Friday, July 24, 2020

Hope Deferred

I just need to write today. It probably won't make sense, but I need to just get it out.

Just been feeling flat. It's been a really tough few weeks. Usually it passes, but it's moved to a feeling of emotional drain & mental fatigue which has to do with a few things, obviously all based on the Covid season we find ourselves in.  Everyone is feeling some form of anxiety from it.

  • I miss my family.  I know I live far away and should be used to not seeing them. Even if I was there, I wouldn't see them anyway right now.  I know that if I went past my parents house, and could only wave, it may be even worse, so close and yet so far....but if I was there,  somehow knowing we are, at least, in the same country I would feel better.  When people at home say they miss family, I totally get that, but I try not to dwell there because they can actually get to their family if they chose to, I can't make that choice. That is what is so hard, so I cannot keep rehashing the "friends and family" regulation conversation, because every time it reminds me that I don't even have a choice to drive to them and wave over the wall. At least I am used to talking to them using Tech, but I always thought that we could go home whenever we wanted to, but now it is actually physically impossible to get there. When will flights be normal again? Usually I have a date that we fly there, and I have this in mind, it is something to look forward to, but I don't have that now. When will I see them again?  I don't know.  
  • I miss my country. In spite of the rubbish. I think also that when I try to speak to people there, and convey that we are going through similar things here, trying to find a commonality with them, to feel like we are going through things together, I often get told that I don't know whats going on, because I don't live there. It makes me feel like an outsider when all I want to do is feel like we are in it together, like I still belong there. We have not emigrated. I haven't stopped caring about home like a lot of Saffers do, they move because they are p'd off with SA; that is not us. We follow the news, we know what is happening, but I cannot even communicate that because when I try to feel part of it by sharing a common experience, or sharing what is happening here for us, no one cares, they only care about SA, because that is where they are. They live in one country, but I live in two. Somehow this makes me feel as though they don't care about us either.  I know that is not true, but it's how I experience a lot of conversations where my thoughts are dismissed as uninformed, or even unnecessary.  I feel as though I am doing this on my own now, and alone. I don't want to engage in anymore conversations, because the wound is freshly reopened with every one, and with every one I feel further from home, when it's the only place I want to be.  Sometimes I find myself wondering if we shouldn't just stay here... but I would miss SA too much, I think.
  • I feel so disheartened. A month or so ago, we were reporting only single digit cases, it was exciting to think that our lockdown, and being home all that time, had paid off and we may be able to get out again.  Then schools went back, youngsters began partying in big groups and now we are back to 100s of cases each day, and it appears that no restrictions are going to be put into place again. I feel as though I have spent all this time at home for nothing now... I have to start all over again, trying to keep safe so I can one day go home and see my family, while others feel its absolutely fine to go out and party, because they are young and selfish.
  • I am so bored. I am not taking public transport at the moment which means I am home. All the time. This last week I have gone to bed in tears, and woken up basically in tears, because I just don't know what to do with myself anymore. There is only so much you can run, or read. I just am sick of my days. Then I read about what is happening in South America and India, and loads of other poorer countries, and I give myself a slap, and feel so ashamed of my attitude, because what is boredom compared to what they are going through?  What is anything really, compared to what they are going through? I always "hate" when people say they are bored, but I have puzzled, and baked, and coloured in, and gardened and knitted... but none of these replace getting out of the house.  I just.. I just feel....  I don't know. Finished?

I don't want to feel sorry for myself because I know that I am not alone in this. Really I feel more sad than sorry. I am reminded of Prov 13:12:  "Hope deferred makes the heart sick..."  and my heart feels sick.   

Yes, that's how I feel. My heart feels sick.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Poetry 1 - Breath

breath in mist,
fall to the ground
devoured by hungry mud.

Whispered prayer,
floating on breezes of dreams imagined,
laying hold of naked outstretched arms
clinging with every letter
to this rooted certainty.

LG – 9/1/2020
(Photo cred: MrsLG)

Posted originally on My Mini Stories.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The best, not the worst. The beautiful, not the ugly.

Yesterday I headed out for a run to "My Tree".  (I don't worship it, in case you are thinking that, but it is a type of altar that reminds me of what God spoke to me before).

I really felt like I lost my grip on peace this last week. I took a run to my tree and just stood there for a while, I suppose waiting for Him. He never behaves the way we hope or expect him to. It's annoying. :)

Honestly I didn't hear my Fathers voice at all.  I took a few photo's (as I do in the forest), and continued my run. I felt better. It's always really good for me to get out. So even though I never had any epiphany at my tree, I was satisfied by the run.

