Lock Down

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…..

Narnia

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!

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

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!

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?

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.

Freedom

Freedom comes with a price. It’s not free. Today we celebrated freedom from oppression in remembrance of the end of the Second World War. Many people lost their lives, and many fought to give us our freedom.

During this lock down we are not free. Freedom smells very good right about now. To be able to just go where we want to, do what we want to. Many have died due to this Covid 19. And many are working hard to ensure we can be free of this virus. I think in particular of all the medical staff fighting for lives.

Jesus have His life for us, so we can be free from the bondage of sin. The cost was high, and blood had to be shed. Freedom is not free.

All this requires a response from us. We are asked to remember and learn from our past. ‘Lest we forget’. If we look at the past, hopefully we will learn from it and not repeat.

We keep our distance from each other, wear masks and minimise our journeys. All to protect those that fight for us, so they don’t get overwhelmed.

Jesus also requires a response from us. He wants us to accept the gift of freedom, and transform us so we don’t stay the same.

Freedom gives us responsibility. It requires a response. To remember, to accept and to serve.

Thank you for all who fought for our freedom. And thank you to God for setting us free!