Tag Archives: inspiration

Seasons and Cycles

Up until a month ago, we had oranges for breakfast every morning. My husband, who must be the best husband in the world, would prepare them by cutting along the skin of each segment with a grapefruit knife. We paid about R30 for a big pocket of lovely, juicy oranges. Suddenly one Tuesday, there were no piles of orange pockets outside the greengrocer. I asked one of the staff if there were no oranges. He said they only had the half bags and fetched me one. When I looked at the till slip after I had paid for my vegetables, I saw the half bag of oranges cost R45! It was obvious the orange season had come to an end.

Life is a continual procession of repeating cycles. The cycles are made up of different seasons and we have to adapt our behaviour according to the season. The Bible talks about seed time and harvest. “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. ” (Genesis 8:22) There will always be cycles and seasons and what we do during those times depends on the season.

Ecclesiastes 3 begins, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:” It then continues to list different pairs of opposites for which there is a time. I was struck by verse 5b, “a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.” During the hard lockdown of Covid in 2020, we experienced a time to refrain from embracing. People built special shields and gloves just so they could hug their grandchildren. This season is not over yet. In most countries relatives can still not visit their loved ones in hospitals.

I’m looking forward to the next season of “a time to embrace.”

Image by Pixabay

My prayer

Father God, thank you that You created the world to include cycles and seasons. Please help me to discern which season I am in now and give me the wisdom to act appropriately. Amen.

It’s the Love

3 January 2022

It’s not the thought that counts. It’s the love behind the thought that counts.

When my 12-year-old granddaughter made 52 cards which she shared out among the family and asked them to write or draw something encouraging for my daughter to look at for every Saturday in the year, that was love. The gift itself was worth no more than a sheet or two of cardboard, but the love behind the thought was priceless.

The parents who change their lives to make a happy family home for their disabled child, or the wife who puts her life on hold to look after a husband who has had a stroke, do it out of the abundance of their love. Such gifts have no monetary value but they are worth more than gold, more than diamonds.

The woman who gate-crashed the party at Simon the Leper’s house, broke her treasure and anointed Jesus, did it out of love. To the disciples, especially Judas, it seemed such a waste. But Jesus saw the love that was behind the gift. (Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:36-48, John 12 ;1-8 NIV)

All around us is an abundance of love but we don’t always see it. Our eyes are too focused on the material, the physical.

God has blessed us with so many things.”… God … richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17b Amplified Version) This is just one of the ways God shows the abundance of His love to us. Most supremely, however, “…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, please attune my eyes to see the love, the love of ordinary people around me as well as the abundant love You have shown and continue to show us. Thank You for your indescribable gift. Amen.

Life’s a Journey

I’ve started going through Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life” again. In chapter four he asks, “What is your metaphor for life?” Some people see life as a circus, a minefield, a roller coaster, a puzzle, a symphony or a dance. My husband, in answer to my question, said it was like our fiberoptic Christmas tree – always changing.

I see my life as a journey. It has a starting point and it has a destination. As I go along, I gain more experience and can cope with future travel challenges. There are challenges to travel, of course. Whether it be a long hike with obstacles to overcome, rivers to cross, or difficult rocky outcrops to negotiate, or international travel with borders to cross, languages to learn, visas to obtain, it is seldom a boring predictable experience.

There are travelling companions. They journey with us for different proportions of our travels. My husband has been travelling with me for nearly 43 years but he won’t always be with me. Other people travel only a short distance with me but if I can enrich their journey or help them with directions, it adds to the journey of both of us.

My destination is Heaven and the road has already been mapped out for me. Although many of my traveling companions and other pilgrims before us have the same destination, we don’t reach it at the same time. Each person’s journey is an individual one.

I need travelling clothes that are comfortable but can be adapted instantly if conditions or climates change. I also need a compass and the Bible is an excellent one.

“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. … I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.”(Psalm 119:9-10 and 32 NIV)

I can write more about life as a journey, but Rick Warren maintains there are only three Biblical metaphors for life. Life is a test, life is a trust and life is a temporary assignment.

Certainly life is temporary, we all know that. One day my heart will stop beating and my earthly life will be over. Thinking about my life as a test or a trust is challenging because I’m not sure I am doing all that well. However, it might change the way I react to problems, trials and troubles. This will require some serious reflection.

