Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cooking in my own kitchen!

Nothing like cooking in your own kitchen!

In my opinion I have cooked the nicest meals in my own kitchen! I know where to find everything. I know the sizes of the pots that I have and which goes on which plate on the stove for optimal distribution of the heat. I know the heat settings on my stove and how much of it I need to prepare whatever is in the pot or pan. I know the utensils to my disposal for the ideas that are in my head and I (99 % of the time) achieve the desired outcome!

So why is this important – as the smell of pumpkin and fish lures me to the kitchen – I love vegetables and fish...

I have more recently had the opportunity to step into some other people’s kitchens. I don’t know if it has anything to do with having turned 30 a couple of years ago, or whether it had anything to do with whose kitchens it was, but I found myself having the strangest overdose of courage to just plunge in and try.

For the first time ever I had the courage to go for it regardless of my own (sometimes unreasonable) demand for perfection. Granted, not everything came out as it was supposed to, but some came out really nice and I couldn’t help but feel chuffed with myself.

The thing that just AMAZED me – I mean BLEW ME AWAY – was the courage that I felt for trying new things.

I’ve heard some people tell me about things that happen to you when you turn 30. How you move into a phase of your life when you start caring less about what others think of you and more about who you want to be and what you think of you. Your confidence levels increase and your zest for life and having new adventures, trying new things. Some people have compared it to the maturing process of good wine – how it gets better with time. One thing that has been said a lot about turning 30 is the new found liberty – the freedom to be anything you want to be.

Looking back over my life there are many things that I desired to have and achieve before 30. At one time it was sad to realize just how many things did not work out quite the way I had planned or hoped. But as I’m progressing to accepting what did not work out, I am also slowly but surely filled with hope of what can be and what is coming in this new place in my life. Maybe I was not quite ready for the things that I desired before thirty (I am a late bloomer). But now, who knows what it can be instead and how much more I am able to embrace and enjoy it.

I mean, getting your license at 18 is pretty awesome – the newly found freedom of movement is definitely something to be celebrated, but there is nothing like being behind the steering wheel of a powerful motor when you’ve got more experience under your belt and more confidence in how to handle the exhilaration of the freedom that you hold in your hand (and that you feel vibrating under your bum)! Sometimes starting out is great, but it is only a bit further down the line that you really start to appreciate what you’ve got and what it is worth to you, and that you often have the maturity to know what to do with it in a responsible way.

Yip, it is not the pulling away that matters most (even though no one should despise the day of small beginnings). How do you go anywhere if you don’t START SOMEWHERE? But it is the thrill of the journey!!!

Life is too short – it should be lived more fully, more often!!!!!!! (Full throttle instead of in reverse.)

Reminiscing...

I heard a story once of someone asking a cleaning lady at NASA what it was that she did exactly. Her reply: I help to put people on the moon.

What do you do?

I’ve been experiencing so much over the past few days that have caused me to really have a closer look at the past few years of my life. It has caused me to ask myself some serious, honest questions and it has caused me to rediscover some parts of myself that I have almost forgotten was there... that I’ve lost sight of, even though they are such VITAL things in my life. I feel like I’ve been paging through the scrapbook of my life. Some memories brought back the ‘rush’ I felt and the elation of feeling like I was SLAP BANG in the center of God’s plan and it was evident in everything I touched! Days before the bizarre and disillusioned part of the journey began. These have caused me to learn much, but is has also got me in such a flurry that I forgot some very important things about who I am. Somehow I feel like it is time to remember again...

What is the greatest desire of my heart? I want to help change people’s lives!!!!!! With ALL my heart! I just know that God has given me SO MUCH for a reason – a reason that will (and often has in the past) glorify Him – that is after all the only reason why we’re here. Whether you do it by being an Engineer, a millionaire, a lady in the soup kitchen, a pastor’s wife, a personal assistant, a manager, a CEO, a street sweeper.... How you do it is not important, but THAT you DO IT!

When I was 19 I went through a period of roughly two years where God was teaching me about leadership from His Word, and showed me it applied in real life. He gave me such a hunger for His Word and I couldn’t get enough of it. I believe that when God is in something it should bring forth life in some form. I was flourishing. Then I came to very crucial cross roads in my life and I chose the wrong path. There I was, 21 and feeling like my life was over. How was I supposed to go on? Where was I supposed to go? I felt very strongly that I needed to go back to the place I was before my disastrous decision. My reasoning with God was that I couldn’t possibly face those people again. All of them knew that I made the biggest mistake of my life! What part of that did He not understand?

However, every time I prayed about it, He gave me no different answer than the one He’s given from the start. He was relentless. Finally I decided to submit and go – on condition that He goes with me! (Imagine giving God such a condition – the one Who promises to NEVER leave us nor forsake us... – the things we do sometimes...)

I returned as I felt God had told me. God honored me and everything starting healing, growing, flourishing. I had another 3 years of intense training in God's idea of leadership and what life is really about if you desire to do it God's way. Just before my biggest mistake I had changed jobs and the area in which I lived. There were a lot of new things going on – the transition was very traumatic. But out of the ashes of every failure God was bringing new beauty.

God built very valuable character in me – something that NO ONE can ever take away! Still to this day it is one of the most cherished things about my life: the woman that God has made me, and IS STILL MAKING me!

I started at this job at 19 – a PA to the CEO. Within two years – and after an endless battle for an opportunity – I was given the opportunity to get involved with the company finances. No one taught me – I just seem to know instinctively – and before long I was promoted into a management position that was especially created for me – I was only 24!!!! Now THAT HAS TO BE GOD! WHAT AN HONOUR AND PRIVILEGE. I was able to make a bigger difference – I had more influence and I absolutely believe in influence through relationship – where people give you permission to speak and invest in their lives. One thing management is not, is status. It is an even greater responsibility to do greater things and it positions you to make sure you don’t fall behind in your personal growth, because you cannot give what you don’t have, and your team will never grow bigger than what you are. So (beyond getting the job done) what are you reaching for?!

The CEO took me under his wing and showed me everything about his business. I knew that God had put me there and He was giving me divine favor and I was learning and growing in a way that I could almost TOUCH!!! I would walk a million extra miles for this man, work till whatever hours of the morning, but I would achieve – successfully and with excellence – that which God has entrusted me with – not man. I loved every moment. I worked weekends because I wanted to, not because I had to. I loved the people that surrounded me and we worked so well as a team.

