Category Archives: inspiration

Messages of Affirmation

For my 70th birthday party, my best friend wanted to give me seventy messages of affirmation. She and my husband contacted people who know or knew me in the past. They sent WhatsApp messages and she wrote them down on colourful paper shapes. This was the result.

The brief was to write one sentence and some people did and others wrote more. They varied from things like, “I enjoy your inspirational blog,” to some quite long ones wishing me happy birthday and prayers for the future. Some things I found out about myself that I never knew. For example, three people mentioned that I am a person who gets things done. I have never believed that of myself.

I got messages from people that I haven’t seen for twenty years! I even got a message from somebody I don’t know but who reads my blog.

I was so blessed and encouraged by reading the messages. How wonderful if we could encourage somebody every day in this way. Everybody has some gift, some attribute, some quality that we can focus on and affirm. More often we see people’s faults and don’t even look further to see their good points.

The Bible says, ” Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing our of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,” (Philippians 2:1-3 NIV)

What fun it would be if we imagined it was the birthday of everyone we met and we thought of one sentence to affirm them and we said it to them! Surely we would lift their spirits and may even inspire them to great things.

Let’s give it a try – even if it is only one person a day.

My Prayer

Father God, thank you for all those wonderful people who took the time to send a message of encouragement for me. As I have been blessed, may I bless others. Please remind me when I meet people to value them above myself and to notice something good about them. Inspire my words in my communication. Amen.

Sandpaper

“God always puts us around someone who is like sandpaper to smooth off our rough edges…a testing that takes place before we get promoted. If you want to lead, you must first serve in circumstances that may not be ideal and learn to behave wisely. This prepares us to be greatly used by God.” Joyce Meyer.

When I am at the beach, I enjoy collecting little pieces of driftwood, especially if they have some resemblance to an animal or a bird. This one reminded me of a crested bird.

I dried it out and used sandpaper to smooth it. That just brought out the beauty of the wood.

My Prayer

Lord God, You know exactly where my character needs work. Please help me to work with You and not against you when You use sandpaper to smooth me. Amen.

This post is part of One-Liner-Wednesday.

Birthday Wishes

Tomorrow is my 70th Birthday. My cousin gave me a lovely magnetic Birthday card.

I thought it would be fun to try to find a Bible verse for each line.

Be the best you can. Col 3:23: Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, God. (MSG)

Inspire yourself and others. Thes 5:11: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (NIV)

Reach for your dreams. Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (ESV)

Treasure your best moments. Psalm 143:4: I remember the days of old; I meditate on all you have done.(ESV)

Hold on to special friendships. Prov 18:24: Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. (MSG)

Dare to conquer any challenge. Romans 8:37: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (NIV)

Accept yourself as you are. Romans 12:3: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each one of you. (NIV)

You are simply the best. Psalm 139:14: I thank you, High God- you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration- What a creation! (MSG)

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord God, for my seventy years. You were involved in my life before I even knew You. I remember all You have given me, all Your blessings, great and small, and I worship You. As I go into the next chapter of my life, may I know You more clearly, love You more dearly, and follow You more nearly, day by day and year by year. Amen.

Who is This?

The disciples were in a serious storm and thought they would drown while Jesus slept. They woke Him and called for help. “And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?'” (Matthew 8:26-27 ESV)

I understand the awe of the disciples. Those who read my blog will know the frustrations I’ve been having applying for visas to visit New Zealand. My son in New Zealand waited two hours to speak to the help-line and the information he got was not very helpful. I went along the rabbit warren of links and websites again and tried to make an appointment to hand in our passports. At least I found the sub-category that applied to our visas but the message was, “There are no slots available for this visa at present.” I discussed with my husband whether we should pay R1 104 to buy a walk-in appointment. We had almost decided on that but to buy the service we first had to make an appointment. So I tried again. This time there were two slots available, one on 30 September which is only a week away. We booked it, deciding not to go for the walk-in option which would show a lack of trust in the Lord.

