Divorce, Grief, Seasons of Life, Transitions, Widowhood

Seeds Need the Wind

Have you ever decided to go out for a walk on a glorious spring morning, only to find it turns into a dismal day with a howling gale ready to sweep you of your feet?

Spring is a time a when the weather is really unsettled, and it is hard to decide what to wear or what to do when you get up each day.  When you are going through a transition, you will find that you also can feel this way.  There is overwhelm, fear and maybe also sadness and depression making it hard to get out of bed in the mornings and focus on the day’s tasks. Especially as you work through grief and loss – you will get these days.

As an artist, I look to find answers in nature that are metaphors for what is going on in our lives.  The amazing thing is that the Bible also uses these metaphors so we can get answers and when I was meditating on the spring winds that brings in the season in Ecclesiastes, the wisdom was there! “He who watches the wind waiting for all conditions to be perfect will not sow seed and he who looks at the clouds will not reap a harvest.”  What the writer was saying was there are some things that you cant be sure of, you just have to take the chance and plant your seeds anyway.  We always want to be sure of our outcomes in the decisions we make, this is not always possible, we need to make decisions when the conditions are relatively good, but not perfect, and get moving with it because the perfect conditions will probably never be there. If you don’t make that decision to plant your seeds, being afraid of every cloud that could bring rain, you wont have a crop to harvest anyway!

Another lesson I found in nature was the wind was absolutely necessary for planting of seeds. How is this?  There are certain seeds that are only dispersed by the wind, when their seed capsule opens, the seeds with wings or parachutes need the wind to take them far from the parent plant to start a new colony further away, so there will not be too much competition for the same resources. As I walked along the side walk I saw thousands of winged seeds that had just fallen to the ground waiting for the wind to blow them into a place where they could take root and flourish.  How many of those seeds would survive?  I can imagine that not many of them would have made it to a new place where they could thrive.  Yes, there will be disappointments when your decisions don’t work out, you will make mistakes, there will be times of discouragement but trusting God to take just one of your seeds to a place where it will grow and thrive you will reap that harvest.

I have had to make many of these decisions as I have moved countries when I was both divorced and widowed, I had no idea how I was going to be provided for at the time, but the conditions were as good as they were going to get, I just had to make that call and pack my bags. There were mistakes I made, there were discouragements and times of extreme loneliness as I struggled through these decisions, but each struggle made me grow my root further and further into the soil of God’s love and provision for me and strengthened my faith.

If you are going through the winds of adversity at this time, and don’t know which way to go, I would love to hear from you and walk with you through this struggle. There is a seed of good in what you are going through that needs to be planted.

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Divorce, Grief, Seasons of Life, Transitions, Widowhood

RESURRECTION

 

As we head into Easter and celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, thoughts of what resurrection really means crossed my mind which I want to share with you.  When I was a child, we used to climb up a massive granite kopjie (a hill made up of rock) called Domboshawa.  It was always a treat to head there for a picnic to climb and slide down the rocks. On this rock mass there grew a plant called Resurrection bush, a woody shrub which when you looked at it, you thought it was dead, it was lifeless, dried up and black. This bush would suddenly burst into a mass of glossy green leaves as soon as it rained.  We used to love to pick a few twigs and take them home and put in a jar of water, when we woke up in the morning, the twigs had come to life and were full of green leaves!

When we have been through a time of grief and loss, we can feel lifeless and dried up, with no future. Going through the caring process with my late husband until he passed, I had felt my life blood being drained with the stress and demands of his illness and having to provide for everything, at times I thought I would be six feet under before him.  There are times in transitions that you will feel thoroughly depleted as you have used all your energy to cope with just getting through the day. But as the journey progresses you learn new ways to cope or it is necessary to take a regular rest breaks to recover.  What you really need is that refreshing rain to bring you to life again and flourish and thrive.

What we are looking for is for our life to be restored and renewed.  The plant had conserved its energy by shriveling up until the rain when it was rehydrated and able to mperform its process of photosynthesis to make energy again. We need to take care of ourselves and conserve what energy we have until our situation passes or the initial phases of grief have subsided, and we are in the healing process.  There is a fountain where we can sit, meditating on Scripture and quietly wait for the new life and vitality to seep back into our souls. Sitting watching water flow, a fountain, river, waves washing onto the beach or any place where you can see and hear the

This is a season in our life, and we need to recognize it and know that as surely as Easter comes around every year and the trees burst into blossom every year, so this season of dryness and death will be a part of our lives in one form or another. But just as it is part of our walk though life so are the refreshing rains and fountains.  We are restored, made new, reanimated we are resurrected.

Think about what ‘The Resurrection’ means to you – are you in a dry place now? Or have you found the fountain and are being refreshed and restored? I would love you to share with me where you are on your journey through loss.

 

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Divorce, Grief, Transitions, Uncategorized, Widowhood

Align Yourself with Your Season in Life

There is something special about Spring, it is the signal that a new season has begun.  When you are going through transitions in your life, it is a time when you see the first glimpse of your new life emerging. It could be the day you wake up and feel alive and happy for the first time after being widowed or divorced.  Or it could be that you no longer worry about the future but just know that all will be well.

It is very comforting to know that as long as the earth remains there will be seasons and if you align yourself with the seasons of your life and know which season you are in, it makes it much easier to navigate your life and transition. It would be difficult to bloom and flourish in the winter when you are meant to rest. Likewise, it would be hard to rest when the world around you is active in summer.  Accept the season you are now in, knowing it will pass.

After a long dark winter, the spring winds blow bringing rain to wet the earth and set in motion the cycle of new growth, seeds sprouting, trees budding, and flowers beginning to blossom.  Birds begin to sing and instead of the frozen fields, green pastures emerge ready to support the flocks.

You may not even have been aware of it, but while you were going through your period of grief and despair, new seeds were being planted in the recesses of your heart. Seeds of compassion, empathy, affinity, insight, sympathy and tenderheartedness. When eventually your Spring breaks through, you will experience that inner peace and joy and know you are through the worst of it, you will find that those seeds grow so that you will be able to empathize and help others when they are going through the winter in their life.

After I had healed from my divorce, I found that I could empathize with others who were going through the same experience and give them the comfort and encouragement they needed. After I had been through caregiving and the death of my late husband who had dementia, I was able to help and have compassion for families who were going through similar circumstances.

Napoleon Hill said, “look for the seed of good in something bad, nurture it until it grows into something good”, the Bible also says something similar, “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” That is the reason, I am here today, to help others who are going through difficult life transitions.  Let me help you plant the seeds of good in what you are going through today, so when your Spring comes, they will burst forth with joy!

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, 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.


 

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