Time Keller said that: We become the things we love the most. That’s what the Bible mean when it says that ‘The fear of te Lord is the foundation of all wisdom’ ( verse 10) Or ‘The good life begins in the fear of God ( MSG version) We, the modern people, are interested in making money and making a good life, but we fail to see wisdom as the path to a blessed life. That’s why the disappointment when we get money or when we taste what we see as the ‘good life’ is great. When we fail to see God for who He is: The one who performs great works, glorious and majestic, creative and eternal righteous, gracious and compassionate, generous provider and caring, faithful and just, trustworthy and upright, redemptive and holy…we loose the awe and honour He is due. And when we do that, our wisdom slips into folly and we waste out lives chasing after nothingness and vanities.
Dear Lord, cause my heart to fear you with honour and let your joy fill my life daily.
Dear husband. When you go to a party with your wife please stop time after time your engaging conversations and go find her. Give her a smile, a kiss on the neck or even a hip rub. She needs to know right there inside that big room that you eyes are still on her. Assure her that you are very proud of her and so blessed to have her at your side.
Dear wife, yes it’s good to have friends over for a meal. The evening has been lovely but longer than you anticipated and now you are tired. You are about to snap at your husband or put him down in front of all for not thinking of helping you. Please don’t. Go and give him a waist hug and a pair of loving eyes. I can promise you that he will feel immediately like a hero. He will grab that sword, cutlery I mean and shine it to perfection.
Dear boyfriend, be more affectionate (hold her hand, hug and smile often) to your girlfriend in public than private. She needs you to let her know and declare it to the world that the quest is over. You have found the One.
Dear girlfriend, yes your buddies are still very important to you. Nonetheless, your boyfriend will soon become your best friend, so invest more into that relationship please. I assure you that that time invested will give great dividends to your couple life later.
Dear mamma. Yes, all that shouting shame, criticism and rushing around weighs heavy on your shoulders. Don’t ever give up please, don’t give up on cupping their faces (make them bend if they have passed your height) and tell them. “You’re a good kid, I am so proud of you and I love you so much!” I promise you that they will forgive you for the shouting and that loving eyes talk will become their strongest inner voice for life.
Dear daddy. As you open the door to enter the house your energy tank feels scarce. All you want doing is grabbing your plate of food and reclining watching tv. Dig deeper please. That word ‘love’ indeed is spelled ‘time’ bigger and louder at home. The big and little eyes are waiting for a kiss, a smile, some kind of understanding.
Dear friend, yes it’s tough work to split open your heart’s pain and joy to someone who might abuse and use you. Keeping a friendship strong requires us to be bravely open, to be vulnerable. So be brave, be wise and you start first. Trust me friendships are worth the price. Our deepest pain comes from relationships, and God uses relationships to mend our hearts. Don’t miss out on that! Go brave friend
We need healthy relationships not only to enjoy life, but to be able to face life’s storms well . When Nath was almost forceful for us to have a ‘date’ each week I wondered if that was even possible. I though we will get bored by the third time and have nothing to say to each other. I was wrong. Not only that I look forward to that day but I have a deeper understanding and friendship with Nath because of it. I want to nurture that one better this year.
Those little conversations that my kids share as we drive to their school and back have become some recently discovered gems. I want to be more present in my children’s life and not miss those rich moments when they come by. I want to stop while chopping an onion and stirring up the dinner to hear their heart pour out, that will fill their soul and mine and sustain us longer than the food can.
A few friends and I started the ‘cooking club’ last year. Basically we meet once a month and share food and time together. Their company soon has become one of the highlights of the month and I love what that converge does to me. Time with those girls has challenged me, grown me, we have laughed hard and cried painful tears too. I need that relationship, I value that time so much, yes-that is a keeper too.
As a leader I meet regularly with many women from our community. We exchange encouragements, different pieces from our life and truths from the Bible. I love giving my time and heart like that. Community has a way of refining us. By edifying others we illuminate ourselves and fulfil the belonging ache.
Then come those relationships that I like to keep at bay. I have to be more brave with them then with the one I like to nurture. I love people, don’t get me wrong, but if good relationships build us up then the negative ones really dismantle us. Relationships that are kept by manipulation, control and guilt need established boundaries time after time as people need time to change, some never do. I have tried to love people like that…….many times, and all those times I am the one left to pay the big bill of maintaining ‘peace’ – which mostly means loosing myself little by little.
