Tuesday, 30 September 2014

An apology

Hi there dear readers

I am totally aware that some of my blogs have been somewhat WORDY of recent times.

Not sure how you feel about that - but I too sometimes 'wander off' when confronted with too much text.

My endeavour is to chop some of my contributions into halves or even threes - making them sorter to read and the follow up interesting.

So, don't leave me just yet - am working on my skills and hope to enthrall you for some time to come with those things which captivate me, excite me, uplift me and engage me.

Thank you for being patient and understanding.

Till next we meet

God Bless


Friday, 26 September 2014

HAVE TO: is like a red rag to a bull.....

My knowledge about the implications of the commandments has grown immensely. I have developed a new way of looking at this much underrated and easily underestimated set of guidelines.

Because it takes some digging as to find out what really is expected of me/ us.

Life's Do's en Don'ts.

Just a wee question: How do you react when someone says " you MUST do..... this or that!"

Does this image fit the bill?

Well, in truth, as a child and more than likely till not that long ago - I felt the commandments were a bit like that.

I HAD TO- OR NOT TO ..... live like this or that!

Since reading the 5 books on the 5 of the 10 commandments written by Marja Meijers I have such a better understanding of what God WANTS of us and for us - not DEMANDS of us. 

I have a new way of seeing how these guidelines can be implemented and how I can be true to them.

I am a parent. I always WANTED the best for my children.

There were rules - normal in a household or there would be mayhem - no order. Meals,
responsibilities, activities. All necessary when more people gather to form a group, like a family. I could also change that word RULES to GUIDELINES to STRUCTURE.

I will try to explain what I mean about my new insights.

We were created in God's image and likeness. Each and every one of us. That makes God an immensely diverse personage. Because we are all unique.

As His children God has provided us too with STRUCTURE to protect us and also enrich our lives. 

The 10 commandments ( a set of rules) we can use as guidelines to help us travel this road we call LIFE with as destination - Eternal Life and a life with God in our presence. 

Not only were we created in His likeness but Jesus, His son also became human - like us. 
He too was privileged to have those guidelines to go by.

We, as was Jesus, were given a FREE WILL.
Yes, FREE to decide!

Like all children, it is a great help to know where the boundaries are so we can keep safe from harm.
Pedestrian crossings to safely cross the road, a fence along the cliff, a traffic light to protect travelers.
Barriers 'for our safety'. 

So if we look at the commandments in this light and not as a RED RAG we will discover that those guidelines aren't as bad as we might have first thought.

Instead of thinking 'We GOT TO' - let's turn it around and think what we can do.

1. I am the Lord your God.  I believe that - and therefor will honour that truth. One True God is all I need.
2. I go for the real thing - no go betweens. No fakes. My choice.
3. I will use God's name in prayer or during prayerful discussions, learning and sharing moments.
4. If God is prepared to be with me 24/7 then I am more than happy to spend time with Him - solely for Him, in prayer, meditation and in the quiet of my heart.
5. With love and respect I think about my now deceased parents and hold their memory dear to my heart. My children are now also parents - I honour them by respecting their endeavours in raising their children.
6. Life is God's gift. Whatever I can do to bring honour to that gift I will do with reverence. Help the needy, lonely or ill where and whenever this is asked of me.
7. I will be true to my vow in marriage by nurturing the love and respect I have for my husband.
8. What I have to share I will share, what I have to give I will give and what belongs to another is theirs to have.
9. Gossip is idle talk - if I can't say anything good about someone I will say nothing at all.
10. God provides all I need. My needs are not those of another. My longing is not for earthly things but knowledge to help me get to know God and His will for my life.

Now, the way I have written the commandments is a short interpretation and a renewed way to seeing these 'rules' by rewording them so as they become things I WANT to do. No RED RAG!

And instead of thinking - oh well, I haven't killed anyone - tick that box, I haven't stolen anything - tick that box etc. I go to church every Sunday- another tick, one could think - life is a breeze.

Life is MORE, life is sharing, growing. Life is challenging, interesting, fun and full of gifts. Like has hardships to overcome, heartbreaks to endure, failings to ponder on and learn from.

The 10 commandments can be the encouragement, beacons and solace we need at specific points of times in our lives.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Become a 'groupie'.

