Aquarium swimming

Recently I returned from a wonderful two-week holiday on the East coast of Barbados.  One of my family’s favourite places, it is only 20 minutes drive from our home, yet everything is different there.  The salt air and breeze invitingly puts you in holiday mode immediately, the smell and sound of the Atlantic ocean, just steps away from our basic rented cottage.  It was a treat to be there.   Dry sand always underfoot, and never growing tired of watching the waves from the balcony.  The massive ’round rock’ a few hundred yards away from our house, sitting comfortably on the beach, providing shade and a bench at the top for those who were adventurous enough to climb to the top to survey the magnificent view of crashing waves all the way to Africa and coastal scenery as far as the eye could see.

One of my favourite things to do is snorkel.  There are many rock pools that come out at low tide on the East coast, when swimming is not dangerous.  A well-known pool among the locals is the ‘Barbados Pool’ as it is in the shape of Barbados.  It is only about 12 by 21 feet, but it is deep enough to cover a person standing to their necks, and it is one of the largest of this depth.  There is always enough and more to see, even though only a modest aquarium size.

About 10 feet from the shore I put my first steps in to the pool, being careful not to touch the sides which are adorned with prickly white sea urchins.  My body adjusts to the cool water and I quickly feel refreshed and ready for my adventure, with snorkel and mask adorned.  A stunning bright orange sea centipede can’t help but catch my eye immediately.  Six inches in length, it glides and arches its way through the sand and around the rocks at the bottom effortlessly.  Her mate is not far away, smaller and ugly, but carrying out his important duties before moving back to join her.  Made with the most perfect hands, no detail is overlooked, this sea creature senses danger of a shadow overhead (me) and responds by extending her built-in white daggers all over her body.  I wonder if her sting is as intense as a land centipede?

The white sea eggs of all sizes that surround the walls of the pool have each caught something different in their spikes: leaves, little pebbles, shells, string, biscuit wrapper … A small rock lobster is hinged on a large sea egg, but its insides are gone, delicious flesh eaten by a fortunate prey, part of its shell sits on another nearby ball of spikes.  Fish, varieties of aquarium size, brightest yellow, purple spotted, stripes of orange and black, inside and outside of rocks, holes, the rock formations a playground or an intricate water maize.  Tiny Soldier crabs on the move on the sand and other crustaceans that I wish I knew the names of.

Surges of water enter my haven with larger waves – the tide is coming in, I have been lost in time.  I don’t want to leave.  I position myself more securely so that my body parts avoid the white waiting spikes and continue to explore through my mask for a few more minutes, getting up close with the reef in all its glory.

I am

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View of Round Rock from my cottage balcony and the rugged East coast of Barbados

soon forced to climb out of the pool and wait for another low tide, another day, and I feel exhilarated, thankful for this natural aquarium at my fingertips, always different, always waiting for me.

Deborah (Debbie) Buckmaster has been sporadically blogging for a year, and loves to share her heart, her journey, and hopes to touch lives in the process.  She enjoys praying in her different groups and longs to share in book form all that God has done in her life and the lives of others.

 

 

 

 

 

Fear versus Cricket

Do you know the crickets that come out at dusk?  The ones you don’t know are there until you hear a high-pitched chirp or buzz?  One of these just followed me on a Caribbean cruise for a week.  It was always in the same approximate spot, on the second deck, under the steps, or behind the heavy steel door.  I couldn’t actually see it, but it was always there.

Crickets are the size of small thumb nails.  Was this one afraid, so far from its home, with salt air and sun beating down, in a strange environment, in a new place every day?  Did it know that it might get picked up by a Booby Bird looking for a snack, or get squeezed in the door or sprayed with insecticide?

