Sunday, 21 December 2014

Advent: Week IV - It is getting closer

Well, here we are, the 4th Sunday in Advent.

And where am I in the preparations? At this point in time my home and it's contents are in disarray. In a matter of days we will be leaving this home for another one - leaving neighbours who will then be friends to visit. Starting somewhere new - looking for permanence knowing that nothing in life is.

We aim to make this our ' last move' with the intention of spending the years we have left, at this address, surrounded by those who will become our new neighbours, of whom some will become friends.

During the past three weeks whilst sanding, painting, scraping, wallpapering and shopping I have been very conscious of this Advent Season. Not only because I chose to focus AND write about the subject from my point of view - but watching, hearing and experiencing people's activities around me. Their preparations, hectic lives and diaries. Rushing here and there like busy ants - gathering, organising, planning their up and coming festivities.

What was a re-occurring subject however was: the 'lost' contact with someone they loved, cared for and who had been a part of their lives. Be it a brother, sister, parent, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, neighbour or friend. Someone they had fallen out with for whatever reason. This person missing from the card list, table and home.

I too have lost the friendship and love of someone close. To this day - it continues to niggle, stab, unsettle and cause sadness and unrest in my body. It is an indescribable missing you feeling.

How to bridge the gap? There have been attempts - to no avail. DO I try again?

I bring you PEACE - let PEACE be with you - are Jesus' words to us ALL. 

In homes, families, at work, school, on the playground, in clubs and neighbourhoods, in villages and cities, in countries - PEACE be with US ALL.

How to bring about this peace I miss? I will reach out with a Christmas Peace message of:

HOPE

LOVE

JOY

PEACE

and pray it will be received in the spirit of the season.

Is their someone you miss, or want back in your life? Now might just be that moment..... let these next few days give you the encouragement to reach out - not looking at who is responsible for the break - but looking to bridge that gap and healing the relationship.

Imagine that there is PEACE in the hearts of ALL - Oh just IMAGINE.


Wishing all my readers every blessing this Yuletide season of 

 HOPE, LOVE, JOY and PEACE.



Sunday, 14 December 2014

Advent: Week III - feast day is nearing


The past two weeks I have focussed on issues relating to pregnancy, young mothers, life, gratitude and the like. All things one can mindfully 'do'.

Seems to me, that preparation in the actual physical sense is also an important aspect of any special event - so this week I want to include a focus on that.

Onze again a list of things come to mind. To celebrate something it seems obvious that this is done in the company of family and friends. For many the tradition is so set in concrete that the preparations are almost done mechanically like any well oiled routine. The menu is set, the guests are known, the place setting at the table always the same and the decorations familiar to all.

For others it can be a challenge - parents and in laws alternating between Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Do we GO there or do they COME over? Memories of joy or friction keep minds actively remembering the past experiences. The influence on the preparations can be quite daunting or give your feet wings.

The physical preparations can help heighten the excitement - making the up and coming event visible. The planning of the menu, decorations, pre-baking and cooking, maybe purchasing a new outfit. Sending Christmas greetings to those near and far.

Then there is the down side for those struggling with issues.

Family friendships and feuds have their origins during this ' merry' season. For some the most stressful period - for others the highlight of their year. Not everyone looks forward to Christmas Day.

So this week - my prayer and thoughts go out to those struggling to get through this period - due to;

 Personal stress.

Realtionship tensions.

Too heavy a work load. 

Anxiety.

Walking on a tightrope.

Financial worries.

Sad memories.

Missing loved ones.

The list could be longer - but enough to let you know - someone cares.

Despite the sadness and reasons for this pain, I pray that a ray of light will shine upon those households where darkness has descended.


This feast day - whether people are believers or not - has the potential to bring the JOY and PEACE we all seek and hold dear. Peace starts right here with me and I invite you to share your peace with those around you.





Sunday, 7 December 2014

Advent week II - Thankful

Sunday the second week of Advent 

Last week I started the Advent blog with the theme Preparation - young first time mothers.

It kept me pretty well engaged all week - with snippets here and there including during my prayer for these young mums and the uncertain future many face.

This week I want to concentrate on being THANKFUL

Here in Nederland we have just had the feest of Sinterklaas ( Saint Nicholas )

Our national celebration has been tainted by the recent upsurge and focus on the possible implications of racism. How this saintly man would cringe if he was aware of the furore his birthday now causes. Anyway, I digress......

The presents have been store, broken, hidden or swapped, the decorations stashed for another year and today a new day...! Out of sight out of mind.

This led me to think about being thankful AFTER the event. How quickly one picks up the daily routines after being on the receiving end of gifts, attention or whatever focus one has received.

How much effort and time do I put into being THANKFUL for all I have and am able to do?

So, this week my goal is to concentrate on being THANKFUL for just BEING.

Thankful for living the life I lead.

Thankful for the loving people I meet and enhance my life.

Thankful for the love I receive and am able to give.

Thankful I was able to watch THE most amazing sunrise this morning.

Thankful I have a warm bed to sleep in.