Pake Schoffelmeer
Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice
I was born into a catholic, loving and caring family. God smiled on my parents and blessed them with 5 children.

My grandfathers on both sides were known for their energy and strength in 'doing good'  for the underprivileged and vulnerable. My paternal grandfather, pake (granddad) Schoffelmeer received a papal decoration for his dedication and compassion. He was a very humble man and this honour bestowed upon him presented him with some discomfort. It was his mission in life to help those who needed help - should they cross his path. He desired no more or no less than just THAT!

'Opa' Jan Zwaga in Seattle 1946
Baldie almost in the middle - above the man reading
(yes, it's a book not an iPad)
My maternal grandfather was known ( amongst other things) for his involvement in establishing the Catholic Workers Union. A man of great integrity and drive. A man with vision and a strong sense of justice - Social Justice.

There are also more family members who left their mark on the world doing what they felt they were required to do - not by force but in love - and in faith. So I guess you could say I have 'Catholicism' in my genes.

How I describe it - is that I have FAITH in my genes. I have the Holy Spirit within me, there to guide, advice, listen to and who listens TO me. To my worries, insecurities and questions. I trust in the wisdom of the Spirit and totally accept this wonderful presence of God in my life.

Since my return home to the Netherlands I have not yet found my niche within a church community/ parish. Not sure why. What I have been 'given' are new friendships and ways to deepen my faith. And one of those blessings comes in the shape of a christian writer - Marja Meijers.

Marja has written books on the Ten Commandments - covering 5 of them to date. On a Wednesday evening a group of about 12 of us gather and we dissect, muse over, re-read and discuss her writings. Not to appease her, or to all nod and agree with her vision - but to dig within and discover our own truths and insecurities, long held beliefs and inherited ideas.

A time to make our faith OUR OWN! 
To take ownership of what it means to BE! 

And we don't only discuss Marja's books but others too pass the review. So interesting and so refreshing. I would certainly recommend anyone to start up, set up or go to such a gathering. There is so much to discuss and discover - in the psalms, New and Old Testament and other christian books which grace shelves in the Christian Book stores.

Anyway, my point is - If one has an interest, wants to develop a talent or conquer a craft - then it is helpful - beneficial even to dig into the topic and learn as much as one can about it. This helps make one stronger and helps to deepen the knowledge.

So too, those of us who say we BELIEVE - it isn't enough to just say it - but we are asked to share it, to practice it to LIVE it!

And to be able to do that - we need to surround ourselves with every means available which assists us in that growth and learning process.

I want to thank Marja for allowing the Spirit to guide and advise her. These books hold knowledge and a love for God she unselfishly shares with those interested.

I want to thank the Spirit for guiding my life so that Marja crossed my path - or  - that I crossed hers.

I also am grateful for all those other participants who share THEIR ideas, ideologies and questions - so we all have the opportunity to grow in faith and knowledge.

9 of the 12 members of our "Wednesday journey group'.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

My Neighbour's House - final edition

Thou shalt not covet..... those things that are of worldly value. You can't take them with you when you die.

That sentence speaks for itself. It is quite specific.

What we can take with us is a spirit filled soul which spent it's time on earth being the type of person he/she was destined to be. To love others as God loves us.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

How can we give heed to the request made by God in the 10th Commandment?

One thing that comes to mind ( literally popped in just now) is that we can rely on God that He will provide us with all our needs. It takes faith to believe that.

Matthew 7:7-11

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

A smoker craves a cigaret, an alcoholic a bottle, a writer a pen and paper, an artist a brush, a musician an instrument. They will do almost anything to fill that craving.

A believer - yearns for knowledge about God.

Fill your heart with all things that will bring you closer to God - and there won't be room for the negatives, for the things which lead us AWAY from God and eternal life.

The book we discussed at length ends with 5 helpful suggestions. The easiest thing would be to purchase the book (Marja Meijers) and read the book yourself - and do what we did - form a discussion group. That may not be possible for some so;

here a shortened version of those helpful 'tips'.

