The Least of These

A few weeks ago I was in Europe. (That is so weird to write. Europe, people. I was there. Still can’t get over it!) Anyway…

I spent a bit of time (not long enough!) in France.

I learnt a little bit of French in high school and took some classes this year as well so I thought I was totally prepared. I thought wrong. It was an absolute blast though and I learnt so much!

The subway in Paris is all, well, sub! Usually down 2 flights of stairs. At some stations there are travellators. And most of them aren’t functioning. The first couple of times you get your hopes up, thrilled that ease is at hand . After a while you give up and know you’re headed for the stairs. And when you are sick and your asthma is playing up and you are lugging a suitcase – stairs are not fun. I spent a lot of my time in Paris wheezing while dragging myself up and down stairs! (But hey, it meant I didn’t get fat on all the delicious French food I ate, so stairs for the win!)

One such trip really gave me a lot to think about. Fortunately I had left my suitcase in the motel at this point so it was a lot easier to manage.

There were people everywhere. Most of them focused on where they were headed and not paying any attention to their surroundings. Honestly, if I hadn’t been sick and therefore much slower, I probably would have missed him too.

I noticed him about halfway up a flight of stairs when I paused just below him to take a breath. He was hobbling slowly up the stairs. I’m pretty sure he had a walking stick in one hand but I can’t quite remember now. In the other hand he carried a heavy bag of what looked like groceries. And he would have been at least 80 years old.

He stumbled up a step. As I darted to his side and reached toward him I completely forgot that I was in France and spoke quickly in English. ‘Do you need help?’ He glanced up. Clearly he didn’t understand a word. But he understood the gesture. He allowed me to take his groceries and he leant on my arm as we slowly climbed the stairs together.

As we reached the top I handed him back the grocery bag. He met my gaze for a fleeting moment. A glance I will remember forever. And there were tears in his frail voice as he whispered ‘Merci, madame.’

Thank you, ma’am.

I had done such a small thing. But to him it was great. And though I had been the one who had given to him, suddenly I felt like I had received the greater gift.

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.


Life and stress

I’ve been stressed for a while. Not just your regular kind of stressed. Completely and utterly overwhelmed and not coping with life kind of stressed. Life had just been becoming incredibly discouraging. Everything just built up and I couldn’t deal with it anymore.

So a few weeks ago I resigned from my job. It was just putting too much pressure on me and I felt like I never saw my husband. We talked it over multiple times. And one day after I came home in tears yet again, he told me it wasn’t worth it. Money at the expense of happiness is too expensive. So I quit.

Just over a week ago I walked out of the door at work for the last time. And I guess I thought that the relief would be instant, that I would feel 100% perfect straight away. That this stress would lift immediately.

It didn’t. Granted, there was some relief when I walked out that door. But it wasn’t the quick fix I expected it to be. So far I have still felt busy and overwhelmed. The house is still chaotic. The dishes are still piling up. And then I got sick as well.

So I still haven’t had time to do all the things on my list. I still haven’t made it to the gym or cooked really good meals every night. It hasn’t been as dreamy as I thought it would be.

And yet, in some ways it has. I got to spend Sunday with my husband instead of working for the first time in a long time. The house may not be spotless yet, but it is getting there. My to do list may not be finished yet but I have put a bit of a dent in it. And for the first time in forever, I am able to stay home and rest when I am sick, instead of having to struggle on.

So I’ve decided that getting discouraged isn’t worth it.

And hey, it has to get better sometime!

Of kittens and Love

The other night we went to the movies. We enjoyed the movie and chatted as we walked back to our car. Suddenly I spotted a very small kitten silhouette in the darkness. It was lying on the footpath. As people  approached on the way to their cars, it got up and ran. I got worried about it and  followed.

It charged across the road and under our car. I have seen many cats run before – this was literally the fastest cat I have ever seen! We walked slowly towards our car, quietly calling to it and trying to calm it. It dashed off into the gutter.

I work at a pet store. A couple of days earlier I had got some old food from work. Suddenly my husband remembered that we still had it in the car. He fetched it for me and I tried desperately to use the food to coax the poor little kitten out. No luck. By this point I was sitting in the gutter inching closer and closer with the food in my outstretched hand. It inched further backwards as I approached. Cars dashed past but it seemed to completely ignore them. It was used to this life. Used to hiding on the streets. Just not used to love.

Eventually we had moved down the gutter towards the streetlight on the corner. I could now see her clearly, sitting in the mouth of a large drain. A beautiful little torti, one of the cutest kittens I have ever seen. We sat there for ages, she and I. Both scared. I, that I would make the wrong move and she would run and I would not be able to help her. She, that I would get too close and hurt her. After some time, she vanished into the gutter.

My husband and I looked and looked but could not find her anywhere.

Eventually we gave up. I emptied all the food I had next to the gutter for her. In case she came back. In case she was hungry. In case, in some way, I could help her after all. Then I sat on the edge of the foot path and cried. Cried because I had wanted to save her and give her the love she was born for. Cried because she wouldn’t let me, because she was too afraid. Cried because there was no way I could make her understand.

