Tuesday, 16 February 2021

How to make LEMONADE when life gives you nothing but TROUBLES! 😳

Dear Diary 

We've all heard it: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" and every time I hear this I used to think, "Really? How do I make lemonade with life's lemons?" You see, I am not a naturally optimistic person and positivity does not always come easy to me. So what is a person like me to do with an upbeat saying like this? 🤔

I've had my fair share of troubles in 2020 and maybe you did too and would love to know how to bounce back from it. I sure would. So, I recently pondered about lemonade. Life has sure been giving us a lot of lemons last year! 🍋 I even stopped blogging. 😩 I just had too many troubles and found myself constantly focusing on them. Focusing on my problems though is like sucking on lemons and anxiety happens when we suck lemons! We get nothing but a wrinkly sour looking face, when we should be making lemonade instead. So, how do I really make lemonade with the many troubles that life gives me? John 16:33 says that in this world we will have troubles which means that lemons will keep coming our way. But what about the other ingredients in lemonade? 

The second ingredient in lemonade is water 💧and it takes a lot of water to make lemonade, just like it sometimes takes a lot of time to heal or improve anything in our lives. Yes, time is the second ingredient to make "lemonade" out of our troubles and sometimes we need a lot of time (or patience) to see a real turnaround. We all know that now since 2020. Time is of the essence they say and yet time is what nobody seems to have anymore these days. But time ⏰ is what 2020 gave us. More time to spend at home and focus on our families. For some of us that has been a blessing, for others it might have been a challenge. Especially if there was a lack of income. So, water is a much-needed ingredient of lemonade and time is equally important when making lemonade in life. 

But lemon juice and water alone are still a pretty bitter drink and in a similar way, if I have nothing but troubles and a lot of time at hand to think...life can be pretty unbearable or unpalatable. So, how do I make 2021 make more palatable than 2020? 🤨 Let's go back to the ingredients of lemonade.

There is another ingredient in lemonade and on its own, it is almost too sweet, but it is a super important ingredient in lemonade! The third and last ingredient in lemonade is sugar. 🥄 Sugar is what sweetens the lemonade and makes it easier to drink. Sometimes I need a little more sugar, sometimes a little less, but without sugar, lemonade is a rather sour drink! So what might the sugar be in the greater scheme of life? My daughter helped me with that. She reminded me that we really still have a lot to be thankful for. 🙏🏼 Bingo! Gratitude is the last ingredient in the lemonade of life! Think about it...if I only focus on all the troubles (or lemons) then every day feels like a burden and it’s wearing me down. But if I allow some time to pass and in the meantime try to find something to be thankful for, then my days do become brighter and a lot more enjoyable! Yes, gratitude is a much-needed ingredient when making lemonade in a very difficult season of life!

Together, lemons, water and sugar make a lovely drink and perhaps what I need to get through 2021 now, is to allow time and a grateful heart to see me through it, no matter what troubles may still be ahead of us. Without gratitude, life can seem very bleak, but just a few minutes of "thankful thinking" each morning can make a huge difference in my day! I have to learn to put it into practice though. 😉 I need to stir it up each morning, just like I have to stir up the sugar in lemonade. If I don't stir the sugar in lemonade it tends to settle at the bottom of the glass and the lemonade still has a sour taste. So, I have made it a habit, when drinking lemonade, to stir the lemonade each time before I take a sip. That's what I ought to be doing with gratitude! It's not that I am not grateful for what I have and everyone I get to love in my life, but gratitude has a way of settling down at the bottom of my heart, especially when I am feeling down and out. That's when it needs to be stirred up again. Spending a few minutes each morning, thinking about what I can be happy about, certainly stirs up gratitude. 😃 I don't know about you, but I am very grateful this year for more quiet times! 

So, that’s what I’ve been thinking about this week and I hope in someway it helps you with your troubles this year. And perhaps it also inspired you to spend a few minutes today pondering over what you might be grateful for. 🤔 Troubles will keep coming and time will pass, but to make it all palatable we need to take heart and be thankful for all that we have! 👏🏻

I wish everyone a very REFRESHING week! 🍹😋

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. 

In this world you will have trouble. 

But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

John 16:33 NIV

Click here if you fancy watching this message in a very short YouTube video:


(All photos in this post are my own.)

Saturday, 14 March 2020

How to "bug fix" my own mind...

Dear Diary,

This morning, I received a devotional message on my cell phone which said that "We cannot control all that happens to us, but we have absolute control over how we respond to the changes in our lives." Hm. That got me thinking! I like to ponder over stuff like that. I mean "absolute control" is a nice thought, but do I really have absolute control over how I respond to all situations in my life? I am not sure if I agree, because so often in my life, it feels that no matter how hard I try to change and do better, I still often react the very same way. Most of the time, especially in my daily routine as a mom, I react the only way that I know how to and sadly, that often still involves impatience and irritability. Clearly not a good way! I could use the excuse of lacking a good example in my childhood, but it would still be my responsibility to change and try and do better. But how can I change?

