Waar sal my hulp vandaan kom?

Ek kyk op na die berge en ek vra myself af: Van waar sal iemand kom om my te help? Wie in hierdie lewe sal my kan help? Niemand nie. Nie ‘n mens nie want mense is onbetroubaar. Dit is net die Hoërhand wat my sal help. En Hy sal keer dat nie een van my dogters sal val nie. Hy sal hulle beskerm, Hy slaap nooit. Hy sal altyd langs hulle wees – dag en nag; en hulle beskerm teen gevaar en verlos van alles wat sleg is.

Hiervan is ek seker: dat hulle lewens veilig in Sy hande sal wees want die Hoërhand sal hulle beskerm oral waar hulle gaan, nou en vir altyd.

(Verpersoonliking van Psalm 121)

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Soveel, soveel….

Soveel kinders se paaie deur dieptes heen gedraai; verlate van vaders en moeders, oumas en oupas, vriende, familie….

Ons kan net bid dat die Here hulle sal aanneem; hulle sal behoed en bewaar; hulle sal leer om op Sy weg te gaan; hulle langs die regte paaie sal lei en bewaar op al hul lewensgange; hulle sal verlos van die bose en hulle vry sal maak van leuens, bedrog, en onreg; hulle voete weg van die sondaarsweg sal keer en van die booshede wat die Godsvrees uit hulle harte wegneem; vir hulle ‘n stroom sal wees wat bruis uit die dieptes van Sy genade en ontferming.

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Genade…. die menopouse!!

Oor die afgelope 6 maande ervaar ek die vreemdste goete…. warm gloede, slapelose nagte, buierigheid, huilerigheid…. en ek weet tot nou toe nie wat sit dit af nie.

“Vroutjie,” sê my huisdokter onlangs vir my; “jou FSH telling is 60.8. Normaal is om en by 30. Jy is voluit in jou menopouse.”

Hallo? Ek is 44 en ek het menopouse?!

Menopouse: Die Universele Ervaring

Jip. Iets waarvoor elke vrou geskape is om te ervaar. Tensy ‘n vrou nie prematuur sterf nie, sal sy deur menopouse gaan. Dis een van daardie fisiese elemente wat in ons vrouwees geweef is, te danke aan Eva. Ek is seker toe sy die eerste hap van daardie verbode vrug geneem het, het sy nie gedink aan fisiese en geestelike elemente wat nie altyd van mekaar geskei kan word nie! Nog minder aan iets soos menopouse!

Vir diegene wat nie weet nie: menopouse gaan gepaard met dinge soos onder andere warm gloede; gewigtoename; ongewenste hare in die gesig en ken area; buierigheid; depressie; hoofpyne en migraines; slapeloosheid; die onvermoë om te konsentreer; ‘n toenemende risiko vir hartsiektes en osteoporose; vergeetagtigheid; ‘n doodse moegheid…. Menopouse affekteer jou hele vrouwees – liggaamlik, verstandelik, en geestelik. In die geindustrialiseerde wêreld daarbuite gebeur menopouse gemiddeld op ouderdom 51 jaar, maar dit kan ook so vroeg begin as 40, of so laat as 58. In my geval het ek ‘n vroeë menopouse bereik omdat ek vroeg in my lewe ‘n histerektomie gehad het (op 27), en ek het nooit nodig gehad vir ‘n hormoonaanvulling nie. Tot nou toe.

Dis lekker om daaroor grappe te maak, natuurlik. Ons lag vir ons ma’s en vir ander vrouens wat in hul menopouses is, en meeste van die tyd lag hulle maar saam. Maar eintlik is daar niks om oor te lag nie. As mens eers in menopouse is, is dit nie meer snaaks nie. Dis ‘n saak van gebed. Soos my huisdokter vir my gesê het: “Jy gaan nog baie met die Here praat.”

