For the times when the future scares you

2:00 pm Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

The future
God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer. When I’m far from anywhere, down to my last gasp, I call out, “Guide me up High Rock Mountain!” Psalm 61:2 (MSG)

I don’t like not knowing what is ahead of me.

I realised this while driving this morning. 

A delivery truck pulled in front of me and then braked. 

The lane I was in stopped moving and I didn’t know why. 

It frustrated me so much. I sat and watched other cars pass me and all I could do was sit and wait for my lane to move. I didn’t know what was holding me up and I couldn’t see past the delivery truck in front of me.

I felt myself getting anxious.

Then I wondered if maybe I was anxious about more than not being able to see what was causing the delay in the traffic.

I start a new job tomorrow. And a few months after that my husband and are planning to move continents. There is a lot of uncertainty in my life at the moment. 

I don’t like not knowing what is ahead of me. 

I like certainty and control. 

In the last few years with my husband’s cancer diagnosis I have had very little of these things.

In fact the one constant in all of this was my job. Now that is changing too and I find myself identifying the phrase in Psalm 61:2 about my heart being overwhelmed.

I remember the prayer David utters right after that, 
“Lord, guide me!” 
Prayer Lord guide me
I start praying it. Praying it as I drive behind a big delivery truck. 

Lord, guide me.

Praying it as I pick up a few things I need before my new job.

Lord, guide me. (tweet this)

And I’ll be praying it tomorrow as I walk into a new job not knowing what is ahead of me. 

Lord, guide me.

I may not know what the future holds but I do know the one who holds the future. And for now, that is enough. (tweet this)

Ponder: What things are you worried about the future? Have you reached the point where you are ready to pray, “Lord, guide me!”?

Prayer: Lord, guide me.
{Win}
If you missed your chance to win a pack of 12 encouragement photo cards by Jen Mguni (like the one's pictured on the right) go read her guest post from Monday and share her post to receive an entry into the competition. (Competition ends 4 November 2013).


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When you don't all look the same

6:30 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments


{Guest Devotional by Jen Mguni}


You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.
But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. Ephesians 4:4-7 (MSG)

Seven and a half years ago I walked down the aisle. 

With careful steps toward the man standing in front of the beautiful big bay windows, I looked around at the smiling faces of friends and family as they rose from the uncomfortable beauty of the old teak benches. 

To some in that gathering, this marriage was a sort of uncomfortable beauty. 

On our wedding day we felt completely loved and supported by our family and friends, but we had climbed more than our fair share of hills to get to that point. 

Southern Africa is still wading through the mud created by centuries of inequality and oppression along race lines. History always has ripple effects that extend into the present and at times these felt more like tidal waves than ripples to us. 

When I was growing up, difference was seen by many as something to fear. 

Diversity didn't get marketed as a strength and many people thought that the differences between my husband and I would be obstacles to our happiness. 

It's true that there are big differences between us. 

Our skin colour is one of them but it certainly isn't anywhere near the biggest hurdle that our relationship faces. My husband processes audible information very well and I suffer from an inability to do that. My husband is analytical and I'm more likely to take things at face value. My husband prefers team sports, I prefer exercising on my own. I love cooking and eating, my husband would happily just take a tablet each morning if it still meant he got all the nutrients he needed. 

When we got married, I saw the obvious differences of skin colour and the cultural differences of our families, and they didn't matter to me. 

A few years into our marriage those things still didn't matter to me but I suddenly realized how different we were in a hundred other ways, and if I'm really honest, this realization frightened me a little bit. 

I had to learn that diversity is strength. 

I had to learn that with some things we really needed to be on the same page but with others we did best when we gave each other the space to be different. 

For me, this lesson unfolded in the context of marriage but it's true of our other relationships too. As followers of Christ we are united through our faith in God's grace. 

We have common foundations, but that doesn't mean that we need to turn into a disturbing crowd of clones. 

God could have made us all the same but He didn't. He made us different. (Tweet this)

Our niche is found not in a place where we're all the same but in a place where we learn to be comfortable with who we are so that we can also allow others to be themselves.

Ponder: How do you handle differences in your relationships?

Prayer: Jesus, help me to be comfortable with myself so I can allow others to themselves. Amen.

