Divorce, Grief, Retirement, Seasons of Life, Transitions, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, Widowhood

YOU WILL NOT BE BURNED

2019-03-02 09.44.52For the past three weeks I have spoken about wind, how it disperses seed to grow, lifts us above our circumstances and give us energy to move forward.  Today I want to focus on fire which is also a necessary element to growth.  

There is a beautiful flower in Cape Town, in fact the national flower of South Africa, the Protea. This plant amongst other ‘fynbos’ plants requires fire before the seeds can germinate.  Fynbos needs to burn at least every decade to keep regenerating the species and the local ecosystem. Dormant seeds which may have been buried under the soil for a few years are triggered by the heat of the fire to stimulate growth. The fire burns out all the old undergrowth and seeds that have been carried away or buried by rodents, birds, ants and insects lie waiting and when the rain comes continue with the growth process. Depending on the heat of the fire, some may only be triggered to germinate after waiting fifty years! Fire can occur naturally with a lightning strike, accidentally with sun rays through a broken glass shard or deliberately with arson. Fires are unpredictable and so it is with the germination of different seeds after each fire and its intensity and how soon the rain falls after the fire! This is such a marvelous example of what is was like at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit arrived with wind and fire to empower the disciples after Jesus’ ascension into heaven and His continued work in the world today. They did not know what would happen next! Neither do we – growth happens in unexpected ways, in fits and starts.

Sometimes when we are going through a time of intense grief and struggle, trials and tribulations, God is using the same process that the protea requires. Perhaps there are a lot of old ideas and beliefs that hinder us and need to be burnt out.  Perhaps our ‘shell’ is so hard it takes the extreme heat of the trials to trigger growth for us.  Perhaps it is the timing – it is also unpredictable.  How often we want the predictable and understandable, our routines and comfort zones.  It may then take an extremely hot fire to move us to growth. We need to learn to let go of the predictable when we go through these life transitions and rather hold on with faith, that at the right time and conditions we will grow and flourish and maybe even bloom in the desert.

Fire in the Bible had a very special symbolism. God said, ‘When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not consume you.’ God stood with Shadrach, Mesheck and Abednego in the fiery furnace and they were not burned. So, Moses was given his commission at the burning bush; Isaiah was given his when the seraphim placed a burning coal on his lips and sent him on his mission. Fire is used to refine gold and silver to burn off the dross, it symbolizes holiness, intersession and worship and incense on the altar as our prayers ascend to God.

If we were to look at our current trials through the lens of God’s growth and refining process, it enables us to use the energy of the heat to spurt on new growth and momentum in moving forward.  We may not know what happens next, but if we allow the process to take place, will we indeed bloom like the beautiful King Protea and know that God is still working with us and preparing us for our mission in life.

 

Divorce, Grief, Retirement, Transitions, Travel, Widowhood

PILLARS OF FIRE AND CLOUD

On this third meditation on travel, I will talk about God’s presence on the journey. It is not always easy to discern, especially as your emotions are running high in times of grief and stress.  I took comfort in verses about God’s presence with the children of Israel through the wilderness.  “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.  Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” I could identify this with a steam train whose engine was up ahead pulling the carriages behind it, smoke billowing out of the stack. In the daytime it looks like white smoky cloud and at night you can see the sparks glowing in the dark.

Many of the journeys I have taken have been by train.  In fact, I think I enjoy train travel the most, particularly steam trains. The routes are direct as the rail system is set along specific lines. I like the clickety clack of the wheels running over the tracks, and if it is a sleeper, the comfortable bunk beds and food in the dining car. It is more leisurely, and you can enjoy the scenery as you go clicking by, making a pleasant journey.

I have travelled through the desert in Botswana and the train I was travelling on in Rhodesia was stoned during political upheavals – probably most of my adventures in travel have been on trains. I have travelled on high speed trains, but steam trains are still my favorite.  I have puffed through the Welsh Valleys on a narrow-gauge steam train enjoying the magnificent scenery. In Queensland Australia, I have travelled through multiple tunnels on the Karunda railway, where I could marvel at the workmanship of the tunnels and forests.

