Something to remember with Christmas!

It is December and Christmas is right around the corner. Christmas is my favorite time of year. All the lights are just mesmerizing, great food and there is a scent of joy that fills the entire world. Christmas is pure joy to me. It is the only time of year when I don’t mind to spend a whole three days in the kitchen. Then there are christmas songs. I love christmas songs since they are always so cheerful. I play flute, as a hobby, and I can’t wait until November arrives and it is allowed to play christmas music again. This time of year makes me happy and I just want to enjoy it.

The joy of Christmas is undeniable. Not just to me but to many in the whole world. And yet there are two things important to remember.

The first thing to remember is loneliness. Loneliness? Yes, loneliness! There are so many people in the world that are alone with Christmas. Whatever reason there is, some people spend Christmas all by themselves. And that just makes me sad. Christmas is about togetherness. Of course, we want to spend Christmas with our family and loved ones, but what about those who have no loved ones? Or elderly people? We live in a fast-paced world, where we are so focused on ourselves that we can sometimes forget others. Maybe you know someone in your own surroundings, who is alone with Christmas. Is it an idea to invite them and give them a Christmas they will always remember?

There is also another loneliness. Christmas is usually spend with children. The joy of children when they get to open their gifts on christmas morning and stay up late to watch christmas movies and eating together with the family. Christmas is a magical time of year for children and it is a true joy for parents to watch that. But for people without children, who really want kids but never got them, it is a very painful time of year. Like I told you before, I have no children or a boyfriend/husband. Jesus does not want that in my life. And even though I am okay with that, it is also very difficult sometimes. You know, I don’t know if I would make such a good girlfriend/wife, but I would have been such a great mom. And I do miss it at times. With Christmas and New Year’s Eve I watch my three brothers and their families and I get choked up. If only life would have been a little different. As much as I love Christmas, not having children or someone to spend my life with is not always easy. But there are so many people like me. Moms who never became a mom. Dads who never became a dad. Wives who never became a wife. Husbands who never became a husband. It doesn’t matter how much family and how many friends you have, it is an absence that no one can fill. An absence that fills you with a loneliness at certain occasions like Christmas.Please do not forget the lonely hearted this holiday season!

The second thing that I think is important to remember this holiday season, is Jesus Christ. Presents, great food, Christmas trees and decorations, yes it is all a part of christmas but it is not the most important part of it. Christmas is about togetherness and giving and joy. But most of all it is about Jesus. Jesus who came to this world for us. A little baby in a manger, with shepherds in a field, angels singing about the coming of the Messiah and three wise men bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh. It is about God the Father who loved the world so much that He gave is only Son, so we may have eternal life (John 3:16 in the bible). Let’s not forget that during Christmas.

And for the record, a Christmas tree, presents, great food and such things aren’t bad. Enjoy these things! I do to. Like I said, I love the lights, music and food. (We don’t do presents but I would have loved that too if we did!) All I am trying to say is not to forget what Christmas in the end is all about. Jesus is what makes Christmas…Christ-mas

A few years ago I wrote the next poem for Christmas. I hope you enjoy it!

The reality of Christmas

In advent weeks,
we buy a tree,
cover it with lights,
the decorations,
and candle light,
are a joyous fascination.
Many gifts,
in every size,
pile up underneath the tree,
with pretty bows,
and candy sticks,
it is our expectation.

Christmas is,
a feast of light,
but somehow more important,
is a table,
packed with food,
than a savior in a stable.
How can it be,
that our greatest gift,
is something bought in stores,
and not a Son,
who gave His life,
to open Heaven’s doors.

During Christmas,
every year,
my goal is to remember,
that Christmas is,
togetherness,
not just in December,
Love and peace,
for near and far,
given us,
that Christmas day.
A feast of light,
through Jesus Christ,
a baby born in hay.

 

How I deal with anxiety and stress.

