Friday 22 June 2018

The Ocean of Emotion - FMF

Five Minute Friday, this weeks prompt is "ocean," (totally love this prompt!) Go!

I struggle beneath the weight of emotion. Sometimes these emotions are anger, or anxiety, other times it's just a profound sense of hopeless or joy. Emotions are oceans and in a single drop of the ocean is a plethora of different things, but each thing has life. Life is everywhere, it's all around me, most of all it's within me, Life and this Life was manifest to give me sure abundant Life. In every emotion, there can be life, as it reveals something different beneath the surface.

I've grown aware of the fact that even anxiety is a way of communication. It's our heart saying something, it's our soul pointing to a real fear or thought or belief. Last week I was struck by fear at the thought of standing up in front of strangers and speaking on a unique idea I was nurturing. The fear left my chest tight. When I paused and prayed, inquiring of God as to my own emotion, He showed me what I was really facing. I wasn't scared of the speech or the people (I actually ended up really enjoying myself!), I was still dealing with pain from the way someone close to me had treated me a month ago. The pain translated in to a belief that said "people don't like you, they gonna pretend with you." This was part of the message I received from the month old argument. When I was finally able to realise that, I could go to that internal place with God and I could see life, oceans of life. Believing our Father has only our good at Heart means we can overcome the waves that overwhelm us if we but journey on a rugged ship to that place with Him. 

Linking with Five Minute Friday

Wednesday 25 April 2018

W.HO. - She was a Survivor and a Rebel

W.H.O is a series I do on my blog, where I highlight certain women from history who have made an impact on me. Most of them are unheard of or were immensely popular in their day, but have faded in to obscurity. It is my conviction that the her-stories of this world are more celebrated and told. So today I would like to introduce you to someone who is super fascinating and personally, very inspiring.

This past week, on the 19th of April the "world" remembers the tragic, but truly brave Warsaw Ghetto uprising during the second world war. Hitler and the Nazi's had built Jewish ghetto's throughout Poland from as early as 1939. Jewish ghetto's were formed to keep the Jewish people segregated from what was considered the pure "Aryan," chosen race of non - Jews, so that both Jews and non - Jews would not mingle, intermarry or even liase with one another. The warsaw ghetto was home to almost half a million Jews, who were imprisoned in an area that was 1.3 miles big! People died of starvation, malnutrition, and disease. Dozens of people were forced to live in single rooms together and the German army ran the ghetto like a prison. People were shot, abused and anyone who exercised sympathy towards the Jewish people were routinely killed along with their families. The Warsaw Ghetto was hell. Eventually in 1942, the Germans instituted what was called "the final solution." A diabolical plan to settle Jews in to concentration camps and eventually, kill them all. They vacated thousands of people from the Warsaw ghetto, and moved them to secret concentration camps. Seventy thousand people remained in the Ghetto, until certain people started hearing about the gassing of their families in concentration camps. Knowing their fate was sealed and not wanting to go down without a fight, a number of Jewish women and men formed an underground resistance group within the Ghetto. 

The resistance acquired arms, grenades and used the sewer system in the ghetto as bunkers. They distributed leaflets to their Jewish brethren and they armed themselves with the "chutzpah" to fight the Germans, even if it cost them their lives. As the sun rose on the 19th of April over the dirty, grey, dilapidated buildings in the Warsaw Ghetto, a german commander tried to lead his troops in to the ghetto to export the remaining Jews to the death camps. Shoots fired out, rifles bit the air, grenades blew dust and concrete everywhere and the resistance began firing at the Germans. Shocked and aghast, Germans soldiers were wounded and some were killed.

One of the founding members and high commander of the Jewish resistance group was a dark haired, Polish activist Zivia Lubetkin. She was the only female leader of the resistance group and she shot at the Germans with fearlessness. She protected the people under her and led them through the sewers and bunkers as they fought and held off the Germans for close to 3 weeks. The Germans were shocked at how long they Jews who were scantily armed and physically weak, could hold them off for so long. With woudned pride and bitter hatred, the commander ordered his men to smoke out the sewers and to blow up the buildings one by one. More then 7000 people were killed, over 57000 were taken to concentration camps, but Zivia and 9 others in the movement escaped through a tunnel and continued her resistance activities outside of Warsaw. One of the other commanders of the resistance movement was Yitzhak Zuckerman, a man who worked as an activist alongside Zivia since their youth. The two of them eventually married and became operatives, helping smuggle European Jews in to Israel (which was then called Mandate Palestine). Together, Zivia and Yitzhak and their fellow resistance members, established and built a Kibbutz in Northern Israel with a museum dedicated to the story of the Warsaw Ghetto resistance members. 