In time, however, change happened; as it always seems to do – the only consistent thing being change and all... – it was a new season and new challenges. The following five years were REALLY hard, but God taught me much – most of the progress was in my character – the invisible. Strange how you can feel such an amazing sense of going nowhere slowly while God is working in your character, preparing you for what He has in store. I was moving, but I didn’t feel it. I felt a lot of anger, frustration, sadness for the unfair treatment that were given to many an innocent person around me, including myself – these were people that I loved and cared about. I felt such passion for caring for them that I was almost permanently on the front lines, sleeves rolled up, fists clenched, fighting for what I believed in and the people that have been entrusted to me as a Manager. God had positioned and prepared me for battle.

More recently I’ve been pondering on why on earth I was able to stay for five difficult years? What on earth possessed me? And I’ve come to realize that the only thing that made it worthwhile for me was my love for the people. I knew that I was there for a purpose and I was called to touch many a life. I was not going to leave until God knew that the time was right to release me. But no matter how hard it was, I WAS TOUCHING PEOPLE’S LIVES!!!! That was more fulfilling that the hardship was hard.

I’m not so much bothered by what exactly God wants to do with my life. What will I be next..? What matters to me more is that I have an overwhelming desire to love and care for people – to make a difference for someone – to live bigger than one!! Lord, give me a platform to do something great for your glory.

I don’t understand how this desire can be so overwhelming on the inside of me. Why does God give it to me and yet He does not fulfill it (not yet anyway). How do you carry the ‘burden’ of a desire this big and have nowhere to go with it...? It must be something like what I’ve heard a woman say about wanting to have children; she said: “ I don’t understand how I can miss someone so much that I have never met.” Just, for me, it is not the longing for a baby, but for purpose, to be part of the miracle of changing lives for the good.

I think of that verse in Isaiah 55...This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are my thoughts the same as yours! For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours, and my thoughts than yours.

MISSION STATEMENT

• To strive for excellence in everything I do!
• To use every gift and ability that God has enriched me with to live a life through which others will be inspired to reach inside themselves, recognize and bring to the surface their inner beauty, appreciate and enjoy the value of it; that they may learn to share the joy and beauty of their treasures with others around them, ultimately being complete and fulfilled in their existence.
• To be a sweet fragrance in the lives of those that cross my path that will be remembered long after I’ve gone from their lives.

Who knows what is next? I just want to make a difference, please Lord. Time is so precious...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Whatever you call it... FOLLOW it!!

I was under the false impression more than half of my life (at this stage) that if I could only please people, they would brand me ‘good enough’. And BOY! did I try my best... just to find that it was never enough, let alone good enough.

Fear reigned in my life, not faith. I ended up making the biggest mistake of my life because I did not have the courage to follow my own heart; trying to rather not disappoint people – people who didn’t truly care about my best interest anyway... (I discovered after the fact). They did care enough about themselves, though, to pitch for the party, the food and the gossip. At least some of them left some decent gifts.

Not too long afterwards things starting derailing in a VERY bad way. Where were all those people that I was trying to please at all cost? I was sorely disappointed to discover that they were nowhere to be found. Everyone wants to share the lime light at the wedding, but the marriage – the life after the occasion - ... well, that’s your ‘baby’. I’ve learnt one of the most prominent lessons in my life: don’t try to please other people – there will always be someone who don’t approve of something you do or believe or stand for – rather follow your own heart!

While I was at rock bottom I came across a book – a combination of short ‘stories’ (if you will) that contained some simplistic but divine truths about life – most of which the author had learnt on the path of her own life journey. One of the pieces struck me in particular and it has never left me. She wrote (and I try to say it as accurately as I can – it’s been quite a few years ago): “...some people call it gut, sixth sense, instinct, woman’s intuition... call it what you may,...” but she believes that it is that still Small Voice on the inside of us – Holy Spirit speaking to us and guiding us; warning us, comforting us, giving us wisdom. She spoke of how she had learnt to trust that voice and follow it because God knows where we’re going, and where we shouldn’t go – He knows the end from the beginning and we should heed that Voice.

I couldn’t help but break down in tears right there in the shop because I knew in that moment that I had been a people pleaser all my life and now I’ve caused myself endless pain – my heart and my life had been shattered because I did not have the courage to follow my own heart. I knew that I was making a grave mistake. I ended up paying very dearly.

Right there in the shop it was the cry of my heart that I would have the courage to start trusting that Voice and to follow it no matter what. More than anything I desired to get to where I’m supposed to be. So I started on a new journey – a new way of being and doing. Since then I’ve made decisions that no one approved of and that was some of the most successful moments of my life, and some of the decisions had a few cheerleaders, but they were not my drive force. I’ve learnt that on the other side of every decision there are consequences that no one has to deal with except you. There’s been times when people tried to push me in a direction that I just knew in my heart it was not the right time, and so I chose to stick to my guns and wait it out – and when I felt lead in my heart that the time was right... BOY did it work out just marvelous.

No man knows the blue print for another’s life journey – only God. He is the divine compass, and in the end, He is the divine Judge of all things.

A while back I encountered a very hurtful experience in my work environment – it lasted for a very long time. Eventually I was so disillusioned that I didn’t know who was right, who was wrong, who had which agenda and who cared most for what. I started doubting myself, became suspicious and eventually thought that I was missing it completely. I left rather broken and hopeless. But then, just two days ago, God gave me a special gift: one of the key players in the game in which I got hurt so badly, ended up in the same boat as I was in. In hindsight she was able to see truth from her perception at the time – that which drove her to deal with me the way she did. She was able to identify what the situation really was and everyone’s true colors started showing up once I was out of the picture. She came to realize just how out of hand the whole situation became and we were able to talk it through. God reminded me that even when I thought my whole world was coming apart, that which was in my heart was correct; I was on the right path, no matter how disillusioned I felt. I fought the good fight, and someone’s life is changed forever because of it.

I feel as if God restored my faith in my ability to hear from Him and that He is always in control, no matter what things may seem like to yourself, or even to everyone else! WOW, isn’t God amazing!

I most certainly don’t have it all together; I don’t know the future and I don’t have all the right answers, but I know the One Who do!

