Seasons of Life, Transitions, Uncategorized

CHANGE OF SEASON

How Do you know when you are entering a new season of your life? 

Traveling to Pennsylvania on the coach, I was left in no doubt that the landscape was transitioning into fall! No longer, fresh green leaves, but leaves in every shade from dark green through yellow, red and bronze. Nature shows us the change of season through the landscape when it is moving into a new season. So, what signs do we look out for when we are changing a season in our life? 

Graduating from school, college or university draws a distinct line on the past childhood. You are now entering the world as an adult where you will find your place in the workforce.  After some years of enjoying the freedom of earning your own livelihood, you desire to settle down and share your life and the search for love and happiness with a life mate and starting a new family begins.  

Waiting for the arrival, a pregnant couple prepares a home and space to receive the child by attending prenatal classes and learning all that they can about parenthood. After years of child rearing and being a family together, one by one, children leave the nest to become independent adults. They leave a void that is sometimes hard to fill, if the children have been the main focus of the family. This can be an unsettling transition as you are no longer needed in your role of nurturing, provider parents. The empty nest syndrome can kick in as there is often a gap of several years as the children settle into their new lives, often too busy to call home. This is a hard transition for parents into the new role of friend or mentor to their offspring, but it is a necessary transition and needs preparation and wisdom from the parents.  

The circle makes a full turn as their children complete their education and become independent working adults and find a mate, marry and settle down. Transitioning into being grandparents is probably the most beautiful of all transitions. It can be expected or unexpected, but the entry into the world of your grandchildren is magical as you hold the precious little bundle of joy for the first time. Again, wisdom and knowing your boundaries is required, leaving the parents to make their own mistakes and learn from them, only giving advice when asked for. 

The signs of the next transition are usually physical. You can see them in the mirror! You can feel them in your energy levels, retirement from the nine to five job is on the horizon. Even if your boss hasn’t told you yet. This is a time you should have been planning for, putting some money aside for retirement, taking up new hobbies and interests, getting involved in the community and your church. 

The transition into retirement will often depend on how much planning you put into it as to how easy it is to change your identity and role in the world. Without adequate planning, some people end up feeling they no longer have any worth, which of course is not true. Effort needs to be made to create a vibrant retirement at the pace you choose.  

During the course of the natural and expected seasons of life, our pathway can sometimes be   completely disrupted by unexpected events like the death of a child, divorce or widowhood or chronic illness, forcing us into a new season. After we have stabilized new growth can begin and we enter a new season. 

One of the transitions that are part of the cycle of life is the death of your parents pushing you to the top of the family tree. This can be quite intimidating as you come to terms with your own mortality. 

As the trees shed their leaves and the bare branches stand in the icy cold, similar are the signs as you enter that final cycle of your life. Often it is your health that strips our independence, and you need to be taken care of by others. It can just be a slow decline of strength and faculties, sight, hearing and taste. Then just as a winter storm can strike and the tree falls, your body switch can turn off and you’re gone from this earth. That final transition to those who believe in Christ as their Savior are promised to be changed into the eternal bodies to live with God forever. This transition requires that you have faith, which you should have been nurturing during your preparation for the latter years. 

Yes, the signs of transition are all about us. Do we recognize them? Do we desire them, plan and expect and prepare for them?  

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

WHEN YOU GO THROUGH THE RIVER OF DIFFICULTY, YOU WONT DROWN

I was born in a country that has two great rivers for borders, the one was the Zambezi on which the Victoria Falls is situated and is a treacherous river with crocodiles and hippopotami.  It is also one of the most beautiful rivers when the sun is setting, and the sounds of wildlife and birds fill the air.  The sun has a magnificent orange glow that sets the river on fire and silhouettes the palm trees, and as you listen to the lapping of the water on the shore or on the boat for the Sunset Cruise, there is no more beautiful place on earth. I can imagine this was like the river mentioned in the Garden of Eden. The southern border of my land of birth was the great, grey, greasy Limpopo River cited by Rudyard Kipling in the Elephant’s Child in Just So Stories, also a dangerous river with crocodiles and hippopotami. People have lost their lives trying to cross these rivers, the Limpopo in particular, as it is shallower and people wanting to cross without going through the border post stand in danger of losing their lives if they risk crossing.