Zivia's life story really inspires me. To stand up against a highly established army of bloodthirsty Hitler soldiers armed with small pistols and vastly outnumbered, reminds me of the biblical stories in the book of Judges. When I first took my husband to the Holocaust Center in Cape Town, it was the pictures and the stories of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that really had his interest. "Do you think we would have resisted?" he asked me. I would like to think so. Zivia fought for the rights and freedom of others, and she worked to this end alongside a man who shared the same values for justice and activism. That's rare and something worth noting. They also stayed married until they both passed away, but both left behind a legacy that has gone down in the history books. The warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the largest Jewish uprising within the Hitler war, and it inspired large number of youth outside of Warsaw, to do the same. Yitzhak himself said that "this was a war of less than a thousand people against a mighty army and no one doubted how it was likely to turn out." Zivia and her resistance group knew the outcome would probably not be in their favour, but they stood up and did something about their situation. They did not go quietly like lambs to the slaughter, they fought for a greater reality. 

As if the story couldn't get any better, their grand daughter Roni Zuckerman became the very first female fighter pilot in the Israeli Defense Force, 17 years ago. You go girl! Their fighting spirit lives on, passed from generation to generation. This is the legacy of those who stand up to free others, the kind of legacy and spirit we can pass on to those of our family members, our children, grandchildren, godchildren and spiritual children. May it be so! I'm grateful for the legacy of Zivia and for what she did, she continues to inspire, even today.

Wednesday 4 April 2018

The Promised Pain

I’ve been in pain for a while, dealing with the confusion of life and the anger that comes through disappointments and grief. Days can be hard, some days are easier then others. But pain, it’s real. No one can share another hearts pain, only a single heart knows its own suffering, its own lament and its experiences. That leads to emotional exhaustion sometimes and its heavy. And its lonely.

This week I was tired of the lonely and decided to bravely mention to someone (on a surface level), that I was hurting inside. I got the response I expected to get. I got the Christian response, the believers response, the how – to response that modern day first world, comfortable Christianity has taught its followers to do. And do it well, that they do. It begins with “oh I’m so sorry you going through this. I’ll pray for you, just trust in Jesus.” Cue the eye roll right here.

I push the pause button on this response and on my own life to logically evaluate the situation. Am I trusting in the Saviour to guide my every step… absolutely! Am I still a sold out Jesus Freak that spends copious amounts of time clinging to His robe… you better believe it! Have I let go… never. Have I stayed the course… my ships rudder knows no other course then Yeshua. Am I a mature believer, God has told me so. And am I faithful in the suffering… I still try to be. Am I still ministering Gods Holy Word with awe and Spirit filled truth… absolutely. Am I wholehearted like Caleb was in the wilderness… yes and amen. I have no other life outside of the Messiah. So am I still trusting, of course I am. So stop telling me to trust God, because you have no idea how hard it is to trust the Invisible Most High, when you’re in a cave of darkness.

This response from “well meaning,” believers has become what we expect from Christians, that’s a sad fact but it’s true. I’ve personally found more space for pain outside of religious circles, then I have inside those circles. And I believe that this comes down to two realities, firstly modern-day Christianity in general, has trained us to be first world in our mindset. IN many cultures we have been taught to avoid pain and suffering, or growth through heartache and sorrow, instead we are taught to have our best life now. Or to pray and claim blessings from the sky, to pray the Jabez prayer (which interestingly enough was rooted in pain by the way but no one teaches you that!), or to pop a pill and forget the pain. My mom works for a medical doctor and she tells me there are more people on prescription drugs then ever before. Everyone is trying to numb the pain, instead of facing it. We’ve become societies of people who are fearful to deal with our disappointments, our failures, our broken dreams, our crisis of faith or our wounded souls. We’ve been trained through media, television, our books and sadly from the pulpit, to believe that the Christian life will bring no suffering only releasing of blessing. We’ve been taught to steer clear of the pain of life and pursue everything in our own strength, with optimal outcome of riches, status, followers and happiness. But happiness has never come to those who pursued such a lifestyle.

