Saturday, December 18, 2010

Eternally wise, pound foolish in 2010

As the festive season draws near may this be a time that we will remember - first and foremost - the greatest Gift of all - Jesus, the expression of God's love that surpasses all human understanding! May it be a season of thanksgiving, blessing, peace, joy and a reminder (again) of just how precious you are; each and every one. May His love be tangible for you in a very personal way - not only in this season - but always!

Creativelee Liane :)

* An excerpt from an article in New Man eMagazine, 9 Dec 2010 by Drew Dyck

...Come, Thou Unexpected Jesus
(with apologies to Charles Wesley)
Come, Thou unexpected Jesus,
Interrupt our spending spree.
Shopping malls hold all that pleases;
Why would we then look for Thee?
In the midst of all the bustle,
We've lost the most important part.
Teach us that our lowly Savior
Is not found in a shopping cart.
–Jenn Kipp...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Crayons: Part 2 - ...the master of those not yet uttered

(Continuation from Crayons: Part 1)

Just like each person holds his crayon in his own way, each person use words differently too. Not everyone have the skill to say it ‘politically correct’. One person might use words that represent an offence to another, e.g. swearing. (I’m not talking about careless profanity, so context is relevant.) Does that mean that they should go unheard and misunderstood because they don’t know how to say it eloquently?

Words in conflict can be especially hard. I think that it is good, though, to apply the same principle: that understanding is more important than each literal word in isolation. Initially I didn’t fare to well. I’m using anger as an example: Someone expresses their emotion, including some foul language. You can either walk away understanding why the person is upset, or you can go away with “they used the ‘F’ word”. Who knows, maybe there was the occasional valid point. I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t listening... for every time I came away with the latter...

One of the “filters” that affect the words we hear/interpret is when you are personally involved in the conflict. When the anger / frustration / resentment, etc. is about you it is not always easy to listen objectively. Admittedly so there have been times when I’ve been less successful at it than other times.

However, in the greater scheme of things I still think that it is more important to continue honing the ability to use words than not communicating at all, even though it might be somewhat clumsy or messy at first. For me it is part of getting to understand each other better and the more you communicate the better you become at it. Sometimes improvement needs to happen “in transit”. Life doesn’t always stop for you to perfect something first and then move forward, so get good at communication “on the go”.

(I think it is important to add that the attitude with which you use words (communicate) needs to be kept under constant watch. Being “clumsy” or “messy” with words does not give you the right to rip others apart as you please. Attitudes of the heart is often not spoken with lips, or heard with ears, but whispered heart to heart while you’re busy saying something else.) If you really care about the other person that is part of the relationship then you make room for them to grow (and if the caring is mutual, then you don’t abuse that gesture – If you get invited to a party and it matters to you, then you show up - - and you tango!)

Learning to communicate well – especially with those that we share longer term relationships with – is a challenge that require commitment, patience and perseverance. Shutting up like a clamp, creating the illusion of peace, doesn’t really help anyone. It is a ticking time bomb that will inevitably explode somehow and someone somewhere will most certainly bear the scars.

We can so easily become caught up in what words mean to us that we forget about what they mean to the one uttering them. He who holds the crayon knows the picture he is trying to draw. Sometimes the picture is not a portrait of you, so if you really care to know, get to know the colorful vocabulary in someone else’s crayon box.

Crayons: Part 1 - Want to colour?

Words... hmmm... what do they really mean..? Let’s colour while we chat about it, shall we..?

I took a walk to the bank this morning. COD (cash on delivery) is apparently not spelled Mastercard or Visa. However, obtaining cash from your bank account whilst in a foreign country was potentially going to be a little bit trickier. When in doubt, ask, so off to the bank I went. The lady explained a few options to me, of which one was a cash advance. What is that? To my mind it sounds like a loan that I would need to repay. I didn’t want to borrow money. After a few more questions I realized that cash advance in this country means the same as cash withdrawal in my country. It is two different words that really mean the same thing.

Forget about tomatoes and potatoes; when people use different words to describe the same thing is where it becomes fun and games. More importantly than the word, is understanding, without which you have very little (if anything) more than a loud clatter in an empty tin.

I once read about a study that was done with regard to the meaning of words. A group of people were asked to draw a picture of their perception of the word tree. Not one of the pictures looked the same. Some drew tall trees with thick stems, some drew fruit trees, Christmas trees, trees with nests in the branches, trees with chairs in its shade, trees that resembled more of a shrub-like plant covered in leaves and some a mere stick picture that might be anything had you not known it was a tree. It was not complicated, yet the word tree created a different picture in each mind.

It is one thing if the words we use describe something tangible. It is something else when words become something that we use to attempt to describe something about ourselves; our intangible feelings and thoughts. Now words become one of the “crayons” for understanding. Just one colour seldom make for an interesting picture, but if we combine it with crayons of tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, hand gestures, association and comparison, etc. communication becomes either deeply meaningful or highly confusing.

I think everyone grow up in their own vocabulary in some way. Those who get to know you well learn to recognize what you mean when you use certain words, terms or phrases. It becomes like your signature and they would recognize your ‘crayons’ almost anywhere.

Sometimes it is not so much about the extent (or limitations) of your vocabulary, but also how you use words.

I once attended a seminar aimed at improving communication within a marriage. On top of words having different meanings for individuals, it also differs for male and female. In this case you want to use words to create emotional intimacy between husband and wife. One of the skills we learned about is the art of using association. The aim is to convey emotion / experience by means of associating it with something familiar in the other person’s ‘world’ (so to speak) so that they may truly understand what you mean. Mere words without understanding do not contribute meaningfully to a growing relationship, therefore the absence of understanding defeats the purpose of attaining deeper levels of intimacy. In this instance the association is what should cause the proverbial penny to drop.

*Imaginary example: We had friends over for tea one evening and I used China plates from a set that has been in my family for four generations – with great care as you can imagine. Afterwards my husband, with the best of intensions, helped me to tidy up the dishes, and in the process broke one of the plates. I was enraged but he didn’t understand and told me, “It’s just a plate; I’ll buy you a whole new set.” That didn’t solve anything; neither did the ensuing argument, because he failed to understand how I felt or why.

