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.

Because He lives

As I was driving down the motorway, reflecting on the day and the sad news that sickness is winning over life, the song below came to my mind. I copied the full lyrics… and maybe that is just enough for this blog post.

It sums up my sentiment pretty well. The future is the only thing that allows me to get through these days and I know that is the same for my family.

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive
He lived and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and the joy he gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives.

And then one day, I’ll cross that river
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives

Because he lives
Because he lives

Written by William J. Gaither and Gloria Gaither

I hope that where ever you are, and what ever you are going through, this song gives you as much courage to face tomorrow as it gives me.

Sorrow

We are all different. We all experience events differently. We all have different coping mechanisms. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade…. some say… don’t worry about tomorrow, is what God says… I care for you today and every day…

But then you hear the words from a doctor no one likes to hear… we are talking about lengthening life, not healing… and suddenly the crazy world is upside down….

My previous post I referred to my father in law being sick… now we know how very serious it is…

what to do next…. everyone has words of advise… diets to follow, pills to take… all meant very well ofcourse. No one wants to say goodbye…even if this world is not our home, we are still at home here and saying goodbye till we meet again is very hard.

How do I cope? I am very good at pushing things away… not thinking about it is better than trying to deal with it.. other members of my family are different… we are all so busy and suddenly we are all forced to slow down…

I have spent these last days in an imaginary world… a world of make believe.. where miracles happen… even if it’s just fairy tales, I know my God is in the miracle business… not all miracles have happy endings… but for sure our end is sure… He will come back to take us home. We will be reunited with our loved ones.

And that keeps me going more than anything!

Let these flames be a prolonging of my prayers….

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

Turtle Spotting Do’s and Dont’s

So I thought I would start a series on the do’s and dont’s that are associated with wildlife. For the first one I thought I would go with turtles. Now as you may know, I am a marine biologist with a huge love and passion for conservation. This has led me to take multiple trips around the world with focus on conservation and eco tourism. One thing that I noticed a lot was animal eco tourism trips and specifically those with the focus on sea turtles.

So over the years I have been on multiple trips where turtle spotting has been part of it. Whether it was working on a turtle conservation project with Archelon in Zakynthos or turtle spotting in Tobago. I have picked up certain behaviours from tourists that inspired me to write this.

So lets start with the Dont’s:

  1. If you are fortunate enough to see one in the ocean whilst on a boat…do NOT go near it with the boat…keep a safe distance and don’t drive over them!
  2. If you see one whilst swimming/snorkelling/diving…again keep a safe distance. Turtles can be very quick swimmers so if they get stressed by you, they will swim away but always give them space. DO NOT touch them!
  3. If you encounter an adult on the beach, give her space as it will most likely be an adult female who is getting ready to lay her nest. This will occur at night (or very rarely at sunrise) so do not shine your torches as that stresses them out and again give them plenty of space. Do not use any light at all, this includes phone lights, flashes from cameras and normal torches.
  4. If you are lucky enough to see hatchlings coming out of the nest. No matter how tempting it may be. DO NOT pick them up. They use their journey from the nest to the ocean to ‘learn’ where to come back to to lay their own nests.
  5. Don’t litter…This is an easy one. Even if you aren’t seeing any turtles, the litter you drop on a beach will inevitably affect a turtle at some stage. Whether its an adult or a hatchling, they all are effected by litter on the beaches and in the ocean.
  6. Do not buy turtleshell products when travelling. They are normally caught by poachers and are always illegally and inhumanely sourced.

Now for the do’s:

  1. If you are fortunate enough to see them…enjoy the moment! Do it responsibly but enjoy it none the less! They are beautiful creatures and I will never get bored of seeing them.
  2. If you spot a hatchling going the wrong way…pick them up and turn them around. If it is during the day…try and shade them so that the sun doesn’t roast them. And if it is at night, try and block out the lights that are disorientating them.
  3. Do a beach clean every time you go to the beach. Even if you only pick up 5 pieces of litter each time it will make a huge difference.
  4. If you decide to go on a turtle spotting boat…make sure you go with a reputable company that is known for its eco tourism. If you aren’t sure which company to chose, there are companies in most countries that are there for the sole purpose for turtle conservation, such as Archelon in Greece and Save our Turtles in Tobago, they will be able to tell you companies that they recommend.
  5. Use recyclable straws or reusable straws. Straws are some of the biggest culprits of turtles dying. Making a small change to reusable straws or no straws at all will make a huge difference.
  6. Eat locally sourced sustainable seafood. Companies that are locally sourced tend to use better fishing techniques so less turtles get caught in fishing lines. The sustainable companies will use more turtle friendly fishing gear.
  7. Last but not least. Donate to local turtle conservation projects. Most are NGO’s and need the money to keep running. If you can’t give money, maybe you can give some time and volunteer with them. I can’t recommend that enough. My time volunteering with Archelon in Zakynthos was one of the best summers I’ve had. The information I learnt then have stuck by me and have changed my daily habits.

Overall, enjoy them! They are truly beautiful creatures, so lets protect them so that we and the future generations can still enjoy them!

Camera 14MP-9PC
Camera 14MP-9PC

Life Unexpected

People get sick… we know that, can see it all around us…. sometimes you browse through the Facebook news feed and suddenly you are struck by another person battling diseases or tragic events. As it’s someone else’s life, you comment with a sad emoji or a short message.

These things happen to other people … not in the own family circle.

My uncle recently passed away, brain cancer… the word no one wants to be associated with..