Later, idly looking through accumulated emails, I found one from Immigration New Zealand. It said our visas had been approved and we could download our e-visas. The letter requesting us to present our passports has disappeared from my dashboard.

I was overwhelmed and filled with awe. When does an official government directive just disappear? I serve an awesome God. I have no idea what happened. The God who stilled the waves and the winds can also cause websites and technology to do what He directs. My God reigns!

Image by axonite from Pixabay

My Prayer

Lord, I am overwhelmed by Your sheer power. Thank You, thank You, thank You. I don’t understand what You did but I praise You. Amen.

The Prayer Chair

On our last day at Glenschillen in Nottingham Road, we rambled into the wooded area behind the dam. We had seen a map of the walks in the area and decided to find the “Prayer Chair.”

At first we took a wrong path and came to a log cabin that looked newly constructed. There was no path after that.

We retraced our steps and found a lower path. At one stage the path was blocked by a branch. We managed to carefully step over it. At a fork in the path there was a printed sign and an arrow showing the right path. We came to a pine glade where the pine needles were so thick on the ground that they covered a knee-high log that we thought might be the prayer chair but then we found it, not five metres away!

The Prayer Chair

We sat down and prayed because that is what it was there for. There was a beautiful view over the dam and the deck although they seemed so far away.

Life is a lot like a journey. The scenery keeps changing. Sometimes the ground is treacherous underfoot, like pine needles obscuring hazards. Sometimes we take a wrong path, but even that can bring new discoveries. God knows how to use a wrong path for our good. Sometimes obstacles block our way and we have to make our way over them with care. We need to look out for signs and directions, even if we think we know the map. If we look around and are alert, we might find a prayer chair, a place to be still for a while and survey where we used to be.

The best thing to have on a hike is a guide, somebody who has followed the trail before. Psalm 23 tells us that the Lord will lead us in the paths of righteousness.

The Bible says, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
{Psalms 37:24 – 25 NIV}

My Prayer

Thank You Lord that You lead me in this journey of life. Please open my eyes to the Prayer Chairs You have scattered along the way where I can rest and regain my perspective. Amen.

More Original Ways God Answers Prayers

We have tickets to go to New Zealand on 25 November. As soon as visa applications opened, on 31 July, we started the process of applying online. We had already started our 6-week holiday. It took about a week to get the application completed and posted, taking into account limited internet options at the caravan park. Two days later, I got a message saying we had to present our passports to a visa application centre. The only one in South Africa is in Pretoria. No chance of getting there until we get back home.

I began to worry about if it was God’s will that we go as planned. If so, I could trust Him to organise the visas to come through on time. If not, we could change the booking but that would incur more cost to our son. I asked for a sign.

On Saturday we journeyed towards Harrismith on our way home. Our little underpowered motorhome did manage to overtake a number of long transport trucks up Van Reenen’s Pass. But one overtook us. This is what I saw on the side of the cab as it rumbled past.

This photo is actually from the other side of the truck. I didn’t have my phone ready when it passed us.

My husband knew the reference of Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you. ‘ declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future. ‘”

I take this as a sign. We plan to go to Pretoria tomorrow to hand in our passports and then we must trust the Lord with the timing and the process.

My Prayer

Lord, I praise You for Your ingenuity and originality. Thank You for hearing my prayer. Amen.

Quiet and Peace

We are now in Nottingham Rd in a caravan park called Glenschillen. It is an oasis of tranquility. We have a site overlooking the dam.

   The Bible says, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.“‘ (Isaiah 31:15 NIV)

On Wednesday, soon after we arrived, we wandered down to the common area, where there are tables and chairs, a pool table and various other amenities for general use. We came across three elderly gentlemen who were having their weekly Bible study and discussion. My husband mentioned that we are members of the Gideons.

Yesterday the oldest of the three, David, who happens to be a co-owner of this place, sought us out. We had a long chat with him. He told us of some miracles in his life and how God has always been faithful, even though he’s had many struggles in his life, including the death of his first wife after three months of marriage.