Eventually we get around to talking about it. I ask him, “Do you remember when we bought our new car last year and we had to clean out the garage? I accidently threw out that old, rusty dusty fishing pole I found not realizing that it was the same one you used fishing with your dad when you were a kid. We tried to save it, but the garbage truck beat us to it at the break of dawn the next morning. It was gone. I feel about the China plate like you felt about that fishing pole.*

In and of itself fine China and fishing has nothing to do with each other, but my emotion about China and his emotion about the fishing rod does. And that’s what it’s all about... (to be continued...)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Who am I ~ Casting Crowns

Sometimes nothing says it better than a song...

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Not because of who I am
Not because of what I've done

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I'm calling
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling
And You've told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

Who Am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love, and watch me rise again
Who Am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I'm calling
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling
And You've told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I'm calling
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling
And You've told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours
I am Yours
I am Yours
Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
'Cause I am Yours

Friday, October 29, 2010

Quoting the Book vs. knowing the Author

“...Yet mere] knowledge causes people to be puffed up (to bear themselves loftily and be proud), but love (affection and goodwill and benevolence) edifies and builds up and encourages one to grow [to his full stature].”

“But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.”

It is not just Bible talk; it is a lifestyle. Do we impress or intimidate with our knowledge or do we share the love of God? What's the difference? It is in how well you know the Author of the Book!

I recognize that everybody has a different communication style and personality, varying levels of intellect and vocabulary, but one thing remains constant: the Bible without the God of the Bible is worthless, period. Do people get as far as hearing about a God who loves them and sent His son to die for our sins, or do they get lost in the maze of quoted scriptures, thinking that they either don’t know their Bible that well (compared to you) or will never know it as well? When we share the Gospel is the emphasis God or us? Do we edify or do we compete? The latter can easily cause the Bible to be nothing more than lifeless words, lost on some pages of just another book. But if we contain Jesus beyond our intellect, even if you are a cracked pot, how can you prevent His light from shining through and touching the life of another with His love? Bringing forth life is what God does. Don’t get in the way of that.

I’ve known people in my walk with God who have been very capable of quoting scriptures from the Bible that made me (for one) feel ashamed: book, chapter, verse, and even part a, b or c whether anyone cared to know or not. However, I have seen those same people not bearing the fruit of the Spirit. Somewhere on my journey of loving the Lord, I have lost my admiration and my respect for that. I have to agree with what I’ve once heard, that it is more important that you live the verses that you know, even if they are few, instead of knowing it all and not walking the talk. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the latter impress God either.

Over time in my relationship with God I have come across an increasing number of people who do not want to hear the Bible quoted to them. They often refer to those Christians as Bible bashers and I’ve seen many steer clear. I have also come across more people who look at someone quoting the Bible and not living the example – not just making mistakes, but a lifestyle of disagreement – and making the decision that they prefer the life they have instead and don’t desire to be like that Christian.

I have heard countless people feeling judged and condemned by the Bible for the way people wield their two edged sword, beheading and decapitating the very ones that Jesus died to save. They end up never knowing the God of the Bible, the God who IS love; Not that He loves sin, but who sent His son to die for the sinner so they may know His unconditional love for them. Maybe the wielding is done with the best of intentions, but ignorant nonetheless and most certainly destructive.

I have heard the Bible quoted to point out the sin of another, yet when the same person is confronted about a weakness or mistake of his own they quote the verses about letting he with no sin cast the first stone... What makes you superior to the one at whom you were flinging stones..? In the final analysis we are all sinners saved only by the sacrifice of an Only Begotten Son – Jesus – salvation by grace. Some make the choice to accept that sacrifice earlier, but it does not make you superior, neither to him who chooses it later or to him who never chooses it. (However, it will change the consequence that each one will experience as a result of their choice – undeniably so.)

I’m not saying that quoting the Bible is wrong, purse. I am questioning the motive of the human heart when we pull that black book out of our back pocket. Do you send a message of a loving, life giving God or something else that has more to do with yourself... judging another, struggling with own insecurities/low self esteem, self justification, trying to prove a point in a proud argument that really has nothing to do with God, etc...

Neither am I saying that knowing the Bible well is wrong. After all, it is our weapon of warfare. It is what you do with that knowledge that matters, and sadly the reality is that it is not always about God. Some people have Botox injections and buy a new car every six months, and sometimes Christians quote the Bible for the same reasons.

Bottom line: we are to love the way the God of the Bible does. That is every Christian’s highest ~ first and foremost ~ calling, and the Bible is there to help us learn all about that.

Personally I have become fond of those who teach the Word from the heart of God with simplicity and practical application; something I can actually do something with, instead of just impressive words. When you start off, “J-O-H-N 3:16.........” you’ve lost me. I am first and foremost concerned with what God says... the where is not the first priority (although good to note). It is an afterthought, something that can always be asked for or looked up. I want to have that personal experience of His presence and I want to feel that He is within my reach and not some “pie in the sky”, cold, impersonal Bible quote. John 3:16 doesn’t change my life, but the content of it does: For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to die for my sins, and if I accept and believe it, I become His child and gain eternal life.

I have come to a place in my life where I want to hear God’s heart beat and I want to talk plainly and simply (yet truthfully)... I want to feel the joy and the warmth of His presence and I want to fellowship with Him, just like He did with the disciples when He used to eat with them and visit with them in someone’s home. I love the parables and stories. He told them life changing truths as if talking about the weather... plain and simple, and love just radiated from Him and many were transformed by it. The gospel is not complicated.

Sometimes when I hear people quote the Bible I think of a scenario where maybe a doctor has to share the news of a death of a loved one on an operating table. Plainly quoting the Bible is like the doctor who makes you feel like they’re talking about a kitchen utensil; cold, clinical and impersonal. You want to shout at them, beating a fist on their chest, “THAT IS MY BABY IN THERE!!! (or husband, or mother or father, etc...)” Another doctor will tell you the same news and you’ll feel convinced that they did all they could, pulled out all the stops – a sense of compassion that touches a deeper part of you, a sense of truly caring and sharing your grief – somehow comforting, even though it does not bring your loved one back.

I guess what this leaves me with is: When you “talk Bible” or tell others about God, what do you think their experience is of it? Do they get to the God of the Bible; do they hear His heartbeat through your words, or are their noses moulded imprints in the jell-o puffiness of intellectual knowledge about words on a page of some book about some important person somewhere and tomorrow they’ve forgotten where it is all written again... They tried too hard to remember the quote that they didn’t hear the rest... some guy called John... and something to do with a 6... or is it 16?... or something or other... oh well...

