Hannah’s courage

For as long as I can remember, I have loved the story of Hannah, the mother of Samuel. Ever since I was a child, I had this affinity with Hannah – a certain connection. She is without a doubt one of my favorite biblical women. The reason I love her so much is her courage and dedication to God.

Hannah did not have an easy life, I believe. She had to share her husband with another woman who bullied her constantly because she was childless. In those days, being childless, was more or less a curse from God. People seriously believed that you had sinned against God, so God punished you by not giving you children. Besides children were your wealth. When people looked at your riches, they didn’t look at how much money you had or the size of your house you owned. They looked at your children. If you had many children, especially a son, you were rich and blessed.

So Hannah is in a difficult spot. Hannah’s situation is continuing for years. The bullying from Peninnah is hurting Hannah so much that she stops eating.  Even the love of her husband cannot cheer her up anymore. But instead of letting her problems defeat her, Hannah gets up and goes to the Lord’s House. She takes her problems to the only place where she can get true help. She takes it to God. The most inspiring part of this story to me is Hannah’s request. She could have asked for a child and left it at that. But she does not. Hannah promises God that if He gives her a son, she will give him back. I am not a mother but I can imagine the sacrifice Hannah makes here. All she ever wanted was a child. In fact she wants it so much that she is willing to give him up. It seems to me that all Hannah wanted was to know what it feels like to be a mother. Her heartache rises high above Penninah’s bullying. Hannah truly misses something in her heart, in her life, and she is willing to go the extra mile to make it happen. Her faith in God is astonishing. Her courage inspiring.

Would I be willing to give up what I wanted most? Would I be able to say, “God if you give me this, I will give it all back to you”? Hannah’s strength is extraordinary to me. In the world where we live in today, I don’t know if I could. But Hannah can. Her heartache becomes her greatest testimony.

What is inspiring about this story also, is Hannah’s courage to ignore other people’s opinion about her. As she is praying in the Lord’s House, the priest Eli thinks that Hannah is drunk. In those days people prayed aloud. When one prayed, he prayed so everybody could hear it. But not Hannah. Hannah does not hang her dirty laundry outside so to say. She prays silently. Only God is allowed to hear her grieve. Only God is allowed inside her heart, inside her deepest sorrow. When Eli wants to send her away, she remains calm and explains him why she prayed the way she did. Hannah was not afraid to do things her way. I see her as a strong woman. Her difficult situation definitely did not define who Hannah truly was. She was a smart, strong woman, who knew God and loved Him. And because of her faith, God gave Hannah what she asked for.

This story to me is incredible. Samuel is born and as soon as he is old enough, Hannah brings him to Silo, where the Lord’s House is situated. Samuel becomes a great prophet because of his mother’s courage and sacrifice. Hannah wrote history by her courageous act of faith and love. And in my opinion she does not get enough credit for it. Most people look at Mary the mother of Jesus or Mary Magdalene, Ruth or Esther, but not many look at Hannah the mother of Samuel. Would you be able to ask God for something only to give it back? How difficult must it have been for Hannah to bring young Samuel to Silo that day. To give her own child up. In Hannah’s prayer we can read that it actually brings her joy. God gave her what she asked for and that was enough. Hannah didn’t mind about the way how God gave it.

When I compare myself to Hannah, I can clearly see the flaws within myself. If I ask for something, I often want it my way. I am not open enough to God’s way of doing things. Besides when I have to give something up, I get sad and frustrated. I honestly cannot imagine asking God for a child and giving him back to God with a happy heart. I would probably be devastated. Imagine it yourself for a moment. Maybe you just become a mother or father after a series of IVF or after a long journey of adoption. Imagine taking your child to church and leaving him or her behind, so they can serve the Lord. You have to understand that Hannah only saw her son ones a year! It was not like she brought him there, he did what he had to do, and she brought him back home. No! She gave him up. Samuel stayed in Silo and Hannah went back home. Could you do that? I believe we can all learn so much from Hannah. From her courage and her sacrifice, but mostly, from her gratitude and joy.

You can read Hannah’s story in the bible, in 1 Samuel 1 and 2.
One last thing. God, in His love and goodness, gave Hannah three sons and two daughters after Samuel. Hannah’s reward for her willingness to give Samuel back to God. It teaches me personally that through all the sorrow in our own life, God will give us so much more in return, if only we are willing to have faith in Him!

