Coffee along the way

Coffee along the way
Coffee along the way

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.







February 27, 2017

Do i live and behave as if all i know about God is 100% true and trustworthy?



Do i live and behave as if all i know about God is 100% true and trustworthy? Or do i project a kind of true Father, a kind of trustworthy God?

It is very easy for the small stuff! If it works out, well then, great! If it does not, then on i go....Not really a great way to live as God usually uses the small things we need to trust Him for, to help us and shape us into trusting Him even more!

This usually comes to the surface when we can make no plans of our own, when we have no other option but to go forward, ie no room for backing away. Only Trust.

Essentially, i really believe God is totally trustworthy! If He calls, He will be Faithful. God is not the problem here. My wavering heart is my downfall. The higher the stakes, the more i worry. Which, when you think about it should not really matter at all. If you have nothing and you need to trust God for a R/$100, you still have nothing. So if you need R/$100 000 you still have nothing. And let's face it; God fed 3 million hungry people for 40 years without them growing things themselves or buying their own food. He even topped it with quail for everyone! Water from a rock in a desert, parting  the sea for them, showing His might by tumbling a great thick wall without them having to use catapults or battering rams! Only God.

So, here i am with my worries. Will God come through? Will He?

Did He send us on this quest for Him? Yes. Has His assignment changed? No. Is He a Loving Father? Yes. Does He care about each and every small detail as well as the big ones? Absolutely!

These past weeks have been quite something on the trust scale! Apart from having to trust God to take care of huge finacial needs i also had to trust Him for outcomes totally out of my control! Huge growth spurt on this side of the screen would be an understatement!

All three boys had surgeries (2x tonsillectomies and 1x wisdom teeth removals) plus 2 x visa applications And an assortment of smaller and bigger added challenges as well. And through it all, i heard God say every time i started to worry - "I've got this".

"Don't worry about anything; on the contrary, make your requests known to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving. Then God's shalom, passing all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with the Messiah Yeshua." 

What more can i say? God is Faithful, He will never fail us. Never. And He gets ALL the glory and the thanks!!

Bella, so, so thankful! 

January 18, 2017

For when i am weak, then i am strong......

  2 Corinthians 12:9-11
New International Version (NIV)

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I used to think that this verse meant that when i feel kind of low, God will use me mightily for His Kingdom. And so, thinking along these lines whenever things got really bad and i felt really weak and nothing happened, i slowly became disillusioned. Was i not weak enough? Were the hardships not hard enough for God to work through me? Were i not going through more than enough difficulties? Where was my strong part?

Well, it took a really big 4x4 to help me see my error in thinking or misbelief as i like to call them.....

We live out here far from good car help. So we have to be creative until things can be fixed proeperly! Our car is a wonderful old Land Cruiser - part of our family really! But 24 years and 300 000+ km does make a mark on any good solid car. The latest old age twinge is that The Starter gets stuck. So now I cannot go anywhere by myself because if it does get stuck someone needs to disconnect the batteries and then do all kinds of monkey mechanics to unstuck it. Sadly my CV does not show much in terms of car maintenance....so i need someone clued up to drive around with me. I can drive the car, do my errands, go where i want to go but i do have to have someone with me who knows his stuff! I am totally at a loss in this area and need help.

It kind of snuck up on me that this is a perfect lesson in weakness versus strength. And i also noticed something quite profound - something that knocked and winded my misbelief right in the stomach! 

If the starter does get stuck, i will get out and try and be helpful (maybe even take a few pictures :) ) but the work AND the glory will go to whoever gets it unstuck! The focus will not be me. I will be the helper in the car. If i tell the story afterwards it won't be about me being so weak and not knowing what to do. It will be about a clever husband or teenage boy who came to me rescue, a man or boy who was strong For me. (I am not a pathetic female in case you wonder but am making a point here that i need help!)

In any case, this is where i had it wrong all the time. I was waiting for God to do great things through me, by me and myself doing them, while in dire straits! Notice my focus...me. And my. I tenaciously kept being, or trying to be, strong because i was so weak! How weird is that?

I can only be strong because i know God is here right beside me. He is doing it. He is helping and i need to give Him all the glory and thanks! I need God and not glory for myself in hard times.

This is a good lesson to learn right now in one of the most difficult times of my life. I need God's healing Grace. I need His Power which is being made perfect in my weakness. It is not about me being strong but to acknowledge that He is the Strong one and lean on that. That without Him i am nothing. But only with Him am i complete!

It is not about in those weak times that God is going to work and do great things through you - it is about surrendering in those times to let God figure it out, help you stand up again - it is about what God is doing IN me and not THROUGH me. Only in weakness will i know where my real Strength comes from. Relying on Him and not myself. Trusting, resting, believing.
Bella

December 13, 2016

How would you give a Definition of yourself?