I long for the simplicity of the message of love and salvation. I long for the Bible to come alive when I read it – that it would stand up from the pages. In the same way I desire that it will be so for those that I share it with. I long that they will feel the love of the God that I’m talking about and that it will unleash something in them that will set their souls on fire with a burning desire to know this God that I’m so passionately enthusiastic about. I want for God to use me to show others that you don’t have to be smart or know the whole Bible; you can start with one verse and it can also change your life, as long as you grab a hold of the God behind it who is the Author of the change that His Word brings.

Lord, I want to know more so that I can feel closer to You. And as I get closer to You, may you increasingly radiate from me, that Holy Spirit will reveal the truths of your Word in me when I speak of You, but also even in the unspoken words of my life, and even when I stumble but my heart is right before you, use it somehow for good by Your grace to teach them one more thing about You. May they hear Your heartbeat and be curious enough to also want to come lay their head on Your chest to hear what I hear... A love like no other – one beat at a time!

*Note: For info... the intro is a quote from 1 Cor 8: 1; (Amplified & New Living Translation respectively)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rings and things

Every now and again it catches my eye (or something would happen to remind me) and I wonder to myself, “WHAT was I thinking?"

When I got married I didn’t own a lot to begin with. My husband had a fully furnished two bedroom townhouse. Whatever we had duplicates of, I sold mine. That left me with near nothing but my clothes and a few small odds and ends that you didn’t mind a duplicate of. Needless to say, when I got divorced a short while later, I walked out with next to nothing, but including the rings.

I purchased our wedding bands. Mine was very pretty, but inexpensive. My husband’s (on the other hand) was roughly five times the value. I bought it on account and was still paying off on it at the time. For some reason I had made up my mind that I would fight for the rings. Heaven knows what I was thinking... Maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t that made me to be so foolish. Nonetheless, in the end I got it alright! Now what am I supposed to do with it...? More than ten years later I’m still wondering. It never did give me back anything of what I had lost through that experience...

Every now and again I’m reminded about what really matters, and things are not it!

Maybe at the time I thought that I would somehow feel compensated for the prices that I too did pay for my poor error in judgement. Maybe I thought that it would somehow give me back some of my power, maybe even some of my identity. Maybe I wanted him to have some of his own medicine... feel what it felt like. Strangely enough though, it was nowhere near as satisfying as I had hoped it would be, and it most certainly did not mend the broken me. Maybe I just wanted to feel that I hadn’t completely lost after all.

Today I am grateful that that is one of the few reminders that I have of that painful season of my life. I cherish the lesson that I’ve learned from it dearly. Every now and again I come across someone who exhibits the same behaviour and I feel empathy for them; If they only knew what you only realize on the other side of your foolishness.

Having nice things is really great. I certainly have a few things that are dear to me, but on the other side of having owned much and having owned very little, and all the times that I’ve started over, I have come to realize some valuable principles about things.

Things don’t buy you love, acceptance or happiness. Having them can be cause for much enjoyment and fleeting moments of pleasure, but in and of itself, the moments (and the often resulting false friends) are just that: fleeting.

Having things and having no one that wants to enjoy the pleasure of it with you can cause much loneliness. The lonely will often not admit this though.

If the things you own stop you from making quality decisions for progress in your life, maybe you should stop to think and determine whether you’re still master of your things, or whether it is has become master over you.

Sometimes things become replacement comforts for the weaknesses in our lives or the flaws that we refuse to face, deal with or overcome. We mistakenly negotiate with “I” that just one more possession will replace the emptiness that “what if...?” leaves in our soul. It won’t. Joyce Meyer says it well, “Choose your pain.” We can either have instant gratification now and suffer the consequence and pain of unresolved matters later, or face the music and be able to move beyond it; sing a new song on the other side.

Things can never give you back what you’ve lost. It cannot replace a loved one who is gone, whether by divorce or death. It cannot replace a best friend lost. It cannot mend a broken heart, no matter how much you spend. It does not increase your worth, and it doesn’t make you any more acceptable (in the true sense of the word) to society. Things cannot give you that look that says “I understand”, and it cannot wrap its arms around you in a warm embrace. Things do not kiss it better and never responds during hour long conversations... Things don’t make you sincere and it does not give you wisdom. Things cannot dry your tears.

Things does not have eternal value. When you leave it stays right here... nothing more than a memory of ‘used to be’s’.

It reminds me of the rich young man in Mark 10 who asked Jesus about what he had to do to be saved. (V 21, 22) Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Having things was not his downfall, but rather the fact that his trust was in his things. Jesus knew this, and selling it would have set him free from the hold it had over his life, but the man couldn’t let it go. Things were the master of him, instead of him the master of it.

The secret that the rich young man did not know, was that if you seek first that which matters most everything else would follow. I like the way The Message says it, “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

I also have to add... as your heart starts steering toward what really matters, that which you want changes... You don’t stop wanting, but what you want, change.

I love what Peter says in Phil 4 - ”I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little..” and “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me WHO I am.

I have learnt a few truths about things since those rings... (not quite what I had in mind while fervently fighting over nothingness...) It has been a constant reminder to always remember what it is really about, and to spend my time and energy on what matters.

I’ve learnt much about the art of letting go – not all there is to know, I’m sure, but much nonetheless - and I’ve discovered more liberty than I have ever known till now! After all this time that ring is still just a ring... but I, on the other hand, am a new creation, singing a new song on the other side of it!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Notification: Testing e-mailing subscription

NOTE: It has been brought to my attention that my blog does not seem to be sending e-mail notifications when new content has been posted. This is merely me testing it after having subscribed to it myself to receive notifications via e-mail. Please bare with me :) Thank you, Liane

Punctured illusions of grandeur

A fellow blogger found renewed comfort in REAL this week when she discovered the truth about some illusions of grandeur; illusions that she used to measure her own ‘mediocre’ efforts to. The truth set her free (even if it’s progressive).