Secondly, what our responses to pain teach us is merely that we are uncomfortable with the pain of others. People treat emotional pain in others like a disease. Years ago there were billboards signs up on the side of the road here in South Africa which read “if you touch someone with HIV you will not get AIDS.” You see people were so afraid of getting the virus they were isolating family members and friendships, going so far as to not eat from the same dish or shake their hand. I cannot help but feel Christians treat their spiritual family in the same manner. The only reason we give quick answers like “trust Jesus,” is because deep down that person feels helpless in the face of pain. When we become comfortable with our pain, we become open to other people’s experiences of pain. As a therapist I was forced to face the fears I carried of hurting people. I will be the first to admit that when I started seeing trauma patients in 2009, I was petrified of pain. I felt inadequate to deal with the brokenness of this world. But it was only once I faced my own, did I become comfortable with pain and with the fact that I didn’t have the answers for hurting people. I didn’t have the answers for people who lost their children in car accidents, or for the woman whose husband was having an affair. Or for the family who lost a son at 18 years old. I still don’t, but all I now understand we have to do, is practice what I’ve now come to call hugging and holding presence.

I don’t have a disease because I’m broken, so don’t apologise for my pain. Rather, be present, be quiet and really try be a God fragrance. Hug if someone wants it or needs it, don’t be stoic and hold your tongue while being present. 

Our response to pain is in opposition to the biblical, Middle Eastern view of suffering. When suffering, David screamed and shouted, wept and beat his breast with truths like “God why have you forsaken me!” or “why do the wicked prosper and I waste away!” He never hid anything from the Almighty and because he was so real and transparent with his emotional pains, with his disappointments and confusion, God met David every time. That’s why his Psalms would change from psalms of lament to momentary hope. Research tells us that psalms of Lament make up for 30% of the psalms, yet none of them are used frequently in Church liturgy. Lamenting and being present in pain are large parts of the individual and communal experience in the Old Testament. When the people of God went in to exile, the prophet Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations. Pain is present throughout the biblical narratives and the expression of that pain is something to learn from.

I feel we have begun to ignore the promise of pain which will come in different ways and forms to people because we are all mortal, frail and deeply complex emotionally, spiritually and mentally. We weren’t promised smooth sailing, but we were promised smooth landing. Our future is secure in Yeshua, our faith steady, our victory will come and there is hope this side of eternity. We become active in that hope when we can be real with our own pain, creating safe spaces and being a safe space for another to rest and find comfort. Enough with the answers, enough with the clich├ęs, its hurts even more when someone looks down at you for your brokenness, or when someone speaks to you in a way that makes you feel like a baby believer who has lost faith. Elijah waited a long time by a small brook with heartache and depression. Moses walked 40 years with a heart filled of mourning and disappointment. Yeshua wept and bled tears of blood, pleading for the coming suffering to pass. David clung to wet rocks in a cave, alone, broken hearted and afraid. Paul faced discouragement and confusion when locked away in a prison cell, unable to go on those fruitful mission trips that had defined his life. Mary’s soul was crushed and her pain unbearable when she watched her innocent son crucified as a criminal, yet he was innocent. Their pains were not a result of sin or lack of trust, these pains came because it was part of life. So the next time someone you know is broken, hurting, confused, angry, anxious or depressed, don’t given an easy answer, evaluate your motives and learn there is no problem in feeling pain.

Friday 9 March 2018

Pushing Against it - FMF

Five Minute Friday writing. Go!

I'm tired and as I say the words vapour escapes my soul as I confess the words. Tired of fighting my own fear, fed up with the sudden chaos and thoughts about my own calling as a writer. I've laid it down just to feel it snap at my heels again. A simple article used to take me a few hours and now, days go by and I add only paragraph or a single sentence.

I know these accusations at my writing may be part from the enemy, or maybe even part from me. Dissapointments and arrows have been flung at me the past few months, so maybe it's natural to feel this way and struggle to wipe the residue from this mind. I've laid it down, forgiven, let go, but still I'm not left with others opinions, but now I'm left with my own. And that is not even my own, the enemy seems to be using these past nasties against me. Not good enough. But how can that be, when this is who Father created me to be! I just want to overcome because I'm tired of living defeated in this area. And the truth is, it's a choice that I know, but to push against such thoughts with turbulent might, it's tiresome. All I can do here is pray and say "Abba please deliver me!"

