Coffee along the way

Coffee along the way
Coffee along the way

September 22, 2017

For even if....



“For even if the fig tree doesn’t blossom, and no fruit is on the vines, even if the olive tree fails to produce, and the fields yield no food at all, even if the sheep vanish from the sheep pen, and there are no cows in the stalls; still, I will rejoice in ADONAI, I will take joy in the God of my salvation. ELOHIM Adonai is my strength! He makes me swift and sure-footed as a deer and enables me to stride over my high places. For the leader. With my stringed instruments.”
‭‭Habakuk ‭3:17-19‬

Well, it is a good thing i don't have a fig tree or a vine or an olive tree. I don't have fields or sheep or cows for that matter....so it seems i will be ok....and anyway i have a million other things going wrong at the moment ... so how will Habakuk's words look to me then...right now? What is there that is making me look at fig trees or lack of cows and be mad at God or people ...can i say "even if motor neuron disease happens or the home loan is rejected or the reponibilities of life now weighs me down....even if ________ will i still be able to rejoice in God?
Am i rejoicing in God right now? Right now in this terrifying storm i call My Life?

The short answer is ... No. Sadly i am not. Instead I am fretting and fearing, worrying and tossing and turning....??will the disability claim come through or not...how much will "they" decide to pay us? will all our supporting churches one by one slink away and leave us to fend for ourseleves? Worry, worry, worry. Will this or will that, what if this or what if that. And in all of this i hear God say, "Do not fear, I am with you, I will help you."

I sigh and relax. And i rejoice in God. I take joy in the God of my salvation. He makes my feet swift and sure-footed and I stride over high places. I like that, Striding over high places as aposed to clinging on for dear life in thise terrifying high places! It is a great way of putting it and it brings a deep comfort to me because let's face it - the high and difficult places will be before us sooner or later, better to stride with God rejoicing than trying in my own strength to hold on and become stuck in a hard place.

My song might be short and not very loud, my voice might crack but i will rejoice in God my Saviour!

Bella, slowly letting go, learning to rejoice in spite of.





September 03, 2017

With me...

Three men in ancient Babylon chose not to bow down to an idol made of gold....everywhere around them people fell to the ground as soon as they heard the musical instruments....it was kind of obvious who were not bowing and the men had to face the consequences. And so, they were thrown into a fiery furnace as the king ordained. Of the many lessons that can be taken from their story of faith, one stands out - 3 were thrown into the fire, bounded, but when the king looked there were 4 .... Daniel 3:25 " Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."

If there were ever a picture of God with us in trials, difficulties or let's just say it... terrible times in life, then this one brings me the most comfort. God was with them. Right there in the fire with them.

These last couple of weeks have been very sobering as we all settle in to our new "normal". We are now that family whom everyone is glad they are not. Yes, we face extreme times, but we have this amazing promise. A promise that we will never be forsaken or forgotten. A promise that God Himself is with us. I AM with you on this journey.


On this earth, we will have trouble. And lots of it. Notice that in Isaiah 43 it does not say...If you pass through the waters or If you walk through fire. It says WHEN. Meaning tough times are bound to come our way. Some easier than others, but whatever comes our way, we can be sure of one thing. God is with us. He does not leave us at all.

But what if we are just so used to these words that even if we know it is true, it does not help? So, God is with me. But it is my arms that need to do the carrying, my hands that need to hold on to the steering wheel...my energy, my tears, my strength failing....
If this is the case, and i can say that at times i am there, then i need to stop and let it sink in.

God, the Creator is with me. God who created, not by doing things, but just by speaking, is right by my side. God who lived as a man on earth and knows how it feels to be rejected, betrayed, hungry, alone, He who knows exactly how all this feels that i am feeling, He is my Immanuel. My God with me. Jesus promised that He will be with us to the end of time. And His promises are always true.

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; 
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.....
Do not be afraid, for I am with you..." Is 43

I choose to believe it. Way down in my heart know that God is truly with me on this journey. And i can say, it is well with my soul.

Bella, never alone.



August 29, 2017

Blows, fears and truth....



Just when you think things cannot get any worse another blow comes out of nowhere....

I think there should be a special kind of grace when a serious disease or accident or terminal illness with no cure comes your way. Believe me, there is just no grace when you walk out of the doctor's office after he told you that your husband has a terminal illness and there is nothing he can do....oh, except one thing, he bills you for R1800. Thanks.

Or you find out that if you do go on early retirement (using that money for a dwelling of some sort) you are no longer eligible for the medical aid to which you have been contributing over the years. Wow, did not see that one coming. I can hear all medical aids running away as we approach....

Did you realize Life insurance brokers actually fill out your forms when you sign up, but please do not live under the illusion that when you need the money they will kindly fill out the forms and just ask for your not-so-million-dollar signature. You are on your own, buddy.

But, no. This is exactly what the real enemy wants us to believe, see in people. And his purpose? To discourage, make us doubt the faithfulness of God. Make us feel forsaken, forgotten. Alone in a very cruel world.

