Reckless Abandon

Live life to the fullest.
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters... It is the Lord Christ you are serving." [Col. 3:23-24]


Questions? Ask me anything!  

Trusting God

God speak in a lot of different ways through different people and situations.

This month has been an exercise of my trust in God and his plan for my life. Still no word on my visa, but I am trusting that “I AM” has got this sorted out. Waiting is hard. I do have much more peace than I did a few weeks ago, but being in a state of limbo is far from my favourite thing.

God brought two verses to my attention this past week.

1)

Johan and I were all cell group last week. After a wonderful study we all were having coffee and chatting. A few weeks ago at cell they’d done an activity where they had to pick a rock at random that had a verse written on it just for them. Anyways, we weren’t there that week so last night at cell there were still a few rocks left.

I’m a bit skeptical sometimes when it comes to randomly picking “relevant” verses for your personal life. That said – “casting lots” in the Bible seemed a lot like a gamble, so that’s cool. Anaways…God can speak through lots of things.

So I pick a rock. Genesis 28:15. I grab my Bible and look it up right away. I hold back tears as I read:

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

I wasn’t expecting that. That’s for sure. But God knew what I needed to hear that night. 

2)

I’m so thankful for friends and family. Especially the ones that take time to message me. This has been a great year, but it’s also been a tough one (as I’ve said many-a-time). A good friend recently shared this verse with me after receiving my latest newsletter:

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” – Psalm 119:71

Well that’s humbling. And especially encouraging. I feel that for every moment of my life – there is a verse strongly applicable to it. Thank God for His Word. Thank God for friends.

And so I press on.

-HN

Taking a Stand

After many blogs about rather deep things, I’ve decided to write one about health/a personal experience.

This year’s been a bit of a struggle for me heath-wise. I finally signed up for a new gym at the end of July and then got sick for a couple weeks, so my gymming has been less than consistent.

I’ve been reading up lately on how detrimentally unhealthy it is to sit all day. I sit while eating breakfast, I sit in the car on the way to work, I sit at work, sometimes I sit at lunch, I sit on the way home, and I sit while eating dinner. It all adds up pretty fast and doing 20 minutes of cardio at the gym isn’t going to make up for that. I began researching the pros and cons of using a standing desk, and as the cons are much less than the pros I decided to give it a go.

I got my standing desk at the beginning of August. That first week was a killer. My body was NOT prepared for that much standing. My poor feet. Over the next couple weeks I did some more research and got myself a standing mat, compression stockings and a high stool. The standing mat is a life saver, the compression socks really help my legs feel better at the end of the day (AND they prevent varicose veins!), and the high stool comes in handy, especially in the afternoon when my feet have just had it – I have the option to perch atop my stool and still get my work done. I’ve found standing in bare feet (or stocking feet) on the mat has been better even than standing in good shoes. 

I’m really glad I chose a standing desk. I’m still adjusting, my feet are often still sore, but its getting better.

I think my next healthy endeavor will be going shampoo free! Or not. We’ll see.  

Have Your Way, Lord.

To be quite honest. I don’t feel like blogging. I don’t currently feel like I’ve got a lot of blog-worthy things to say. But seeing as I haven’t blogged since June, I probably should just get to it.

I’ve written (or started writing) quite a few blog posts in the past few months, only to discard them for various reasons; boring, rambling, depressing, uneventful etc. Hopefully this one doesn’t meet the same fate.

One could rather easily assume that since I tend to be quite verbose day to day, that writing a blog would be the easiest of all tasks. The thing is – a lot of what I say is nonsense and hardly something I’d like to write or have read. 

One reason I haven’t written these past couple months is because I’ve been a bit low. Yes missionaries get low. Shocking. I’ve let myself become bogged down by a bad immune system, paperwork, housework and the like. I should have learned by now that putting all these things on my own shoulders is futile. I’m sure I’ve blogged about this repeatedly. Seems these blogs are oft a pep talk to myself, reminding me not to lose focus.

Sometimes I seem to battle with God a little like this:

“Cast all your anxieties on the Lord”

…all of them? Really? Can’t I just keep one or two, God? I kinda feel helpless if I don’t have anything to worry about! C’mon now.

“all your anxieties”.

Okay God, you can have worries numbers 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 12. How’s that? That’s a lot!

Stop it.

Man. ALL is a lot, hey.

Yea that’s the point. Stop trying to be God.

Okay then. Here ya go, God.

Next day: Repeat.

