Twists and Turns

Life is unpredictable sometimes… unexpected twists and turns, stuff that happens even if we did not expect it…. good and bad!

My sister in love turned 50 this week… a milestone birthday, not given to anyone. For sure cause for celebration, even if at a distance! My own 50th birthday was the end of last year… my father in law died 2 days before my birthday… not really a cause of celebration… still, I made the milestone birthday and am still here. My friend Althea’s mum is a woman of each day… we do not know how long she still has…

A recent student missionary from Stanborough Park church is getting married in a few months… Melody’s friend Felicity had a baby girl a little while ago… and on and on it goes… those that have a facebook account and browse through these pages see all sorts of happenings in the lives of those we call Facebook friends… weddings, births, sickness, deaths…..all twists and turns.

Just the other day I watched the Dreamworks Animated movie ‘the Prince of Egypt’. The story of the people of Israel, who were freed from Egypt and under leadership of Moses dwelled in the desert until they could enter the promised land. Moses, the rescued Hebrew baby, adopted by the pharaoh and raised as a prince, discovered who he was and who he needed to be through a life full of twists and turns. The most prominent experience was at a burning bush, where he was commissioned to be the leader of the Israelites and lead them out of Egypt. God spoke with him through that bush that burned, but the fire did not consume it. Moses life can be divided in blocks of 40… each next section of 40 brought another twist. 40 Years at the courts, 40 in the desert to purify and become the leader he needed to be and another 40 years leading the people to Canaan. He had amazing experiences, being face to face with God, but also many lows.. when he battled with temper (and who can blame him when the people he rescued did nothing but complain…. asking for food, asking for water… lamenting ever leaving Egypt and slavery). As result of his temper when he hit the rock instead of spoke to the rock as instructed by God, he was not allowed to lead the people into the promised land.

Why do I find that story so intriguing? There is the beautiful song sang by Miriam, the sister of Moses, and Moses wife ‘there can be miracles’…the song reminds us that despite all the twists and turns life gives us, we should not give up believing. That’s what gives us direction, and sustains us so we can navigate that which life throws at us. Moses life was a good example … yes, he died, but because of his believe, and the relationship he had with God, he lead a tremendous life and is spending eternity in heaven.

Something to keep in mind… navigating the weird ways life sometimes goes…. there can be miracles…..

There can be miracles

When you believe

Though hope is frail

Its hard to kill

Who knows what miracles

You can achieve

When you believe somehow you will

You will when you believe

Wild and Free

The weekend was spent in the New Forest, a small national park in the South of England. The scenery is breathtaking and a huge bonus, bordering on the sea!

My peace and calm is found near the water. The waves crashing, finding shells, the wind blowing away cobwebs… I love it all!

Melody was in her element too, taking artsy pictures, identifying every part of left over crab.

A tradition is for us to drink an afternoon tea.. although this time I was quite happy with a cream tea instead! Delicious scone with just the right tangy jam and cream. All in a lovely little cafe near a farm shop.

But it was not really the ultimate destination of our trip. We wanted to explore the New Forest, and see the wild ponies!

So after a night in a nice hotel, overlooking a cricket stadium, we set off.

After a little driving around, we finally spotted some ponies, and then more! Such beautiful animals! And all roaming free in the park. Most were standing around in little groups. We were able to get quite close.

What an awesome life they lead! A whole forest to roam around, able to go where they want to go. Sleeping, eating, walking. No rules… well, almost no rules.. in order to keep the flock healthy and manageable we read that the free ones are all female. Males are only around a few months a year, as they don’t want the flock to grow beyond about 3000. Still, they are able to roam and enjoy!

Reminds me of the invitation Jesus gives to all of us. We can all be free! Free from bondage of sin. All we have to do is accept His saving grace. It will allow us to change and be like Him. Free!

I was born in a world of sin, but am now free, just like the ponies in the New Forest. What about you?

