Out of the box

Have you ever tried to get out of the box? Have you even just tried to look outside of the box? Just a peek? And what happened? You started seeing the possibilities and the freedom and then you worked up the courage to tell someone about it. You shared your vision. Down came the hammer. BAM! Someone crushed those dreams. Sometimes dreams can be destroyed without even using words. A look or an attitude can be enough to leave the floor full of shards. Most people don’t want others to rise up above their circumstances or to go beyond what is considered safe.

How many of us have advised out children to pursue a career that is stable and offers a pension plan and medical benefits? Why do we do it? To prevent them from following their dreams? Not at all. We mainly want to protect them against financial hardship. Nobody wants to see his child struggle. But isn’t it the struggles and the battles that make us tough and grow character? Isn’t it true that if we haven’t been through troubles and faced our giants that we aren’t really going to have much of a backbone?

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Anyway, to come back to the box, I do think that a lot of the time the ones who upset our apple carts only want to help us. Sometimes however there are those who are jealous and just like to rain on your parade. It really doesn’t matter what the motives of the thundercloud is, we have to decide in our own minds what we really want. We can’t allow people to decide for us what it is we need. If I am really passionate about something then I must go after that thing with my whole heart. I must be willing, no eager, to practice it every day. I remember reading a little joke where the teacher told the class that if you want to cultivate a new habit you had to repeat it 30 times to make it yours. A girl at the back of the class obviously only half-heard. She started repeating over and over: Michael, Michael, Michael …

What is a box, or rather, what is your box? I see anything that keeps you from reaching your potential as a box. How did you get into that box? Were you born in it? No! Little children have imagination and they believe they can do anything. Somewhere along the way you believed something that stopped you from reaching your potential and fulfilling your destiny. Family, friends, culture, religion or the media could have influenced you. Did they put you in the box? No, you did. You put yourself into that box by believing certain things about yourself. Those things don’t even have to be true, you just have to believe them.

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How do you know if what you think you want to do really is what you should be doing? If you really want to do something then go after it. If you wake up in the morning thinking about it and go to sleep at night planning what you are going to accomplish the next day it’s very good sign. I listened to a very good talk about following your dreams. If you are really passionate about something that passion will reflect in the way you do it and then there will be a gap in the market for what you do. Even a cheese sandwich made with passion is a cut above the rest. I love art and I love writing. I love a lot of other things too like gardening and sewing but art and writing are at the top of my list. When I paint (create something artistic) or write I feel alive. I feels like something inside of me has been ignited. It feels like this is what I have been created for. I completed quite a few canvasses this year so far, they are mixed media so I feel I shouldn’t say I ‘painted’ because painting was only a part of what I did. I also enrolled in a creative writing course at the beginning of December and I’ve just completed my fifth assignment. I told my husband that I am not going to wait until I retire so that I can do what I’m passionate about. I’m going to start practising so that when I get to retirement I’ll be used to it. So every day I do something creative. I have also hung my art in our shop and put prices on it. That is huge for me because it feels like I am exposing my soul and becoming vulnerable. I am opening myself up for criticism. I don’t know if anyone will buy anything but I feel like I can call myself an artist. Even if people just look at the work and feel the emotion I will be happy.

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Go after your passion. Don’t hide your light under a bushel or a bucket or what you believe about your abilities. You were created for a purpose and if you don’t get out of the box you are never going to see it happen.

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Zuma must go – or must he?

“Zuma must go! Zuma must fall!”

That’s what we’ve been hearing for the last month or so. There have been marches, peaceful protests, petitions on social media and old ladies with petitions in supermarkets. It has been the topic of discussion at every opportunity. It has even surpassed the weather in farming communities. Of course no-one is giving a working alternative. Who will be the successor? Will the person who follows be better? … or not? I saw a Facebook post this morning that mentioned a possible successor to our president and my blood froze. Seriously? Maybe we should just be happy with the devil we know.

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There are prayer meetings being arranged to pray for peace in the country. Excellent! Praying has never been bad. But what are the motives? I’ve heard people say (or ask) that God will (or please should) change things because we have suffered enough. Really? There are farm murders and there is crime and violence. It isn’t safe to walk alone in certain places. There are parts of cities where you surely will get mugged or robbed.

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We can go to church without being persecuted. We can speak our minds without being thrown into prison. We aren’t being persecuted like people in some countries who are not allowed to say a word which is contrary to the beliefs of the state. There are many places we can enjoy which are very safe. We have a free market system. Yes, there are fears, and I believe most of them are very real fears that the situation could become worse.

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I’m just wondering if people are (going to be) praying because they are afraid of being out of their comfort zones or if the prayer is going to be about really seeking God’s face and His will for our country? I remember the little verse about the teabag that only produces a beverage when it is soaked in hot  water. What if we can’t grow spiritually without a bit of suffering? What if we need to be pushed a bit to discover some hidden talents and some compassion and mercy? Maybe, just maybe, we have to get outside of our comfort zones so that we can reach our full potential. So that we can become what we were meant to be. So that the tea bags of our souls can do what they were made to do.