 

When the world turns upside down

At the moment the ground behind our house is a construction sight where new houses are being build. Somehow this is exactly how I feel my life is at the moment. A construction sight where someone is working very hard to establish something and I  don´t know whether or not I am happy with it. Somehow I feel like my whole life comes together at this particular moment. Things are about to change and I am not happy with it.

Thursday before Easter we heard that my mother has cancer. A week later we heard that it had already spread throughout her body and she only has a couple more months to live. It felt as if the ground underneath me opened up and I was swallowed into the deep earth. As if a massive earthquake turned my entire life upside down. Even today I find it difficult to deal with. My mother is the sweetest soul that ever lived (according to my humble opinion), and that this had to happen to her seemed unfair to me. I know that a lot of people are in similar situations, so why would my mother be an exception to the rule? When it is your own family, I believe that we are all biased in some ways.
But it’s not just my mother’s good heart. She is also my best friend. Since making friends was never an easy for me, I spend a lot of my time with my mother. We made trips together to Vienna and London, we always go shopping together or drink coffee/tea at a cafe. She is the first person I go to when I am struggling with something. I tell her literally everything. She is my greatest support and always encourages me to keep pursuing my dreams. She was the first to believe in my dreams/visions and my conversations with God. She was the first to accept and support my calling. As you can see, my mother means so much to me and sooner or later, it will all be gone.

Maybe I should feel happy that she is going to Jesus, to Heaven. But right now I just feel selfish and I want to keep her close to me. I am simply not ready to lose her. I am not ready to go through this change. In the last weeks I have yelled at God, screamed at Him, cried out to Him. My emotions are twirling like a wild tornado and I feel, like I will never be joyful again. Anger has slipped into my heart, a feeling of unfairness. God can heal her and He is not doing it. People say that God has His reasons but if you see others being healed over and over again, it feels slightly unfair that your loved one has to pay the price.

Looking back at photos from a year back, I see that the tumor we noticed last December, has been there for a long time. It made me wonder why God didn’t open our eyes sooner? Why didn’t we get a chance to save her? I talk to God on a daily basis in many literal ways (which is unique I know) but this makes no sense to me.  So many questions went through my mind. When the bible tells us to pray, believe that you have received it and it will be given to you, why doesn’t God answer the prayer when we do exactly that? I prayed, I believed and it was not given to me. Why doesn’t God intervene, when He clearly has the power to do so?

The only answer that comes up inside my heart, right at this moment, is because He loves us! God will not let us be tested above our abilities. Maybe, just maybe, God loves my mother so much that He wants to prevent her from getting hurt. Maybe bringing my mother Home (to Heaven) is the only right answer. And maybe, even though I do not feel it right now, God will help me through this. I will get through this. One day I will get up and smile again.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

God loves me. And it is that love that will guide me through this. The interesting thing is that as I was angry at God, I refused to talk to Him for a while. But God talked to me and said, “Gineke, talk to me”! You see, God rather wants us to yell at Him in anger as we tell Him exactly what is inside our hearts than hide and ignore Him. God the Father once told me, “When you cry, I cry. When you are angry, I am angry. When you laugh, I laugh”. God is one with our emotions. He feels what is inside our hearts. He understands all the emotions that are within us. When someone hurts us, God gets hurt too. So if there is one who we can confide in, it is God. And that is what I ended up doing. I told God exactly how I feel and it made me feel a whole lot better. I cannot grow by my own strength, I need the light of God to lift me up. Only with God I can get through this. Only with God there is hope even when I don’t see it yet.

The Weaver and the tapestry

Our place in this world is unique. Each and every single one us has his own place in this world. There is not a person to many or too little. Everyone is exactly where he/she is supposed to be. It is like a tapestry. Each wire has its own place and function but the tapestry could not exist without each and every single threat.

When one comes face to face with an approaching death within the family, life somehow becomes much clearer. As my mom is battling cancer (a battle she is going to lose according to the doctors), I start to reflect on my life more than usual. Questions like; what is important to me and what do I really need, are going around in my mind. Looking back on life I can clearly see God’s hand in everything. Every moment in my life was carefully coordinated by His mighty hand. Before I was born, my life was painted into great detail. Not a single color or brushstroke was left out. Every word was written down. When life happens, it is very difficult to see that you are a part of a great tapestry. Your life really matters! It is the moment when life comes to a halt that you start to see the full picture (or after something bad happened).

