About Helen Powell

helenpowellpens: Inspired stories that draw on a reflective perspective out of real life experiences or object analogies. 8boxes: My own personal adventures while serving in Africa. Funny stories and the hard stories. Come on the trip with me (through my posts). You'll love it!

The storm of Covid19

I’ve heard it said:

We’re all in the same storm,
but we’re not all in the same boat.”

So as we each seek to navigate our way through this time . . .
I hope this does something to encourage you in some way:

Destruction:
the action or process of causing so much damage to something that it no longer exists,
or cannot be repaired.

Construction:
the action of building something, typically a large structure.

Someone once said to me in a ‘rubble’ time of my life:
“When you’ve got nothing left to hold on to,
hold on to God,

even if you dont want to.
Because it’s especially so in such times,
that we all need to hold on to something.”

In this time when so many are struggling with so many losses, as well as the loss (or deterioration of) good mental health, I know (for myself) the importance of protecting my eyes and ears from what, when, who and how often they see and hear from. While many of our choices have been taken away from us, this is one choice we still have. So let’s choose wisely.

My tip:
When I hit a pothole in the road . . .
When I go from feeling fine, to feeling low . . .
When I find myself reacting to a situation, instead of responding . . .
I reflect on the immediate moments before that, to see what triggered the change in me:
What was I doing?
What was I thinking?
What was I saying out loud in conversation, or silently to myself?

There I find my answer, and with that the opportunity to adjust to a better thinking space.

None of us have been through a pandemic before. There is no manual. There is no right way or wrong way. But the only way I know is through wisdom, faith, and prayer. So within the restrictions of the law, we need to (for our own sake) make intentional and active choices that build us up, not tear us down, so that when we come out the other side, we will (as people) be better for it (as best we can be), not bitter from it.

#OpportunityForSelfConstructionNotSelfDestruction
#BuildWithTheActionOfIntention
#ComeOutLargerThanBefore

A ‘short cable’ story . . .

Some months back in the process of tidying up my apartment, tired of all the excess cable length lying around while plugged in to various devices, I bought a super short cable for my phone to charge while sitting upright on its stand on my kitchen bench. It was a stretch, but the cable just made it from the power point to the charging port on my phone.

Long story short . . . what I thought to be just long enough . . . was creating tension . . . and I rogered my phone’s charging port.

The phone charging port (behind the pink dot) is not a stand alone piece.

So I had to return to using my original long cable, so that I could lay my phone down on the bench, with something thick enough under the tip of the plug so as to create counter pressure to ensure my phone would charge. As time went on, that wasn’t enough. Now I had to increase the counter pressure by putting something weighty on top of my phone.


Due to the unstable connection, my phone would beep every time it lost its charging connection, and again when it found it. The beeping was annoying, not to mention having to constantly re-jig the connection. Even when it was successfully charging, I had to keep checking the connection, or as had already happened, it would charge, and then in the unstable connection (and not hearing the beep), it would drain that charge.

What was supposed to have simplified my space . . . had complicated it.

So now here I am, months later, having sought out a repairer. I had been advised by my telecom service provider, I need to take it to a phone repair replace: “One of those pop up shops.” they said. But due to the pandemic, any I knew of in my local area and surrounding suburbs were now closed. I was advised to go to a major shopping centre, and given I have no land line (just one reason why my phone is an essential item), I felt justified in going there.

So I ventured out to seek this service. Unfortunately the tech repair guy was ‘enjoying’ his day off that day, so I was advised to come back on another day. I returned on that day, and unfortunately, he had been called to another job, and didn’t know when he’d be back in store. So they gave me a business card to call before my next visit. I was told that due to the pandemic, his in-shop hours are ever changing, and so getting my phone repaired was looking like an unpredictable, ongoing saga.

On my way home that same day, I needed to do some grocery shopping, but I live in one of the ‘hotspot’ suburbs, and the current guideline is: Where possible, shop within your suburb. I was dubious about going to my first choice supermarket due to it being near a particularly hot spot cluster, and so I considered going to another supermarket within my suburb. While I didn’t want to give in to fear, I questioned myself: “Is this fear? Or wisdom? Maybe I should just go to that supermarket anyway?” I decided to go with wisdom, and my second choice supermarket.

As I entered this small shopping hub, there on my right I saw a new pop up store selling phone cases and such, so I stopped and casually asked: “I don’t suppose you do phone repairs do you?” She said yes. And so it was, they checked out my phone, organised the part I needed, and in less than an hour I had a new charging port (with a 3 month warranty) all done for a cheaper price than the other place had quoted me.

While I felt guilty for avoiding going to one supermarket, because I (rightly or wrongly) perceived it to be a potentially higher ‘contact risk.’ It was that perception that then directed me to my second option supermarket, to find in the shopping hub, exactly what I needed, but didn’t know was there.

