Saturday, 29 December 2018

Two Thousand and Eighteen - Six Things I Learnt This Year

As the year of two thousand and eighteen draws to a close, I have been pondering the things I have learnt over the past twelve months...

Here are my top six...

This year I learnt how to say no and how to set boundaries in place to avoid being burnt out or hurt.
Initially I felt almost guilty having to tell someone I wouldn't be able to help them out or couldn't make a get together...  But over time, as I began to see the positive results of pacing myself and prioritizing, taking time to think carefully about something before giving an answer became quite natural.

I learnt that broadening my horizons quite literally - meeting new people, trying new things...seeing new places, is not as scary as I once thought it to be.  
I am actually quite a cautious person and struggle with fear of the unknown.  However, this year taught me to get out of my comfort zone and take a leap of faith.
And with each new experience, my confidence grew...
My trip to China back in June boosted my confidence levels enormously...  You can read more about my trip here.

I learnt that I am a people person and actually feel energised by being around others.
If I cast my mind back to the beginning of this year, I am surprised at the tremendous change that took place somewhere along the line...
I went from being shy and nervous around people I didn't know, to actually enjoying striking up a conversation with a someone I had only just met!

 I have met some amazing people this year and formed some special friendships along the way...

I also learnt that I need peace and quiet and time on my own to be refreshed.
It is good to come away from the noise and busyness of life every so often to be refreshed and have time for deep reflection.  
I realised that when I am constantly on the go and surrounded by people, my passion for the Lord diminishes.  
I need time with Him every day...time to quench my thirsty soul so I can better serve Him by serving others.

I learnt that I am a creative soul and find true satisfaction and delight in working with my hands. 
Creativity is in my blood.  It is who I am.
I need to work with my in the garden...busy in the home or in the kitchen...or at my sewing machine...  
And this is how I enjoy serving and blessing is my love language.

I learnt that no matter what I walk through, the Lord is by my side.
This was another challenging year for our family with my dad still living and working overseas.
In August my mom and five younger siblings were able to join my dad in China, leaving my sister and I to establish a life for ourselves here in South Africa.
At times the pain of missing the people I love most and the difficulty of trying to navigate through life on our own threatened to overwhelm and swallow me whole.
And yet...even on those incredibly dark days when I was sure I was drowning...I saw light at the end of the tunnel.

I know that the Lord is on my side and by my side every step of the way and I cling to the promise that His grace is sufficient and that His strength is made perfect in weakness.

And there you have it...six things of the many things I learnt this year...

Now it is your turn...
What did you learn about yourself this year that will help you going into the new year?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below...I would love to hear from you!

Blessings in Christ,

Pictures taken in July while we were in Cape Town to apply for visas...  
We spent a day visiting our favourite places in Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Patience in Affliction...

 How does one have patience in times of affliction??  This was the question running through my mind when I found myself awake at 4:00 this morning…

One of my favourite verses is Romans 12:12…

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.”

I have always found it immensely encouraging in times of difficulty…  But if I had to share it with someone, how would describe having patience in tribulation?

For those who have accepted Christ as their Saviour and experienced His saving grace, we rejoice because of the hope we have in Jesus and what His death on the cross did for us.  And we know that the difficulties we face here on this fallen earth are only temporal.  As believers, we strive to keep an eternal perspective so that the troubles that come our way do not discourage us from the end prize – a life forever spent worshipping in the presence of our King. 

‘PATIENT “denotes not a passive putting up with things, but an active, steadfast endurance.’

~ Morris

As believers we are exhorted to steadfastly endure the trials that come our way…

You need to persevere, so that after you have done God’s will, you will receive what He has promised.”

~ Hebrews 10:36

But how do we do this?  I believe that it is by drawing near to the Lord and being firmly rooted in His Word, seeking Him on a daily basis for new strength and courage…
I believe it is also by, “Continuing instant in prayer.”
From my own experience I have found that it is not in times of plenty that I am nearest to the Lord, but rather in times of great need.  He is my only source of strength and I find my comfort in Him.

A mind that has single and prevailing regard to its spiritual and eternal interest, and that keeps steady in its purposes for God, will grow wise by afflictions, will continue fervent devotion, and rise above trials and oppositions.

~ Matthew Henry Commentary

We should not pray so much for the removal of affliction, as for the wisdom to make right use of it.”

