Tag Archives: Life

Mushrooms and Dandelions

It had rained for two days in Gqeberha. Our hosts were driving us to visit friends of theirs and we drove past a nearby park. It looked fresh and green after the rain and I thought I saw mushrooms.

As we went on, I saw they were dandelion flowers. When I went back the next day to take photos, I realised they were not even dandelions but other small yellow flowers. My eyesight, which is not wonderful, limits my knowledge of the truth. My husband wears hearing aids. He doesn’t always hear the full story in a conversation. We can only know as much truth as our senses let through to us and we often filter even that through our own misconceptions.

I am reading a book by Francine Rivers called Leota’s Garden. One of the characters lived with bitterness against her mother as a result of lies she was told, and incomplete conversations she overheard as a child.

Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. Nobody comes to the the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). We can know the Truth if we know Jesus. “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32.)

I know I am not perfect. My eyes are not perfect, my memories are not perfect, my conclusions are not perfect, my ideas are not perfect. The sooner I acknowledge this, the sooner I can be free of my own version of life.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Truth. Forgive me for thinking I know the truth. Please soften my heart to consider other viewpoints besides my own and other interpretations of words and events to the ones I cling to. Please guide me always into Your Truth. Amen.

Hadedas and Hoopoes

Hadedas and Hoopoes in the Rain

Wednesday was miserable, cold and rainy in Gqeberha. From the dining room window we saw cold birds. The hadedas sat hunched like buzzards. The hoopoes were intermittently sheltering under the hedge to get out of the rain. What a blessing to have shelter when it rains.

God wants to be our shelter in times of trouble. The Bible says “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91:4 NIV) It sounds so cozy, like being tucked under a down duvet in winter.

However, God will not impose His protection and shelter on us against our will. Jesus said of Jerusalem,  Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (Matthew 23:37 NIV) God created us with free will and He will always respect it. He offers protection, shelter and comfort but it’s up to us to accept it.

My Prayer

Thank You Lord for Your sheltering hand over me. Please keep me from stubborn self-reliance and pride. May I rest in Your comforting embrace like a little child on her father’s lap.

Lemon Tree

My sister-in-law has planted a lemon tree in a pot in their sheltered patio. It has three lemons almost ripe. My nephew and I were discussing recipes that use lemons and there are thousands. My favourite might be lemon meringue pie. I make mine with condensed milk to which an egg and the lemon juice are added. What makes it special is the juxtaposition of the sour lemon juice and the super sweet condensed milk. Either on its own would be either too sweet or too sour.

Life is a lot like that. If only good things happened, it would be more like a fairy tale where everybody lives happily ever after. It is the negative aspects of life that make the positive more special.

Jesus said, “I have said these things to you that you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

Life is not a fairy tale and we must expect setbacks, heartaches and trouble. Only in heaven will there be no more tears, no death and no pain. Meanwhile we are in a fallen world.

Jesus promises to be with us always, strengthening us for times of setbacks, heartaches and trouble. The best we can do is stay close to Him and allow Him to shape our reactions to circumstances, good and bad.

They say, “If life serves you lemons, make lemonade.” I say, “If life serves you lemons, make lemon meringue pie!”

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You are with me through good times and bad. Please keep me close to You and may I be aware of Your presence especially in the times when I am too weak to hold on to You.

The Diary

My husband, who was born in the first half of the last century, still uses a diary for his time management. It is fairly easy to buy him a Christmas present. If he hasn’t bought himself one by Christmas, I can’t go wrong with a hard-backed, page-a day diary for the next year.

If an event is not yet finalised, my husband will pencil it in, either to be inked in later, or rubbed out.

Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

When we pray together in the morning, we’ve recently been getting into the habit of specifically confirming to the Lord His right to change our plans and our agenda if He wishes. It is like the plans we make, and there are many, are only penciled into our diary awaiting His final confirmation. This helps us cope when unexpected things crop up and when things don’t quite work out according to our plan.

Currently we are planning to fly to Gqeberha on Tuesday to spend time with my mother and other members of both our families.

James says, “Come now, you who say ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”(James 4:13-15 ESV)

So our plans have only been penciled in. If the Lord wills, we will fly to Gqeberha on Tuesday.

My Prayer

Father, I don’t know the future. You do. I know Your plans toward me are good so I can trust my future and my plans to You. Amen.

Pruning Time

When our youngest child was two, the bank where my husband worked transferred him from Durban to Johannesburg. We bought a house we liked but made the mistake of agreeing to the sellers’ requirement that we only move in after six months. Fortunately the bank paid for us to be accommodated in a guest farm for that period. It was called Siesta.