This time of year is a busy one. We hardly have any time to relax because we are simply too occupied with too many things. Work, Christmas preparations, children (if you have them) and more. There is no time to breath. I don’t know about you but this is my reality. For the record, I do not have children but I do feel very busy. So busy in fact that I feel something, or rather someone, inside of me plea for a break. A moment to relax. Some peaceful time. And I would truly love to give myself a minute but too many things are asking for my attention. But do they really? Or is it my own desire to show the world a perfect picture of myself?

This is the question that has been going through my mind in the last couple of weeks. The reason why I started pondering about this subject is because a month ago I felt the Holy Spirit ask me to cancel something from church. I felt miserable, especially since I do go very often. I hardly ever skip. It bothered me so much that I felt anxiety attacks coming up. Something inside of me was whispering that I had to go. What if I miss something important? What if they will stop liking me because I didn’t go? Seriously the craziest ideas came to mind. Ideas that forced me to stop myself and think very carefully!

In my early twenties I was diagnosed with a General Anxiety Disorder. Even though I haven’t noticed it for at least five years, I gradually recognised that it is back. A year ago I had to have a wisdom tooth pulled out and it was such a traumatizing experience that my anxiety disorder came back in full force. My mistake was that I ignored it for too long. I know the signs and symptoms but I stuck my head in the sand. Until I was in it so deep that I couldn’t ignore it any longer. A stupid act on my part, especially since I have the skills to deal with it. (skills I learned in therapy) If I would have applied these skills early on, it would not have gone this far.

The skills I learned are easy. Whenever I become afraid I ask myself questions. Why am I afraid? What happens when my fair becomes a reality? And what is so bad about that? After asking myself these questions, I search for ways to turn my thinking around. By slowly changing the thoughts in my mind, I change my perception also. For example; I am afraid to cancel a get-together from church because I am afraid that people will stop liking me. The first question I ask myself is, what will happen if people indeed stop liking me? Well I would feel pretty bad about myself. I would also feel very alone.
Okay, next question. What happens if you feel bad about yourself? What happens if you feel alone? Nothing. Nothing would happen.
Another question. Is it rational to be feeling these feelings? No because in reality I am not alone. If some people won’t like me, I still have plenty of other people left who will. People like my mom and dad, brothers, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, grandmother, my good friend. On top of that I will always have God. God will never stop liking me. So my feelings aren’t rational.
By repeating these questions, I can slowly change my perception. In the end, the fear will become smaller and smaller, and often even disappear.

What also helps me is to reduce stress by planning moments of rest. It can be tricky at times but it is so valuable. Our bodies and minds need rest from time to time in order to recharge. Without rest, we would be developing a burn-out in seconds rather than minutes. I am learning therefore that it is good to say, “No” at times. In this case, I said no to church, to give my mind a moment of rest. You know what the point is? Our bodies may be able to handle a lot of stress but that doesn’t mean that our minds are the same! Sometimes we can physically deal with a lot of work, while we mentally feel tired and weak. We have to try and find a balance in our life, where we can be meaningful and stress-free at the same time. A balance between duties (work, activities, family etc.) and rest.

I started my blog with a question. Am I really so busy or is it my own desire to show a perfect picture? I say yes. I am trying to show a perfect picture. I am trying to prove myself to everyone. I am trying to prove that I am worth it. But is this a rational thought? No because I am worthful for God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I do not need to prove myself in order to be loved. God the Father said it Himself two months ago, “I love you regardless of what you do”. I do not have to earn His love. I receive it for free.
And you know what! My parents also love me. And so do my brothers, even if they forget to show me sometimes. I have God (three-in-one) and a loving family. What more do I need? The only person I need to convince that I am worthy is myself. It doesn’t matter what other people think of me. What is most important, is what I think about myself! If I keep on finding my own inner happiness, I will be just fine.

“I see the sunflower in you. And all I ask, is for you to see it to”. (From the poem ‘The Sunflower, spoken to me by God the Father)

A Lost Generation

The Poem ‘A lost generation’ is based on two stories from the time I was working as a nurse in retirement homes. I had to stop working as a nurse, when I was in my early twenties, due to fybromyalgia. But these two stories never left my mind and heart.