1. Prayer and confession: In prayer make your desire known to God that you wish to become closer to Him. Staying 'connected'  brings about many blessings. (John 15:7). And not unimportant confess your worldly desires and ask the Lord to help you sever with bad habits, sinful thoughts and yearnings. Invite the Holy Spirit into your heart. Listen to his advice - be still and listen.

2. Eliminate destructive behaviour ( Coll 3:5)
I know this works from experience. Pray about the books you read, films you watch and friends you associate with. Ask for guidance. I did this. I prayed that books, magazines and films would no longer appeal to my sense of curiosity and fake wellbeing. My bookshelves have a totally different contents, my tv time has been severely decimated and the choice of programmes totally reviewed.

3. Invest in your new desire ( Matt 6:19)
I remember being a 'starter' in my active faith life. Hoped no-one would ask me tricky questions, or would quote biblical quotes I didn't know or would start a challenging conversation about faith in general. You know what I mean, "So tell me, how do you know God really exists?"
Read scripture, familiarise yourself with God's word. Watch the right sort of movies. Not about destruction but about uplifting subjects and uplifting morals. Spread laughter and cheer - not doom and gloom. Every cloud REALLY has a silver lining. TRULY! You just need to want to see it. Spend your TIME - on God's word. Be helpful to those needing your help. Love those who are starved of this life giving emotion. Be gentle and kind. Patient.

4. Ah yes, keep a journal

Last year I went on a special trip for my 60th birthday. I journaled every day. Not just ' we've just had dinner at Sandy's and we were late home." No, really journaled my thoughts and emotions of each day. When I now read them back it fills me with awe and wonder.
During your journey getting to know God, keep a daily journal. You will be amazed at the lessons you have learnt when reading back on those wonderful days. It is like keeping a photo album of your growing children. It tells the story. In Proverbs 7:3 one reads:  Keep my teaching with you all the time; write them on your heart.

5. Surround yourself with like minded

When you want to get fit you join a gym. Maybe you go with a friend or friends on set times. You not only get physically fit, but being with like minded people - the conversations are heartening and supportive. Join a support/church group. Start up a reading group like ours. I asked for wisdom to separate me from people who brought me down And funnily enough a few people literally moved out of my space. By unforeseen situations they were removed due to a change in their circumstance.

These are small steps to a richer faith life. I have thoroughly enjoyed digging deeper into my conscience and discovering things I long held for true- only to find they weren't false but needed further developing. I am grateful for those who accompanied me on my journey.

And I wish all of you who travel this road - a great trip!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


Over the past couple of months I have reverted to the discussion group topic ' My Neighbour's House' with as theme the 10th commandment - Thou shalt not covet.

( Want to catch up or refresh your memory- re-read the earlier postings at leisure)

We have come to the end of our book - the end of the discussions and thought provoking issues arising from that book. And I have to say, it has been quite revealing and challenging for me. In the sense of seeing this commandment in a new light. Because you see, I thought I had It pretty well covered.

I could tick the boxes quite conscious free so to speak. I wasn't envious of my neighbour's  husband, didn't want their car or home, and quite frankly, I had been taught from early on, that ENVY was a dirty word. To be envious was SINFUL. So a sort of 'fear- guilt ridden' emotion guarded me from all things 'covet'.

But was it so simple? Or was my knowledge still in the childhood stage and not 'grown up'  enough to guard me from wrongdoings as an adult?

One of the the re- occurring items was that the world is so full of temptations 'to want and to have what's good for you', or what your ' rights' are, that it is so easy to fall into that trap. Yes, one could say that "I have a right to a good and well paid job so I CAN buy a large house, go on three holidays a year, travel abroad, have a bigger caravan. I have an honest job, I work long hours, I donate to a couple of organisations who need the cash". And let's face it, a often heard statement " it is MY money and I will spend it as I see FIT".

While the discussion was ongoing, I recalled a hymn I used to sing in church. With a text so appropriate for this, our final evening. Now don't forget, I live in the Netherlands and this hymn is from my time in New Zealand - so those present were not aware of it's contents.

I surprised myself by being able to ( sort of) sing/ say one verse and the chorus.

I want to close this 'chat session' with that song. I found it on internet and it is sung by an Irish gentleman with a voice much nicer than mine.... And believe me, in the uncomplicated way this recording is presented.... The text comes alive and has the power to touch hearts.