Cricket fears have to be massive compared to human fears.  My first memory of fear was losing sight of my mother in the supermarket, a 3 minute separation seeming like hours.  Other fears surfaced, as they do.  Fear of the unknown, fear of getting into trouble (yet still doing the trouble), getting hurt, learning to swim by being glued to the edge of the pool, raising an arm to answer a question in class, asking for help …

I recently heard at church the definition of fear: When I believe that apart from my best efforts something undesirable is going to happen and I can’t stop it.  The roots of it are conditioning (born into it), concealing and spirit of control.  Hmmm!

Fear or worry can be grouped in many stages of my life to date, such as those teenage fears of being ridiculed, stammering (so better not speak at all), talking to boys which was worse than not having a boyfriend at all, then fearing being left a spinster …  The stage of having children can bring many fears, but I am lucky to have had my children in the nineties, before the Internet and T.M.I.   The fear of getting sick, yet after a diagnosis of stage 4 Melanoma over 20 years ago it takes a lot to scare me where my health is concerned.

There is one unseen illness that caught me off guard and caused a major turn around in my life.  The path of depression has allowed me great things: empathy, dependence on the person of Jesus, to stop holding on to control and having to be strong all the time.  Does that mean I am never afraid now?  Of course not, but instead of concealing it and struggling on my own,  I try to remember to reestablish visual contact with Jesus and gain a little more freedom from the big ‘F’ each time.

Eventually that fear will become the size of that chirping cricket.

 

Deborah has procrastinated long enough from writing and is finally taking the plunge.  You can find out more about her story by visiting the archives of this blog (specifically early October of Prison Break of Thoughts).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing The Victim

To be able to exist fully is to shift out of the victim role that I find myself in sometimes.  Yes, I have suffered, but yes I have emerged victorious. and I must not stay inhibited by past experiences.  Moving forward is crucial.  You can become trapped in the victim mentality.  This has happened in my life, but thankfully it was brought to light and although I still fall at times I can recognize the signs and move upward and onward.

It is so important to stay authentic, with others and with yourself.  You can become very comfortable in old shoes, in a way of thinking that is not healthy, perhaps out of fear in moving ahead to uncharted territories, out of possibly being hurt again.

Healthy community is vital, surrounding ourselves with people who build up, speak truth and remind us about renewing one’s mind, replacing negativity with the truth.  Truth that we are enough, we do not have to keep striving, proving our strength, proving a point.  Yes, It is a challenge in this culture to enjoy the freedom of not having to ‘do’ to be accepted. It doesn’t mean being passive, for me it means being dependent on the power that is within me, Jesus, and to be willing to let go of every fear, every lazy streak, and step into unknown territory, knowing that it will be okay.  I guess my ‘out’, in a sense, is knowing that it’s okay.  I feel I can rest in ‘not doing’, rather than laying hold of my faith and what I know to be true and moving forward.  I cleverly hold up excuses such as pain in my neck, and not being able to stay at the computer for long because of it, to avoid my true calling – to write.

I took part in a writing blog challenge in the month of October and I felt alive, excited and renewed, and was ever encouraged by readers and friends.   This is a new year and I am stepping up to the plate, pen in hand, neck in brace, bold and resolute.  Click Publish! Go on, NOW!

 

 

An Angel in Spanish Town

This is a true story that needs telling.  It happened very recently in Jamaica.  I am telling it but I am not a player in it.  I wish I was up that night to pray, but the others had it covered. 

Troy was excited about going out, to a party far from home, to a party in the area of Spanish Town, Jamaica.  He had lots to celebrate, a big birthday in teenage life coming up, and football triumphs after many disappointments.

Troy’s mother, Maxine, received the call at 2.45 am.  Troy’s friends were asking if he was home.  They could not find him when they were leaving the party, and no one knew where he was.  Maxine’s radar was flying high.  She started making calls to all his friends, no one had seen him.

3.43 am First whatsapp message of many is sent out to Maxine’s pod of prayer warriors.  Not all of them are awake to receive it, but always there is one or more, poised for prayer.  In the last week or two all of them had gone to watch the movie ‘War Room’, impacting them greatly to be strategic in prayer, like generals in battle.  They would need to be now.