Menopouse gebeur gewoonlik oor ‘n tydperk wanneer daar betekenisvolle veranderinge in ‘n vrou se lewe plaasvind: haar kinders gaan uit die huis uit; haar ouers raak dalk siek; sy keer terug na ‘n besige loopbaan; versorg haar kleinkinders; dalk tree haar man vroeg af…. Dit kan ‘n kombinasie van gebeure wees en daardie dinge is klaar moeilik genoeg om te hanteer. Nou is daar die ekstra komplikasies van emosionele en fisiese aspekte van menopouse wat ook nog bygevoeg word, wat dit ekstra moeilik maak…. PLUS die feit dat ons in ‘n vreeslik jeug-obsessiewe en jeug-georienteerde kultuur leef. Een ding oor menopouse is dat dit ons oë baie vinnig oopmaak vir onbenullighede rondom ons. Dis eintlik skrikwekkend. Ons besef ons word ouer. Realiteit. In ‘n kultuur wat nie altyd ouer mense en die oudword proses respekteer nie. Realiteit. So, ‘n mens kan nogal vinnig uit voeling raak met die samelewing, of erger, uitgeskuif word. Realiteit. Ek ervaar dit elke dag eerstehands by my werk. Ek is onder die vyf oudstes in ons departement; en ek is nou maar 44 jaar oud, bid jou dit aan! Mense wat jare jonger as ek is word in posisies bo my aangestel, ongeag of dit nou polities gedrewe aanstellings is of nie. Die punt bly, dis nie maklik om in ‘n maatskappy te werk waar nie net ander kulture en nasies, maar ook die jonger geslag, aan bewind staan nie. Net die politieke kwessies en die ouderdomsverskille alleen maak die werksplek geweldig demoraliserend. So, die stres van ouer word en die uitdagings van elke dag by die huis en werk word al hoe meer ‘n werklikheid – en op hierdie stadium van die geveg raak die stryd al hoe groter. Of nog erger: bitter.

Ek weet dit klink somber. Nes ‘n mens dink jy het die geestelike en emosionele stryd op ander gebiede gewen, dan kom die fisiese uitdagings, soos menopouse. Maar wat kan ons daaraan doen?

Eintlik baie.

Eerstens moet ons onthou – baie belangrik! – dat ons na God se ewebeeld gemaak is; en dat ons liggame deur Hom geskep is: kunstig geweef in die dieptes van die aarde (Ps. 139:15). Elke proses en fase waardeur die menslike liggaam gaan – selfs veroudering – is deel van Sy ontwerp. Niks is vir Hom vreemd of verborge nie.

U oë het my ongevormde klomp gesien; en in u boek is hulle almal opgeskrywe: dae dat alles bepaal was, toe nog geeneen van hulle daar was nie (Ps. 139:16)

Tweedens moet ons ook onthou dat Romeine 12:1-2 nie net vir jongmense bedoel was nie: gee dan julleself aan Hom as ‘n lewende en heilige offer. Ons is nog steeds veronderstel om onsself vir Sy diens te offer – ten spyte van ons estrogeen vlakke! In Christus het ons alles wat ons nodig het vir die lewe en vir ‘n goddelike lewe. Maak nie saak hoe oud ons is nie: menopouse is nie ‘n verskoning om nie in God se diens te staan en ‘n verskil in die wêreld te maak nie. Dit is ook nie ‘n verskoning vir ons emosies om oor ons te heers nie. Om ouer te wees is eintlik ‘n wonderlike geleentheid vir diensbaarheid. Menopouse kan maak dat ons baie selfgefokus raak. Daarom is dit so belangrik om buite onsself te kyk en om te dien en te werk soos ons gesondheid dit toelaat (ons moet na onsself ook kyk voordat ons na ander mense kan omsien).

Derdens kan ons ingelig bly: om alles te leer oor wat om te verwag in hierdie tyd van ons lewens. Ons het nie beheer oor die veranderinge wat in ons liggame plaasvind nie, maar ons kan baie meer produktief wees as ons goed ingelig is en begryp waaroor die veranderinge gaan.

Vierdens kan ons gesond bly deur meer te fokus op gesond leef. Fokus minder op hoe ons liggame lyk, en meer op ons gesondheid in die algemeen. Bly aktief, eet gesond, kry ondersteuning, of bied ondersteuning.

En laastens, bly in God se Woord. Leer ken die Skepper van ons liggame soos Hy is, want dit help ons om onsself deur Sy oë te sien. Ons kan nie onsself leer ken of probeer verstaan sonder om Hom te leer ken nie. Ons het nodig om elke dag herinner te word aan God se getrouheid en liefde; sodat wanneer ons moeg en uitgeput raak, ons weet Wie ons bron van krag is. Hy sal die goeie werk wat Hy in ons begin het, enduit voer – ongeag van wat ons fisiese situasie is. Hy mag selfs die bittere stryd in hierdie tyd van ons lewens gebruik om ons te suiwer. Ons sal nooit weet nie, maar een ding is seker: menopouse is nie hier om ons dood te maak nie. Ja, die ongemaklikhede is nie aangenaam nie, maar soos in elke ander geval waar ons swak voel, is Hy daar. Ons is nie alleen nie.

So, vir elke mede-menopouser daarbuite wil ek net ‘n stywe drukkie stuur en sê: hou die lied in die hart!

