Coffee along the way

Coffee along the way
Coffee along the way

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

December 07, 2016

Reality of life as a missionary



“This was the true light, which gives light to everyone entering the world. He was in the world — the world came to be through him — yet the world did not know him. He came to his own homeland, yet his own people did not receive him. But to as many as did receive him, to those who put their trust in his person and power, he gave the right to become children of God, not because of bloodline, physical impulse or human intention, but because of God.”
‭‭John 1:9-13‬ ‭CJB‬‬

I was sitting with clenched fists at the weekly Bible lesson. Probably the worst missionary ever. I was angry. My white fists a sure sign of just how angry I was. I truly hoped it was a Righteous Anger, but as i continued to just sit there this anger grew in me.....not very righteous at all.

The lesson was on Jesus' crucifixion and then His glorious resurrection. What a wonderful story as we are in the Advent leading to Christmas - being reminded that Jesus, sweet as He was as a baby, was meant for so much more and would face severe pain before returning to His Father, mission completed! But no. It was not going well and thus the clenched, white fists in my lap.

I was sitting on the women's side of the little grass-roofed shelter and they were paying rapt attention? No. They were really interested? Nope. They were actually having the time of their lives and laughing at everything! If a rain drop fell through the thatch roof it was funny, if a little baby screamed her lungs out, it was something to laugh about, if the wind blew cold and wet air against them it was snickered at. They were all giggling and talking in whispers and laughing at everything! This was all still bearable, i mean free choice and everything, but when the picture of Jesus hanging on the cross was passed around and they found it hilarious it really got to me! Why was This Scene funny? And when His broken body was taken down from the cross it caused them to nearly die of laughter.....?

I felt so shocked and saddened all at the same time. Do they not hear? Do they not see? Are they all laughingly choosing death instead of Life? How could they treat my King this way?

But,
Jesus was betrayed. Mocked. Scorned. Dismissed. Laughed at. Pointed to. 

And as He was nailed to a wooden beam, His life ebbing away, in agony He still prayed....Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

And it touched my hardened heart and i too pray....Father forgive them......

Bella, heartbroken

November 23, 2016

Into the Light



I am rather terrible at needlework. I mean, really terrible. If anything that involves sewing clutters my desk, i shudder. I am not one to procrastinate easily, but sewing related...always!!  I put it off until it is definitely the last second, but even so, my family still ask me to fix things, bless their souls!  Just small things like Sewing on a button or Fixing a seam....nothing serious or too challenging for their sewing impaired mother!

And so, on this Thursday morning i was trying to fix a small seam that came apart.  I made a mess of things, as i did not even look to see if the thread matched the colour of the fabric. Nothing out of the ordinary! I was picking away to undo my work (oh, for a delete button on sewing!) and i was struggling.  I mean struggling more than usual....

The extra problem was, that i did not have enough light where i was working, so i took my "work" over to the window to get more light on the .....uhm, subject - and then something clicked inside my brain - unfortunately still nothing in the way of making me an amazing seamstress, but still, something clicked. And it was this: I had to take my life into the Light. And only there could i really "see" what was going on.

I have had more than my fair share of challenges this past month - if only it was in sewinstuff! I had struggled to see what was going on. I was wrestling daily with things that i could not fix. I became really despondent at times and even a bit depressed.  These things started to consume me. They heaped upped. I could not stop thinking about it and it dragged me down. An unhealthy downward spiral. It also started me on "What were others thinking of me?"  I could feel a thick condemnation roll over the, oh, so dark, hills.

At the height of all this and quite timely (God's timing, of course!) a friend wrote and said that i need only be concerned by what God was thinking about me. He knows my heart AND my motives.  Am i good with Him? Bringing my life into the Light is the important factor. He needs to be the One convicting me at times, comforting me at others. God is the One True Standard.  This does not say i am not open to a word of warning or caution or conviction from people, but rather to always make sure before God. It does not matter what people think - rightly or wrongly - of my "name", only what God thinks of me. And i mean this where others might think bad of me and i cannot defend or explain myself kind of context. Obviously our conduct should be above reproach, that is also not what i mean. So don't get me wrong, i am talking about those situations where i need to put my name/reputation in His hands and trust Him for the outcome.

Just this week i taught my kids "Life is unfair/ hard but God is always good!" (I didnt realize then i would learn this lesson again myself!) Jesus did not explain or defend Himself in His last hours, even though we might think it could have changed Pilate's mind, or clarified things a bit! He said Nothing. Suffering for His Name is normal but worrying about my name is not!

If He convicts, i need to make it right and if i need justice i must trust Him for it. Only by bringing it all out in the Light will i have peace. There He can show me what i need to do - confess my sin, make it right, or just fall into His loving arms and know that He is on my side.

By bringing it into His light - all my troubles, all my spiralling thoughts - He brings calmness and perspective once again. No other way.

And so i stand in His Light in this new day!

Bella, who needs to go fix that seam.....


November 17, 2016

Hurting heart



When Jesus told us to be the light and the salt of the earth i don't think i realised that being just that would cause quite a lot of pain and suffering on my part. It is so easy to be the lamp under the bucket.  No-one enters, no-one disturbs.  It is just you and a few chosen ones and you shine, albeit in a small space. But that is a no-go. The command is to be a light in a dark world, not be a light in a nice comfy place.
Where the real world is and what the real world needs - that is where you and i need to be as lights and as salt. Guiding them to God, the Ultimate Light source.

Sounds so easy, right? nope. I haven't seen the easy side of this....

You know, i see some really bad wounds out here from time to time. Wounds that need washing, with salt water.  And it hurts! But as all physios or cleaner-of-wounds like to say/think, "no pain, no gain", or something like that.  Salt stings but cleanses really well.

Same goes for light. It can hurt eyes accustomed to darkness. It takes a while for eyes to adjust to a really bright light. Pain again.

I guess the light and the salt need to enter the eyes and the wounds for them to get better. Painful if you think about it - and this pain is not just for the receiver, but for the giver as well.  Sometimes you give all you have (hopefully in love and kindness) to only then receive a slap across the face as "thank you". Or rather "no, thank you." Extremely painful to the giver. Esp if you know you are in God's will and doing His bidding. God doesn't guarantee the outcome, He only asks my obedience. Be salt, be light. It is of no concern to me how they will respond. Hard at times. Very hard.

And just in case you think my theology is a bit off track....1 Peter 3:15-17  says
"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
For it is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil."


Suffer for doing good....

Stepping out from under the bucket, jumping out from the salt bin, i venture into the world relying solely on my Father to use me as He sees fit, and trusting Him for the outcome; helping people get closer to Him.

Bella,with hurting heart.