Meanwhile, as the motor car manufacturer maintained, “Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride.”

My Prayer

Eternal Father, I know in my mind that my life is not about me but because You willed it according to Your plan. Thank You for the gifts and talents with which You entrusted me. May You have a good return on Your investment. When I am tested, please help me to stand firm and trust in Your strength to overcome. Amen.

The Mean Claw Machine

I was sitting in my camping chair watching another glorious Bush sunset when a little boy wandered into my view. He dawdled uncertainly, changing direction and then doubling back on himself. I thought he might be lost, perhaps his family had just arrived and he hadn’t orientated himself yet. I went over to him to ask. I saw tears streaming down his face.

His story was almost incoherent but I pieced together the gist of it. He had put money in the claw machine, trying to get a toy and the toy had slipped out of the claw at the last moment.

I knew how he felt. Disappointment is one of the sharpest emotions. I did my best. I tried to explain to him that those machines hardly ever give you the toy. They are just there to take your money. I don’t think I helped much but before too long his mother found him and took him back to camp which turned out to be right next to us.

We’ve all felt the sting of disappointment. With Covid around it is becoming more and more a fact of life:- ask the three little girls, cousins, who had been offered a trip to the pantomime with their grandparents. They even had pretty new dresses for the occasion. This would be the last special outing together before two of the girls move with their family to England. They were already in the theatre when the performance was cancelled because some of the cast tested positive for Covid. Or ask the bride-to-be whose wedding was postponed because her fiancé couldn’t travel to South Africa, or the grandparents who had spent years saving and planning a trip to visit their children and grandchildren in New Zealand and whose flights were cancelled at the last moment – and another two years have passed and they still haven’t managed to go.

Disappointment happens when we feel we have been promised something or have worked towards something and it is snatched from our grasp unexpectedly. If we accept that disappointment is part of everyday life, how do we deal with it?

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)

Jesus faced disappointment just like us. He understands. We can be totally honest with Him about our feelings and He will hug us and infuse His strength into us.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, my high priest, I feel so selfish when I struggle with disappointment. It seems I want my own way and I’m sulking like a child and I just can’t give my disappointment to You graciously. Please soothe me with Your presence and pour Your peace over me. Amen.

The Tomato Plant.

I may have mentioned before that I have brown thumbs – the opposite of green fingers. The idea of growing my own vegetables is very attractive but my success has been meagre. When I planted tomatoes, they looked healthy for a while – even gave me five tomatoes to eat. Then they developed some kind of fungal disease and the plant died even before the last six tomatoes ripened.

In winter I bought a packet of tomato seeds and some of those compostable planting pots and some growing pellets. As soon as Spring arrived I planted them. When they were big enough I cut off the bases of the pots and planted them suitably spaced in my vegetable garden. Now, two months later, five of the nine pots contain living plants. One is about 20cm tall but the others are still about 10cm. I’m not feeling too optimistic.

About six weeks ago I noticed a tomato plant among my clivias. It already had flowers so I knew it wouldn’t be long before there were some tomatoes. Now it is producing fruit. Abundantly. They turned out to be baby tomatoes. My favourite kind. Three or four times a week I can collect upwards of 20 tomatoes – enough for a salad for lunch.

This tomato plant I had nothing to do with. I didn’t plant it. It just grew. God planted it.

What this says to me is that if I start a new endeavour in my own strength and wisdom, the results are not amazing. If God starts something and I keep my grubby paws off it, it will work out exactly according to His plan. I have to learn to be led by the Spirit, not my own imagination or good ideas. Perhaps I also need to examine my motives. If my motive is purely to glorify God, then it is a worthy endeavour. If my motive is to make money or get fame or recognition or to impress others, the results are in no way guaranteed.

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. (Psalm 143:10)

My Prayer

Father God, I find it difficult to discern when my thoughts and ideas come from myself and when they are from You. Please help me to live so closely to You that my default is to be led by Your Spirit. Teach me to hear Your voice and obey Your commands. Amen.

Boo Hoo

Image by MariangelaCastro from Pixabay

I cry much too easily. It’s almost as if other people have a valve on their tear ducts that they can control, whereas I don’t.

It first became an embarrassment to me when I was five. I was in grade one and tended to be a goody-goody. When the teacher said “No talking,” I didn’t talk. Not so the other members of my class. Finally the teacher warned, “If you don’t stop talking I am going to smack you all!”

