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plansjeremiah2911-1

Being desperate about life is something most of us have experienced at some point. While some of us may be lucky enough to perceive it as ‘just a bad day’, others may be living their lives in complete shadow. It is widely known that depression is one of the worst diseases of our time. A silent killer, sometimes referred to as ‘suicide’ or ‘heart attack’, but I’m not going to talk about depression from a counsellor’s point of view today. I’m just mentioning it so that you can understand the depth of despair some people face every day of their lives. I’m also mentioning it because I understand it, know it, yes, it is an old enemy. One I’ve been living with for 31 years. But that is ALSO not what I want to talk about, not really. Listen up, hear it comes….

The past few years have been particularly challenging. In 2009 I went off my meds and haven’t been using since. Needless to say, it’s been hard and I’ve had my ‘moments’ of deep, dark thoughts. Despite these ‘moments’, however, I’ve somehow managed to find the light every time. My secret? I’ve realized that, corny as it may sound, everything, even the bad in life, is part of a divine plan to build an authentic human being.

Let me tell you a story: in 2014 something really bad happened, something that someone did (or actually several people did several different things) to totally disrupt the peace and happiness in my life. I was angry, sad, confused and very depressed about what happened. I felt betrayed and couldn’t understand why such things can happen to someone who devoted a life to serve others. Why are people so mean? Why do bad things happen to good people? I’m sure you’ve asked that question yourself many times.

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For a while I remained gloomy, filling my mind with thoughts of things that I don’t wish to repeat here and then, one evening, I read a piece in the Bible. It was from the book of Job 27:5-6: ‘Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. To my righteousness I hold fast…’ I gave this some thought and realized that if Job could say something like that after all he’s been through, who am I to think differently? You see, things that happen to us and what others say about us, has a way of changing us, and usually not in a good way.

Let me explain it this way; I’ve always seen depression and depressive thoughts as a deep, dark well, a place in which other people, with their snide and hurtful remarks or events that bring sorrow and pain, can pull us. I say ‘pull’, because those people and events are already down there in the dark. We allow them, in our desperation, to keep us down there and to brainwash us in a way, making us like them. Filling our minds with dark thoughts and, when we try to get out of this well, they set traps like crumbling rocks or slippery walls, so that we keep on falling back down. They LOVE it when we’re down and when our thoughts are corrupted. We let it go, because we are just too glad to be accepted again, even if it is by the ‘bad’.  We lose our integrity, we betray ourselves and that is the mistake we make. We start believing that the ‘bad’ is right, that there really is no light and that we were wrong to think good things happen and that we can be who we are, trying to make the world a better place. We forget God’s promise in Matthew 28:20.

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After I read the piece in Job, I sat myself down. It was time for a me to myself peptalk. I looked at my life, who I am, what I am and suddenly it was clear….the important thing was not what others have to say about me or what happened to me, the important thing was that I’ve survived and learned something from every single experience I’ve ever had. This depression, this darkness was changing me into something I did not want to be; I was becoming like the darkness itself! I was losing my integrity, betraying myself and the purpose of my life. In Jeremiah God says that He has a plan for each one of us, and it is not a plan that involves all this evil, this ‘bad’.  (Remember the image at the beginning of this post?) We forget, also that we do not have to fight alone.

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We lose ourselves trying to figure out ways of surviving life, we conform to the masses and to the demands of those who, in fact, hate us. Instead we should remember that everything really happens for a reason. Maybe not the reason we thought, but a reason nonetheless and that we were made in a certain way, with a certain purpose and our personality, our souls and our hearts tell us exactly what we should be. My heart has always been telling me to be compassionate, to look out for those who cannot stand up for themselves, to not hold a grudge, to hold on to my faith. How can I then allow depression, caused by events out of my control, to change the fundamental ‘me’? Yesterday my husband sent me the meme below and it really made me think about all these things again, because I am going through another dark battle now.

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We cannot allow evil to change us into something that goes against everything we stand for. Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading a lot about prophecies and the end of days and it concerns me that we’ve done so much to ‘belong’ in the dark world, yet we’ve done nothing to return to the light in which we were born. Do we not realize that the time is near for Jesus to return? Do we not understand that it can happen at any moment? Staying true to the person that God wants you to be, the person He created, must be the most important thing in our lives. All the other stuff, the hurtful words, the catastrophic events, the sorrow and pain mean NOTHING when we remain on the path planned for us. Staying true to the righteous me would mean that, come the rapture, I will be taken and not left behind. I will be ready.