I met an older lady there whose family was also in limbo. They were waiting for all the red tape to be processed before they could move to Australia. They had had a very traumatic burglary and had decided to get out of South Africa as soon as possible. She took me under her wing. One of the things she taught me was how to prune roses. She said you had to control where new shoots would grow so you get an open look and not a crisscross pattern in the bush. You do this by cutting just above a growth node in the direction you want the branch to go.

Image by RitaE from Pixabay

We had a visiting preacher at church today and he preached on John 15. “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (vs 1,2,4 NIV)

If we want to bear fruit, he said, we must do two things – remain, and expect to be pruned. Pruning is not a punishment or a sign of God’s displeasure but a necessary step to growth. Just as gardeners prune roses to produce bigger and healthier blooms and well shaped bushes, God prunes us to train our vigour into healthy growth and much fruit.

It is nearly pruning season for roses. If I were a rose, it is certainly not something I would look forward to, even if it were for my good.

My Prayer

Father God, pruning is not something I relish nor look forward to, yet I have to trust You to know exactly when I need pruning and how to do it. I submit my life again into Your hands. Please help me to remain in Christ. Amen.

Like a Little Child

Jesus said,” Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,…” (Matthew 18:3-5 ESV)

Image by Steven Batty from Pixabay

After church this morning, we met the missionaries our church supports from the Ukraine, Arkadiy and Anneke Naydenov. Since the calamitous events that have been happening in the Ukraine recently, their life has been turned upside down. They managed to escape to Hungary and recently arrived safely in South Africa. They have a five month old baby, a contented, peaceful, happy child. Anneke was telling us that during air raid sirens, crossing borders, living in different countries and four different houses, he would just look at her in complete trust and coo happily. “That,” she said, “is how we should trust God.”

I’ve been meditating on that picture all afternoon. My trust in God is so far from that ideal and yet, all of us, at one time, had that same unquestioning trust in our parents. We could do nothing for ourselves, we were totally dependent on our parents, particularly our mothers. Imagine how stress-free our lives would be if we could recapture that trust and place it in God, Who loves us more than our parents ever could, Who has promised to care for us and provide for us, Who is the perfect Parent.

My Prayer

Father God, I know that You love me. I believe You know how to care for those who belong to You. Why do I find it so difficult to trust You with all my heart? Please help me. Amen.

Add Value to Survival

JusJoJan 23 January 2022

When I was at school, probably preteens/early teens, it was fashionable to have an autograph book. One would pass the book around the class (I was in an all-girls school in my early high school career) and everybody would write a short funny saying or rhyme and their name. Girls wrote clever things like “YY U R, YY U B. I C U R YY 4 me.” (Too wise you are, too wise you be, I see you are too wise for me.) One girl made a page of bricks in her book with the question on top, “What is better than gold?” The plan was for everybody to write their answer and their name in a brick to build a friendship wall. One girl, I think her name was Colleen, wrote “Peace with God” as her answer. I was not a Christian at the time and I thought that a weak answer.

I think differently now. If I had an autograph book, I would ask the question on my Wall of Life, “What adds value to surviving that makes life worth living?” People would come up with many answers.

I’ve heard it said, “Friendship has no survival value but it adds value to survival.” So “Friends” could make up one brick of my wall.

The Bible says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.“(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV) This is true not only of friends, but husbands and wives, parents and children, family or any other person who enriches our lives by being who they are.

My classmate, Colleen, was also right. Peace with God makes the difference between living and surviving. “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 NIV)

There are more bricks to be filled in. Please add your contribution in the comments. If you can add a relevant scripture verse, all the better. I think “Chocolate,” “Cappuccino” and “Sunsets” would look good on my wall.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for the people and things that add value to my life. May I never take them for granted but value them and give You thanks always. Amen.

Box of Chocolates

JusJoJan 10 January 2022

This post is part of JusJoJan. The word for today is “chocolate.” So here goes.

Image by Pixabay

The thing that makes a box of chocolates special compared to a slab of chocolate is the variety and the surprise. Not everybody likes every chocolate in a mixed box. If I come across a coconut or a Turkish delight chocolate, I quickly look for somebody to hand it on to. Nevertheless, a box of chocolates to me is a symbol of abundance. (Did I mention I was a chocoholic?)

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]” (John 10:10b Amplified Bible.)

Life is a gift. It consists of years, months, weeks, days. So, each day is a gift. Imagine the excitement we would feel if we regarded each day as a chocolate from a big box. Suppose we woke up each morning and there, on our bedside table, was an unlabeled chocolate wrapped in gold foil. Depending on our character, we’d unwrap it slowly and carefully or quickly with excitement. Then we’d bite into it and savour all the goodness of our gift.

Then we’d be able to say, with the Psalmist, “This is the day that the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, may I not take my days for granted but recognise that each one is a special gift from You.