My Father’s Garden

The poem ‘My Father’s garden’ is based on a vision I had. I was 29 years old and one night, as I was laying in bed, I got a vision from God. In this vision I saw myself in a secluded place. The grass was greener than I have ever seen. Trees with green leaves were in a quarter of a circle and green bushes were standing in front of the trees. It was a sea of green.

In the centre was a long white (French garden set like) table. It was huge and could easily seat 12 people but there were only 3 chairs. One at the head, two on either side. I was sitting on one of the seats but not the one at the head! I was dressed in a white robe, one like Jesus always wears in pictures. My hair was dark brown and my eyes had this amber-brown color. My face was so white, as if I had a lightbulb in my head that was turned on. My face was literally glowing (read; giving light). I was so shocked by my beauty. And not just my beauty. I looked so happy. Happier than I have ever been on earth. I was filled with joy. The person I saw didn’t look half as much as I am today. I was so shocked by this perfection that I pushed the vision away.

Now I am truly sad that I stopped the vision. I would love to see it once more and take a closer look at myself. I saw myself through God’s eyes. God showed me what He sees. Around the same time God gave me the name; Batyah, which means ‘Daughter of God’. (I have talked about this story in a previous blog) When I woke up the next morning I wrote a poem about my experience. To me this poem is a treasure. A memory of something beautiful. It was God’s way of saying: “I love you and to Me, you are absolutely perfect. To Me you are my beloved little girl”.

My Father’s garden

Watching through a camera,
the lens provides a new picture.
A new world…an unknown place.
Where green trees make a secluded garden,
green bushes bring rest to the soul.
She dwells in green pastures.
Her home is peace,
She’s dressed in truth.

A white table provides three chairs,
One for her…she is already seated,
One for the Son….He will come,
One for the Father….He is already there.
Never leaving her side,
His angels keep her laughing,
For joy is the essence of the garden.

The lens provides a perfect world,
where all the cultures are united.
Peace is the law,
joy is life,
and love your greatest company.

Dressed in white, Her body is alight.
Her dark brown hair points out Her amber eyes.
I want to touch Her face….my face.
I want to braid Her hair…my hair.
I want to look like Her…but I’m looking at myself.

The lens shows a different view,
I am looking through the eyes of my Father,
A promise…a place…a Daughter.
My Father’s garden…my home.

Between the lines

For the past seven years, I have dedicated my life to writing poetry (and every other word that God gives me). Though I write mostly for myself, I have always had my focus on the reader. What would the reader need most? What would God want the reader to know? And even though this is not a bad concept, I have learned something more valuable over the years.

Over the years I have written over 250 English-languaged poems (and a handful of Dutch ones), give or take. Poems that contain a piece of God and a piece of myself. Whether God quoted it or I wrote it. It has always been a partnership where God receives all the credit. And for me, it works! For me it is the most functional way of working and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

During the years I have been through a lot. Not just the past seven years but ever since childhood. All of these struggles have found a way into my poetry. Don’t misinterpret these words though, because my poetry is not a summery of misery. With the struggles, God always handed me the solutions whether I was ready for it or not. I know the solution can sometimes overwhelm you and make you feel as if you will never be able to accomplish it. Therefore God often gives long-term solutions. Solution you can grow into as time passes by. Every day is a learning process. We are not expected to succeed in a day, week or year. God knows how long we need and that is the exact time he gives us.

Since my poetry has always treasured the solutions, they have always been my greatest comfort in times of need. Whenever I felt sad, lonely, frustrated or confused, the Holy Spirit would most often lead me to my own poetry. Between the lines I fely comfort, answers, peace and the love of my Heavenly Father. Reading these poems and feeling the great comfort they bring me, even though I wrote them myself, installed a greater understanding deep within my soul.

‘When the work you do for God heals you more than others, you’ve done something right!’

Isn’t it true that when God calls us to work in His Kingdom, we are so extremely focused on others. We need to save the world, heal mankind and bring them safe and sound into the arms of Jesus. But what if Jesus has a greater message for us than for others through the work we do? Aren’t we missing out on something?

I see so many of us make that mistake. We are so focussed on teaching that we forget to be taught. We are so focused on helping that we forget to be helped. We are so focussed on loving that we forvet to be loved. We so easily forget ourselves. How wonderful it is to know that even though we forget ourselves, God does not. He sees us and loves us. And through His everlasting love He wants to teach us every day, face to face, in the most personal way. And sometimes we don’t need to cross oceans to find it. The greatest lessons we learn are in our own handwriting. All we need is to be reminded of it.

Incomparably Beautiful! That’s you!

We all have our heroes. Whether it is a parent, a brother or sister, a friend, a coach or someone like Nelson Mandela or Mother Theresa, we all have someone we look up to. Several people at times because as we grow, our heroes can change with us. As a little child you can look up to your father but as grown up it can be someone entirely different! Whoever it is, it is someone we want to be like. We see someone and think, if only I could be more like him/her.

