Coffee along the way

Coffee along the way
Coffee along the way

February 19, 2018

Being at Peace with God



I am many thngs....i am the mother of S/B/C, the wife of A, the driver picking up the school kids, the carer, the cook and chief bottle washer....but i am also confused, worried, overwhelmed and at times frantic. I am Panic, i am Harried, i am Fret.

I would, of course, just like to be plain old me. I would like to be Uncomplicated, Drinker of coffee, Reader of book, Hoper of hope, but i am not.

So many things and roles define my being at the moment - and not all of them good or positive. I would like to be named Quietness and Strength but it is more like Shouting and Melting Down.

I was sitting in church thinking of who i have become after quite a week of losing it a couple of times....we started singing Where Your Love ran red by Chris Tomlin. A song i know quite well. As the next slide came up the words "peace with God" stood out. To me it stood out in neon flashing colours. Peace with God.

And that is when i realised i am still fighting with God. Outwardly i look calm (well mostly), but i was in a deep turmoil inside and every now and again it spilled over and out....causing me to go back numerous times saying I am sorry. I need that peace. I need to be at peace with God. I am falling apart.

How do you get to a point of being at peace with Him as you see more muscles stop working? How do i not want to scream at God to stop this insane disease, because i know He can? What does it mean to be at peace with God?

Many thick books have been written about this, but i will keep it short. I think of Joseph. David. Moses. None had an easy life. They had one thing in commom. Trust. They trusted God no matter what. Peace is unbreakably linked to Trust. That is the only way. I need to Trust God no matter what. That is where peace begins.

So my goal for this week, no wait, make it this day, is to be known as the one who trusts God. No more, no less. I cannot go on without this peace. Peace with God is my glue - actually my Super Glue.

Bella

January 29, 2018

When brave runs out...


My brave is used up. 

I am deducting that when Joshua took over from Moses he felt like his brave had also run out. Why else would God tell him a number of times not to be afriad. To be courageous, even to be very courageous? 

For many years while we lived out in the bush we had two family sayings. One was a bit tongue in the cheek - "Hope for the best, but expect the worst" and "We will be fine." Without a doubt i still use the first one regularly, but somehow i just cannot get myself to say the latter.

We have used it in so many different settings, crisis and disasters that is comes quite naturally. A way in which God encouraged us, because in the end through all those times we were actually fine. But not now.

We are not fine when more muscles fail us. We are not fine when hearts hurt so bad that life seems impossible to maneuver. I cannot go to my go-to. I stop short. I need a replacement for it. We need Hope more than anything right now. 

And then i think of all those extreme times when i said it....Alfred hurt his back when we moved to Mozambique and was on bedrest for a month. A month of trying to figure out a foreign country while juggling three little boys, school and caring....We will be fine. And we were.
Or the time a hurricane ripped through our village on the day Alfred taught on Jesus' death and resurrection....We will be fine. - and the storm stopped at 2 when the teaching was supposed to start. 
Or the worst case of malaria....he will be fine and thank God, he was. Or building a house with no funding..We will be fine. And there the house stands. Or cleaning up a badly burnt child in our village all the way thinking he needs ICU but God touched those by-the-end-of-the-day dark brown bandages and he healed with no scar. We will be fine. And we were.

"We will be fine" was not positive thinking. Try living out there for a couple of years and stay positive! It was much more than an empty comfort sentence. It had deep roots of God's faithfulness. We will be fine because God has it. He has us. He has this.

And so, i am changing my go to sentence to something much deeper where even more trust is involved by saying, "God's got this." Just like Joshua needed new brave, new courage, we need it too.
And we can be brave and courageous because God says... "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afriad; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

God's got this. And in the end we will be fine.

Bella.

January 28, 2018

Strangely encouraged

The year of impossible losses continues....
It might be official that 2017 has ended and 2018 has started but to me it is just another day of continuing loss. 
It is never a good idea to write on a Sunday evening at 10:30. 
Facebook was the culprit or instigator if you like, for tonight’s reflexion.
A year ago it read. A road trip into new territories for us - and little did we realize then the roads we would be going on. 
Smiling pictures of us and new friends. When smiling came easy.
A nice plate of food not cooked by myself eaten with much laughter. When eating was so easy.
Talking, joking and sharing dreams for the new year, when talking was still easy....
Yes, little did we know.