You get the point. It’s a silly sort of tug-of-war to have. I know God’s going to win. Hey I WANT Him to win! I really do, I just want some of the credit. I sure have a lot of learning to do still. I feel proud of myself that I’ve given God some big issues in my life (i.e. health, South African Home Affairs etc.) and then I start stressing about little things (the house is a mess, how am I going to deal with all these bugs?, finances are tight, blah, blah, blah!). It’s not easy to give it ALL to God. I dig in my heels too often and too far.

The sermon in church this Sunday was about the following formula:

E + R = O

Event + Response = Outcome.

The pastor talked about letting God have HIS way in our lives, and HIS WILL be done. He talked about talking to God before making any decision or acting out any response. A sermon I’ve heard many times preached in different ways, but God knows I still need to keep hearing it.

Have YOUR way Lord, have your way.

-HN

Meditation, Driving, and The Like.

So we’re halfway through the year already and that’s crazy.

Also: I seen to be a pro at starting my blogs out by stating the month, day, or the amount of time it’s been since I last blogged. My creativity seems to be waning in this area. I’m not sure if writing this blog post is going to help with that, seeing as I’m not even sure at this point where this blog post is gonna go. I don’t even think I’m going to edit it. That’s living on the edge for you!

So here’s to hoping the creative juices flow!

  

<Hannah sits quietly – contemplating what to write about>

  

Okay here’s something. I’ve been challenged lately by my husband (perhaps unbeknownst to him). After our long work days, we’ll sit together and talk. About work, life, our future, our ideas, etc. Often Johan will say things to the effect “I felt God telling me this today” or “I’ve been meditating on this today” and things of the sort. His comments have made me realize how infrequently I listen to (or for) God’s voice on a regular basis.

Our pastor here a few weeks ago used an analogy of driving to help us think about the state of our relationship with God. It goes something like this (and I am paraphrasing):

When you’re driving, is God in your boot (a.k.a. trunk), and you only open up the boot on occasion to ask for directions?

Or is He in your back seat? You can see Him in your rear view, and occasionally ask His opinion on something.

Or perhaps He’s moved up to the passenger seat. You guys are pals. You chat a lot along the way and have a great relationship.

Maybe…just maybe though…you’ve let Him drive your car. He knows the car better than you. He knows the roads better than you. Are you willing to let Him drive and navigate too?

So this has been a challenge for me. Hearing Johan’s calm demeanor about His conversations with God and then this little analogy have got me thinking.

But how does one practically put this all into practice? I suppose meditation. True meditation on God and His word are key things here. Things I don’t spend neeeaaarly enough time on!

When was the last time I memorized a passage of scripture? When did I last spend an entire hour with God? Just me and God. It’s been a while. And I can do my best to justify and excuse my way past it, but I know very well that my excuses are all for naught. My priorities are all outta whack. I’m in a rut of bad habit. Swallowed by my own self-absorption.

Seems that most of my blog posts tend to be little pep talks to myself. I think getting things out into writing helps me to be more accountable. Or something.

Anyways. I hope you’ve found this interesting, encouraging, challenging, or perhaps some other emotion.

Cheers. 

-HN

Glimpses

Wow. Can’t believe its May already! And yet again I’ve missed my once a month blog-post goal. C’mon Hannah – you can do better than this!

This could have something to do with the fact that:

A)     I’m a slacker

B)      I’ve been busy moving

C)      I’ve also been busy with paperwork

D)     All of the above

Really, these aren’t great reasons not to blog, but my priorities tend to be on other things. Like baking banana bread and spending time with my husband and cleaning my house. I do enjoy blogging, but my blogs tend to just be me ranting about whatever is on my mind. Which – at best – is thoroughly scatterbrained.

I was thinking of just posting a picture for this month’s blog. A picture does say a thousand words after all, right? But I figured that’d be a little bit of a cop-out. So instead I’ll paint you some mental pictures/stories of my life as of late.

Picture #1: I’ve just made chocolate banana bread. The house smells of its fresh, tantalizing aroma. I cut off a couple slices and go sit in my high-ceilinged living room with my husband. I break off pieces of the banana bread and put the scorching hot bits into my mouth. Common sense says to wait till it’s cool. But it’s too delicious for that. So there we sit for a while, enjoying fresh baked goods whilst watching South African comedy, and waiting for the banana bread loaf to cool on the counter (wrong move!) before putting it into a sealed container. Note to self: Don’t leave food open on the counter nearest the window. The closed but not completely sealed window. Upon arriving back in the kitchen to put away the banana bread, I realize – much to my chagrin – that a plethora – an ARMY really! – of tiny, tiny ants is enjoying my banana bread just as much as I did. I say a few select words to express my frustration towards this mass of minuscule vermin. Thankfully they mostly attacked the crumbs and not the entire loaf, and I thusly salvaged my scrumptious baking. I proceeded to kill hundreds of living organisms. Serves them right.