In die nag vloei die trane, maar in die oggend is daar vreugde (Ps. 30:5)

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Ons mislukkings

Dis ongetwyfeld die moeilikste area in ‘n mens se lewe – veral as dit diegene vir wie ons omgee en liefhet, affekteer en benadeel.

Dit is vir my ‘n geweldige vreugde, saligheid en trots nou dat my dogters uittree na die grootmenswêreld. Ek is vreeslik blygeestig en opgewonde daaroor dat hulle ‘n pragtige deel van hulle lewens gaan betree en ervaar…. Maar terselfdertyd pynig dit my ook om te weet dat daar areas van behoefte en sielewroeging in hulle lewens ook teenwoordig is – omdat ek as ouer hulle met tye gefaal het.

Maar dit moet ons altyd onthou: Selfs hierdie areas vorm deel van “alle dinge” wat God sal gebruik om Sy doel te bereik. So, wanneer gedagtes van mislukking by ons opkom en ‘n pad deur ons gewete forseer, moet ons net onthou dat SY vergifnis tot ons beskikbaarheid is; en dat dit in staat is om al ons spyt en al ons verwyte weg te vee. Hy wat ons liefhet en aanvaar net soos ons – en Sy goeie werke in en deur ons doen om ons meer te maak as wat ons is.

Hy verwag nie van ons of ons kinders om nou op hierdie oomblik afgehandelde produkte te wees nie. Hy wat ‘n goeie werk in ons begin het, sal dit voleindig (Fil. 1:6).

Flora Campbell

“I have blotted out her name from my Bible, where her mother’s name is written and mine. She has wrought confusion, I have no daughter. But I loved her, she never knew how I loved her, for her mother would be looking at me from her eyes,” said Lachlan Campbell as he sits in silence in the shadow in church. “It is known to me that a young woman who has been a member of this church has left her home and gone into the far country. There will be no use in summoning her to appear before the session, for she will never be seen again in this parish. I move that she be cut off from the roll, and her name is—“ Lachlan’s voice broke, but in an instant, he recovered. “Her name is Flora Campbell.”

The minister took the old man’s arm, led him into the minister’s home, and set him in the big chair by the study fire. “With the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption.”

Lachlan took a letter from his pocket with a trembling hand:

Dear Father,

When this reaches you I will be in London and not worthy to cross your door. Do not be always angry with me, and try to forgive me, for you will not be troubled any more by my dancing or dress. Do not think that I will be blaming you, for you have been a good father to me, and said what you would be considering right, but it is not easy for a man to understand a girl. Oh, if I had my mother, then she would have understood me and I would not have crossed you.

Forget my foolishness, but don’t forget me, and maybe you will still pray for me. Take care of the geraniums for my sake, and give milk to the lamb that you called after me. I will never see you again, in this world or the next, nor my mother….

Your unworthy daughter,

Flora Campbell

“This is a fiery trial, Lachlan, and I cannot even imagine what you are suffering,” said the minister. “But do not despair, for that is not the letter of a bad girl. Perhaps she was impatient and has been led astray. But Flora is good at heart, and you must not think she is gone forever.”

The minister walked with Lachlan to the foot of the hill on which his cottage stood. After they had shaken hands in silence, the minister watched the old man’s figure in the cold moonlight till he disappeared into the forsaken home, where the fire had gone out on the hearth, and neither love nor hope was waiting for a broken heart.

Everyone knew the tragedy of Flora Campbell and never opened their lips. They refused to pry into this secret. No one even looked as he sat alone in his pew or came down on a Saturday afternoon to the village shop for his week’s provisions. His hair has turned white in a month, and he’s away to nothing in his clothes. Anybody can see his heart is breaking. Everyone was helpless.

Mrs. Marget Howe met Lachlan in the shop and read his sorrow in a glance. She went home in great distress. “It was woesome to see the old man gathering his bit things with a shaking hand, and speaking to me about the weather, and all the time his eyes were saying, ‘Flora, Flora.’” So Mrs. Howe came round the corner of Lachlan’s cottage, and she found Flora’s plants laid out in the sun and her father watering them on his knees. One was ready to die.

“Lachlan, we both have been afflicted. I had a son, and he is gone. You had a daughter, and she is gone. I know where my son is, and am satisfied. But your sorrow is deeper than mine.”

Lachlan answered, “I will not speak of her. She isn’t anything to me this day. She has been a shame to her name.” So he opened the Bible, and there was Flora’s name scored with wavering strokes, but the ink had run as if it had been mingled with tears.