Linking with Five Minute Friday

Monday 5 March 2018

When I Looked at You

16 years ago on a Tuesday, I woke up, rubbed my sleepy eyes and dressed for school. I dont remember much about the classes, all I remember was thinking  about the dance club I was going to on Friday night with my friends and the guy I liked. Life was normal and empty. Until Bible period, back when they still allowed religious education in school. A youth pastor came and preached a message of challenge and truth. I broke, the Holy Spirit moved my heart and I saw myself as I was, an unclean sinner. I stood up when he made the altar call. Confessed my Saviour Jesus and felt the weight of my dirt covered body in its sin. I wept. All I could do way say the name Jesus over and over again. 13:30.

The class ended, I dried my eyes, changed. I wondered through the hall to my next class and felt radically different and almost out of place. God is good. I walked in to my computer class, 3 of my class mates and my teacher were Christians. As they entered the class I told them " I got saved!" And they started shouted and praising God, I was filled with uncontainable, unnameable joy. The teacher chided us for being so loud, "Teacher," my one friend said, "she got saved!" He excused us from the class and we went to stand in the passage. Revival worship broke out as 4 girls danced in the hall. Two of them had been praying for me, before I even got saved, they would become instrumental in my life. 

The next day, it was the entire matric class bible period. A dark haired man with a goatie shared about God and an unsaved friend pulled me along to go speak with him. I was still trying to find my way now that I was saved. I didnt know what I was suppose to it. She spoke to him and he invited us to a cell group meeting that night. I went, she stopped going. That guy became my mentor for 3 years. Just God. He was sold out, passionate and on fire, through his life and passion for God, I learnt hunger and identity. 

I left my old life behind, little by little. I lost all my friends and gave up the guy I was casually seeing. But the love, and depth, the Feeling of God, the Touch of God, the Love of God it was more than enough. Five months later I wore a cross on my head to my matric dance (prom), and two of my athiest friends I kept loving after I got saved, they smiled when I walked in. They grabbed me with a big hug and someone took a photo. That photo I treasure, for the fearlessness I had in continuing to speak Gods love in a way that still left people loving me. My words were offensive with truth, but my heart not. I was brave enough to wear my faith out in the open, not just among the religious or the saved. I was tough enough to lose the friends I loved, surrendered enough to break music cd's that God convicted me of. I was somehow weak but strong enough in Christ to let go of the hand of a man I had secretly liked for months and somehow managed to snag. I was tall enough within to believe that no matter what happened God had a plan. My future felt secure. My life felt mapped. I was still a mess inside, still wounded, broken and fleshly, that's the journey. The journey towards holiness and sanctification, the letting go of endless things. The pursuit of Yeshua and His Beautiful call. A walk that began when a Relentless, Loving, Compassionate powerful God pursued me, and never gave up on me. I'm so grateful, still in awe and ever more committed than before. Thank You Yeshua!

 "when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine."
Ezekiel 16:8

Friday 23 February 2018

There's Beauty Here - FMF

Five Minute Friday. Go!

The Good Shepherd, He leads. Walks. Stops to stare at the birds over head and the magnificent glint of silver in the pools at the waters edge.
Us. Looking ahead, isn't there a mountain to climb somewhere. A place to walk through? A place to make it through. Looking back towards where He stands, still resting with a smile and hands behind His back. I think He knows something. 

Come on, Come on! I hear myself and us both saying. Come here, he says calmly. Sigh. There's no hurry for the Good Shepherd. But isnt there a mountain to climb, uncomfortable feelings to get rid of and life to live. This is life, He smiles, now joined at the pool.

He takes my hand (and the hands of all who would allow Him to enter their heart in to a slow rest). I peer down to where He gazes, water ripples dance across tiny stones and a brown bed beneath see through water, struck by beauty. This life, He muses, is lived here. Not on the top of the mountain at the end of anxiety, or hustle, or lifes tugging hurriedness. Life is here, in the clearing where water runs and the Shepherd sits and gazes. Here, right here in rest. A walk, not a gallop or a run, but a walk encompassed by the Hebrew word halacha. For every woman and man of God had their halacha with God, not a run, but a walk. So let's walk Good Shepherd, Good Father of us all. 

Linking with Five Minute Friday

Hey I'm writing today over at Off the Page, about a gold rimmed book I met at 6 years old and how it changed my life.... Join me! The Gold - Tipped Book

Friday 16 February 2018

For a While - FMF

Five Minute Friday writing Prompt, 5 minutes Unedited! Go!