And suddenly it hit me.

God sees the exact same thing. With tears in His eyes He sits in the gutter and watches His precious, most beautiful child. Running frantically, aimlessly. Lost. So used to this life that we are afraid of Him. And while we are hiding in that gutter, He empties everything He has in order to save us. In case, somehow, He can make us understand what He wants so desperately to do for us.

In case we come back to the Love we were born for.



Yesterday many of us woke to news about shootings and explosions in Paris. From what I can tell it appears to have been a coordinated terrorist attack. The last article I read stated that over 120 people had been killed. As nations around the world heard of the tragedy, many lit up their nation’s icons with lights in the colours of the French flag as a show of support and sympathy. The hash tag #prayforparis emerged quickly as many Christians lifted prayers for a devastated city.
But this morning as I scrolled through Facebook I discovered a French cartoonist’s reaction to #prayforparis. Basically his thoughts were that Paris doesn’t want or need prayers thank you very much. They don’t want religion forced upon them. There have also been other responses such as ‘prayer does nothing anyway’.
Oh but it does. There is a God out there. And He cares for you even if you don’t want to hear about Him. He hears and answers prayer even if you refuse to believe that He does.
Paris, I am praying for you. If you were drowning and I knew someone who could save you I would be deemed a horrible person if I did not ask them to help. And guess what – I do know someone who can help. His name is Jesus. And I will not sit idly by without bringing your plight before Him. I will #prayforparis. And I make no apology for that.

The Emotionally Healthy Woman

This year I am participating in a marriage reading challenge. The goal is read at least one book per month from a selection dealing with a specific topic. So far I have really been enjoying participating in this challenge!

The topic for March was Setting Healthy Boundaries. Due to life being so busy I have only recently finished the book I chose last month which was The Emotionally Healthy Woman by Geri Scazzero. While there were a couple of things that I disagreed with in this book I mostly found that it was a good read and contained helpful tips to being emotionally healthy in yourself, which is necessary of course to a healthy marriage. The book deals with 8 things that you should quit in order to become more emotionally healthy.

1. Quit Being Afraid of What Others Think. This is one area that I have improved in recently. Such a great reminder that as long as our identity is grounded in God’s love for us, we don’t need other people’s approval to give us value.

2. Quit Lying. This is something I really struggle with. Not blatant lies as such. Little things like ‘Whatever you want to do is fine’ (when I do actually have a preference), or ‘I’m fine’ (when I am really not), or ‘It’s nothing!’ (when in fact it is something!). I really got a lot out of this chapter – so much encouragement to always tell the truth. One thing I particularly liked was Geri’s approach to telling the truth – respectfully, honestly, clearly, and in a timely fashion. Such great ways to make sure communication lines are clear and open in marriage!

3. Quit Dying to the Wrong Things. A great reminder not to ignore important relationships and activities and not to expend so much energy for others that you burn out.

4. Quit Denying Anger, Sadness, and Fear. This chapter particularly points out that having these emotions is not a bad thing! It is not wrong to feel angry or sad or afraid. It is what we do with those emotions that is important. Geri stresses a three-step process: feel your feelings (allow yourself to have those emotions); think through your feelings (work out what you are feeling and why); and take appropriate action by working out the best way to handle those emotions.

5. Quit Blaming. This was a great reminder to stop blaming others for problems in your life and to stop looking at the past. Take responsibility for your own life. If it is not how you would like it to be, change it!

6. Quit Over-functioning. This is another big one for me. I find it extremely hard to say no, even if I am already overloaded or stressed.

7. Quit Faulty Thinking. This is expressed in so many ways and Geri goes into a few in this chapter. The one that really stood out to me the most was ‘taking things personally’. I had never really seen that for what it is, but she is right. Such a great chapter that had me thinking for days!

8. Quit Living Someone Else’s Life. This chapter is all about working out who you are and what you want out of life and, instead of living out other people’s dreams, living your life the way that you want. In marriage a big part of this is couple-related as well and should be discussed before marriage if possible. But for me this one is not a big issue. I feel completely happy with where I am and what I am doing in life.

In a nutshell, this book was a good reminder of how to be emotionally healthy. It waffled a little in some parts but was a good book in general and gave me a few things to think about.

Marriage reading challenge, book two

This year I am participating in a marriage reading challenge – one book picked from a selection on a different topic each month. (You can find January’s book here.)

February’s topic was intimacy in marriage. I chose to read Sheila Gregoire’s book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, partly because I already own it but hadn’t read it yet, and partly because it sounded like a great read. Which it was.

Sheila has some great points in this book and deals with a tough topic in a very matter-of-fact and slightly humorous manner. She touches on her own personal struggle as a newlywed and gives life to the book with her understanding of the issues involved. As a Christian, she also brings God and His design for sex into the book – which is a big plus!

I would definitely recommend this book for newlyweds, about-to-be-weds, and anyone who is struggling with intimacy in marriage.