Now don't misunderstand me - the issue is NOT only MONEY - it is a LOT MORE than that!
What do we fill our hearts with? Which desires do we give heed to?
Do we aspire to be and live - like Jesus taught us... ?
Which role model do you aspire to be like?

Which LOVE dwells in our hearts?
Love for 'things' or love for God?

I will post some helpful tips and suggestions out of the book shortly to finalise this all important 10th last but NOT least commandment discussion. So stay tuned!

Monday, 15 September 2014

My friends in prayer

Dear friends who pray

I have a request - a prayerful request.

A friend of mine has shingles in a most unusual but painful spot.

In her EAR! Yes, you read that correctly, in her ear.

The symptoms are terrible.

Lots of pain, loss of balance, but more worrying ( what could be more worrying than pain?) is that she has a partial paralyses of her face.

This may or may not be permanent.

The specialist sent her home with medication and the advice to;

" go home, light a candle and pray".

So, dear people, please join her, her family and her friends and let's ALL pray.

Pray for TOTAL healing.

Thank you....

Sunday, 14 September 2014

A balancing act

I wrote about CHALLENGES in my previous BLOG.

I have set a new goal - something to ACHIEVE.

I have only entered ONE appointment for the coming week.

I aim to keep the week APPOINTMENT FREE!

What I do see the need for however is:


Just so that the hours in the week don't end up slipping by unused - without potential or wasted!

I believe that I have lost the BALANCE between HEALTHY PLANNING and OVERKILL.

Wanting to do TOO MUCH -  Not being able to say NO, and

that because of this I achieve LESS than I would LIKE

At the end of the day I crash on the couch and am totally deflated and spent!

Somehow I don't believe that this is a good way of filling my evenings - blobbed out and all


It probably is something that slowly crept into my system - and it will take time to restore my activities time table - but my AIM is to SUCCEED in reclaiming my routine - slowly but surely.

How is your week shaping up?

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


That word popped involuntarily into my head moments ago. Just when I was planning to spend time writing. Haven't had a lot of space for writing lately, what with one thing and another.

Today though, I am claiming it - time that is. Putting a stamp on 3 pm till 5:30pm -
To write...

Challenges: Wow, when I checked it out online I found all these descriptions for 'to challenge or challenges'  and they came across quite, well, not really negatively aggressive but certainly actively aggressive.

The noun- challenge

1. a call or summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength, etc.
2. something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle,contest, special effort, etc.: Space exploration offers a challenge to humankind.
3. a call to fight, as a battle, a duel, etc.
4. a demand to explain, justify, etc.: a challenge to the treasurer to itemize expenditures.
5. difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged init.
6. MILITARY: the demand of a sentry for identification or a countersign.
7. LAW: a formal objection to the qualifications of a particular juror, to his or her serving, or to the legality of an entire jury.

So maybe for me to not 'find' time but to actually 'claim' time is the way to go to be able to give call to my urge and WANT to write - my CHALLENGE.

Daily we are CHALLENGED I feel.
Challenged in the sense of meeting our own demands of what the day should hold or bring.

That we achieve the goals we set, that the world demands of us and the demands we give in to from those around us ( e.g. friends - family).

When I looked for some images for this blog ( for which the inspiration came as my fingers reached for the keys on the keyboard) I came upon many which confirmed my inclination that a challenge is more often seen as a burden, something to ' get your shoulders under'. A 'task'  with numerous hurdles to overcome.

I see a challenge as being something to ACHIEVE. Having looked more closely at the word and it's description I am still struggling with the thought that the word challenge is something to overcome - to conquer but then in the sense that is must be - and maybe, just maybe, when people are faced with CHALLENGES, they are discouraged. That what they face may be too everything:

...and as the old saying goes " anything with too in front of it is to be avoided!"

I see a challenge as the path to travel - of reaching a destination. 

In many parts of our world the CHALLENGE is to find a way to peace. 

If we keep thinking that a challenge is a hurdle to take - we may never find the path, solution or way to that PEACE.

And there is a way - LOVE.

The CHALLENGE as I see it is -

Find the way to love one and other - and the world will ACHIEVE