Thankful for the freedom to say - I BELIEVE.

Thankful that I feel free to write my thoughts for others to read.

Thankful for my sense of humour.

Thankful for my energy and enthusiasm for life.

Thankful that I am blessed with 3 beautiful children and their partners.

Thankful for the love of grandchildren.

Thankful for the strength to carry burdens heavy and light.

Thankful for the guidance.

I take responsibility for the fact that I don't stop and think to say THANKS often enough for my life and all it entails.

This week - I say THANK YOU to God. 

For life, for love for family and friends and for all the ME that I NEED to BE.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

As busy as a bumble bee can be

Change is afoot - and like the blog on Advent

Preparation is of the essence

My husband and I are preparing to change our lifestyle

We prayed about it, we sought advice, we discussed and we took the plunge

We are moving into an apartment

Everything on one level - not 4 like here

We want to have more time to enjoy other activities

It seemed a shame to hog the house and all it has to offer to ourselves
whilst we weren't making use of all the facilities and opportunities.

We have bought and sold - we are  in the throws of sanding, painting, scraping, and more scraping, sanding, painting and preparing.

Needless to say - blogging has had to take a back seat.


And once we are settled

I will have more opportunity to do what I love to do

To write and hopefully fulfill a dream, to Blog my thoughts, to complete the started photo albums and to update the grandchildren's annual albums.

So, have patience with me - I will endeavour to place something when I have a gap
( that is - when I am not flaked out on the couch after a day's toil)

With a view like that - I will want to sit at my desk from dawn to dusk

Or........ ??!!



Sunday, 30 November 2014

It is all in the preparation

First Sunday of Advent

Today, the first Advent candle will be lit in preparation for Christmas.

Like all events, both joyful and sad, we prepare. Each 'theme' has a ritual all of it's own, unique to the circumstance.

The energy we engage in the preparation tells us how special the up and coming event is to us.

Things to consider are: the importance of the event, the people involved or those you wish to involve, the setting, decorations or to keep it sober, food, music and a host of other practical issues.

This, the first Sunday of Advent, is the starting shot for the preparations for the feast of Christmas, the birth of Christ our saviour. Baby Jesus. Mary is preparing to give birth. A young woman facing the prospect of becoming a mum. And in her situation, a special mum. A mum to a special child.

It takes me back to my pregnancy, being far from my parents and other family in a country that was my new home.

I will be thinking about new mums this week, those far from home, from familiar surroundings, facing the birth of their fist born. Their special child.

My thoughts will be on the impact this child will have on the parents and extended family. The prospects and realisation( or not)  of dreams.

In prayer I will ask for guidance, strength and support for all those preparing for a new life.

May your preparations too be thorough and exciting at the prospect of the things to come.






Sunday, 2 November 2014

Who is with me on this?

It has been a lovely, lazy yet well filled Sunday. The sun gently warmed the earth, the rooftop of our home and the last of the flower heads after a long season in bloom.

I can remember going to work in the wee early morning hours, slip sliding on the frosty roads and returning with snowflakes gently falling on the road before me. Somehow those early long cold winters have adjusted themselves to something more comfortable - not that I minded the snow. I have a preference for the cooler seasons. If I was to have to have to name a favourite season my choice would be difficult. If I had to name my least liked season - easy - Summer. Not a fleeting one - but those LONG drawn out HOT summers that some people seem to thrive on. They drain me.

So what a wonderful start to November. Unheard of according to those who keep a record of the country's temperatures and weather charts.

On a day like today one could almost assume that all is well in the world. That birds everywhere sing their happy songs, that all children laugh and play and that families are united at the dinner table to discuss what intrigues them. Smiling faces, laughter, a filled belly and contentment all round. Well, one can dream........!

On such a beautiful day I was taken aback that my thoughts went out to WAR verses PEACE! and the futility of it all.

Never, or at least not since records were being held - have the inhabitants of this planet lived in peace.

It saddens me. And I am left wondering - Wondering why rulers, governments of countries find it their business to step into a quarrel that isn't theirs. This action is often justified by saying " but we want to HELP- we want to help provide the solution, to stop the fighting"

Subsequently,  they GO AND FIGHT! 
How in Heaven's name does that HELP anyone or anything. 
Those soldiers don't bring peace they bring GUNS.
The soldiers have hatred in their hearts - what you have in you - you portray!
And the killing, the war, the struggle for power continues.

What would be ideal would be soldiers who bring PEACE - not with guns, but with love, with acceptance and tolerance. I pray for peace and love in the hearts of those who have taken up arms. I know, you are going to respond by saying - we don't live in an IDEAL WORLD. Well, pardon me if I don't agree.

This planet and all creation was created in all it's PERFECTION. Then as cherry on the cake - people were created. To serve this planet, to nurture, guard and tend it. To protect life and hold it dear.

WHEN oh WHEN are we going to heed that call?

Spread HAPPINESS people - PLEASE spread happiness and not WAR.