So far, i must admit, this enemy really does not even have to paint me a picture of desolation. It is all too real. In a sense we have lost everything in a very short time. Work and Vision, House and Friends, Dogs and Cats. It feels like we were plucked out of Mozambique and left in outer space with our few belongings slowly orbiting earth with us. Falling, falling, drifting aimlessly. Who are we now? What are we? And Where are we going and How will we get there?

But then I crack open God's Word and there it is.... Isaiah 41 - Israel's Helper. And God speaks and He says: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My Righteous Right Hand."

And my fears are stilled. My dismay is righted with Truth. My falling stops as His Hand, His Rigtheous Right Hand takes holds of me, of us. And i stand up again because the Lord said He is my God, my Helper and my Strength. My gravity returns and i am held firmly by the Hand and He says: "Do not fear, I will help you."

Even if my whole world has fallen apart, God is still the same. His love and care is still the same. I can trust Him because He said so.

Bella, safe in the Hands of the Father.








July 10, 2017

Leaving...



We are leaving our village soon for good. And I bet, to all those who were against us preaching and teaching God’s Word here, it looks pretty good. Maybe they even think all those curses over all the years have eventually kicked in. Maybe they think they have won. No more opposition. No more us, no more followers of Jesus.

Sometimes, from our small perspective things look bleak. It looks like the enemy is having the upper hand. I remember the tempest we had on the day Alfred taught on the death and crucifixion of Jesus. I remember when we had to fly our son out to South Africa as he nearly succumbed from malaria. I remember so many things where it seemed that God was not the stronger.

But this is not the truth. Through it all He showed us His love, His care and His plan. To us things looked dark, but God’s light was already shining through! The storm passed, the Truth was proclaimed and people believed!

When Jesus died on the cross I suspect his enemies had a feast and celebrated through the night! To them it looked pretty good. No more pesky Teacher, no more beloved Rabbi, no more miracles and wonders, no more Jesus. They thought they had won and it sure looked like it. But they were wrong. They were seriously wrong. That was God the Father’s finest move. Jesus died but rose again. Defeating death for ever! In what looked like total defeat it actually spelled out total Victory. The upside-down way of God surprises us so many times! He has overcome!

In that moment where it looked to the believers as the darkest hour, God’s light had already began to shine brilliantly. Little did His enemies know what was in store for them and the world!

Yes, to us this time does seem dark, but really who are we to question God’s perfect plan? We can only trust and know without a doubt that He will work everything for our good because we believe in Him and have been called according to His name. That is how we are leaving here. Not in defeat. Not cursed and made to leave. We are going because God said it is time. Besides we leave behind our fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus – God’s light here in Y-land is already shining bright through them! Hallelujah! God reigns.Never lose Hope. Never.

Isa 14:27  For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?

 Bella, safe in God.


May 18, 2017

Misty mountain






I truly love the sea and the mountains. Even better when they are together! My happy place. 😊 And to top it, i love it when the mists roll in over the sea or land...

Tonight as i stood on the porch watching the mist roll in over the sand dunes it was just beautiful. The green hills quickly disappeared beneath the thick mist. Night was falling too. It soon was too dark to see much of the green covered small hills but they were still there. I could just barely make them out and it got me thinking....

A mountain is a sturdy thing. Very stable. Definitely not wispy. Unmovable really. How many times does the Bible talk about God as our Rock, our Mountain....He is unmovable, strong, faithful. And yet at times the mist moves in and covers the mountain. You can actually get lost or hurt yourself badly if the mist on a mountian is thick as a wall....if you oanic and run off the path.

The mist may cover this huge mountian, but the mountian is still there. The mist will soon dissapear. Leaving nothing behind except maybe a trickle of wet on your face.

You could think that the mountian is gone and that the mist is the only tangible thing left....
There are definitly those times when all you can see is white nothing all around you - that moment when you feel utterly alone, or maybe in shock after visiitng the doctor, or the bank, or you can't seem to see how things will be working out, but keep courage - the mist might surround and cover but can do nothing to the Mountain! The Mountain is still the same. He is always there! And the mist Never stays forever, onlynthe Mountain.

God is there beneath the all obscuring white veil. Sit down, feel the earth beneath you, hold fast, stay in the path or wait for the mist to lift, but never doubt the Mountain.

Bella, not letting go of the Mountain.

May 08, 2017

Hope at the end of myself....




Casting Crowns sings...

At the end of myself
I am empty and dry
I have nothing to give
But....

What can i give out of emptiness? When i am all dried up?

At the end of myself
I am empty and dry
I have nothing to give
But Surrender inside.

Surrender. Giving up to give. Giving up my own plans, ideals, dreams. Accepting i have nothing to bring. Surrender.

And then in the song Jesus answers:

Let down your nets
This is not the end
From now on you'll be
Fishers of men.