They didn’t and she did. Smacks on the hand with a ruler for every one of us. Who do you think was the only one to cry? It was not only the pain but the whole unfairness of it.

It’s embarrassing enough when one is five and in the first year of school. How much worse is it when one is a teenager? I remember a Scripture Union camp where in our small groups we could ask for prayer. My prayer was that I wouldn’t cry so easily.

God didn’t answer that prayer. Now I am one year short of seventy and I still cry too easily. My granddaughter of seven knows that there are certain books Granny can’t read without crying. They are books about abandoned kittens or lost puppies or lonely little girls. My sons know me well. If we are watching a movie together, one or other of them will pass me a tissue or two during the sad bits.

It is good to know that Jesus wept (John 11:35.) I don’t think He wept quite as often as I do, however.

There are other references to tears in the Bible and they bring me some comfort. David says, “Put my tears into Your bottle;” (Psalm 56:8b NKJV.) God will certainly need a large bottle for my tears! It is comforting to know that God cares – that He feels for my sadness, disappointment or loss. He understands.

The best is yet to come. “And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things are passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.'” (Rev 21:4-5a NKJV)

I can’t wait.

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt is the word, “boo.”

God’s Perfect Timing

“But I trust in you, Lord; I say “You are my God.” My times are in your hands;” (Psalm 31:14-15a NIV)

Last year in early Autumn, I bought a rose bush from a sidewalk sale. There were not too many to choose from but I selected the one I liked the best and I asked my gardener to plant it for me.

After Winter, I couldn’t remember what my rose looked like. I also didn’t know its name. How excited I was to see a bud some weeks ago.

I couldn’t wait for my bud to open so I could remember what the rose looked like. It took a long time and every day I’d go to the garden to have a look but all I’d see was the bud. Finally, after what seemed much too long, the bud started opening until it unfolded into the beautiful flower God had created it to be.

If I had become impatient and taken things into my own hands, prising open the bud and pulling off the petals, I would never have seen my rose. I had to wait for the right time.

I know that God has a plan for my life and for my children’s lives. I cannot take things into my own hands and try to work out the plan myself. I have to wait for God’s timing and watch with wonder as signs of his perfect plan unfold. God is never late, never early but always on time. Why is it so hard to trust Him?

My Prayer

Father God, I know that You love me and that You have a plan for my life. Teach me to rest in Your love and trust your timing implicitly. Amen.

Blooming Where we are Planted.

I enjoy certain aspects of gardening but I have brown thumbs. However, one joy I have discovered is taking slips and planting cuttings.

My mother’s gardener works for different people on different days of the week. He takes cuttings or leaves from one garden and transplants them into another. My mother often notices plants that are new to her garden.

I’ve only had success with rock roses and geraniums so far. It’s easy. I cut off a leaf or a short piece of the plant and stick it just like that in some soil. It has no roots or anything and the environment is different from what it is used to. Nevertheless, given water and sun, it develops roots, grows, and will eventually bloom bringing all the beauty of its parent plant to a new location.

What started off as a couple of leaves stuck in the ground is now a lovely pot plant

Sometimes we are transplanted, be it through our own plans or circumstances beyond our control. Either way, God is the gardener and He prepares the soil where we are to be planted. Our job is to merely settle. We explore, meet new people, and slowly grow roots. It takes a long time to grow enough to start blooming but that is ultimately our Father’s desire, that we bloom where we are planted. That we bless those around us with a bit of the culture of our homeland.

Sometimes it’s not even a change of locality that stresses us. Sometimes it’s just a new set of circumstances. Sure, we mourn for what we have lost but God still desires the same thing for us – that we bloom under the new circumstances that have come into our lives.

When the Israelites were captured by the Babylonians, this is what the Lord said to them through the prophet Jeremiah< “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there, do not decrease.” (Jer 29:5-7 NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, sometimes I feel so alone, as if I don’t fit in this place and I long for things as they were in the past. I feel like a shell tumbled and tossed by waves of circumstance beyond my control. Please help me to trust You implicitly, to know that You have a plan for me right here, right now. May I trust Your plan and settle in to Your provision, knowing that growth and root-making are the result of Your work in my life. May I bloom where You have planted me. Amen.