We have these moments in life when we look back over our shoulder and suddenly see the full picture. As if we have always been looking at the bottom of this tapestry. All we could see was the knots and chaos in the threads. Nothing seemed to make sense. But suddenly you get a small glimpse at what the other side looks like. You can see the Weaver create every detail in this enormous tapestry. Every color and every thread is handpicked.

To me it is very comforting to know that Someone is in control. God is the Great Weaver who has put all His blood, sweat and tears into this masterpiece. Sometimes the knots hurt. Sometimes we believe that the threads are supposed to be at a different place or preferably not there at all. Sometimes we believe that we could do a better job, if we had a say in it. But looking at the tapestry of my own life, I personally disagree. I could not have done a better job at my tapestry than God. Even though I have been hurt, I can clearly see how much God loves me. God the Father has never allowed a single knot or thread at the wrong place or the wrong time. I can clearly see moments where evil tried to destroy or put the wrong thread in the tapestry and God stopped it.

Looking at the tapestry of life, all I can say is, God the Father did an amazing job. I can feel His love in every thread of my life, in every fiber of my being. Life isn’t easy and sometimes it seems unfair, but I believe that God sees the bigger picture. A picture I can not yet see. Sometimes I get a glimpse but I can never see the full tapestry. Still I only trust God with my life. I only trust God with my tapestry because I know that He does see the full picture. He knows where I came from and where I will go. He has created me and wove me into a unique masterpiece. Whenever life gets difficult and all I can see is chaos, God shows me His love in numerous ways. I can always talk to Him and He always listens to me. His hand holds mine and He never let’s go. His hands hold me up when I cannot stand anymore and His wisdom guides me along the way.

Even though I cannot see the full tapestry, I can see the Weaver.
Even though I do not understand all the knots and threads,
I do know that the end result will be breathtaking!

When the future is inescapable

Sometimes I take poems or pieces of wisdom that come up in my mind and I turn them into pictures by using textgram. I wish that I could use my own pictures but I am not a brilliant photographer, even though I absolutely love it (so all credit goes to textgram!).
Anyway, today I wrote a poem called ‘When the future is inescapable’ and I really want to share it with you. I turned it into a picture which you can also find at my instagram and Facebook. I hope you like it and I hope it inspires you, gives you hope and fills you with love.

When the future is inescapable

The first-born view

The first-born view

 In front of the south gate,
the platform shows a change –
nature made room for a city.

I miss the green grass smile at me,
and my heart longs for the first-born view.

Sitting on the edge my feet swing,
on the angelic melody that soothes my soul.

Discomfort is born out of fear,
preventing my heart to settle down,
for this view is more than I ever saw before.

Searching for stability in this dizzying sight,
Your eyes interlock with mine,
and Your smile sends a heartwarming invitation.

Standing at the top of the stairway,
I wonder if I can let go,
of everything I ever knew.

Born in the first-born view,
is the request for change.

The only sense of true reality

The only sense of true reality

In the deafening silence,
when all time stands still,
the world stops turning,
around its own axis,
and the image freezes in the snow.

Breaking through dimensions,
Your voice pierces through time,
like a bolt of light,
breaking through the earth.
But only I can hear You.

Gentleness is a strength,
in a size unable to measure.
How can a mountain fit in a box?
How can a house fit in a purse?
The inability to hold reality,
confuses the mind,
until it meets the inability,
to understand.

But when I hear Your voice,
Your vision is the only reality,
that I truly understand.
Your gentleness is the only coat,
that seems to fit.

Nobody wants to hear me.
Nobody seems to understand,
the truth of this reality.
They hold on to the bricks,
in a fear to fall down the cliff.
I wish they could see,
that the ground is only one feet,
underneath their own reality.

Love is guidance,
where you learn to let go.
Kicking the dust of my feet,
my focus shifts back to You,
the only sense of true reality.

Happy Easter!

This poem I wrote a couple of years ago. It is about Mary Magdalene’s story on Easter morning. I hope you like it! I wish you a wonderful Easter. May God bless you!

Mary Magdalene

Can you see her walking,
there on that lonely lane?
Can you hear the angels talking,
about her inconsolable pain?

Questions rising in her mind,
tears streaming down her face.
Where He is, she cannot find,
Her heart is searching for that place.

Then suddenly that question,
who are you looking for?
Taken with the wrong impression,
The gardener he must be for sure.

If only she could get to him,
If only He would name the place,
But through that broken pain within,
She doesn’t recognise His face!