Let the birds sing their songs for ALL to hear. 
STOP THE SIRENS, MORTAR AND BOMBINGS!
Let all children laugh and play.
CREATE A SAFE WORLD FOR OUR CHILDREN
Fill all bellies with food.
LET THE SOLDIERS LAY DOWN THEIR ARMS, PICK UP A SHOVEL TO WORK THE EARTH TO PROVIDE FOOD FOR ALL
Let laughter fill the air
REPLACE FEAR WITH HAPPINESS.

No, I am not a doom thinker. I am hopeful. Hopeful that more and more people realise that WAR isn't the way. And by adding my 5 cents worth I may just sow a seed somewhere, somehow.

And it starts with me. Who is going to join me?

I am going to fill my heart daily with LOVE. Keep topping it up till I RADIATE it so I can help spread LOVE.


( check out this link and be inspired)

Sunday, 19 October 2014

...and there she was. My Flashback!

The day started out beautifully. Not only did I have the wonderful prospect of reuniting with a classmate, I had the chance to enjoy this in brilliant weather. ( see earlier Blog 'Flashback')

Nederland was going to put on a great face - it is mid October and we were heading for 22 degrees. Unheard of really.

The meeting was to take place en route to Brussels. Frances would board the train in Eindhoven and arrive at Roosendaal railway station at 11:09 Sunday morning.

Roosendaal is approx. 42 km from Papendrecht so not a lengthy journey. I had completed my morning ritual, husband was away for the weekend so a no fuss breakfast, listened to an online sermon and completed the pile of ironing that had been beckoning for a few days.

Decisions, decisions. What to wear. Lets face it - one wants to look GOOD after all that time not having seen each other! We have both celebrated that magical 60th birthday - well, enough said!

Although I was pretty sure how to reach my destination, I did check the whereabouts of the railway station. It all looked good. City Centre not too far from railway so we would have plenty of chat time.... before having to return to the station where Frances would resume her journey to Brussels.

And there I stood at 11:00 am, on the platform waiting for the train to arrive.
Would we recognise each other? 
How would the initial 'hello' go?
Can we fill 3 hours without thinking ' ho hum'?
Can I find a great coffee/tea spot?
Will we sit in the sun or inside?

I enquired by a railway employee about the inner city's whereabouts and what it had to offer in the way of refreshment possibilities - "sorry ma'am, can'r help you there - I am a visitor here". 
Wouldn't you just know it? So was I.

I looked towards the passengers that were making their way to the main entrance after arriving on the 11:09. And there, very recognisable, very so like the face and eyes I remembered ( not the hair colour- the face girls)- there was Frances. Dragging her luggage ever so adept behind her - she made her way to the out-gates. We embraced. Oh how good that felt.

While I had been waiting my daughter had sent a few messages so once we left the station I requested a 'selfie' so I could let Toni know my friend had arrived. Here we were, like a couple of schoolgirls - taking a selfie with suitcases on the pavement and a giggly shot - there it was. PROOF!

Frances was in town!

Need I say we had a terrific few hours? Need I say it felt so comfortable, so 'warm'  and special. No, not really. I bet some of you may have also had such an experience. I felt BLESSED, privileged and full of joy. What a perfect gift for a SUNDAY.


Yes, we have made plans, set a date for another get together. It won't happen in the near future - but it won't take 48 years either.

Frances, THANK YOU. Thank you for remembering me, my parents, my brother, my time at school and being in your company. Thank you that I didn't fade into nothingness along with so many other of life's happenings. I am SO glad to have you ( still) in my life.


See you again dear friend! Travel safe.


ps. I heard a lovely tale about my long blond hair.
Apparently (some of) the girls at primary school thought my blond, almost white hair was due to me drinken milk and water. They had never seen me drink cordial - so presumed the milk and water made and kept my hair white. AWESOME girls!! If that was the case - I am all for only milk and water again.......!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Short and sweet

Hello. Last week my husband and I decided to take a break away. We worked all through the summer months so thought it time to get some 'fresh air'.

As of next Friday ( 17th) I will be back with more ' thoughts'.

See you then


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

An apology


Hi there dear readers

I am totally aware that some of my blogs have been somewhat WORDY of recent times.

Not sure how you feel about that - but I too sometimes 'wander off' when confronted with too much text.

My endeavour is to chop some of my contributions into halves or even threes - making them sorter to read and the follow up interesting.

So, don't leave me just yet - am working on my skills and hope to enthrall you for some time to come with those things which captivate me, excite me, uplift me and engage me.

Thank you for being patient and understanding.

Till next we meet

God Bless

Anita


Friday, 26 September 2014

HAVE TO: is like a red rag to a bull.....

My knowledge about the implications of the commandments has grown immensely. I have developed a new way of looking at this much underrated and easily underestimated set of guidelines.

Because it takes some digging as to find out what really is expected of me/ us.

Life's Do's en Don'ts.

Just a wee question: How do you react when someone says " you MUST do..... this or that!"

Does this image fit the bill?




Well, in truth, as a child and more than likely till not that long ago - I felt the commandments were a bit like that.

I HAD TO- OR NOT TO ..... live like this or that!