I have learned that love in those cases has to be more from afar till the right moment comes when our hearts are safe to build trust. Relationships are hard work, that’s why I want the main focus to be on them. Relationships are amazing, that’s why I want to be investing more and more of me in them.
Happy New Year Brave One! May we grow couragious with our relationships.
Like building bricks, 30 to 40 trillion cells form you. My little yet strong fist-size heart will pump around 182 million litres of blood during my lifetime. My fingers prints, eye print and my toe prints are unique to me.
I am truly one in billions!
My mouth has around 2,000 taste buds to taste and enjoy food. My eyes can distinguish 10 million different colours. My bones are about 5 times stronger than steel is. The acid inside my stomach has the ability and might to dissolve zinc yet never destroys its walls because the stomach’s cells regenerate quicker than they are destroyed.
If I laid all of my blood vessels end to end they would stretch 60,000 miles, or go around the world nearly two and a half times! You help me think, create, comfort, invent and be able to love. Because of you, I can enjoy music, see great paintings, soak up breathtaking views. You give me the gift of knowing when I am comforted by the embrace of a friend. Because of you, I feel the kisses of my children and husband, I can gaze the pride in my father’s eyes, the happiness in my mother’s face. Oh, body, you are truly amazing.
My body, you are fearful too.
A little virus invisible to the eye can kill you. A tiny insect carrying a deadly disease can break and threaten your existence. A little paper cut can cause more pain and discomfort than a broken bone. You can be addictive to drugs, food and drinks and slave after them. You have in you the ability to accumulate dangerous anger that threatens to cripple all your relationships. You feel the pain that no doctor can see or heal. You are easily envious, jealous, bitter and offended. You use manipulation, control and force to get what you want. You exploit your fellow-man, look down on the less fortunate and favour the powerful for your interest.
So, when I look at you, where shall I focus on, dear body? The wonderful or the fearful part?
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 NIV
For, If I stop at just your wonderful side, I might be thankful for you and perhaps even prideful. If I looked at the fearful side I might be paranoid and scared to live my life. So, I choose to look through you and not at you only.
Through you will help me pass seeing just the physical, not that the physical is bad, in contrary it is beautiful, but let us not stop there. My body is more than the cells that make or those that break it.
It’s formed for a purpose, yes whether in the splendour of its beauty or in the destruction that sickness, you, my body have a purpose.
So, I am learning to take both arms of my body, the wonderful one and the fearful one and let them embrace me fully. Both sides must come as a whole otherwise I tend to pull one side or the other and that always divides and disconnect the body and mind. Our human nature tends to separate how it looks to the body, we separated it into the parts we like or hate, we dice it, we take sides and stop to look beyond what the mirror shows us. But the psalmist echoes a truth that has survived millenniums. The truth that our bodies are wonderful and fearfully made. That our bodies have a purpose beyond the physical one. That more happens in our bodies in the unseen that what we see. We can start to learn to see through it and enjoy to live in that wonder.
These days I am learning to look through my body more than I am tempted to look at my body. What about you?
I went to the dentist today. Don’t worry I will not share any horrifying story here because there isn’t any, but I learned something as I sat down on that white chair that is worth sharing. As the bright light beamed through my orange protector glasses I wonder how is it for a dentist to face every day working with a persistent drilling noise? I have sat there for a hour only and the noise of the drill was driving me crazy.
So, with my mouth numb and wide opened I asked him. How do you do well your job working in the company of this annoying, loud, uncomfortable (I was generous with the choice of my adjectives) noise?
His answer surprised me. “I don’t hear it!” He calmly said. ‘How come?’ I asked, now very short of adjectives.
“I am so focused on doing a good job and having a satisfied client that the noise of the drill, the bright lights, the music on the radio ……all of them, I don’t hear!”
What? You don’t hear the screeching noise of the drill? His answer was the same again. Simply-No
So, focus is the secret of quietening all those annoying other noises that distract us – I thought.
If I am well focused on eaten healthy for example my eyes will be on the good result that that process will bring and not on the cake and cheese around me? If my focus is arrowlike on having good relationships I will see for ways how to improve and invest on those relationships rather than hearing all the negative, complains and judgement noises around me. If I want to be successful at a certain filed my focus needs to be there, totally, wholeheartedly, almost forcefully because all the around noises are going to be present, there annoyingly looking for my attention, districting my focus, pulling me away from the most important things.