Sometimes all we have is to trust our gut and have the courage to get out of the boat when that is how we feel lead to do. Sometimes we just cannot predict the outcome of anything before we’ve even taken one step. Sometimes life is trial and error, but if you did not follow your heart, how will you ever know? Or will you forever wonder “what if?” Sometimes you have to live in the moment and enjoy the scenery that is outside of your window that very minute. You cannot imagine the picture perfect beauty of the spring flowers in Namaqualand when you’re still stuck in rush hour traffic in Jo’burg, on your way there... Sometimes you just have to travel and enjoy it when you get there.

There’s a fine line between peering into the future and living in the moment. But trying to live in the past or the future steals your moment – your present.

So here’s what I think: take note of the information boards along the journey so you may get to your destination and be sure to travel as safely and responsibly as you possibly can – do what is in your ability to do – but don’t be so focused on the destination that you miss the whole darn trip on the way there! Accept that you are NOT going to get it right every single time, but that’s ok. Just be sure to learn something from it. No one should suffer in vain.

Isaiah 30:21 And your ears will hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it’, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left.

Failing to obey could – will – cause you to miss God’s plan. Abiding is obeying. Then blessing is not possible, but inevitable.

Proverbs 20:24 Since the Lord is directing our steps, why try to understand everything that happens along the way?

ALWAYS care what GOD thinks – His opinion is the most important one! Seek Him for it with all your heart! Then... whatever you call it... FOLLOW it!!

Seeds of promise (by Dawn Jones)

Paging through a botanical magazine last winter, I found myself marveling at the beautiful flowering trees and exotic plants pictured inside. In a moment of sheer inspiration, I decided it would be awesome to have more in my yard than one scruffy pine tree surrounded by a few faded wood chips. Whether impetus or impetuous, this surge of enthusiasm compelled me to order the "Jasmine flowering tree" so exquisitely displayed on page 5.

I was jazzed. In fact, I couldn't wait to get my plant.

Weeks after I had placed the order, however, my excitement was beginning to wane. "Where's my tree?" I wondered. "Spring will be over next week, and I still don't have an award-winning landscape!"

Finally, a package from California arrived. Staring blankly at the way-too-small parcel, I decided it must be the invoice or perhaps the all-important stakes needed to support my new tree. As I opened the little brown box, I simultaneously surveyed the area around me, looking to see where the rest of my delivery was hiding.

After carefully unveiling the mysterious arrival, I stared motionless into the shallow carton. Finally, in disbelief and agitation, I drew out a package of tiny, unimpressive seeds.

My initial excitement quickly dissipated. "You've got to be kidding me," I moaned. "They actually expect me to plant these dead flakes?" I simply could not imagine that I would have to WORK to obtain this tree.

Suddenly I came to a sobering realization: That's how many people would like to go through life—wanting results without doing the work, expecting a harvest without planting the seeds. Unfortunately in God's kingdom it doesn't work that way. In fact, most of what God accomplishes on Earth today starts in seed form.

When God wanted to send a deliverer to save mankind, He sent a seed and placed it in a plain human package. No wonder those who had so long awaited the coming of the Messiah were less than impressed to see an ordinary baby instead of a king.

And what about the teachings of this infant grown to full stature? He taught that the kingdom of God was like a seed which, when planted, would grow gradually: "first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head" (Mark 4:28, NASB).

In other words, Jesus told us that the dealings of God would almost always involve a maturing process. God gives us seedlings of promise that must be nurtured and cared for until they can stand tall like an oak tree.

So many times we get discouraged when we don't see quick results from our labors. We may even become so frustrated that we are tempted to stop and quit. But God's Word helps us remember this principle: The plantings of the Lord begin in seed form.

In Old Testament times when Zerubbabel was rebuilding the temple, people laughed and scoffed as they compared the fledgling work to the majesty of the original built by Solomon. But through a messenger the Lord sent reassurance: "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin" (Zech. 4:10, NLT).

Right now you may have a beautiful picture in your heart of what you long for. You may even have dared to ask God for great things and have sensed His promise to you of success.

But when you opened your hands to receive, all you found was seeds—small, unimpressive conceptions. Don't be discouraged! Remember that seeds contain life and have within them the very essence of your promise. If you plant them in good soil and invest yourself in the nurture and development of them, they will grow and bloom forth with fruit.

Today, hear the Holy Spirit whisper to you, "Do not despise the day of small beginnings, for I delight to see the work begin." Plant your faith, my friend, and watch and see what God will do.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Communication connects us to love...

Communication is so vital. Without it, it is impossible to have relationships.

For the first time in my life I really love someone. We have not communicated very well and it has caused quite a bit of upset, hurt and sadness.

Why do we seem to be of the opinion that we can read another person’s mind? Where do we get the notion that someone else can read ours? Or do we not communicate out of fear?

I think it is the often out of fear. We are afraid that if we communicate about ourselves that we’ll lose the person that matters to us. The only problem is that if we DON’T communicate we open ourselves up to the risk of losing the very thing that we think we’re guarding.

Our imagination can be a very powerful thing, but it can work against us in a very big way. When we don’t communicate we leave each other to the imagination. Unspoken concerns usually breed in the dark. The best way to resolve things is to bring it out in the open.

My relationship is still fairly new. Some things I didn’t communicate because I thought the relationship was still too new for certain discussions. Circumstance has, however, indicated that some of those things now need to be discussed.

I really pray that God will give me wisdom in how to say it without saying too much, the wisdom to really listen with my heart and He will prepare the soil so that when we communicate it will be from a heart of love, which I know we both feel for each other.

It feels like a bird with a hurt wing. It is vulnerable and sensitive right now, but I pray that it will mend and mend well, and that this beautiful bird will fly again!!

I love you, my sweetheart; with all my heart!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Daybreak: the expectation of a new day

I was up at 5 this morning. I just couldn’t manage to fall asleep again.
I spent some time with God and then decided to go for a ride on my bike – I rode 25k’s – quite the achievement for me – I usually ride for an hour and do an average of 15 odd kilometers. It was refreshing being out with my bike that early this morning. I don’t usually do mornings (ha-ha).

In some ways I feel pregnant with the expectation of what this day holds. I hope for good things. However, there is a small part of me that is afraid to be disappointed. What if today delivers nothing spectacular? I suppose this is when one say, “this is the day that the Lord has made; I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!” Just like loving is a choice, we also choose how happy we are.

This morning my heart is grateful that I have legs to peddle my bike, eyes to see the earth move underneath me, that I can smell the fresh air, feel the sun on my face and the cool breeze on my skin. My heart beats spontaneously, pumping the blood through my veins and my lungs don’t ask permission to breath. My hands control the steering and the breaks without even thinking twice and my ears behold a symphony of early morning bird song! I am healthy and every muscle and sense functions perfectly. How wonderfully I was made!! I have much to be grateful for!