Since reading the 5 books on the 5 of the 10 commandments written by Marja Meijers I have such a better understanding of what God WANTS of us and for us - not DEMANDS of us. 

I have a new way of seeing how these guidelines can be implemented and how I can be true to them.

I am a parent. I always WANTED the best for my children.

There were rules - normal in a household or there would be mayhem - no order. Meals,
responsibilities, activities. All necessary when more people gather to form a group, like a family. I could also change that word RULES to GUIDELINES to STRUCTURE.

I will try to explain what I mean about my new insights.

We were created in God's image and likeness. Each and every one of us. That makes God an immensely diverse personage. Because we are all unique.

As His children God has provided us too with STRUCTURE to protect us and also enrich our lives. 

The 10 commandments ( a set of rules) we can use as guidelines to help us travel this road we call LIFE with as destination - Eternal Life and a life with God in our presence. 

Not only were we created in His likeness but Jesus, His son also became human - like us. 
He too was privileged to have those guidelines to go by.

We, as was Jesus, were given a FREE WILL.
Yes, FREE to decide!

Like all children, it is a great help to know where the boundaries are so we can keep safe from harm.
Pedestrian crossings to safely cross the road, a fence along the cliff, a traffic light to protect travelers.
Barriers 'for our safety'. 

So if we look at the commandments in this light and not as a RED RAG we will discover that those guidelines aren't as bad as we might have first thought.

Instead of thinking 'We GOT TO' - let's turn it around and think what we can do.

1. I am the Lord your God.  I believe that - and therefor will honour that truth. One True God is all I need.
2. I go for the real thing - no go betweens. No fakes. My choice.
3. I will use God's name in prayer or during prayerful discussions, learning and sharing moments.
4. If God is prepared to be with me 24/7 then I am more than happy to spend time with Him - solely for Him, in prayer, meditation and in the quiet of my heart.
5. With love and respect I think about my now deceased parents and hold their memory dear to my heart. My children are now also parents - I honour them by respecting their endeavours in raising their children.
6. Life is God's gift. Whatever I can do to bring honour to that gift I will do with reverence. Help the needy, lonely or ill where and whenever this is asked of me.
7. I will be true to my vow in marriage by nurturing the love and respect I have for my husband.
8. What I have to share I will share, what I have to give I will give and what belongs to another is theirs to have.
9. Gossip is idle talk - if I can't say anything good about someone I will say nothing at all.
10. God provides all I need. My needs are not those of another. My longing is not for earthly things but knowledge to help me get to know God and His will for my life.

Now, the way I have written the commandments is a short interpretation and a renewed way to seeing these 'rules' by rewording them so as they become things I WANT to do. No RED RAG!

And instead of thinking - oh well, I haven't killed anyone - tick that box, I haven't stolen anything - tick that box etc. I go to church every Sunday- another tick, one could think - life is a breeze.

Life is MORE, life is sharing, growing. Life is challenging, interesting, fun and full of gifts. Like has hardships to overcome, heartbreaks to endure, failings to ponder on and learn from.

The 10 commandments can be the encouragement, beacons and solace we need at specific points of times in our lives.



Thursday, 25 September 2014

Become a 'groupie'.

Pake Schoffelmeer
Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice
I was born into a catholic, loving and caring family. God smiled on my parents and blessed them with 5 children.

My grandfathers on both sides were known for their energy and strength in 'doing good'  for the underprivileged and vulnerable. My paternal grandfather, pake (granddad) Schoffelmeer received a papal decoration for his dedication and compassion. He was a very humble man and this honour bestowed upon him presented him with some discomfort. It was his mission in life to help those who needed help - should they cross his path. He desired no more or no less than just THAT!

'Opa' Jan Zwaga in Seattle 1946
Baldie almost in the middle - above the man reading
(yes, it's a book not an iPad)
My maternal grandfather was known ( amongst other things) for his involvement in establishing the Catholic Workers Union. A man of great integrity and drive. A man with vision and a strong sense of justice - Social Justice.

There are also more family members who left their mark on the world doing what they felt they were required to do - not by force but in love - and in faith. So I guess you could say I have 'Catholicism' in my genes.

How I describe it - is that I have FAITH in my genes. I have the Holy Spirit within me, there to guide, advice, listen to and who listens TO me. To my worries, insecurities and questions. I trust in the wisdom of the Spirit and totally accept this wonderful presence of God in my life.

Since my return home to the Netherlands I have not yet found my niche within a church community/ parish. Not sure why. What I have been 'given' are new friendships and ways to deepen my faith. And one of those blessings comes in the shape of a christian writer - Marja Meijers.

Marja has written books on the Ten Commandments - covering 5 of them to date. On a Wednesday evening a group of about 12 of us gather and we dissect, muse over, re-read and discuss her writings. Not to appease her, or to all nod and agree with her vision - but to dig within and discover our own truths and insecurities, long held beliefs and inherited ideas.

A time to make our faith OUR OWN! 
To take ownership of what it means to BE! 
To BELIEVE.
To GROW.