“Praying, Maxine, to dispatch God’s angels to watch over him.”  First warrior response.

“OK, declaring Psalm 91”.  Troy is covered with His feathers, Under His wings he finds refuge.

“Maxine, let not your heart be troubled, all is well.”  Another warrior stirred awake.

She could barely breathe, she was terrified.

Another came in on the chat: “I am up and joining you all in prayer right now.  Psalm 91 all the way.  Lord we ask right now for you to dispatch both warring and guardian angels to surround and protect Troy right now, wherever he is.  Guide him home safely.  Holy Spirit, pour yourself over Maxine and Dave {Maxine’s husband} right now so they be anxious for nothing.  In Jesus’ mighty name, protect Troy …”

Her night watch warriors told her to lock hands with Dave and to pray, as God is able.  One warrior told how her son had been in a similar situation, not answering his phone, and he had fallen asleep and was found much later in the day, she was praying that this was the case with Troy.  They all could feel and relate to her pain and suffocating terror.  Maxine had told Troy not to get in a car with anyone who had been drinking or that he was unsure about, and he assured her that he would be coming home with his friend’s dad who had taken them.  Her anxiety was mounting.

“Maxine, stop right now! Put the enemy’s fear right out of your head and trust God who has never failed you and remember the great plans he has for Troy’s life!  We are with you and praying on this, dear friend.”

It was suggested that they play worship music, but she couldn’t even move.  In this moment, when you can’t find your son, no earthly thing matters.  Just that he is okay.  No anger, she just wants him to be okay.

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, not the wind and waves.”

“Agreeing.  Psalm 112:7-8 says You will have no fear of bad news, your heart is steadfast trusting in the Lord.  Your heart is secure, you will have no fear, in the end you will look in triumph on your foes.”

“Psalm 20, May the Lord answer you when you are in distress .. some trust in chariots and some in horses but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

6.02 am  Maxine sees a taxi show up at the gate and a strange man gets out.  He tells her husband that he found Troy at the party, the last person there, intoxicated.  He walked Troy out to the main road, in Spanish Town (one of the most dangerous areas in the Western hemisphere when it comes to crime and gang violence), and he realised that Troy physically would not be able to get home on his own.  The stranger took 3 taxis with Troy to get him home.  He did not even know his name.

Dave told Troy that his mother had been up for 3 hours with her praying warriors and that it was those prayers that sent the man to be his angel and lead him home.  Anything could have happened to him in Spanish Town.  He was totally covered and protected.

Tears flowed across the miles, rejoicing, thanksgiving, women that God had drawn together for this purpose.

Day 31 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

Today is the last day of this series called Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release.  Thank you for sharing this journey with me.  It has been an exhilarating ride.   I have let go of my old, familiar patterns, and I have stepped out into something new, yet something I have always dreamed of . I have found my voice.   And I am enjoying the freedom that it is bringing me.

I hope that you have got more than a few snippets of me, and you have enjoyed, and maybe been touched in some way by what you have read.  I have so appreciated your company and your support as I have made the transition from prison to the outside world.  As I continue to be equipped to write and release I am trusting that I will not lag behind .  I will be more than a conqueror to run this race, keeping in perfect peace as I keep my focus on the One who directs my footsteps.  I have received this prompting, this desire, this gift from God, so I am not fearful of the future.  I will not be left in the dark, but empowered from on high, determined to keep going.

It is not goodbye, I will continue to blog right here, to write, and to work towards my first of many books.

Stay tuned!  Keep looking in on me.  I hope not to disappoint.

Day 30 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

Community is a very precious thing.  We cannot live life fully without it.