Very sad indeed…

The bomb shell really came Friday though…. my father in law…. lung cancer…

how is that even possible.. he does not smoke… never ever smoked…

Incomprehensible… and sad

Jesus told us the story about the little birds… those no one really notices anymore.. they are not colourful or rare… He said ‘look at those birds… they don’t worry about tomorrow.. they don’t worry where their next meal is coming from…’

‘Please you do not worry either… The Father knows you’

These are the words of Tommy Walker on the song ‘He knows my name’

I have a Maker

He formed my heart

Before even time began

My life was in his hands

He knows my name

He knows my every thought

He sees each tear that falls

And He hears me when I call

And the YouTube clip:

Life is tough sometimes… all you want to do is curl up and let the day pass…. no matter how unexpected life can be and no matter what each of us is going through… He knows us! Our lives matter!!

We do not know what the future holds for my father in law…

All we can do is pray..

Expectations

Everyone has them… expectations… especially on other people… how a person should act, dress, behave, raise their kids, love their parents etc..

And then we have expectations on ourselves… what we should achieve, do etc.

I am the wife if a pastor, and although we live in the 21st century, and my husband co pastors a large reasonably modern church there are expectations.. not just on me, but also my husband and daughter… it’s expected to contribute in a certain way. I am away a lot, so some of that transfers to my daughter too. When a member expresses how my husband should behave as a pastor it hurts too… I also have expectations on myself as to how I should live my life.. and I often let myself down too… especially being away so much (which also attracts comments)

Why am I writing this? Cause I read a recent article on self worth and what matters. Is it hard to look at yourself through someone’s expectations on you? Yes!! But it’s not needed to be hard. Our self worth comes through Jesus only. Only through His grace can we live up to our full potential. His expectations on us are that we accept His grace.

With that in mind, I will try to be not do hard on myself… it’s good to be reminded sometimes!!!

(And dad… am not sad!!)

The King’s daughter is all glorious within” Psalm 45:13

Friendship

Friendships come in many different forms… needs are filled in many different ways…

I travel a lot, and am not often anywhere long enough to feel at home. However, I am truly blessed to meet many wonderful people. I know I have blogged on this before… but it truly is worth repeating. Friendship is not just one thing.. it’s lots of things.., and it makes life richer.

These last weeks in Costa Rica I have been privileged and blessed to hang out with colleagues who have become friends too.. they go out of their way to make me feel welcome, each in their own unique way.. whether it’s some fun over the phone, a smile while chatting about nothing, or playing games just because it’s fun… sharing a meal…sharing life.

Below a small selection of photos..

Friendship is not a big thing… it truly is a bunch of little things.

Exploring London…

A couple weeks ago I realised that I had never been to London on my own. I knew the reason for this was my anxiety, but that same week I had decided that I was going to fight this. I was going to fight my depression and anxiety head on and not let it beat me.

So here I was on a Wednesday morning, packing my rucksack with everything I thought I would need and off I went. After a quick stop off at Dad’s church, he dropped me off at Watford Junction and I was on my way…no turning back now…trust me, the anxiety was winning…my illogical part of my brain was telling me that everything would go wrong and I should just go home and lie in bed. But I thought the better of it and pushed through.

After a quick check to make sure I had enough on my Oyster card, I ran into one of my old school friends and instantly the anxiety reduced. Instantly I was calmer. Turned out that he was headed for the Science Museum which is directly behind the Natural History Museum. The anxiety for travelling had almost completely disappeared at this point and the other fears and anxieties built up. But again, I didn’t give in. I powered through.

About 30 minutes later and there I am, standing in front of the Natural History Museum. Now my plan had been to spend the day there, meandering through all the different sections and reading as much information as possible. However, the second I walked through the doors, I realised that that wasn’t going to happen. It was so incredibly busy, and boiling hot! Not a great combination when you are already struggling with anxiety!

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I tried to enjoy myself as much as I could but after about an hour, I gave in and left. I moved on to the Victoria and Albert Museum, hoping that that would be quieter, unfortunately, it wasn’t. So after a quick dash through the V&A and a quick pep talk from someone special, I picked up the guts, ignored my anxiety and decided to go to the British Museum.

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The British Museum has always been one of my favourites as it includes a lot of ancient Egyptian history and Ancient Greek history, two of my favourite topics!! Yes, it was busy and hot like the other 2 museums, and yet my anxiety was a lot less there.  I was able to distract myself with all of the awesome history that surrounded me. I drowned out the illogical brain and all of my anxieties, I was actually able to enjoy myself!

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Multiple hours were spent here just wandering around looking at all the different artefacts and then realising two important things:

1) How many plaques said ‘now missing’ or ‘now destroyed’ and it made me sad to think about how much history we have already lost and would never be able to discover!

2) That the Natural History Museum didn’t have any information that I saw about the current crisis and what we can do to help to stop more extinctions, etc to happen.

The journey back really tested my anxiety and fear though. It was just before rush hour, but people were already there and pushing. I decided to let one train go as it was so busy and full that I knew it would be a recipe for disaster. The next train was practically empty and I was able to avoid a near-certain panic attack.

Now for those who don’t suffer from anxiety, this day just sounds pretty calm and ‘normal’. For me, however, it was a HUGE step. It allowed me to see that I can push through and not let anxiety run my life. It also showed me that London isn’t such a scary place to explore on your own! Would I do it again? Definitely!! I’m already planning my next trip in!!

If you suffer from anxiety…what do you do to stop it? How do/did you overcome it?