Many things are nice to have, but it is often in the wonder of the simple moments and things that we share that we discover the treasures of most worth!

I choose to go into this day with expectation. God’s Word says that His eyes search the earth to find someone on whose behalf He can show himself strong (2 Chron 16:9). Lord, CHOOSE ME TODAY!!

Lead me where you want me to be, when you want me to be there. Give me unmerited favour and work on my behalf.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Recipies - a meal for my soul

SJOE! I had some visitors tonight and BOY! – did I enjoy being with them! Talking, laughing and just enjoying each other’s company. It is so powerful what God’s Word says: For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them (2 Tim 1:7).

I love people – I love being with them. I might not be the world’s best hostess, slaving away in the kitchen, but I’m good at enjoying my guests. I love the fellowship, interacting, catching up, laughing together, etc. I can always learn about being better in the kitchen, but no stove can fully prepare a meal for the soul. I don’t want people to merely leave with a full tummy, but a full heart! They must feel blessed for having visited, and I must feel blessed for having had them over.

The recipe for human fulfillment is not found in any recipe book. It is in love and loving! It is true what Jesus says that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I feel emotionally satisfied for having been able to enjoy my guests.

I really love people. It makes my heart beat faster to make a difference. It makes me realize that I’ve been given A LOT! I love to see someone’s face light up whenever something that God’s given me overflows to touch the heart of another. WOW! It reminds me of what life is really about. It reminds me how we were indeed created in God’s image. He IS love and created us for relationship.
Isn’t God amazing!

I think a teachable spirit is of immeasurable value to God – Lord, never let me stop learning – teach me Your perspective of what is really important, and help me to use whatever you bless me with as a means to fulfill a purpose with eternal value: I want to touch people’s lives for Your glory!

My guests have gone, and I feel like I’ve had a huge steak; a meal fit for a king... yet we only had coffee, laughter and chat!

I feel like I have a reason to live again. Someone (by my understanding) insinuated that I don’t have ambition. It made me feel very low – I most certainly disagree! Tonight I got a renewed glimpse of myself – my heart beat faster and I loved every moment! I feel elated - I feel alive!

I was reminded again that I’ve got a lot to offer! I'm fulfilled whenever I get to share it with others. I’m definitely going to bed satisfied and grateful!

I HAVE been given A LOT! Thank you, Lord!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What defines you?

A year ago someone wanted me to join them in going to London (Europe). It didn’t take me long to realize that I was merely the butter to the other side of the bread. However, in my quest for answers in order to make this huge decision I discovered a few things about myself, as usual. Never empty handed, right?

One of the fears in my heart was that I would die if I didn’t have a job. If I didn’t have the mundane nine-to-fiver, fulfilling the pedantic requirements of a slave-driving boss, then I was a little nobody; or so I thought or feared. A year later God is teaching me that my job does not define me.

Ten years ago God taught me that money does not define me either (even though it is good –and VERY nice to have it).

During the past few months God has been teaching me what should define me. He has been moving me to let go of many things that I thought to be my identity. I’m happy to report that I’m loving what I’m discovering, but I’m challenged for how others still define me.

I used to be married to a wealthy man and we were in the financial position to do a lot of things, have many adventures and it was truly living the good life for me; a lady of leisure. Then things changed and I was no longer able to afford those luxuaries that some call “living life”. I had to redefine myself. Does that mean that I no longer enjoy those things? By all means: NO! I just haven’t been able to afford them for quite some time.

Do people actually evaluate who you are by the life you’re financially able to live; that if you don’t have my kind of money then you’re not worthy, but rather a gold digger? My heart is sad because I know the character that God has built in me w.r.t. money. How can someone draw such conclusions?

But then again, I shouldn’t be defined by people either, should I?

I heard a song today of which the lyrics touched me: if we are the Body then why are the hands not reaching out, the arms not holding, the feet not going...? I think that love is what should define us: in the way we care about people, share of ourselves, manage our money (of which we're merely stuarts for God anyway) - in every way that we conduct our lives... Everything else is merely the instruments with which the orchestra of love is conducted.

My heart is to make beautiful music; sing a beautiful song!

What defines you?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Learning... and LOVING it!!

I've been meeting so many new people lately, and loving it! Some have been colorful and interesting, and others I've been rather relieved that I don't see them too often.

I've been learning a lot about people, including myself. Maybe more about myself than any of them. Making the decision to open myself up to love has been a major decision for me - actually almost a daily decision - but I've been enjoying the journey.

Love has been something that I've longed for for a very long time, yet I've never really had the courage to allow it into my life. I've sat on the sideline often, a spectator to life - and love - but I've never really been the lucky one - or felt like the lucky one anyway. This time around it is my breath that is being taken away.

I'm loving what I'm learning about myself along this way. It is like discovering a stranger that's been there all along; but I never noticed her.

I agree with what I've heard often: love is a choice, not a feeling. I've made the choice. I would never have guessed that one person can be this happy.

I've also been facing some challenges, but what has been fascinating to me is that I've been able to recognize them as obstacles that I need to choose to climb over. In the past it's been so easy to turn and walk away, but this time I'm climbing, I'm learning and I'm loving it!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"God said"... or did He?

Where does the line lie between "God says" and "man says"?

Roughly three and a half years ago someone told me that "God said" that I was going to meet my husband soon - by that meaning roughly a year. He was going to be a dark man and he was going to be so kind, loving and supportive that my jaw was going to drop at just how much God blessed me with such a good relationship. I told her that I wanted a man that loves the Lord and I don't want to have to check whether he has checked with God about His will before making decisions for himself/life/our family. She said that I wouldn't have to worry about that because praying about things, acknowledging God and seeking His will was going to be a lifestyle for this man.

Two weeks later a man came to see me who wanted to sell me life insurance. He got onto the topic of my marital status, which is 'divorced', and wanted to know how I got through the pain of that experience. I tried to see psychiatrists but they made it worse, rather than better, so I ended up walking a journey with Holy Spirit as my Counsellor. I told the man that if it wasn't for Him, I would never have made it, and I meant it.

He got talking about how he ended up in his current job of selling insurance, and he started crying in my office. He said that God said that he would sometimes not see people to sell insurance, but to minister to them. He felt that I was one person like that. He continued to tell me very similar things to the woman who spoke to me two weeks before, and said that I was going to meet my husband soon. Let me just clarify that he didn't know what the woman said two weeks before, neither of them knew me, and they don't know each other.