The first story is about a memory that a patient once shared with me. Due to confidentiality I cannot share names or places but I will tell you what happened.
It was a rare moment that I entered her apartment. Usually my colleagues helped her but this one afternoon it was my turn. She was watching TV and usually didn’t speak much. But suddenly she started talking to me and I felt very privileged that she shared this particular story with me.
She told me about when she was just a little girl. She had a bike and her parents only allowed her on the driveway of their home. “But”, she said, with sparkles in her old eyes, “Whenever father came home, I was allowed to drive to him, straight into his arms. He was a good man, my father”. She repeated this about three times and then went back to her usual silence while watching TV. I had tears in my eyes. She probably lost her father a long time ago but her love for him had only grown. It really touched my heart.

The second story is a sad one. One afternoon I entered a woman’s room. She was sad. I asked her why and she told me that she missed her family. I suggested to her that maybe she could phone her children. Maybe they could come over? She looked at me and said, “Oh dear, that is so sweet of you to say but my children have their own life now, and I am not a part of that anymore” She continued saying that she understood. That they lived in the city now and had houses and family to take care of. She just didn’t fit in their life. She also said, “I worked hard to give him a good education. I worked day and night to give him everything I never got. He is living his life now”.
Hearing her say that, my heart broke. This woman was stuck to an oxygen machine and could only leave her room for afternoon lunch. Otherwise she was always contained to her room. Her family hardly ever paid a visit.
About three weeks after this conversation with her, she passed away. I was sitting at the reception desk when her son came from her room and was about to leave. I overheard him say to his wife, “Out of all the days she had to die, did she really have to chose this one? She knew have a meeting today and I am going to be late”. He was so angry that his work was interrupted by the death of his mother. He continued by saying that he hoped it would only last 20 minutes because he really had to go. My colleagues and I looked on in complete astonishment. Apparently his work was more important than his mother.

These two moments happened over ten years ago and both women have passed away. But the stories have always remained in my heart. Sometimes I feel like the elderly are a forgotten generation. They have beaten themselves up for their children, but now they are being pushed away by the business of life. In my work as a nurse I had many people with fantastic children to take care of them like the woman in the first story. But there were also cases like the second story, where children brought their parents to a retirement home, so they didn’t have to look after their parents anymore. Such sad stories that you can’t fix as a nurse. The only thing I could ever do is listen to these people. However the love these people gave back, was a great reward and I miss being a nurse sometimes. I mean, writing is my life but so was caring for people. Both jobs gave me a sense of meaning and purpose. I was doing something good, something that helped people in whatever way they needed.

About two years ago I decided to write a poem about these two memories from my time as a nurse. It is a dedication to a generation that I never forgot. And that I know God doesn’t forget either. A poem for all the lovely people I was blessed to meet. A thank you to their trust in me as a nurse. And a thank you to God for giving me the chance to help these people, even if it was only for a limited time.

A lost generation

The old eyes look at me,
telling me the many stories,
of a long-gone past.
Their wrinkles give me,
a cup with wrung-out tears.
And their thin grey hair,
whisper the secret wisdom.
I wish the walls had ears.

Time is running out,
but your excellent politeness,
waves your loneliness away.
Your heart is focused solemnly on love.
For this fast-paced life is too quick.
Your heart cannot keep up,
and your memory loses the battle.
I wish the world would slow down.

An orphan are you,
left by those who carry your heart,
leaving your old soul,
with many paper-wrapped excuses,
yet your love does not wither away,
and your mouth speaks,
your wise understanding.
I wish the blind eyes could see you.

My heart holds the old eyes,
and my eyes shed the tears,
for a lost generation.