I got home and checked the photo's. I decided to play with some of the effects and this photo is the one of my tree.  I did not choose it to look like this. I just clicked "Colour Point", and the app did it on its own.    It was when I saw this picture, with my tree green, and the surrounding trees largely grey and black, that I was reminded of this piece of wisdom:

 "The Lord is near. 
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." 
*The Message version in Contemporary English, which I love as it's more relatable for today, can be read below.

I had allowed myself to be bogged down by news, by opinions, by statistics and information. It's wise to know what's going on, we cannot be ostriches - but when we focus solely on the negative, it becomes overwhelming. This text, together with this photo of the green tree in the bleak surroundings, reminds me that:
  • You can choose where to place your focus
  • The Lord is near
  • He is with us in the bleak place
  • We can tell Him our anxieties and fears. Pray about everything
  • Replace the anxious thoughts with ones that are pure, true, right, admirable and lovely
  • Focus on the Green, the Author, and peace will come.

He just gave me the recipe for finding peace! 
He always comes through - just not always when or where we expect it!

Because no one loves us like He does.

Cool Runnings.
Peace be the Journey.  

* Or from The Message:
"Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse."

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Speak without hurting

About 25 years or so ago, a friend gave me a note that had the scripture in it, about allowing your speech to always be gracious and seasoned with salt - I asked her about it, and she told me that she had always appreciated my honesty, but that sometimes I could be a bit blunt and that not everyone understood that, and that I could hurt peoples feelings.

I remember feeling mortified by that, and at the same time so grateful to her for being brave enough to tell me something, that potentially could have sparked a very different reaction. I prided myself on being forthright, probably because it is what I appreciate most in my friends with me, and I thought others would appreciate it too, but I never wanted to intentionally hurt anyone or offend anyone.

I basically just breathed "God help me" at that moment.  I don't always get it right, but over the years I feel as though I do think about the other person before I speak - even though there are times I just know that a witty blunt comment would be so much more fun to make!

May 1 2020, was a cross-over day for me. I have never been confrontational on Social Media. I prefer face-to-face conflict where we can hear one anothers tone, and see the body language. Yesterday though I was confronted with posts that challenge my "new" self. I was torn, do I say what I think irrespective of whether it is confrontational, or not?  Do I let people continue to think I am this person who never ruffles feathers, or do I say what I think?

I decided, what the hell, let me say it, only to realise that actually my opinion is wrong, given without insight, and basically not needed or wanted.  At first, I was hurt, and then I was disappointed. I didn't expect that reaction. I even felt slightly betrayed by my own kind! :D  (I know, a bit dramatic, but hey-ho).   Why, if you post something controversial, can you not deal with controversy - or at least hear the reason for the other viewpoint?  Do you need to be in agreement with the person posting - is that the etiquette?

I feel like I just want to go back to my "old self", and post controversial posts just to get a reaction, so that I can react and be my old blunt self. Who gives a crap who I hurt.... But I cannot go back to being that person and I don't want to be like them, condescending and so cock-sure of everything, that it's their way or no way.

It seems that as far as controversial posts go, you cannot comment if you want to say something that doesn't verify the posters point of view.  Or that if one is known as a "controversial poster", then it's OK to make controversial comments because "that is who you are" and "how people know you".

But God help you if you are just an average person posting pictures of forests who suddenly says something confrontational - that will just not do!

SO this is my pity-party for today. I really want to post the come-backs and replies I had in mind. I was itching to. But I can't. Or I won't. Because speech, grace, salt... and all of that.

Father, forgive me for wanting to revert to the old person...

*I needed to vent, so this is just my private vent. I am not sharing it anywhere, so it is not a veiled "I'm frustrated at you" post.  :)


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Oh! How things change...

(Boring but random lockdown notes ...)

Me at Day 1 / Week 1 of Lockdown: "I am going to use Flylady. Everyday do something in my home to spring clean it. 
  • Monday: (Kitchen / Bathroom 1):     Unpack kitchen cupboards, clean shelves, repack.   /  Sort bathroom cupboard
  • Tuesday: (Kitchen /Bathroom 1)     Wipe down kitchen cupboards   / Wipe down tiles in bathrooms
  • Wednesday: (Kitchen / Entrance)    Clean stove / oven and backsplash /clean extractor filters  /Clean window in entry.
  • Thursday: (Kitchen / Lounge)         Clean kitchen floor. / vaccuum / Mr Min furniture
  • Friday: (Kitchen / Lounge)              Wipe down door frames / Lounge windows".

What actually happened in Week 1 - Hmmm. I think I did wipe down the cupboards. Can't really remember. That was, after all, five plus weeks ago (or is it six? I've lost track).  I have done two or three of those things in the last 6 weeks, but certainly not in week 1, where it was intended.