She loves everything about food; preparation, presentation, hosting dinner parties with friends (or even just family), photographing it, writing about it... And eating it of course (*wink*) She doesn’t think that her photographs of her dishes look quite glamorous enough compared to some that she has seen in magazines/recipe books, etc. Her sense of inferiority was pleasantly warped when she realized some truth about how (so called) perfection is achieved. I’ve tried to select only the ones that provoked a “WHAT THE...?” response, and I quote:
• Motor oil, as a stand-in for unphotogenic syrups.
• Cotton balls, which, when soaked and microwaved,
perform quite nicely in creating the illusion of steaming-hot foods.
• Spray deodorant, which gives grapes that desirable frosty veneer.
• Hairspray, which can give (the appearance of) new life to a drying-out slab of cake.
• Spray fabric protector, to prevent the motor-oil syrup from soaking into the pancake, which has bursting blueberries artfully pinned to it in an aesthetically pleasing, yet random, scattering (still hungry?).
• Brown shoe polish, so raw meat appears to be just-out-of-the-roaster succulent.
• White glue, used instead of milk for cereal photos and for pie repair (that would be the pie actually filled with mashed potatoes, where a serving-sized piece is cut out, with the resulting opening’s edges slathered with lemon custard or rhubarb-strawberry filling).
I don’t think I’ll ever look at photographs of cuisine in quite the same way again, that’s for sure.

I’m sure that we’ve all done our fare share of comparing. We compare our bodies, hair and make-up to the picture perfect (photo shopped / air brushed) beauties in Vogue and Cosmopolitan. We compare our creative abilities to the Van Gogh, the Nigella, the Celine Dion and Versace of our time. We aspire to live in homes like on Top Billing and to wine and dine like Hollywood, and Nelson Mandela has a party with a thousand of his closest friends. Just how close does a thousand people get... Define close? Glitz and glamor makes for warm and fuzzy, but what about real?

What is it that we seek; what do we feel is amiss? We seem to be of the opinion that if we could only attain what we’re striving for we would be satisfied. What if you do get it just to discover that it is nowhere near how you imagined it? You might even feel that you don’t want it anymore. All for nothing! What drives us?
Which leads me to the next question: “At what cost?” What are we prepared to sacrifice in exchange for the illusion of satisfaction or fulfillment that we perceive we’ll feel on the other side? Sometimes the prices that we pay cannot be bought with money and sometimes they can be lost to us forever.

After years of comparing myself to others I’m finally starting to realize that the best yard stick is to be the best that you can be. I believe that excellence is important, and it is attainable. Perfection on the other hand is not. We are sadly mistaken if we compete and compare thinking that it increases our worth or that it will make anyone love us more; that we’ll finally be “good enough”. In fact, it achieves exactly the opposite. It robs us, cripples us and it sucks the life out of us. It takes away the very beauty that you have to offer that is unique to only you while you’re busy trying to equal or top someone else thinking, “If only...”

We need to realize that each one of us is already loved more than we can know or understand by a Heavenly Father who paid a dear price with His only Son to prove it! He loved us first, before we ever achieved anything. Every gift and ability is also from Him and He has given to each one differently. He encourages us to work with what we have and multiply it to its full potential, not the full potential of our next door neighbor; All so that He may be glorified. What a better way to do this than being the best you that you can be!

When you know how much you are loved and accepted in Christ, you can reach for the best in you for the right reasons and you should be able to enjoy it every step of the way!

It reminded me of my music teacher – now a dear friend. While I was studying music I started to realize that my creative ability was very much inhibited by my desire for perfection. It frustrated me. My music teacher often plays in front of audiences and she showed me a few ‘tricks’ of how she sometimes ‘cheat’ on sheet music, e.g. when she played a piece that required for her to turn the page. If she didn’t show me, I would never have known that even those who play so well don’t always play every single note perfectly. Even if they made a mistake, no one else knew, whereas with me it was an open display of disappointment. Instead of just playing along I really pointed out my own flaws. She taught me that it didn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Sometimes we need to remember what it is really all about. We need to learn to recognize true beauty instead of being too busy comparing to false ideas of perfection, all along probably wasting valuable time being miserable, while attempting to impress people who don’t even notice and don’t even care!

Isn't it just awesome every time you realize that what you have to offer is not so bad after all? And even more awesome when you actually start to like it!! You never know what is going on back at the ranch ... Rather spend your time being the best YOU that you can be!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

An empty margarine tub and a fork in a kitchen in Kansas

An empty margarine tub, an (all new to me) non stick pan on a (new to me) gas stove, a few farm fresh eggs (YIP, they still had dry poop on them), some flour, water, salt and baking powder, a fork and a stronger forearm later... we had pancakes!

Today was the first time I made pancakes in America. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but trust me, it is.

America uses their own customary measurement system (ounces for liquid, ounces for weight and miles). South Africa (same as Europe) uses the metric system (litres, kilograms and kilometres). For now, for me, cooking is NOT just cooking; it borders on rocket science. I’d be lost without the internet to do conversions. Lucky for me this recipe is very simple.

It used to be my grandmother’s recipe. I remember my dad teaching us to flip pancakes when I was still in primary school; I could barely see over the side of the pan back then. My dad used a gas bottle with a screw on cooker top. It always made me think of camping.

Traditionally (in SA) pancakes are often baked when it is cold or rainy out. It is a beautiful Autumn day in Kansas, but I don’t care; I’m finally giving that old trustworthy recipe a go; like taking a vintage car for a drive around the countryside.

America doesn’t understand the meaning of a cup the way I do, i.e. 250ml. I used to use one of my coffee mugs (in SA they mostly came standard in 250ml); no problem. A cup is all I need, really. After looking around for the smallest mug I could find, I noticed it hanging on the side of the cupboard: a set of measuring cups and spoons. It doesn’t have “1 cup (250ml)” printed on it. It just says “1 cup”. Strangely, it looked a bit small... haha. Oh well, here goes!

Mixing the ingredients together well is one of the secrets to good pancakes. I used to have a mixer with a bowl, designed so that when you let the mixer down into it, it would spin the bowl for you, allowing for everything to be mixed thoroughly. Before that I used to mix it with a whisk and some elbow grease, and before that my (then) husband and I took turns whisking it with a fork and some elbow grease. You get tired after a while. A fork sufficed nicely today, with some elbow grease, of course, but today I didn’t take turns with anyone; I did it a-l-l by myself. It wasn’t as bad as I remembered it, or maybe I’ve just grown stronger :)

Years ago I had the recipe jotted down on an old torn open envelope. Today I know it off by heart (with a note of it in my computer of course... just in case). On the envelope my husband made a foot note just below jokingly stating that he gets to have all the flopped ones. He loved my pancake that much; he wasn’t too lucky too often though; the recipe is just THAT good! :) Trying it out today, I thought of that; maybe today he would have gotten lucky. Whether he would have liked it or not... that was an entirely different question.