Just wanting to change doesn't seem to be doing the trick and so I wrestled with this idea this morning when I was listening to a teaching by Joyce Meyer. I was quite relieved to hear her say that we can't really change ourselves since I certainly haven't been very successful in doing so. Joyce explained, and I have heard this before but perhaps I just needed to hear it again, that it is God who can and will change us if we ask him to. More food for thought. Hm. As my mind kept circling around the question of change, I was wondering why HE would be able to change us if I can't even change myself?? I really have a lot of questions sometimes and occasionally, especially when I take the time to ponder over these things, I also get an answer. Sometimes the answer is somewhat of an analogy and that's exactly what popped into my mind this morning. A thought that made sense to me and hopefully will make sense to you also.

My apologies that the photo is not very sharp!
As I was having what I like to call a prayerful conversation with God, I was also trying to update my iPad. (Multitasking is a habit that is hard to shake for a mom. Eish!) You probably know, but let me mention it anyway, that all apps on any phone or tablet need to be updated every now and then. I, for example, get notified by the AppStore that there is an update available but it's up to me if and when I download it. Updates are voluntary but if we don't do them, chances are that the app will stop working some day. Every device downloads and updates at the push of a button, using a wireless and invisible connection to the producers or creators of the phone, in my case Apple Inc. Sometimes it takes a few minutes but sometimes it's a matter of seconds. I don't have to do anything else than requesting the update and Apple Inc. does the rest. I think you might see where I am going with this, but before I explain, let's look at a few more things. There are many apps on my phone and probably also on yours. Some are necessary for my phone to work and others are there just because I like them. MOLDIV, for example, is a functional photo editing app, while Duolingo teaches me Italian and Wordscapes is a game just for fun. You might have totally different apps and the required updates are therefore totally individual to each phone. Sometimes new tools and functionality gets added to the phone during an update, but sometimes they just remove so called "bugs" or faults. Either way, updates are very necessary to the good functioning of my phone. Do you see where I am going with this now?

Many people easily get stuck in set behaviour patterns and it is often said, especially of older people, that they just can't change anymore. But I don't think that's true! I think, we have just been trying wrong all along. Most of us, including me, are probably trying to change ourselves, when in fact, if we really want to change, we need God! God is our Creator and "programmer" if you like and so, just like my iPad is a free standing extension of Apple Inc., I am a freestanding extension of God. I am created by Him in His image (or how He imagined I should look like) and it would therefore stand to reason that I cannot change myself. But just like my iPad I have flaws! And because of my ever occurring flaws I need regular "updates" and those updates, well, they come from God. He knows what I need before I even know it and if I take the time to sit down and pray, He is more than willing to download improvements on me. Simply put, when I connect with God, HE updates or changes me and when I sleep, He charges me! Kind of true, isn't it?

Our brains can easily get overloaded these days. Being a mom certainly depletes me during the day and by the evening I am really grateful when I can go and lay down and do some much needed recharging during the night. New generation phones don't actually even need a cable to charge anymore, all they need is a little pad that you lay them on, just like I need my mattress. 😉 The world is full of high performance societies where stress and anxiety is constantly on the increase and every year it seems like we have so many more things to worry about. We not only take care of our daily chores and workload and raise our kids, we have to do so much more! We deal with multiple cultures and new technology around us each day, some of which we sometimes struggle to understand. On top of that, there is an ever increasing demand to be part of social media which, at the moment, also bombards us with fears of global viral threats! It never stops and sometimes I get so overloaded that I can't find my "patience" or "self-control" app anymore. I need help! But thanks to my iPad I now understand that I need God to help me change. Even during a short quiet time, God can update any "apps" or attitudes in my mind that need updating the most and when I walk away from my little restful moment, I do cope better with the situation at hand. I might sound like I am making this up but it really works!

When I take a little moment with God and pray or tell him what is bothering me, it's kind of like pressing the "update button". By praying, I give God a chance to connect with me, wirelessly and invisibly, and He in turn starts giving me new ideas or removes my "bugs" or fears. I have tried to remove fears myself, but it really doesn't work, but when I ask Him, well, so far it has always worked! Just like the updates on my iPad, sometimes it takes just a few minutes to align myself with God and sometimes it takes a little longer. I am totally dependant on my invisible connection with Him, but I have come to learn that it's a dependency that really benefits me! Oh, and by the way, I have also noticed that when I pray or connect with God, I can't really ask Him to update my husband, I can only ask Him to update me. I can maybe tell Him what bothers me about my connection with my husband, but the download I get, will be for me! He will have to request his own update. 😂

There are so many ways to explain why we benefit from quiet times with God, but I hope that this one is just another one that makes sense to you like it did to me. I never realised how much I needed God until my head was so overloaded with challenges and problems that only a good "update" could set me back on my feet. Doing my daily work and trying to lead a good marriage while still being a good mother is hard work! Every mom will know that I am right and that if we try to do it out of our own strength, we can easily burn out. I am a lot of things to a lot of people and sometimes, I just need a bit of time to myself! I need refreshing by having a little rest and establishing my invisible connection with God.

I must admit that it can be a challenge to find time alone as a mom, but I believe it's a quest worth pursuing and it is not selfish at all, mom! We deserve rest! It took me many years to figure that out but I finally get it and I hope you know it too! We like to be in control of our lives, but we rarely really are. Over the last few years I have learnt though, that He is in control and that's another reason why quiet times are so important to me now. It just makes plain sense to stay in touch with the only One who is able to "fix" the wrongs in my life. Thanks to my iPad, I finally understand now that I really can't change myself, but I do change when I spend time connecting with God. Of course, just like the AppStore, God is always available to us. So, whatever time of day we can steal a moment alone...we should take it and connect with God! Because it will be worth it! Just a few minutes of bible reading or having a personal conversation with God never fails to bring peace to a mind and soul!

