Lessons from my road trip

Driving is one of my favourite past times.  For me, the longer the drive, the better. Amongst other things, I enjoy the fact that I get to listen to my favourite music and sing along at the top of my voice. I also get to enjoy loud and private conversations with God. It’s awesome.

A few weeks ago, I drove around part of the South Island of New Zealand and looking back I realise the experience was way more than a chance to refresh and unwind. I learnt some good lessons that I will share.

 

Don’t give up

As I was planning for the trip, I went on the internet for some ideas and it was not long before I realised that the roads I would be driving on were quite challenging. On my first day in the South Island, my fears were confirmed – the mountainous terrain meant multiple steep and windy roads. I was intimidated. However, I had no choice but to drive as that worked out cheaper.

One thing though is that though challenging, the roads always led to some of the most amazing scenery I had ever witnessed and in the end it seemed all the trouble to get there was worthwhile.  

Similarly, some things in life may seem difficult from a distance but if we give in to fear and give up, we might miss out on some of the finest gifts that have our names written on them.

 

Stick to your own pace

I was impressed by how some drivers were able to handle high speeds on really windy roads. I, on the other hand was comfortable just sticking to the road limits but realised even that was not good enough so I would often allow the other drivers pass. I found by doing this I had a more pleasurable drive.

This experience reminded me that there are some people in life who will seem to be progress faster than me. That is fine. I just need to keep moving. Our lives are different and our experiences will vary and affect us in different ways. It is important to stay focused and keep our eyes on the road.

 

It’s okay to ask for help

On one of the days we set out to travel to a place called Paradise. The road to Paradise is rocky (literally) as it is partly unsealed. The road signs were infrequent and so we often wondered whether we were headed in the right direction. At one stage my sister and I seriously considered turning back as the road not only grew bumpier, it also grew narrow and dark since it went through a forest

The road to paradise is quite sparsely populated so whenever we saw people, we made sure we asked for directions. “Keep going, you will like it it’s beautiful up there” they would say, and so on we went.

If you are in a difficult situation and things seem to be getting tough – remember; ask for help. Some people may have already encountered situations similar to yours and overcome and so might have some good advice to share.

 

Enjoy the ride.

The views around the South Island were immaculate and we were blessed to witness good weather.  During our drives we occasionally pulled over on the side of the road to take pictures and to just enjoy the moments.

In hindsight, I wish I could have been a little more relaxed. Maybe then I would have enjoyed the rides even more.

We can experience rest and peace in our own lives when we learn to enjoy the little things and begin to count our blessings.

 

No more pity parties

If you are like me you have hosted a pity party before. In fact- many parties!! I don’t know about the parties you have hosted but at mine, I would normally be the only guest attending. Parties are meant to be fun and filled with celebration but not pity parties. They are awful. You just sit there drowning in your negative thoughts, often feeling sorry for yourself and the situation you may be facing. I find it quite strange that pity and party can be used together!! They are definitely not the best parties to admit to hosting or attending especially if like me you claim to believe in an All Powerful, Unchanging, Mighty and Faithful God.

I stumbled onto a passage from the book {Mind Character and Personality- Volume 1} which has challenged me to get back on track in those difficult times when I am tempted to wallow in my worries. The author writes;

“We need to beware of self-pity. Never indulge the feeling that you are not esteemed as you should be, that your efforts are not appreciated, that your work is too difficult. It should not be difficult to remember that the Lord desires you to lay your troubles and perplexities at His feet, and leave them there.”

Go to Him, saying, “Lord, my burdens are too heavy for me to carry. Will You bear them for me?” And He will answer, “I will take them. With everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you. I will take your sins and give you peace.”

It is truly amazing to give it all to God – to lay all our burdens, fears and anxieties down at His feet. Yes, strange as it may sound, pity parties can be a thing of the past even in our own lives. We can learn to trust Him. It is possible. With God all things are possible.

Pity Party

 

 

 

 

 

Treasure

There are some real treasures out there. These treasures know how to genuinely put smiles on other people’s faces and one can always count on them. Their presence simply lights up the atmosphere. They are filled with wisdom, their words bring stability and comfort to a variety of situations. Have you ever met people like that? I call these people treasures which might sound kind of cheesy but just think of it, like treasure, these people are rare and hard to come by and once they are in your life, they bring so much value because of the richness of their contributions. Have you met a “treasure” before?