How would you give a Definition of yourself? Starting with your name and then ________?

Take a minute to really think about it. Will your definition include how you look? What you do for a living? Who your husband/wife/kids are? How much (or how little) money you have? Would it be something funny to cover an embarrassing fact about you? Will it be harsh or flatteringly? Will it be truthful or maybe slightly deceiving?
What will it be?

The Definition of myself by myself. Hmm. Possibly quite the hardest thing to do. Also quite revealing. What does define you? And what happens to that definition when what does define you, changes? Hard questions for this time of year, for sure!

I could define myself by what I do. Easy. Missionary. Mom. Homeschool teacher. Occasional Physiotherapist. Cook. Baker. Cleaner. But what happens if I cannot DO any of these things? Kids grow up and move away (too soon one will fly the nest!), the house can become smaller, or I could lose the ability to clean, cook or move around. Then what? Who am I then?

How I look? Oh, my, that changes quickly! Hair turning white at an early age is quite a shock for the Image if that is important in your definition! A few kilos gained leads to devastation. Wrinkles can cause a few wobbles in how you define yourself. Getting old may seem a terrible thing if how you look defines you.

Money? Status? All can be lost. Same goes for the people you associate and define yourself by (spouse/kids/friends).

I was looking sideways into the mirror at my prematurely (haha) gray-white hair and thinking that I need something more solid to state my Definition on. Looks won't do it. :) Looking at Gap year options for my eldest makes me re-evaluate that part of my definition as a homeschool mom. Being put into a certain income category because of being a missionary, helps me see that that won’t be a good place to start my Definition either!  

The thing is – all these things we so naturally use to state our own personal Definition is temporary, not lasting and not good at all in the long run. We need something Unchangeable, Someone Unchangeable!
We need God’s Definition of us.

And what is that? In my humble opinion we are all looking for love and acceptance. If money gives it we try and hold onto that. If looks does it, we go there. If family, status, etc gives it we try that. But essentially we all search for the ultimate place of love and acceptance. We can only find this with God. He has unconditional love for us. Just think about it – God loves us no more today than He loved us yesterday. We cannot impress Him, we cannot earn His love. We have total acceptance from Him. Jesus made us whole with God the Father again. Through Jesus we have exactly what we are looking for. But we don’t believe it. We don’t live it. We try useless things.

At the end of this year, I think I am ready to start really living this. It has been a hard year but always God is there, whispering I love you. I approve of you but I kept looking at things that made me acceptable, loved and to no avail. I guess 2016 can be summed up by Deeply disappointed by Life in general.

No more. I choose to start my Definition by stating I am a child of God! I am loved by the Creator of the Universe. I belong to the Best Father ever. I have purpose. Nothing can change that. No hurt, no circumstance that this life throws at me can change that. God will always love me. Always.

As we celebrate the coming of Jesus this year, let us think of what He did – how He changed literally Everything! How He made it possible for us to have this amazing relationship with God! Unconditional love.

Bella





"Guard your ❤️ for it is the wellspring of life."



I realised recently that Bitterness is also a fruit. We tend to think that only the good things are fruit - like gentleness, compassion, self-control - but actually we can have many fruits that are grown from sin in our hearts.

Being unforgiving, making sure you never say you are sorry, holding grudges, keeping score of the wrong, etc; all of these will grow into solid and nasty fruit. With roots so deep and seeds so tenacious that it is really hard to get rid of them!

Bitterness
Rage
Hatred
Revenge, the List goes on!

These are all Fruit of the unwholesome kind and i can grow them right in my own little garden hot-house. By dwelling upon hurts, by letting these hurts or whatever wrong that was done to me - wrongly or rightly - take root, nurturing my hurt feelings and taking care never to let go of them, i will have quite a harvest of bad tasting, ugly looking and horribly smelling fruit.....

How do i get rid of these invasive growths with horrible fruit? How do i keep my heart sweet? How does one "guard" ones ❤️?

 The easy ones are those where you have caused hurt - ask for forgiveness! Say you are sorry - nobody so far has died because they said "I am sorry, please forgive me."

The more difficult ones are where you have been hurt. All of us have had our fair share of it!

I think for me the word Dwelling really coins it. To dwell on a hurt means to quite literally, live there. Living in it, with it - constantly. Dwelling. Mulling it over and over. This is a sure way of making sure it takes root and it will definitely soon bear fruit! Some hurts go so deep that, if you keep dwelling there, you can build quite a sturdy skyscraper or vast neighbourhood! No. Stop! Something needs to be done.

The opposite of Dwelling is To Move! The only way to move out is by letting go, moving on.....by Forgiving.

Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of Life. Don't make lists of wrongs 1Corinthians 13 says.

Never easy, but worth it. Jesus, as my ultimate inspiration, as He was being crucified, prayed....Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Forgive them.

Love. Forgive. Live. Become free.

Bella