I was travelling on the Sky Rail down the mountain at Karunda when I had a moment of terror suspended midair over the tropical forest. The Skyrail, is a cable rail with three stations down the mountain where the cable cars are suspended as they are winched down the mountain in three stages, as it is so high.  I was all by myself in the car when it suddenly jolted to a stop and there I was swinging, suspended way above the forest in the mist and wind.  I felt so alone and adrift at that point. I knew if the car fell off the rail into that forest, it would not be found for days, and not a soul in the world would know where I was.  I was out of phone touch with my family, they knew I was in Queensland but not where. This thought terrified me, to be so totally alone on the face of the globe, as I hung there dangling and swaying above the forest.  Suddenly I had the feeling of God’s presence with me, and He said, “while you are up here take the opportunity to appreciate my creation from a new angle, just look at those amazing tree ferns growing out of the top of the trees, look at the variety of trees and plants” – that calmed me immediately and I took out my sketch book and started sketching the top of the forest! After a few scary jerks, the car made its way down to the next stop and the bottom of the mountain.

This last incident truly cemented my belief that there is no place that God is not with us, and for the most part on our journey through life He is there going before us like the steam engine, we may not know what is going to be ahead of us, but He does, and the tracks we go along will lead us there eventually.  There may be scary places along the way, but His presence is with you at those moments. Sometimes we just have to trust that all will be well.

What have been your scary moments? How were you able to get through them?  I would love for you to share your story with me in the comments below.  If you are still struggling with fear of moving on, please contact me  so I can walk with you through your fear.

Divorce, Grief, Retirement, Transitions, Travel, Uncategorized

LET’S CROSS TO THE OTHER SIDE

Boats

Do you enjoy travel and exploring new places or are you an intrepid traveler wanting someone to be with you and help you, or merely an armchair traveler living vicariously through other people’s travels?

Whichever type you are I hope you will enjoy today’s thoughts about travelling by boat.  Boats and ships were one of the earliest forms of transport for travelling longer distances instead of walking!

My ancestors travelled in a tiny sailing ship from Britain to South Africa in 1820 after the French Revolution and Anglo -French wars.  They had no idea of what waited for them on the other side, but they left everything to go and make a better life for themselves elsewhere.

I have lived in Cape Town on the southern tip of Africa. Travelers in the early days called this stretch of ocean The Cape of Storms as it was where two oceans meet and has storms brewed up from Antarctica with bitterly cold high force winds that could drive a fragile boat onto the rocks, and indeed there are many ship wrecks to prove it!  Why would anyone want to travel in such heavy seas, why would you want to risk your life to move somewhere else?  The answer to that is individual, but the reason my family and I have moved from one place to another, is usually because where I am now has become difficult or untenable and I want to have hope in a better future for myself and my family.

It was after I had been through a divorce, widowhood and retirement that I made my biggest moves. I did not know what the future would be, but it certainly could not be much worse than what I was experiencing right then.  Like my ancestors who travelled on the fragile ‘Amphitrite”, they had to trust the captain, his ability to read the stars and the ships instruments. They had to trust the crew and quartermaster and their own inner strength of just ‘knowing’ this was what they had to do and put their lives into God’s hands.  When I made these moves, I had to trust that God would lead me, even in the darkness.  I had to trust that He would provide for me, even though I had no idea how I would survive, and I had to trust that I would be cared for on the journey.  I then had to step out in faith ‘knowing’ that this was the next step, and just do it!

When I reached each of my new destinations, I had to explore and find my way around.  This was not easy, but over time I settled into each new place and began to thrive again.  After I was divorced, one of the goals I set for myself was to travel and see the world. Boats, cruise ships and ferries have been a part of my journey. There is a certain wonder and expectation as you see the new landmass looming into sight and you step off the gangway onto the untrodden soil of a new place, ready to explore or make a new beginning in your life.