{About Jen Mguni: The Author Of This Guest Devotional}
Jen Mguni is a Zimbabwean-born South African, currently living in Germany. She is an instructional designer, writer and poet, with a learn-as-you-go-style passion for photography. She love's playing with light and colour and feels exhilarated when words come together surprisingly on a page. She writes about finding grace in the grit and grime of life and about the love of God seeping into every crack and callous, transforming the broken into the beautiful. You can read her blog posts and poems at freshmercies.com and connect with her on facebook and twitter
{Win}
Jen Mguni takes beautiful photos and makes great designs with inspirational quotes. She is giving away a pack of 12 encouragement photo cards. If you would like to win the set share this post on facebook or twitter. Once you've done this email wendy@ilovedevotionals.com with the link to shared post. 

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How to pray when someone hurts you

6:15 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

open heart
And Hezekiah prayed—oh, how he prayed! 
God, God of Israel, seated in majesty on the cherubim-throne. You are the one and only God, sovereign over all kingdoms on earth, Maker of heaven, maker of earth. Open your ears, God, and listen, open your eyes and look. Look at this letter Sennacherib has sent, a brazen insult to the living God!
…But now O God, our God, save us from raw Assyrian power; Make all the kingdoms on earth know that you are God, the one and only God. 2 Kings 15-17, 19 (MSG)

Today is my last day at a job I’ve been at for six years. 

I never expected resigning from a job would be so tough on my heart. 

I anticipated my staff to be upset. I knew I’d feel sad to leave. 

In the midst of all this there were moments of kindness and rejoicing about the future job I’ve chosen. My new job moves me into the realm of non-profit marketing and to a rental home in Italy for a large portion of next year. 

It’s a new start for my husband and I after two long years of blood tests and chemo and doctors. 

Yet, in all the excitement it’s the mean words that have stayed with me. 

I didn’t expect to hear nasty things spoken about me. Whispers of untruths that even though I know are not true, hurt so badly I found my husband in the middle of a workday just for a hug. 

It is the lies that have pierced my heart that have made me want to run away, and protect myself from hurt. 

I’ve been reading Mary DeMuth’s new book The Wall Around Your Heart off and on since before I resigned. Right from the first time I read the title I knew this was a book for me. I battle to trust, and when I do, the first sign of hurt sees me retreat, protect myself and build a wall. A book that speaks about how to live with an open heart spoke to the person I want to be. 

Yesterday as I read her book a passage of scripture stood out for me from 2 Kings 19. It’s a prayer that Hezekiah prays after he receives a horrible attack on his character and Israel prior to a possible invasion. 

Hezekiah doesn’t speak badly about the person who attacked him. Or run to his friend and tell them how nasty that person is being. All things, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve done in this situation. 

Instead Hezekiah goes to God and prays. Oh, how he prays. 
Mary DeMuth The Wall around your heart

His prayer is full of cues about how big God is in the situation.

I love what Mary deMuth says about these verses, “Hezekiah remembered who God was and reminded himself of who he needed to be in the situation.” 

I wonder if Hezekiah focuses so much on the glory of God in his prayer, because he needed the courage to believe that God could be trusted, not only to resolve the situation, but also heal his hurt heart. 

As I read this prayer I realised that I’ve failed to take my hurt heart to God. 

I’ve made the hurt bigger than God, and allowed fear and anger to shield my heart, instead of letting God fight for my heart. 

As I leave today I’m praying about the situation. 

I’m praying that my big God will fight for me. And I’m asking him to heal my hurting heart and help me to live without walls even as I learn that trusting God is the only way to learn to live with an open heart. (tweet this)

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In The Wall Around Your Heart, Mary DeMuth shows you that you can reach wholeness and healing in the aftermath of painful relationships by following the road map of the Lord’s Prayer. You’ll walk through story after story of hurt people who are led through biblical truth into amazing, life-sustaining, joyful growth.

Life is hard. People can be mean and petty and awful. But they can also be amazing and beautiful and sacrificial. God is good. He is faithful. You can trust him with your relationships.

You can buy this book here and find out more about Mary here.


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Am I good enough for God to save me?

5:30 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Psalm 18 verse 19
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. Psalm 18:19 (NIV)

This weekend I listened to a man describe a group of Zambian children seeing an escalator for the first time. 

He talked about how these five year-olds sang as they walked into the shopping center, holding hands in sets of two.

Described how the moment they saw the escalators they went crazy. They let go of their partners’ hands, jumped up and down and screamed in excitement.

Something, as common as an escalator, absolutely delighted these children.