When I was a little girl, my family were my role models. My dad, my mom, my three brothers. I thought that if I would just be a little more like them, I would be a better, nicer or a more loved person. As I grew up, it changed into musicians in my teens to someone like Mother Theresa, Akiane Kramarik, and several Christian writers as an adult. If only I could be more like them, maybe then I would be better. How the mind can make up such lies is, at times, somewhat admirable. But the greatest lesson I have learned over the past few years is;

‘Do not compare yourself to other people
  &
Do not compare other people to yourself’

God has created everything in a unique way. When He created you, He did compare you to all the other humans that He had already created. On the contrary, He looked at you with new eyes. You are a unique masterpiece. And God didn’t stop creating, until you were absolutely perfect! And when He was done, He looked at you and saw that you were good…and He blessed you!

A couple of blogs ago I shared with you the poem ‘The Sunflower’. This poem is a message that God gave me at a time when I was wondering why the grass seemed a whole lot greener on all the other lawns. I was downcast. God had promised me things that hadn’t happen yet. In my eyes, others seemed to get blessing after blessing, while my life seemed like one big curse. Not only was I frustrated with myself, I was also a bit disappointed with God. Why wasn’t I prettier? Why wasn’t I a better writer? Why did nobody seemed to notice me? Why was my life so hard? Every day I fired a million questions to God’s throne because I was disappointed with myself and my life. At that time I started painting. First God gave me a vision of a sunflower to let me know what my first painting had to become. After I painted ‘The Sunflower’, He gave me the poem. And the last sentence has nestled itself in my heart ever since. Where it is stored for times I need it.

My child, I see the sunflower in you,
and all I ask is for you to see it too.

God has the same message for you today! Look at a sunflower. Look at how it always grows towards the light of the sun, with it’s radiant yellow petals. That beautiful flower is you! You are beautiful and uniquely made. You may grow towards the light of God, knowing that you are so loved, every single day of your life. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Whether it are people at work, school, church or TV, magazines and the internet. Focus on yourself. Who do you want to be? Rest in God’s love and light. God sees you as His perfectly beautiful child! But more important is, how do you see yourself?
Choose to see yourself through God’s eyes and focus on that only. You are a wonderful person just as you are! You are beautiful and uniquely made, a masterpiece created by the Almighty God Himself! And God loves you so much that He was willing to give up His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, so He could have a personal relationship with you! That is how much you are worth! That is who you are! You are God’s beloved child! Don’t you ever forget that!

May Love guide your steps to eternal life!

Face to face with God

Many Christians and especially Christian Pastors are saying that a human being cannot see God and live. Last sunday in church I had to listen to these words once again. And even though I do not like to talk about it, I feel as if I have to. Because I saw God the Father face to face…and lived to tell the story!

Truly I tell you, I am not defending myself. All I want is to change people’s perspective a little. Because God is a God of love. He wants a personal relationship with people. That is why I am telling my story. Through this blog I am hand-delivering puzzle pieces of my life for you to put together. And whether or not you believe me, is entirely up to you.

It happened about two and a half years ago. As usual I was writing poetry when I received a vision from God. I saw myself walking at the hand of God the Father, Yahweh/Yahovah. We were walking across a path next to a forest and He was showing me things like birds and squirrels and such. As I was watching this I thought, Could I? In those two words I thought, Could I turn my head and see Him? Before I could finish my thought, in one bold move, I turned my head. To my own surprise I looked the Father straight in the eyes. I saw Him the way one would look at a photograph. He had white hair (platinum white, close to gold), a little like sheep wool and it went a little over His shoulder. His eyes stood out to me. His eyes were crystal blue and shimmering like the sun. His face had no wrinkles and yet I could see age in it. He looked young and old, both at the exact same time. His frame was thin maybe weak even. Yet at the same time, He looked stronger than anybody I had ever seen. Love was shining in His entire countenance. At the same time as love, I saw holiness and almightiness. He is literally all in one and one in all. And what surprised me most of all is that I could see a reflection of myself in His face. I saw the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth and at the same time…I saw my Father.

As the vision left me, I tried to write it down in poetry. But words can never truly define the Father. My words could and never will do Him justice!