I imagine Dorcas, also known as Tabitha was one of those treasures. The story of Dorcas is found in the book of Acts 9:36-42. Dorcas was a woman full of good works and she was filled with acts of kindness. Dorcas was greatly loved. She knew people’s needs and met them. No wonder when she died, the widows she had ministered to were greatly distressed. Who would help them the way she had? Where would they find a treasure such as Dorcas? As they looked around them they probably realised people like her were so hard to come by. Thankfully Dorcas was raised back to life so she could continue to be a blessing to others as she had been.

I am really inspired by the fact that Dorcas’ life impacted other women’s lives in the way it did. It makes me think of my own life and what contributions I make in other people’s lives. Right now I can testify that I am not proud. I really can do better.

So what next? How can we be like Dorcas or these treasures that are hard to find?  The answer I believe is found in the word of God. One passage in Romans 12:9-17 particularly stands out for me. It reads;

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!!” (NLT)

If you and I would resolve to live out Romans 12:9-17, imagine how this world would glow. I want to be a treasure!!

Birthdays

1 Samuel 7:12
“…. Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

birthday-163362_1280

My little niece turned six last month. She celebrated most of her birthday at school and she seems to have had a fabulous day judging from the pictures and videos that I received. I even tried calling her later that evening to let her know I had been thinking of her but she was so tired from all the day’s excitement that she had gone to bed early. My sister says that before she went to bed she said, “mommy, thank you so much I had the best birthday.” That really warmed my heart. 

Now as I look back at my own life as a little girl I remember I would look forward to every birthday and would be counting down days as soon as a new year started. I could not wait to be older!! Fast forward a number of years later and I can honestly say that I do not always look forward to my birthdays. Certainly not with the same amount of zeal I had when I was my niece’s age. Is there somebody out there who can relate to what I am referring to? 

Why all this talk about birthdays? Well, tomorrow is the anniversary of my birth and on my way back from work this evening, instead of going through a pity party about my growing age I was overcome with so much gratitude as I looked back at what God had done for me throughout the year. I realised that contrary to how I may feel at times, my birthdays are very special blessings. There is so much more to be grateful for as we get older.

Birthdays can be a great opportunity to reflect and ponder upon the victories and the milestones we have encountered in the past. Have you ever looked back at your life and remembered some difficult situations and thought, wow, I got through.. here I am, still standing? As we look back at the past and what God has done for us, we can be strengthened to move ahead in the future even though our current situations may not appear to be favourable.  

Looking back at my past year, I am filled with so much gratitude. There were times in the year where I faced huge challenges and did not know the way forward but God sustained me. Thus far the Lord has brought me. Through the tears and the laughter, the setbacks and indeed the milestones that came when I least expected. Through the lonely moments and the moments I was surrounded by loved ones, through the victories and the disappointments God has kept me and for that I am really thankful. 

“We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history..”- Ellen G. White. 

May you find encouragement as you reflect on your past experiences and even so on your birthdays. I pray that that as you reflect you may find strength to go through each day with hope knowing the God who came through for you before is the same God yesterday, today and forever more, Amen.

Life Interrupted

winter-598632_960_720Imagine this; you  have been working really hard at work and have not taken a break at all since the beginning of the year. About eight months into the year, you decide you just need a break, so you talk to your boss about it and they agree to grant you some time off.

As the weeks go by, the excitement builds up and you are already building up a list of things you will do while on holiday right from day one.

Finally that long awaited day arrives and that morning you quickly notice that there is a thick blanket of fog in the air. You literally can not see beyond a few metres from where you are and as you get to the airport your fears are confirmed… all flights have been cancelled!!! It suddenly dawns on you!! You might not get to do all the things you were hoping to do while on holiday!! You might not even go!!

Sometimes in life, things do not go the way we plan and life seems to go on its own course, different from the one we would have chosen for ourselves. In my view, the Christmas story, as it is popularly known, is an example of a story that didn’t go as planned.. well at least for Mary and Joseph.

What we know about Mary and Joseph is that they were engaged to be married. A modern day Mary would have been picking out wedding venues, perhaps she would have already “Said Yes to the Dress” and counting down days to her big day. We are told that during this time, Mary got a visit from an Angel declaring that she would give birth to the Messiah who would save people from their sins. 

Mary and Joseph were not officially married yet. What would people around her say if they found out she was having a baby out of wedlock? What about all their big plans for their lives? What were people going to say about Joseph? Surely this would be disgraceful to her parents!! This was a mess!! Why would God interrupt their lives like this?

