Prepare without timeframes!

The year is almost over. One more day and a new year starts with new chances and new possibilities. Interesting thought though, we don’t need a new year for new chances and new possibilities. For some reason we need that ourselves. We need a timeframe that gives us hardship and a new timeframe that brings us blessings, however long that timeframe may be.

For years I would decide, on December 31st, that the new year would be a better year. Every year had some form of hardship in it, so I would decide that the new year would be better. After a couple of years, we, my mother and I, would make a ritual of this. On December 31st we would tell each other, “Next year will be better.” But years came and went and nothing improved. About two years ago I stopped this ritual because it didn’t work anyway. I simply couldn’t timeframe my life. I couldn’t decide for myself that things would get better.

Through the years I have always had the feeling that God directed my life more than I did. For as long as I can remember I have felt that I have zero control over my own life. I made plans and I dreamed dreams but things always turned out so much different.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:9

It felt as if, whatever I decided, God had His own plan for me and His plan would come to completion regardless of what I said or did. I couldn’t predict the future in any way. Exactly a year ago I had no idea that 2018 would turn out the way it did. If I would have known, I would have gone into hibernation, that much is certain. 2018 was a year that shook the foundations of my life and tore everything apart that I was certain of. It was a year where I wrestled with God just like Jacob did,

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
Genesis 32:28

The two big differences between me and Jacob are that I wrestled with God in prayer, and not face-to-face, and second, I don’t have the feeling like I have overcome anything. I have felt angry, hurt, defeated, empty, sad and confused, and not necessarily in that order. I tried to change and negotiate the plan God had but without success.

Was the year only bad? Is my life one huge failure? No! In the last year only, God also answered me. He said, “Honey if  I would explain it to you now, you wouldn’t understand it. But one day I will explain it to you, I promise.” God also taught me to be open and honest with Him about how I feel inside. And there were blessings like meeting Lynn Austin, who told me not to quit writing (something I was highly thinking about). God brought blessings and people in my life when I needed it most.

That’s the thing about life. Blessings and hardships go hand in hand. God is near to the broken-hearted but still feels so far away in times of grieve. God cries with us, gets angry with us and laughs with us but still we so often feel as if He doesn’t care. God is too great for our minds to comprehend and still we try every single day to grasp an inch of Him.
It is not a lack of faith or trust, it is a simple desire to be as close to Him as we possibly can because we know, that He, Jesus Christ, is the only place where we can truly heal and find peace. Someone once said, “You get the angriest at the one you love most”. And in my own case, there is a big truth to that.

We cannot timeframe life. We cannot timeframe a year. We cannot predict the future or change the past. We can only live today. We can only prepare for the future. Just like the ten virgins in Jesus’ parable (Matthew 25), we can only make sure that we have enough oil for our lamps. Read your bible, pray, worship God, use the gifts and talents God gave you and treat everyone with love. That is the only thing we can control. That is the only way we can prepare. We cannot control the year to come, we can only prepare for it. Without any timeframes!

May the Lord bless you and keep you in the new year to come! Have a blessed 2019!

The rose blooms

The rose blooms

Tears bring forth joy.
Through the ashes of pain,
a rainbow colors the horizon –
hope is a glimmering in the sky.

When pain scars the heart,
screams whisper in silence,
until the earth breaks into an earthquake –
relief is the essence of tears.

An ocean of tears fills one heart,
but only through the sunshine,
the rain falls down like shimmering stars,
and the rose blooms in full bloom.

*When my mother passed away last Friday, I never thought that I would ever be able to write again. For how do you find the words in such times of grieve? How do you find the words when the woman who was your greatest love and support has gone to Jesus?
You don’t. God gives them to show you His presence and everlasting love. I am not alone! And there is a golden light at the horizon!

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.

In times of grieve

Exactly a week ago my grandmother (the last one I had on earth) passed away. Last thursday was her funeral. She reached the blessed age of 92. I loved my grandmother and I am so blessed to have some good memories of her. I know she is in a better place now. A place that she longed to go to. A place where my grandfather and my uncle were waiting for her.

In times of grieve we can be more sensitive towards words than at other times. So am I!  When Billy Graham passed away (also this week), people all over the internet were praising him for everything he has done. And he did do great things! But what stung me, was when I read in some responses that Heaven was throwing a big party right now and that Heaven was blessed to have him. No offense towards anyone but why do we think that Heaven will be happier with someone who had the opportunity to do more for Jesus? I am only being honest. It bothers me. Not everyone gets the opportunity to work in such a big way for Jesus. God has a personal plan with everyone. But when I lost my grandmother and I read these praises, I found it hard to take in. Was Billy Graham better than my grandmother? Was Heaven throwing a party when Mister Graham entered but with my grandmother, no one cared that much? I was struggling with this last week!

Believe me, this is not about Mister Graham or my grandmother. It happens with many famous or well-known people. When someone who was well-known passes away, Heaven is so blessed to have him/her. But we don’t say these things about a homeless person on the street or our nextdoor neighbor! And I get this deep sense of standing up for these people. Jesus always said, “The first will be the last and the last will be the first in the Kingdom of God”. And with this in mind I get the deep feeling to defend the unknown. Maybe it is my grieve speaking right now. But in the eyes of God everyone is exactly the same.

As I was struggling with these thoughts, a certain bible verse came to my mind that gave me a sense of peace. It is Matthew 11:11 which says, Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Jesus said these words shortly before John the Baptist was beheaded by King Herod. Jesus loved John. They were even related in a sense. Jesus’s Mother Mary and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, were cousins. But Jesus has in mind that in Heaven, everything is different than here on earth. God the Father does not treat one better than the other. For the Father, everybody is equal. Here on earth we establish a certain hierarchy. The one who does the most for God is somehow also the best. But to me it was such a great comfort to know that God does not look at people this way? My grandmother was not an evangelist. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. She was loved by many but did not have many conversations about Jesus. She was a believer, a sinner saved by grace, but not a well-known evangelist. And still God is as happy to have her in Heaven as He is with someone like Billy Graham (or Henri Nouwen, Thomas A. Kempis or anybody else). This thought gave me peace and understanding. Maybe I have always known this but I was grateful that God pointed it out to me anyway.

Like I said, we get very sensitive in times of grieve. Things that normally don’t get to us, do now! Normally I would have ignored the whole thing but now I couldn’t. And in this struggle, God was right there with me. He was comforting me and helping me to see things in a different way. Grieve can throw a blanket over our eyes and make our sight foggy. It can prevent us from thinking with a clear mind. In these moments of grieve, we may know that Jesus wants to comfort us and help us. We do not face this alone. We are never alone. Jesus love will always be with us. Even when nobody sees us.