Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Lockdown, Day 27 - The Apple

Last night I made us an ordinary meal of chicken, rice , potatoes and a salad.  It was nothing fancy, but it was wholesome and good.  My family swiped it. They loved it.  They appreciated the warm plate of food and one another's company around the dinner table.  In that moment I was intensely aware of what a privilege it was to share a meal together and to even have food to eat.  We take things for granted so easily.  This period of lock-down  has certainly sensitized us to everything we have to be grateful for.  Even a trip to the store is no longer just something we do without much thought, no, it has become an event to be planned and carefully executed.  Freedom has been merely a thought other people fought for and which we simply took for granted. Now, we appreciate every moment when we can leave our houses and we long for church gatherings.

I want to share this message with you about the tenth apple.  Just click on the link below:

Monday, 20 April 2020

Lockdown, Day 25 - Praise

Today is a beautiful, sunny autumn day.  It is almost easy to forget about the difficult times the whole world is experiencing at the moment.  Many people are suffering illness, despondency and worry is consuming their every thought.  It is easy to get so wrapped up in fear and anxiety that we are unable to see beyond the darkness.  However, if we want to at all find our way out of the maze of despair it is important that we shift our focus.  Today I would like to share with you some music to help you to find a new perspective and to lift your spirit.  Just click on the link below.  As you listen I pray that you will be blessed with peace and hope.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Lock-Down, Day 20 - A Beautiful Mind

This morning I woke up to a quiet, misty morning.  I made myself a cup of steaming coffee and sat down at my desk.  I marveled at the silence.  It was as if the mist acted like a sound barrier.  I could just hear the whisper of birds twittering as if they were far away in a land of wonder and their song just managed to filter through a small fissure.  In that moment I was transported to long ago days, when I would be the first person at the ice-rink and a dreamlike mist would float on top of the ice.  Soon skaters would fill up the space dancing like waif-like dream-creatures through the haze. My friend and I would often spend most of the day in this wonderland.
These thoughts lifted my spirits and I could almost smell the wet, magical air of those times.

This brings me to another magical thing - the magic of thoughts.  Yesterday I was decidedly blue.  No matter how hard I tried I could not drag myself out of the mire.  I tried to smile, but it never reached my eyes. If I had wings they would surely have dragged limp and heavy behind me, flight would have been impossible.  The reason for this, however, had only one source.  My thoughts.  You see, nothing changed in my life.  I did not feel sick, the current lock-down situation did not get worse or more difficult and none of my circumstances changed.  It was simply my thoughts.  My focus changed.  I allowed my thoughts to stray and soon my mood followed.

People are living in fear every day..  They worry about what would happen if a nuclear bomb were to be deployed or if a meteor were to collide with earth. They fear disease, drought and hunger.  They worry about the education system, the rise of gangs and the effects of drug abuse on our youngsters.  While these are valid fears and worries, there is one thing more powerful than all of these.  It is the power of our thoughts.  Thoughts have the power to create.  Thoughts can give manifestation to the greatest evil or the greatest good.  They have the power to transform our lives.  

William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, said that the discovery of the power of our thoughts will prove to be the most important discovery of our time. The problem is that most of us do not realize this.  We seldom think about the consequences of our thoughts, oblivious that each thought is steering our lives in some direction or another.  When we grasp this concept we begin to realize how important it is to take control of our thoughts.  Changing our thought patterns does take effort and it does not just happen easily.  They have been formed over many many years, and have literally become a highway, our thoughts easily take the well prepared path. 

So how do we go about changing our way of thinking?
Firstly, we need to re-adjust our perspective, our way in which we view our lives.  In Romans 12:2 we are reminded to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds.  We have to clear our minds of our preconceived ideas and expectations.  We have to rid our thoughts of our habitual negativity and small thinking.  Negativity is a black hole which sucks the life out of everything.

Secondly, we need to learn to focus our thoughts.  One of the best ways to do this is to determine what your goals are. It is important to set goals which are important to YOU.  We will never achieve our goals if they are somebody else's goals for us.  Once you have determined your goals it is equally important to focus your time and energy on achieving these goal.  Without focus your goals will just stay something which you have written on a piece of paper or day-dreamed about.

Next, in order to help you with your focus you need a plan.  How are you going to achieve your goals?  What steps do you need to take and what resources do you need to make your goals a reality.  Once you have done the planning it is equally important to manage your time effectively.  The difference between a daydream and reality is taking action.  Managing your time will help you to take action at the appropriate time and doing it constantly.  