For years I didn’t wanted a dog! Its not that I don’t like animals, but only lately I have found out the true reason why. Not, it’s not the hours of exercise and caring that I had to get use to-although that was a concern, a more deeper reason bothered me. I found out that the fear of one day loosing our beloved pet was the real motive of resisting that thought. The heartache and pain that that event would cause to our family made me resist that idea.
We do the exact same thing with our friendships. We are afraid of building deep friendships for fear of getting hurt by friends or they leaving us. We refuse to love because love can be crushing. We forsake our dreams our deepest desires because hope has been deferred, disappointment is a bitter pill to swallow? So, we ‘take control’ of our lives by suffocating our hearts. By limiting our opportunities and reducing them to more ‘manageable’ ones.
We buy a goldfish, we love partially, we dream small…….. Then we wonder why with each passing day we extinguish a little. Why the spark of life gets dimmer and dimmer.
“The desires of good people lead straight to the best,” says the proverb. That’s how we know if our hearts are open, if they are awake: by the nature of our desires. Do our desires lead us to the ‘good enough’ options for our lives? To they lead us to ‘acceptable’ ones? Or do they guide us to the best choices we can make for our lives?
If we sense our lives shrinking, closing in- would it be that we have reduced our desires, what we really long for to manageable sizes? Have we perhaps build a dam to contain them and keep them checked, safe?
If the answer is yes, can you feel the walls beginning to crack lately? Don’t be afraid! Let the dam burst. Let the excitement and life bubbling desires run through our hearts again and let us sprint wild with them. “Ask and I will give you the nation” is what welcomes us to the other side. Desire expands our lives, despair shrinks them!
“Oh @&%*! What are you doing?” Those were the first words out of the gentlemen that I knocked down as I lost control on the skiing slope. We (my class and I) were crossing through a very busy piste and in a flick of time while checking if I was free to go or not I had lost control. I was slipping uncontrollably backwards downhill. My efforts to stop only slowed me down a bit but didn’t stop me crashing into the man and his family as they were taking a break.
All of them fell down and understandably were not happy. I was prepared for a response full of anger and frustration but the repetitive words that were spoken by the couple took me by surprise. “You stupid you, you have not place in skiing, I will have you arrested!” Between the accusations, crying and pain I tried my hardest to apologise. “I am so sorry sir, it was an accident, are you all ok?” The man continued to shout and his voice like a war siren had stopped the whole piste activity and people were watching, listening.
A French skier came close handing my ski pole and with a broken English tried to help by saying to the angry gentleman that it was an accident, that things happen and that was not need to shout because all of his family were fine and not hurt. Trembling and crying I walked out to find my class, but those words spoken had done more damage than I anticipated. Fear creeped inside me like crazy and for 3 hours on the piste I fall, lost control, cried and could not ski at all like the day before. The day before I had been fearless, fun and daring, today all that confidence castle was smashed to bits. I tried very hard to ‘be that girl’ you know the one, the-one-that-forgot-already-those-spoken-words-and -moved -on-with-a-brave-face… I couldn’t.
How do you build confidence when all of it is knocked down and destroyed? How do you gather yourself and show up living when you are in pieces? How do you love when love betrayed you? How do you build friendships when the wounds of a ‘friend’ are still fresh and burning?
At the end of my lesson, tearing up and still hearing those words repeatedly banging in my head I knew I needed some help to start and put those broken pieces together. I met Nath at our ski dropping place and told him what had happened and that I was in need of a walk. He hugged me hard and let me go.
I walked slowly in the village buzzing roads and tried to understand why that episode had effected me so much. His words have not only made me feel a skiing disaster, but that I in fact sucked at all things in life altogether.
I walked around pressing snow underneath my feet and letting my mind cool. As I ascended a little hill in Val d’isere village the tower of St Bernard de Menthon church stood up in front of me and I felt safe and drawn to enter there. It was empty, the only person inside was a gentleman playing his guitar and singing. I sat there looking at all ikons, smelling the candles burning with my eyes glued on the centrepiece. A big statue of Jesus on the cross! As I stood there wiping tears and whispering ‘help’ I felt my heart starting to beat slower, be less jumpy. I could not understand a word from the song the vicar ( I noticed now that the gentleman with the guitar was wearing a collar) was singing, but my soul understood every single note. Little by little that hurricane of feelings, fear and unsettling was clearing up and I was able to see and gather some of the shattered pieces and start building up again. How?
Jesus hanging on the cross in front of me spoke of my value as a person, that value before I even make or think I am a mistake.