 

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Photos courtesy of TS Photography

 

To forgive …

I am at the shop and my plan was to get my admin up to date. I have a cup of coffee next to me, Jesus Culture playing on the computer and my mind is everywhere, except where its supposed to be. I started thinking about what forgiveness is all about  so I wrote a poem. . All of us, at various stages of our lives have issues with forgiveness. Here it is, please give me feedback about your own experiences with forgiving.

FORGIVENESS

 

Holding onto the past is what I do

Remembering every word and deed

Going over it every day

It soon becomes a great, ugly need

 

The alternative is unthinkable

How can anyone, most of all God, expect

Me to let go of what hurt me so much

As if nothing was ever there?

 

How can I say it’s all over?

How can I live without the pain

That has been part of me for so long?

How? I ask you how is it done?

 

I cannot even start to think where to begin

How do I start to leave it all behind?

My life will be emptied of all the grief

But will there be anything at all left behind?

 

Will I not then be just an empty vessel

Making a lot of noise?

The pain has sustained me and I thought,

Given me good reason to be alive.

 

“Take My hand my child and turn your back

On all the pain and hate,

Take my hand and follow Me

I bore it all for you on a cross on Calvary”

 

My body is trembling at the words I hear

My voice is breaking,

The fear of letting go is too strong but

My heart is crying out for the freedom I need

 

Father, You say I must forgive

But how? How can I say its all OK?

They hurt me so bad, I never was the same

Life is not fair, I did not deserve the pain

 

“Follow Me,” I heard it again

I listened to my heart.

I needed to be free and not caught up

In this trap of fear and hurt

 

Here I am Lord, take me just as I am

Ugly and broken and full of scars

Lonely and hurting with my life in a mess

I sob till the tears wash the mud off my face

 

“That is the only way I ever could.

You are now ready to be washed clean

With My precious blood

Just like all those who are weary.”

 

I have forgiven those I thought I never could

I have put the past where it belongs

I have become a new creature

The kind of perfect imperfection Jesus wants

 

My sins are forgiven, my life is empty

Of all the hate and grief and mud

I am a person proud to call

Jesus my Saviour and my Lord

 

All the ugly has been purged

And even though I thought emptiness

Would be the replacement

I’m all filled up with love

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Pray for the leaders

I have had a very difficult week. Emotionally taxing. On Thursday residents of a certain area were protesting about housing. Apparently the money that was supposed to be used to build hoses had been misappropriated. These people were blocking the main road through out town. Trash, large stones and old car tyres we deposited across the road at various strategic points to prevent traffic from entering and leaving. Soon the tyres had been set alight and the police came along to disperse them. Nobody was injured, some damage was done to the potted palms in the middle of town, and there was a lot of debris to be removed from the street. There were a lot of irate motorists and the businesses in town who are dependent on passing traffic lost business. Then the next day the president fired half of his cabinet and replaced them. This obviously had nothing to do with the protests in a small insignificant town. Speculation as to what the repercussions will be for the country are all over the newspapers and internet. And then one of the opposition parties is saying that farms belonging to white farmers must be redistributed to black people.

These things are causing a lot of negativity. Every time you log into Facebook or other social media there are negative comments. There’s a petition that people can sign which is demanding that the president must be taken out of office. Then I saw another Facebook post where a friend of mine said that we have to pray for our leaders instead of demand that they be removed from their jobs. It was not what I expected to see given all the negative and aggressive talk. I thought about it and I realized that this was exactly the reminder I needed. I have had such negative thoughts racing around my head that I was in a bad mood. I was walking around with a frown and finding it very hard to be joyful. I asked God how I am supposed to handle the situation we find ourselves in.

Phillipians 4:4 says “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” and further in the same chapter, verse 8 says, “Finally bretheren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” So, if we want to be joyful and always rejoice we have to think about good things, great and beautiful things, not negative or ugly things. We have to fill our minds with purity and beauty and things that are praiseworthy. How on earth do we do that when the world is in the mess it currently is?

The Bible clearly instructs us to pray for our leaders. 1 Timothy 2:1-3, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our saviour.” I don’t think that Paul said this because he and the ruler had a good relationship. The emperors and kings of that time actively persecuted Christians and Nero gave the order to have Paul beheaded. If we think we’re having a hard time with our ruler I think we ought to update our historical knowledge.

This is how I practically see these verses.

If I want to be joyful I need to think about positive things, but how do I do this when everything I hear and see is negative? I have to start praying for the leaders of my country. I don’t have to like people to pray for them but if I’m praying for them I cannot be negative about them. That means my mind can’t be filled with negative thoughts. If I’m not praying for them I will be thinking about all the negative things I hear and see. Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” I don’t want to be like the rest of the world who are angry and negative and depressed. I want my mind to be renewed so that I can be in God’s will.

I have to pray for them to receive salvation, to be able to make Godly decisions even if they aren’t godly people (yet) and for them to be guided by the Holy Spirit. I am sure that there will be many more things I’m going to discover that I can pray for as I go along. But for now I have to just start praying.