~ Matthew Henry Commentary

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.”

~ James 1:4

I do not know why we have to face difficulties and sometimes endure extreme trials, but I do know this and can attest to it through past experiences…
Trials do produce patience and difficulties come to grow us, stretch us and draw us closer to Christ, fashioning us into His likeness.

My family have walked through a number of storms these past few years, some of which I have written about here.  Many days we felt as if we simply could not take one more step.  Our hearts were weary and our bodies weak. 
But in those moments of complete vulnerability, we saw the Lord work. 
He lifted us up, dusted us off and set us on the path once again.  He didn’t necessarily relieve of us the trial or difficulty. 
He didn’t immediately wipe away the pain and sorrow.  But He did renew our strength. 
He drew us closer to Himself, encouraged our tired and weary hearts and refreshed our minds with His Word.

Dear friend!  In times of trouble…on the days when patience is not a word you can even understand or bear to hear, take heart.  He is with you and He loves you. 
He is walking right beside through this trial and whispering words of comfort to your heart. 
Still the wild beating of your heart and listen. 
Take comfort in His Word and find your refuge in His everlasting arms…

And be encouraged!  Jesus said in John 16:33, These things I have spoken to unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In this world ye shall have tribulation:  but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

I wanted to share this wonderfully encouraging sermon by Charles Spurgeon with you.  It is entitled, “My Comfort in Affliction”.  I know it will bless your heart as much as it did mind as I read it early this December morning.  Click here to read it...

"God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty"

~ Peter Marshall

In Christ, 

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Thursday Pearls

 "Take time in this season to escape from the chaos and demands of life and reflect on and invest in the things and people that are truly important in your life."
 ~ Sally Clarkson 

Thursday blessings to you, sweet readers...

Sunday, 4 November 2018

childhood friends and birthday delights

Childhood friends, ah! how I treasure them.
Last week Nancy and I were delighted to welcome two dear old friends to our little home for a couple days.

 Picnics, walks on the beach, antique shops, singing together in front of the piano…laughing till our cheeks hurt and watching The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society…just a few of the wonderful things we got up to during Miss J and Miss M’s visit. 

 One of the main reasons for this long overdue visit (it had been three years since they last came to stay) was to celebrate Nancy’s nineteenth birthday on October 14th. 

 ^ The lovely birthday girl... 

Sunday morning saw rain clouds on the horizon and not long after, a thunder storm of note broke out.   
All our hopes for a picnic and walk in the Botanical Gardens went out the window…
However, by the time we had finished baking our carrot cake and mini quiches and everyone had gotten dressed and done their hair and make up, the sky had cleared and it began warm up.
Off we went in high spirits to enjoy a delicious celebratory picnic under the trees...


Nancy had a music lesson in Sedgefield on Monday morning, so on the way home we stopped for a long, refreshing walk on Wilderness beach.  
Some of us (ahem, yours truly) had forgotten a warm top, so by the time we got back to the car we were chilled to the bone.   
We had planned on picnicking on the beach, but ended up cosying up in the car to enjoy our lunch.  What a sight the four of us must have been as we giggled and munched away ever so happily.

Tuesday was the day I had been eagerly anticipating...  For months I had wanted to drive to Mossel Bay (about an hour away from George) and browse the antique stores, stop in at a quaint coffee shop and have a simple picnic on the beach front.  

We enjoyed our drive through, laughing and singing along to Josh Groban’s Bridges all the way…
We decided to go for coffee at Fynbos Café first, and seeing as it was a fairly warm day, we opted for coffee milkshakes.


After looking around the gift shop, we walked to the first antique store where Nancy fell in love…with a typewriter.  After watching Guernsey, we all agreed that a typewriter would be perfectly delightful.  


 I came across a gorgeous vintage Singer sewing machine.  I am still dreaming about it…
And Miss M’s mind constantly wanders to the beautiful teacups she found.

Afterwards we headed to a big second hand store where I found two more books for my growing book collection and we lost track of time as we wandered down rows and rows of every second hand items you could ever imagine.
We then decided it was high time we had lunch, so we made our way to the beachfront where we had a wonderful picnic while watching the waves. 
It was a perfect day.

All too soon the visit came to an end.  We were grateful to catch up on some much needed sleep seeing as we had laughed and chatted to the small hours every night…