Well we do know that Mary gladly submitted to God’s plan and the Saviour of the universe was born. Yes, I can imagine her early days with Joseph were nowhere near what she had envisaged but God was with her and Joseph and led them every step of the way.

Sometimes when we give our lives to God, our lives seem to take off in scary and unfamiliar paths and quite frankly God seems to be interrupting our plans and making us uncomfortable in the process. Let us be encouraged by the story of Mary and Joseph as well as other stories in the bible that remind us that God sees the bigger picture, can do incredible things through us and will get us through those scary phases of our lives. Above all, may we find encouragement from the fact that God can be trusted.

Like Mary, may we find the courage to respond as she did in Luke 1:38 and say, “Here I am, the Lord’s humble servant. As you have said, let it be done to me.” 

Not Average

I have come to the conclusion that society has for the most part succeeded in detecting our image. It has detected what an ideal human being looks like, how they should behave, how they should dress etc. I have no idea who came up with these “ideals” but there is no denying they influence the way we view ourselves and others and they influence greatly our expectations.

Please explore this with me for a moment. Is there not a benchmark height, body or shoe size above or below which one starts to seem rather strange or abnormal? But what does one do if they don’t seem to fall within the acceptable norms that society has set? What does one do if one has a slightly bigger nose than everyone else or is always the shortest person in the room or of a bigger stature than everyone else?

If you always fit into the definition of what society views as normal, congratulations. You may continue reading but this particular blog is for someone who like me has those above or below average traits by societal measure.

I am 175cm tall – 5.9 feet so quite tall and some people have in the past said to me, “You are quite tall for a woman.” Yes from a very young age I towered over most of my female friends and some men too and I have received countless reminders from people, of how tall I am. Quite frankly for a significant part of my life, I despised my height but the sad thing is that I couldn’t change it. This was me!!  As I write this blog I can’t help but think that probably this is why cosmetic surgery is so rampant these days.

The fact is, there are things about us that we cannot change even though we may want to in order to fit in better but the irony of all this is that these are the very aspects that bring variety and make us even more unique. In Psalm 139, the Bible reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Mark this; even the things that make us feel as though we are not up to standard at times.

Daily I am learning that my value and worth are determined by God, the One who created me. It’s an uphill battle, lots of pep  talks that need to happen along the way – some days better than others, but it is true, God made me beautiful just as I am. He created you as well – beautiful/handsome and unique you, just as you are.

If you can take away anything from this blog let it be that God loves everything about you and loves you just the way you are. Some of the imperfections you may now have may have come about due to the unfair circumstances of life like accidents but even then, He still loves you unconditionally. This you can count on 100%.

 

The Bereans

As you may already know, part of a bank teller’s training involves learning to detect counterfeit money. This study involves studying the genuine notes. They feel the notes, analyse the print on them until they are very familiar with the real thing. They never study the counterfeit until they are familiar with the genuine. This is because one has to be familiar with the genuine before one can spot a counterfeit.

Similarly, there is a lot of information out there about God these days. Books, sermons, social media posts – you name them. This is great, but, unfortunately not all of this information is correct although some of it resembles the truth.

With this in mind, I believe there is a lot to learn from a group of people known as the Bereans. The Bereans were residents of a city called Berea in the Roman Empire. Berea is today known as Veria and is located in Northern Greece. According to Acts 17:11-12, the Bereans were noble in that they examined the Scriptures each day to see whether what they were being taught was true.

There is value in familiarising ourselves with the truth and we owe it to ourselves to know God for ourselves and be able to give a reason for our faith when asked. The word of God, the Bible, is the best book to turn to in order to know Him more. The Bible has been given by His inspiration. In this book, we find revealed, His character and His plans for humanity.

The Bereans were noble for studying the Bible for themselves. By doing so, they were able to decide if the information taught to them was truthful. I want to be like the Bereans, do you?

You can study the Bible and learn about God and His lovely character. Start with a small achievable goal e.g. 5-10 minutes of Bible reading each day. As you read, remember to ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and approach the word of God with eagerness, a willingness to be taught and open-mindedness. Ask for strength to live as God invites you to and ask Him to help you to be a blessing to someone today.

My prayer is that you and I will each day experience the freedom that comes from knowing and living out the truth. As the Bible says, “Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”