In this #write31days challenge there has been a wonderful community of writers that I have been able to connect with, read some of their blogs, and chat with them.  We find that our struggles and triumphs are similar and we learn from each other.  We think and see things from different angles, helping us in our journey as writers, helping to make us complete.  We are encouraged to continue linking up, connecting, now that the 31 days are over, choosing about 10 bloggers with similar interests to form a small online group with, and share our expertise and encourage one another.  It would be a shame to lose what we have.

As a very young teenager I had a pen pal from Finland and one from the USA.  That was a form of community, exchanging hand written letters through the postal service, sharing about our lives.  The excitement when the letter would appear in the mail, checking the postage stamp, then looking carefully at the specially crafted words inside, and sometimes a glossy picture to link it with.  I was so patient then.  No such thing as instant responses or chatting in real time.  When that did begin to happen decades later, I was not ready for the change.  Now, we wonder how we managed without our cell phones, the internet.  I still love hard copies, and receiving a personal letter in the mail, but that happens rarely now.

My Church and small group community, prayer group, Moms in Prayer group, all are so good in their own ways.  Strengthening and encouraging each other, studying God’s Word, praying for our kids, all with similar concerns.  Dog walkers, puppy training classes, tennis players, all united in the same activities, similar interests, sharing their lives, listening, and being … what we’ve all been created for.

Day 30 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

Day 29 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

Glancing back on last year’s journal entries around this same time reminded me of some things.  I was very sick with a mosquito borne virus that last for weeks.  It affected my joints and I could not move about easily for some time.  I contracted it soon after I returned from a wonderful visit with my daughter in Canada, and a conference in Texas, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Moms in Prayer International, with women from all over the world present who pray for their children and schools.

A month before that, in early September, I shared my testimony at a Christian Women’s Club function.  I had been asked months before to speak at this function and although I was nervous about it I knew it was the right timing.  I shared details of my depression and how God found me in my darkest place.  It encouraged many people.  I promised that 2015 would be when I would start writing for myself and to help others.  Three months shy of the end of 2015 and I have begun to fulfill my promise.   I finally believe in myself that I am a writer, that I can do it.

God has set things in motion.  This #write31days challenge in October has given me the head start God knew I needed.  He also showed me which online writing course to do.  And that is helping me with memoir and essay techniques.  I want to get my story out there and then start writing about how God has been working and answering all my prayers.  It is very exciting, this journey I am on, and seeing God’s hand on every little thing.  Electronically I have connected with lots of other writers, and received and offered encouragement, and I am learning a lot.  I have also been supported on so many levels.  When I think a post was mediocre I receive a heartfelt post or email of encouragement.  And when I do not get any comments or views, I am just fine.

I am so thankful!  There’s just one thing …  When I am writing/thinking at the computer I chew my nails, and my habit has returned, when I thought I had overcome it for good! Another prayer to put on my strategic list.  Well, we can’t be perfect in everything!

Day 29 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

Day 28 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

I marvel at how God puts people in our midst to help us in our journeys, like angels, for the saints that we all are.

About a year after I left my hotel job of 15 years, I re-entered the job market as a temporary secretary for a leading auto company, filling in for someone who was on vacation.  I landed in the Parts Department, alongside an amazing woman who not only patiently showed me the ropes, and I needed to be shown more than once, but i got to see close up her beautiful walk with Jesus.  And how it blessed me!

She had worship music playing softly in the background of the small office.  She treated everyone she came into contact with kindly and she had a caring affection for the staff members.  She taught me to file a little every day, or it became too huge to want to handle.  She showed me how to handle with diplomacy the employees who came to us with their urgent orders to type and send the emails and faxes which was part of our job to do.  She taught me the importance of worship and prayer.  I learnt authenticity by just being around her.  One of the few times that I saw her angry was when we overheard some men speaking excitedly outside the window, and many expletives were being used.  She boldly opened the window and spoke severely to the men, telling them that the company did not tolerate language like that being used on the premises.  Her actions spoke for themselves, and it was not surprising that she was a sign language expert.  She was not afraid of speaking out and she was highly respected by the entire staff.  We developed a close friendship that carries on to this day.