I wish you HAPPY UPDATING this week! 😇

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. 
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Philippians 4:6 (NLT) 

(Photos are my own or courtesy of morguefile.com)

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

PANDA adventures on Qatar Airways! 🐼

Dear Diary,

I am really sorry that I have not felt like writing lately. I must admit that I have exhausted myself a little this year. But I haven't just done nothing, I have been up to something!

I hope that you agree with me that every mom ought to have a hobby that she considers fun and while some moms like to knit, cross-stitch or plant a garden, I, well, I kind of like video editing. Of course, in order to edit a video, you must have a video to edit and that means you need to go somewhere or do something so that you'll have a story to tell. So, I did. 

Sometime in September this year, I not only had the lovely opportunity to visit Switzerland but also the incredible privilege of traveling in the "World's Best Business Class"1 with Qatar Airways and let me say right here - it was simply amazing!

In summary, it was super posh and comfortable and it's definitely the way I would always love to travel if only I could afford. But best of all, it gave me the necessary footage for a travel vlog or travel review of a somewhat different kind! 

It's a story told by my little travel companion who went on the journey with me. Quite frankly, he goes on all journeys with me and his name is Panda because that's what he is, but you'll see him just now in the video. 

Panda and I started our journey on Lake Zürich in Switzerland and using a tram, a train, an A350-1000 and A350-900 of Qatar Airways and eventually a Boeing 737 of British Airways, we ended our long distance trip about 24 hours later on one of the most beautiful beaches in South Africa where we enjoyed a stunning sunrise. But you'll have to watch the video in order to see it. Just click on this link when you are ready to view it:

Panda adventures on Qatar Airways  ☀️
(Of course, if you are worried that the link might contain a virus, you will easily find it on YouTube if you search for "Panda Adventures on Qatar Airways". Alternatively, you can view it in my blog, right at the bottom of this post.)

The video is meant to entertain the viewers (adults and kids alike) while still showing the impeccable and outstanding service of Qatar Airways and their new fleet. I hope you like it and I would love it if you left me a comment 📝 below the video or simply decided to hit the like 👍 or subscribe button. You never know, I might make more of these kind of videos. It was loads of fun making and editing this video and although all footage was taken with an iPhone SE which, admittedly is not very good with dim light, I do think that it turned out alright. 

Panda and I, absolutely loved the new QSuite of Qatar Airways, which is generously spacious and even has a private door that you can close after take-off if you prefer to be alone! We sat in a rear facing seat which, by the way, is highly recommendable, because in the sleeping position your head will be slightly higher than your feet and it's usually much more comfortable to sleep that way. I never knew that an airplane is pointed slightly upwards in flying position but now I do. It certainly worked for me and I would fly rear facing again. I slept really well and Panda, well Panda slept like all Pandas do...very peacefully. 

Another really awesome thing that you will see in the video is the incredibly generous "Dine-on-demand" service that is being offered on Qatar Airways. What does that mean? Well, they literally bring you anything on the menu, anytime you want it and their menu is really quite something! You'll find several starters, main courses and desserts, not to mention cappuccinos, hot chocolates and herbal teas. The lot! Whatever you wish for, they will bring it to you at any time of the night and to top it all off, they even stock a little mini buffet at night where you can help yourself to some sparkling wine, fruits and snacks (including Swiss chocolates!) whenever you feel the urge to nibble on something. Needless to say that Panda kept sneaking out of our QSuite a few times at night! 🍫😋

The last thing I want to mention is how friendly the crew was. I didn't find one crew member that didn't smile at me and that is worth mentioning! They were top notch and very attentive and nothing was too much trouble. We even got a turn-down service when we were ready for bed. 

Panda and I both loved flying with Qatar Airways and Doha airport is also a pleasure to transit in. It's incredibly well organized and easy to navigate and even as little as 45 minutes is enough time to connect to another flight there. All in all, it was an incredible experience and an airline I would certainly recommend and fly with any day again, whether in Business or Economy class. 

So, that's what I've been up to. Panda and I made a journey from Lake Zürich in Switzerland to that beautiful beach in South Africa and now we have a story to tell and we hope that you will enjoy our video! This was a marvelous example that sometimes it's really not only the beginning or the destination that counts, it's the ride in between!

We wish you safe travels during the festive season 
and a wonder-filled week!

1 Awards received by Qatar Airways 

Thursday, 10 October 2019


...or life lessons I learnt from a cellphone gaming app!

Dear Diary,

Yes, believe it or not, I really did learn some valuable Christian life lessons from a gaming app very similar to "Candy Crush"! 

The WORD of God or the bible is probably the no. 1 way to hear from God, but it is not the ONLY way. Recently, someone asked me, "How do you hear from God and what do you do in a quiet time?" and I honestly had to answer that sometimes I do almost nothing. I just quietly ponder and in my mind I tell God about my troubles and sometimes, when my mind is struggling to focus, I even play a little cellphone game. That's when I noticed that I am starting to pick up some valuable lessons, even from a cellphone gaming app. Impossible? I don't think so. Because God is limitless and He will find a way to talk to you, even if you think you can't hear Him, all you have to do is be open to receive His messages.

