Treasures

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11
Gold – because Christ is simply, the King of Kings.
Frankincense – used as medicine, because Christ came to Heal all of us.
Myrrh – used at burials, because Christ came to die for all of us.
Perhaps it is time for all of us, to acknowledge Him as our King, our Healer and our Saviour this Christmas day.
Three gifts.
What gift will you choose to offer Him?

Three Gifts

𝓣𝓱𝓻𝓮𝓮 𝓖𝓲𝓯𝓽𝓼…
Our missionaries have been very busy this week.
There has been lots and lots of service in the community.
And, in addition, at Christmas market’s, town squares and on many a street corner throughout Belgium and the Netherlands, missionaries have given away thousands upon thousands of gifts.
Greeting so many, the message is simple “𝓜𝓮𝓻𝓻𝔂 𝓒𝓱𝓻𝓲𝓼𝓽𝓶𝓪𝓼”
We’re not talking about the latest Red/Blue Nintendo Switch for son, the Barbie Extra Deluxe for daughter, the beautiful new necklace and flowers for mum or the special new jumper and tie for dad.
No, none of those.
Set those and the many other gifts galore aside.
We didn’t even give away any gold, frankincense or myrrh.
Remember, the gold points to Jesus’ royalty, the frankincense to his divinity, and the myrrh to his humanity.
All of which we honour and respect.
Rather consider the little gifts we did giveaway.
Three little chocolate hearts filled with only one thing – 𝓵𝓸𝓿𝓮.
Through it all, there is perhaps one common denominator for Christmas – it is 𝓵𝓸𝓿𝓮…
“God be thanked for loving us enough to send His Only Begotten Son. Jesus Christ changed the world for each of us with His atoning sacrifice. He is the light of the world. He is the light we need to hold up. He is the light that fills us with good will toward all people.” Russell M. Nelson
We hope amid all the hustle and bustle of gifts and gatherings, you will let your life reflect the 𝓵𝓲𝓰𝓱𝓽 𝓪𝓷𝓭 𝓵𝓸𝓿𝓮 of Jesus Christ this Christmas time.
Merry Christmas dear friends.

Welcome Back

𝑾𝒆𝒍𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝑩𝒂𝒄𝒌!
It seemed as if it was only yesterday that Melanie Coates was departing for home from her mission.
That was back in July already.
“Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.” — Ally Condie
It was an absolute delight to have her visit briefly with her sister Emma this week and to catch up again.
We loved to reminisce, share stories, smile, and laugh – a lot.
Friendships are so important.
Our time together reminded me of this little poem entitled True Friend by Ashley Campbell.
“A friend is like a star that twinkles and glows
Or maybe like the ocean that gently flows.
A friend is like gold that you should treasure
And take care of forever and ever.
A friend is like an angel that is there to guide you.
A friend is someone you can trust out of a few.
A friend is more than one in a million.
They are one in a ca-zillion,
And you, my friend, are very special
and so it is official.”
Good friends are a little like stars, you may not always see them, but you know they are there!
Stay safe my dear friend – until we meet again.
What kind of friend are you?

All In

All In
This weekend marks a significant date in our calendar.
We arrived in the Netherlands 18 months ago, and it means we are now halfway through our missionary service.
Half-way, already…!
Reflecting this morning, I thought about the term half-way.
Half-way: “at or to a point midway between two others.”
It suggests to my mind its time to take a break.
However – it’s a term that sits a little uncomfortably with me.
We’re not quite ready for a break as yet.
We’re not lukewarm about our assignment.
We’re not partially committed about our time here.
We’re not complacent about the things we do.
We don’t hold back.
Neither Monic, nor I do things by half.
Rather – we’re 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐢𝐧.
Recently, we enjoyed listening to a podcast entitled “What does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?”
One of my immediate thoughts was about my father.
Today was his birthday.
Had he been still alive, he’d have been 95.
He so longed to reach 100.
Dad was a great example of being “all in” to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
His life of selfless service was a powerful personal testimony of that fact.
Dad died loving the gospel and tried to live it to the very end of his days on earth.
“Giant Jacky” as he was affectionately known, may have been small in physical in stature, but huge in spiritual strength.
Like my dad was and as my mum still is – we are all in.
Who is a great example of being “all-in?”
What does it mean to be “all-in?”

Oops!