Eleven months later I met him... But he was not the one. This man was involved in a relationship already when he approached me, but I didn't know. Then he actually went back to her three weeks later, and I thought that he was cheating on me. I found out later that I was rather 'the other woman'. I got hurt, but managed to shake him off and move on.

Then I met another dark man. We've had almost nothing but hard times. We don't seem to speak any of the same language, I can't identify that he loves the Lord, like I asked, he don't seem to have any emotional intelligence with regard to relationships, and every time when I've dared to stick my toe in the water and show feelings beyond a friendship, it seems to have blown up in my face. The most recent situation is where he said that he very much wants to be with me, and then he takes a job opportunity in another country. After months of him being away our relationship has again deteriorated to the point where I feel we have to start building it from scratch all over again. Somewhere along the line I've become so tired of starting over after every eruption of circumstance. By now I feel that we've had the trials and tribulations of a twenty year old marriage, but we've had none of the perks: no family holidays to exciting destinations, no sex, no children, no new adventures... Just problems.

I haven't met any other man since... (Initially I kind of kept this one 'on ice' in case God had someone else in mind, but He didn't seem to.)

So is this God...? My struggle has become one of whether God was going to make this man a man of God after which he would be this great guy that the woman said "God said"? Or is this an indication that this relationship is not meant to be and God is trying to prevent it by us having (what feels like) one disaster after another? Is God trying to tell me something and I'm supposed to use my common sense and I'm not 'getting it'? Should I break off the relationship, or am I walking in faith about what "God said"?

I've really been sticking around waiting for this guy to come around to being what "God said" my husband was going to be. There is no way I would marry him just the way things are now. But it is not happening. So am I wasting away my life waiting for something to happen that is not going to happen? Is my part "faith" or "breaking off the relationship"?

I've become so caught up in people saying "God says" that I don't feel like I know whether I'm coming or going anymore. I've become so filled with sadness and disappointment because "God keeps saying" but none of it is fulfilled at all, or it is opposite to what was said it was going to be. I don't understand: when God said, "Let there be light", there was light. Firstly there WAS light - what He said should be, WAS. Secondly, there was LIGHT - WHAT He said should be, was.

I've become so disillusioned and I'm struggling to trust the Lord in order to go forward. Now I find myself having the tempting thought of "YEAH RIGHT" and trying to resist that by standing on God's Word instead. It has become quite a challenging time for me. I have become angry and disappointed at God because people have said "GOD says". I don't know anymore. It is not fair that I be angry at God because MAN said. If it was God, then why ISN'T it, and why is it not WHAT "He" said it should be? This is a hurtful and difficult place to be!!

I think I've come into bondage over what man said "God" said. How do I get free from that and how do I move on?

I believe I have a calling on my life. For me it is vital to not marry the wrong man. I don't want to miss my destiny and I even think about every person who will be touched by God through my life (or not if I miss my destiny). I am terrified of making a mistake like this. My biggest heart desire is to fulfil God's will for my life.

I've decided to read a book again by Joyce Meyer called "How to hear from God". I think it is time for me to get back to hearing from God for myself and my own life. No one else has the answers. I think it is time to forget about what man said and to focus on God's voice in my own heart. He says that the sheep knows the voice of the shepherd. I know I'm one of His sheep.

Lord, make me free from the bondage of what man said You said. Lead me back to that place where I hear your voice in my heart; to become re-acquainted with You, so that I may find peace; thereby good to come to me. In Jesus' Name.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The wheels on the bike go round and round...

I seem to love things with wheels. At one time in my life I learnt a lot about life and about God through driving my car. Today I was thinking about it all while riding my bike.

One of the things I love about riding is the way the road moves underneath you as you pedal; the way you gain ground. That is usually what keeps me going whenever I feel tired and feel like stopping: I desire to move, to make progress, to gain ground.

When you are particularly tired, it is especially encouraging, because every inch is one more inch closer to home - the finishing line. I think it is important to see results of some sort; one has to feel like life is worthwhile, and that you are achieving something. I think we were born to feel a sense of purpose. This is usually different for everyone. What makes you feel this way?

Sometimes the weather conditions are not that favorable. I don't feel particularly motivated to go riding on a windy day. I'm simply of the opinion that I don't particularly need the extra resistance, causing me to tire more easily, and often I would rather choose to not ride. This morning I decided to ride anyway - that the conditions were not too unfavorable. I was reminded how life is filled with unfavorable circumstances from time to time, and we face choices on how to deal with it. Do you stop and go nowhere? Do you turn back? Do you climb off and walk? Or do you forge on, keeping focused on the prize? Sometimes the decision can be very difficult, but inevitably one has to be made. What will yours be?

I'm not particularly fond of riding up hill, but every time I do, I'm reminded that life also has up's and down's. What goes up must come down - we can't expect to ever travel to spectacular destinations if we only want to ride downhill all the time - the path of least resistance. For this very reason I deliberately stick it out, but what I've learnt to do, and I still discipline myself for this every hill I ride, is to keep my eye on the road right under the front wheel - to watch it roll forward - to stay in the moment. I’m not particularly inspired when I look at the top of the hill and it is still (what feels like) miles away and I’m exhausted and my legs feel like jelly. Seeing how far I still have to go, and thinking how tired I am makes me want to quit. However, when I stay in the moment I am able to move inch by inch until I reach the top, and I feel less overwhelmed. In the end I always get to the top, and on the other side is always a downhill as a reward. Are you busy riding uphill right now?

While I'm riding that hill, and my chest feels on fire and my tongue is hanging out, I'm so grateful that I'll have a chance to stop at the top and have a refreshing drink from the water pack that I carry on my back. I don't think we always realize the value of water, and neither is it only good for drinking. I once went riding with a friend and I didn't eat breakfast - VERY foolish. Not even halfway on the route I felt SO dizzy and nauseous. I tried drinking water, but even though it quenched my thirst, it didn't make me feel better otherwise. My friend took the little pipe of his back pack and squirted water on the back of my neck. I would never have believed that it could make such a tremendous difference. We should never attempt to cycle the journey of life without God, whom the Bible describes as Living Water. Water restores, revives, brings life. Are you thirsty?

