Life Happens

 

Crowds
Life happens !
We are all different and respond or react differently in different situations.
Living life gives us the opportunity to experience different situations,  some that we would never choose for ourselves.   And through these life situations we get to know ourselves a little better – and perhaps that is the crux of the matter of life, to get to know ourselves a little better, through the hard times and the good times.

Sprouting a little wisdom here then ?

Well, taking a small overview of the past twelve months, and in particular the last five months, has given me a glimpse into the way I respond to life situations, and so getting to know myself a little better.
Having been diagnosed with breast cancer and walking on the stepping stones of a new pathway I am a little surprised how the walk through the valley of the shadow of death has brought a subtle change in me.
A cancer diagnosis becomes a death sentence, well in my mind it was so.
First the symptom then the mammogram, then the visit to the surgeon, then the results of his biopsy, then its over.  Well so I thought, but discovered that it was not over, and that I did not die, but lived !

My demise was a mental address, real and sad to me that there was nothing beyond the final visit to the surgeon.   I was in a dead-end street.
I tried to tidy up my cupboards, throw out any excess so the family didn’t have much bother when I was gone.  Get my accounts in order.  Just generally tidying up my life, with no loose ends to tie up.   I made no commitments  so that I would have no obligations.  I had no desire to be creative or work on any project.   I only did what I had to do.   I kind of gave up on my life, after all there was no future.

I put on a strong face for the family, and was very positive in the beginning. I wanted them to ease into the reality of the death sentence, as I knew it is a personal blow to come to terms with losing a loved one.   They were all so very supportive, each in their own way, and the love they carried in their hearts were revealed to me in each one’s unique response to the situation.  They each grew in stature and grace at Life’s happenings.

The hormone therapy that the oncologist had put me on was easy, apart from the tiredness that went along with it.   The tumour had regressed and I was on my way to healing.   I became optimistic that things were working out  after all.   Somewhere along the way I lost the death sentence as I began to realise that there was much wisdom in ‘taking one day at a time’ and ‘to keep hope alive.’

Then the tumour started to grow again.   The oncologist suggested radiation therapy, and I was in a dilemma – to do, or not to do, was the decision I struggled with, until I finally made an appointment with the unknown – radiation treatment !

Radiation sign

The treatment itself was not to daunting.   “Its like having a chest ex-ray,” my oncologist said.   It is however the after effects that had to be walked through, with plenty of rest, as the treatment left me drained, physically emotionally and spiritually.  And rest I did, for the best part of six weeks.   My poor immune system had been rocked by radiation to destroy the enemy within, it deserved to rest and to be nurtured, –  so to my soul.

It was during this time that I realised I had to keep my mind busy.   I was not to let this situation, this ‘ life’s happenings’,  this malady with its tiredness dominate my thinking.  I had to bring in other thoughts, and good thoughts.  I had to focus my mind on something better, a bigger story than my own.
So I took to the Scriptures, and focused particularly on a project-read, and then bring it to a conclusion by writing a summary of it on my blog.    I chose to look at the great men in the Bible.   I wrote Minding Moses and Dancing with David, and am currently working on other Faith heroes.

The  radiation treatment is still doing its work, and the tumour is regressing.  Hallelujah ! And my oncologist is delighted with my physical progress.

crossing the bridge
Having said all that I must add, that emotionally it is quite a ride too, a lonely ride.  I regard myself as a fairly stable person, and was outwardly, and for the most part inwardly, calm through each step of the way.  Although open,  I’m a private person and like to handle my own “emotional stuff” my own way.  There were days when I felt very alone and very sad for myself.   And indeed I was alone, except when I drew my strength from the Scriptures.

Cancer has an ugly face, its not a nice companion, and I did not embrace it for one minute, but I had to surrender to God’s sovereignty in the situation.  Once I did that I was at peace with Him and with myself.

I am not only on hormone therapy, but on faith therapy too.     Its a therapy that has no bad side effects, and will in time manifest only the goodness of God.   Faith is spiritual, a heavenly thing,  and is another ball game, which I am slowly learning by His grace, and with expectation.

I am still on my pathway to healing, and calling on God to show me the way.
Perhaps there is new ground to break, I hope so.   I hope to see Him working in new ways in my life – help me to attain higher ground in faith and healing, and His way of doing things.

I keep in mind, that His grace is sufficient for a new day, for there is always faith, hope and love in, Life’s happenings !

The sun comes up

Pretty Feelings

 

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.   And though beauty may be all around us we sometimes just don’t see it.
There are some days when life gets a little heavy to carry,  and the feeling is glum, then   on those days I want, and need,  to see something pretty.   I know it will help the mood to shift.

It is as if, beauty is a medicine for the soul, an antidote for ugliness – and isn’t ugliness all around us too ?
More often than not the beauty, the pretty for me, comes through nature.  Perhaps because nature is perfect, and speaks to everything being okay and in its place.