A shield of faith

The poem ‘A shield of faith’ was the very first poem that I wrote after my seven year break (read the ‘About me’ section of my page!). It is based on Ephesians 6:10-20. Writing this first poem after such a long time, felt like someone breathed fresh air into my lungs. As if someone gave me back my life! Poetry is my thing. It makes me happy. It inspires me. And it is a way for me and God (the Father, Jesus & The Holy Spirit) to communicate. Poetry ended up becoming so much more than I ever thought it would be. It truly was God’s gift for me.

I hope this poem will inspire you too!

Shield of Faith

Many arrows I saw coming
Of hurt and grief and pain
A deep and evil longing
Planted deep within my vein

One mistake was all it took
One misstep so to say
An isolated broken look
at a world so far away

The only One who had compassion
Who saw the truth so deep inside
Loved me with the greatest passion
And told me not to hide

A shield was what He gave to me
to protect me from the flames
A shield of faith to set me free
from all the painful shames

The shield of faith is for protection
The helmet sets you free
The sword is His affection
He prays for you and me

His power will be made perfect in my weakness!

I don’t know what to say or where to begin today. Too many insecurities are plaguing me. And the biggest insecurity is myself. That’s how I am sometimes. Sometimes I am my own worst critic, to such an extend that I completely forget to love myself a little.
I am trying to have an open discussion but my answers are taken the wrong way and I feel attacked. Regardless of whether I really am attacked or not, I feel it in my heart. And I think, some people are just more loved than me. Nobody understands me. And I want to give up. But giving up is not an option.

I just want to be honest today. I feel judged all the time because I have been judged to much in my life. I have been rejected, hated, judged, ignored and laughed at, and after all this time I am not so strong anymore. Yet strength is overrated. Jesus said, “My strength will be made perfect in weakness”. So I do not have to be strong. I just have to believe in Jesus.

When I am getting insecure, I can almost feel satan standing next to me saying, “Do you really think that you are good enough? Do you really think that God loves you? How can God love someone like you? You can never do anything right!” And for a moment, a brief moment, I believe him. Because I know that I am not good enough. In that moment I wonder why I keep going on. I wonder why I am still writing, trying, believing. In that brief moment I forget one very crucial element of faith. I do not have to be perfect! Jesus died for my sin because He knew that I couldn’t do it on my own! Through His death I am forgiven. Still… Still, I try to be the perfect girl. Still I try to punish myself. Still I try to work myself into heaven, thinking that Jesus will love me just a little more, if I just try a little harder. And I forget His love. I forget His sacrifice. I forget that His power will be made perfect in weakness. And I let the judgement of the world, fall like a blanket over me, suffocating me in grief.

All I ever wanted was for people to know God’s love. To see how much God loves this world. God allowed me to see many things, hear many things, understand many things. But when I try, I am judged. After every discussion, I end up in tears, because I start doubting myself. Even though I read the bible every day, I pray more than I talk to people and I work for God, satan knows my weakness and uses it to his own personal benefit. I almost hear him say, “Do you hear all these people? They all think differently than you. You are wrong! Give it up!” But I don’t. After everything God showed me and told me, I cannot give it up! I will keeping speaking about God’s love for mankind, whether someone will listen or not. I could show people all they do wrong, but I don’t. It would make me a hypocrite because there are so many things I do wrong as well. I can show people the splinter in their eye but forget the tree in my own!

I live my life a certain way because that is how God taught me. I write about God’s love because that is what He showed me. Jesus asked me to write a book, maybe….just maybe….because I understand God’s love. Love is greater than fear, greater than hate and greater than grief. Love is the greatest of all. That’s what I believe. That is what’s most important to me! So I don’t give up. I stumble forward because I hope that maybe, my writings will learn someone to love a little more. Because maybe Jesus power will be made perfect in my greatest weakness.

Yesterday I saw a picture of Oprah Winfrey. She stood up for kindness. After writing this blog I was reminded of that. So I want to stand up for love because I believe that is what the world needs today. To love each other a little more.

A work in progress!