Only one year ago and now dreams are shattered, plans have changed, life as we knew it ... gone.
And i find myself in the ancient turmoil of why all the suffering, the role of God in it and me His child. And strangely enough every time i think about it i have this vivid picture of a fierce battle that Jesus is leading and we, His followers, are all decked out with silver armor, swords, shields and so on.  But we are all also covered in sweat, blood and battle scars and in the midst of a bloody battle. All the time with our eyes on our King who is in the frontline with us. 
Somehow with this picture suffering makes sense. Not in any normal logical way at all but somehow actually makes so much sense.
There He is not just cheering us on but leading in this fierce battle. And there i am wanting to give my all as well.
Not that this picture makes it all easy, or answers the Why’s, but somehow brings a different perspective on it all.
 “For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. So take up every piece of war equipment God provides; so that when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist; and when the battle is won, you will still be standing.”
Ephesians 6:12-13 
Trusting Jesus in the midst of this darkness and year of impossible losses is really all i can do. We are in a battle - there is no denying that. I want to stand firm with what the Lord has given me. It won’t help asking Why, Why and Why in the thick of things. Understanding will come but not now. Now i need to put on that war equipment and stand my ground.

Bella, strangely comforted by a picture of war

January 16, 2018

Sovereign only?



How many times have i come to this place where i realise that God's way of thinking and acting and the world's (mine included) are 180 degrees apart? And yet, here i am again.

Yesterday i wrote a long letter to God. I tried telling Him that yes, after all that has happened and still will happen i do believe in Him as a Sovereign God but not really as a good loving Father. Sovereign He definitely is - we are His creations, He is the Potter, we are the clay. And a Sovereign God makes so much more sense in times of suffering and tragedy than a Loving God. And i have such a hard time seeing His Good side lately as things progress and slowly but surely we are all falling apart...so Sovereign it is.

So here i am once again. I am trying to remember that God's perspective is not my perspective. Listen to this....He calls the poor in spirit ......Blessed. I would not call them blessed. I would call the miraculously healed person blessed!  I would pity the poor in spirit.
Blessed are those who mourn. Not blessed are those who are spared losses. How many times would we rather say "God spared his life, we are so blessed!" than "God took him, we the mourners are blessed because we will be comforted"??
Blessed are the meek. Not blessed are those strong independent ones.

We sing so easily that God is Indescribable, Uncontainable, Untameable and Awesome, but when we face trials and suffering and just want to be rescued and live an easy life, we forget that our ways are not God's ways.

CS Lewis wrote in The Problem of pain “The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word 'love' and look on things as if man were the centre of them.
 and
"We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves’, and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all’. Not many people, I admit, would formulate a theology in precisely those terms: but a conception not very different lurks at the back of many minds. I do not claim to be an exception: I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.

It is not easy to write these words as i am still wrestling with this whole thing, but i can say this, my conception of love needs correction - my viewpoint needs to align to God's in order for me to come to a place of peace and rest in the midst of chaos and pain and suffering. He is not only a Sovereign God but a Loving Father and He does care. I need to keep trusting in Him as a Loving Father, no matter what. One day we will see clearly!

Bella
Ps Philip Yancy wrote "Where is God when it hurts" and i would really recommend reading it.




January 06, 2018

Funny also happens...



When you worry and fret and are all stressed out 24/7 getting some exercise usually gets pushed off the list of Things-to-do and People-to-Help. So, this morning i decided to do something about it. Instead of taking the car on a 2km round trip to buy some bread rolls, i "jumped" on my bicycle. Easy, right? One of my dear sons went along for the "ride".

Funny thing, two of my neighbours saw me and laughed a bit at my expense...said i should call if i needed a lift back from the shop. haha. I was undeterred until i realised i had a flat tire. Definitely deterred then.

 We had to look around a bit for the right device....fixed that and eventually we were off. By this time the neighbours had gone inside....luckily!

Did i mention it was "only" a 2km round trip BUT with a huge downhill there and a HUGER hill back up again.

Going down i nearly burnt out my brakes, going back up i sent B ahead so that me and my marshmallow legs could try and follow at a less intense pace and hoped to keep my dignity intact. What was i thinking! Dignity? Surely i must have made some onlookers smile or laugh out loud as i tried to get off the bike mid-hill without falling flat on my face as my legs, or should i say marshmallows, could now not lift high enough to disembark from the bicycle! And then i had to proceed to WALK (dignified) up the hill.

Halfway up the hill, B came back and said we should take another route with a more gentle incline....so off i went. Him in the lead...i got to a stop sign and turned left....and enjoyed a very nice bit of downhill, only to realise at the bottom that i now actually just went around the block and was at the bottom of the same hill AGAIN -  my own Heartbreak Hill. ?? By then i had had it. I got off with no grace and walked the rest of the uphill home.