Friends, don’t be fooled by those against you or the events that seem to hijack you at every turn. Remain loyal to yourself, to the creature that God made.  Allow yourself to have moments of depression if you have to, but never lose sight of the light. Don’t let the darkness change you. Listen to your inner voice, believe in yourself and in your purpose and KNOW, always know, that God is by your side wherever you go, in whatever you do, until the end of time.

IMAGE SOURCES:

Exodus 14:14 –  Timewarp Wife. 2013. [Date of Access:] 5 April 2016

Jeremiah 29:11Joe Quatrone jr.  2012.  [Date of Access:] 5 April 2016

Matthew 28:20Kagesa Files.  2012.   [Date of Access:] 5 April 2016.

Woman in DespairMy Carpal Tunnel.  2012.  [Date of Access:] 5 April 2016

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SOURCE:

YouTube: Channel Nickelback. 2009. Photograph.  [Web:] YouTube.  [Date of Access:] 4 April 2016.

While we are munching away on our chocolate-marshmallow eggs and drooling over the Lindt chocolate bunnies in the supermarket, let us take a quiet moment and reflect on the true message of easter.

Remind yourself that someone once cared enough to give his life for total strangers; people that despised him, people that didn’t care enough about him to listen to his words and take it to heart. Because of that one death, we are able to receive forgiveness for our many sins.

Can you imagine life without the possibility of forgiveness? Without forgiveness there would be no hope for a future; our lives will be lived without prospects of something better, someday. We will lose our motivation to better ourselves, to forgive and love others….our lives will truly be useless and death will be the end, full-stop, with no promise of a happy hereafter.

Think about this, friends, when you enjoy your lovely long weekend and try to forgive as you are forgiven.

Source: AZquotes.com

 

via Channel SHK on YouTube

If you survived the ’80’s in a swoon about some sweet-lookin’ guy or gal, then you’ll remember this one.

Strange, isn’t it, that when one hears a tune, you can immediately remember a particular, associated moment (let’s, for the sake of the new generation, call it a hashtag-moment). What do you remember when you hear songs/tunes like these?

Yesterday my hubby of nearly 28 years listened to this (oh, he’s having a major flashback YEAR…playing old a-tracks of Heintje Simmons’s songs of all things!) and, BOY, did it bring back a flood of memories. Trips in his old Alfa GTV; said trips to Milky Cove (the local ice cream parlor), church meetings, Sunnypark Shopping Mall (when it was still THE hangout of the young and lively in Pretoria)….good times.

It is really strange the images that something as simple as a song can bring back to life for a person. The power of song, the power of words, of music….amazing.

Again I ask: what do you remember?

Listening to Elvis Presley, perhaps, or Johnny Cash? I do….hideous music, said my Mom, roaring through the speakers in my brother’s room. Sister listening to the Pretenders and  the Beach Boys and (very quietly) to the Beatles. That was back in the late 1960’s, early 1970’s. And all those ‘Vietnam-songs’! Remember, ‘Green Beret’? Speaking of green…who remembers ‘Green, green grass of home’, that old Tom Jones classic? Of course Engelbert Humperdinck needs a mention; one of sister’s favorites. Him with his ‘Spanish Eyes’ and singing sweet ‘Release Me’-songs.

Later came ABBA and the Bee Gee’s, Staying Alive and saying Thank You For The Music. Personally I adored Boney M, who warned that we Don’t Kill The World and then cried by the Rivers Of Babylon, before offering their Christmas Album and Mary’s Boy Child to a world that still finds it glorious after all these years. Then, forever the Dancing Queen (not, I can’t even two-step)  I had to hang up my Blue Suede Shoes when the Soft Shoes crashed on the charts in South Africa (who remembers them?),  but then I tried to reach for the Man in the Moon with Ballyhoo, while Alphaville encourage me to stay Forever Young. I shook it up with my favorite of all time: Freddy Mercury, the Great Pretender himself and Queen. Yes, I loved the Bohemian Rhapsody and even when I rode my bicycle I felt that they kept their promise: We Will Rock You. That was not all, though….

Inbetween ruled my love for classical music: Verdi’s Aida and Hebrew Slave Choir from Nabucco – it irritated Mom endlessly. Trumpet Voluntary in D, and….oh, bliss, Handel’s Messiah. Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, Vivaldi and Also Sprach Zarathustra…people must have thought I was totally nuts to love ALL these tunes, and then some. However, SHOCKER, …..