Throughout all of this it is important to guard your mind against negative thoughts.  It is easy to slip into bad thinking habits such as, "This is impossible", "I can't possibly do this", ""I am not talented enough", "This could never work", "It is too hard", etc.  Watch out for the Procrastination thief too.  He loves to whisper in our ears that there is still plenty of time to achieve our goals, and that tomorrow is a better time to start.  Funny thing about tomorrow...

I leave you with this quote:

“How we think not only affects our own spirit, soul, and body but also people around us.”
― Caroline Leaf, Switch On Your Brain

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Lock-Down, Day 19 - All in good Time

Today, sitting here at my desk and watching the rain pour down, I am thinking about the situation in which the whole world is finding themselves.  We are all experiencing the effect of the Covid-19 disease in one form or another.  Many countries around the globe are in Lock-Down. We are all worried and wondering when this will all be over.  Many people are so fed-up with the situation that  they even disobey the rules and ignore the laws regarding the lock-down.  And, although  I think that their behaviour is selfish, I can also understand their actions.  This reminded me of a story I have been told a very long time ago.  I would like to share it with you.

A little boy was walking along and in the veld he found a cocoon. He picked it up and noticed that on the inside there was a butterfly struggling to come out. He immediately took out his pocket knife and cut the cocoon open. Very proud of himself, he helped the butterfly out and placed it on the nearest flower. However, instead of spreading its wings to fly off, it fluttered weakly for a few moments and then fell over and died. Dismayed the little boy ran home and told his father about the incident. The father explained to the little boy that the butterfly needed to struggle its own way out of the cocoon in order to grow its wings strong enough to survive. When the time was right, it would have emerged from the cocoon, delicate yet strong. 

This story makes me think of us. We are in a difficult situation, we are waiting for a miracle, a cure. Many are fighting against the bonds which bind them and want to break free before the time is right. Some want to just give up,but it is in the struggle, in overcoming, that our strength lies. We just have to be patient, one day at a time. The butterfly is exquisitely and perfectly created by God, and the inborn struggle it has to go through is also part of God's perfect plan, it serves a divine purpose. When the time is right, God's plan will reveal itself to us, and looking back we will all be able to see how it all worked together to complete the picture. Without that time spend in the cocoon, the struggle towards freedom, the caterpillar would forever stay just that, a caterpillar. In Jer. 29: 11 the Lord promises that He has plans for us, plans that we may prosper, not plans to harm us, but when the time is right, His perfect time......
So, Dearheart, just hang in there, this too shall pass, and we will be stronger for it.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Lock-Down, Day 11 - A Simple Life

I think that there are very few people on this earth who have not been affected by the current Covid-19 situation.  When we switch on the radio or TV we are bombarded by the newest stats and endless discussions about the virus.  Every part of society has been affected by it.  Many countries are in various stages of lock-down.  However, despite the obvious difficulties, the current situation is not totally devoid of good.  For one thing, we are learning how to reconnect with our families and our loved ones.  For many people it is the time to reassess their lives, their marriages, their families and their priorities.  Despite the stress life has become simpler.

Living a simpler life has many advantages.  When we live simply we tend to take better care of ourselves and our loved ones.  We are healthier and less stressed.  We have more time to reconnect with other people and less stuff to take care of.

So, how does one live more simply?  Here are five areas where 
I thought I should de-clutter:

1. My Time
Our diaries are often so full that every line has been filled in.  Meetings at such and such a time, committees we have to attend, church events we have to organize, the PTA, the community fundraiser, etc, etc.  
our time is spread as thin as the butter on an end-of-the-month toast!  In fact, our Time account is seriously in the red.  If this is true for you, then you have to take a hard look at all your commitments.  Weigh each one up against your core values and those of your family.  Is it really important to serve on the committee of Better-Gardens-For-Badgers or would the time be better spent going on a picnic with your children?  Cut down on all the commitment which are not in line with your values.

2. My Possessions
This is a tough one as we all tend to be very attached to our possessions.  However, do I really need towels in every shade of the rainbow and more?  Could I maybe donate some to the homeless shelter or perhaps send them to the charity that makes teddy bears from scrap fabric?  It is amazing what the effect is upon the psyche when you start to de-clutter your personal space.  You suddenly discover the joy of living with less.

3. My Thoughts
Every action starts with a thought.  A thought not only gives birth to an action, but it also conjures up emotions.  Emotions such as fear, hatred or bitterness clutter up our lives and poison our minds.  Therefore it is important to rid our thoughts of negativity, to learn to forgive and to forget.  We must replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts and ideas.

4. My Goals
This is one I really have trouble with!  There are so many things which I would like to do and things that I am interested in.  However, it is important to make a list of your goals and then to pick the two you would most like , or benefit from, to accomplish.  Having too many goals to achieve is like trying to shoot at a target with a shotgun.  You might hit it, but you are more likely to make a mess of it.  When you choose fewer goals you will be more focused and have a greater success rate.  Once you have accomplished one of your goals you can get another one to take its place.