Around the same time, perhaps a few months earlier, I ask God a question. As I have told you many times, I have been through a lot and I am still dealing with many things in my life. So I asked God one day, with all the honesty and sincerity in my heart, “Father, why did my life go the way it did? Why me? Why this way?” Immediately I heard God’s voice saying, “God’s daughter, daughter of God”. Even though I instantly understood what God was trying to say, I dropped the thought at once. Not me! Not I! But a couple of months later I had a vision where God showed me the way I look in Heaven. Again a couple of months later, as I was surfing the internet, I was looking up names and their meaning. I stumbled upon the name ‘Batyah’. The meaning of this name was, ‘God’s daughter, daughter of God. It didn’t hit me until exactly a year after I asked God my question. I am Batyah. It is a name/nickname that God has for me. It is the way He sees me! When He looks at me He sees His daughter. Not just any ordinary girl. What is very telling is that I have always considered myself a sinner saved by grace. I was a adopted into God’s family through the blood and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nothing more nothing less. But here was God saying, “Yes you are, but you are also really my daughter. It got a complete new meaning for me. I wasn’t just one out of many. But for God I was His.

Like I said, I hardly ever talk about this. Probably more out of fear than out of humility. The fear of what people might say or think when I do talk about it. But I hope so much that telling my story will shift something inside your heart. I hope you will learn to see yourself as a true child of God. You are not just one out of many. For God you are His one and only. No accident but a carefully constructed plan by the Father Himself. He put all His effort, love and joy in creating you. You are truly loved. Don’t ever forget that!

May love guide your steps to eternal life!

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)

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!

A personal kind of love

This morning someone responded to one of my instagram posts with the words, “Just wanted to let you know that you are loved”. Truth be told, I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear that. To be fully honest with you, I don’t always love myself. For the past week, God has been telling me, He loves me on numerous occasions, this being one of them. I believe Him! I really do. It’s just that I lack love for myself sometimes.

Let me explain myself a little more. Ever since I was little, I wanted to do the things I did perfect. If it didn’t work out, I would tell myself that I failed. This became such a struggle for me, that when I did one of my final internships, my internship supervisor set me apart. She told me, “There is one word that I do not have in my dictionary and that is failure. So I want you to stop using that word. You are not a failure! Yes, sometimes things just don’t work out but that does not mean that you failed. It only means that you have to try again until it does work out”. These words were (the way Oprah Winfrey calls it so beautifully) an AHA-moment for me. Nobody had ever told me this, the way she did. In fact I sat there (18 years old) with my jaw dropped and unable to say anything. Up to this day, those words are always somewhere in my mind, especially when I feel like a failure again. It works like an echo.

Even though I have been working on not calling myself a failure, I am still very hard on myself. In a way I am my own worst critic. I make it so hard on myself at times that I cannot live up to my own expectations. I know that God the Father loves me, Jesus loves me, my parents love me, but I just don’t always love myself. And in these moments of ‘self chastisement’, it is really difficult to see the love of God and also that of my loved ones. Because I live with my parents, I feel a high responsibility for them. As a way to pay for cost and accommodation I help my mom in the housekeeping. Since my mom has rheum and unable to do that much, I force myself to do everything. I work so hard that at times I feel completely exhausted, but even then I am forcing myself to do it anyway. Giving up is simply not an option. And I don’t communicate anything! Even when my parents ask me about it, I force myself not to make such a big deal about it. I can do this!

Also with God I am very critical about myself. Often I feel like, I have to be perfect. No mistake is allowed to be made. As a writer, as a poet and as a human being, I feel the need to make God proud of me. To make God love me. Yesterday I heard the voice of God the Father in my heart saying, “I love you regardless of what you do”. Even though I know this, I find it very hard to truly believe this. It is weird, I know. Through my life God has showed me and told me so incredibly much. Much more than I have told you so far, but the downside is that it puts a lot of pressure on me. As much as I want to do, I often feel unable to. And when I am unable to, I am very hard on myself. At the end I feel worthless, which is only bringing me down. The other day, as I woke up, I heard Jesus voice and He said, “I love you, just remember that”. I needed that.
Knowing that God loves me and that He is trying to help me, makes me feel humble, because often I feel like I don’t deserve it.

The reason I am telling you all this is, because I know that many people in this world feel the same way as I do. We ask so much of ourselves, thinking that God will love us just a little bit more if we work a little bit harder. We are our own worst critic and it is not lifting us up, it is bringing us down and wearing us out. All we need to remember is that Jesus loves us! The Father loves us, regardless of what we do!!! But yes, it is often easier said than done. However, I believe that through prayer and hard work we can overcome this. All I have to do, as Jesus said, is remind myself of His love for me. Every single time again, until my heart surrenders and accepts it. There is nothing we can do to make Him love us more and there is nothing we can do to gain a better place in Heaven! His love is enough!

There is this one song by Andrew Peterson called ‘Be kind to yourself’ that speaks to me a lot. He wrote it for his daughter, I believe, but everytime I hear it, it feels like God wrote that song for me. In the song there is this sentence that says; Gotta learn to love your enemies too. (In order to listen to the song, go to Youtube. It is easy to find) Whenever I hear this line, I think about myself. If I am my own worst critic, if I lack so much self love, than I have to learn to love myself too. Because if God thinks I am worth it, than I am! He loves me, so what good reason do I have to hate myself?