Her name still echoes in her head,
But her heart can clearly see,
Her Lord is risen from the dead,
Just like He said that it would be!

Fight or Flight

When life gets chaotic, fear sets in and we lose sight of the horizon. Tears blur our vision and we sometimes lose all clarity. Our fearful thoughts start to take over and for a moment we lose all control. We lose control over our emotions, feelings, thoughts, hopes and dreams. In those moments we often feel miles away from God, even though God is still standing right next to us. When life becomes negative, we fight to keep our positive. Yet sometimes we lose ourselves in our grieve.

Last thursday I heard that my mom has cancer. She has a big lump in her neckline. We don´t know whether it is benign or malicious. Last thursday she had a large number of tests and upcoming thursday she hears the results. The doctor still hopes that he is wrong and quite frankly, so do I. When my dad called me with the news, it felt as if the earth opened underneath me. As if someone sucked all the air out of my lungs and I cried for at least three hours. After losing my grandmother a couple of weeks ago, this news was absolutely devastating. So many thoughts cross your mind. And like I said, it took control over my mine. It still does by the way. The thought of my mother dying is one I do not want to have and yet the possibility comes fearfully close to me. I still need her you know. I may be a 31 year old woman but I still need my mom. Her love, support and guidance. Our time together drinking coffee-tea at the mall (I am a tea drinker, no coffee for me), our conversations, our joy. At a moment when you hear that someone has cancer, the thought of death strikes like a dagger through your heart. You just can’t help it. For hours I felt lost, sad and frightened. Thoughts raced through my mind and I have never felt more out of control, as I have felt at that particular moment. Until one thought came to the surface and I had a choice. The thought was; she isn’t dead yet! And at that moment I had a choice. Am I going to fight? Or am I going to flight?

According to my brother, and I agree, we can do two things in a time when life creates a major earthquake underneath our feet. We can fight or we can flight. When we flight we crawl into a corner and cry. We let life pass us by and we lose all hope. When we do this, hope is indeed lost because when we give up, we also give up on hope. And when we give up on hope, we lose everything including our life.
Or we can fight. When we fight, we fight for hope. Hope keeps us on our feet when we cannot stand. Hope keeps the air in our lungs when we cannot breath. Hope gives life when we feel we already lost it. The most victorious moments all have hope incommon. The people who survive are the people who keep their hope alive.
So what do you do? What do you do when life stumbles and all hope seems lost?

I chose to fight. That one thought was the trigger for me to chose to fight. The thought, she isn’t dead yet! The fact that she is still alive gives hope. But their is also someone else that gives me hope. His name is Jesus and He is the Son of God. If you read the bible, you can read all about His healing powers. When life creates earthquakes I pray because when I pray, Jesus gives me the strength to keep going, the hope to keep hoping and the love to pull me through the moment. I pray for healing, for strength, for guidance and I know that He hears me. Jesus is my hope. God the Father is my hope. The Holy Spirit is my hope. God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the ones that keep me going in moments like this. They keep me on my feet and they keep my feet moving, one step at the time. They whisper hope into my heart and love into my soul.

What will happen next is still unknown. We still have to wait for the results of the tests but my mom is going to need surgery regardless of the outcome. This is an uncertain time in our lives. I keep on praying for complete healing. I will keep on fighting for the ones I love. When Jesus died for us on that cross, He was fighting for us. And in His memory I fight for those around me. Jesus was the best example to show what to do in times of trial. He showed that you fight. You fight with love as your greatest weapon. Love will lead us to victory, regardless of the outcome. Love will always be the answer! Love will always be the greatest medicine to all our needs. And with Jesus by our side, we (my mom) will win this battle! Love if the greatest answer, even if it is the hardest choice we ever made.

Patience

Patience is one characteristic that I do not manage completely. In the cue at the pay desk I can be very patient. When I was still a health care nurse in retirement homes, patience was my middle name. But when it comes up to God’s plan in my life, I am not so very patient. This afternoon for example I have been working on a new project. It was an idea that I already had for a little while. And even though I am a very positive person who does not easily give up, my patience was tested to the limit. Nothing I tried worked! And that brought a lot of impatience and frustration.
You see, sometimes I just don’t understand it. If God wants me to publish a book, be a writer, couldn’t He just cooperate a little?  Lately I have been feeling as if everything just does not seem to work out. Very frustrating. Especially since I have been trying to do the best I can.