All those wild fantasies I had: finish knitting that baby jersey for my friend... (who would by now have outgrown it!), putting up those hems, sewing on those missing buttons, doing more Luxembourgish grammar classes, the list really is endless, and none of them happened.

I have long since given up feeling guilty about doing very little.  Although, to be completely honest, I don't think I ever felt guilty...

I walked into our lounge this morning, and realised we basically live on that one floor. I have moved the ironing board in there, there is ironing on my couch waiting for me. The outside table has been brought inside (until we can put fresh stain on it), and that has my laptop on it, my TEFL work, 3 bottles of bubbles, (I do love blowing bubbles), a yo-yo, my camera, a colouring-in book and other bits 'n pieces. The bird food is in there, sewing kits, dogs, husband, puzzles, crafty things (that I planned to do, and have not done), books to read (that I planned to read, but have not gotten to yet).....  all this to say that basically in spite of my best attempts to clean up and do stuff - we've moved into a room which looks like a war zone and accomplished very little. I don't care. I don't feel guilty. 

In fact, I quite like not caring!

Annnyyyywayyyy.... I do need to finish my final TEFL assignment - so let me stop waffling about how pottering fills my days and get on with something meaningful.

Stay safe and stay home.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Yesterday = Rubbish Day

Yesterday was not a good day.
I cried a lot.

I had felt very together up until yesterday. Maybe because I am often at home anyway, it didn't feel that different.
Then the reality of everything coming to the end of Week 2, just seem to hit me.  After so long, I had expected the numbers to start coming down, but we have not peaked yet. SA, don't be tempted to think that change will happen overnight, or that lockdown is not working - it takes a while, be patient and stay home.  I read an article about the emotions we are feeling, and how they are similar to the stages of grief. I realised I had hit the "Acceptance" stage for us here, but I was nowhere near there for home yet.  My emotions see-sawed all day, one moment I was fine, the next I cried and went to sleep, and woke up crying, then I was fine, and then I cried again.

At first I wanted to get angry with myself for being so emotional, but I realise that it is OK, we cannot push such an emotional situation down and expect to feel nothing. So I will cry when I want to, but I will also try to stay off the constant stream of information, and look for the positive to balance it with.

For now I think I will have to find a routine, which I famously never have. However, it may turn out to be a saving grace. I will get up with My Man in the morning. I will get dressed. That sounds odd, I know, but walking around in my onesie or PJs, feels wonderful on most days, but it feels defeatist to me now.  I will do at least 30 min of exercise a day, whether it's a run or a workout, it doesn't matter, and then I will make a list of tasks that I can do each day.  For this I happily will use Flylady to make sure lots gets done!

I need to do this to make sure that I don't dwell on what's happening, and become more anxious than I already am. I can't deal with all the "What-ifs", it's too much. I need to learn to focus on today. Not being bored today. Keeping busy today. Being grateful for the safety of home. I am not stuck at home, I am safe at home. Others are safe because we are all at home.

I know that none of this is from God, and I get acid when I see people infer that this is some "act of God". Nothing evil originates from Him. Sh!t happens in life, it is just like that. I know that He is in this with us, feeling our sorrow and despair, and I know that this is a time we can choose to blame Him or cling to Him. I choose to cling. Always.

I wish I could go home.  The irony is that we always said that when we want to go home, we will just go.
But we literally can't.
So we just have to make peace with that for now.

Stay safe lovely people, and stay home.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

A bit about me & my "Defining Day."

Do you feel like you have a day that may have been really significant in some way? A day that stands out for whatever reason. I have so many incredible memories, but none that I would consider more "defining" than this one day.

I don't like calling myself a Christian. I'll just put that out there from the beginning. It's such a loaded word -with all kinds of judgmental baggage attached to it.

I prefer to say that I follow Christ, because he is the opposite of judgmental. He made people think out of the box, he mixed with people that were sometimes (at that time) questionable, and he loathed the self righteous.  No-one was excluded, his loved extended to all. He is a compassionate revolutionary. This is the Jesus I love.

This is my story of how I met him.

Have you ever just gotten comfortable, falling asleep, and then you hear the zzzzzz – of a mosquito (aka: a mozzie)! You flail your arms around wildly hoping that it will become distracted because you can’t be bothered to turn the light on and deal with it?  As I look back on the journey that is my life I will share with you my ‘mozzie moments.’ Moments that God intervened, uninvited into my world, until one day, I chose to turn on the light and deal with Him.

My parents, neither of them believers, divorced when I was about 7. My mom got into exploring Eastern philosophies on a quest for truth. However, every now and again she would encourage us to go to Sunday School.  It was as though she knew deep down that that was the ‘right’ thing to do. The first experience of church I remember was when I was about 9. I used to go with a friend to a youth group every now and again.  I remember specifically one day they had a quiz and the question was ‘What are the first 3 words in the Bible?’ and I knew what they were… to this day I don’t know how I knew them. This group was my first encounter with Jesus. I do believe that during that time, in a way that can only be true for a child, I decided that Jesus was ‘an OK guy!’