It is the idea of God delighting in me, like that, like a five year-old kid, that grabs my attention when I read Psalm 18:19.

Often I think of God as an angry old man, or at best a strict schoolteacher, waiting for me to mess up. A person who can’t wait to point out how much I need them to make something of myself.

There are times when I think God sent Jesus to die because I couldn’t save myself.

I’ve been through enough hard things in life to know that I need to Jesus to lean on, but sometimes I get so focused on the part about me being bad that I fail to recognize the role God’s love played in my salvation story.

God didn’t rescue me because he pitied me; he saved me because he loved me. (tweet this)

My rescue wasn’t dependent on my bad behaviour but on God’s love.

God didn’t save me because of the mess I made, or the mistakes I try to hide, or because he needed to fix my life. He rescued me because of his love for me.

God delights in meCould it be that the extravagant grace of God is moved not by my sin, but by his love?  (tweet this)

If that’s true than there really is nothing that can separate me from the love of God, nothing I can do that could make God stop delighting in me.

Nothing I do, could change how God feels about me, because his salvation would not be dependent on what I do, but on who I am. 

And who I am is a delight to God.

I read the Psalm again: God brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

This time I picture God as a 5-year child seeing an escalator for the first time. I see God bouncing up and down, clapping his hands and exploding with joy over me. 

I let the truth sink in.

God delights in me. Period. (tweet this)

Ponder: Do you believe God delights in you? Is it easy or hard for you to believe that God’s love for you is based on this delight and not on what you do?

Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to how much you delight in me. Amen.

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For the times when God's love seems far away

8:09 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Psalm 23
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. Psalm 23:6a (MSG)

When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer I spent a few hours going through the bible and marking verses that spoke about God’s love for me. It was the only way I knew to see God's love in the situation.

In those first few broken days of learning he had cancer I clung to those verses. 

I read them through tears. 

I hopped from one to the other finding hope in the words of love. 

As I read I invited God’s love to follow me into my fears and despair. 

I knew that God’s love for me was my only hope. And I clutched it like a security blanket. 

Recently I came across one of the verses I marked about God’s love in Psalm 23. I was reminded that God’s beauty and love chase after me, snapping at my heals, waiting to overwhelm me. Every day. 

Sometimes when I look at a photo there is a person or thing in the background that completely steals the focus of the picture. I think God’s love can be like that.
God's love

When I reflect on my life, or the last year or even yesterday, I can see God’s love and beauty have been there even when I never expected to capture it.

God’s love has been the photobomb in every moment of my life. (tweet this)

God’s unfailing love has been pursuing me since the day I wiggled my toes for the first time. It followed me as I walked barefoot through a forest to say “I do”. And his love chased after me as I looked at my feet while the doctor said, “Your husband has cancer”. 

God’s love has always been my shadow. (tweet this)

As I read through the highlighted verses about love in my bible, the one’s I chose in dark days, I’m reminded that the world can be full of hard things and death valleys, but it’s also a place where God’s goodness and unfailing love pursue me. Every. Single. Day.

Ponder: Where in your life today is God chasing after you with love? When you reflect on your day yesterday where did you see his beauty? If you’d like to share a few of these moments in the comments I’d love to read them. 

Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to your beauty and love every day of my life. Amen.

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In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share some of the thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.. If you would like a copy please subscribe to receive my devotionals every Monday and Friday.  
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When everything changes

5:15 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Devotional on change: Discovery is easy part
By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God. Hebrews 11:8-10 (VOICE)

It’s been almost a month since I resigned.

Four weeks since I spoke to my staff and told them I won’t be walking into that office the same way I have for the last six years. 

There was no easy way to say it. There was no easy way to prepare my staff for the changes that will come. The new things for my staff and my self. 

I’ve been overwhelmed at times with the weight of these changes. 

You see, I don’t really like change, and with this decision to resign I threw myself into a whirlpool of change in my life: where I work, where I live and even eventually, if things go according to plan, the language that I speak. 

It’s ironic because I love new places, trying novel things and learning about different cultures but discovering is different to changing. 

Discovering simply requires uncovering something. It’s like the moment when I realize that I get angry when I’m insecure

Change on the other hand looks for transformation and adjustment to whatever comes our way. It’s the moment when I bite my tongue, remain vulnerable and decide not to react in anger out of insecurity. 