Back home, no son. Sent the other two to go and look for him. Long story short - they could not find him as he went back to look for me and did the same hill TWICE! Eventually they did "Find my iPhone" and saw he was home. Good for technology, i guess otherwise they would still be out there going in circles!

Looking on the bright side we all got some exercise today! And i did get fresh bread rolls.

And is this not just how Life goes? We think we have it all nicely planned out but stuff happens and we find ourselves at the bottom of the same hill over and over. I was thinking what is my recurrent theme lately. My Heartbreak Hill. So, not to bore you with a long story it generally boils down to What about me? Who will be looking after me?

So i leave me (and you) with this: Deut 33:27  "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the Everlasting Arms."
I like that. The Everlasting Arms. Under me. Going Uphill or Downhill, He is there, His Arms which by the way is Everlasting, is under me with my wobbly marshmallow legs. He has me.

Bella, it can only get better...or worse, i guess. It's 50-50 most days in any case! But He is there no matter what.

December 30, 2017

My Helper......



Come to Me all who are heavy laden and burdened.....come to Me.

Someone asked me the other day how my prayer life is at the moment. I did take a moment to think about this question. Does "Please help me Lord" over and over count for having a prayer life?
Does "i cant take it anymore" or just my favoured, one worded prayer of "Help!" count at all?

This is the reality of living with this terrible disease that steals away everything - and it does it in slow motion.

It seems that i might be a strong woman. Look where i lived for 8 years! But really, i am not. It was hard for me out there. One visitor told me a few years back while "helping" me hang up the washing, that his wife would never make it out there...she is not so ....ahem... tough. Why thanks, Somehow it did not sound like a compliment to me, the old tough piece of meat. Anyhow, that is not the point. To me it seems that the Lord has placed me in severe tough and difficult positions and places not because of my toughness, but because He is Tough. I guess i am a slow learner.

I must admit, i do rebel at times. Wishing it would just be easy for a bit. Just a spot of plain sailing would be extremely pleasant. But, no. God delights to be my Help. My Stronghold. But, do i marvel at that? Nope. I cry. I complain. I cry some more. I pray help me, help me, help me, help me and then when i finally lay my head on the pillow - meaning that i actually did get through another terrible day - forget to thank my Knight in shining armour. Because He really does help. He hears my cries and He catches my tears in a little bottle. He is right beside me. He carries me who is trying to carry those around me. I need only to turn to Him.

Help me, help me, help me is all very fine but i need to end it with Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. I need to Remember the Lord my God. Because I really know it is defintely not my strength or power that got me here today, but so easily i forget and do think that. Let this verse remind me of just that......

“He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭8:16-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Bella

December 29, 2017

Gratitude



In tough times it is hard to be grateful. In anxious times even worse. But it says in Philippians that we should not be anxious for anything but by prayer and petition with Thanksgiving make our requests known to God and His Amazing All-encompassing Peace will follow. But Thankfulness in these times? Really? Yes, i need this peace, but grumbling and complaining would be much easier than Thanking....

So, the sceptic me looks at a "normal" day and i wonder where will my thankfulness come from? But then i use my fingers on the keyboard and i begin to see......Thank You that i can use my fingers. That i can open and close my hands. That i have feeling in my hands.

I take a sip of coffee and i say Thank You again because i can actually swallow. I can see, read, speak, make a face, roll my eyes. I can actually lift my arms above my head. I can touch my toes. I can put my own socks on, peel a potato, open the door, turn the key in the lock. And i breathe a Thank You.

I hang my head in shame...there is so much to be grateful for. So much i miss because i just want to complain and grumble and wallow in self pity. So much i take for granted - until you lose it you don't even think about these things. Sitting, standing, bending, eating, coughing, taking a deep, deep breath.

Thank You Lord. Please forgive me for acting like a spoiled brat. Stomping my foot when i lose perspective and see nothing good anymore. Nothing to say Thank You for. That is so far from the Truth. Help me see.

When i look for things to Thank God for i regain that peace. Thankfulness is like an anchor that stops the boat from being bashed against the rocks. Life wants to bash and break every bone in my body, Christ wants to keep me whole and by seeing Him in my day at work does just that. Thanking Him for His presence, mercy and grace brings that inner peace and healing that my soul needs. Thankfulness.

It can be big or small but find those things and say, Thank You, Lord.

Bella