Tag Archives: inspiration

In the Valley

I read an excellent blog today. I wish I had written it. Have a look.

We can look at different metaphors for hard times. We are in the midst of a storm. We are walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

In both cases, it is something we get through and out the other end. At some stage we will reach dry land. At some stage we will move out of the shadowy valley to the sunshine of the hills.

Psalm 23 says,

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet water, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Image by Xpics from Pixabay

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (NIV)

The important thing, is that Jesus is with us. He’s in our boat if we are in a storm, He’s walking beside us if we are on a hiking trail through a dark and scary valley. The King James Version talks about the Valley of the Shadow of Death. In a way, this current pandemic is a shadow of death. Some people have died. 10 000 out of a world population of 7 700 000 000 or 1 in 770 000.

We will get through this. This, too, will pass.

There’s a rainbow in my sink

There are certain drudge tasks that we have to perform every day. There is absolutely no glamour, no inspiration about them at all. Washing dishes is one of those dreary tasks.

Imagine my delight, therefore, when I noticed a rainbow in my dish-washing water. It was a gentle reminder to me that God is with me all the time, even in the midst of the most routine chores.

I remember the story of a man who had fallen off a cliff and had snatched the branch of an overhanging tree. There he was, dangling against the cliff with the ragged rocks a hundred meters below. Then he noticed, just within his grasp, a juicy red strawberry. He plucked it and popped it into his mouth. “Hmm,” he said, “that’s the best strawberry I’ve ever tasted.”

The story was told to illustrate the concept of not only seizing the day, but enjoying the moment. (Carpe momento)

Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field.” Mostly we are too busy doing things to take time to smell the flowers.

My prayer for the day:-

“Lord, please open my eyes to Your moments of wonder even amidst the tedium of repetitive tasks. Amen.”

Bananas, Spiders and Lies

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Dr Kent Hovind tells the story of how his older brothers lied to him and he believed them. When he was six, he came down to breakfast one morning before anybody else and found there was only one banana left in the fruit bowl so he grabbed it, pleased that he was the first to see it. When his two brothers came down they asked, “Is that the last banana?” He nodded, feeling very pleased with himself. They then proceeded to put him off bananas for three years by lying to him. They told him bananas formed when spiders died. Their legs hung down and mould started growing around them, forming the banana. To prove it, they showed him the black dots on the inside of the banana. “That’s the remains of the spiders legs, they said.”

We all believe lies of some kind. Those of us who were around in the fifties and sixties believed what the government told us about the threat of Communism in South Africa. There were even those who believed that Apartheid was biblical, based on God’s commandments to the Israelites not to intermingle with other nations. Nowadays we don’t need to rely on the government to feed us misinformation, advertising and social media can do it just fine.

I’ve been reading books by Dr Caroline Leaf. She explains how thoughts influence the workings of our brain which controls all bodily functions. In her book, Toxic, she says toxic emotions arise from three negative and incorrect beliefs (ie lies that we believe.)

  1. I must do well.
  2. You must treat me well.
  3. The world must be easy.

It is not only necessary to examine what we believe and decide if we want it to be part of who we are, it is also necessary to replace it with a truth. John 17:17 says, Thy Word is Truth.

Some examples are:-

1) 2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life…. It is not a matter of us having to do well, God has provided the resources we need to live His way.

2) John 16:3 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. Jesus knew very well that people will not treat us well and that life is not easy. Nevertheless, he has overcome the world and we can have peace even when people treat us badly and life is a mess.

3) Psalm 16:5 and 6 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundry lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

So, before believing bananas are mouldy dead spiders, let’s examine what we believe and if we find it to be a lie, replace it with the truth.

My Father’s Garage

My father died in Port Elizabeth nearly nine years ago. His garage is still as he left it.

We are visiting from Randburg and I as look around the garage, I realise you can tell a lot from a place where a person spent time. A blade-less fretsaw hangs against a wall evoking memories of beautiful fretwork pieces my father created.

On the cement floor is his microscope, giving a clue that he was a metallurgist and an intelligent man. The shelves hold bits and pieces neatly stored in bottles giving testimony that my father was an orderly man.

