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!

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!

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.

Going Home

Today I was watching some wasps building a nest inside a cupboard on the balcony. Its fascinating to watch, even if the nest is not desired. The creatures just fly off and on, doing what they do and then coming back to build some more. Its an American style wasp and nest, so I can’t really relate to what its supposed to be like when its finished. And judging by the comments from my house mates, its not something I will see being finished.

Today we had a multi WhatsApp call within the family. We discovered this new feature a few weeks ago, and its kinda cool to chat altogether.. even if my dad thinks we sound more like a bunch of chickens, talking over each other and none of it very audible

It got me thinking though, as I am far away from my own home. Home has become a different reality in these last months. The stories from my own family, cooped up at home. Stay at home orders, not able to venture out. Stores deemed non essential shut (food is apparently the only essential store we need.. kinda hard for a crafter!) Getting a coffee at a favourite coffee place not possible. Churches closed and a pick and choose online reality. Sometimes home may sound like a prison instead of a place to feel relaxed.

Jesus said He was going Home, after he had died on the cross. Many countries celebrate “ascension day”, 39 days after Easter. He had mentioned that there are many mansions in  heaven, with place for everyone (John 14:2 In my Fathers house are many mansions: If it were not so, I would have told you. I got to prepare a place for you) and that He was going there to prepare a place for us. I wonder what the houses will look like. The imagery in Revelation is all very grand, with streets of gold.

Many times in my in child hood when weve traveled so far
By nightfall how weary I’d grown
Fathers arms would slip around me and gently he’d say
My child were going home

Going home, I’m going home
There is nothing to hold me here
I’ve caught a glimpse of that Heavenly land
Praise God, I’m going home

Now the twilight is fading, the day soon shall end
Lord, I get homesick, the farther I roam
But the Father has led me each step of the way
And now I’m going home

Going home, I’m going home
There is nothing to hold me here
I’ve caught a glimpse of that Heavenly land
Praise God, I’m going home

I guess right now I would be very happy with a very humble house of my own though! A place to be myself and to be with those I love. Maybe I should ask that wasp to make me one for right here 🙂

 

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!

Re-opening

Who knew that our lives would be so consumed with lock downs, virus discussions, job losses, missed dentist and hair appointments and now re-opening strategies. How life has changed in the last 6 weeks.

The thought that keeps going through my head is ‘will life return to what it was or is there a new normal now’. I have realised that I do not like working from home for extended periods of time. I miss my colleagues and the interactions. I miss wearing something other than trainers and yoga pants. I don’t like seeing friends and family only through a social media platform. I miss shopping, or getting a coffee. I miss all the options and possibilities I used to have. I particularly miss doing all the spontaneous things I was privileged to do before.., going away to explore new places, having an afternoon tea with my daughter, booking a night away on holiday.

We just passed Easter. A pretty uneventful period under the current circumstances, without all the things that make Easter special. The actual event which is remembered at Easter and the following weeks after the death and resurrection was also one of very rapid change. The followers of Jesus went from learning from Him, eating with Him to being without Him and having to redirect and transform their lives. The Holy Spirit was promised to them as a Comforter and Guide, but truth is.. their lives were never the same again. They had to put in practice now all they had learned in the previous years under Jesus guidance and instruction. The went from students to leaders, from observers to doers with the help of the Holy Spirit.

I get that we really can’t compare these situations, but maybe we can draw strength from it under our current restrictions and changes. We too have to learn to live differently and do things differently. We also have been given the Holy Spirit as Comforter in our lives. We can choose our reactions and responses to the new normal.

One of my favourite songs is ‘Holy Spirit rain down’

Holy Spirit rain down
Rain down
Oh Comforter and Friend
How we need Your touch againHoly Spirit rain down
Rain down
Let Your power fall
Let Your voice be heard
Come and change our hearts
As we stand on Your Word
Holy Spirit
Rain down

That’s my comfort too in this time of change. Life may re-open in some areas. Life may be different. But the Holy Spirit is as much a Comforter today as it was in the time of the disciples.

Let the re-opening adjustments begin!!

Sunday

Good Friday has come and gone. Not sure why we call it good, when it was the most dramatic day in the history of mankind. We remember that our King died on the cross. But He stayed not dead, Sunday is coming!

I saw this poster on Facebook and I love it:

How true is that!

How did we know the world as we know it stopped existing about the beginning of March! We are all asked to stay away from each other. No church, no friends over for dinner, no normal things.