Sometime in 2015 I joined the "Candy Crush craze" by playing a very similar game called "Frozen Free Fall". I had crystals instead of candy, but otherwise it is much of the same game. Just playing this game, I started to get such clear messages or what I like to call "little teachings from God" about my life as a mom, that I decided to take screen shots and turn them into a 30-day devotional, which I then posted on Instagram. But these messages are not just for me, they might be useful for anyone, so if you would like to view them, even if you don't have Instagram on your phone, simply click on this link - Frozen Free Fall Devotional .

Now, what are some of the lessons I learnt from this game? I can't print 30 messages here, that would make this blog post too long, but here are some:

1. Candy or gems always fall from the top down. We can't really make them happen, but we can receive them and do something with them. The game actually expects us to do something with them. Isn't it like that with God's blessings for us? Blessings are for us to enjoy, but they are also for us to share with others and I bet God loves it when we pass them on just like I am passing on various precious items in the game.

2. When I first started playing this game, I thought my score depended entirely on ME and how well I played the game, but that is not true! My score actually largely depends on what's coming from above. The bible teaches us that God determines our steps, even if we sometimes struggle to accept this fact. I have certainly tried to determine my own steps in the past, but I realise now how much I depend on Him and I am glad that so often he rescues me!

I try to do well, but when I fail, he rescues me!

3. I can become very serious when I play this game and I constantly try to "figure it out" in order to get the perfect score, but you know what? That's when I usually stop having fun! My lesson here? It's ok to ask questions and learn, but too much knowledge or pondering can really become a damper in life! So, now I try to remind myself every now and then to stop thinking and just allow myself to have some fun.

4. You see, this game is totally a matter of TEAMWORK between getting good gems and me making good moves with them and isn't life kind of the same? We live by God's grace and by the blessings that come our way and we need to do something with what we are given. Loving action is so much more important than knowledge!

5. I noticed that the best way to play and win this game is to do EXACTLY what the level asks me to do and not to get distracted by other stuff that is also going on in the game. The game is actually almost conditioned to let me pass if I concentrate on the target and don't get side tracked by trying to score extra points. Hm. That, once again, sounds familiar, doesn't it? I have often failed as a mom (or wife) when I let myself become distracted by completely unnecessary or untimely tasks! Have you ever had such moments? I certainly have. The kind of moments where I did not concentrate on my target for the day, but got distracted by TV or something else and I didn't focus on the most important chore at hand and then dinner was overcooked or late for example or I ended up being late when picking up my child from school. Thankfully, I don't have so many "fails" anymore, but they do still happen every now and then. 

6. Sometimes, when I am about to fail a level, some amazing gems fall from the top and the whole level just kind of works itself out and I pass! That is usually an amazing experience! You might ask yourself now, "How does that part of the game relate to my life?" Well, God's Grace works in many ways and He also sometimes rescues me when I am about to fail. I have had days, for example, when I have been in a total jam because it's been such a busy day and I would have struggled to still go and make dinner, but my husband then unexpectedly (and unknowingly may I add) surprised me with an sms saying that he would like to take us out for dinner...voilà! Saved by God's grace and loving provision! Isn't that an amazing experience?!

7. There are many different levels in these kind of games and they start very easy at first. You actually have to be careful that you don't become too pre-conditioned by the early levels as the tasks and demands change quite a bit later in the game. You can't really play the later levels the same way you played the first ones. Each level has its own goal for you to focus on. That reminded me of how easy things are for kids in playschool or Grade 1 but how much harder it gets later in life, especially once you are a parent! We can become very pre-conditioned by our childhood years and I realise now that it's important to break free from some of the lies that I believed in the past, because if I don't I won't be able to fully enjoy the "level" I am on now. Every stage in life gets a bit more difficult, but the rewards are becoming greater also. 

Bonus tools are here to help us...but
we must remember to USE THEM!
8. Some levels actually get so difficult that I just want to give up, but we mustn't! The bible promises that we will reap a harvest if we do not give up! But I do understand and feel for every super-tired mom or parent that comes close to burnout by the ever increasing demands that are put on us by our super busy lives these days! Some levels in my game are equally overwhelming at first, but have you noticed that the game makes provision for these moments? It's called BONUS TOOLS. Bonus tools are extra "super powers" that help us to pass a level by removing some unwanted gems or doing some other stuff on our behalf. Do we have bonus tools in life? Yes we do!! They are called "Granny" or "friends"!! Relatives and friends that offer to come over and help us with anything are such super powers. They can, for example, help a mother with a newborn baby remove some of the unwanted dirt in the house or simply look after the baby for a little while, so that the exhausted mom can have a little "timeout" - a quiet time perhaps or just a much needed nap! I have noticed though that I tend to hoard my bonus tools in the game instead of using them and in a way that's bad, because I make the game harder for myself than it needs to be. Perhaps this is exactly what we do sometimes, especially as moms? We know about family and friends that have offered help, but we are reluctant to accept their offer. Why? Perhaps it is pride, but whatever the reason, it is important to remember to USE THEM not hoard them! We need to gracefully accept help these days if we do not want to burn out!