I couldn’t find a suitable mixing bowl... Oh no, then I wouldn’t be able to make the batter. Then I spotted the empty margarine tub. It was easy to determine that it was the perfect size. Hey, who needs a mixer if you have a lid? Isn’t mixing the same as shaking something about, just faster, more vigorously? I would soon find out, wouldn’t I?

Cooking on a gas stove is also a more new experience for me. I have done so before, but only a few times. Other than that I am more used to electric appliances. I have, however, been pleasantly surprised at how easy I had become used to it. You learn to judge the heat you need by the size of the flame, and it doesn’t take long to heat up at all! Low heat does not work well for baking pancakes. It is one of those times when you need not be shy about turning up the heat!

“The batter looks a little yellow to me; a little TOO yellow if you ask me,” I thought to myself. This was confirmed to be a problem when my pancake took on the texture and slight smell of scrambled eggs; Scrambled eggs with sugar and cinnamon...? Never!! Scrambled pancakes haha

Today there is no “by the book” way of doing it. It is just me, the batter, my gut and years of experience (and a pinch of courage to step out and try something new – I-M-R-O-V-I-S-E!)

A little bit of water, a dash of oil (in the pan and in the tub) and a bit of sizzle and three flops later we had PAN-CAKES IN AMERICA, ladies and gentlemen; courtesy of me! :)

Guess what we’re having for dinner, honey?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The cycle of life

This is the first piece that I ever wrote that was edited by a professional editor of a magazine; a dear friend of mine, David, and a proud moment for me for sure. How can I NOT post it to my blog?! Happy reading!

Cycling has always been important to Liane de Witt, and although much has changed, it’s provided a constant theme to her life.

I remember riding my bicycle – a white and pink Ralleigh road bike – to school when I was just 11, a suitcase strapped to the back containing my most prized possession: my books. I didn’t care that much for what was in the books; just that it was not my world.

I escaped often when I was young. I escaped from a home that was so filled with tension that I could not wait to ride off into the sunrise every morning. The warmth of it on my face gave me new hope for a better future. And in the afternoon it was my hour of tranquillity, riding home as slowly as I could without falling over. On my bike I could dream and those dreams had the potential to come true! And oh, did I dream big! On my bike my dreams had wings. I didn’t ride – I could fly!

I traded my bike for a moped when I was 16.Now my dreams could fly higher and I could ride faster. It’s more difficult to feel the sun on your face or the wind in your hair when wearing a helmet, but I didn’t care. It didn’t take away my ability to dream and anything was possible, looking out at the world through the visor. In another way that visor was also the window into my world. Inside that helmet was a safe place where I often cried, raged, dreamed... Others could see “through” my window, and yet they couldn’t see ME; my thoughts, my feelings, my vulnerability... I felt safe.

Then for a while I didn’t ride, I didn’t dream. I lost myself in difficult decisions, lonely circumstance and personal growth, until I realized one day what I needed: a new bicycle!

But times had changed. Cycling had become a ‘dangerous sport’. In place of training wheels, skinned knees and grazed hands were lots of protective gear and “No helmet, no ride”. But that was okay, because it was my heart that was skinned and I needed to ride again for it to heal. Bring on the helmet!

This time I was riding to let go: to let go of anger, to let go of frustration, to let go of sadness, of loneliness and to rediscover my beautiful self again. I needed to see beauty. I needed to feel warmth. I needed to hear a new melody and I needed to stop to smell the roses, even if they grew in someone else’s garden.

I needed to believe again that anything was possible and that dreams could come true after all. I needed a new song in my heart. On my journey I rediscovered myself. I found peace in the rolling of the wheels and the humming sound of rubber on tar, flying downhill just because I can! I could hear the birds sing again, I could see a blue sky and a new horizon. I could dream again that anything was possible, and I did!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Don't get stuck in your transition (by J. Lee Grady)

I try to write all my material myself, but every so often I do come across something that just touches my heart and I don’t feel that I can say it any better than it is said. Today is one of those. I am sharing in a different way; I’m sharing their words and saying: I agree wholeheartedly! It meant something to me on my journey, and I pray that it does the same for you, as all of us are constantly journeying; it is merely the destination that is unique for each one of us.

I hope this bless you as much as it did me.

DON’T GET STUCK IN YOUR TRANSITION (by J. Lee Grady – Charisma Magazine)

When moving from point A to point B, we sometimes feel trapped in between. Trust God to guide you to your destination.

A few months ago I passed through the tiny community of Between, Ga. With a population of only 148, the place is not much to write home about. (And besides, it doesn't even have its own zip code). The town got its name because it's halfway between Atlanta and Athens, Ga. But as I passed the local convenience store I couldn't help but imagine the strange reactions I'd get if I lived there.

"Where are you from?"
"I live in Between."
"In between what?"
"In Between, Georgia."
"In between Georgia and what?"
"Oh never mind."

I doubt I'll ever move to that town, but the truth is that many of us are living "in between"—because we are in the midst of a major transition. Some of us know where we're going but we feel we're stuck halfway. Or we may sense God is moving us into a new spiritual assignment, yet the process of getting there is inching forward about as fast as a Siberian glacier.

I'm in the midst of my own big changes in career and ministry, and I've been struggling with all the emotions that accompany a major transition. I've battled doubts ("Did God really promise this?"), fears ("What if He doesn't provide?"), confusion ("Last week I was sure; this week I'm not so sure") and impatience ("OK, Lord, I need some answers NOW!")."God gives us prophetic promises to literally pull us into our future. Declare them over your life, even when the darkness of discouragement is smothering you."But as I navigate this journey, I'm discovering there are some things we can do to make the transition smoother.

1. Make sure you let go of the past. Sometimes we get stuck in spiritual limbo because we're holding on to memories, relationships or what is secure and comfortable. The unbelieving children of Israel wandered in the wilderness of Sinai for 40 years—and never completed their transition—because they were so homesick for Egypt. When Naomi felt called to return to Bethlehem, her daughter-in-law Orpah refused to go. She preferred what was culturally familiar. Leave nostalgia behind and embrace the new season.