Picture #2: Johan and I are driving back from grocery shopping or somewhere of the like. The roads are filled with potholes, and in the sky lingers smoke from a veld (field) fire from earlier that day. A faint smokey smell lingers in the air. As we drive unto the road leading to our house I look up at the sky…hazy blue and then fading to a stunning pink. An outline of houses and trees silhouette the evening sky. Despite the potholes and the smoke…this place really is beautiful.

Picture #3: I fumble for my keys as I leave for work on a brisk, Friday morning. I lock the door, and the doors gate. Here goes another day. I hear birds and look up – a flock of large white birds (ibis’ I’m guessing) flies above my house in a sort of “V” formation. A bit of beauty to start out the day.

Picture #4: It’s a Sunday evening. Johan and I arrive at church, getting a nice close parking spot. We greet our friends on the way in. The place is bustling. We make our way along the side aisle to the front/right section of the church. More friends, more greetings. We save ourselves some seats and head up front to pray in groups with the young adults of the church. We then head to our seats. The lights in the church are dim, the front is lit up with various colours. The two large overhead projector screens say the words “Welcome Home”…we pray, greet, and sing. I look around at the couple thousand people worshipping God in this auditorium. This is a beautiful place. God is present here.

So since I failed to take actual pictures or footage of these events…at least you have a little glimpse into a few of the goings on in the past week or so. I could describe more pictures to you of Johan and I moving from our little flat to the main house, or the madness of traffic here, or my view from the studio at TWR, but you get the point. There are always so many sights and sounds to take in, whether or not we have the time to Instagram them.

That’s all for now folks. I’ll try n’ be more snappy/punctual/diligent with my next post.

God bless ya!

-  HN

Chaos. And a Pep Talk to Myself

I’ve been feeling lately that my life has been fairly chaotic since about late December. With wedding planning, my breaker box blowing, travelling to Canada, getting married, moving Johan into my flat, getting broken into, and my car breaking down multiple times - I feel like I can’t catch a break and hardly have had time to catch my breath.

And then I think of people who have gone through the loss of a loved on, or who’s house has burned down, and I wonder how they cope. Well I know how they cope. There can only be One Way. Jesus. So why am I moaning and complaining about my petty trials? I should know that God’s got it all covered. He does. I know that. Sometimes its just hard to see the forest through the trees. Or some saying like that. I seem to lose perspective easily at times. I get so overwhelmed with my little struggles and begin to have vision like those horses in the old days that wore blinkers which took away all their peripheral vision. So there I go, staring forward at my little busy life and wondering whatEVER am I going to do? Calm down. That’s what. Do what my husband tells me: Calm down, don’t stress & take it one day at a time. There’s a Bible verse on that…”So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have enough worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34) So there it is. Simple and straightforward advice. And yet it seems I continue to want to take the weight of worry on my own shoulders. Which is really just stupid. Perhaps it comes down to pride. I want to be strong enough and do things myself. Giving it all to God shows that I am weak and incapable. So that’s humbling. But ever so true.

So here’s to humility and a stress-free life.

Cheers.

-HN

An Abstract February Blog

I don’t seem to have enough of the uninterrupted, thoughtful time that blogging seems to require. But I’ll just start writing and see where this goes.

These past couple months have been busy with travelling and weddings and such. This weekend I’m off to Cape Town for a week. I’m sure that’ll provide me with some good content to blog about!

This is a fairly monumental blog. This happens to be the first blog post I’m writing as a married woman. So that’s cool and stuff.

Married Life.

I’m enjoying married life. Coming home to my husband (or most often – him coming home to me), cooking together, having his steady logical mind around to keep my grounded…It’s all quite wonderful. I’ve been stressing lately about all the paperwork we have to do this year. Johan and I are planning on moving to Canada just over a year from now. So that mean a visa extension for me and immigration paperwork for him. And boy Canada is thorough with its immigration paperwork. Doesn’t seem to deter the plethora of immigrants to my beautiful homeland. Thankfully Johan also keeps my stress levels on that fairly low, continually reminding me that everything will work out in Gods time. I sigh. I know he’s right. Stressing I think has become a habit. It may take a while to break. But I plan to break it. It’s annoying.