9. Oh, and perhaps just one last point. At the end of every level that I pass in "Frozen Free Fall" I get a comment like "Great Job", "Excellent" or "Amazing" and sometimes I thrive on these kind of reassurances. But I have also learnt that perfection is not really necessary in order to pass these levels. What's important, is to keep my eye on a level's target and nothing else. Much in the same way, God doesn't expect perfection from us, so if you are inclined towards being a perfectionist, like me, then please remember to cut yourself some slack sometimes! Because God certainly wants us to!

So that's some of the lessons I learnt from a simple gaming app. In summary, I could probably say that it's all about living life in COMPLETE TEAMWORK with Him and the blessings He is giving us each day. "Candy Crush" or "Frozen Free Fall" have taught me to ENJOY my life and not be so serious about it and that perhaps not every day will work out perfectly but that's ok, because tomorrow I get to try again, even if I have to repeat a level. What I really need to do, is to focus on what is most important each day, focus on a target that I feel God would approve of and to remember to enjoy a little bit of sunshine despite all the problems that might be surrounding me. 

He helps me to enjoy life even in tough times!

I hope this inspired my readers enough to go look at my FrozenFreeFallDevotional account on Instagram and read some of my other learnings. I also hope that it inspired them to believe that God will use anything to teach us a new way of life, if we let Him. Even games. All we need to do is...spend a few minutes with Him!


Frozen Free Fall Devotional

Put Jesus in the centre and 
the wolves can't harm you!

(Whether you like this blog post or not, you are welcome to leave me a comment but I prefer the nice ones!) 
(All photos are my own.)

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Anxiety - what do I do?? (Part 2)

Dear Diary,

Anxiety! It's an emotion that seems to be more and more common these days and I have also had some encounters with it! I believe it's certainly a topic worth talking about. We live, we get hurt and we move on so quickly that we hardly ever have time to properly digest our emotions. So, in some way, it was no real surprise to me that some of my "childhood pains" eventually resurfaced in the form of ANXIETY and it did so in many different ways or places. 

Sometimes I get anxious when I am alone at home and "unplugged" from society for too long, but sometimes I can also get anxious when I am in my local supermarket, surrounded by people. Two completely different scenarios, but both can make me anxious and when they do, I usually struggle for control over my seemingly out-of-control emotions. Anxiety is an awful feeling. Sometimes it's just a feeling of being "uneasy" or fearful in a small way, but at its worst, anxiety can make me feel as if the life, my life is draining out of me! At that point I feel totally paralysed and get nothing done, until I recover from it. This is a very abbreviated way of describing anxiety, but the bottom line is that it's an emotional state I do not like to be in and I wonder how many moms struggle with it.

The question, of course, is - how do we get anxiety under control when it demands attention? What can I tell myself to calm my anxious mind? I believe that Psalm 23 has some answers...

In Psalm 23 verse 1 we read that the Lord is my shepherd and I lack nothing and yet, I tend to worry so much! I worry about things I didn't have in the past, seem to lack now and might not be able to get in the future. Worry seems to be the very foundation of anxiety and yet, it serves no good purpose at all! Worry doesn't change anything and it doesn't improve anything either. So I have started to ask myself the question, "Does it help if I worry?" every time anxiety creeps up on me. I think, most of the time, I worry because I want to handle things myself, I want to be in control, rather than handing control over to God. David, who wrote the Psalm sure seems to be ahead of me there!

I also used to be in a constant hurry all the time, especially when my children were smaller. Verse 2 in Psalm 23 says that he makes me lie down in green pastures, but that certainly didn't work for me in those days! I used to hurry from one play date to another for my kids, from one chore to the next and I certainly never seemed to have time to lie down! Until I finally allowed myself to have quiet times. Life happens so fast and hurried these days and we feel guilty, especially as moms, if we are having a rest. But that is nonsense! Rest ought to be part of every mom's program each day. Even if it is just a 5-minute chat with God or a cup of tea with a friend. I noticed that if I don't get enough rest, I almost always end up worrying and worry so often leads me back to anxiety. 

The same verse also says that he leads me beside quiet waters and for me, "quiet waters" are the opposite of crowds. Some people love crowds, but I don't. I love people. I love to get together with a friend or a small group of people, but crowds, well, they scare me somehow. I did once attend a "One Direction" concert with my daughter and I loved it, but I was rather glad when I could finally leave the stadium and escape the crowd. Crowds can certainly make me anxious, so I try to avoid them as best as I can. 

In verse 3 David writes that he guides me along the right paths and along isn't just onto! God doesn't only help us choose which way to go when we reach a big intersection, no, this verse promises that He helps us along the path. Which means that God is not only willing to help us with the BIG questions in life. No, he is willing to help us with every little decision we make and that even includes decisions in a supermarket when, occasionally, I am overwhelmed by all the many different products on offer. We live in a time of over-affluence! Don't you think so? What used to be oats every morning, can now be a variety of 30+ cereals on offer sometimes I stand in a supermarket aisle and simply can't choose. So, it might seem a little crazy to have a conversation with God in a supermarket, but I really don't mind what people think, because, guess what, it really helps!

