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…

In Between

One of my friends has written a song called ‘In Between’. The first couple lines are something like this:

Do you ever feel you’re somewhere in between: an answer and a question, blame and confession? Between: genuine and fake, give and take?
Do you ever feel you’re somewhere in between?

That is how I view the period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The business of Christmas is past, and really it’s more or less waiting till the new year has started and normal life resumes.

For those having to work, it may seem different to you…. but for me…the last couple of years I have been lucky enough to be able to take the period off. And yet… restlessness sets in right about now. A normal rhythm is actually nice.. you know what to expect, you know what to do.

The in between time flies by with the unusual… especially with Christmas in the middle of the week. Hairdresser, some shopping, visiting family… and the week is over. Holiday days always seem to go faster than regular days..

That rhythm though…I heard a sermon once about living life 3 miles per hour… an ideal speed, where life is in rhythm and harmony. We need rhythm, a normal pace. It gives stability to life.

With that.. a few more in between days… see you at the other side.. the new year. Have a blessed one!

Because You are Worth it

Maybe you have seen the adverts for L’Oréal. Usually some hair colouring adverts.. making us believe we are worth it to make ourselves look pretty.. Ofcourse we are…

Makes me think of Christmas. He came to earth as a baby, to live amongst us and to die for us, because we are worth it.

Personally I prefer that thought more than the one about hair colouring… He came down to this earth for me and you!

You can’t deny the reminders of Christmas are all around us… Melody and I spend an afternoon in London Hydepark at ‘winter wonderland’. Not too many reminders of the reason for this celebration there. Basically just a gigantic temporary amusement park. Even the little Christmas market was a lot smaller than it used to be. Still, the commerce is thriving before Christmas. Buying presents for those around us.. because they are worth it to us. (Below a few pictures of Hydepark)

These Christmas days I hope we all remember we are worth it to Him. He is the joy of our desire, came to make sure we would have a heavenly home to go to.

“Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring”
(feat. Lili Haydn)

Jesu, joy of man’s desiring 
Holy wisdom, love most bright 
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring 
Soar to uncreated light 
Word of God, our flesh that fashioned 
With the fire of life impassioned 
Striving still to truth unknown 
Soaring, dying round Thy throne

Merry Christmas!

Week before Christmas

It’s a week before Christmas.. well… almost anyways…the volume of people in the shops is a very big clue.. the Christmas music playing in every store… people frantically searching for the perfect presents for cousins once removed, or the distant aunt whom is only thought about cause her Christmas presents already arrived under the tree.

I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong. I love the lights, the thought of peace.. the tranquil spirit shown in every magazine and shop window…

However, as I sit here drinking a cup of tea I can’t help but remember that story about Jesus clearing out the temple because He disagrees with what His Fathers house should look like. Did He know 2000 years ago how commercialised Christmas has become and how the most important element to remember at Christmas is all but forgotten about? Am sure He is sad about that.

Jesus came to this world as a little baby, which we are privileged to remember at Christmas time. He did not stay a baby… he grew up and showed us unselfish love when He died on the cross… which we remember at Easter.

I wonder what would happen if we all slowed down and took the commercial aspects out of this period of the year. Would we truly have that Christmas atmosphere every song sings about?

I hope I will be better about it all this year… yes, am in a shopping mall, but I went to look at the fishes… they remind me about the verse in the Bible were it says ‘don’t worry about tomorrow’… I know those were birds.. but it’s winter, cold and the fishes were available to look at.

Merry ‘Christ’mas!

California

Even though I have travelled quite a bit around America, I had not made it to the west coast.. many colleagues come from there, so many stories have been told… and now I can add my own stories!!

Last weekend I flew to California just for the weekend… not to see the Hollywood glitz and glam.. one of my biggest wishes was to see the Pacific Ocean.. driving on the Pacific highway would be the bonus.

The warm air and beautiful blue sky was in stark contrast to the blackened hills. The recent fire images from the news sprang to mind quickly when you actually drive through these hills.. and see the devastation. A quick reminder that life is temporary and this is not our home. I can’t wait for the permanent home in Heaven!

No beach visit is complete without shells… and even though I was assured that the beaches are mostly bare of shells, I found some!! To be treasured for sure.

The beach visited is often used for shooting movies and tv series.. I did not see any celebrities though and would not even recognise any anyways. I was far more interested in trying to spot marine life! I instantly regretted not taking my camera.. 2 whales were frolicking in the area were the surf was. We could follow them and observe from probably 30 ft away… so cool! A pod of dolphins was seen further in the sea… man! Awesome!!! That’s the only word I have to describe it.