I should probably back up. My wedding was incredible. And I hardly planned any of it, which was amazing. It was also amazing to see all the wonderful, loving people that took time out of their Mondays to come to our wedding. It was an enormous blessing. Our time in Canada was hectic at times but our wedding day was a breeze (for me anyways). Stress free, relaxed and wonderful.

On another note…

French.

Recently I’ve found quite the adoration for French/Francophone music. It’s rather soothing, and not distracting to me when I work since I can’t sing along.
Yet.
Johan and I have decided to learn French this year. I’m not sure how far we’ll get, but I think it’ll be fun. I learned a little French in school but have retained very little of it.
French music. French language. Maybe France is up next? Hah. I wish.

-HN

My wedding was full of wonderful moments.
Here are a few candid favourites.

A Rant on relevance and priorities

Is it just me or is it ridiculous that in order to be relevant in today’s culture you need to absorb as many movie and show quotes and song lyrics as possible?

Sometimes I feel like by not having seen the most recent episodes of Downton Abbey, and not having watched Breaking Bad I don’t get the jokes and references and thusly am less current and relevant than I’d like to be.

Not that being current is the MOST important thing. Its just nice.

Everybody uses Twitter. I’m 23. I should too. I find I’m kept more than busy enough with Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Gmail THANK you very much.

Am I missing some significant part of culture by not participating in more avenues of media? Wouldn’t I just be more relevant if I spend 5 more hours a week with actual people rather than watching Top Gear?

Now…I quite enjoy that few social media platforms that I choose to participate in. I do feel connected, especially to those that are thousands of miles away. I also enjoy watching Sherlock, House and Person of Interest. I just find it to be a bit exhausting to keep up with everything. Maybe I sound like a 90 year old. But honestly…it’s a lot of work to keep up social lives in real time, on social media and then try to find time to watch all these shows that people “can’t believe I haven’t seen.”

Really? Is Breaking Bad that great that my life is incomplete without it? Does it matter that I never watched Lost, and only the very last episode of Prison Break? Does my happiness rely on keeping up with the latest sitcoms? Is that all we can find to talk about?

Side note…this rant isn’t directed at anyone. Except perhaps some characters on YouTube that always make references that I’m clueless about. Really though, this rant is just directed at myself. A pep talk type thing.

Carrying on though…I want to be relevant by knowing more big words and what they mean, I want to be current by having had the time to read through another one of Dosteyevsky’s fine works. Is it so old fashioned of me to want to keep the classics current? Maybe I’m just an old soul that adores the smell of books and the feel of an old, cracking, leather-bound epic. Can’t life slow down just a little? Must we really have the latest Android or iPhone? Can’t we just sit sometimes in waiting rooms and just wait without constantly fidgeting with a little rectangular piece of eye-contact-avoidance in our hands?

Instead of trying to constantly stay up to date with media, technology, fashion, and jargon…can we maybe stay up to date with beautiful works of art, novels, and more importantly – the friends that we haven’t made time for in ages? Sit down for coffee. Look someone in the eye. Stop texting. Stop making movie references. Talk about life. Talk about each other.

-HP

Be still. Just keep being still.

I wrote a blog on being still probably a year or more ago. 
Seems God is still teaching me to be still. 

This morning I lead devotions here at work and talked about being still, so I thought I’d post my notes from today’s devo =)

BE STILL.

“Calmness can lay great errors to rest.” – Ecclesiastes 10:4b

Wait on the Lord & be still.

I’ve been learning this year not to be a busybody, to stop trying to plan my entire life and control everything. Just sit back, relax, be still, and enjoy the ride. God’s got this.

He says it a lot in scripture…these are a few of the passages about stillness/waiting that I’ve come across lately:

Psalm 46:10 - “Be still, and know that I am God.   I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 37:7 – “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”

Exodus 14:14 – “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (other translations say “be still”)

Lamentations 3:26 – “It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

I find all these passages very comforting. For a long time one of the things I feared the most was the future, I think because I don’t know what it holds and really have no control over it. But reading these passages lifts a weight off me.

I don’t have to be busy trying to sort my life out constantly, I can sit in peace and have FAITH that God WILL do what he said he’ll do. He’d going to give me a hope and a future and His plans are so, very much better than mine. By a long shot.

So when you feel overwhelmed and like you’re losing control. That’s fine. God’s got it covered. Take time to separate yourself from duties, friends, housework and just take time to be still and get quiet with God. Good things will come out of it. I still have a hard time with sitting still and getting quiet but its so worth it whenever I take the time to do it. 

-HP