Beginning in the middle

“O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11

Sometimes we need to begin again right where we are, somewhere in the middle. Sometimes in the middle or just before a big breakthrough, things get really fuzzy and we get a little lost in the process, start making excuses, start believing untruths, start looking around for other amusement. It’s a tricky time the middle and we must steady our grip and stand firm.

Beginning again doesn’t always imply a whole new leaf or moving cross-country or getting away in order to find myself. Sometimes beginning again is staying with it by shaking off that which is hindering me. Good things will spring forth when I keep fighting the good fight, keeping with it, staying with it. There is a struggle going on, but I push through it. In the middle of the journey, in the middle of the Karoo, I pause to refuel, drink a cup of coffee, clean my windscreen, toss the bad music, and choose to believe that the landscape will not always be this semi-arid land, with nothing to see but more semi-aridness. I choose to believe that there is more to life’s view, even when I cannot see it.

Focusing too much on something on the periphery or in the rear-view mirror or what others are doing or saying, or an intense feeling, can make me lose sight of where I was headed in the first place, lose sight of my purpose, of who I am, of what I am busy with. There are dangerous diversions by the wayside that can keep me from focusing on that which lies ahead and within. Beginning again in the middle is about recognising the diversions for what they are and paying them no more mind, renewing strength and mind, remembering purpose, shaking off mediocrity and leaning in again. Beginning again can be done by going on with a fresh perspective, beginning in the middle.

God loves me and He is with me.
I know, believe and rely on the love God has for me – 1 John 4:18

Keep walking

I went for a walk and as I walked I pressed into the pain of longing for a change of pace and scenery, for some interest and sparkle and a different reality. I longed for a new song, for company, for abundance. I walked despite a gnawing sense of “what’s the point?” and “let me just turn back, cos I don’t feel like walking”.

Winter is a strange reality, it feels too cold to think sometimes, too cold to read or sit. Too cold for action but too restless for rest. Even the heaviness of the blankets and layers of clothes feel like a burden. New habits and interests are so hard to form. Old and sluggish ways creep back in and feel comfortable, they settle back in like a winter wasteland with its numbing inertia. Progress is sometimes so slow, and it’s not like I have all the time in the world, time is running, running  – “We have but this one life… carpe diem, seize the day”.

Sometimes there is a deep sadness and loneliness, a bored mundane tiredness of the da same da same reality day in and day out that hangs around and makes a nuisance of itself. Youth may very well be wasted on the young, how they waste their unencumbered minds and hearts on superficial pursuits. How I wasted my youth in much the same way. But at least there is progress at times, not always but sometimes, small little growth spurts as I work to forget what is behind, even if it’s a minor shift, a tiny revelation, a morsel, hardly noticeable to the untrained eye. A start of something new, just an idea. Moments of feeling truly alive, truly worthwhile. Tiny molecules of hopeful change that are often gone in a flash, like comets or shooting stars. Hard to believe they were even really there and requiring faith to remember that they were. And then over time, these tiny molecules of hopeful change accumulate into something new, something even noticeable to the untrained eye.

I said to myself as I walked, “How do I enjoy life right here and now, in this wintry landscape that offers no real pleasure or escape” and then the answer came, “Just keep doing what you’re doing,” just keep walking cos through it is the only way.

“I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” Isaiah 43:19

Wondering about Paris

I am busy reading quite a fun travel book written in the early 1900s and updated after WW1. It’s called “A Wanderer in Paris” by E.V. Lucas, preface dated May, 1924. Little highlights of British humour pepper the pages of this now historical equivalent of Lonely Planet. I guess it’s something to do with that saying, when you can’t have something you want then the next best thing is to have a book about it. Like that. It’s quite cool actually, as I can Google the landmarks, places of interest and tourist attractions that the writer is talking about. Olden day Paris blended with the modern day power of the Google search.

Paris

I’ve been to Paris before but it was a long time ago, and my priorities and focus were different then. Sometimes not only youth is wasted on the young, travel too it seems. I saw many of the things one is supposed to see in Paris but my knowledge was lacking. I know much more about them now, and I guess that is where the word ‘appreciation’ comes in. When I visited Paris some 20 years ago, I lacked ‘appreciation’ for what I was seeing. I should have saved my money then, and travelled now (note to 20 year old self). Mais c’est la vie, I travelled then, and for now I can only read and Google and wonder about wandering about Paris. And who knows maybe someday, like the epigraph of the book quoted from Romeo and Juliet, “I’ll go and chat with Paris” about all my newly acquired appreciation.

 

New beginnings

“Everything is different and I’m still adjusting to it all.
I miss bumping into people I know,
the days seem longer up here and a bit more lonely.”
– Kate Cunningham (thelongwalkhome.co.uk)

This life. This crazy frustrating in-between part with many boxes still unpacked and a level of distractedness I cannot remember experiencing before. New beginnings are often difficult and moving has never been this exhausting. I have moved so many times before but this one, like many things this year, has been epic. I crave a holiday but at the same time just want to try and keep things the same…so worry that needing to pack a bag for holiday may be the straw… And so, to keep some measure of sanity and to make sense of it all, I have been reminding myself of some of my best loved quotes and truths:

  • “There are complicated consequences to face as the result of choosing bold pursuits over options that are safer, more predictable, and less exciting.” – Chris Gardner (Start where you are)
  • “When we identify our why, if we honour it, even when we make choices that result in complications, we find the path that we were meant to follow all along” – Chris Gardner (Start where you are)
  • “Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will…” – Hope floats movie (1998)
  • Things Take Time
  • ” Adopt the pace of God. His secret is patience. There’s no time lost in waiting if you’re waiting on the Lord…The road to success runs uphill so don’t expect to break any speed records” – John Mason (Adopt the pace of God)
  • “The strength of a man consists in finding out the way God is going, and going that way” – Henry Ward Beecher

