New Year…New Opportunities

So it has been a while since I posted anything. The last couple months of 2018 was spent recovering and taking time for myself (check out ‘Living with a hidden…not so hidden illness’ if you haven’t already).

Post surgery life has been pretty boring, but I will talk more about that in detail another day. But it is a new year. 2019…Now I don’t know about you, but I cannot set new years resolutions without failing within the first week. So this year for the first time, I haven’t set any. Instead, I’m taking this year one day at a time.

I have to say, the prospects that are on the horizon for this year, do have me very excited to see what adventures lie ahead of me. What I do know is that this year I will be focusing on this blog and all things creative in my life! Whether that is more crocheting and knitting or trying my hand at painting again. Another major aspect that I will be working on this year is my mental health. As you are probably aware if you have read my blog posts throughout 2018, you will know that it was a very hard year for me. But 2019 is the year that I am really going to work on it! There is that saying of ‘new year, new me’, well it might be a cliche but I really am going to try to better myself and not let the past get me down anymore!

So what about you? Have you set any new years resolutions or goals for 2019?  Any tips to help with mental health?

Whatever this year brings, I hope it will be filled with happiness and love for all of you!

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!!!

Christmas Praise

Colossians 3:17 New International Version (NIV)

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I had heard Jaime Jorge was giving a series of concerts in Minnesota… a quick check on his schedule gave me the idea to drive to Hutchinson MN to listen. It has snowed here, and it’s a little icy out.. but I really wanted to go. I set off early.

I arrived a little early, and waited a little in the car before venturing in the church. I have had the privilege to meet Jaime on a few occasions, and as we happened to walk into the building together we chatted a little.

His concert was centred around Christmas. The most beautiful renditions were played of some of the more well known Christmas carols… even though I loved it, it was not what grabbed me…

He started playing Silent Night… just on the violin, no back up track … and asked us to join in singing in the second verse. Maybe there were about 150 people there… and the beautiful sounds that raised from the audience accompanied by the violin moved me. The sprit of Christmas started for me right there.

Right after he played one of my favourite hymns… I surrender all… and he expressed how easy it is to play the song, but how difficult it is to live that out in life.. to surrender all. I can sympathise with that. I am a control freak, and surrendering is the opposite of control… it’s asking God to be in control. That will be my learning and struggle for eternity!

His witness and stories about his mission ‘healing music’ are worth listening to. You can hear he speaks from a living relationship with God. He lives out the words of Coll 3:17 I quoted above.

If you have an opportunity to hear him… do it! His schedule is on his website. (www.jaimejorge.com)

The long drive was worth it. My Sabbath is blessed already..

Giving Thanks

There are few American celebrations I can identify with… most don’t relate to anything I really know. However, Thanksgiving is something that resonates with me. Remembering why we can be thankful.

In the American history, this signifies hard times and new beginnings. Religious persecution lead to the voyage to America to pursue religious liberty. And after a slow start in Plymouth, the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the first successful harvest. This gets celebrated every year. It’s a national holiday. In Europe we also celebrate the harvest of the year. It’s celebrated in October and I wonder of the pilgrims took this tradition with them and gave it new meaning.

Thanksgiving.. giving thanks for abundance. Often in the humdrum of life, we don’t stop often enough to say Thanks to Him who provides. We may believe that hard work got us there, and not always see the significance of giving thanks.

Over the past years I have been privileged to be in the US during this holiday. Families and friends come together, spending quality time, remembering why they are thankful. Maybe a round table saying out loud that which they are thankful for.

I wish we would pay more attention to this in Europe. To be thankful is an act of acknowledgment that what we have is not of our own making. And that is always good to be reminded of! God relishes in our giving of thanks to Him.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. Psalm 100:4.

We do not need to minimise the giving of thanks to just the 3rd Thursday in November. We can be thankful every day. Every day is a new gift, a new chance to make choices. But to be especially aware of this act of giving thanks once per year is wonderful.

I will certainly miss it this year, to not be in the US. However, wonderful American friends have invited us to celebrate with them in London. So don’t mind me if I am just a little teary eyed, remembering why I am grateful, and thinking back to last year, visiting Plymouth Rock… there were this remembrance started.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Rock

Kindness

My car is very small… Smart small that is.. and while I don’t like how tiny it is at times, I love I don’t have to worry parking it… I park it on the tiniest of corners while I am traveling, trusting it will start again when I need it driving to work…

I had joked about it before I set off this morning…. wonder if my car feels deserted and is willing to start today….. yup! It did… Hei ho…. off to work I go!

Until I reached the first little hill on a tiny road… the lights came on all at once… never a good sign… I managed to steer it as close to the curb as possible…no more power… stuck on this small road….

I was surprised how many people actually stopped to ask if I was ok…. uhmm… yes… although my car won’t start…. a motor cyclist asked at least twice.. a cyclist called out to me.. total strangers… when a big truck appeared wanting to crawl past, a couple came out of their driveway to assist. So kind…

It reminds me of the story of the Samaritan… the wounded stranger on the ground needed help… and everyone was too busy to stop and help… until a kind stranger came by. Not only did he tend to the wounds, but he went out of his way to ensure the wounded person got the care he needed. Unselfishly kind. Kind without expecting anything in return…

I got rescued too… my car in fact did start up again… and I could continue my Friday as planned… remembering how I felt when strangers were kind, I tried to do the same…

Have you been kind today?

Laying to Rest

We laid my father-in-law to rest yesterday… a diagnosis made 2 months ago, and the fight following did not result in success. Not all fights can be won. He was spared much suffering, but leaves an empty space.

A wise man said to me a few days ago that even if the wish to die is not there, the knowledge of Jesus and His loving grace is there. That makes death a pause… not a permanent end. And life has been worth living, he is now sleeping in the knowledge of Jesus return to take us all home.

It does not ease the pain. We want to keep close that which is precious to us. We want the physical touch, the conversations, the knowledge the other person is there when we need them.

We were touched by the love of the people that loved him too. Cards, texts, emails, presence at the service.. it’s a wonderful thought to know he touched so many lives.

Life will go on. The missing will not get less, but life will be a new normal which takes getting used to. Memories will be relived and stories retold. All the ‘firsts’ will be hard. This is not unique to this family, all of us have to deal with loss, a tearing apart of a connection. Death is the enemy. But glad we know Jesus, who is Life!

1 Timothy 6:12

Run your best in the race of faith, and win eternal life for yourself; for it was to this life that God called you when you firmly professed your faith before many witnesses.