Wild and Free

The weekend was spent in the New Forest, a small national park in the South of England. The scenery is breathtaking and a huge bonus, bordering on the sea!

My peace and calm is found near the water. The waves crashing, finding shells, the wind blowing away cobwebs… I love it all!

Melody was in her element too, taking artsy pictures, identifying every part of left over crab.

A tradition is for us to drink an afternoon tea.. although this time I was quite happy with a cream tea instead! Delicious scone with just the right tangy jam and cream. All in a lovely little cafe near a farm shop.

But it was not really the ultimate destination of our trip. We wanted to explore the New Forest, and see the wild ponies!

So after a night in a nice hotel, overlooking a cricket stadium, we set off.

After a little driving around, we finally spotted some ponies, and then more! Such beautiful animals! And all roaming free in the park. Most were standing around in little groups. We were able to get quite close.

What an awesome life they lead! A whole forest to roam around, able to go where they want to go. Sleeping, eating, walking. No rules… well, almost no rules.. in order to keep the flock healthy and manageable we read that the free ones are all female. Males are only around a few months a year, as they don’t want the flock to grow beyond about 3000. Still, they are able to roam and enjoy!

Reminds me of the invitation Jesus gives to all of us. We can all be free! Free from bondage of sin. All we have to do is accept His saving grace. It will allow us to change and be like Him. Free!

I was born in a world of sin, but am now free, just like the ponies in the New Forest. What about you?

Shrove Tuesday

Tomorrow, Christians all over the world start the 40 day period of Lent. The period leading up to Easter. The time we remember the resurrection of Jesus after He died on the cross. Typically, churches pay a lot of attention to Christmas (when Jesus was born) and Easter (when He rose again after death) as these are the periods in the year that the Christian faith is openly accepted by the wider world.

But what is this 40 day period leading up to it? In our Adventist church, we pay little attention to this custom whereas other churches reflect on this period a lot more. 40 Days is also a significant number in the Bible. 40 years was Moses in the desert…40 days it rained with Noah and the Ark and 40 days Jesus was in the desert alone, praying and fasting before He was hung on the cross.

Some fast during this period of reflection leading up to Easter and others do a specific fast of a certain food or activity (no chocolate for example). A period of quiet remembrance is perhaps not such a silly thing!

Before the fast, families would celebrate and eat all the food that they would not be eating for the next 40 days. And that is where shrove Tuesday comes from. Usually pancakes are eaten as they get rid of eggs, milk and fat, things that are forsaken during a fast.

Even though today will not mark a period of fasting for me, it will start a period of contemplation. Just like my previous blog posts, this period leading up to the Cross and Resurrection reminds me of what He did for you and me. His love for us so immense, He gave up His life for us. His grace allows us to come home with Him in the not so distant future, and that is worth contemplating over as it requires a response from me!

Today I will also eat pancakes. Why break a good tradition! I love pancakes! The Dutch ones, not the fat American ones. So perhaps not as much diary and fat to get rid of… But still a mark of the beginning of Lent.

What will you be reflecting on these next 40 days? Are you giving anything up for it?

Candles

Candles come in all shapes, seizes and smells… I love candles… the warmth it gives, the little mesmerising flames… the smells softly permeating the air… I don’t like all smells though, I prefer the subtle ones… laying in my bath, a couple candles on the side, a cup of hot tea, and I feel like a little bit of heaven right here on Earth…

Reminds me of the story in the Bible of the 10 girls… candles, or oil lamps were used to lit the way of the groom coming to get his bride.. not sure if you recognise the story, but just in case… the groom took a long time to come, it was late.. am sure the little flames mesmerised these girls also… and they all fell asleep…

Finally the groom came… the sounds of the approaching group wakening these girls. Unfortunately it took such a long time, the oil in the lamps was gone and the flames had gone out. The groom certainly could not arrive in the dark! Lucky, 5 girls had thought to bring extra oil.. and their lamps were quickly lit.. the flames lighting the way, the same as my candle on the side of the bath. The other 5 girls were not so lucky. No oil, no reserves and as a result they were not allowed to enter the house of the bride to be able to celebrate together.

This parable was told by Jesus, to let us all know to be prepared.. preparation is key. We should not be without extra oil, else we are not able to be part of the celebrations.. the celebrations of his coming to take us to live with Him. The extra oil would represent our knowledge of Him. My previous blog post I shared I have a tattoo with ‘saved by grace’ as a reminder. But a reminder is not enough…With that comes an acceptance of His gift for us, and a willingness to let Him be part of our life.

That’s what candles remind me of. That story, and the requirement to be prepared. The sweet smell the candles give off, reminding me of a heavenly feast waiting for me and you.

Do you like candles?

Blessed Assurance

There are not very many hymns that give such a positive message about Jesus as the hymn ‘blessed assurance, Jesus is mine’ . It’s a favourite of mine when leading out in church… the chorus says ‘this is my story, this is my song, praising my Saviour, all the day long. To hear the congregation singing it out in full enthusiasm just gives me chills… we all should have our own story to tell about our relationship with Him. I truly hope we all do!!

I looked up who wrote such a powerful hymn that’s sung with so much conviction and found the author is Fanny J Crosby. She has written over 8000 hymns… 2 things I find remarkable about her… she was blind… and she just sang out these words when the composer Phoebe Knapp played the melody for her and asked her what the melody reminded her of. Talking about being inspired!!!! Fanny must have had a true relationship with her Saviour to be able to see these words fitting that tune.

I wonder how my relationship with Jesus bubbles out of me… does it bubble out? Can others see there is a significant other in my life to whom I owe everything?

I have a tattoo on my foot, with the slogan ‘saved by grace’. It’s something I don’t take for granted. He has saved me, and did not ask for anything in return but my heart. That’s the story I want to tell!!!!