The other day I was visiting a friend of mine to meet her newborn baby. It is her fourth child and the sweetest little thing, as most babies are! I showed her my blog and she asked me a question. “Do you do all of the things you write about yourself”? “Yes I do”, I told her, “but I am still a work in progress though”. It is good to have a friend like her! A friend that is honest with you and not afraid to ask the right questions. I try to do everything I write about, however I am only human. Sometimes I am better at it, then other times. Especially when my fear is getting in the way.

When I was in my early twenties, I was diagnosed, by a psychologist, with a general anxiety disorder. After I had therapy, it died down until a year and a half ago. I had a traumatizing experience at the dentist and ever since it is back in full force. Again I am fighting a high dosis of fear every day. A fear that was almost gone. I know, with the help of God, that I can overcome this fear but it takes a lot of patience. And patience is one of my weak spots. Often I want to rush things when I should actually take it easy. I want things to happen right away, when God asks me to wait.

Fear will always be a part of my life…unfortunately. However often I have prayed for healing, it is something that I have come to terms with. After all, Jesus was afraid too when He was praying in Gethsemane garden! Right before Jesus was taken captive, He prayed to His Father if the cup could be taken from Him. Or in modern day language, if He could please be spared from what was awaiting Him. You know, many people say that Jesus was not afraid anymore after that. That after that prayer, He knew what to do and He did it without fear because He knew His journey. But you know what, I believe that He was still afraid. I don’t think the fear left Him. I believe that He simply decided to go through with it, regardless of His fear. And with the fear in His hands, He climbed on that cross. His love was bigger than His fear.

His love being bigger than His fear is something that I recognize. When I like what I have to do, it is easier than when I have to do something I don’t like. When your heart is passionate for something, fear reduces to a tiny flame, making it easier to do it. But the tiny flame becomes a huge fire when your heart is not fully in on it. Of course there is a difference between a healthy fear, like before a speaking engagement, or a fear that goes through the roof. Sometimes I can control my fear but there are also moments that I cannot.

For example, after the traumatizing experience at the dentist, I tried to ignore my fear for a long time. I went to the dentist again and even though I had a much better experience, the fear was so big that I could not control it anymore. The trick that God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit taught me is; with patience and relaxation you can overcome it. The fear never goes away overnight. This is a fact that I have to be fully aware of, but it will go away in the end. This thought gives me a lot of peace already. The second step I take is becoming rational. I tell myself to calm down. Jesus loves me and there is nothing on earth more important than that. I also skip things from my agenda when I feel in my heart that I need time for myself. To plan moments of calmth is very important. I am not superwoman. I cannot do everything and that is okay. My life is not easy and God is keeping a lot of things away from me, like a family. Just because I am not married and I don’t have children, does not mean that my life is easier. I have not been requested to do it all, but to do what I can. I focus on my talents and gifts and not on what I am not good at. But the biggest of all remains patience! With a lot of patience, and a lot of faith I overcome my fear. I cannot let it go away but I can make it smaller and that gives me room to breath.

Life remains a battle. Yet in this battle it is good to remind ourselves of one very important thing. Jesus love for us is everything! It is more important than our fear. And with that in mind we can overcome anything. Jesus’s love makes me get up every morning. Just the thought that, besides Jesus, I have a Father in Heaven who loves me so much, makes me want to try again. Of course I am not capable of doing everything. Like I said, I am not superwoman. There are some things that I am, and never will be, good at. But that is okay. God accepts me for who I am. And if I do the same; if I work hard and focus on the gifts and talents that the Father, in all His goodness, gave me, it will all work itself out in the end. Fear may be an ever present companion but at least I can shut him up whenever he talks to much!

Optimism is the key to a happy life!

Optimism is the key to a happy life. It really is. I believe that happy people are optimistic people. Optimism does not mean that you avoid problems in your life or simply turning a blind eye. Optimism, to me, means that you remain positive about the outcome regardless of the circumstances. When facing a problem, you don’t dwell in the problem but you look beyond the problem to the outcome and you make it a happy one.