In believing my steps are directed by a higher power – God, I could only conclude that He knew what I needed, and He directed me to it. And so (relevant here and for life itself) this thought came to mind:

Maybe it’s not so much about:
What you’re steering away from
As much as it is about:
What He’s steering you toward.

If hearts were tiles . . .

While out for a walk on Saturday, thinking about the current pandemic and all the media and discussion surrounding it, I passed a small pile of 5 tiles that had been discarded on the nature strip. I saw them and kept walking. But then came a thought, and so I had to turn back and return to them.

What are you writing, on the tile that is your heart?

and then later . . .

What are you writing with, on the tile that is your heart?

Whether it’s your own words or the words of others, let all that is for one’s benefit be written in that of a permanent marker. Anything else, may those words be like that of a whiteboard marker, completely wiped away with a damp cloth.

From Psalm 45:1 “My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.”

What words is your tongue ready with?

#guardyourheart
#chooseyourthoughtsandwordswithcare
#bekindtoeveryoneincludingyourself

The Sling Shot Shooter . . .

When you feel like you’re going backwards . . .

Think:
SLING SHOT!

Wikipedia describes the ‘sling shot’ as:
A small hand powered projectile weapon.
A Y-shaped frame held in the non dominant hand,
with two natural rubber latex strips attached to the uprights.
The other end of the two strips
lead back to a pocket that holds the projectile.
The dominant hand grasps the pocket and draws it back
to the desired extent to provide power for the projectile.

Sometimes we have to be pulled back,
To an extent determined by the shooter,
In order to be propelled further forward.

It is the Y-shaped frame
of our circumstances and situations,
that sets us up for the stretch.
So if you’re asking . . .
Then that’s the reason Y !

Know that He, the one in control
Has you held in a pocket,
while engaging you in the stretch
of the backward pull.

And at the right time
He’ll release you
and watch you fly
to meet your assigned target.

When I think back over my life and the various situations and circumstances I’d rather have not encountered (be they the result of my own choices or not), I can see with hindsight, that those times have pulled me back into spaces and places outside of my control, in order to deal with deeper underlying unknown and/or unseen issues, so that I may then step further forward into my future, wherever and whatever that holds for me.

As difficult as those times are, it’s a process of trusting the pull (which can also be a push) as a directive from my higher source – God, into facing issues head on, heart on, to bring those issues out into the light, thereby disempowering them from further impacting my life. But it is a HUGE journey of trust and belief. Trusting and believing that He’s holding me in that stretch. Trusting and believing that He has hold of me, like that of in a pocket. Trusting and believing that the dominant hand with which that pocket is held is the strongest hand, and who stronger than the Hand of God. So it’s up to me to see that on the other side of that pocket is the hand of the one determining the extent of the stretch that I’m in . . . and so I am therefore safe with Him to ‘lean in’ to deal with that.

As one on the journey, who has leaned in to address the why . . . I can vouch for seeing and experiencing some of the what – those assigned targets I didnt know about back then, but Im enjoying their benefits now. Internal shifts and adjustments that have taken effect as a result of leaning into the stretch. Things that are beyond my understanding, but are definitely my experience. And while I dont know why those ‘stretches’ in particular, I do know what they brought out of me, and about in me.

The process and the extent of the stretch can at times seem unbearable, like “Does He really know what He’s doing?” but now I see . . . the further back He pulls, the further forward I can go. The deeper the well, the more it can be filled, with that which it is to hold. The stronger the foundation, the higher the building . . . and so on it goes . . . BUT when you’re still in the stretch of the ‘backward pull’ that Y-shaped frame holds a lot of questions, all beginning with: “Why?” and that I believe, is because we dont yet know the “What!” What is this all for? If nothing else, then I say: Let it be (at the very least) for a better me! A more whole version of me. But at the very best, let it be (as with any parent for their child), adequate preparation time for what is ahead:

Why would He not prepare me for
What He knows He has prepared for me?
It’s the WHY behind the WHAT.
The WHY that I know now,
is preparing me for
the WHAT I dont know now,
but I WILL know it later.

So then: I wont let my WILL, WHY me out of my WHAT.

I WILL walk through my WHY, to prepare for my WHAT, so that I WILL be ready for it.

#GodIsMySlingShotShooter
#IAmHeldInHisDominantHand
#IAmHisSlingShotPocketRocket

Racism & Prejudice

In regards to the recent (and the not so recent) deaths due to racism and prejudice, regardless of colour and/or any other perceived justified reason for such behaviour to any extent, life threatening or not, I considered my own power to have influence, based on the choices that I make.

Two stories came to mind. Both of which I experienced while in Africa in 2013.