What about you?

Maybe you need to read these words of Fanny and feel you have a story to tell too?

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

Happiest Place on Earth

When you think of your happy place, what comes to mind? Maybe a great cup of coffee shared with a friend? Having a special dinner with the family? Doing something you really love? Spending time with that special someone?

For my daughter it’s Disney I think… hence the title… a visit to the happiest place on Earth… Disneyland near Paris…

I had promised to visit for her birthday but life got in the way… off we went this weekend though!

We were blessed with the most beautiful weather for February… feels like Spring time. Blue skies, mild temperature… a great day for exploring (which mostly means walking around and watching every parade)

Mickey stuff everywhere!!! Including cookies, marshmallows etc.. we had to try something!

A little boat ride through frontier land is one of my favourite things to do.. usually no waiting, and a moment of peace…

Disney parades with all the dancing and beautiful floats is another highlight… we try to find good spots with great views.. even if we have to wait a half hour!

Character spotting was not terribly successful, although we did see Baloo from Junglebook

We decided not to stay for the fireworks.. the park was really busy… below just a few snaps of the lights and the castle… can’t miss that…

Is Disney the happiest place? Maybe not… but it may be a close second…

What’s your happy place?

Worry or Trust

I don’t know about you, but I am a real worrier… some worries may be real, others mostly perceived. Apparently we worry more about something that never would happen than about real things. Guess the mind can play funky tricks!!!

With worry comes trust…. do you have trust in the situation, trust in the person, trust in God…. after all, if you believe God has a hand in your life, why worry… right?

A quote by Martin Luther King Jr:

‘Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase’

I not very good at trusting, I am learning…. am very good at worrying though! Which is best unlearned…

For a control freak like me, trusting anyone is a real life challenge… Trusting God is something I have to continuously be aware of. He knows better what’s good for me than me.. and if I trust Him to take care of me, I don’t need to worry!!!

Maybe that’s just enough as a post… just a reminder to not worry about whatever is happening tomorrow.. whatever is happening in your life or mine… like the quote from Martin Luther King…we don’t need to see the whole staircase… just a step at the time, trusting all is in Gods hand!!

Esther

The Bible story of Esther is appealing to me. A Jewish girl, chosen for her beauty, becoming queen and rescuing her nation. Well, that’s the story in a nutshell at least.

She was highly favoured, but had to go through quite some hardship and soul searching to be able to utter those famous words ‘for such a time as this’

I wonder if I were in her position, time and place. Would I also be as brave as her? Keeping my cool, taking the time it needs to work things out before jumping in to be of servant to my people?

I’d like to think so, but not always convinced. Someone reminded me recently that patience is a virtue. I can’t say i am a terribly patient person. Am working on it, but it’s certainly not one of my virtues (yet). Don’t we all like to know what the future holds, or what tomorrow brings? At least I do!

Queen Esther kept her cool though, she had a mountain of patience to deal with the man who was out to destroy her and her people.

I’d love to say one day ‘for such a time as this…. ‘ maybe watch this space… who knows what things will still unfold in my life! I may want to share those….

Patience it is…..

I don’t know what the future holds…

But I know Who holds the future….

January is often a month of reflection..goals are set, dreams are dreamt… and before you know it January has come to an end and the new year is not so new anymore!

I don’t know what makes us reflect on the past, other than learn from it and move on from it. 2018 has seen the highest highs and the lowest lows. So what will this year bring? Will there be the changes we desire? Will there be the courage to pursue hidden dreams? Will there be the chance to reconnect, rediscover, pursue challenges? Or is the year just flittering away like the previous years before it?

January will always be special to me. It’s the month my daughter was born in. In fact, tomorrow is the day she turns 27. Sometimes I cant believe how fast the time has gone. School, university… all come and gone. What will this year bring for her? Will she have the courage and passion to seek the opportunity to pursue her dreams?

Well, at least we had a chance to have a mini celebration already. Just her, me and deserts…. chocolate featured heavily. At least that we are sure off… chocolate tastes good whatever time of the year it is!

Happy Birthday daughter!

It is Well

One of the most powerful hymns I love to listen to is the song written by Horatio Spafford. He wrote that song after a couple very traumatic events in his life. The death of his 2-year old son, followed by the great Chicago fire and the financial ruin that followed (as he had invested in Chicago property). He wanted to travel to Europe as a family, but at the last minute changed his mind and sent his wife and 4 daughters ahead. The ship sank and all 4 of his daughters died. His wife survived and sent a telegram ‘saved alone…’ This hymn was written as he sailed past where his daughters perished. How heartbreaking, and what a deep faith he expressed in these words.

When peace like a river attendeth my way. When sorrows like seas billow roar. Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to know, It is well, with my soul.

And Lord haste the day when the faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back like a scroll. The trumpet shall resound and the Lord shall descend. Even so, it is well with my soul

The first Christmas without my father in law just passed. Not so easy, the celebration mood was not quite there. The whole family together, a unique experience, and the timber of his voice missing. How he would have enjoyed having us all there.

The last Sabbath was particularly hard. He was such a proud church going man. Not seeing him in church is still so very strange, and yet, we have to go on. No more smiling face with the large moustache, proud smiling at his kids.

I am not a great writer, and don’t have the talents Horatio had, putting his thoughts so elegantly to paper.. in such a way as he could. We still sing this song to this day testifying of his faith. However, these words sum it all up so well, it is well with my soul. I can sing that with all my heart and know it to be true. All those gone before us will be reunited with us when He descends to take us home. Our fathers, mothers, uncles, nieces, cousins, friends… all we can say is Lord haste that day!

It is well with my soul…