And we don't only discuss Marja's books but others too pass the review. So interesting and so refreshing. I would certainly recommend anyone to start up, set up or go to such a gathering. There is so much to discuss and discover - in the psalms, New and Old Testament and other christian books which grace shelves in the Christian Book stores.

Anyway, my point is - If one has an interest, wants to develop a talent or conquer a craft - then it is helpful - beneficial even to dig into the topic and learn as much as one can about it. This helps make one stronger and helps to deepen the knowledge.

So too, those of us who say we BELIEVE - it isn't enough to just say it - but we are asked to share it, to practice it to LIVE it!

And to be able to do that - we need to surround ourselves with every means available which assists us in that growth and learning process.



I want to thank Marja for allowing the Spirit to guide and advise her. These books hold knowledge and a love for God she unselfishly shares with those interested.

I want to thank the Spirit for guiding my life so that Marja crossed my path - or  - that I crossed hers.

I also am grateful for all those other participants who share THEIR ideas, ideologies and questions - so we all have the opportunity to grow in faith and knowledge.

9 of the 12 members of our "Wednesday journey group'.



Wednesday, 24 September 2014

My Neighbour's House - final edition

Thou shalt not covet..... those things that are of worldly value. You can't take them with you when you die.

That sentence speaks for itself. It is quite specific.

What we can take with us is a spirit filled soul which spent it's time on earth being the type of person he/she was destined to be. To love others as God loves us.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.



How can we give heed to the request made by God in the 10th Commandment?

One thing that comes to mind ( literally popped in just now) is that we can rely on God that He will provide us with all our needs. It takes faith to believe that.

Matthew 7:7-11

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

A smoker craves a cigaret, an alcoholic a bottle, a writer a pen and paper, an artist a brush, a musician an instrument. They will do almost anything to fill that craving.

A believer - yearns for knowledge about God.

Fill your heart with all things that will bring you closer to God - and there won't be room for the negatives, for the things which lead us AWAY from God and eternal life.


The book we discussed at length ends with 5 helpful suggestions. The easiest thing would be to purchase the book (Marja Meijers) and read the book yourself - and do what we did - form a discussion group. That may not be possible for some so;

here a shortened version of those helpful 'tips'.

1. Prayer and confession: In prayer make your desire known to God that you wish to become closer to Him. Staying 'connected'  brings about many blessings. (John 15:7). And not unimportant confess your worldly desires and ask the Lord to help you sever with bad habits, sinful thoughts and yearnings. Invite the Holy Spirit into your heart. Listen to his advice - be still and listen.

2. Eliminate destructive behaviour ( Coll 3:5)
I know this works from experience. Pray about the books you read, films you watch and friends you associate with. Ask for guidance. I did this. I prayed that books, magazines and films would no longer appeal to my sense of curiosity and fake wellbeing. My bookshelves have a totally different contents, my tv time has been severely decimated and the choice of programmes totally reviewed.

3. Invest in your new desire ( Matt 6:19)
I remember being a 'starter' in my active faith life. Hoped no-one would ask me tricky questions, or would quote biblical quotes I didn't know or would start a challenging conversation about faith in general. You know what I mean, "So tell me, how do you know God really exists?"
Read scripture, familiarise yourself with God's word. Watch the right sort of movies. Not about destruction but about uplifting subjects and uplifting morals. Spread laughter and cheer - not doom and gloom. Every cloud REALLY has a silver lining. TRULY! You just need to want to see it. Spend your TIME - on God's word. Be helpful to those needing your help. Love those who are starved of this life giving emotion. Be gentle and kind. Patient.

4. Ah yes, keep a journal

Last year I went on a special trip for my 60th birthday. I journaled every day. Not just ' we've just had dinner at Sandy's and we were late home." No, really journaled my thoughts and emotions of each day. When I now read them back it fills me with awe and wonder.
During your journey getting to know God, keep a daily journal. You will be amazed at the lessons you have learnt when reading back on those wonderful days. It is like keeping a photo album of your growing children. It tells the story. In Proverbs 7:3 one reads:  Keep my teaching with you all the time; write them on your heart.

5. Surround yourself with like minded

When you want to get fit you join a gym. Maybe you go with a friend or friends on set times. You not only get physically fit, but being with like minded people - the conversations are heartening and supportive. Join a support/church group. Start up a reading group like ours. I asked for wisdom to separate me from people who brought me down And funnily enough a few people literally moved out of my space. By unforeseen situations they were removed due to a change in their circumstance.

These are small steps to a richer faith life. I have thoroughly enjoyed digging deeper into my conscience and discovering things I long held for true- only to find they weren't false but needed further developing. I am grateful for those who accompanied me on my journey.




And I wish all of you who travel this road - a great trip!





Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Hungery

Over the past couple of months I have reverted to the discussion group topic ' My Neighbour's House' with as theme the 10th commandment - Thou shalt not covet.

( Want to catch up or refresh your memory- re-read the earlier postings at leisure)

We have come to the end of our book - the end of the discussions and thought provoking issues arising from that book. And I have to say, it has been quite revealing and challenging for me. In the sense of seeing this commandment in a new light. Because you see, I thought I had It pretty well covered.