Art and Music may also have such an effect on a mood.    It can transport us on wings of beauty to other places in our souls, where we can find a soothing from the daily grind.

But we need eyes to see and ears to hear, and hearts to understand.

I came across a picture of a rose, and had an injection of prettiness.  It tugged at me and I just knew I wanted to draw the rose.  You know the feeling you get when a picture  just “speaks”  to you ?    Well this picture spoke to me through its gentle simplicity and soft colours.
So I sharpened my pencils, and sat down to re-create it as best I could.  I did not give it its full justice, but my rose does give back to me a hint of soft gentleness, and a warm sense of  prettiness.
I hope you get pretty feelings too, when you take a look at it.

 

rose

A Slice of Raw Life

 

Allow me to share with you a slice of raw life, that I encounted when I attended the funeral of Danny.  A moment when the frills and thrills of life are stripped away to a moment in time when raw life is seen in the corridors of death.

Danny was merely an acquaintance.  I had met him very briefly a few years ago.  But he had shown a kindness to my son, had gone way out of his way to give him a lift back home – and for that reason I had decided to attend his funeral
Apart from being kind, Danny was also a very unlikely saint, but a saint nevertheless.
I knew very little about him, except that he had had a very hard life.
So it was with intense interest that I listened to the eulogies of some of the people who had been influenced by his life.

The Pastor spoke of how he had known Danny for a short while.  Had spent much time, in the last days of his life with him, and learned that Danny’s whole life was nothing but rejection.  He had known rejection so well.  He had grown up as a child being a beggar on the streets, and found his food in dustbins. He became a drug addict, and ended up in a Rehabilitation Centre.
When he joined “normal life’ he took Kelven under his wing, gave him a home, a safe haven, and an education.
Danny had a Prison ministry, but  when he was approached by the Correctional officer to temper the gospel message, Danny gave it up, as he was not prepared to dilute the Gospel of Jesus .

The lady from the Compassionate Hands Shelter, spoke softly but gently about Danny.   How she had been an addict and on the streets, wanted to take her own life, then met Danny – an unlikely helper, who walked the walk with her through her pregnancies.  Today she is free from drugs, is raising two children, and helping to run the Shelter – all because Danny took the time to love her unconditionally through the hard times.

Kelven, Danny’s ‘adopted son’ spoke briefly.   But those of us listening to these testimonies of his life,  were all choked up, because of the emotions that ran so deep in Kelven.   Kelven spoke of how he had been in prison, and when he came out, it was Danny who took him in, and gave him a home.   Five times he had tried to commit suicide,  but it was Danny’s strong and unconditional love that pulled him through those moments.  Danny’s strict and sometimes harsh ways never faltered at loving him.
“He never judged me, he just loved me unconditionally”  were Kelven’s final words on Danny.  I think if some of us could sob out loud we would have done so, but being polite restrained the 100 tears that wanted to flow at such a love, and to comfort Kelven.

The lady from the Bible study group said that Danny may have been a rough diamond, but that they understood that some of his crustiness was just a protection from all the pain inside him.    He was a student of God’s Word, and loved to share his knowledge with all who would listen.    And he made time to listen to those who needed to speak, he made time to be available to those who needed to talk.

It was a simple, but beautiful service.   Full of respect and dignity for one of their own, who knew the hard life of the streets, at rehab and shelter centres – the places where life in the raw occurs.
There were many people at the funeral, for one who was so humble and almost ‘insignificant’, but so great in the work of the kingdom of God.  God’s ways are not our ways, that’s for sure.
There were people from different walks of life, but particularly from the many broken lives, who knew and loved Danny.
Jesus was one of the esteemed dignitaries present at that funeral.  This was so evident when hands were raised in praise, as we sang and cried through that beautiful song – Great is thy Faithfulness, – words that broken lives attest to so well.

It was a humbling experience, tasting life in the raw.  Being in the company of those who had to face God through their own personal hell.  Being in the invisible presence of God, where everyone and everything is diminished to its own insignificant smallness.  Where love permeates the room.

It made me think how easily we tend to overlook those who are destitute and battling life at the raw edge.
We are so consumed with materialism, pumped up with pictures of the ‘good life’ wanting the niceties from life,  that we become oblivious of any other kind of life, little realising that  ‘there by the grace of God go I’

A timely reminder from a life lived strong with unconditional love, a life lived through God’s love.   May his tribe increase.
Rest in peace Danny.

Red rose

Bring in the Gold

gold in rocks.jpg

In the ordinariness of life, gold is found !

It was the first Saturday of Spring,  for those living on the south end of the Equator.  There was a definite whiff of something in the air.   Perhaps there was a change of frequency as the season changed from Winter to Spring, or perhaps it was a warming up of the weather, but something was stirring, a promise was coming !