When I was a child, I was a very optimistic little girl. One of the things I always said was, “Everything will be okay. Maybe not today but in the end it will be”. And I believed in it. Why? Because I believed that God could literally do everything. Nothing was too out of reach for God. But when I grew up, I had moments when I doubted that. I did not doubt that God could do everything, but I did doubt that everything would be okay in the end. The problem, in my own point of view, is adulthood. There comes a time where we lose our childlike innocence. It is like someone takes our rose-colored glasses off and exchanges them for reality glasses. As we grow older we start to look at the world and lose a piece of our childlike positivity. A positivity that is so important for us.

When I was nineteen years old (about two months before my twentieth birthday) I got into a deep depression. During that depression I lost my optimism completely. It was like something shifted inside of me. In the weeks before I became depressed, it had been brewing for a while inside of me but I ignored it. Then suddenly one morning, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I could not see the goodness in my life or people. It lasted for at least a year and a half, and with therapy I found a way out. Since then I have had two more depressive periods. And the only thing that helps me during these dark days is optimism. Telling myself positive things. One thing that helped me greatly was telling myself that Jesus loves me. As soon as I woke up, I would remind myself of Jesus love. And throughout the day I would repeat it. Then slowly, little by little, my happiness would return.

Negative thoughts enter the mind so easily. With me it probably started at school. Someone laughed at my because I did not wear the right clothes. Then someone rejected me. And more people followed. Instead of seeing people for what they really are, I would try to locate the problem within myself. I kept trying to fix myself until I felt worthless and unfixable. But when exactly this started? I cannot put the finger on it. Little by little negativity ate its way into my soul until it had eaten me from the inside out.

And yet the answer was so easy. The only thing that ever helped me was to replace it with positivity. Even when I was twenty my psychologist would make me look at myself and research myself as long as it took for me to see that things weren’t that bad after all. I wasn’t that bad after all. When I was twenty-one, a good friend of mine secretly filmed me with her camera as a joke. When I saw it back, I thought, wow she is a really great girl. Only to realize that this great girl was actually me. After all the negativity, this moment shifted my heart back in its place. For the first time I started to like myself. Which was a huge step forward! And it has only improved ever since. Like I said, I still have depressive moments that can last several weeks, but I don’t take it out on myself anymore. I just keep repeating Jesus’s love for me. I keep reminding myself of what is beautiful about myself. I literally talk myself happy again. And if I can’t do it? God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit remind me of it.

A happy life starts with loving yourself. I know the bible asks us to be humble, but there is a great difference between humility and pulling yourself down. You can see the beauty within yourself, love yourself and be humble at the same time. Humility simply means that you don’t boast about yourself. Or in the language of the bible; Honor one another above yourself (Romans 12: 10). When I realized this, it was a great eye-opener! For as long as I lived, I literally thought that I had to hate myself to be humble. But slowly, as I grew older, God started to show me a new reality. He asked me to like myself. In the poem ‘The Sunflower’ (I posted it in a previous blog), God said to me, “I see the sunflower in you, now all I ask is for you to see it to”. God wants us to be positive and optimistic. He wants us to see His love for us and He wants that love to penetrate our soul so much that it covers our soul completely.

But positivity goes beyond yourself. I can be very positive about myself but it is equally important to be positive about the world around me. To see the good in people instead of the bad. To give people a chance instead of rejecting them right away. To give someone a compliment or a kind word. Greet people on the street or smile at someone instead of living in your own world. If we try to be a little more positive, it can already change our souls and lives dramatically. Optimism is the key to a happy life. Not just for yourself but also for the people around you!

Caught up in the threads

Caught up in the threads

The basket filled with spools of thread,
shows nothing but an unkept disarray.
Where the cats have lost their interest,
the sewing box is catching dust instead,
and the knitting needles lost their purpose.

In the never-ending threads and knots,
my mind is losing track and wanders off,
to thick wooded forests and mazes,
until I find my way back unnoticed,
and I continue my search through the mess.

Will the end ever be in sight, I ask myself?
Or is the ending only the beginning,
and the beginning the chaos of something new.
Where the chaos is a never-ending circle,
and the circle the centre of the same basket?