I might  also not be considered very "hip" and up to date when I refuse to scroll around on Facebook and Twitter every day, but I just simply can't handle all the bad news I see on social media. To me, scrolling down on Facebook can literally feel like I am walking through a "dark valley" because everyone seems to be sharing their problems and dirty laundry these days! I suppose sharing isn't wrong, but I personally find it super overwhelming on some platforms on social media. So occasionally, actually quite often, I allow myself a "social media break". Verse 4 says that even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Well, I don't have a "rod" or a "staff" that comfort me per se, but I do have a "stylus" and with this little rod I can choose what I tap on or not and sometimes the best choice seems to be not to tap on anything. A social media break can be a wonderful remedy for anxiety! 

There are, of course, many more reasons that can cause anxiety, but the last one I would like to touch on is having a fear of the future. The world often seems to be in turmoil these days and fears relating to our future have become very real. Verse 6 though says that surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and that was true for David and is still true today! God hasn't changed! He is offering his love now and in the future in the same way that He did in the past and I find that very comforting! Sometimes, I really do need to take a moment and try to remind myself of that. 

So, my conclusion for today is, that, like David, most of the time, I really just need to look to God to meet all my needs. It might seem difficult at first, but it really pays off when I obey His instructions. He might ask me to rest more readily and go to bed earlier or He might nudge me to go outside and take a little walk in His beautiful creation because He knows that nature has the power to recharge us. I now ask Him for guidance whenever I struggle with a decision no matter how big or small. But I also need to remember to trust Him, because He promised that He would finish what He started! Above all, He also promised that he will never leave us or forsake us and if you ask me, He is indeed the number one antidote to any sort of fear or anxiety!

But over to you - how are you dealing with anxiety?

Please do write me a comment below and if you have time - tune in on Wednesday 03rd July at 10h30 on this link - Radio Kingfisher FM - when Lize and I will keep discussing the topic of anxiety.

I wish you all a stress and anxiety free week! 

(Photo is my own.)

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Anxiety - what do I do??

Dear Diary,                       

A pill or the real thing - that is the question I am pondering about today!

Given a choice between a Vitamin C tablet and a real apple, which one would you choose right now?

Or, if you had a choice between an anti-anxiety tablet or a quiet time with God, which one would you choose then?

A blog can easily make it look as if I have it all together, but I do sometimes struggle with anxiety! Like so many other mothers out there, I too have days where I feel completely overwhelmed and in dire need of some help. But what is the best help these days? And where does all this anxiety come from? Lize and I will discuss these and other questions about anxiety in the "suePONDERS" slot on her Lifestyle show next Wednesday 05 June at 10h30 on Radio Kingfisher 107.5FM or if you are outside of South Africa, just go to www.kingfisherfm.co.za for a link to their live stream - it will only take about half an hour, so if you are interested in the topic...come and join us, tune in! You are, of course, also most welcome to leave me some helpful thoughts on the topic in the comments below. 

I wish everyone a stress-free and peaceful week!

(All photos are my own.)

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

What God did with my broken heart...

Dear Diary,

Why are we so fragile? Is it just me? One week seems to be so perfect and the next - everything just falls apart! One moment I am confident and courageous and the next I am anxious and wanting to hide in a wine press like Gideon did in Judges 6:11! Life just seems to be such a continuous roller coaster these days!

Even so called "safe havens" don't seem to be all that safe anymore. I think what happened in Christchurch the other week shattered us all! Life is precious and it can shatter in so many different ways!

More and more young kids are feeling "broken" too. There's even a YouTube channel where kids can share their stories and tell about the problems they are having in their lives. It's called "storybooth" and so many of their stories are about broken hearts! The stories are animated to protect their privacy, but just listening to them, you can tell they are so real. Some of them tell stories of parents who are supposed to make them feel safe, but sometimes simply fail to do their job because they yell and verbally abuse them or worse. I was watching a video titled "Mean Mum" and I must admit, even though I have never verbally abused my kids, I did feel guilty because I have certainly "yelled" in the past! The truth is though, that even yelling can shatter a child's heart. I am aware of that now. I wish I had known this earlier, because nobody deserves a shattered heart and especially not my children. Make no mistake, I was a very protective mom, but sadly, sometimes I was also completely overworked and overwhelmed. This YouTube channel has 4 million subscribers and about 20 million views per video, so I am sure it is safe to say that the problem of "broken hearts" is ripe these days!

I have spent many years now mending my own broken heart and if you have read my last blog post about "Moana" then you know what I am talking about. I feel for every child with a broken heart as I feel for everyone affected by the shootings in Christchurch! I dare not try to offer an explanation as to why there are so many broken people in this world who even end up doing such terrible things and I cannot mend anyone else's heart, but I can tell you who can and what He did with mine. 

Last Christmas, while cleaning my lounge, a little statue of Joseph accidentally dropped to the floor and shattered into pieces. I was so sad! This is a special little figurine and without Jesus' Daddy the set wouldn't be complete. So, I decided to try and fix it and low and behold, I learnt a few things about my own heart...

Some days are just more stressful than others and, on those days, we are more likely to overstep the "good parenting" rules and break a little heart. We all get tempted to shout at our children. A bit of shouting might not always harm a child, but it has been my experience that it can and does. Temptations are normal, but when we give in to temptations that's when real damage usually happens. I know, because I grew up in a very toxic environment. I listened to so many fights in my family and every time, my heart broke a little bit more. It soon looked just like this figurine. Perhaps you have also broken your child's heart on occasion or perhaps you had your own heart broken. But please know that there is hope! Because for God, nothing is impossible to mend! A good quiet time with God will mend a heart!