I did not realise I would be so quickly hooked on a place so alien to me.. walking in the sunshine on the beach…. California… I will be back!!!

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Turning 50

Am sure you can all think of funny quotes, memes and advice for those that turn 50… well, it had to happen sometime, I joined the 50s club…

Its a bit of a mixed feeling with my father in law passing away on Sunday… am not really in a celebration mood.

However, the other side of the coin… not everyone makes 50! There is definitely gratefulness mixed into the mix.

Am not compiling a bucket list of things I want to achieve etc. Nothing wrong with doing that, but it’s not me. I am blessed, saved by grace and grateful to live another day. I am also grateful for all the various people in my life. I hope to keep adding to the list of special people, and for that I wish to learn more and more the gift of kindness.

There is this old Amy Grant song “I may not be every mother’s dream for her little girl… and my face may not grace the mind of everyone in the world… but that’s alright as long as I can have one wish I pray… when people look inside my life, I want to hear them say….. she’s got Her Fathers eyes…eyes that find the good in things, when good is not around… eyes that find the source of help when help just can’t be found… eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain… knowing what you’re going through and feeling it the same.. just like my Fathers Eyes…

So maybe I have a bucket list after all. The list of learning is still long, there is a ways to go… I pray I have enough years left to achieve it all.

So maybe I have a bucket list after all

Gratitude

Every day, I like to wake up and remind myself to be grateful of the simple things – Miranda Kerr

Maybe this quote speaks to me cause we are name buddies… or maybe it’s because I like to be reminded that the little things are not really little… these are the important things.

This weekend we spend some time hanging out… going to a pumpkin patch, driving around in the zoo (yes… driving.. Mel can’t walk too well just yet) and having a pizza at the Pizza Hut.

In my book those are not little things.. these are really important connection moments. Moments to soak up the sun, have fun together and just do nothing at all.

Little things… that’s what makes big things!

Below a few pictures that typify the day.

Pancakes

It’s maybe not my all time favourite thing to eat, but it’s probably a very close second….Dutch pancakes with cheese and pineapple… or pancake with apple, cinnamon and sugar… or just simply pancake with stroop…. or I have been known to order all 3… just for me…

The family was deciding what to eat…. and it soon transpired that one of our nieces is waitressing at a pancake restaurant….as we would not have an opportunity to see her on our whirlwind visit, and we love pancakes… the decision was quickly made…. pannekoekenhuis!!!

A quick call to make the reservation, ensuring we would sit in her section, and asking if they would not tell her…. and off we went…

The family is loud… everyone talking over everyone else, laughing, joking…. but surprisingly she did not hear us until we all stood in the doorway, waiting to be seated…. judging by her face the surprise was a success… at least for us loud bunch…

The pancakes were delicious! Being waited on by one of the youngest nieces a pleasure… her boss allowed her to sit with us…. memories were made!!! we missed those not able to join..

My earlier post spoke about illness in the family, and the unknown ahead… that’s when these moments are most precious….

There is this song by The Isaacs… the words are below…

The sentence ‘I don’t know about tomorrow…. I just live from day to day…. I don’t borrow from it’s sunshine…..

It speaks to me…

we may not see each other again… but the pancake moments remain!!

I know who holds tomorrow

i don’t know about tomorrow
I just live from day to day
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to grey
I don’t worry o’er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I’ll walk beside Him
For He knows what is ahead
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand
I don’t know about tomorrow
It may bring me poverty
But the one who feeds the sparrow
Is the one who stands by me
And the path that be portion
May be through the flame or flood
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

Cousins

My grandfather used to say ‘the sun does not set over the Knopper family’. The reason was that his kids spread to corners of the earth. One to Australia, one to America… and my dad stayed home in the Netherlands…

The consequence of this was that family reunions were just with very small portions of the family. We grew up without knowing any of the cousins.

There is a picture of 1971 where we were all together… apparently.., I don’t remember it..

A few years ago, my Australian cousin met up with us in Luxembourg.. so nice to meet! A familiarity immediately there.

Last year I met up with my American cousin… same thing… I wrote an earlier blog about that.

As I am regularly in America, I finally was able to arrange to spend some time with my cousin. Catching up on uhm… some 47 years of missing history… he remembers stories about my grandparents from what I don’t remember or was too young for.

A drive into the Smokey Mountains was the setting for all this..

Below a few pictures of that…

I know the sun will continue to shine over the Knopper family and not set.. as cousins have families, equally spread out in their respective countries…

One day we will have that total family reunion…it may have to wait till we are all Home with Jesus though!