Philosophical unstoppable roads.
I wonder when the traffic signs,
will finally show me the way.
Maybe I should seek my glasses first,
in the basket with divine notes.

But  if I had listened or noticed Your hands,
I would know that confused minds,
never solve the problems they began.
But with my heart caught up in the threads,
I missed the clean state of my basket.
And now I can start all over again!

Written by: Gineke van Keulen.

A little more gratitude

As I was walking my dog this afternoon a Dutch children’s song came to my mind. I just couldn’t stop singing it. The song is about a helicopter. It is a request to the helicopter if you could please fly along with him because all you want is to be up in the sky. On and on I kept singing this song until it really drove me crazy. But when I really looked at the lyrics, I started thinking. In life we are all exactly like this song. All we want in life is to fly higher and higher. The highest place isn’t high enough. We want to be more successful. We want a bigger house. We want more money. We want more recognition. We want more friends. We want more fun. We want more adventure and so on. It is never really enough. When are we finally going to be grateful for what we have?

Think about it! Are you really grateful? Or are there things that would make your life just a little bit better? If I may answer this question for myself, I am not grateful enough! For the past month I have been complaining to God about my life. When God the Father audibly told me that He loved me, all I could think of was the things that aren’t going well in my life. Things that I hadn’t accomplished yet. Things that were still missing in my life. In reality I didn’t really listen.

Even when Jesus said, again audible, that He loved me, I started complaining about the fact that I haven’t gotten my book published yet. As if the publication of my book is more important than Jesus’s love for me. Of course, looking back, I can hit my head into a brick wall with piles of shame piled up on my shoulders but that is not going to help me now! Jesus taught me once, “An apology is merely a collection of words, only a change of heart can redeem the soul”. So I know that, especially with Jesus, an apology doesn’t really work. What Jesus rather sees is that I change my actions into the right ones. However that isn’t easy!

It is so difficult to not want more. In our own minds we simply need it. We need a roof over our head, food on the table, clothes to wear and, preferably, a stress-free life. And how we get it appears to be as important as what we get. We don’t settle for less. It has to be new. It has to be big, it has to be enough to our own standards. And in a way we do need all these things. We do! But God already knows that. God knows our needs long before we do! The point is that sometimes we just aren’t grateful enough. Instead of enjoying the moment, we are looking for our next problem. We keep searching for requests that we can lay down before God’s throne until we start making them up. But when are we going to stop and say, “Thank you”. When do we stop our lives and realize what we already have? When are we going to let the helicopter go without us because we have enough already?

A few years ago I made a rule for myself. During prayer I would thank God for at least one thing. In the evening for example, I would go through my day and thank God for as many things I could come up with. As time went by it became easier and easier to come up with things. In moments of difficulty it is extremely helpful. It allowed me to consciously think about that what God has given me. It made me see that God gives me more than I am often aware off. Maybe it can help you to? Another thing you could do to become more grateful is writing a prayer journal. You write down each prayer that you pray. Looking back on the prayers you can see what God has done for you. And so there are many more ideas to be more grateful.

Once a year we celebrate thanksgiving. It is a different date in most countries in the world. And each country celebrates it differently. In the United States for example it is highly celebrated with family diners. It is a public holiday that everyone celebrates. In Holland however, it is only celebrated in churches. Only Christians have a thanksgiving day. We don’t get a day off to celebrate and we have a church services in the evening. And I am pretty sure that some other countries don’t even have a thanksgiving day! But do we need a thanksgiving day? Do we need one day a year to be grateful? Maybe we do. However I think it is very important to be grateful every single day of your life.
Stop looking at what you don’t have and start realizing what God did give you. A little bit more positivity can brighten your soul more than you are aware of.