The more weight you carry, the more exhausting it is to peddle. A professional cyclist watches the weight of the frame of the bike, his clothing and helmet, his water bottles, the thickness of the tyres, etc. Less is definitely more. If you're holding on to any baggage - any dead weight - you need to get rid of it. Since you're the one peddling your life bike, no one else is suffering but you. Why make it any harder than it needs to be? Is there anything you need to off load?

Sometimes - especially when mountain biking - the off road terrain can get a bit rough. There are times when you do nothing else but hold on for dear life. Some of the times pulling on the breaks can be detrimental, so you just have to try to keep your balance and just 'let the bike take you'. Sometimes it is scary, but it can also be adventurous and cause an adrenalin rush that can be addictive. It is always nice to remember that the rough patches don't last forever. It is wise, however, to keep your eyes wide open!

Then it's crucial to remember that amidst the challenges, you always have some things to enjoy; for me they are listening to the birds or spotting a beautiful flower and green grass. I like the wind in my hair and on my face, and I love the sunshine and the blue sky. Every now and again, when I notice something really scenic, I even stop to take a photo; to make a memory. What is there to enjoy and appreciate on your route? Are you capturing the moment?

Then there's always arriving at your end destination: home. What a relief when you feel like you're going to fall over, and then realize that you've arrived. It is a good kind of tired - when you're all sweaty and red in the face, with your tongue hanging out, but it feels g-r-e-a-t!! That is always the moment when I'm the most glad that I (1) went out riding in the first place, (2) I stuck it out when I wanted to give up, (3) that I got the exercise that is so good for me and (4) that I have a chance to rest and recover.

...And tomorrow I trust that I get to do it all over again!!! What a privilege to ride my bike!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Because God loves you..!

I stumbled upon something causing me to read 1 Corinthians 13 with new eyes. I wanted to share it with you as a way to start this day. As you read it I pray, ""that out of His glorious, unlimited resources He will give you the mighty inner strengthening of His Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God's children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high His love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. Now glory be to God who, by His mighty power at work within us, is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of - infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes." Because God loves me He is slow to lose patience with me.
Because God loves me He takes the circumstances of my life and uses them in a constructive way for my growth.

Because God loves me He has no need to impress me with how great and powerful He is because He IS GOD, nor does He belittle me as His child in order to show me how important He is.

Because God loves me He is there for me. He wants to see me mature and develop in His love.

Because God loves me He does not send down His wrath on every little mistake I make, of which there are many.

Because God loves me He does not keep score of all my sins and then beat me over the head with them whenever He gets the chance.

Because God loves me He is deeply grieved when I do not walk in the ways that please Him, because He sees this as evidence that I don't trust Him and love Him as I should.

Because He loves me He rejoices when I experience His power and strength and stand up under the pressures of life for His name's sake.

Because God loves me He keeps on working patiently with me even when I feel like giving up and can't see why He doesn't give up with me, too.

Because God loves me He never says there is no hope for me; rather, He patiently works with me, loves me and disciplines me in such a way that is hard for me to understand the depth of His concern for me.

Because God loves me He never forsakes me, even though many of my friends might.

Because God loves me He stands with me when I have reached the rock bottom of despair, when I see the real me and compare that with His righteousness, holiness, beauty, and love. It is at a moment like this that I can really believe that God loves me.

Yes, the greatest gift of all is God's perfect love!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Michael Jackson: The Magic & the Madness (book review)

Michael Jackson: The Magic & the Madness (Author: J. Randy Taraborrelli)

I woke up one morning to the memories of the King of Pop being recalled over radio – Michael Jackson. Even before I heard the words announcing his death, my mind asked the question... and then it was confirmed: “Michael Jackson is dead at age 50.”

For some very strange reason I felt such a sadness about this. I came across a biography about his life and decided to find out more about the man. How did he become who he was?

The magic and the madness is a good description, depending on what your definition is of “magic”. “Madness” there was plenty of!

In general I thought that the book was well written. The author has befriended Michael as a young boy, before fame and fortune. He had become rather well acquainted with many of those who were sources for the book. I thought that he gave a lot of attention to quote as accurately as he could, or merely referring to it, indicating that it was according to close friend/relative/etc. He creates the impression that he wanted to write with integrity and I think it rightfully resulted in him creating the kind of work that the Daily Mail described as “The most authoritative book ever written about Michael Jackson”.

I enjoyed the photographs that were included in the book, even though rather limited for the life of Michael Jackson. Sadly there are simply too many, but the ones included gave good visual meaning to the story (people and events) as written about in this book.

In a few ways I thought that Michael was a brilliant talent – such phenomenal creative ability – and yet in more ways I thought that Michael was broken, lonely, wounded, scarred for life. He never seem to have found out what real love is, yet he yearned for it all his life, and he tried to give it as best as he knew how. But how do you give something that you don’t have...? His pursuit of it, though, cost him dearly, and much more than could ever be measured in currency.

Around the three quarter mark the events became a little repetitive. You almost didn’t care that it was millions anymore, because virtually everything was millions in Michael’s life. The only thing that started being of any significance was how many millions – whether a record deal, earnings from record sales or other sources, concert tickets sold, spending OR paying to settle a law suit of some sort.

One has to be so careful not to pass judgement, but I thought his life story one of brokenness and tragedy. By the time he was thirty five he had made his fair share of mistakes, but then he made a fatal one: he started repeating them. One can’t know whether he was unable to learn from his mistakes, or whether he plainly and stubbornly refused to do so. Either way it still cost him dearly. Almost ironic that he had spent so much in pursuit of love and acceptance and yet never seem to have found it – not the real McCoy anyway.

The fact that he never seem to be able to even love and accept himself created quite the challenge for the little bit of joy and happiness that he experienced doing the one thing that he was brilliant at: his music and performing. Being perfect is a heavy burden to bear; when nothing is ever quite good enough... and yet, in the eyes of the world he was the “King of Pop”!

The best description of Michael, I thought, was “man child”. For the kind of life that he lived I can understand how one would feel a yearning to never grow up; how Neverland could be your ‘heaven’ and Peter Pan your hero.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hebrews and the honeymoon phase

Long term relationships are a big focus in my life in this season. They are the kind in which you have fights and disagreements and you don’t, or can’t, just walk away. They are the kind where you have to learn to be vulnerable and honest; to learn to work it out. You need to be willing to change and grow together all the time if you want your relationship to be lasting and fulfilling. They are the kind that I have never been good at.