It's in a quiet time where God reassures our hearts. That's where he picks up the pieces and starts joining them back together. Do you need an example? Are you new to "quiet time" and doubtful that it really works? Well, say, for example, you once had cancer, like I did, but you are healed now. Your doctor assured you that they can't find anything, but every now and then you are still scared. For no good reason you are afraid that it might still be there and all the faith and courage that you mustered up yesterday seems to be shattered into pieces today. When courage eludes me, I run to God now. I hide in my little quiet time corner and spend a few minutes alone with Him. I did that the other day and what did He do? He answered me through His word. My daily devotional was pointing me towards Psalm 9:1 "I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart..." and though, at first, I didn't feel like praising at all, because fear had crept back into my heart, I did read on and found verse 3 and 4: "My enemies retreated; they staggered and died when you appeared. For you have judged in my favor..." and bam! I knew God was talking to me! He knows us so well and because He is a loving God, He will reassure us with His word, if we take the time to read it. What might not make sense to anyone else, made total sense to me! Yes, I had seen an enemy, but it had retreated, and all my cancer cells staggered and died when Jesus appeared and guided me through my healing journey. He judged in my favor and right there and then, in my quiet time, he was reminding me about it. I truly believe that He was trying to reassure me. That's how quiet time works! It's a very personal moment when everything between you and Him makes sense.

When we have a quiet time, God takes the broken pieces of our lives and hearts and puts them back together. Even better than I did with this little statue. In one of her teachings, Joyce Meyer said that His word, when you read it, is like the antidote to the poisons we accumulate in our souls. I so agree! But there is something we need to do so that God can work on our souls - we need to repent or confess! Not in public, just at home, alone with God, in a quiet time is fine. He will always forgive us and he is always willing to start putting us back together. But I have also learnt that sometimes healing takes time. It wasn't easy to put some of these pieces together and my soul was surely more broken than this little figurine. It also couldn't have mended itself and neither could I! I was hiding the broken pieces of my heart for quite some time. I kind of stashed them in a far corner of my mind in a box labelled "do not open" for many years, but God found the box anyway and when He did, I finally told him about everything that broke my heart. He is a patient God and He will listen and only He can really mend a broken heart! 

I couldn't find all the pieces of this little figurine, so if you look closely, you will see that it is still missing some parts. How apt! I believe that when we try and fix ourselves, we really struggle to heal completely. God can do a much better job! All we have to do is give Him the broken pieces of our hearts and He will even find the little missing ones! He fixes them with his own glue called - LOVE! By having a quiet time with Him, I have noticed that he not only joins the pieces back together, He also fills all the tiny little cracks with His love. So, next time you have a blowout - please don't feel condemned, just apologize to your child and then take it to God as soon as you can and confess it to Him. Pray and tell Him about your overreaction and if you can, pray with your child also. He will mend both of your broken hearts!

So many hearts in this world are broken, often because of a lack of parenting these days. But God has given us promises and I would like to list some of them here just as a reminder of His love: 

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed." Psalm 34:18 NLT

"He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds." Psalm 147:3 NLT

"Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close." Psalm 27:10 NLT

"And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty." 2 Cor 6:18 NLT

"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." Eph 1:5 NLT

"So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, "Abba, Father." Rom 8:15 NLT

I hope that these Scriptures are giving you some hope. They certainly did give me comfort. I am living proof that the Word of God has the power to heal your soul and change you completely into a new person. I might not be finished yet, a total transformation can be a long journey, but by God's grace I am well on my way to a better life!

I have learnt that, like this little figurine, our hearts can easily be broken and sometimes it just happens by no doing of our own. There are so many negative influences in this world. But I mustn't let them take over my life. Even if they are coming from someone very close, like a parent or a very dear friend. I only had normal glue to fix this little statue, but God has an endless amount of love. He patiently pieces us together with His love. If we let Him. I wish you many...

HAPPY QUIET TIMES this week everyone!!!

(All photos are my own.)

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

My own MOANA story

Dear Diary

How long does it take to turn Te Kâ into Te Fiti?? I'd really love to know!

(This picture is my own.)
If you have seen the movie "Moana", then I am sure you know what I mean. But if you haven't, well, you really should watch the movie, but I can tell you some of the story and I will have to add some pictures, which I will google, so that you can visualize it a little better. The thing is, I've been kind of a Te Kâ mom in the past and I am hoping to morph back into Te Fiti, just like it happened in this beautiful movie! You know, Disney movies are, in my opinion, for people of all ages and they sometimes carry a strong message, for the children and the parents. Especially this one! Moana is an adventurous young lady, just like I once was, and she is on a daring mission to save her land, by returning a stolen heart, when she sails out into the vast ocean. The bible says that God makes His home "in us" now, so I suppose you could say that our body, is sort of our "land" and if you can stretch your imagination this far, then you might understand when I say that I was on an equally daring mission to save my "land" when I left Switzerland many years ago all by myself. Just like Moana, I was on a mission to save a broken heart, I just didn't know yet back then that the heart that needed saving was mine! But more about that later. The bulk of the movie shows Moana sailing across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds. Driven by her inner calling, she fulfills her quest and discovers the one thing she always sought: her own personal identity. But that's too quick. It won't do the movie any justice and neither my story if we stop right here.