In the same way, we can look around creation and deduce characteristics of our Heavenly Father.

A beautiful sunset speaks of His glory,..

.. a roaring waterfall displays His power..

… and all around is evidence of His love of beauty, even in places we don’t think to look.
Our Father has a sense of  fun. One only has to look at some of the creatures that inhabit our world to realise that.

I have only mentioned four characteristics of God I can see in His creation. There are many more. I’d love to hear what you have discovered.

Whose flag are you flying?

We are in Port Elizabeth at the moment, spending time with my mother. On Tuesday our grandchildren and their parents joined us. Like all holiday makers who visit the sea, the children wanted to go to the beach, despite windy and cloudy weather. Preparations for the Iron Man Competition, which takes place in Port Elizabeth tomorrow were underway. Areas of the parking were closed off and temporary structures were springing up. The pier was adorned with flags fluttering in the wind.

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Clusters of foreigners in wet suits were taking photos, running down to the water or emerging and we saw groups of swimmers training far out to sea. Two approached us and asked whether we would keep an eye on their bags for twenty minutes while they did their swim. They told us they were Austrians. One had participated in another event last year and had so enjoyed South Africa that he had jumped at the chance to come again and take part in the Iron Man, bringing his friend over with him. My husband noted that we hadn’t seen the Austrian flag in the array but they assured us it would be there on the day. They asked if we would be watching but the thought of all the crowds and the road closures and traffic congestion discourages us. Much better watch on TV.

Those athletes are competing for their country. Crowds will judge Austria based on their performance. If they show unsportsmanlike behaviour or dishonesty, they will disgrace their country.

Likewise people are watching us. If we “compete” under the Christian flag, our Saviour and His Kingdom will be judged on our actions.  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. ( Hebrews 12:1)

Broken Pieces

The following was sent to me via Whats App and I thought it was good enough to share.
I was at the grocery store this morning and heard a loud crash and something shattering. Being nosy, I walked towards the sound and saw some people whispering and looking back to the end of the next aisle. When I walked down that aisle, I saw an older lady had hit a shelf containing dishes with her cart and many had fallen to the ground and broke. She was kneeling on the floor embarrassed, frantically picking up the shattered pieces, while her husband was peeling off the bar code from each broken dish saying “Now we will have to pay for all this!”
I felt so bad for her, and everyone was just standing there staring at her!! I went and knelt beside her and told her not to worry and started helping her pick up the broken pieces. After about a minute, the store manager came and knelt beside us and said, “Leave it, we will clean this up. Let’s get your information so you can go to the hospital and have that cut on your hand looked at.”
The lady, totally embarrassed said, “I need to pay for all this first.” The manager smiled, helped her to her feet and said, “No ma’am, we have insurance for this, you do not have to pay anything!”
For you who have read this so far, I would like you to give me a minute. Wherever you are, close your eyes, and imagine God doing the same for you!
Collect the pieces of your broken heart from all the blows life has thrown at you. God will heal all your wounds, and I assure you that your sins and mistakes will be forgiven. 
You see, we all have the same insurance, and it’s called Grace. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and ask for forgiveness, the Manager of the universe, GOD, will say to you “Everything has already been paid for, now go on your way, all is forgiven!”

Thank you to the Unknown Author.

yellow and pink flowers view behind broken glass

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Guide Dog in Training

A friend of mine is a Puppy Trainer for the Guide Dog Association. She is an art teacher in the studio that is on the same property as our cottage and once a week she brings Jarvis with her. Last week, the dog galloped into our lounge, clearing out the old ginger cat who was lazing on the couch. My friend was close behind. I commented that this did not seem like a responsible Guide Dog and she said I should see him in his harness.  When he wears it, he knows what is expected of him so behaves appropriately. Jarvis is only a Guide-Dog-in-training but that doesn’t get rid of his doggy nature.

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I am a Christian-in-training. I have consented to be in Christ’s harness and I qualify for all the benefits He died to secure for me: forgiveness from sins, His presence and involvement in my life, guidance, His inexplicable peace, and eternal life where I can be forever with Him forever.