I was raised in one of those, how did Stephen King put it in ‘The Green Mile’? Aaah, yes…one of those ‘praise Jesus, the Lord is mighty’- churches. Singing was our way of, not only passing the time in church, it was (and is) our way of bringing humble praise to the one God. In choir practice we sang one that I loved in particular: ‘King of my life I crown Thee now, Thine shall the glory be, Lest I forget Gethsemane, lead me to Calvary…’ Man, I’ll NEVER forget that! Back then, as it is now, I found solace in Don Francisco who tought me that I Gotta Tell Somebody that Jesus, He’s Alive and the lovely words of Jimmy Swaggart as he prayed to let His Living Water Flow Over My Soul. Particular sad memory with that one….it played as we drove home after the funeral of someone whose passing left a hole in my heart forever.

So, as you can see, my life-story in song….every sound a memory, sharp and clear as a bell. How wonderful it is.

Now, friends, what songs can YOU remember? Songs that unlock that mystical time-capsule of your memory? Which is YOUR ‘hashtag-moment’?

#MemoryMusic proves that #MusicLives4Ever

 

 

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Tony ‏yahwehisjesus

Interestingly enough, soon after I’ve received the above image via Twitter (@yahwehisjesus), someone asked me why I keep writing these ‘messages’ on my blog (meaning:  String Of Pearls, one of my other WordPress blogs). I was a bit taken aback, as I thought this person should understand my reasons….I write it, not because I want something to keep me occupied, I write it because I’m compelled to. This person insisted that I’m wasting my time and added that it would be time better spent if I’d rather watch a television programme. I was astonished! And hurt. Why do people always question it when you are trying to do something good? Is it perhaps Satan, working through them, to try and keep you from doing what you are supposed to do? A definite YES, I think, is the answer.

Just yesterday I saw someone reaching out to people on Facebook to help a family in a drought stricken town somewhere in South Africa.  The family had absolutely NOTHING; no food for their babies, no diapers, no milk, no proper home or furniture, no source of income. You wouldn’t believe the comments I read. Can’t people just keep quiet if they have nothing good to add? Why do they have to embarrass themselves like that; pointing fingers, judging the people that are just trying to help? What happened to Christian charity? What happened to the fruits of the Spirit? It reminded me of what someone once asked me when I told them I support charity organizations and projects across South Africa. This person asked: ‘Yes, but are the donations going to the RIGHT people?’ Can someone please define ‘right people’? Poverty doesn’t discriminate, so why should we? (I nearly kicked myself, because I only thought of the proper reply after the fact: I should have asked him: So, what do YOU plan to do about the ‘right people’?) I was just so astonished that, despite our claim to Christian living, we still find it hard to accept that we are all one in the Spirit, one Body.

This brings me back to my complainant, thoughtlessly sharing his opinion and by that accusing me of wasting time by posting religious messages on my blog, and to try and do it on a daily basis. I’m not trying to defend myself here, please understand. I’m sure there are many more important (to the world anyway) things that I can be doing instead. Strange then that I saw this ‘prophecy’ on Twitter: “I want healing in My Body, and I want My Body to prosper again….you are just beginning to receive”.

How can one ignore this? I contemplated the entire message carefully, not wanting to read into it something that I should rather not. You see, I know I’ve been called to bring forth the message and have, in fact, resisted it for the longest time. Why did I resist you may ask.  Well, the story of my life is that I’ve always felt unworthy. So how on earth could God appoint ME, as one of His messengers? It was simply unbelievable. I’m perhaps the biggest sinner of all (okay, I don’t kill people or hurt small animals, but still – I’m far from the perfect example of what a Christian should be).  I’m nothing, a nobody, until I realized it is not about me or what I’ve achieved in life. The point is to get the Word out, NOT to tell the world about my little ol’ life! It’s NOT about the messenger, it is about the MESSAGE!