5.  My Want-To-Have List
Another difficult one.  Especially if you view shopping as therapy!  It is great to shop, but in all honesty, do I really need another vase, another black skirt, another set of glasses, etc?  The answer is clear and concise: No.  End of story.  Now, to just get THAT into my head.

And then I realized...
watching another news bulletin,

"more than 70 000 people have lost their lives to the virus"

living simply is wonderful, it is a gift

no meetings or committees means I have more time with my family, my husband;
I have more than enough, I have a roof over my head, a warm bed, a bath, enough to eat;
I have love in my heart and I am overwhelmed by gratefulness;
my goal is simply this, to live a simple live with kindness
and I have want for nothing more than family, friends, health, love and joy. 

Be blessed, dear readers.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Lock-Down, Day 7 - Something Different

It is day 7 of our Lock-Down, whoo-hoo, a third of the way done and dusted, congratulations, you have done it and that without strangling anybody!  It is quite cool and windy today, but it is atill a beautiful day.  it is another day to be alive, to breathe, love and rejoice!  I had a down day yesterday and when I did some stocktaking at bedtime I realized that it was all because of a lack of planning.  You see failing to plan can only guarantee one thing and that is a plan to fail. Don't get me wrong, I am all for being spontaneous, but even spontaneity requires a wee bit of planning.  Yesterday I made no plans, I had no guideline as to how to spent my time and without knowing it I set myself up to feeling despondent.  So this morning bright and early I got my duck in a row and I feel much better already!  But, what is there to do during a lock-down, I can hear you exclaim.  Well there is always de-cluttering (done), deep-cleaning the kitchen (done), reading a book which I never seem to have time for (tick that one) or catching up on movies or TV series (how much TV DO you want me to watch?).  So, you've done the obvious things, now what?
Well this is where you have to start thinking out of the box.  Try to get away from the usual things you want to do or like to do.  Instead come up with an alternative list. Be as wild and wacky as you can think of being.
So here are some of my thoughts:
a. Dress up to the nines, set a table out in your yard and have a three course meal, but start with dessert.  Oh, and remember the photos.
b. Climb onto the roof and watch the sunset/sunrise or have a picnic.
c.  Dress up as a superhero, no this is not just the kids, it is especially for adults!
d.  Get together with your family members, also those staying far away and write a murder mystery together.
e.  Learn to dance the foxtrot.
f. Walk backwards for the entire day.
g.  Learn ten basic sentences of a new language and only use those sentences for the whole day.
h. Play Monopoly in the opposite direction, Pictionary in charades mode or strip-poker but dress-up instead.
i. Write inspiring notes and catapult them all over your close neighbourhood.
j. Set about creating a new world record in something obscure: 
tallest hat -15ft9inches
most consecutive pinky pull-ups - 36
longest plank position - 8hrs15min15sec

There you have some of my ideas.  How about adding some of your own and make this time a time to remember!  Be well, stay safe.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Lock-Down, Day 6 - Good Night

Today was not such a good day for me.  It is as if the light was a little dimmer, my sighs a little heavier and the air a bit thicker.  Of course I am feeling so guilty about this, as my life is filled with  wonderful blessings.  My family and friends are all healthy, everyone in my household is well and we have a home and all our needs met.  Yet my heart is feeling just that bit heavier than normal.  I am usually a "find the silver edge" type of a person, eternally positive and optimistic, so what is up?  I am not quite sure.  Maybe it is all the sadness in the world, the constant awareness of people suffering the world over or maybe it is the shadow of fear in the back of my mind.  A fear that I do not want to even give words to.  Have you ever felt like this, or are you maybe feeling like this at this very moment?  Then I want to reassure you, as well as myself, that it is okay to feel like this.  It is okay not to always feel on top of the world, it is okay to sometimes feel as if you want to hide somewhere away from all of this. I am reminded of this verse in the Bible:

Psalm 91:4
He will cover you with His feathers; under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and rampart.

The Lord understands our uncertainties and our worries.  He knows about our unspoken fears and He hears the prayers we do not even have words for to whisper.  He promises to cover us with His feathers and He promises us a refuge with and in Him.

It is okay to be silent, to be still and gather yourself.  It is often in this silence that we can hear the voice of the Lord clearer, and He says:

John 14:27 (NKJV)

 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
When you go to bed tonight, do not be afraid, find refuge in the knowledge that the Lord will never forsake you, and be still in His presence.

Good night, dear heart.