However, I am not perfect. My human nature, or sin nature, is never far away.  I take comfort in Phil1:6 which says, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” In this life I will never reach perfection, but I trust my trainer for “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:12-13)

I am sure that Jarvis will become a wonderful Guide Dog, bringing independence to a sight-impaired person. His trainer knows what he is destined for and what he can become. Christ, my trainer, knows the purpose for which I was created and can help me fulfill that purpose and become the best version of myself.

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Wonderfit

I had a spare slice of time this morning so decided to go jeans shopping.

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Last week I had been attracted by some jeans in a shop window advertised as “Wonderfit.” They have special features to make one look slimmer. Last year I bought some of the same make and they were very comfortable, so I was quite optimistic about my success. I tried a size 40 … much too big around the waist. The 38’s fitted snugly and were fine as long as I stayed standing. As soon as I sat down, they dug into my waist.  Jeans are meant to be comfortable through all the activities of normal life.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)

One of the translations for my yoke is easy, is my yoke is well-fitting, comfortable in all phases of the journey.  The yoke is crafted specifically for us individually. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. No problems with fitting in some places and not others.

Notice Jesus doesn’t offer to remove our burdens but to give us rest. He invites us to submit ourselves to His yoke rather than the one we currently struggle under. His yoke is well-fitting, making the burden comfortable to carry.  He will not put anything on us that we are unable to bear with His help.

I needed this reminder because I have been feeling over-burdened and overwhelmed recently. Perhaps when I wear my new trousers, I will remember it. (In the end I didn’t even get jeans but something more comfortable.)

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Blending

Adult colouring books are not really my thing. I thought I’d give it a try (since everybody else was so enthusiastic about it) and bought myself a book. Well, I have half coloured one page. I saw a journal in a Christian book shop with bible verses and small pictures to colour on every alternate page and plenty of space to write so I considered I might manage that.

My daughter is an artist and taught me to blend with Aquelle crayons. “Use different colours,” she said, “and blend them together with your wet paintbrush”. It worked quite well for a non-artist.

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It occurs to me  that is what God does in a marriage or in a family. He uses different colours (people), puts them together artistically, and blends them making a more vibrant and dynamic picture.  My husband and I are very different but God has managed to blend us together so the “Us” contains elements of each of us but also of a combination of both of us, making the whole more than the sum of the parts. In the hands of the Master, each marriage and family is an unrepeatable masterpiece.

The Ice Cream Machine

It was a hot day. My husband, his sister, brother in law and I were in Cape Town for their step-mother’s memorial service. As we passed Steers, I decided to buy us all  ice creams. I watched the friendly lady pull the lever on the soft serve machine and expertly twirl three ice cream cones. When it came to the fourth, mine, the machine gave a little prrrhp and spurted a last blob the size of a marble and stopped. The lady trotted off to the back and returned with a large plastic container of ice cream liquid. She put in about a third of the contents and tried the lever again. Understanding a little about the freezing process, I told her I would come back in five minutes. Five minutes obviously wasn’t long enough. She pulled the lever. She switched all the switches off and on. She opened and closed the door. she pulled the lever. Nothing. She got help. He switched off and on and opened and closed the door. No matter what they did, no ice cream came out of that orifice. Finally I got my money back and left ice-cream-less.

photo of person holding ice cream

Photo by Sittisak C on Pexels.com

This was a parable for me. God is not an ice-cream machine and praying is not pulling a lever. Even if we try tricks that we have been told about, like fasting, or naming and claiming, sometimes our Father just wants us to be patient. Nothing we can do will speed up the process. At the time, the Lord had wonderfully undertaken for us in ensuring that my husband and I got cheap plane tickets and organised that the cottage which my brother-in- law rents out was vacant for two nights. (I can thoroughly recommend it, by the way.) We knew He was going to provide for another two nights but, although all four of us had sat on our cell phones for over three hours looking for accommodation that was reasonably priced and could accommodate us all, we still had nowhere to stay by that evening.

You will have guessed it. We were not left to sleep in the streets of Cape Town. We had another two lovely days together, exploring Kirstenbosch and Stellenbosch and interacting with family and friends.