This realization forced me to sit down and take stock of my life (a giggle, given the fact that I’m nearly half a century old!  Memory’s not all that good anymore!). Ever since I can remember I thought nothing of myself. I’ve never been important or particularly special…I’ve been just a regular Joe (or Joey). People never looked twice at me; I lived a non-descript life, in a non-descript house, with a non-descript family. In school, when asked who was the most likely to succeed, I didn’t even get a mention….no-one knew who the hell I was! Although I have many interests, I’m not really good at anything. I’m one of those dream big, achieve little, people. Please, I’m not trying to get any sympathy and I’m NOT feeling sorry for myself. Despite being a nothing, THINGS DID HAPPEN to me along the way. Bad things, mostly, but some good things too…the bad things got REALLY bad at times and I often screamed and shouted in anger at God for allowing such a thing to happen. What have I ever done to You, God? I’d stomp away from the face of God, angry and confused. Sometimes I stayed away from Him for months, but I always returned; sneaking back, shamefaced and totally embarrassed when I saw that even that bad thing had purpose. This is the lesson I learned; the road we travel in life is never perfect; it goes up steep cliffs, where we often slip back a few paces, sometimes we travel onward, calm and sure, until the road drops away into a sinkhole right in front of us; sometimes the road takes us into dark forests filled with strange and dangerous animals, we get lost in the dark. Life is NEVER perfect (not even for the pretty, rich, famous, successful kids that went to school with me), life is our lesson and it is rarely the things that happen to us that determine our path, it is the way we deal with it. Would you try to climb back up the cliff after you’ve slipped down a bit, or would you let go and just drop to the bottom?

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It was a strange experience….looking back over a life lived and SEEING it clearly for the first time. Would I change any of it? Would I still be the same person I am today without any of those experiences? I don’t think so….God has brought me to this point in my life and He prepared me for something remarkable. I am to tell the world about His love. I should NOT forget the lessons I learnt, no, but I must use it as testimony of His kindness and share it to glorify His Name. However, my story is of less importance….I was NEVER important, because I am NOT SUPPOSED TO BE important. God and HIS MESSAGE ARE IMPORTANT. Nothing else matters.

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I read about Jeremiah who was so unhappy that God ‘forgot’ to help him. He asked  God why and God didn’t even answer the question….God just said: return to me. Jeremiah 15: 18-19: “Why do I keep on suffering? Why are my wounds incurable? Why won’t they heal? Do you intend to disappoint me like a stream that goes dry in the summer?’ To this the LORD replied, ‘If you return, I will take you back, and you will be my servant again. If instead of talking nonsense you proclaim a worthwhile message, you will be my prophet again. The people will come back to you, and you will not need to go to them.”[1]

So, I know many people will think I’m all set for the men in the white coats, ready to be committed, but here is the truth: whether you lived a wonderfully blessed life, whether you became wealthy beyond your own expectations, whether you are the most beautiful and successful person on earth or whether you are a lonely soul, never acknowledged, recognized or given an opportunity to shine…IT DOESN’T MATTER. God has PURPOSE for you! And all these things YOU have or have not achieved simply don’t count. It’s nothing….all that matter is the Good News, the Word of God and the Christian’s obligation to see that it is told to everyone.

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1 Corinthians 9:16-17: “I have no right to boast just because I preach the gospel. After all, I am under orders to do so. And how terrible it would be for me if I did not preach the gospel! If I did my work as a matter of free choice, then I could expect to be paid; but I do it as a matter of duty, because God has entrusted me with this task.” [1]

2 Corinthians 4:1-5: “God in his mercy has given us this work to do, and so we are not discouraged. We put aside all secret and shameful deeds; we do not act with deceit, nor do we falsify the word of God. In the full light of truth we live in God’s sight and try to commend ourselves to everyone’s good conscience. For if the gospel we preach is hidden, it is hidden only from those who are being lost. They do not believe, because their minds have been kept in the dark by the evil god of this world. He keeps them from seeing the light shining on them, the light that comes for the Good News about th glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. For it is not ourselves that we preach; we preach Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake, “[1]

If anyone doubts that this purpose is worthy, he/she is still thinking with the selfish mind of the world and need to turn their faces to the heavens, so that the light of God Himself can bring wisdom of all ages.

SOURCES:

  1. 2001. Good News Bible: Today’s English Version.  Cape Town: Bible Society of South Africa.

IMAGE SOURCES:

  1. BRADLEY D. FOSTER QUOTE. Via
  2. GOING FORWARD REJOICING. Via Blogspot.
  3. IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU JESUS QUOTE. Via Flywheel.
  4. PETE WILSON QUOTE. Via HopeForTheWearyMom.
  5. PROPHETIC WORD. Via Tony @yahwehisjesus
  6. TERESA S. TAYLOR QUOTE. Via Pixteller.

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IMAGE SOURCE:

FELIX, Liza.  2015. Unnamed quote: So very true…. [Web:] Pinterest: For the Love of God.  [Date of Access:] 3 March 2016.

witness

The Bottom of a Bottle

Floundered In Darkness (Isaiah 50:10)

My steps floundered
In darkness I became lost
My direction to hopelessness
Until I saw His light

In Him I place my trust
As I walk into His grace
To a path that leads to life
A new life found in Him

Isaiah 50:10 Isaiah 50:10

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