Mrs. Howe’s heart burned within her at the sight. “This is what you have done. You are an old man, and in sore travail, but you, Lachlan, have the greater shame. Just twenty years of age this spring, and her mother dead. No woman to watch over her, and she wandered from the fold, and all you can do is to take her out of your Bible. Woe is me if our Father had blotted out our names from the Book of Life when we left His house. But He sent His Son to seek us, and a weary road He came. I tell you, a man would not leave a sheep to perish as you have cast off your own child. You’re worse than Simon the Pharisee! Poor Flora, to have such a father!”

Lachlan sunk into a chair and cried. “God will have smitten the pride of my heart, for I was hard on my child, and I was hard on the minister, and there was none like me. The Lord has laid my name in the dust, and I will be angry with her. But she is the scapegoat for my sins and has gone into the desert. God be merciful to me, a sinner!”

So Mrs. Howe knew there and then it would be well with Lachlan again, and she wrote Flora a letter, beckoning her home to her father. Meanwhile, Lachlan cleaned and trimmed a lamp that was kept for show and had never been used; and set it in the window. And every night its light shone down the steep path ascending to Flora’s home.

Flora got the letter. Flora set her journey back home. A turn of the path brought her within sight of the cottage, and she saw the kitchen window was ablaze with light. She understood; and in the greatness of her joy, she ran the rest of the way. The dogs, who never forget nor cast off, were bidding her welcome with short, joyous yelps of delight. Her father, who had never even kissed her all the days of her youth, clasped her in his arms and sobbed out blessings over her head. Lachlan was carried with joy but was sadly dashed when he saw the signs of sore sickness on Flora’s face.

Later that night he went to his place of prayer and lay on the ground and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, and spare her for Thy Servant’s sake. Take her not till she has seen that I love her. Give me time to do her kindness for the past wherein I oppressed her. Turn away Thy judgment on my harness, and let not the child suffer for her father’s sins.”

On her sickbed, Flora told Mrs. Howe the history of her letter. “It is weary to be in London and no one to speak a kind word to you, and I will be looking at the crowd that is always passing, and I will not see one kind face, and when I looked in at the lighted windows, the people were all sitting around the table, but there was no place for me. I was like a wounded deer and tried to hide, and I crept into the shadow of a church and wept. There was a service in the church, and this was the hymn: There is a fountain filled with blood. So I went in and sat down at the door. The sermon was on the prodigal son, but there is only one word I remember: ‘You are not forgotten or cast off,’ the preacher said. ‘You are missed.’ Then he said, ‘If you had a plant, and you had taken great care of it, and it was stolen, would you not miss it? Or if a shepherd was counting his sheep, and there was one short, does he not go out to the hill and seek for it? Or if a father had a child, and she left her home and lost herself in the wicked city, she will still be remembered in the old house, and her chair will be there.’ This word was ever in my ear, ‘missed,’ and I was wondering if God was thinking of me. Perhaps there may be a sign, and I went back to my room and saw the letter there. It was not long before I was on the train.”

Lachlan brought over the family Bible and opened it to the family register where his daughter’s name had been marked out. Then he laid it down before Flora and bowed his head on the bed. “Will you ever be able to forgive your father?”

“Give me the pen,” Flora said, and wrote the following:

FLORA CAMPBELL

Missed April 1873

Found September 1873

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Ons het ‘n Goeie Herder aan ons kant.

Psalm 139:7-12 is my gunsteling psalm wat ek graag bid wanneer ek my dogters aan die Here opdra.

Waarnatoe kan hulle gaan waar U nie is nie?

Waarnatoe kan hulle wegvlug van U?

As hulle opklim na die hemel, dan sal U daar wees.

As hulle in die doderyk hul slaapmat oopgooi en gaan lê, dan sal U daar ook wees.

As hulle ver na die ooste vlieg of as hulle ver in die weste gaan woon, dan sal U ook daar vir hulle lei en hulle vashou.

As hulle sê die donker moet hulle toemaak, die lig rondom hulle moet donker word, dan is dit nie donker vir U nie. Vir U is die nag so lig soos die dag en donker is vir U soos lig.

Sondag Refleksie

Ek mag dalk nie verstaan hoe dinge gaan uitwerk nie; ek sien dalk nie die pad duidelik vorentoe nie, maar ek vertrou dat die Vader van beter weet en ek glo dat, op hierdie gegewe oomblik, is Hy besig om in lewens te werk, harte aan te raak, deure oop en toe te maak, die regte mense te gebruik, geleenthede…. Al lyk dit bleek en donker en onseker, ek móét glo dat die ligloosheid nie vir ewig sal duur nie. Dagbreek sal kom.

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