Oops!
Yesterday, after a busy morning at Schiphol Airport to say farewell to a number of departing missionaries, followed by the arrival of the Kempenaers family to pick up their son Jorne, we decided to take a walk to clear our heads and catch our breath…
Heading towards the Vliet, we found that it was completely frozen over.
Although, there was also a clear indication that a boat or two had snaked through the ice.
It was a delightful, albeit chilly walk into town, to pick up one or two groceries.
It was nice to chat too with Matalyn Weaver, who is staying with us for a couple of days before returning home on Monday.
Eventually, we arrived back home.
And then it happened….!
I reached into my pocket to get the keys for the front door.
𝐎𝐎𝐏𝐒!
Somehow, I’d managed to pick up the wrong keys…
I am not certain how many times over the last 18 months I’ve given missionaries a hard time about forgetting their housekeys.
It is a regular occurrence!
Weekly, if not daily for many!
And now it had happened to me… ☹
Of course, it just had to be the coldest day of winter too.
Well, departures week is always a rollercoaster of emotions for me – for sure. At least that’s my excuse!!
With no spare key, I had to make a rather embarrassing call to the Assistants to come to our rescue.
They smiled and laughed.
In fact – they smiled and laughed – a lot!
To be fair – we laughed too….!
Luckily, they live only 15 minutes away and it wasn’t too long before they arrived and saved us from the chilly winter weather.
And the moral of today’s story – perhaps I should have heeded my own advice, to “slow down!”
Laughter is a great medicine.
When did you last make a silly mistake?

Tangled

Tangled?
Looking at Christmas fairy lights this week, reminded me of a tangled story!
Life happens…
It was our first coaching session together.
In fact, it was my client Annie’s (changed her name to protect her identity) first ever coaching session.
We started off with our introductions and pleasantries and then got into the coaching session to address a number of personal and work concerns.
The session went very well.
I did a lot of listening, observing, paraphrasing, summarising and as usual asked a few questions.
Annie found some answers for herself as she dealt with a number of different issues.
I was starting to draw the session to a close…
…And then it happened!
She reached forward, gesturing her wrists together and said, “Can you help please?”
Puzzled, I looked closely at her wrists.
Seemingly, midway through our session, Annie had somehow entangled her bracelets together and she’d been stuck for a good while!
I untangled her wrists.
We laughed and joked together.
It was so funny.
That one moment created a unique bond and memory for the two of us, that neither of us will ever forget.
My experience of coaching is that it can help untangle life’s challenges – sometimes quite literally!
Are you ready to be untangled yet?

Lamplighters…

Lamplighters

Jesus Christ is the light of the world.

If we choose to follow Him, He will light up everything.

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”—John 8:12

Sir Harry Lauder a Scottish singer and entertainer from many years ago, told a story about the old lamplighters in Glasgow.

Generations ago, as darkness started to fall, all around Scotland (and around the world), lamplighters would start to make their rounds.

They’d put their ladder up against the light post, climb up and light the lamp, step back down, pick up the ladder and carry on to the next lamp. It was a one by one process.

Sir Harry said, “After a while, the lamplighter would be out of sight down the street. 𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐈 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐚𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐠𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐬 𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐞𝐝”

Jesus Christ is the greatest lamplighter of all.

He constantly lights the way.

Has your “lamp” been lit by Him yet?

In Psalms 119:105 we read “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

Perhaps you too are a lamplighter?

Robert Louis Stevenson told it this way. (A Leerie is a lamplighter)

“My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky;
It’s time to take the window to see Leerie going by;
For every night at teatime and before you take your seat,
With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street.

Now Tom would be a driver and Maria go to sea,
And my papa’s a banker and as rich as he can be;
But I, when I am stronger and can choose what I’m to do,
Oh Leerie, I’ll go round at night and light the lamps with you!

For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door,
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more;
And O! before you hurry by with ladder and with light,
O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him tonight!”

Lamplighters from a bygone age, pushed back the darkness from generations ago.

With Jesus Christ, the greatest light of all, we too can push back the darkness by following Him today.

We will always be safe, and I know He shows us which way to go.

If you’d like to find out how Jesus Christ can light up your life and be a lamp unto your feet, just speak to one of our missionaries.

How can you be a lamplighter this Christmas and light someone’s world around you?

