomorrow may make us miss opportunities today. Opportunities to be grateful and do good.
Something I am trying to keep in mind and apply to my own life.
‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
Those who know me know I love shells. I can walk along the beach for hours, looking for the perfect shells. Especially shells still connected together (but empty!). I love the turned little shells, as well as big plain ones!! I collect them, all with the promise of one day doing something with them. That has not happened so far but my season is not over yet! Each trip I come back with more.
One of the most soothing sounds walking along the beach is the sound of the crashing waves. A long slow sound when the wind is calm. A rushing crashing sound when the wind is strong. Both are calming in its own way, that is.. as long as I have my feet firmly on the sand. I do get seasick quickly, so I prefer the sound over the experience of rolling waves!
Walking along the beach is a great time of reflection. Many facets of life are resolved, when the wind blows through my hair. Even as kids my dad took us often to the beach in the weekends. In stormy weather there was usually a cup of hot chocolate at the end of the walk. Those were probably the best walks! Any lingering cobweb in my head gets blown away, and after the walk I feel light, refreshed and ready for whatever is coming my way. My pockets jingling with shells… or seaglass…
Seaglass… old bottles battered around in the sea, broken up into pieces, and then sanded by the constant motion of the water. The result is a beautiful piece of so called sea glass, coveted and treasured. I love collecting these pieces too. These tell me a great story of no matter how battered and bruised I may get, I will get polished and come out beautiful at the other end.
If anything is an example of transformation, it’s seaglass!
There is this verse in the Bible in Malachi 3:3 that speaks about purification of silver and gold. I get reminded of that when I think about seaglass. We all have to be transformed, purified by the fire, just like silver and gold. That’s where our true worth comes out.
We may get battered and bruised in the process of our lives, but we will get transformed into something very valuable and beautiful. And when we are finally going home, Jesus will be waiting for us at the sea of glass, welcoming us with open arms. That’s when the biggest transformation will take place. We will be the most beautiful and shiny, walking hand in hand with our Father, who has not ever left us in our transformation process.
I can hardly wait for that moment!
You can’t really visit Scotland and not visit at least some castles. Some are beautiful restored, some are now in ruins, some are still occupied and some are now museums. Visiting these is one of my favourite activities. A lot of footsteps have gone before me, walking along the hall ways, and I can always dream about what it has been like. I can dream about being in charge of the castle, or marvel at what those truly in charge have done with it. Castles are build on very strong foundations.
Castles remind me of past times, of era’s gone by.
There is another type of castle. Sand castles are those built on the beach, with a bucket and spade… An alternate meaning is dreaming of something but without a firm foundation, or living a life without a firm foundation. Walking along the beach I love looking at those castles built by kids… and I remember I certainly also have dreams built on nothing but sand.
There is a children’s song we used to sing.. A wise man built his house on the rock, but a foolish man built his house on the sand. Then the storm came and the house on the sand fell flat. The song is based on Matthew 7:24-27. In this passage we are encouraged to build our house on a solid foundation. On a rock. Not on sand, where it can crash.
“24 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain feel, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it”
Both castles are beautiful. But the big difference between a sand castle and a real castle is the material it’s built with and the foundation it’s built on. Castles are built to last, they are often in strategic locations, built on rock massive. Unlike sand castles/dream castles which can just blow away by the wind.
We are asked to build our lives on Jesus the Rock, so it can withstand the test of time. Just like the castles I have seen. It can weather a storm, where Jesus is the centre of our lives. We will learn to trust Him, and unlike the sand castle of dreams this relationship will stay strong.
“And I will build my life upon Your love, it is a firm foundation
And I will put my trust in You alone and I will not be shaken
And I will build my life upon Your love, it is a firm foundation
And I will put my trust in You alone and I will not be shaken…
Holy, there is no one like You, there is none beside You
Open up my eyes in wonder and
Show me who You are and fill me with Your heart
And lead me in Your love to those around me” (Pat Barrett)
Castles, dreams… what is your life built on? I hope it is on the Rock!
The trees are starting to get a distinct yellow hue. Leaves are actually turning colour, and some are already falling off the trees. Autumn is approaching!
This year is such a strange year. By now, 5 months into Covid, it’s starting to get old. Staying inside, not mingling with people, none of the things we are used to take control of. Churches needing to be reimagined, economies struggling, not able to freely travel. It has impacted us all in some way or other.
Secretly I hope that autumn is a sign of change. The natures changes, producing the most wonderful colours. A real promise of new things to come. But the old first has to die. Maybe that’s true if Covid too.. I certainly hope so!
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
This comes from Ecclesiastes 3, and reminds me of an old song:
Our lives is a real mixture of all sorts of emotions: joy, fear, anxiety, sadness etc. Nothing stays the same, change is always there. We all have to learn and accept and adjust to the ebb and flow of God’s design. Just like the seasons in the year. Some seasons are difficult, and we may not understand what God is doing. Like the current season we are in. But as I said in an earlier post, God is still in control and we have to trust He has our lives in His hands.
This season approaching is one of my favourite seasons. This year particularly I hope this will herald in a season of change. Turn .. Turn… Turn…