My relationship with the Lord is one like that, except that He is always right. I always smile when I think, “Thank God, He’s perfect, because if it wasn’t for that, our relationship would never have come this far. Where would we be if He had hang-ups and baggage like me? I’m grateful that He is perfect enough for both of us.”

Unfortunately relationships become imperfect the moment imperfect humans become involved, but thankfully all hope is not lost.

Quite recently the Lord and I haven’t quite been on speaking terms. I felt angry and disappointed and it was hard for me to be close with Him. But God knows all about long term relationships and He knows all about me. In the process of mending me and us, He showed me Hebrews 3:14: For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as we did when we first became Christians, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. It made me think of the early days of our relationship.

When you first fall in love you want nothing but to spend time together, doing everything together. You almost lose sight of all your other friends, your hobbies, etc. (even if just temporarily). These things simply seem to fade into the background while you have only one focus: each other.

Then you decide to get married and things simply seem perfect. Each one puts his best foot forward. You look deep into each other’s eyes, you are sincerely interested and you listen intently. You make a big fuss over every special occasion and every anniversary; you buy gifts and flowers for no reason, guys open the car door and pull out the chair at the table. Neither seems to be capable of saying or doing anything wrong and you shower each other with devout love and affection. Everything seems like moonshine and roses. This season of seeming ‘perfection’ is often referred to as the honeymoon phase. But then the inevitable happens: life.

The bills need to be paid, work is stressful, it sometimes demands some overtime, one comes home feeling tired or upset (or both) and you don’t necessarily whisper words of love and kindness. Feelings get hurt and misunderstandings happen. Special occasions that once would never go unnoticed, might be forgotten, even if only once...

All of the misunderstandings, disagreements and hurting is not easy to deal with when you’ve promised to be faithful till death do you part. These deep relationships in our lives are not that easily tossed out of the window and just forgotten about. They are the ones in which we love passionately and also feel passionate hurt and anger when things don’t quite go according to plan. This partner becomes the closest person to your heart and then they become the same person who has the ability to hurt you most in that deep special place where it matters most. How do you walk on without walking away...?

I’m learning that in these times the best thing you can do is to work it out in love!

Staying put takes a lot of courage when all you want to do is run away. These are the times to communicate when you least feel like it. These are the times to give the benefit of the doubt when you so badly want the person to be guilty so that they can owe you emotionally. These are the times when feelings of guilt have to be off loaded and forgiveness has to uploaded. These are the times when mercy and grace becomes real to us when we realize that we had disappointed and disobeyed many times, and on the other side of it we had found grace and forgiveness from a loving heavenly Father.

It is the worst feeling when you’ve been wrong and there is NO WAY you can change or reverse it. How do you go on when you can’t turn back the clock even when you desire to do so with all your heart, and you are at the mercy of the one that you hurt; the same one that you love with all your heart?

There have been times when I’ve been through difficult experiences with God when I felt so much anger and shame that all I wanted to do was run. There’s been many of those times that I felt as if God and I have been shut away in a room, just the two of us, isolated from the world outside. In my mind’s eye I’ve always imagined this little girl sternly folding her arms over her chest and sitting in the furthest corner of the room, with her back turned, openly displaying her hostility. She has decided, “Alright, I will s-i-t, but I’m doing nothing else!”

However, in these images I could never imagine God any other way than having such indescribable love, patiently waiting for me to be ready so that we could work it out. In the end I’ve always come around, we’ve always worked it out, I’ve always grown richer for the experience, and I’ve always felt a deeper connection with the Lord because He was so willing to love me despite of my imperfection and issues. I don’t think it is humanly possible to resist God’s perfect love, even if you try to do so for a while. It breaks through all your defenses. His love is relentless.

In this difficult place with the Lord Hebrews 4:6 helped me remember just how much I actually love the Lord and how that was more important than the issue that I was angry about. The Lord showed me why I was angry and how we need to mend the brokenness. I had to make the decision to put the anger aside and to allow my love to be stronger, and also to allow myself to be loved. I had to choose to let love be bigger than my anger.

Being separated from the one(s) you love most is just as painful as the hurtful experience that you’ve had with them. Even more heartbreaking is when you see the person’s remorse and you know that there is nothing they can do to fix things – there is nothing they can do to fix you – how can we hold it against them still and refuse to forgive and reconcile? In the end we hurt ourselves even more when we push away so that we cannot be hurt again. In the end we are the only ones sitting alone behind the brick walls that we erect.

I’m learning to say, “Lord, all I want to do is withdraw, but I know that it is not the way forward. Give me the courage to forgive. Give me the courage to overcome, and mend the brokenness. Give me the grace that I don’t ruin all the good for the few bad. Teach me to love like You. Teach me to forgive like the many times you’ve forgiven me. Teach me to never position myself where I cannot receive Your unconditional love for me, Lord.”

All things come to an end, but love goes on forever. God’s definition of love resonates in my heart as I decide to go on that ‘second honeymoon’... 1 Cor 13:4-7: Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when other do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him...

There are three things that remain – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13)

Just because it is not perfect, does not mean it is not (can not be) beautiful!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

For but by His grace there go I...

For the past week I’ve been feeling such anger and frustration towards God. I don’t hear a lot of people feel this way about God, and I felt guilty because I dare did. The guilt did however not change how I felt or why.

Actually I didn’t really know why I was feeling this way.

I knew it had to do with a decision that I’ve made three months ago – a choice I felt was in obedience to a request from God; a choice that took (and would take a lot more) faith. I got out of a proverbial boat in my life. Now, three months down the line, it is not that exciting for me anymore. Instead I have started feeling subtle feelings of inadequacy, of being flawed. I began feeling like I was failing at the whole ‘thing’ of having faith. Then it progressed to feeling like I was failing at everything. I was busy letting God down...

I felt angry because I’ve been trying soooo hard, and it was as if God just wasn’t ‘coming to the party’. If nothing else, I needed Him to tell me why I had to step out of the boat three months before. I felt like I was slipping, and He couldn’t care to speak to me about what the hell I was doing, or where I was going. I didn’t take this step knowing all the answers. I took it because I thought God had a plan, and now, after all this time, I still didn’t know what it was.

I felt hurt and lost, as if God has just left me to my own devices. I felt lonely, deserted in the middle of nowhere; I felt forsaken, even though I know that God says He will never ever do that. I felt disappointed nonetheless.