I could tick the boxes quite conscious free so to speak. I wasn't envious of my neighbour's  husband, didn't want their car or home, and quite frankly, I had been taught from early on, that ENVY was a dirty word. To be envious was SINFUL. So a sort of 'fear- guilt ridden' emotion guarded me from all things 'covet'.

But was it so simple? Or was my knowledge still in the childhood stage and not 'grown up'  enough to guard me from wrongdoings as an adult?

One of the the re- occurring items was that the world is so full of temptations 'to want and to have what's good for you', or what your ' rights' are, that it is so easy to fall into that trap. Yes, one could say that "I have a right to a good and well paid job so I CAN buy a large house, go on three holidays a year, travel abroad, have a bigger caravan. I have an honest job, I work long hours, I donate to a couple of organisations who need the cash". And let's face it, a often heard statement " it is MY money and I will spend it as I see FIT".

While the discussion was ongoing, I recalled a hymn I used to sing in church. With a text so appropriate for this, our final evening. Now don't forget, I live in the Netherlands and this hymn is from my time in New Zealand - so those present were not aware of it's contents.

I surprised myself by being able to ( sort of) sing/ say one verse and the chorus.

I want to close this 'chat session' with that song. I found it on internet and it is sung by an Irish gentleman with a voice much nicer than mine.... And believe me, in the uncomplicated way this recording is presented.... The text comes alive and has the power to touch hearts.


The WANNA HAVES

Now don't misunderstand me - the issue is NOT only MONEY - it is a LOT MORE than that!
What do we fill our hearts with? Which desires do we give heed to?
Do we aspire to be and live - like Jesus taught us... ?
Which role model do you aspire to be like?

Which LOVE dwells in our hearts?
Love for 'things' or love for God?


I will post some helpful tips and suggestions out of the book shortly to finalise this all important 10th last but NOT least commandment discussion. So stay tuned!


Monday, 15 September 2014

My friends in prayer

Dear friends who pray


I have a request - a prayerful request.

A friend of mine has shingles in a most unusual but painful spot.

In her EAR! Yes, you read that correctly, in her ear.

The symptoms are terrible.

Lots of pain, loss of balance, but more worrying ( what could be more worrying than pain?) is that she has a partial paralyses of her face.

This may or may not be permanent.

The specialist sent her home with medication and the advice to;

" go home, light a candle and pray".

So, dear people, please join her, her family and her friends and let's ALL pray.

Pray for TOTAL healing.

Thank you....












Sunday, 14 September 2014

A balancing act

I wrote about CHALLENGES in my previous BLOG.

I have set a new goal - something to ACHIEVE.

I have only entered ONE appointment for the coming week.

I aim to keep the week APPOINTMENT FREE!

What I do see the need for however is:

STUCTURE

Just so that the hours in the week don't end up slipping by unused - without potential or wasted!

I believe that I have lost the BALANCE between HEALTHY PLANNING and OVERKILL.

Wanting to do TOO MUCH -  Not being able to say NO, and

that because of this I achieve LESS than I would LIKE

At the end of the day I crash on the couch and am totally deflated and spent!

Somehow I don't believe that this is a good way of filling my evenings - blobbed out and all

DONE IN!

It probably is something that slowly crept into my system - and it will take time to restore my activities time table - but my AIM is to SUCCEED in reclaiming my routine - slowly but surely.



How is your week shaping up?


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Challenges

That word popped involuntarily into my head moments ago. Just when I was planning to spend time writing. Haven't had a lot of space for writing lately, what with one thing and another.

Today though, I am claiming it - time that is. Putting a stamp on 3 pm till 5:30pm -
To write...


Challenges: Wow, when I checked it out online I found all these descriptions for 'to challenge or challenges'  and they came across quite, well, not really negatively aggressive but certainly actively aggressive.

The noun- challenge

1. a call or summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength, etc.
2. something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle,contest, special effort, etc.: Space exploration offers a challenge to humankind.
3. a call to fight, as a battle, a duel, etc.
4. a demand to explain, justify, etc.: a challenge to the treasurer to itemize expenditures.
5. difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged init.
6. MILITARY: the demand of a sentry for identification or a countersign.
7. LAW: a formal objection to the qualifications of a particular juror, to his or her serving, or to the legality of an entire jury.

So maybe for me to not 'find' time but to actually 'claim' time is the way to go to be able to give call to my urge and WANT to write - my CHALLENGE.

Daily we are CHALLENGED I feel.
Challenged in the sense of meeting our own demands of what the day should hold or bring.

That we achieve the goals we set, that the world demands of us and the demands we give in to from those around us ( e.g. friends - family).

When I looked for some images for this blog ( for which the inspiration came as my fingers reached for the keys on the keyboard) I came upon many which confirmed my inclination that a challenge is more often seen as a burden, something to ' get your shoulders under'. A 'task'  with numerous hurdles to overcome.