I've had more "why's over the past few months than I have for a long time. Why's that happen from deep within, from disappointment, heartache, crisis and dashed hopes or dreams. In my why's and waiting, I've noticed how often we approach God with a "search engine," mentality. We expect quick answers and yes, no realities and oh how I wish that was the case sometimes! Yet, I'm learning through my current wilderness season, that waiting's and why's can open a pathway where God's voice really does become clearer, and His answers and words are not always yes or no about what seems to be, our foremost questions of mind. But His answers are truth and the truth really does set us free. Sometimes Father's truth and the words He tells us seem to be bad tasting medicine in our mouths, because in that moment it's not really what we want to hear, but we learn that the bad tasting stuff is often the most effective. Through the why's, I'm also learning deeply in a very real way, that community can be pretty uplifting. I'm also comforted by the reality that we received 5 different calls this week from different families asking us for guidance on their current seasons of "why." Gosh, their questions and feelings mirror our own right now. So instead of giving advice, we simply sit together, even over the phone and tell each other "hey, I don't know what you should do, or why this is, but I'm your friend, you can lean on me, let's just be together in this." God is with us and He will never leave us, of this I am sure, and when the why, turns to "oh that's why," then we will at last understand or maybe we will have become stronger through the journey...

Linking with Five Minute Friday 

Friday 19 January 2018

Dreaming - FMF

Five Minute Friday Writing, 5 minutes, unedited! GO!

For the passed two days I've had the lyrics from Tangled stuck in my head. The part where she goes in to the Snuggly Duckling and finally implores them all to find their humanity and help her live her lifelong dream. Then a great song busts out and I'm left thinking about the man with the hook who wants to be a concert pianist. It goes like this;

I've always yearned to be a concert pianist
Can'tcha see me on the stage performin' Mozart?
Tickling the ivories 'til they gleam?
Yep, I'd rather be called deadly
For my killer show-tune medley
Thank you!
'Cause way down deep inside
I've got a dream."

I get excited talking about dreams even though I'm currently meandering through a dry season of deciphering my own God - dreams which somehow seem to be in a drought. However, dreams are important, they are visions, glimpses in to our hearts, pieces of our purpose and our passion. They are sign posts, keys to unlock doors of destiny. Most of all I truly believe that when we walk with God He places amazing dreams within us, just so we can find ourselves. One thing I've learned about dreams though, is that they are intentional, they seem more beautiful, ethereal and wispy when we are dreaming them, but the intentional hard wok can some times make the dreams seem, not so wispy. But to get out of the boat, and to allow ourselves the joy and the hardwork of dreaming, I think that's one of the beautiful things that makes life worth living. 


Linking with Five Minute Friday

Friday 5 January 2018

It's not gonna go that Way - FMF

Five Minute Friday - Yey! 2018! First one for the year, writing on the word "motivate!" Let's Go!

I'm not a fan of new years resolutions, I've never made them and I never will I believe. But I did feel excited to enter in to the new year, I continually felt Abba Father tell me that it would be a year of incredibly good things. I was motivated, focussed and ready to begin, then we adopted kittens!
In November 2016, my beautiful cat of 16 years old passed away, it was a really hard time and it took an entire year to heal that space. I started thinking about that space in my heart the one that feels like a cat shaped hole. And then our local animal shelter was having a kitten adoption day and we went to look. Long story short, we adopted 2 great 10 week old brothers, but it's been challenging. Really like having babies in our home, and yes I've cried, not ashamed to admit that. And thought how am I going to stay focussed, moticated and able to study this year (I'm going back to school!!) with this. And then God..... that's like me saying and then God stepped in to all my tears and fears. He led me around the Bible and then to Moses leading his father - in - laws sheep through the wilderness. God whispered hey "Abel, the patriarchs, Moses, Jacob and his sons, they all cared for animals and it taught them to be leaders who serve me, and who can lead people. When you can love an animal, you can better the world." 

God is so good! My home feels a lot more complete with them here, and I'm learning a lot, a whole lot! Life isn't always going to go dead smooth as you'd like it to go, but I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to, because how would we ever learn and how would we ever be partnering deeper with God, to better this broken world! 

OH my gosh, when I looked at my blog I realised the very last post I wrote was about wanting a cat! I didn't get those kittens on the farm, praise God that He knew better! But hey seems He was preparing my heart all along, wow! Here's that short post: This Familiar Fear 

Linking this week with  Five Minute Friday