2. Renounce your doubts. If we're not careful we can fall into the trap of double-mindedness. We say we want to go to our promised land, but we hesitate—and all such foot—dragging is doubt. We say we want to go forward, but we are like a moving car that has its parking brake engaged. Faith requires you to release the brake.

James warns the double-minded person: "For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord" (James 1:7, NASB). Doubt will stop you from shifting forward.

3. Welcome those God sends to help you. We're not supposed to make transitions on our own. God uses people to push us to the next level. The body of Christ has many members, and those who are gifted as prophets, intercessors, wise counselors and encouragers will always show up when you are in strategic moments of transition.

When Moses was weary of the battle and could barely find the strength to pray, God sent Aaron and Hur to lift up his arms (see Ex. 17:12). When Hezekiah was overwhelmed by the threat of Sennacherib's armies, Isaiah brought a word from the Lord that ignited faith for a miraculous victory (see 2 Kings 19). When Mary was perplexed by the daunting task of carrying the Messiah in her womb, Elizabeth released a prophetic blessing over her (see Luke 1:41-45).

Intercessors who are empowered by the Holy Spirit are like spiritual midwives who help us birth God's promise when we don't have the strength to deliver. Spiritual transition is a painful process, but certain people have an unusual grace from God to travail with us. Allow them to pray for you and speak into your situation.

4. Contend for your promise. Transition is a vulnerable time—and it requires spiritual warfare. The enemy is a thief and he wants to rob us of our inheritance. He does not want us to move forward in God, take new territory, assume new authority or advance into our spiritual callings. Satan is also an abortionist—he wants to devour your promise before it is born.

This is why we must wield God's promise as a weapon against our enemy. Paul wrote: "This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight" (1 Tim. 1:18). God gives us prophetic promises to literally pull us into our future. Declare them over your life, even when the darkness of discouragement is smothering you. God's Word will break satanic resistance.

5. Stay close to the Shepherd. Over the past month four people have given me the same promise from Psalm 32:8: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you." It's comforting to know that the good Shepherd takes such special, up-close-and—personal care of us—especially during vulnerable times of transition when we don't know which way to turn.

Be assured that He knows your destination-and He is committed to guiding you, even if you have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death to get there. He will not leave you in the land of Between. With His rod and staff He will usher you into your promised territory.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The bowl, the fish INSIDE the bowl... or the CAT!?

What a beautiful day... The afternoon sun is busy setting, but I’ve still found a very sunny spot from which to have a good look and admire its beauty.

When I turn to one side I get a whiff of someone’s aftershave or deodorant that is not complimenting my Latte very well... When I turn to another you smell the most divine aromas from the kitchen... Pizza, I believe...

Change is in the air. The schools closed today – most of them anyway – there is an excitement for the new found liberty in the air; parents for not having to plan their day according to the kids’ school schedules or extracurricular activities, and kids for not being confined to the limiting space of the classroom for a few weeks... aaaaah... FREEDOM! That, and the World Cup Soccer fever, of course :)

That is the only thing that I envy teachers for: their frequent and long annual holidays. I wish I could have one just about now. Oh well, one can always have a holiday in your mind; sometimes for merely making small changes in the way you think, the things you notice around you (observing) and the sounds and smells that you notice if you just take a moment to be in the moment.

I went shopping yesterday for a few basic grocery items for the house. I was rather hungry wondering through the aisles. I impulsively decided to grab a packet of crisps. I had a deliberate craving for something savory / beefy. I was looking for something specific and couldn’t see it at a glance. It cost me scrutinizing the shelves, looking at each and every product in order to find the one I was looking for. I realized something... There were so many items that I have never seen or heard of before. Not for it not being on the shelves all along, but just for not looking, not taking note. I had no idea that it existed, let alone what it tastes like, what you would use it for, or what it cost (until yesterday anyway). The only thing I was able to figure out with regard to it was the price – the label on the shelve...

I’m sure most of you have been trained on a new job or responsibility of some sort before. It’s all new to you and you have to listen very attentively. You’re tuned in differently than when you’ve been doing it for so long that you can do so with your eyes closed. In your mind questions start to rise, “why do it this way?” or “why at this time, and not that?” Maybe it doesn’t quite make sense, or you immediately identify a method that could achieve the same result, but maybe faster or more efficiently. In asking the big “WHY”, the response goes something like this, “I don’t know; that’s how we’ve always done it”, or “I don’t know; this is how I was trained when I first started doing it”.

Not much of a meaningful answer to my mind, always seeking to understand the “why?”. How do you do anything meaningful (or excellently for that matter) if you’re merely going through the motions like a puppet, parroting whatever someone else taught you, without any understanding / insight? What this answer does indicate for me though, is that very little thought (if any) has gone into this process.

Sometimes we just go through the motions of life as well. We fall into the rut of whatever we’re doing, eventually losing sight of why we do it that way or how it came about that we started doing it that way, or even doing it in the first place. We lose our ability to think innovatively; to think and be creative in our approach. We lose the adventure and we start merely existing. We start “flying on auto pilot”, so to speak.

You buy items in the shop that you’ve always bought just because you’ve always bought it. Your mind is no more perceptive to new ideas, new adventures, new tastes and flavors...

You mingle with the same group of friends because you’ve been friends since kinder garden. You don’t really connect meaningfully and you might not even hear the conversations anymore, but you just notice the lips moving... thinking that you’ve heard this before, you’re sure...

You go the same holiday destination every year because you’ve been going there for years; your dad used to take the family there, and his dad before him...
You eat at the same restaurant every time because you know the menu, and you always order the same favourite dish...

But what if...?

What if we deliberately start to open our mind to new ideas and new experiences? What if we start trying a different restaurant occasionally, or read a different kind of book / magazine to what you usually read? What if you open your mind to meeting new people and learning a few new things from them? What if you dare to try a new recipe in your cook book that you’ve always just paged past? What if you ride the different route with your bike or just lie in bed in morning for five minutes deliberately listening to the morning song of the birds, welcoming the day? What if YOU make the morning coffee for a change and you notice the sunshine through the window; you never knew it was THAT beautiful? What if...?

