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
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.
Always good to help each other
Sometimes life does not go the way you want it to… this last month has been a prime example of that. Starting it off by breaking my finger 2 days before flying home and topping it off with visa being denied twice and now not being able to fly back and be with my mum and relatives who are flying out there. So yes, this chapter of my year in America came to a close a lot sooner than I thought, but who knows whats in store for me next.
Instead of being easy and straight forward, life served me some serious curve balls. What I have realised though, is that no matter what, we can get through it. No matter how life twists and turns and at that time you can’t see a way out, God is always there with his plan…Do I know that plan yet? No. But what I do know is that I will use these next couple of months spending quality time with friends and seeing more of Europe…Where to first…
On to the next unplanned adventure…
So I know I’m not really English but my accent really is! This has made for some very entertaining conversations over the last year!
For those of you who don’t know me, I have a very British accent (or so I’ve been told) and this has led to me being misunderstood on more than one occasion here in America. Some of these situations my mum has been in too and she really doesn’t have that strong an accent! Anyways let me just get in to the scenarios that have led to many fits of laughter!
Last summer I spent an extended time in Minnesota and have learnt that NOONE understands when my mum and I say water. Drive throughs and ordering water or a bottle of water has always ended in disaster! We have gotten chicken salad sandwiches, 2 cokes and many confused people who ask us to repeat what we want about 10 times before we gave up! We also went for a drive to some Amish communities to visit their shops. At one of the stops the Amish lady asks us “where are you from as I don’t think you are from here”. Mum responded that we were English…her response was priceless “your English is very good for not being from here”. Yep… that happened.
Another situation that I had only a week ago made me feel quite insecure and not sure what to think. I’m on the plane from Minneapolis to Atlanta on the way to Costa Rica and the two flight attendants asked what I would like to drink. My response was water, of course! They looked confused and asked me again. And again. Then the couple sitting next to me told them that I wanted water (otherwise who knows what I would have gotten!!) and the gentleman looked at me and asks me “where are you from” so of course I say England. The next question baffled me even more though. “What language are you speaking”. The last time I checked I was speaking English. The same language that they were speaking!!! He then turned to the other gentleman and said “have you ever been to England? Do they really speak like that?” Safe to say I kept quiet the rest of the flight!
So it’s safe to say. If you are English and have an accent, good luck ordering water!!!
On to the next adventure!!!
Just the other day came across this sign: “If home is where the heart is, then my home is where you are”. I love that sentiment, which uses that well known saying “home is where the heart is”.
These days it is so much easier to experience “home”, even when, due to work and study, one is not always to be found under that same roof. My ladies right now are crossing the skies between St Paul MN. and Costa Rica, and yet they manage to follow a children story shared in Stanborough Park Church in Watford UK. How small this world has become….and yet….
Yes, George Washington, about 200 years ago, would travel from Virginia to Washington DC. on horseback, taking him 10 days. His travelling speed was 25 miles per day. Astronauts today travel in the Space Shuttle with speeds over 25000 miles an hour! In this Shuttle Washington today would have taken approximately 40 seconds to get to the capital… Distance seems relative….and yet….
Googling the saying this is what I found…. “What is the meaning of ‘home is where the heart is’? People long to be at home. Your home is whatever place you long to be. Your home will always be the place for which you feel the deepest affection, no matter where you are.”
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit my parents who live in the Netherlands. For most of their lives they have lived in Enschede, my place of birth. Many of my childhood memories, often food for thought in my sermons, saw the light of day in that town. At previous visits I had wanted to visit some of the places that still linger in my memories… My primary school… Secondary school…. The high rise building we lived in…. My father’s football club…. My grandparents’ home while they were alive, and where I was born… The rail tracks… Each visit proved too short to see this happen.
But two weeks ago I finally got the chance to make it happen. As my father recovered from a hip replacement surgery, I found time to drive around my old childhood neighbourhood. In my memories everything looked big and wide. But as I looked upon my early childhood schools they seemed tiny..
Yet it was here where I “invented” the skateboard long before it became fashion in California.. Crashing through windows, ending up in the sandpit of our playground. Where police found me (and the more wisely hidden rest of the troops) on top of the school roof, not ratting on them but taking the stern talk on my own. The main play ground still there, and the tree…which did not give as I “practised” my Judo skills on a bully…and resulted in my expulsion from the club… The high rise building, in the Meteoren Straat (Meteor Street), where I learned what it means to discriminate people from other cultures. The steps down to the storage cubicles, which really “tested” my skills with matches… It was all there…and for a moment, as I sat there in the sun, it almost felt “home” again…. For a moment my mind, and with that my heart, travelled back in time…
Over the years my/our home has seen different places… Enschede (NL), Hengelo (NL), Zeist (Oud-Zandbergen NL), Binfield (UK), Helmond (NL), Eindhoven (NL), Binfield again (UK), Wooburn Green (UK)….and for some part now also St Paul MN (USA)… And it is there that in a couple of days I will truly experience “home” again as I think it was meant to be…the place where I feel the deepest affection! Not so much for the apartment, even though it is beautiful and spacious…. Not so much for the rich culture of native Americans and the beautiful vistas, even though I enjoy them very much…. Not so much for the awe inspiring American trucks you see everywhere, even though in my mind I still dream of becoming a truck driver… But simply for the fact that it is there that my heart fits in perfectly because it is home! Home is where I am with my wife and daughter…can’t wait 🙂
After a very busy weekend with the wedding of Felicity and Tim, the day has
finally arrived.. The little cat is brought to the cattery and our neighbour Jo has been asked to take care of the other one.. The taxi arrives and our 5 suitcases are loaded into the car… All our other possessions have moved already 2 weeks ago.. the 5 suitcases are the result of the left over items to pack and those food items we might otherwise miss so much while in the US.
We checked in and spoilt ourselves in the Sky lounge, before the actual plane took off….. Destination Twin Cities in Minnesota. Customs is a blur and before we know it we are in the hotel for the night before we get the key to our new apartment. A quick bite to eat and a restful short night later and the actual day has started.. today is the day!!!!
The guide takes Miranda to her car for a year, and after some instructions, the keys to the apartment are handed over. Spring Street, St Paul.. here we come…..
Everything is taken care of… from a laundry basket to groceries to a crockpot…. its all there, all we need to do is move in… Unfortunately the style is a little 70s, so activity number 1 is to remove the paintings from the wall and put these in storage. A quick declutter of Melody’s room and we are off.. buying cushions, flowers, cupboards, coffee table etc. After a day or 3, the apartment starts to feel like home .. If only we could figure out how to use the garbage disposal!
Then our real experience begins… on Sunday Melody and Miranda walk to the farmers market in St Paul and buy the first veggies of the season: rhubarb and bean sprouts. We feel very accomplished and American!
Let the work week begin!