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!
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!
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.
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!!!
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..
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.
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…
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.
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