I’m hungry for new experiences! I’m hungry for new friends (not discarding the old ones; there is most certainly a measure of comfort in the familiarity of those that have travelled with you through good and bad times), but every now and again you need a fresh challenge; some fresh ideas and perspectives; some new jokes to laugh about and to tell to your old friends at the next braai / BBQ (...a tradition you’ve had for years...) haha ;) Every now and again you need a new song to dance to.

I’m hungry to see things around me through new eyes and to think crisp, new thoughts. I want to think out of the box and I want to have new adventures. I want to have a fresh perspective on my surroundings and the way I do things and why.

I’m not talking about re-inventing the wheel... just tweaking the spokes a bit... make it interesting again... Add something small, change the colours a bit. Look people in the eye when you get into an elevator, instead of staring at the numbers. Notice the color of someone’s bag, someone’s tie, or the color of their eyes. REALLY listen when someone speaks, and ask questions “why?”. Travel and see new scenery (even if only through the eyes of others). Try a new restaurant – apparently not all coffee tastes the same – haha... call the waiter by name... Maybe even complain if you didn’t like the service instead of going home miserable and taking it out on your family or the dog.What if you found a new (and maybe even better) route to work, or maybe next time you are stuck in rush hour traffic, look around and notice something that you drive past every day, yet have never noticed before.

If someone suggests a better way of doing something, at least think about it... you might learn something new... or share again why you do it the way you do... maybe it reminds you and teaches THEM something new...

Hell! You never know, but at least open your mind to the possibilities... You can have the greatest adventure right where you’re at!

IF not? WHY not?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Do I? Don't I? Can I affort NOT to?

My greatest heart desire is to make a difference. A dear friend of mine sent me this quote – she said it made her think of me and I cannot respond any other way than with an UNDENIABLE “YES!”
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything You gave me.””
To make a difference takes courage; GUTS has a stronger feel to it for me. In my life I’ve experienced a lot of pain for this reason.
You learn that people are not perfect, and regardless of their best intentions we do hurt each other. You learn that not all relationships are meant to last a lifetime. Sometimes the reason might be something you need, and sometimes you’re meeting a need in someone else’s life. You never know. Me? I say “Lord, just never let it be empty handed.” If it’s going to be painful at some point, let it at least never be suffering in vain... (smile)...
You learn that there will always be those ones who don’t appreciate the gold and diamonds that you offer; for them it is like throwing pearls to pigs; they simply don’t realize the value of your offering.You learn that there are those who will not believe in you or what you do or stand for. There will be those who might even try to stop you from doing it.
There will be those who will be jealous because for them it is about who is in the limelight and it is not them. You will learn that there are those who pretend to be one thing and act like something else behind your back... hypocrites... You learn that people will always gossip and some people will choose to never change.
You also discover precious people along your journey. You learn that there are those who truly care, and those who truly share in your passions. You discover those who laugh with you and stick around to cry with you. You learn that people can truly care and love and you learn that everyone is really (consciously or subconsciously) searching for a deeper, more meaningful life. You learn that sometimes you’re part of their journey to find it.
You learn that there are those who choose to grow and change; those who reach with you for greater heights; those who can hear your heart beating and those who do see your vision.
You learn that, no matter how AWESOME a leader you are, NO ONE does anything great by themselves. If no one is following, who are you leading in order to be a leader?
You also learn that it can break your heart to see hardship and sadness – but those are the very ones who need you; who need your strength, who need your gifts and abilities; who need your time and (from time to time) your money. No matter what, there will always be men of riches and valor and there will always be those who never go further than sweeping a street or even being a beggar on a street corner.
There are always those in need who remind us of how much we have to be grateful for. And there are always those who have and do more than we do in order to remind us that there is always more to reach for... you never arrive.
So, do we stare at those who hurt others out of their own pain and broken past? Do we use the risk that we might get in the line of fire as an excuse to step back and just do nothing because this is a reality about life; an ugly reality?
I say NO! I will not shrink back. There are too many who need me; who needs what I have to offer. I have cried countless tears when something has come so close to my heart and it is torn away for whatever reason. I have made up my mind that I will not regret the time that I DID have to make an impact; to make a difference; to let my light shine (even if my own pot is also cracked)!
I see it like this: God chooses my assignments. He chooses the person(s), the time, the place and also the duration of that which I’m supposed to be making a contribution to for His purposes. All He needs from me is my willingness to give, and my obedience to Him in doing what He needs from me. It is after all He who gave me what I have. It is for Him that I was created and I am after all merely an instrument in the hands of my Maker; ready to worship and please Him with my obedience.
But when the assignment is over.... you’d better “raise your hands and step away from the vehicle”... When God says your part is done, you must stop. If His anointing is not on it anymore, it can in fact become destructive... But when (and while) He is in it, LIFE WILL come forth, because that is the nature of the KING!!
The hardest, though, is when the time is over or the purpose has been achieved and it is time to let go; to let go of something that was never mine to begin with, but that I had grown attached to while I was giving it everything I have. The tendency is to try and hold on to it, but when God says it is over and “Elvis leaves the building” so to speak, then the "magic" is over. His anointing is not on it anymore and that which once flourished can become dangerously poisonous and even destructive.
However, does it mean that I rather don’t have relationship because there might come a time (probably will come a time) when the relationship will end and at that time it will hurt? OF COURSE NOT! If you didn’t have the experience before it ended you would have had NOTHING. But for having had the experience you’ve gained much riches, and a little sadness... In life, though, you can never only have happiness and laughter... it only comes in a combo pack of good AND bad; kind of a “buy one, get one free” deal ;)
These relationships will often end through natural means; moving house, changing jobs, suddenly discovering something you didn’t know before, getting married, having a baby and not having spare time to build the relationship... it is really not personal... it is merely finished... people and circumstances, the pieces on the chess board of life.
I choose not to remain uninvolved because there will be pain or disappointment. I know that God will help me to get over it and move on... and He will use it to teach me and empower me and prepare me for every next “assignment”... each one another step towards my destiny... living His dream for my life!I cannot just stand by and watch... There is simply too much at stake and the clock is ticking!
LIVE LIFE NOW! LIVE IT TO THE FULL. Do what you want to do; do what you need to do; choose your priorities carefully and wisely. Cherish the relationships in your life. You never know when change happens. NEVER LOOK BACK WITH REGRET! Keep the good – learn from the bad before you forget it, and be true to yourself! If it is not pretty, do something about it; MAKE it pretty; But DON’T you DARE MAKE EXCUSES!!!
And then, when all has been said and done... STAND!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Where doves go to die

Our world has changed a lot over the years. Technology has become very advanced; so much so that a great deal is instantly possible in our modern day. We live in bigger houses, we use more electricity, we drive fancier and faster cars and we cut down more trees.

it ever occurred to you that the animals around us might also have evolved in their behavior? I am thinking of the birds that sing in our gardens, the pets in our homes, the ducks on the ponds in our neighborhoods...