Only in Him and through Him.

This gives me immense Hope, because i know how frail i am, i know how empty and dry.

Fishers of men. My duaghter you're free! Just follow Me.

Bella, follower of Jesus

(Follow Me by Casting Crowns)

May 02, 2017

The cost of caring....an open letter on Compassion Fatigue..




Maybe there is someone who wonders why we are here for a couple of months. This is the reason, although a few reasons have since also been added...but this is my main reason....
 
A few definitions of the term "Compassion Fatigue" .....
 
Compassion fatigue has been described as the “cost of caring” for others in emotional pain (Figley, 1982).
 "Compassion Fatigue is a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper."  Dr. Charles Figley
 Compassion fatigue, also known as second-hand shock and secondary stress reaction, describes a type of stress that results from helping or wanting to help those who are traumatised or under significant emotional duress.
 "Compassion Fatigue (CF) refers to the profound emotional and physical erosion that takes place when helpers are unable to refuel and regenerate..."

I felt like a failure. No, let me rephrase that. A. Total. Failure. I had nothing left to give. I could not see one more sick person, child or even animal. I was totally drained and empty. 8 Years of living in a small village with no health clinic, good friends or____,etc...

Compassion fatigue is a silent killer. You care, you give - all looks good. But you suffer silently and slowly empty out. One more heart breaking story, one more small child suffering bc of lack of health care or parental care or any type of care! Kind of like a slow bleeding wound when no pressure is applied...a certain slow death.

I was beyond helping anyone. Drained by the people i was really hard trying to love and take care of. This shocked even me. I mean, the Readers Digest First Aid book was about my 1st reader! I stuck plasters on my sisters with my still own pudgy small hands, washed their wounds, patched them up when they fell. Studied physiotherapy because i knew i would have more time with a patient so that i could really Care. When i am helping someone i forget to eat, to sleep or whatever i am doing. I am a Carer. I feel useless if not needed.....and now here i was ... spent. Nothing to give. Shocking.

What a failure of a missionary I was! The thing God gave me to do i cannot do anymore. Now what?
 
Well, i guess this started a long time ago already. Believe me, i knew the signs and tried to do things differently. More boundaries of when the sick can come, leave the village once a week to get out of the environment, try and send them to the village health worker first, etc, etc. i tried everything. It just got worse. And worse of all, i just pushed on. Who would understand? Who would care if i stopped? So a vicious cycle started. No way out.

What made matters a bit worse for me, was the fact that in our village the mothers are so young. 15-16 years old with a baby in the arms and another on the way. Sometimes they even looked relieved when the firstborn passed away from malaria, malnutrition, diarrhoea or everything together! They would drop the near dying child in my arms and say something in the line of fix her...and then laugh either at my pathetic language mistakes or because they felt embarrassed or who knows why but it didn't do me any good!
 
I would lie awake at night wondering if they were giving the re-hydration fluid every 5 min or not. I would wonder and pray and hope for the best. I cared until it hurt and they couldn't care less. Or so it seemed to me at least.

In the end we decided to take a long holiday - 2 whole weeks away! Yes, this is us. Two weeks tops. It helped a bit but then I came down with malaria myself because we were so much more exposed! So much for that. All this to say I was in a bad place and feelings of disappointing God was at the order of the day.

So, we had to leave the country as it was at a point where I was falling apart - and with me, the rest of us too!

The irony was when we were in our lovely home country all 4 of my men either had operations or many doctors appointments, so i had to continue on...caring until it hurt and then some more. All of this while struggling with how to share this plus feeling like a failure. So i stopped talking about it. Just put one foot in front of the other. nobody asked me questions and i did not volunteer information. Vicious cycle feeded. Nobody cares about me the failure.

For weeks this went on until yesterday i realised suddenly, and i have to add - Divinely - that the reason I am am where i am is because I cared TOO much. I cared too much without caring for me. This was a turning point for me. I am not a failure. God loves me still. He is not disappointed with me. I gave 110%!!  I guess, if you have suffered from compassion fatigue you will understand what i mean. God CARES. He Cares for me. I am not alone in all of this.


Whereto now? For one, i need rest. I need to be away from the constant demands of village life. I need to spend time with God. I want to go back but not yet. I trust God has this. He knows me. It helps me to know Jesus also went away to be by Himself. I pray for balance. Hope. Compassion. To be and to know that i am enough without me proving it  or die trying, in my case.
 
God in His gentle way has encouraged me in many ways. Through His Word, through people, places.
 
"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength" Isaiah 30:15

"A bruised reed He will not break and a smouldering wick He will not snuff out." Is 42:3

"He tends His flock like a Shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young." Is 40:11

I would like to go back with Joy in my heart. I would love to be that caring person again that God created me to be. But only with God's help and care will it be done. I cannot function on my own steam. I need God and His balance in my life. But first i need to get better. And that is ok.
 
Bella, a broken reed in God's loving Hands.