Fast Forward to 1983. Early 1983 we moved house. I was really happy where we were living, and didn’t want to leave my friends, and my boyfriend, who I adored, but work transferred us and we had to go.  I did not take the move well. I became rebellious, I was not pleasant to have around, and I know that during that time, I'm ashamed to say that I hurt a lot of people that I loved dearly. I was not myself, and I wish I could find them all and apologise.  Anyway, it was decided that I was getting a bit out of control so I was put into boarding school. I remember it with mixed feelings but the most significant event in my life was to happen there.  

It was then that a Youth for Christ group came to town. My friend and I, who had nothing better to do at the time, decided that we would go! I cannot remember what their presentation was about, but what I do remember is that I heard three things by the end of it:
  • God knows me,
  • God loves me, and
  • I could really know God too.

 I must say that even at my most rebellious, it never felt like that was really me. I had always had a ‘spiritual awareness’: There was never a time that I didn’t believe in God, or in Jesus -  But I never made any conscious choice to pursue Him. In hindsight, it became clear that all through the years he had reminded me that He did in fact know me.  Moments where he zzzz around and made His presence known, (these I call His uninvited mozzie moments!) but I either brushed Him off - or at best, discussed Him.

Mozzie moment 1: This is my first Bible.  This I got in 1978.  What made my mom give my brother and I a Bible each, is a mystery. I even remember where we first started reading. We read John. No-one told us to read John. We just did. God knew me at 11 reading An Authorized King James’ Version of John. (That is old English…. but we read it). 

Mozzie moment 2:  I slept over at a friends house one Saturday evening and the following day I went to Church with them. There was communion, and I remember my friend saying to me that I couldn’t go up for communion because it was only for Christians. But I remember feeling a bit bewildered being the only kid left in the pew while everyone else went up… but it was another reminder, another nudge, another zzzz in my ear. 

Mozzie moment 3:  When I was in Std. 5 (about 12 yrs old), my brother and I had a debate about whether to raise your arms or kneel before God if you are praying.  Where did this conversation come from? I still do not know. We were completely un-churched and the usual idea of prayer is quietly folded hands….

Mozzie moment 4:  When I was in Std.7 I received a chain letter. Those things that say if you don’t send it out to however many people, by whatever time, something dreadful would happen to you.  The first person I thought to ask what to do with this letter was the minister at the little church where we lived. Somehow I knew that He would have the right answer. Indirectly then, I think, I was trusting God for the answer. Because He was Gods spokesperson.

Mozzie moment 5: Then in about Std. 7 or 8 (approx 15 yrs old), a guy came to our school and gave out Gideons Bibles and did a talk. He asked what the most important verse was in the Bible. I knew that. John 3:16. I told my friend the answer, but honestly cannot tell you where I heard it, or how I knew it. But I did. I had that Bible right up to Matric (last school year),  I carried it in my blazer pocket, I still have it, and it is interesting to see the things that I wrote in it and what I underlined.

Mozzie moment 6: I used to go horse riding often, it was the one thing that I loved to do more than anything else in the world.  One day, when I was in Std. 9, I had gone riding with friends. We would often ride down to the beach. This one day in particular, I arrived a bit ahead of the group and as I arrived I stopped on a dune overlooking the beach. The sea was blue and clear like the sky, the sand and dunes looked whiter than white, the breeze was blowing. I suppose that it looked the same as every other day that I had been in that spot, but somehow, that day it was just seemed more perfect.  I remember feeling that I didn’t want to break that moment by breathing or blinking.  I had such an overwhelming feeling of beauty and absolute contentment, and remember thinking that if I died right then, then this must be what heaven is like…. It was a moment that I have never forgotten.

It was soon after that moment on horseback, that Youth for Christ arrived.  

As I sat there, in that YFC gathering, it became very clear to me that YES!  God does know me. He really does and he had throughout my life been pursuing me relentlessly, giving me moments to recognise him,  zzzzz-ing in my ear: Lisa, here I am, I know you, I love you, and I would love you to know me too.

That day, it was the big day, it was the day I said “Yes, I do want to know you too”.

The day that separates who I was, to who I am: not perfect in any way, but perfectly and divinely loved in spite of my imperfections.

That was my defining day …

Maybe you have had some “mozzie moments” too, and not even been aware.

* * * * * 

Below are two links sharing some of our continued journey....

The Forest is my Church

How do we look? Me and you.

My happiest place.