The thing is that I care about my work. Which is funny because when I started writing as a child, I didn’t like it so much. I was good at writing and it matched a melody deep in my heart. My love for writing had to grow. Which it did. Especially the last six and a half years it did. Writing has not just been a way to express my feelings. It is also a way to communicate with God. To me writing is all emotions expressed. It is sadness, joy, honesty, growth. Writing is the air I breath and the blood that streams through my veins. Even though it did not start out that way, it grew over the years. More and more I am facing the fact that writing fits me. When Jesus called me at the age of five, I didn’t quite understand why He wanted me to write but now I do.

Today I agree with Him completely. He chose the perfect job for me. The only thing I lack to understand is why nothing seems to work out. If Jesus wants me to write a book than why does He seem so far away in making it happen? People say that I am very intelligent and my faith is extraordinary but some things I just don’t understand. And my lack of understanding makes me frustrated. The essence; the root of impatience is a lack of understanding!

And I would love to understand. I would love to see the truth in all this. Trust me I have prayed over and over again for insight…for the truth…but so far the Heavens have remained so silent that you could hear a pin drop. No answer only silence.
I know many Christians would say, “Sweetie you just need to have faith”, but you know what, that is easier said than done. I have been waiting for such a long time now. Waiting, fighting, searching for answers and solutions with perseverance and faith. And yet it has not been enough.

This really makes one doubt its mission. But looking back at my life, and the things Jesus and the Father told me, I know with 100% certainty that I am on the right track. Jesus once said that the only path that leads to eternal life is the small path. Well I can safely say that my path really is a narrow one, where I sometimes wonder if God will leave some space for me to walk. But I have to believe it. I have to believe that God will keep His promise. The way I see it is that satan will do everything he can to keep us away from God. It is not God that keeps me from succeeding but it is satan. And if I give but one inch, I will lose this entire battle. Like I said, I am positive and persevering. I do not give up. Not now, not ever! I will keep on fighting for God, for my life, for my mission, my work. I will finish this race-with-so-many-hurdles. Even if the road sometimes makes me stop, cry and wonder if the finish line will every be in sight, I will not give up. Patience is something I can learn and if it takes me a lifetime to learn it, I will do just that!

Broken

We are just two weeks before Easter and next week the Passion week starts. The Passion week is the week where Christians remember Jesus suffering. I felt it in my heart. Today is the day to share this poem with you.
I wrote this poem when I was 25 years old. It was one of the first poems that I wrote, after God called me to start writing again after a seven year break. I was still in that period of my life where I wanted to write down everything I had been through in the past. And this poem started out the same way.
However as I started writing, a particular image formed in my mind. It was the very first time I felt as if God put me in someone else’s shoes. I felt so broken. Laying on the floor almost. The tears were heartfelt. I felt like reaching out to Jesus but at the same time feeling unable to. I wrote down everything I felt and witnessed. When I was done, I reread the poem and was blown away. Instantly the name of the person, that this poem was about, found itself a way up in my mind.

This poem is about the Apostle Peter, right after He denied Jesus. There is a particular bible verse about this poem. Matthew 26:75 which says, “Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly”. This is the moment described in my poem.

Maybe you feel overwhelmed by life yourself. Maybe you did something and you feel as if God will never forgive you. Let me tell you that Peter knows exactly how you feel. When He denied Jesus, He cried bitterly. Peter must have felt that Jesus would definitely not forgive him. But guess what? Jesus did forgive Peter. In fact Jesus reinstalled Peter as one of His disciples. Isn’t that a hopeful message. If you feel that God could never forgive you for your missteps, then let me tell you that He can and He will! God is love! And in His great love, He wants you to know that you are forgiven. He loves you and cares about you and all He wants is for you to be His beloved child!

I hope this poem may be a blessing to you and a reminder of God’s love and forgiveness in your brokenness. And I hope that when you read this poem, you will know; you are not alone! Peter knows how you feel and besides Peter there are so many more. You are not alone in your hurt and brokenness!

May the love of God be wrapped around you like a warm blanket!

Broken

I feel the rain
falling down on me
tears of pain
that I didn’t see.

I want to hide
when I look at you
It’s what I denied
that I put you through

I can’t turn back
go back in time
a weak attack
I see my crime

My tears are falling
And Yours do too
I can’t stop calling
Out to you

Now I recall
The words You had spoken
Lord, you knew it all
My heart is broken.