At first I didn’t want to lead God on to thinking that something was wrong. Imagine that! Not wanting God – who knows everything – to know that something was wrong with me! I felt like I wanted to hide my failure from Him. With all my heart I didn’t want to disappoint Him and be like the Israelites who didn’t get their promised land. In my mind I dare not fail. More than anything I desire to see God’s plan for my life to be fulfilled, and now that He needed me to believe I was falling flat on my face.

Some of the promises that have been in my heart I’ve received as long as 12 years ago. Many days I’ve wondered whether I have not already ‘missed the boat’. Had I not taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way before and I was never going to live those promises anywhere in the future? I have often felt this anxiousness, and I really feel like this is a determining time in my life, and I was not ‘cutting’ it.

I eventually felt so frustrated that I wanted to swing my fist at God, shouting “speak to me, damit!” I started asking, “Did I do something wrong? Why are you ignoring me?” All the while I felt like I had really tried my best. There is nothing more that I could think of and still I didn’t have what I thought I needed: for God to tell me what I’m supposed to do next. (Along the way God had spoken to me about various things, but not the one thing I wanted to hear, therefore I felt that He was not speaking to me at all!)

In the midst of lying face down in the mud I became merciless towards myself – no room for error – and I basically viewed it as if that is how God was looking at me. I failed at having ‘enough faith’ and now I was angry at God for it.

Because of my perfection I find it very hard to make right with God. Isn’t it just more simple if you behave in such a way that you don’t have to apologize – I suppose in a perfect world this would be true – but the world is not perfect, is it?
In my relationship with God I felt like an old married couple who had an ugly fight. Initially I wasn’t quite on ‘speaking terms’ with God, but eventually I realized that I would rather swallow my pride and mend our relationship – l loved Him too much, and I missed Him, no matter how much it hurt.

So I came near the only way I know how: real and honest (asking that God would show me what the real reason for my anger towards Him was), and He did.
Works of the flesh equals frustration (Joyce Meyer). I have been trying really hard.... in my own strength.

I felt like He had abandoned me, but all along I was on my own ‘faith mission’, trying so hard, that I didn’t really involve Him anymore. We weren’t doing it together. He says that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. He never expected me to do it on my own...

I wasn't just obeying God anymore. I was trying to earn God’s showing me the details of His plan, like winning a prize. It was me pushing too hard, demanding too much. God is all too well aware of the fact that I have limitations. Was I going to be humble enough to admit it to myself, and ask for God’s help? Imagine not wanting to tell God that you’re struggling because He might think less of you. Where on earth (on anywhere else in the universe) would you expect to go for help?! At this point I realized that it was actually very serious.

But watching the way in which God has again lovingly corrected me – not with condemnation – just amazes me again how much He cares. I cannot resist love like that. I don’t want to. Instead I want to be as close to it as I possibly can – not for trying to earn it, but for accepting that He knows I’m not perfect and He is still accepting of me like no one else can or will ever be!!

Lord, forgive me for being so proud and wanting to be so strong and able, even for You, that I would think that I need to do things without You. Without You I am nothing. How can I even remotely feel or think otherwise. Forgive me for trying on my own. Help me to walk this road with You – together. Give me enough faith that we might achieve whatever it is that You have in mind with this journey. Help me to remember that Your grace is sufficient for me, and that it shows up best in my weakness; to remember that it is not about me being fallible/imperfect, but about You being glorified in me and through me as God, and that nothing can separate me from Your love!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

User manual communication

Everyone who has ever felt this way, raise your hand:

I feel misunderstood!!
I feel frustrated in my relationships with people!!
Why bother, they don't get it anyway!!

This weekend, for the first time since I've had my hi-fi, I sat down and really made a conscious effort to read the user manual from front to back. While doing so I discovered some functions that my system had that I would never have known about had I not read the manual. I also discovered some things I should NOT do in order to have optimal use of my system.

In the same way we as people are the verbal user manual for those around us. It is our responsibility to instruct/teach people how to treat us as unique individuals in order to bring out the best in us. No one knows you as well as you do. People can't read your mind. You need to verbalise (communicate) who you are in order for people to treat you in a way that you approve of. What do you like? What do you dislike? What makes you tick?

I've heard many people say the following: "Do I have to spell out everything?!" My answer to this is YES. You have to say it. That is part of communicating. If you refuse to do so you are setting a trap for someone, silently watching and waiting for them to trip and fall so that you can justify your expression of dissatisfaction, when in fact you have no right, because you didn't instruct. If you choose not to say it, how were they supposed to know it? Also don't be surprised if you need to say it a few times. Often one has to go back to the manual several times before getting it completely right. Be patient and say it.

In the same way you need to say it, it is also the responsibility of those who you are saying it to, to LISTEN. There is no sense in reading a manual and ignoring everything in it. If you do whatever you want you can't expect the same results as specified in the manual had you followed the instructions. For e.g. if someone say that they don't like dogs, don't buy them a puppy as a birthday gift. I wouldn't be surprised if they are not overwhelmed with joy and your feelings are hurt. You ignored the "manual". We need to ask ourselves: Are our actions often selfishly more to our own benefit than unselfishly to the benefit of the other? I LIKE DOGS, so I buy you one, when in fact you are, unlike me, a bird lover.

I've owned this hi-fi for just over two years now and for the first time I realised how valuable that piece of equipment actually was. All just because of taking the time to read the manual, instructing me how to enjoy optimal use of my system. I thought to myself: "Now this is value for money and all along I've only used the basic functions of playing the radio, tape and CD."

All hi-fi systems can do the basic functions such as tuner, tape and CD. They can all rewind, forward, play, etc. In the same way certain basic things work with all people. When it actually comes down to more detail that is where our uniqueness is found. Smiling friendly will get you far with most people. Thereafter it becomes more detailed. Some people prefer a warm hug hello and others prefer a handshake. Others kiss on the cheek and others rather avoid any physical contact because that is what they are comfortable with. The unique additional functions determine one to be a better or more practical buy than the next. In the same way it is our uniqueness that distinguish one person from another. Therefore "read the manual".

Often times we don't realise the value of someone and we walk away because to the average man this looks like just another piece of equipment, same as all the rest. Just another person, nothing special. In the meantime we could have discovered the most valuable treasures had we taken the time to "read the manual", really listen to someone, and find out how to enjoy that person at his best. And what is more satisfying than being treated in a way that makes you blossom, all because you were the verbal manual to someone else.

Take time today to instruct, to listen, to communicate meaningfully...