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!

Nearly Autumn

The trees are starting to get a distinct yellow hue. Leaves are actually turning colour, and some are already falling off the trees. Autumn is approaching!

This year is such a strange year. By now, 5 months into Covid, it’s starting to get old. Staying inside, not mingling with people, none of the things we are used to take control of. Churches needing to be reimagined, economies struggling, not able to freely travel. It has impacted us all in some way or other.

Secretly I hope that autumn is a sign of change. The natures changes, producing the most wonderful colours. A real promise of new things to come. But the old first has to die. Maybe that’s true if Covid too.. I certainly hope so!

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

This comes from Ecclesiastes 3, and reminds me of an old song:

Our lives is a real mixture of all sorts of emotions: joy, fear, anxiety, sadness etc. Nothing stays the same, change is always there. We all have to learn and accept and adjust to the ebb and flow of God’s design. Just like the seasons in the year. Some seasons are difficult, and we may not understand what God is doing. Like the current season we are in. But as I said in an earlier post, God is still in control and we have to trust He has our lives in His hands.

This season approaching is one of my favourite seasons. This year particularly I hope this will herald in a season of change. Turn .. Turn… Turn…

The first turned leaf I noticed
The first leaf I saw on the ground

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.

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!

Women’s Day

It’s the day in the year that women are celebrated. Their achievements through history that have made an impact. In today’s world issues are also highlighted that impact women.

How are you celebrating?

While I find women’s issues important, Inequality in the workplace still exists and women’s rights are not guaranteed, I will not specifically celebrate today. I want to celebrate every day!

Proverbs 31 in the Bible specifically mentions how the ideal woman behaves. Industrious, noble, gracious. Sometimes it’s worn as a badge. I have not decided if being called a Proverbs 31 woman is a compliment or not.

I am me, however. Unique, wonderfully made. As are you. And in my uniqueness I hope to be positively contributing to this world. In my own small circle, as well as in my circles of influence, work, society, church.

In my uniqueness I do crazy things sometimes. Being with friends throwing myself off hills in a tube, driving around trying to find eagles, finding rest in my crochet work etc.

That’s what I think Jesus asks of us. To be accepting that we are all made in His image, as it says in Psalm 139:14 ‘For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

So I’ll be spending women’s day appreciating that I am special in the eyes of God. As are you. I hope you’ll remember that every day!

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Another Day

Time has gone so fast, and I realise we have not written anything for some time! The new year started and the family is already back into the swing of things. It’s almost like Christmas never happened!

It’s now the 3rd Sabbath of the month and I guess it’s no longer appropriate to wish folks happy New Year!

However, that’s just what this is all about. New year, new beginnings, good intentions.

I did not really make any. I know I break them as soon as I make them. But still, reflection of the year past and figuring out the future year can’t really be escaped. So caught up in the hype, I did at least tell myself that this year i would try and think of my own needs a little more. Spending time doing things I love just because I love them.

If you ask how I have fared these first 3 weeks of the year.. Uhm.. not so good. However there is one thing I really love doing that relaxes me… Crocheting. I prefer not to do that alone though, it’s fun to do that together with my daughter. But as I am often away, I do find myself often crocheting by myself. Each stitch is done in a rhythm, while my thoughts freely flow. Maybe it’s just a daily reflection, going through the day, self examining and often praying for those around me.

Come to think of it, maybe that should be my good intention for the rest of this year. Starting each day with devotion, and finishing each day with reflection.

My current devotional is ‘my utmost for His highest’ by Oswald Chambers. I subscribe and daily the thought for that day is emailed to me. (https://utmost.org)

Maybe this year we can motivate each other to keep going?