Before people call me stupid He had called me a masterpiece. Before I was told I had no place in skiing, God has given me a place on his table, his family.
I had to lay the foundation of my confidence right there before I even was ready to start and build again. Before I added bricks and mortar I knew I had to have the right foundation to build.
I wish I can tell you that all was great after I left the church, that I felt confident and strong again after a few hours. I am sorry, that is not the truth. Those words spoken that day still came rushing after I left the church, they shout even now as I type and try to be loud in my head, try to tell me who `I am’.
They still want to convince me that I am that shaky, stupid person, but I am fighting back, I am building that confidence wall little by little on the right foundation. I have noticed that when we hear constantly what people say we loose sight of who we really are, but when we listen to what God says we find the true us.
We are never going to be brave with our lives unless our confidence is build little by little on the right bedrock. Every other building ground is shifting sand. All the ‘self’ help, people opinions, ‘self’ control, success, fame, money ……. will eventually crumple at the pressure of life. But when we have a strong foundation we can build something strong and unshakable every time when the walls of our confidence are destroyed, we can do that again and again.
So, I am back on the horse that threw me back (skiing). I am back facing that fear, and while there I am gathering pieces where my conference was shattered, I am adding new ones also so that I can build up an even stronger confidence wall!
I know how much rejection hurts and the fear of being vulnerable again is real, still show up in life and live. The agony of living a safe, protected and pain free life is more deadly than the pain caused by living in the midst of people who might and for certainly disappoint again.
I know relationships are hard work, love doesn’t feel welcoming every day. Still fight for love. I don’t know any other more worthy cause than the ‘love fight.’ The battle to exist in someone else’s heart and mind fulfils our soul deepest longing and it’s worth any sacrifice.
I know you already feel like all your effort to be a good person are wasted. Still, keep waking up and trying. For that’s what being good is — showing up and putting oneself fully out there. After all we are not called to be perfect mums, wives, business women … individuals, just devoted ones; who wake up every morning with the cry ‘help me Jesus’ then smearing lipstick on the lips go on doing their best.
I know you are disappointed with God. He has been unfair, mysterious and absent. Still, keep believing— who else is out there that breaths life, sheds truth and colours the world with beauty? A lot of us know that He can be trusted. He is not tamed, but he is so kind.
I know some days you feel like a failure. Keep showing up. Do what makes your heart sing. Press forward, even if the process is slow. We aren’t meant to dance to other people’s tunes. We were created to write our own story, sing our own melody, paint our own picture. Be brave. Show up daily, fully, intentionally!
Fat snow flakes dance in the air and exhausted land on the frosted earth. The scenery here it’s breathtaking, very much like a winter wonderland. It’s our first time in Val d’Isère and I am already in love with the place. Did I just say “I am in love with a place?” We use the word ‘love’ loosely these days, but tomorrow it’s St Valentine (the day we people celebrate love!) and I have not bought a gift for Nath yet.
The first Valentine gift I ever got was when we were engaged. Nath is the first and only who has given me Valentine gifts. Before that I use to hide on Valentine’s day. The sight of red roses and small boxes tightly wrapped up use to make me feel the loneliness girl around. The day of Love was the more Unloving day indeed.
When you think of the story how St Valentine came to be you soon understand that love is sacrificial before it’s romantic and that love starts as a decision before is expressed in feelings. Yes, receiving roses, chocolate and jewellery is beautiful but things given on that day only will not maintain love. So, a couple of years back I decided that before running to find a gift for Nath I must walk slowly deep down inside my heart and look for this one thing to give.
‘Am I prepared this year to not give up on us?’ I ask this question on Valentine season because I know the answer can be the best gift I can offer to Nath. I know that every year our love will have a chance to grow and as result get tested, I just want my heart to be prepare for that. Before running to find the right gift I have to slow down and find my will to love deeper. I want Nath to see the promise ‘I won’t give up on us’ before he sees the material gift. I know that any gift wrapped up with that kind of promise will make a beautiful Valentine day. So, that is what I have been doing this early morning on February the 13th, preparing my heart again. I want intentionally to think and be willing of ways how our love can grow deeper and better than has ever been.
Tomorrow morning though when all family is a sleep and dreaming I will sneak to the near by boulangerie and see what I can find to lavish Nath’s stomach with. The saying ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ has proved many times to be true and a good start of this day gift .
Happy Valentine friends, the day to promise to not give up on Love, never!