David is ninety-five and he ended our chat with these words, “The waters are calm, my compass is true. I trust my Captain and I know where my ship is heading.”

I believe the Lord arranged this meeting to bless us and as an illustration a life based on quietness and trust.

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord for this place of quiet and rest. Being here is almost like a retreat. Thank you for enabling us to meet Your servant, David. Please continue to bless him and his family.

Telling Others

One of the things I enjoy doing on holiday is hanging up my portable bird feeder and watching birds come to it. It usually takes about a week for the birds to find it. We were at Drakensville for seven days and, in that time, the birds found the new source of food. They would fight each other to perch on the rim and eat seeds. In Karridene it took the birds a little longer to get comfortable with the feeder but, before we left there were communities of sparrows gathering under it. We had to keep guard for monkeys, however. I was looking forward to the birds in Scottburgh. Last year, in Scottburgh, we had hung our feeder right outside our motorhome back window which faced the sea. I could wake up and, without getting out of bed, watch the sun rise and the birds twittering around.

This year, although we are only two sites from where we were last year, hardly any birds visit my feeder. I’ve seen a single sparrow perch on the rim and once, a weaver. I don’t know what’s different. Normally once one bird finds the source of food, it doesn’t take long for all their friends and neighbours to arrive too. Not this time. It almost seems like this year, the birds didn’t tell others. They didn’t witness. Yes, there is at least one sparrow eating from the feeder and about four or five who visit to eat any dropped seeds on the ground, as well as a pair of rock pigeons, but I am going home with half a packet of wild bird seed.

Telling others, or “witnessing,” has been a sensitive topic for me ever since I became a Christian. In fact, the time I did pull out and decide Christianity was not for me, it was because I felt pressured to witness. I know as well as any other Christian about the Great Commission. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

Witnessing has been described as one beggar telling another where to find bread. That’s what the sparrows didn’t do.

Two things have helped me. When I was much younger, I taught Sunday school. It’s much less threatening to tell children about Jesus than adults. Now that I belong to The Gideons International in South Africa, I have access to little pocket-sized Testaments and we are encouraged to hand out at least four a month. I don’t find that difficult. I tell people I have a gift for them and then explain a little about where to find help using the front section and the summary of the gospel at the back. I can’t make disciples – nobody can. Only the Holy Spirit can draw people to Christ. However, the little Testaments are a user-friendly tool I can use to carry out Jesus’ instruction in my small corner of the world.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You made me and You designed my personality. I want to follow Your commandments. Please help me to rely on You in all things and not to try to do things in my own strength. Thank You for the Bible, Your Word. May those I have gifted with the little testaments find You in their pages. Amen.

Saying Grace

This post is part of One-Liner-Wednesday and is a quote by GK Chesterton.

You say grace before meals.

All right.

But I say grace before the play and the opera,

And grace before the concert and the pantomime,

And grace before I open a book,

And grace before sketching, painting,

Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;

And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

Ordinary People

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Yesterday we walked along the beach. This is what we saw.

Litter polluting the Scottburgh Beach.

This morning I saw an encouraging sight. Three ladies, dressed in municipal overalls and carrying black plastic bags, were walking abreast along the beach  and picking up the litter.

A feeling of gratitude welled up in me for all the ordinary people in South Africa who pitch up every day and do their job.

We hear enough about the problem people; the scammers, the thieves, the corrupt politicians, the violent mischief-makers and the murderers. We don’t appreciate the majority of ordinary people who do their job making life better for us all. Some of them don’t earn much money and get little or no recognition.

Work is a noble human activity. In Genesis God worked to create the world. When we work, we resemble Him.

So to the ordinary workers of South Africa, those who fix cars, care for the sick, manage money, fill petrol, wash cars, keep our streets safe, man counters and telephones, teach our children, wash our clothes, advise, repair or enrich us with music or art, to those whose jobs I’ve never even heard of or thought about, I salute you.

My Prayer

Thank You Lord for all the skills and talents with which You have gifted Mankind. May everything I do be done as unto you. Amen.