The day was warm and welcoming, and there was a skip in my step as I set out to the  doctor’s waiting room.   I parked my car in the underground parking area and headed out to the Mall.
I had a lovely morning taking in the sights and sounds of the milling crowd, even did a little unplanned shopping, that always gives a lift to the mundane.   Stopped by for a  coffee, that goes so well with ‘retail therapy’  – and just soaked up the ordinariness of life.

It was when I went back down to the parking lot and paid at the underground parking station that I heard them.  Two old minstrels  strumming their guitar and banjo, and making the joy of music for those who would but listen.

I felt my heart stir, and went over to place an appreciation in their basket.   They made such a lovely picture, that on the spur of the moment, I asked if I may take a photo of them.   They kindly consented, as if it were the order of their day.

I lingered just a little longer to ask their names, and where they were from.  Just a little light conversation to seal the moment.   As I turned to walk away I heard myself say “You are such lovely people !”  Just in time, I caught the smile in Conrad’s eye as he said “You are too miss”    And right there was the gold, the exchange of community kindness.    What a lovely brief moment in time !    I walked away on a little cloud that had been the promise of that Spring day.

Buskers

Conrad and Raymond, the two minstrels  that have been playing and entertaining the ‘car-parkers’ and shoppers at that Mall for many Saturdays – and over the Christmas season too.   They are indeed a delightful feature an added bonus to the Mall, yet tucked away in the underground parking area.
Two old minstrels, with I am sure, stories to tell of their hard lives,  and yet they are  notably abandoned in the music they so diligently play for the passers-by.

Bring in the gold – threads of gold found in an ordinary day, in the lives of ordinary people.   Bring in the gold I say !

 

gold nuggets

 

 

 

 

Pause to Ponder

 

Cross

Easter.    It’s that time of year again when the world slows down just a little, and there is time to pause and ponder on the things of God.   He has been around forever, and will be with us even when we are unaware of His presence.  He just is, and yet we miss Him, if we do not look for Him, or take a little time to listen for Him.

There is more to life than just living, and not everything is as it seems.  There is a mystery at play, a mystery in full view, if we were to pause, to ponder and to perceive.
Easter time is a good time to ponder on The Great Story of God, the story of righteousness, redemption and restoration, and all things good.  And for that we need to look at the cross, and the finished work of Jesus Christ.

aaron-burden-76177-unsplash

The cross is a place of brutal suffering – where Jesus was lashed with a whip of seven tails, that tore and ripped the skin off his body; where a crown of thorns mockingly pierced the flesh of his skull.   And so when we are in pain and suffering – God knows.
He was nailed to a wooden cross and crucified by a people that was called to be His own.
And so when we are betrayed – God knows.
The cross is a place of sacrifice – where God deemed it fit for His Son to die for the sake of mankind,  – that is you and me.  And so when we sacrifice for the sake of others – God knows.
The cross is a place of rejection.  He was rejected by man, and abandoned by God.
And so when we are rejected, abandoned and all alone – God knows.

Rejected rose

As the song goes   “Like a rose trampled on the ground, He took the fall and thought of me above all”

The cross where the significance of self and its sin, melts into the sacrificed life of Christ Jesus, that makes us acceptable, and worthy, and beautiful before a Holy God.

The cross, is a place of salvation – where forgiveness is given, but so often not received, because we do not ask for forgiveness from God, from others, even from ourselves and are hard-pressed to give forgiveness to those who have done us wrong.

So often are we pre-occupied with only ourselves, and don’t listen or  ask after the promises, and the ways of God.

The cross, is pivotal to the story of God, and to history itself.
The cross is a place of death, and death has to be breached, so that new life can begin.  The cross is a place of life – the place where heaven opens and righteousness and restoration happens.   The veil is lifted between earth and heaven –  and so He opens the way, for those who choose to believe in God and in His story.

holycross
Jesus died,  and rose again.  The miracle of all the ages.   He is the resurrection to the new life, the new creation, through a new covenant – a covenant of the heart !
And the new creation is what it is all about !  He is the beginning of our story, and He is the end of our story.   But it is not the final end, for if we receive His invitation to heaven, and ask Him to come and live in our hearts today, we join Him, and reign with Him in His resurrected life, and continue into the new creation that is coming.  A new beginning – a new story !!

So take time to ponder the old old story of Jesus and His cross, and accept His invitation today to real life, life bought by His sacrifice and His blood, and by His love,  for mankind, that is you and me, to shine before God.

John 14:6    Jesus said to him  ” I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

This Easter, pause to ponder,  and to pray … Lord Jesus Christ, forgive me for going my own way, and not following You.   Thank you for dying in my place.  Please come into my heart, and live Your life through me.  Thank You for the precious and miraculous gift of salvation.  Amen.