Jesus often used a boat while he was in Galilee, once he said to his disciples, “Let’s go across to the other side.” He went to sleep in the boat and the disciples set off not knowing that they were heading straight into a huge storm which threatened to sink the boat. They were afraid and woke Him, he merely asked the storm to be still, and it died down. (Mark 4:35)

If Jesus was the captain of your boat, would you not trust him to be your guide and get you to the other side safely and provide for you? That has been my anchor through the storms of life and throughout my travels. If you are going through a storm right now or are wanting to set off to a new destination and would like someone to be your guide or if you are an armchair traveler, not yet ready to make a move, I would be more than happy for you to contact me through the contact form on this website and we can have a chat, I can be reached on website www.crossingmybridges.com where you can also find a free download of my map.


 

Divorce, Grief, Retirement, Transitions, Widowhood

WE WILL ALL BE CHANGED

2019-01-09 14.22.23

Winter is a time for deep thoughts as we wait out the cold months to take up our lives again in Spring. I was inspired walking through the cold, snow covered graveyard in Pennsylvania looking at the headstones of people long gone from this life. I came across two headstones, marked just FATHER and MOTHER.  Whose Father and Mother? What were their names? Why had they been buried here? Many stories popped into my imagination at that time, of an adventurous couple coming to an untimely end and being found by strangers and buried in the nearest churchyard?  I left them sleeping there with their untold story.

Death changes us. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 “we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed”. We are told we shall have new and glorious bodies at the resurrection. That gives us hope for our loved ones who have passed on.  But I thought that verse has a deeper meaning, we shall all be changed, those who are left behind also face major changes in their lives.

What happens when your spouse dies, or a child or your parents or beloved friend? Each of these encounters with loss, changes you. How you deal with the loss and how you walk through the grief process. When my late husband died, it left me with difficult choices to make.  Should I remain in Cape Town where I had plenty of friends and support?  Should I move to be nearer to one of my children living overseas? Did I want be left alone to grow old on the African continent when all my closest family lived in America?  How was I going to earn enough for my retirement?  There were a thousand questions I had to answer as a result of my husband’s death.

The answers to those questions led me to a career change, a move to the UK and finding my feet again at age 62, that experience certainly changed me, it stretched me in every direction. I was able to grow again, instead of being settled in the mundane existence that a married couple can fall into over time. I found myself excited about life again. We are so resistant to change and yet it is the very thing that proves our limitations and our character.  I found a new joy in being able to explore my new environment, I learned a whole new skillset, I made new friends and I was able to travel to places I would never have been able to had I remained in South Africa.

Was I afraid of the unknown? You bet I was!  Yet I knew deep down that things could not remain the same, and I would have to make changes whatever I did.  Have you been placed at a crossroads in your life by loss? Are you afraid of the giant leaps you may have to take on your own?  I have travelled this path and am happy to walk beside you as you make this transition to a new place in your life.  If you would like my map and let me guide you, please contact me via my webpage ww.crossingmybridges.com

Divorce, Grief, Retirement, Transitions, Widowhood

YOUR JOURNEY THROUGH TRANSITIONS

cropped-scanfinaltransmap2-e1534282544842.jpgHERO’S JOURNEY MAP

From the day we are born to the day we die we are on a journey called LIFE! We will experience many things on this journey both happy and sad, some things we had a choice in and others that were done to us.  We will have learned many things, intellectually, physically and spiritually which have left an emotional footprint in our hearts.

I have been through the University of Life and have experienced the trauma of divorce and widowhood, I have had to move countries and adapt to different culture four times and now I have retired am moving into the second half of life, I also managed an old age home and learned how the final years of your life’s journey need to be planned.

With all this in mind I have designed a map to chart the pathway through these difficult transitions.  Allow me to hold your hand and guide you through your difficult places. Download the Map and Questionnaire here and feel free to reach out to me.

Your adventurous guide and mentor

Deryn