Thankful, Grateful, Blessed

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!

A Time For Reflection

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.

https://www.onevisionproject.org

Mental Health Day

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)

Sandy Beaches and Empty Shells

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!

Castles and Foundations

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.

Fraser Castle

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.

Sand Castle Remnants

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!

Slain Castle
Tolquhon Castle
Dunnottar Castle

Nearly Autumn

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…

The first turned leaf I noticed
The first leaf I saw on the ground

Trusting is the Hardest Thing

Don’t you have it sometimes, when all things just come together in a bad way, and you do not know if you need to turn right or left? Trusting that Someone is still in control is not so easy. You want to just do your own thing, and hope for the best, as you think that is ultimately Gods way.

God uses every decision we make, that’s very true. He will not let us fall, and He will always be there to catch us if we do. But sometimes it feels He is so far away.

I find myself caught once again, not knowing what will happen, or how things will unfold. The Covid situation has many folks spooked, including me. Masks are mandatory everywhere, so it’s very visible wherever you turn. Even if shops are mostly stocked again, the thought of the second wave is never far away. The news won’t let us forget it even if we tried! We are told to stay sensible or there will be another lock down.

The economy has a huge impact. Job losses, protection of self… similar in Europe as in America. We keep each other updated, calls, texts, Facebook. We hear from friends and co workers about those who suffer. Money is tight for many people and thank God there are charities like the One Vision in Watford who help those most afflicted!

I guess I can count myself blessed I did not loose my job like so many others.

This seems like a very somber post, but really it’s just trying to tell myself God is still in control. It’s His world, as the beautiful song says

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

The writer referenced Jacob’s exclamation “the Lord is in this place” from Genesis 28:16

Trusting Him is hard, especially when you can’t see the road, or where it’s leading to. But He is not forgotten about me or you. The Lord is in this place!

Service

11 Jesus answered, “What if one of you has a sheep and it falls into a deep hole on the Sabbath? Will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 And a human being is worth much more than a sheep! So then, our Law does allow us to help someone on the Sabbath.”

This passage comes from Matt 12 (verse 11 and 12) and is quite controversial. It is Jewish custom to protect the day of rest. Many rules have been created to ensure the Sabbath commandment ‘keep the Sabbath day holy and do no work’ is kept. Rules that may seem a little excessive vary between carrying, writing, cooking etc. This article is quite informative -> https://www.ou.org/holidays/shabbat/the_thirty_nine_categories_of_sabbath_work_prohibited_by_law/

Being non Jewish, I find these rules hard to understand. But what’s allowed on the sabbath, the day of rest, is still a very burning question amongst many of us. Some things are frowned upon, others are plain dividing subjects. Playing games, going swimming.. as if it’s diminishing this beautiful day of rest. A day set aside to spend in communion with God and our fellow humans.

During this intense period of Covid laws, we have been protecting our medical personnel. We don’t want to put our doctors in a position where they have to choose who dies and who lives. Many folks have had to stay confined in their homes as they are in high risk categories. Many charities try and cater for this category of people, bringing food and groceries. And the old discussion starts up again. Is this allowed to be done on a sabbath?

Jesus said that the day of rest was created for man, so he could be in communication with his Maker. He also said that which is done for the least of us, we do for Him. Serving is a true sign of love for God and love for man.

Another day of rest is starting. The busy week is passed and the weekend is here. Time to rest, do good and communicate.

As a family we have Zoom meetings each weekend, usually on Saturday. Our way of communicating, spending time together and being in fellowship together. I am looking forward to it. Time set aside. In the same way as I set time aside to sided with my Maker.

And if I can do good in that process too, by doing something for my fellow earthly occupants l, I feel I have spent the sabbath as was intended in Matt 12.

You joining me?

Rest

Some days are harder than other ones. Am sure we all experience it. Some days you don’t feel like getting up, or getting into your normal routine. Working from home seems to take away the boundary between your own life and your work life. So that feeling of not wanting to start a day is more profound.

Having stayed home now for 4 months, focusing on things to do at home, planning outings outside the home as swift as possible, it makes you reassess lots of things. I love being out and about, exploring, shopping, going places. But it’s not safe yet in the same way as it was last year. Hobbies at home is the thing.. I have discovered I love writing with fountain pens, I read more, and I crochet. My Netflix list is getting smaller and I rediscovered my love for history and documentaries.

In all that though, rest seems to have been given a new meaning. Previously rest was done in your house when you returned from being out. What is rest now? It’s ceasing activity, and relaxing the body. But with the always on mentality now working from home it’s so much harder to find true rest.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

That verse has gotten new meaning for me too. I am very much a worrier, which does not make things easier. But that verse in the Bible tells me to tell God about all my thoughts and worries and anxiety and in return He will give me rest. This is true rest. Rest for the soul. It’s a stop thinking of my self and start trusting He will give me peace. This is not the rest of relaxation but the rest of a soul that trusts in God.

Today is another day of Sabbath rest. Another opportunity to cease normal life and focus only on Him. And that is what I am going to try to do. To stop carrying my worries and turning it over to the One who promises me rest.

I hope you will find rest today also.

God loves us All

Galations 3:26-29

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Jesus preached about discrimination and not judging others based on how they look or what they wear. Jesus said: Love one another, the same way as I love you (John 13:34).

Its heartbreaking, the injustice that’s happening in the world. People are not treated as equals. Fighting for equality needs to continue, until we all live the Biblical principle.