For me it remains a work in progress. When I feel down and alone it is a lot harder for me to be thankful for what I have. Those are the moments when I complain to God and I get frustrated with myself and my life. In those moments I will have to remind myself to look at what I do have, even if it is only one thing that I can come up with. Because I still believe that God is good and that He knows our needs! Besides, Philippians 4 verse 19 tells us, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” He is with us, taking care of us every day, to the very end of the age! And that alone is something to be grateful for!

Psalm 100

A psalm for giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Are you allowed to get angry at God?

Are you allowed to get angry at God? It is an interesting question, isn’t it? I wrestled with this question a lot when I was younger. As a teenager I had the feeling that anger was a sin. I wasn’t allowed to get angry at the people around me and especially not at God. I looked at God as this almighty being, high on His throne and judging the world. I had based this on the stories of Israel in the bible. The amount of times that God the Father got angry at the Israelites was downright astonishing. Read the old testament and see how often God gets angry after people made mistakes. The old testament is filled punishments in order to get reconciliation. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that my opinion of God shifted.

Sometimes we get angry at little things in our life, especially when we are stressed out or worried. But sometimes we get angry because we got hurt. In that case anger becomes part of a grieving process. Through anger we learn how to deal with something. And in other occasions we get angry because things aren’t fair. We feel a high sense of unjust at something in our own lives or in the lives of others. I think we can all recognize one of the three. We all get angry whether we like it or not. It is part of our sinful living. But is anger always wrong? I think not. I think we are allowed to get angry when we see or experience injustice. When I see the amount of children living in poverty, I get angry because I think it is unjust that the world has such a lack of equal sharing. If I hear that a mom died of cancer, leaving behind young children, I can get angry because it is unfair in my opinion. When I get angry, I am not saying that God is mean and didn’t do the right thing. Not at all! I get angry because of sin. Because we live in a dark world and we still didn’t learn how to listen to God and do His will. But this is not an answer to the question if we are allowed to get angry at God.

Look at the story of Jonah. I love this story. This is one of the few stories in the old testament that shows us how God responds at our anger.
Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh. The citizens of Nineveh sinned so much that God was pretty much done with them. Jonah had to go to Nineveh to tell the citizens that in three days God was going to destroy the city and all its inhabitants. Jonah however wasn’t willing to go. Instead He fled onto a ship that would sail in the opposite direction. But God wasn’t easy to fool. He provided a storm and Jonah was thrown overboard where a big fish swallowed him up. Three days Jonah sat in this fish to think about his actions. And Jonah ended up going to Nineveh after all. After Jonah told the citizens of Nineveh the message of God, he patiently waited for God to destroy the city. But God did not. The citizens of Nineveh changed their hearts and turned back to God. Because of this, God had mercy on Nineveh. This is where Jonah gets furious.
And what does God do? This is the part that I love so much. God calmly explains to Jonah exactly why He did what He did! God does not get angry at all, in fact He takes this moment of anger to teach Jonah more about Himself. Isn’t that amazing?

This story tells us that God does not mind our anger at all. In fact He takes it as an opportunity to teach us more about Himself. God’s heart is 100% love and God operates out of this love. His love is so big that we often don’t understand it.
Besides if God taught me one thing through my poetry, it is that God rather wants us to be honest! Our honesty, regardless of whether we are happy, sad or angry, means more to Him than anything else. We can keep a pretty facade but God knows our heart. If we would not be fully honest with God about what is going on inside of us, we would be lying to him. If we give God our anger and hurt, He is able to do something with that. God does not act unless we ask Him to. This also applies to our anger. God is fine with us being angry at Him as long as we keep an open mind to what He will do with that.

To me that is exactly the love of God. God loves us so much that He even wants to put up with our anger. For if we give our anger at Him, He can do something with that anger and turn it into something much more positive. So if you hold any grudges towards God, let Him know. He wants to do something with your anger. He wants to explain to you why He did what He did, but He cannot do that unless you tell Him. God is a God love, who will never force himself onto you. It is up to you to trust God. It is up to you to trust Him with your anger and your pain. He is already waiting for you, to shower you with His love and mercy. So don’t be afraid! Give God everything that you have inside your heart He is listening!