I see a challenge as being something to ACHIEVE. Having looked more closely at the word and it's description I am still struggling with the thought that the word challenge is something to overcome - to conquer but then in the sense that is must be - and maybe, just maybe, when people are faced with CHALLENGES, they are discouraged. That what they face may be too everything:

HARD, 
DIFFICULT, 
FULL OF HURDLES.
...and as the old saying goes " anything with too in front of it is to be avoided!"

I see a challenge as the path to travel - of reaching a destination. 

In many parts of our world the CHALLENGE is to find a way to peace. 

If we keep thinking that a challenge is a hurdle to take - we may never find the path, solution or way to that PEACE.

And there is a way - LOVE.

The CHALLENGE as I see it is -

Find the way to love one and other - and the world will ACHIEVE 

peace















Monday, 25 August 2014

Chosing a subject

Last week I had Wednesday evening off - there was no 'book-talk-discuss' group as there were quite a few people on holiday. I have been writing reflective pieces on this topic ( To covet or not to covet!) so now I have the opportunity to take a break and tackle another topic.

Opinions- who doesn't have one? One just needs to read the morning paper, or the Facebook messages to see what items interest people and tempt them to react. I try to remain objective - and that is hard when I read some of the responses both insulting and degrading. So I have stopped reading them - the Letters to the Editor was once a favourite page where I would devour peoples gripes, ideas and challenging outlooks on life.

I could decide to Blog about the terrible injustices, the wars, the inhumane situations people face in their own world - far away from mine. How would that help them? How would that change what is happening? Would my Blog stop a war, feed and heal the ill and malnourished?

Not wanting to write about these situations doesn't mean I am not aware, or don't care - I just feel utterly helpless and down spirited about it all. And that surely doesn't help those in my immediate space. If I am disgruntled, morose, depressed - I affect those in my vicinity in a most negative way. Certainly not the way to help create a beter world.

Many years ago when my children were young I had a tape of Children's Songs. It was called - The Creekbank. One of the songs had as subject - "Drop a pebble into water and watch the circles grow". Pity I can't transfer it from the tape onto a CD- never mind! I can still 'hear' the words and the song when I think about it.

The lesson is quite clear: Everything we do - has a ripple effect. If I am down in the dumps - so are those around me. If I smile - I have a good chance I will get a smile too. And if I dwell on the sad things in life - so will those around me. To spend the day bemoaning the situation others find themselves in - will definitely NOT help their situation.

That doesn't mean turn a blind eye - and if there are practical things we can do to help - blankets to
homeless, monetary donations to the Red Cross to name a few, then Do them. But most of all my dear friends - we need to keep the faith. We need to keep praying for PEACE. We need to BELIEVE that those wielding the POWER see that there are better ways to resolve their issues.

Matthew 22:34 - 39 states;
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the Law, tested him with this question. " Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself."


If we ( humans)  love our neighbour, and if we love ourselves - how come we are slaughtering each other?





Modern version

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sunday

It is Sunday - for many to fill with prayer, to share with family, to 'go out and about' or to ' laze about'. For some to work, think of nursing staff, our police and the food and public transport  industry to name a few. I am going to use some of the time to write up my BLOG.

The past couple of months I have taken part discussing the ins and outs of a book called

 ' My Neighbour's House'. 

The discussion group is a diverse group of people who all have various backgrounds and convictions. One thing we DO have in common ( well we have more but this one is the BIGGEST) is FAITH.

We all BELIEVE IN GOD!

The subject, as it suggests - has to do with what OTHERS HAVE and maybe we WANT.

Funny, a thought just occurred to me - literally while writing - How often do we want the LOVE that others hold dear, or the PEACE that some people radiate? Hmmm.... going to think on that one!

Anyway, the purpose of the book is not to see how we should NOT want what others have - but
HOW we achieve WHAT we go for in life.

The way to the means tells a lot about the person and how important we think something is.

Do we sacrifice time with family to fill a need to be out with friends for a ' good night out' instead of a good night in?- yes, babies cry, teenagers sulk and wives/husbands can be cranky! SO WHAT - be there and try to make a difference.

Do we ' break all bounds' and ' do what it takes' to make promotion, buy that car or upgrade the home? ( Bigger isn't always better - especially mortgages)

Do we alter our friendship group because the one we are in leads to feeling inept, not good enough or always expecting more!?

Recently an article appeared in our daily paper about a family on holiday. They went ( apparently) unprepared- had their cash card eaten at the ATM and were ' bound' to the camping. They had little or no money so couldn't 'eat out everyday' and the kids were bored because they HAD TO spend the whole day at the pool or in the playground at the camping ground. HOW sad was THAT!!?? The accompanying photo was of the family with drooped lip faces and almost tears on their cheeks.

I was FLABBERGASTED, GOBSMACKED, APPALLED, DISAPPOINTED, SADDENED!

A lovely camping ground in warm sunny France, a cosy caravan, good health ( Mother had just recovered from a hernia and had received a clean bill of health). And the headline read " Holiday from Hell."

Now that's what the book and the 10th commandment is all about - the wanna haves and the have nots and how we handle them. 