The company had a weekly prayer time on Wednesday lunch time for about 15 minutes, which a few people attended.  Of course she was one of them, and I went with her.  They always sang a song before beginning to pray.  Once I was asked to suggest a song.  I couldn’t think of one, I was such a ‘baby Christian’; and then I remembered my favorite hymn from my school days, ‘All things bright and beautiful, All Creatures great and small, All things wide and wonderful, The Lord God made them all’ …   I knew the words by heart.  I came to look forward to that prayer time.

In all I spent about 8 weeks at the auto company, coming back when there was an absence, and it was a great and very enjoyable experience for me.  It was exactly where I was meant to be for that period in my life, increasing my confidence and helping me to step out in my faith.  I am thankful that God led me there, his timing is always perfect.

Day 28 of Prison Break of Thoughts

Day 27 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

I know someone whose voice used to be low, guarded, untrusting, fearful. There was tightness, tension in her vocal chords, the fear of not getting the words out right, or stumbling over them, of not saying what she means or wants to say, not saying anything significant enough.

All of that is safely in the past.  And I am not going back there again.  There will be a time when I can say everything I truly want to say with no hesitation, no worry of how it will be received.

In the meantime, I am happy where I am.  I can say that these almost 31 days of inner release have been just that.  The prison door is open.  And the encouragement I have got has spurred me on, kept me from doubting, connecting with stories of other writers’ fears  … Writing, what I have always wanted to do, I am doing, unreservedly, committed and secure in using the keyboard for me, to stir up memories, to shine a light in some corner of the world.  For I know in my corner a light is shining brightly, smiling, laughing, yet still waiting for the tear that I know will eventually come.

I will continue on, running the race that has been set for me.  I have much more to share, much more you need to know.

Today is Day 27 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

Day 26 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release

May my writing not become an idol, not be the first thing I go to, not take the place of my relationship with God.

There have been many times in my journey with God that I have been distant and practically ignored him.  If it were not for my prayer group and church support who walked alongside me, sharing each others struggles and hearing the words of God through them, things would be very different.  He is on my mind, he is in me, but why do I put him last instead of first?  It would be much easier to do it the right way round. The bombardment of everyday life – my flesh is stubborn and I go my own way, but eventually I am brought back to him, one way or another.

What a patient God we serve! He is understanding and knows our hearts, he knows what we go through.  He has lived it too.  He knows me best, so I need to keep in step with him.

As I go through my journals over the last 18 years I see a pattern of distance and then coming back, always coming back to the Father.  Knowing who I am, secure in Christ, has helped me, and the teachings of grace at church, reinforced in a small group where questions come up and are rehashed until the truth sinks in.

I often feel like Gideon in the Bible.  He was weak and undermined himself, mediocre, dull.  Until God plucked him out of his hiding place.  Same with me – he found me and changed me, but it didn’t happen overnight, and it is still going on.  I do have a healthier view and I am often reminded of how God feels about me.  But the world does bring that reality out of focus at times.  That’s when I have to readjust my mirror and get back to the right thinking again.  Knowing I am not condemned, that I am highly favored, valued and loved beyond measure, cared for and desired by the King of the universe to be in relationship with!

We have all been wired that way, for relationship with our Father.

Extract from a journal a few years past, a good day:

Father, What a blessing to be out here in my special place, the tree house, to be with you, enjoy you and share with you.  I am truly blessed.  You have done real wonders in my life, but whey should I be amazed – you are God! I don’t know why I don’t do this more often, it is my resting place, doing what I love, but yet I let other things take precedence.  I hear the beautiful song of your birds, I see the greenery, the flowers, I hear the wind, gently blowing, the rain getting ready to fall, but uncertain.

This is Day 26 of Prison Break of Thoughts – 31 Days of Inner Release that is part of the #write31days challenge.