Story One: I had gotten off my bus at the station and was now walking through a marketplace to get to the stop where I would catch my bus home. It was while I was walking through the market in the middle of the day, albeit not very busy, that a guy casually started walking beside me . . . I continued walking with my backpack on my front (because that’s the ‘safest’ place for it) when a group of guys (obviously his) stepped out from a stall and surrounded me.

First it was just the usual jeering, but then it became more threatening in the tone of their voices, their comments, and their reaching for me and my backpack. While everything within me was trembling with fear, I kept my head high, stared them down, and spoke back at them with the same volume that they were using to taunt me.

There was a brief moment of thinking: “I’m in a market with people all around me, and no one is doing anything to help out a woman being taunted by a group of young men.” It was then that I realised, that apart from divine assistance, I was in this alone.

Then I dont know how (other than that divine assistance), but one of the guys in response to something I said, stepped back laughing, and that was my ‘gate of escape’ and I ran for it!

Story two: I was walking along a street, with shop fronts on my left, and fruit and vegetable market vendors lined the curb on my right. A guy started walking along beside me, making loud intimidating comments. I was ignoring him, hoping that if I didnt respond, then he’d give up.

Then came a voice, loud and clear, a real serious ‘you better listen to me’ voice and I turned to see an African Mama behind her stall yelling something, that made him turn and walk away, leaving me alone.

I went and thanked that woman for having the courage to speak up, because without her voice, who knows how that situation may or may not have played out.

And so we all have a choice,
And we make that with our voice.

That woman changed my situation,
Through her verbal declaration.

She chose to stand in authority.
Looking out for me – a minority.

And so I’m reminded to be on the look out?
For when someone else needs a way out!

Racism: prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalised. (www.lexico.com)

And so just as that African woman in her own country was able to influence one of her own to stop his behaviour, so too as an Australian in my own country, I have the same power by way of using my voice, to influence such behaviour towards anyone, minority or not.

I am well aware that as a white Australian I have not experienced racism to the degree that other cultures have. But such experiences (as in the above stories) when I am a minority in another country, have helped me to have a small insight in to how it feels to experience such treatment because of my colour, and also how it feels to be alone in that, and rescued from that.

And so out of that, here’s a piece I wrote a few weeks ago:

Sometimes we look without seeing it.
And sometimes we see without looking for it.

Sometimes we dont like what we see.
And so we turn our head to avert our look.

For we wont see
If we dont look.

Or maybe its a matter of listening & hearing.
Comments & conversations that resonate with slandering.

When we dont agree,
with what we hear.

But we turn away,
with a closed ear.

Listen to hear,
the words that are spoken.

Extend your ear,
to correct thoughts that are broken.

BECAUSE

Words from the mouth
BEGIN AS
Thoughts in the mind
.

Thoughts gone south
LEAD TO
Humanity bein’ unkind.

Look that you might see.
And when you see
Continue to look . . .

Search every nook.

Be it found within you.
Or seen in another.
Challenge it & change it!
Stand up for each other.

And so:
I’m challenged to look within myself.
My mind, my heart, my words and behaviours.
To see is there anything sitting on my inner shelf.

While ignorance is no excuse,
Arrogance is a form of abuse.

Connecting in Isolation

I wrote the piece below when we first went in to ‘iso.’
I share it because I can’t be the only one who has struggled? In fact, I know I’m not!
And so I’m hopeful that in sharing my thoughts and challenges, it may well help someone else.
If not, that’s okay too . . .

For me (and maybe for you too) ‘iso’ has been a time of learning how to navigate my virtual spaces. And even my ‘actual’ spaces as I restrain from the physical ribbing that goes along with my usual banter and in person interaction. So, for the virtual challenge:
Where do I ‘feel’ comfortable contributing?
Where do I ‘feel’ seen and heard?
Where do I ‘feel’ invisible?
Where do I ‘feel’ overwhelmed?
And yet it shouldn’t be about feelings, because feelings can be misguided, fleeting, and based on one’s perception.
But it is about acknowledging those feelings, so that I can learn from them, and make the necessary adjustments and corrections, to build a stronger, better me.
It is about creating a ‘healthy space’ for myself: not to be selfish, but to self care.
Because it’s from that ‘healthy space’ that I can be better, and do better, in my reaching out to help others. So . . .

When being online connected
leaves you feeling more disconnected.
When Covid isolation
highlights your solo situation.

When you dont usually hug just anybody,
but today you’d love a hug from somebody.
When you choose to disconnect,
in order to self-protect.

And you tell yourself:
Points of connection
ARE NOT
Points of validation.

You are not the value of
likes, comments, or shares.
You are not the value of
video chats, calls, or text.

You are not the value of
receiving all of these,
receiving none of these,
or any amount in between of these.