This morning as I scrolled through my news feed on Facebook, I came across a photo from my uncle and auntie’s 40th wedding anniversary. As I scanned through the comments I noticed a name that I recognised. And this person’s comment was: ’40 years! That’s torture if you ask me!’ (I kindly refrained from pointing out that nobody HAD asked her!)

But it got me thinking.

How sad for a person to have such a warped view of marriage. And a lot of people share that view.(Think how many people half-joke about marriage being a life sentence!)

But God didn’t design marriage to be that way. His plan was for two people to fall in love with Him and with each other. He wanted them to be totally connected to each other, to find joy in doing life together.

He doesn’t want us to see marriage as torture, a prison, a life sentence. He wants us to see the beauty and joy of sharing your life with one person, of loving and giving to each other, of supporting each other through good and bad.

Don’t look on marriage as the end of your life, your individuality, your happiness. It’s just the beginning of so much more.

Today I want to challenge you to see the blessing in marriage. If you are planning to get married, or are still single, don’t allow a warped view to cloud your choices and relationships or your feelings about marriage. If you are married, rejoice in your marriage today! Be grateful for the gift God has given you.

Love & War

For those who have not read my previous post, this year I am taking part in a marriage reading challenge. I got off to a rather late start and therefore have only just finished January’s book. Better late than never though, right? (Does it count that I have already purchased February’s book and have it sitting by the bed ready to go?)

The first book I chose was Love & War, by John & Stasi Eldredge. I have read their books before and thoroughly enjoyed them. This book was just as good. Together they bring a new perspective on marriage and face the tough questions. While there were a couple of points in their book that I didn’t agree with, most of it was relevant and helpful.

Love & War reminded me again that there is nothing Satan hates more than a great marriage, fashioned after God’s ideals and following His adventure for them. And it made me commit all over again to starting a revolution. I want to change the way people view marriage. This stuff is forever people!

So, starting with my own marriage, I vow today to not give Satan a foothold in my marriage. I want to truly experience God’s ideals for marriage and be the strongest team we can be.

Bring on forever!

Love that lasts

A few weeks ago I went to a funeral for a lovely old lady that I first met over 10 years ago. During the eulogy it suddenly struck me that she had been married for 64 years. 64 YEARS people! And not only had she been married, she had been happily married.

In our day this sort of thing is becoming rarer by the minute. Marriages last a few weeks, months, years. We find it increasingly hard to find mentors and role models who actually still have a marriage, let alone a happy one. And nobody seems to care anymore.

Coming home from that funeral I decided to do something about it. I want a 64-year love – more if I live long enough! So this year I am going to get into the habit of being intentional about my marriage. I intend to read marriage, think marriage, and pray marriage. I want to surround myself with happily married people and be open to advice and help. I want to find any and all traits of happy marriages and implement them in my own. I intend to intentionally spend time with my husband.

A week or so after my decision, a blogger I follow launched a marriage reading challenge for this year. God has great timing! So this month I am reading Love & War by John & Stasi Eldredge. I am planning to purchase and read at least one of each month’s selected books this year, plus I have also purchased a marriage devotional and desk calendar for my husband and I to read together.

This year more than ever I want to keep on creating love that lasts.

A perfect relationship?

Lately I have been noticing a lot of Facebook posts about wanting perfect relationships. It appears that every teenage (and probably older!) girl out there wants a guy who is perfect. Someone who will bring home flowers all the time, who is a great cook, who loves to cuddle, never gets upset, and is just generally, well, perfect. But as my mother always said, ‘If you did manage to find a perfect guy, why would he want to marry you?!’ (Thanks by the way. *feel the sarcasm*)

But she is right. We are human and as such we make mistakes. We are not perfect. No relationship with another human (be it spouse, family, or friends) is ever going to be perfect.

I believe that we have forgotten that movies are fiction. The relationships portrayed in them are not real. And we get so busy looking for ‘perfect’ that we sail right on past ‘great’. A lot of the time even when we get ‘great’ we aren’t satisfied – we keep looking for or demanding more. And I think that is sad.

About two weeks ago I had surgery. My husband couldn’t be there. But as soon as he got home from work he rushed to look after me. He didn’t have flowers for me when I got home. But when I woke at 3am the next morning in pain, he got up. He got painkillers, food, and set me up on the couch with a movie. (And he did buy me flowers later that week.) He didn’t cook me a three course meal that night. But every time I even mentioned food over the next week he has jumped up and got me anything I wanted without even being asked. He did try to cuddle me but that just hurt my jaw so we settled for holding hands. And he did get upset – mostly due to me being an annoying and grumpy soul when I am sick or in pain! But even when I could tell he was thoroughly frustrated with me, he still noticed if I was in even a hint of pain and did all he could to help. He was so busy over that week – but every time I called or sent him a text he answered straight away.

Last Sunday evening we mixed and poured concrete for our new letterbox. And after it had dried a little my dear husband suggested that we carve our initials into it. And I was reminded all over again that while we don’t have a perfect relationship by any means, we do have a great one. And since we have our whole lives ahead to keep on learning together, great is well and truly enough.