Red rose    Easter blessings to all.

God said No

 The colourful little sticker says :

“Casual Day Celebrate Diversity with Persons with Disabilities”  

Butterfly SA

The purpose of the sticker serves as a motivation for the South African
public to be aware of those with disabilities, and the many kind-hearted charities that work hard to ease the life of those who know and live with disabilities.

So on the first day of September you will be excused for wearing your “takkies” to work, as long as you display the sticker you bought to support those Disabled among us.   A lovely fun gesture, that knits community together.

I remember watching the TV broadcast on the Para Olympic Games held in London in 2012.    Among the nations of the world there is none that can hold pageantry like the English.    It was  a magnificent display of courage and of hope to see those with Disabilities reach for their dreams.

Hope is intrinsic to human beings.   God has designed us that way.  He has built into each one of us faith hope and love.  And when life happens, to some harshly, to others not so much, and when things don’t work out the way we had planned , we are still left with hope.  There is always hope, that helps us to carry on regardless.   And this is what we are given by those with Disabilities.   They are hope-carriers.

They are a very costly gift to humanity.

Observing those with disabilities brings us to the threshold of suffering, and the age-old question arises “why does a good, loving God allow suffering ?”

broken glass

Just for today,  I hope we can pause, and remember those with Disabilities in our own families, in our communities, see them through new eyes, and be a little kinder to them.
The following little writing was sent to me, and I am passing it on to you.  Unfortunately I cannot acknowledge the writer as I do not have a name.  When I read it, it brought to me a smile and a tear, all at the same time….. and perhaps too a little more understanding.

GOD  SAID  NO !

I asked God to take away my habit,
God said, No it is not for Me to take it away, but for you to give it up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole
God said, No his spirit is whole, his body is only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience,
God said, No patience is the by-product of tribulations, it isn’t granted, it is learned.
I asked God to give me happiness,
God said, No, suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to Me.
I asked God to  make my spirit grow,
God said, No you must grow your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.
I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, No I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.
I asked God to help me love others, as much as He loves me.
God said,  Ahh,  finally you have the idea.
This day is yours, don’t throw it away.
God bless you.
broken mug

 

LOOKING FOR … LOVE

As February is the month for Love and Valentines and all I decided to go out on a quest and look for love wherever I could find it.

A bag of coppers (small change) were cluttering my cupboard. These I had been saving to give to one of the street people I had come to know. He is George the Carguard, who treads the parking lot at the Post Office in the Village. I stopped the car and George came over to shoo me on, but I said to him “George I have a bag of coppers, would you like them?” “Yes, I like that money” he said, beaming from ear to ear. “Thank you madam,
you are like Jehovah to me”. “Mmm well yes, Amen George” …not quite sure what he had just said. “Today I am going to buy me lots of food from Pick n Pay and eat well”, he said rubbing his tummy. “Well enjoy yourself George” I replied. “Thank you, thank you madam, God bless you”. ” God bless you too George” I said as I drove off. Well the warm glow of that little conversation blew my hair back. I had intended to give a little love and instead was the one who had received a ton more than I gave. George’s response was magnanimous, as it so often is from the African people who have a heart full of love, in spite of their poverty circumstances.

I was looking for a parking spot, impossible in the Village on a Saturday morning, but found one right in front of Woolworths where I wanted to be, to buy some chocolate muffins for Greta my sister-in-law for Valentine’s day. As I came to pay at the till, the attendant beamed “happy Valentine’s day to you”. I felt that warm glow again. But there’s more. As I walked up to my car, a traffic officer was just finishing off the ticket for the car parked next to mine. I scooted in and out of there so fast, with a “thank you Lord for loving me today!”
You can find Love in the circumstances of life, in strange places even in some strange Strangers!

I then took myself off to the Mall about ten blocks away. As I circled for parking I saw a young man with a basket filled with red roses. Yes, you’ve got it right young man, keep the love alive, I thought to myself.
Then on to my shopping errand where I had to stand in a queue almost a mile long and eventually came to an attendant that looked tense and a little grey. As we finished the transaction I just blurted out to her “have a happy Valentine’s day”. Well the grey lifted and I saw sunshine fall its place. “Thank you, I forgot it was Valentine” she said, and I saw her mind make a mental note to remember her loved one today. I glowed again as I walked away. Well enough of this loving people, now its time to love me! I took myself off for a cool green lime milkshake at a restaurant that, if you sit in the right place, you can observe the crowd coming down the escalator of the mall, and take in the crowd of the eating place at the same time. Just sitting quietly watching Life and Love at play, a treat indeed!

Jesus said in Matthew 22:37… “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
And in verse 39. And the second is like it: ” You shall love your neighbour as yourself”

Are you looking for Love? …. where did you find Love today? …. where did you give Love today?