But a lot can happen indeed. We can find beauty in the little things. Gratefulness in our existence. Walks in nature. Reconnecting with our fellow house mates. Technology allowing us to worship together, remembering this important period in our human history. This period will pass.

Sunday is coming… no Sunday will ever be as beautiful as that day when He conquered dead and rose again!

How will you be celebrating this Sunday?

If you have a chance, listen to this beautiful concert from Jaime Jorge: https://youtu.be/rfm-RzFt2fA

Clouds

Tonight’s sunset was so pretty. Hints of pink in the sky, intensifying colours as the sun set and lit up the undersides of the clouds. The phrase ‘each cloud has a silver lining’ just popped into my head. The clouds all had a sliver of silver around it.

I have to say, not sure I have been able to find my silver lining just yet. I miss my family, my friends, my colleagues. I miss the banter in the office corridors, the social interaction. I don’t think I am an extrovert, but I find myself craving for interaction and a sense of normality.

What if this is the new normal? What if the world will not go back to how it was in early March? What if this is the beginning of the end of all we know? For sure we have all learned by now we can manage.. although some better than others.

Jesus wrote in Matt 10:31 ‘do not fear, you are worth more than many sparrows’. We are more valuable than the tiny birds we see everywhere around. In this time of fear, when we hear stories of death and sorrow every single day, we can be assured that we matter to God. God has ultimate power over our whole being but He exercises that power with mercy and love. That’s the story of Easter in a nutshell. Jesus loves us so much, He knows all about us and even gave up Hos life for us so we may live.

I may not have found my silver lining in my current circumstances, but I can rest assured that Jesus is my silver lining in the Corona virus cloud hanging over my head. He cares for me, knows my concerns and even knows every hair on my head. What a comfort that is!

Have you found your silver lining?

Clouds

Tonight’s sunset was so pretty. Hints of pink in the sky, intensifying colours as the sun set and lit up the undersides of the clouds. The phrase ‘each cloud has a silver lining’ just popped into my head. The clouds all had a sliver of silver around it.

I have to say, not sure I have been able to find my silver lining just yet. I miss my family, my friends, my colleagues. I miss the banter in the office corridors, the social interaction. I don’t think I am an extrovert, but I find myself craving for interaction and a sense of normality.

What if this is the new normal? What if the world will not go back to how it was in early March? What if this is the beginning of the end of all we know? For sure we have all learned by now we can manage.. although some better than others.

Jesus wrote in Matt 10:31 ‘do not fear, you are worth more than many sparrows’. We are more valuable than the tiny birds we see everywhere around. In this time of fear, when we hear stories of death and sorrow every single day, we can be assured that we matter to God. God has ultimate power over our whole being but He exercises that power with mercy and love. That’s the story of Easter in a nutshell. Jesus loves us so much, He knows all about us and even gave up Hos life for us so we may live.

I may not have found my silver lining in my current circumstances, but I can rest assured that Jesus is my silver lining in the Corona virus cloud hanging over my head. He cares for me, knows my concerns and even knows every hair on my head. What a comfort that is!

Have you found your silver lining?

God is in Control

Sometimes these old hymns just jolt me back in reality, their messages just as relevant now as when it was written. This particularly song is ‘This is My Fathers world’

In this crazy world we are now experiencing, its not so easy to see that our God is still in control. the media surrounds us with stories of death and sickness, shortages of critical equipment and all around doom. If you are not getting bombarded with news stories, or see it on Facebook or whatever other social media tools you use, you see it all around you. Driving along the motorway, the message on billboards and traffic sights is clear: stay home, wash your hands, stop spreading the virus.

It’s hard to not think about the passages in Matt 25 which speak of the end times, of last events being quick events. The questions we have to ask ourselves ‘am I ready‘. ‘Do I believe He is in control’ ‘what would I say when I see Him’. This virus came on so fast and the world as we know it has ceased to exist. We do not know if things will go back to before, but there is one thing I know for sure: God is still in control.

My dad reminded me that sometimes situations are utilised even if we did not realise it yet. His brother immigrated to America long before I was born. My mum, dad and I visited short before he passed away in 2017. My cousin and I clicked and have been friends ever since. And now, the year 2020 I find myself in their house awaiting the passing of this current virus situation. Maybe there is beauty in the fact my dad was not able to see his brother throughout his whole life. God is clearly in control!

The last verse of this poem which was set to music after the author died, sums it up so nicely:

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!