The Rear View

The Rear View
Are you spending too much time looking in the rear-view mirror of life?
Periodically looking back on your life and past events with the understanding that some emotions may resurface from time to time, is okay.
It is certainly okay to wonder and ask, what if?
But how much time do you spend there?
Throughout my coaching career I have found that individuals often wonder what may have happened if they had done something differently or made a different choice.
For instance, what would have happened:
– 𝑰𝒇 they’d married the other person…
– 𝑰𝒇 they’d studied for a different degree…
– 𝑰𝒇 they’d taken the other job…
– 𝑰𝒇 they’d lived in another city or country…
It is okay to acknowledge those speculations, but don’t dwell or brood on them for too long.
Experience is a great teacher.
All of us live with some regrets.
They are a part of you, but they do not define you.
Instead focus on what you learned from them and how they have shaped you today.
Ultimately, it’s a bit like those drivers who stare in the rear-view mirror for far too long and run the risk of missing what lies ahead.
There may have been some crashes behind us, but it’s the bends ahead that matter now.
𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒔𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒔 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒊𝒏 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒏𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝒚𝒐𝒖.
Don’t let your rear-view mirror be bigger than your front windshield.
Stop looking backward and start looking forward.
Remember you are the one in the driver’s seat!
How are you living your life by looking forwards?

Standards

𝑺𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒂𝒓𝒅𝒔….
stan·dard: something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model, example, or point of reference.
Driving and Licences aren’t the easiest thing in Belgium and the Netherlands – at least, that has been our experience.
There is no reciprocal agreement between the Netherlands and the USA for driving licences, and so driving becomes complicated after the initial grace period of 6 months.
Similarly as the UK is no longer in the EU, transferring a British licence is complex, time consuming and costly.
However, to combat this, shortly after their arrival in country, every new missionary has to undertake a written evaluation of their understanding of driving, traffic signs and rules for road safety.
Our standard is that they need to complete the questionnaire, and then it is formally reviewed.
On successful completion, a copy is also made of their existing driving licence.
Then a formal practical assessment is made of their driving skills on the roads, in a car!
This is generally an alarming experience for all non-Europeans as driving in a different land can be quite unnerving!
It takes a little while to adjust to the new standard required.

Why bother with all of this?

Traffic signs provide valuable information to drivers and other road users.
They represent rules and standards that are in place to keep you safe and help to communicate messages to drivers and pedestrians that can maintain order and reduce accidents.
Neglecting them can be dangerous.
Traffic signs only maintain safety when they are obeyed by motorists.
Most signs make use of pictures, rather than words, so that they are easy to understand and can be interpreted by people who speak a variety of languages.
For this reason, it’s important that you know what each picture represents, and that you use them to inform your driving. Failing to do so could result in a serious accident or a fine.
In a similar manner, every missionary is expected to follow the standards of the mission.
Standards only maintain safety when they are obeyed by missionaries.
“Obedience is powerful spiritual medicine. It comes close to being a cure-all.” – Boyd K. Packer
The standards provide valuable information to each missionary as they fulfil their assignments in personal study, goal setting, expectations and the use of technology, that ultimately become lifelong guiding principles for those who choose to follow them.
The missionary standards convey information, bring order, and ensure safety at all times.
How do standards impact upon your life?

No Room?

No room?
We had an incredible Christmas Conference in Brussels on Friday with our entire missionary force.
They are certainly a force to be reckoned with!
It was a wonderful experience, a real delight to be with everyone and one of many highlights of 2022.
Although the chapel was tightly packed, we had enough available room to spare for everyone to gather and sit comfortably.
During the course of the conference, I shared a verse of scripture from Luke 2:7…
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was 𝐧𝐨 𝐫𝐨𝐨𝐦 for them in the inn.”
Sterling W. Sill commented on that verse as follows:
“For His entire thirty-three years on earth, this cry of “𝒏𝒐-𝒓𝒐𝒐𝒎” almost became a theme song for His life. With many people there was no room for His teaching. There was no room for His miracles, no room for His doctrines, no room for His faith.
Even in our day, with the judgment of time shining upon his life, we are still re-enacting the ancient scene of Bethlehem by crying, “No room, no room.”
We make room for gifts, but often we have no room for the giver. We have room for our own commercialism of Christmas and our pleasure seeking on the Sabbath day, but we have no room for worship. No room for service, no room for righteousness. The reason there was no room in the inn was because all of the available space was already occupied. And we are only following the ancients when we fill our lives so full of other things that we have no time or space left for the Light and Life of the world.”

Pause for a moment.

Look around, the annual commercialisation of Christmas is now well underway – again.
Christmas is what each of us make it.
Despite all the distractions, it is up to each of us to choose to put Jesus Christ at the very centre of our celebrations.
“Finding the real joy of Christmas comes not in the hurrying and the scurrying to get more done, nor is it found in the purchasing of gifts. We find real joy when we make the Saviour the focus of the season. We can keep Him in our thoughts and in our lives as we go about the work, He would have us perform here on earth.” – Thomas S. Monson
I hope that as we start to count down the days to Christmas, each of us will remember the light that Jesus Christ brings into our lives’ and always remember to make room for Him.
What room are you making for Christ in your home this Christmas?