Candles

Candles come in all shapes, seizes and smells… I love candles… the warmth it gives, the little mesmerising flames… the smells softly permeating the air… I don’t like all smells though, I prefer the subtle ones… laying in my bath, a couple candles on the side, a cup of hot tea, and I feel like a little bit of heaven right here on Earth…

Reminds me of the story in the Bible of the 10 girls… candles, or oil lamps were used to lit the way of the groom coming to get his bride.. not sure if you recognise the story, but just in case… the groom took a long time to come, it was late.. am sure the little flames mesmerised these girls also… and they all fell asleep…

Finally the groom came… the sounds of the approaching group wakening these girls. Unfortunately it took such a long time, the oil in the lamps was gone and the flames had gone out. The groom certainly could not arrive in the dark! Lucky, 5 girls had thought to bring extra oil.. and their lamps were quickly lit.. the flames lighting the way, the same as my candle on the side of the bath. The other 5 girls were not so lucky. No oil, no reserves and as a result they were not allowed to enter the house of the bride to be able to celebrate together.

This parable was told by Jesus, to let us all know to be prepared.. preparation is key. We should not be without extra oil, else we are not able to be part of the celebrations.. the celebrations of his coming to take us to live with Him. The extra oil would represent our knowledge of Him. My previous blog post I shared I have a tattoo with ‘saved by grace’ as a reminder. But a reminder is not enough…With that comes an acceptance of His gift for us, and a willingness to let Him be part of our life.

That’s what candles remind me of. That story, and the requirement to be prepared. The sweet smell the candles give off, reminding me of a heavenly feast waiting for me and you.

Do you like candles?

Blessed Assurance

There are not very many hymns that give such a positive message about Jesus as the hymn ‘blessed assurance, Jesus is mine’ . It’s a favourite of mine when leading out in church… the chorus says ‘this is my story, this is my song, praising my Saviour, all the day long. To hear the congregation singing it out in full enthusiasm just gives me chills… we all should have our own story to tell about our relationship with Him. I truly hope we all do!!

I looked up who wrote such a powerful hymn that’s sung with so much conviction and found the author is Fanny J Crosby. She has written over 8000 hymns… 2 things I find remarkable about her… she was blind… and she just sang out these words when the composer Phoebe Knapp played the melody for her and asked her what the melody reminded her of. Talking about being inspired!!!! Fanny must have had a true relationship with her Saviour to be able to see these words fitting that tune.

I wonder how my relationship with Jesus bubbles out of me… does it bubble out? Can others see there is a significant other in my life to whom I owe everything?

I have a tattoo on my foot, with the slogan ‘saved by grace’. It’s something I don’t take for granted. He has saved me, and did not ask for anything in return but my heart. That’s the story I want to tell!!!!

What about you?

Maybe you need to read these words of Fanny and feel you have a story to tell too?

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

Worry or Trust

I don’t know about you, but I am a real worrier… some worries may be real, others mostly perceived. Apparently we worry more about something that never would happen than about real things. Guess the mind can play funky tricks!!!

With worry comes trust…. do you have trust in the situation, trust in the person, trust in God…. after all, if you believe God has a hand in your life, why worry… right?

A quote by Martin Luther King Jr:

‘Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase’

I not very good at trusting, I am learning…. am very good at worrying though! Which is best unlearned…

For a control freak like me, trusting anyone is a real life challenge… Trusting God is something I have to continuously be aware of. He knows better what’s good for me than me.. and if I trust Him to take care of me, I don’t need to worry!!!

Maybe that’s just enough as a post… just a reminder to not worry about whatever is happening tomorrow.. whatever is happening in your life or mine… like the quote from Martin Luther King…we don’t need to see the whole staircase… just a step at the time, trusting all is in Gods hand!!

Esther

The Bible story of Esther is appealing to me. A Jewish girl, chosen for her beauty, becoming queen and rescuing her nation. Well, that’s the story in a nutshell at least.

She was highly favoured, but had to go through quite some hardship and soul searching to be able to utter those famous words ‘for such a time as this’

I wonder if I were in her position, time and place. Would I also be as brave as her? Keeping my cool, taking the time it needs to work things out before jumping in to be of servant to my people?

I’d like to think so, but not always convinced. Someone reminded me recently that patience is a virtue. I can’t say i am a terribly patient person. Am working on it, but it’s certainly not one of my virtues (yet). Don’t we all like to know what the future holds, or what tomorrow brings? At least I do!

Queen Esther kept her cool though, she had a mountain of patience to deal with the man who was out to destroy her and her people.

I’d love to say one day ‘for such a time as this…. ‘ maybe watch this space… who knows what things will still unfold in my life! I may want to share those….

Patience it is…..

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…

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!

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..