And you know it’s true
Times of isolation
make way for
internal reflection.

Your value cannot change,
it is who you are within.
But your value does have range,
in how much you share it out.

So dont withdraw, pull back, retract,
but spread it wide and send it far.
You just dont know who you impact,
when you ‘step out’ as who you are!

#MakeThatCallSendThatText
#BeProactive
#TakeTheInitiative


Core Strength!

Our physical strength
is determined by
Our core strength.

Strong Core muscles:
Give a sturdy central link.
Enhance balance and stability.
Prevent falls and injuries.
Underpinning much of what we do.
As they enable greater output from
our core, our leg & our arm muscles.

In this time of isolation
I’m challenged to look at
And to strengthen:
My cognitive core
(my thoughts and what I read).
My emotional core
(my feelings and where they lead).
My spiritual core
(through faith and prayer, how much I intercede).

Building on
a sturdy centred link spiritually.
Focusing on
cognitive balance and stability.
Aiming to
prevent emotional ‘falls’ and ‘injuries.’

They’re underpinning what I do.
Enabling greater output.
As I step out (with my feet)
To reach out (with my hands)
To help and support others.

Let’s work on our holistic core strength.
For it determines how we stand:
Physically.
Spiritually.
Cognitively.
Emotionally.
Relationally.
All of which determines our ripple effect . . .

#CoreCommitment !
#CommitmentToTheCore !

The 5 Love Languages

1) Words of Affirmation
2) Gifts
3) Quality Time
4) Acts of Service
5) Physical Touch

In this time of isolation:
Many of us have lost number 5
And numbers 1 to 4 are surely depleted
Due to our lack of social life.

So find another way:
Numbers 1 and 2
Send a card, a gift,
Do whatever you can do.

For both numbers 3 and 4
Call for a chat,
Or leave a treat at their door.

#LoveIsNotLikeVegemite
#DontBeSpreadingItThin
#LoveNeedsToBeLikePuddingWithTheTrifecta
#TheTrifectaBeingCustardCreamANDIcecream
#LavishWithLove

Living according to ‘ACE’

I’d forgotten about this piece (the image below) that I wrote a few months back. But on the morning of Saturday April the 4th I was reminded of it in light of this current time we are in, and the limited ‘spaces’ and ‘places’ that we now have.

Fully EMBRACE:
What does it mean to fully embrace?
It’s an expression of being ‘ALL IN‘ and ‘FULLY THERE.’
How do we know if we are fully embracing somthing, or even someone?
Because we are not rushing to leave.
We’ve wrapped ourselves around it / them, and we’re not letting go.

The SPACE that you have:
As the person you are, with the gifts, abilities, personality and traits that make you you, connecting you to the individiuals / circles that you ‘mix’ with.
Even in this time of social distancing, we still have our ‘spaces’ with those people, in those circles. It’s just not in the same physical place anymore.
And so I was challenged, how am I ‘showing up’ in those circles, to occupy my space, to bring the me that is me?

In the PLACE where you are:
Wherever that may be: at home or at work (which for many is now also at home).
In as recent times as January 2019BC (BeforeCovid19), being in the same physical place together, we still each occupied our own space (I dont mean in terms of physical stature, but in our personality and humour) and what that brings to that circle.

With the GRACE that you know:
as people are stressed and stretched beyond their usual capacity, we are called to show even more grace. When we fully embrace (give a virtual hug) to the space we have been given in their world, by way of where God has placed us. Then that level of grace (that we know we have received) is what we are called to give.

For this RACE that you run:
More now than ever, the world stands united – A P A R T. All because of a virus. It’s definitely not the race that we thought we would be running. But there’s a race that is ALWAYS on, as we run in pursuit of wholeness: cognitive, emotional, physical and spiritual.

1 Corithians Chapter 9 Verse 24:
(NKJ – New King James Version) Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize. Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
(HP Version) Run your race, with a full embrace of grace, through every space and place.

#WeEachHaveOurOwnRaceToRunWithOurOwnPrizeToWin

#RunToWinYourRaceForYouThatYouWouldThenBeAbleToLightTheWayForOthers


seek.com

SEEK: The desire to obtain or achieve.

As we truly SEEK
We looK to SEE.

When what was hope.
Becomes our reality!

There is coming a season:

You may not know how?
Just that ‘things’ are as they be!

So S – T – R – E – T – C – H your faith
And trust in Me.

As you keep on looking
With a desire to see.

In those places
There you’ll find Me.

I’m not limited by your reason!
– God

Just as this plant grows out between the bricks in a hard place.
Developing stronger roots, all the better to ‘hang in there’ with.
God is growing us through isolation and its hard space.
Strengthening our core, to build a more resilient pith.
seek.God