This thought occurred to me for the first time
roughly two weeks prior to writing this blog. Driving into my driveway, arriving home, I noticed a turtle dove (a wild dove – not a pet) sitting in the way. I almost ran him over (but I didn’t). He was supposed to take to flight... to escape an awful fate such as being run over by a car, but he didn’t. He didn’t try to get to safety... I thought he might have been hurt. I stopped and went over to see what was the matter. He didn’t try to escape. I touched him... he didn’t try to escape... Instead he climbed into my hand...

I have a parrot as a pet; I love birds. Over the years I’ve learned a few things, so I wanted to see if he maybe had an injured wing. He didn’t. But still he didn’t try to escape... I put food and water down for him and he wouldn’t eat. Then it dawned on me: he was busy dying and he knew it. As soon as I put him down he crawled into a corner in my living room. He let me stroke him, but he just sat there. I sat with him and I cried... I know it is nature, but it broke my heart...

Later on I had to be out of the room for a bit and when I got back he was dead... right there in the corner... so I buried him in the garden amongst the leaves... I felt that he died with dignity. It was a better way to go than being squashed under the tyre of some car, or do we call that “nature” nowadays...?

Is it possible that they’ve caught on that if you want to die you can just sit in the middle of the road and someth
ing will run you over at some time or another? Are they “using” modern day developments to also execute “nature”...?

Then, just a week ago I was driving down my street and there was another one sitting in the road under, what would be, the left tyre of a car driving by... perfectly positioned... to be run over... I drove by and he also didn’t make any attempt to escape to safety.

“Suicide” or “nature”...? I’m assuming he was also waiting for death by car..

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Forbidden fruit

I’ve heard someone say that you meet a whole bunch of the wrong guys so that you can recognize and appreciate the right one when he eventually comes around...

How true this is, I can’t say, but I know that I’m done nibbling on bananas when it is grapes that I’ve prayed for.

Over the years prior to this moment of revelation, I used to find a guy (or he would find me), and I would think to myself that this one might have potential. Then I embark on a bit of a journey getting to know him better so that you can determine a few things... (Some things are just not obvious at first glance). However, sometimes you are able to recognize a few things rather quickly, and here is where I have often made this crucial error in judgement. Let the games begin!

God helps me to understand why it is not a wise path to travel down. I don’t listen (for a variety of reasons over the years), and then I become increasingly attached emotionally – because I continue to invest in the relationship (ignoring the warning signs) and before I know it I am stuck with a guy that is not what I want, but now I have fallen for him and I think things are “complicated”.

Complicated indeed because at this point I stand a very good chance to have my heart broken... (sometimes this has been more painful than other times, but painful nonetheless). Then it goes to stage two of the process.

I try to find a way to “fix” the situation by starting to pray fervently that God would do some miraculous work in this person’s life, because after all, every person has some good buried down inside... hidden treasures, so to speak, if only they would dig deep enough. However my motive is not pure. I don’t want this person to change because I want them to be a better person. Instead I’m not owning up to the fact that I’ve been a fool in not heeding God’s flashing warning signs and now I’m trying to prevent my heart from being broken if the man would just co-operate and change like he’s supposed to.

I acknowledge how he is not a man that I think worthy of marriage, BUT there’s no reason why he can’t BECOME it, right? If only God would wield His magic wand and do a miracle, because after all, we serve a God for whom nothing is impossible and the fervent prayer of the righteous has tremendous power...?

There’s just one problem: You see, when our hearts become clouded with selfish motives we cannot manipulate the Word of God to suit our purposes. That does not make God’s Word any less powerful, but God knows the motive of our hearts when we pray, and He might elect to not answer it the way we want because He knows better. He also knows that you will end up thanking Him for it, even though the consequence of your foolishness is painful for the time being.

Nevertheless, when God has then failed to change this person I would then feel upset as if God has not been true to His Word. (At least I have caught on to the fact that I can’t change people and therefore I don’t even try.) I also get upset with the guy for not wanting to co-operate with God and change, and I feel frustrated because it seems that God has taken a vacation from answering prayers... FERVENT prayers at that!

Through all of my experiences I have finally learned something: If you meet someone and they are not what you desire in a life partner, and can’t live with who they ARE, then don’t waste your time investing in a relationship that has no future. Stop nibbling on bananas merely because there are no grapes and then land up slipping on the banana peel. You can hurt yourself REAL bad, you know? Rather wait till the grapes come around; the man that DOES have the qualities that you’re looking for and then you can nibble to your heart’s content!

You see, potential is just that: an unfulfilled promise of something that is not guaranteed. If a person has the potential to be someone or do something but they don’t choose to fulfill that potential, then you are going to be stuck with the reality of who and what that person IS. Can you live with that? If the answer is yes: move ahead. If the answer is NO.... move out of it. You must remember: "till death do you part" can be a very long time...

If someone DOES improve and grow over time it is a bonus. But if you ALREADY don’t like what you see, and you have no guarantee that they will change, then you need to consider carefully what you are prepared to live with or not. A very dear friend of mine calls it “deal breakers”; Those things about a person that you either HAVE to have to move ahead (not negotiable), or those things that they have that you CAN’T live WITH... Those are determining moments in your relationship – maybe even crucial ones.

I’ve just come to realize that life and time is very precious... I don’t want to waste any of it anymore; not if I can help it. I know what I’ve asked for, and I’m not THAT hungry that I want to nibble on anything other than what I've asked for.

I’ve come to realize that there is a big difference between “till death do us part” love and “love thy neighbor as you love yourself” love. People are precious and valuable, but I don’t marry every one of them for this reason.

When it comes to a life partner... I’ll stick to my grapes, thank you!