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!

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!

Let me be

Let me be

Give me peace, Lord,
give me peace!
Let me be,
let me stay.
Love and embrace,
the creation of Your hand!

Let me be,
simply me,
both for You,
and for me.
Let me be,
Let me be Yours!

Let me be,
happy in me,
poor and free,
let me be,
me in You,
and You in me,
Let me be,
Always Yours!

Give me love, Lord,
give me love,
both for You,
and those around me,
Let me love,
Just like You,
Let me be,
Simply me,
Let me be love!

 

I wrote this poem a couple of years back and it still touches me, every time I read it. It feels like a caterpillar in a cocoon impatiently waiting to come out of his shell. I wrote it straight from the heart. And I think that every single one of us, one way or another, holds back. There are only a handful of people truly able to be who they really are for 100%. So I think it is a great message for all of us. It is time to crawl out of our own handmade cocoon and be the butterfly that God created us to be. Even when this is easier said than done. How difficult the road may be, or might have been, I believe there is always a way back to our true self. We don’t ever lose ourselves! Sometimes we just decided to step away for a while only to realize that who we really are was the best option after all. When you are at that place in your life where you feel like going back to your roots, let me encourage you! Don’t hesitate and don’t let fear stop you. And if necessary, allow someone to help you (a family member, a friend, someone from church, a team mate from your sport club or a therapist). Together you are always stronger than alone. And other people might have a view that you haven’t seen yet.

Let Love be your guidance!

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 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!