There were times when I was trying to relocate internationally that the bureaucracy was unbearable. To obtain all the documentation and proof of identity that was required of me, was difficult to get from a country in chaos. This among other things made leaving my land of birth a hard time.  But harder still was leaving family and friends and the land that was and still is beautiful. I cherish the memories of my childhood years and the land of freedom and milk and honey (so it seemed to me). I have moved internationally four times and each time has had its difficulties, but I also learned how to navigate through the bureaucracy making it that much easier each time.

I have never been tempted to swim the Limpopo river! I crossed the Beitbridge which takes you into South Africa. I leant all I could about the country on the other side of the bridge and taking the steps necessary to be able to cross over at the Immigration post with my paperwork in order, knowing I had a job waiting for me so I could pay my way. This is part of the process getting to know the culture, language, geography and history of the place your are relocating to, making the transition easier.

I kept my faith that the path that God was leading me was the right one for me and took comfort in the words of Isaiah “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you.” That is such a comforting verse for people leaving a conflicted land. Not only that, but Isaiah goes on to say “For I’m going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness for my people to go home and create rivers for them in the desert!” Words of hope for the future!

Yes, the Lord has been gracious and given me a future in each land I have lived, it has not been an easy road, but with God’s help there has been work that I could do and people to help me when I have sought them out in the churches in my new location. If you are going through an international relocation right now, patiently follow the process, there is no quick and easy way. Take comfort that God goes with you and is with you through each of the trials you may face.  Treasure the memories of your past place of living, but keep them in a box to be pulled out every now and then to be enjoyed, mourn the loss of your past life, but also embrace the new, letting the past remain there, it cant be changed. Focus on building up your new life, making new friends and contacts and exploring your new environment. In due course you will feel like a native in your new land.

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, Transitions, Travel, Uncategorized, Widowhood

UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS

Underneath are the everlasting armsI CAN NEVER BE LOST TO YOUR SPIRIT …..IF I GO UP TO HEAVEN YOU ARE THERE.

How many of us will admit to a fear of flying?  I am right up there front of the line, I reckoned if God wanted us to fly He would have given us wings!  Yet He has given us wings, the wings of an aircraft!  I have had to travel to many places to visit my far-flung family. I wished I had more time and other ways of getting to my destination, but unfortunately in this day and age, the quickest way is still to fly.

I was visiting my daughter in Australia at the time Flight MH370 went missing, I did NOT want to return by air to the UK where I was living at the time. If I could have travelled by ship or any other means I would have, I was NOT happy at all that I had to fly back, and then another flight went down near Malaysia. My anxiety knew no bounds as my departure day drew near.

How do we overcome fear and anxiety moving into the unknown, especially when we are aware of the risks and dangers lying ahead? I looked back and reminded myself that God had preserved my life thus far, and that He has promised to protect His children. I had travelled before and had been safe, so why should this flight be any different.  I looked at the statistics and the logistics of doing it any other way and of course the numbers and facts proved their own story. I knew that my work on earth was not yet done as I was in a crucial stage in a new project that had to be completed, and if God has numbered my days and if He wanted me to complete the job, He would have to make sure I was alive to do it.  Lastly, I read many Scriptures and promises in the Bible and prayed about my fears. God gave me a picture from Psalm 139, which I drew and looked at often, of His great hand underneath the aircraft, and that I could not be lost to His Spirit. This calmed me and reassured me as I visualized His everlasting arms holding the aircraft up. I won’t tell you I enjoyed the flight, but I will say I had an inner calmness that overcame any anxious feelings.

What fears and anxieties do you have now? You know you must move on and can’t remain stuck where you are for the rest of your life.  What is holding you back from the next step forward?

Yes, moving on from divorce and widowhood, or moving to new destinations does come with a large amount of fear and anxiety as does facing old age and the unknown.  It takes a lot of inner work and prayer and reading of Scripture to move from anxiety to courage, but it can be done. It is so much easier if you have someone who has travelled this journey before you, who can guide you through the sticking points and encourage you to make those big leaps of faith to move onto the next stage of the journey. I would be happy to walk with you on your pilgrimage if you will let me.

Please feel free to contact me through my website www.crossingmybridges.com where you can also find my free downloadable map.

 

 

 

 

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.