Let's start a little earlier, sort of at the beginning. The movie doesn't start with her sailing away from her island, just like my story didn't start with me leaving Switzerland. It starts when she is still so young, innocent, brave and courageous, always ready to fight for what is right. She is actually brave and courageous right throughout the movie and I am not sure, if on this, I compare well with her. But I do believe that we all have great innocence and even courage when we are little. I certainly used to be much less fearful than I am now. Fear and heartache have a way of creeping in later in life and perhaps it is good that we don't know that right from the beginning. Perhaps it would have stopped her from taking her journey. But her journey was oh so important and so was mine.

During this journey, she meets the once-mighty demigod Maui who she believes is destined to help her and help her he does with some twists and turns in the story - you'll really have to see the movie! Though she often pridefully tries to prove that she could do without him, Maui guides her in her quest and teaches her how to find her way in this vast ocean. What a vast ocean of people we live in today! It is indeed hard to navigate the masses and find our very own true calling! Back in Switzerland, the Holy Spirit might have been mighty "back in the day" when people were less self-sufficient and more "believing", but with the dwindling numbers of churchgoers and all the skepticism that is prevalent now, He has indeed become all but a demigod, just like Maui. But I met him, somewhere out in the ocean I finally met him and it is perhaps fair to say that I had the same kind of love-hate relationship with the Holy Spirit at first, like Moana had with Maui. I have to admit that I was a little stubborn. But just like Maui, the Holy Spirit guided me on my action-packed voyage to South Africa, where I eventually did encounter enormous monsters and impossible odds, especially during my journey through chemotherapy. I am glad to say that I survived that scary journey and I subsequently wrote a blog post and made a video about how I crossed that scary ocean. It's a testimonial story filmed on my very own swimming pool. If you would like to read or watch it, here are the links: Survive your fear - Blog post  /  Survive your fear! - YouTube video

But on with the story! Moana reaches her destination but doesn't find the expected Te Fiti that she thinks she is destined to meet, but a very angry volcano, named Te Kâ, instead. Moana recognizes (perhaps through the wisdom given to her by Maui) that she must have courage and get past the scary front Te Kâ is putting up and she soon learns that Te Kâ is actually Te Fiti and that the heart must be given back to her. That's what she had to accomplish. She had to replace Te Kâ's stony heart and replace it with the original heart in order for her to morph back into Te Fiti and morph back she does! Perhaps now you are beginning to understand what I meant in the beginning of this blog post, when I said that I would like to morph back into Te Fiti...because this really hit home with me! As a mom, it is really easy for me to relate to Te Kâ, the angry version of Te Fiti, because I have, on my worst days, looked a lot like her. That's hard to admit, but it has sadly been true.

Hearts get stolen. How? Well, in my case, and every case is different of course, multiple divorces by my parents (none of them were peaceful) have left my tender heart completely broken. You could say that my heart was stolen at a very young age, each time my current father left. So, naturally I tried to guard the empty space. I built a wall full of bricks like sarcasm, bitterness, skepticism and even unforgiveness until I was completely walled in. Like Te Kâ. But walls don't rescue us, not that kind of walls, they actually have a way of suffocating us and making us sick. Very much like in the movie Moana where the land was slowly getting poisoned from within, I was slowly accumulating so much anger that it eventually culminated in cancer. Looking back and being completely healed from cancer today, I know that the cause of it all was my broken heart. I was an angry mom with a broken heart like Te Kâ, longing to be restored, but like her, I couldn't have restored myself. I needed a "mini me" to show me what was wrong with me and sometimes by becoming mothers, we discover what is lacking inside of us. At least that was so very true for me! Apparently, Mother Theresa once said that "Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.I only know too well how true that is, because all the toxicity in my childhood has left me starving for love!

But I am so glad to tell you that God's loving mercy is never too late! He not only stopped the cancer and healed my "land" (or my body) like in the movie "Moana", He also started teaching me to forgive and He made me a promise: "And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT) That was the beginning of my healing journey.

My heart has been returned and balance has been restored to my body, but I suppose my mind is still healing now. I am still in the process of getting to know my "old" self and morphing back from an angry mom to a more patient and loving one. I know I need to be patient with myself and that is hard to do, because for so many years, I have relentlessly driven myself to perfection in the hope that perfection would make me "good enough". It never did. But I have finally learnt that sometimes, just doing my best, is indeed good enough for now. Having accomplished her mission, Moana went back home and became a great leader to her people. So, naturally, I asked myself what is left for me to do now? I believe it is to encourage you with three things that I have learnt while watching this beautiful movie and leave you with three Scriptures that have given me hope:

    1. Make sure that no one steals your heart, by staying in touch with the ONE 
        who protects us and guards our hearts!

    2. Be honest and forgiving with yourself, especially if you have moments where 
        you resemble Te Kâ because trust me, you are not the only one!

    3. Read the signs! Irritability, tiredness and a constant feeling of stress all 
        mean that you need REST! And when you read those signs, be kind to 
        yourself, allow yourself a little bit of QUIET TIME!

"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." 
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed."
Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

"Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:7 (NLT)

I hope you liked this blog post and I would love it if you leave me a comment below. Have a great week!