A must read, truly. Most enlightening. We haven't read to the end yet - so will keep you posted on further insights and developments.






Friday, 25 July 2014

Realising the joy - and living it.

Here it is, Friday afternoon! Once again it arrived sooner than I anticipated. The week has flown by, disappearing into nothingness. The days appear to melt into one and other, just like the threads on the cobwebs that stretch from one branch to the other, on the apple tree in my garden.

For me a simple week with the normal 'run of the mill ' activities, most of which I could do with my eyes shut.

For others, those who mourn their loved ones killed in warzones or in accidents that occured this past week time must seem a like a never ending zone they can't escape from.

We, the dutch nation, along with others, stood still literally this week in respect and in silent witness to the horror of innocent victims of yet another futile war - a grab for power by those who should know better and spend their time guiding their nation instead of trying to enlarge it.

There are wars raging that go beyond the power of comprehension. Is it so hard to be loving to one and another? Is it so difficult to respect and share the space we have together as humans? Oh, how I pray for the madness to STOP!

It is all so surreal. Here I am sitting in my garden 'house'. With a view that impresses all those who visit here. I am playing the CD called In Paradisum - Spiritual Classical Melodies. I can hear birds chirping, far in the background a lawnmower chugging away over a patch of long grass. A cock is crowing - proud and loud! On the water beside me some ducks slowly glide by, I can just see them out of the corner of my eye. A pigeon came and rested on our rooftop earlier this week - and has decided to stay a while. I can hear it coo-ing!

WHAT A CONTRAST! I can scarcely take it in.

There is peace in my space - a peace that I can taste, hear, feel and almost touch.

It has taken me a week to be able to enjoy it again. I felt an immense sense of guilt and it seemed almost obscene that this paradise of mine is part of this world and it's ugly wars.

I have decided to embrace what I have been given - the peace to be and do what is necessary to live the life planned for me.

I have decided to protect the peace as I know it by embracing that which I have - and not let it be TAKEN by those who know not how to live in that peace.

This afternoon the sun is a welcome visitor on my face and I feel so BLESSED!

My prayers and thoughts are with those mourning - that goes without saying. 

That, however, must not stop me REALISING my joy and blessings and LIVING THEM!








Monday, 21 July 2014

A world gone mad

As many good intension go - the goal to place an article at least once a week - has not been realised. The will was present but the planning, timing and energy was not. 

Here I am once again picking up the threads of my BLOGGING commitment ( it is not a burden you understand) just prioritising!

Summer has arrived - the weather has been kind to us this year. For months now, we dutch, have been treated to stable summery temperatures with a few disturbing factors thrown in for fun. Just a hailstorm or two, whirlwind and a heatwave to keep it interesting.

Our country is divided into 3 sectors, each starting the summer holidays a week or so apart. Today, Monday, the last of the 3 sectors has started it's school holiday season. The roads are less busy, the shopping centers too, where-as the fun parks, family campings and swimming pools cope with the attendance of the holidaying public. Life, as we know it- goes on. At least, on the surface so it appears.

This year the atmosphere is different, tainted, solemn- in shock. A plane filled with holiday makers and other travellers has been plucked from the air with disastrous consequences. Pain, disbelief, shock and horror filled the hearts of thousands as they received the news of this enormous disaster. It doesn't really matter what nationality these unsuspecting travellers had - united they died despite their backgrounds, not because of it. 

I cannot comprehend the enormity of this deed.

How someone, somewhere and for whatever reason had the nerve to push a button, pulled the trigger or whatever, that sealed the fatal fate of so many. Nothing justifies this ( or any other for that matter) ACT OF VIOLENCE

On board were 298 people. Men, woman, children! Hopes, dreams, aspirations, plans - future, past and present! To those families left behind - what a tragedy they now have to come to terms with. Gut wrenching, unfathomable, grief strikken! I for one, cannot comprehend the enormity of this pain. At this moment, I think the notion that - loving memories will help and sustain you - right now won't foot the bill, if ever!

Why write about this event? Because I need to 'get the noise' out of my head. The unrest, the frustration, the horror, the confusion. Somehow when I write it settles my mind and 'clears' my head.

Words don't do justice to describe my emotions - just that I am full to overflowing with compassion, love and prayerful support to those hurting.

And for those non-believers, No, GOD didn't shoot that plane down! Someone decided it was THE thing to DO! We have a responsibility - we have FREE WILL! And that responsibility is not as valued or treasured by some in the same way as it is by others.

Choose LOVE and you will be RIGHT every time!

John: 13:34-35

34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

1 Corinthians: 1:10

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.


I cannot abide ill will - am allergic to animosity of anything of the 'un' nature. I am a lover of peace and attempt in my way to either avert, resolve or divert dissension. To those who agree to disagree with me, that is their privilege. To those seeking my company I say welcome, to those who avoid me I say welcome, to those near and far, welcome. 

Right now- I am trying to make sense of a world gone mad.

We humans are losing the plot!

Every day thousands die - when will de killing STOP?