Discovery is easy. Changing is the hard part. (tweet this)

Lately I’ve been wishing that I could just discover rather than change, that I could adventure through life without having to transform who I am.  

These feelings have come because there has been backlash to my resignation and unkind words spoken. I’ve wondered if this choice to move forward, to change, to grow, to move out of a rut is worth it.

As I’ve thought about the roots of these feelings, I’ve discovered that much of it comes because over the last few weeks, I’ve been keeping my eye on the changes that are happening, rather than on God. 

Promises of God
The shift from eternity to my problems happens so easily. 

In the Bible there is a chapter on faith in Hebrews 11. It talks a lot about Abraham and how he said yes to God’s call even though he had no idea what it meant. 

The part that really drew my soul was the line about how Abraham kept his faith through all the changes this decision brought by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations.

Abraham was a man who changed everything about his life because he believed in the promises God had made about his future. 

When everything changes if I don’t keep an eternal perspective it is hard to believe that God is the one in control. 

Now I’m trying to let this discovery change me. 

When I start to feel that I’d rather adventure than transform, I think about Abraham, and what his choice to change meant for the eternal kingdom that God is building.

Ponder: What have you discovered about yourself recently? How will use that discovery to change?

Pray: God, help me to keep my eyes focused on you and to see all these changes in my life from an eternal perspective. Amen.


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{Get the book}
In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share some of the thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.. If you would like a copy please subscribe to receive my devotionals every Monday and Friday.  
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Sometimes the best miracles look like nothing

5:42 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Miracles
[A note from Wendy: Usually I post devotionals every Monday and Thursday. However I'm taking a bit of blogging break. I'll be back to my normal routine from the 14th of October. Until then I'll be posting once a week on Wednesdays.]

As [Jesus] was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him…One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:12-13; 15-16 (NIV)

I was sitting on a plane when I read her book. 

I turned page after page as Dabney Hedegard wrote about being diagnosed with cancer while she was pregnant, undergoing chemo and having a stem cell transplant (like the one my husband had earlier this year).

I forced myself not to cry as I read how her family were allowed to visit her in isolation to say goodbye because the infection was so bad they were sure she was going to die. 

As I read, I couldn’t help but think of all the things that could have gone wrong when my husband was given a stem cell transplant in July.

I’m reminded of a conversation we had with friend just weeks after my husband was released from hospital. 

This friend looked at my husband and mused, “Your stem cell transplant is a miracle. We think that miracles need to be these things where blind men can see or lame men walk but this, this uneventful transplant is a miracle.”

I knew that was true of me. I find it so much harder to see a miracle when things are ordinary and routine. 

I think about my friends words as I read about how Dabney ended up in ICU, how the guy in the room next door to her died when his transplant didn’t take. I’m reminded of the people I met in the transplant ward who ended up in ICU for weeks. 

Even his oncologist describes my husband’s procedure as going as smoothly as a duck taking to water.

10 000 feet above the earth I realize that my husband and I experienced a miracle. 

I felt such gratitude for God.

I wondered as I sat there if I had thanked God properly for the all miracles and the appropriate response to that kind of grace is anyway. 

And all a sudden I felt like a leper. 

Let me explain, there is a story in Luke 17 about ten men who had leprosy. They asked God to heal them and he did. 

And then nine of them went on with their lives. 

Only one went back and thanked Jesus for healing him. 

9 out of 10 don’t see Jesus in their miracles. 

I felt like I had been one of the nine as I sat on that plane: ungrateful. 

I so badly want to be the one that went back, the one that kneeled at Jesus’ feet, and couldn’t thank him enough.

As we flew I thanked God. Praised him for a miracle that I’d taken for granted. 

This gratitude has stayed with me the last few weeks, worked its way into my heart.  

I am so thankful for miracles that look like nothing. 

Sometimes miracles aren’t found in near-death experiences but in the routine, ordinary things I take for granted. 

Ponder: What miracles have you missed in your life because they were so uneventful? Why not stop and thank God for them now?

Prayer: Thank you God! I know words aren’t enough to express all that you’ve done for me. Help me live with a grateful heart. Amen.


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You can share this devotional on twitter by clicking here. I’d also love for you to connect with me on my Facebook and twitter pages or if you're viewing this via email you can leave a comment by clicking here.

{Get the book}
In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share some of the thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.. If you would like a copy please subscribe to receive my devotionals every Monday and Friday.  

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