My biggest frustration is the feeling of not being able to keep up with the pace of 2016, the to-do list is mounting and at the same time my exhaustion in equal proportions. I want a slower pace, I want to sit on the couch and drink tea and reflect but the to-do list is piling up and producing in me a feeling that 2016 is racing ahead and I am barely holding on to the back bumper with my fingernails. It aint pretty these creative consequences and complications. My list of priorities that must be done to “work the plan” seem to take the back seat to the very real and urgent daily curve balls, distractions and struggles that have accompanied this new beginning. While at the same time deep down, as I take in glimpses of the view, I am still in absolute awe of how blessed I am.

So life at the moment, here in this funny space called March 2016, is a conundrum that I am working through, in fits and starts of frustration and anxiety and utter joy and thankfulness. Go figure.

Amidst this craziness, I must remember to seek God, to hear from Him, to not lose focus of Him, to remember, as Rilke wrote to “keep going, no feeling is final”.

And to be brave and courageous… not be terrified; …not be discouraged, for the Lord my God is with me wherever I go (Josh 1: 9).

Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true‘
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold
And this is going to be a glorious unfolding…

Steven Curtis Chapman – Glorious Unfolding Lyrics
Glorious Unfolding – YouTube

Auld Lang Syne 2015

Wow the year really sped to a close. I am not sure I have sufficiently reflected on the epicness of 2015 and therefore feeling slightly uneasy that it’s about to end. But time waits for no one so I thought I’d squeeze in one last 2015 post.

I am sure that there’s no going back from what I went through and learnt in 2015. I am not sure I have the words but here are a few: faith, trust, embracing the uncomfortable, facing the unfaceables, perserverance, God with me, endurance, hope, longings fulfilled, so blessed, tired, humbled…and many more words could be added.

And then today has been a funny old day. A pimple of a day actually so a bit strange for auld lang syne and the last day of the year. A type of abrupt stopping of a record player. But time waits for no ones mood to be perfect. It is the way that it is. If this bird poop of a day happened to be the last day of the year then so be it…

Seems like I always fall short of being worthy
Cause I ain’t good enough but He still loves me
I aint no superstar, the spotlight aint shining on me
Cause I ain’t good enough but He still loves me

He still loves me lyrics – Beyonce

And yes I am so very blessed to be loved by Him. And I am super thankful to have journeyed with God this year, and I am so thankful for those brave and generous souls that helped me through all the many ups and downs. Thank you so much. I am thankful for another year with Missy, my dog. I am thankful for dreams becoming reality one step at a time – longings fulfilled and answered prayers. Thankful for the friend I have in Jesus, all my sins and griefs to bear! And what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

So here’s to 2015, what a crazy year with a crazy last day. And I know for sure, yes I have a steadfast hope that the best is yet to come…

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And for 2016, more focussing on loving God and others by leaning into the love of Jesus. And more remembering that “the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7) and a prayer taken from “A Prayer” by Max Ehrmann

Let me do my work each day; and if the darkened hours of despair overcome me, may I not forget the strength that comforted me in the desolation of other times…

Spare me from bitterness and from the sharp passions of unguarded moments. May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit.

[M]ay my thoughts and actions be such as shall keep me friendly with myself…. [and] Forbid that I should judge others lest I condemn myself.

Let me not follow the clamor of the world, but walk calmly in my path.

Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am; and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the  kindly light of hope.

And [should] I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me still to be thankful for life.

 

this may take a while

I was updating my anti-virus software on my computer and while it searched for and updated what was needed, a notification displayed… “this may take a while”. In total it only took 5-10 minutes including a reboot, and on a 3G connection mind you, but the software writers knew their target audience would be frustrated by the short wait. We’ve become a people that need a message “this may take a while” for a short 5-10 minute wait. It’s a bit scary actually. I’ve heard that before you marry someone you should give them a slow internet connection and see how they react. I could add – or a dvd that gets stuck in parts (usually the really crucial parts!)

The most difficult part of waiting for me is when it gets near the end and I can see the finish line. I really am finding I have to dig deep to persevere and hang in there for that last 5-10% of the wait. If I am standing in line at the supermarket and it’s almost nearly my turn at the counter then I feel like I cannot possibly wait one second longer, whereas 3 people deep in the queue I was a much calmer customer. It’s like when you make an urgent dash for the loo, you know what I mean…the closer you get to the destination the harder it is to hold it in! Staying patient and waiting it out right to the fat lady singing is quite tough because it may actually take a while and I want to be there already.

My patience is a fickle virtue that, I’ve found, often wavers and wobbles and rattles too much when I need it most – So thank You Lord for grace when I need it most!

I heard once that to deliberately grow patience you can choose to stand in the longest queue in the supermarket or on purpose stay behind a slow truck without overtaking!! Will you try it? Unlikely… because “this may take a while”.

It’s a tired time

A new level of tiredness has taken over. I may even be capable of sleeping on the train and drooling in the process. It’s a wonderful time of the year – the Spring season – but the garden wants attention and the house wants spring cleaning and the body wants renewal, refreshment, yes yes a holiday. Oh my a holiday, wouldn’t that be bliss? As second prize I wouldn’t mind the housework fairies taking care of the chores for a few weeks.