All posts by ThePerfectPiece

Just two twenty-somethings writing about faith and life. Check out our blog 'The Perfect Piece' and join our journey!

For Every Person Going Through A Hard Time

 

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I think the past 6 weeks could easily go down in the history books (who do I think I am?) as the hardest weeks of my life. From putting on a play, to beginning a new career, to (trying to) maintain relationships, I can put my hand on my heart and say that it’s been pretty dire. If you can relate on any level, please continue reading. If you can’t, still keep reading: you never know when the next storm is coming to shake the foundations you’ve been carefully laying down since the last one.

I’ve heard that in life, you are either leaving a storm, in the middle of a storm or just about to enter one. While I know that this is a rather bleak outlook on life and contrasts with the ‘look at the glass as half full’ mantra that many tend to cling to, I have to admit that I agree. Something is always happening, and when it’s not, I feel this awful sense of dread in the pit of my stomach as I anticipate the next hurricane which will, inevitably, be passing through my life.

There are so many lessons to be learnt during the storms that pass through my life and while I can feel the tears coming to my eyes as I write this, I am filled with a sense of gratitude. It is painful, yes, and it hurts, yet the places my pain can take my faith are infinite.

When I am at the end of myself, when I have dug as far as I can, empty of all the strength I once had and unable to go on, God steps in and I begin to see sides of Him that I otherwise would have not experienced. As I call upon Him as Father, friend, healer, my mender of broken things, I am astounded by the goals (though small) I am able to accomplish during a day I did not want to begin in the first place.

To those reading, full of hurt and pain, I am sorry that you are experiencing such. I commend you for getting up, starting your day and doing your best because I know it wasn’t easy. I see your efforts, I see your heart and you are in my thoughts today. I pray that my prayers, though unspecific, will be heard by God and felt by you. Remember that all things are coming together for your good because you love the Lord and you are called (Romans 8:28); there is nothing that can separate you from His love (Romans 8:38-39) which is mightier than the waves of the sea (Psalm 93:4). I want you to know that because God is within you, you will not fall (Psalm 46:5), and there is a plan at work, known only God, where all of this make sense (Jeremiah 29:11).

Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure, remember to whom you belong.

All my love (and please do write to us if you need someone to talk to),

Joy

 

23, Married, And Looking For Love


From very early on in our lives we are taught not to look for love in the wrong places. As girls we are told that our self worth shouldn’t be attached from what a man thinks of us and we are encouraged to love ourselves before we go looking for love. It’s funny because concepts like ‘loving yourself’ are never really explained and so people internalise this very differently.

Does it mean treating myself to that Mulberry bag that I’ve wanted for years?( I’ve literally wanted this £800 bag for so long I’m not even sure why I really want it but I just can’t justify spending that much on a bag, (no judgement if you can))

Does it mean putting yourself first? This one is really a yes and a no, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t depending on if you’re listening to camp “you deserve it,” or team “the world doesn’t revolve around you”

Maybe it means doing the things your future self would approve of? The health fanatics would justify their gulping of kale-filled green smoothies as loving themselves and so could those burning the midnight oil in the library for that qualification that might just change their lives.

Either way, I am none the wiser as to how best to ‘love myself’ and by the time we reach our twenties, the concept seems to become less and less important as we focus on finding someone else to be loved by. So much so that people are willingly volunteering in their thousands to take part in the social experiment ‘Married at first sight.’ I have been glued to the screen watching the USA version of this show and every episode I am in utter disbelief by the idealistic views of marriage and that people can feel so ‘ready’ for marriage without having ‘fallen in love’ or connected with someone, in the hope that marriage will bring them the love and unbreakable connection they strongly desire.

For those of you that don’t watch the show I shall explain. Thousands of applicants apply to the show in the hope that they will be found a partner that is their ‘perfect match’ by a series of experts, to be precise- a clinical psychologist, a sociologist, sexologist and spiritual adviser. Once they are matched (there’s 3 couples per series) they get planning for their wedding, first meeting their mystery other half at the alter. The couples are given 6 weeks to make their story a happily ever after as the nation watches in wonder. Madness. I know. More interesting than the concept #shoutout to the producer for such an intriguing show are the hopeful contestants and their ideologies about marriage. Frequently used lines:

‘I’ve achieved everything I want to in my career, the only thing missing is marriage’

‘I see the marriage of [insert parents or grandparents or friends] and I want that for myself’

‘I have so much love, I just want to share that with someone’

I’m not against marriage (quite obviously) I just find it interesting that people assume it will solve their issues of loneliness and help them find an outlet for all this love they have to give. You can be lying next to your husband and feel lonely and you will not always be in the mood to show them love and affection, because like all humans, your spouse will make you laugh and cry and sometimes you’ll feel like hugging them and other times giving them the silent treatment because they’ve upset you. Such are relationships.

If you’ve read a post before you’ll know where I’m going with this… there isn’t a marriage shaped hole in your life and it just isn’t wise to assume that the beautiful institution we call marriage will ‘complete’ you, because like all things, once married you will find something else in your life that needs fixing, and desire that. 

I love my husband probably more than I love myself but I can be simultaneously head over heels in love with him and completely empty on love for myself because like it or not, no-one can love me like Jesus can. There is nothing my husband can do to give me that reassuring completeness that Christ does and I hope that you will not fall into the trap that so many do of thinking that your spouse can.

Falling in love is lovely and marriage is a beautiful symbol of that, but the love of God…that’s sublime, incomparable to anything humans have to offer, and a relationship with God is quite frankly the only relationship that we should desire with every ember of our being. I may be married but I will always be seeking God’s love and affection.

Love you loads

Dani xx

How I Celebrated National Boyfriend Day

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So if you didn’t know, it was National Boyfriend Day this week. Isn’t it crazy how they make national days for whatever they feel like these days? I mean, why do we need a National Boyfriend Day? Is Valentine’s Day not enough? I feel like it’s another day, another way, to make single people look upon their lives with a mixture of horror, confusion and dissatisfaction.

Ironically, I didn’t see many couples celebrating this day (perhaps because it completely redundant and most people in relationships are miserable anyway- I jest, I jest) but I did see a very many people on my Twitter timeline lamenting about their single status.

Do I blame them? Of course not. From birth, our whole lives seemed to be geared towards this one moment: finding a spouse and experiencing our happily ever afters. Fortunately, because of the rise of womanhood and female empowerment, society (legally) allows me to be other things other than a wife and mother. Despite this, women who choose to remain unmarried, who enjoy their singlehood or may not want to have children, are looked upon as foreign specimen, as though refusing to let an unborn child take your body hostage for 9 months is an inconceivable notion.

Now before you ask me whether I am a feminist (I am) or whether I spend my time burning my bras (I wish I could) to symbolise the fall of patriarchy, I want to you hear me out. Wherever women go, there are expectations. At times, we are simply not enough. For example, once you have children (the basic, necessary requirement that should be attained in your lifetime order to be deemed a ‘real’ woman), if you decide to work as well as raise your children, you are frowned upon. Conversely, those who choose to stay at home are also frowned upon. I honestly believe there are unattainable standards held for women, by both men and women.

As a Christian woman, I can testify to the way in which the Church caters for married people above others. I mean, the women’s event at my church next week is about ‘how to cater to your spouse’. My immediate question, once I saw the theme of the event was, ‘What about the single women?’ Then I thought more deeply: What about the widows? Where do the women, who do not have a spouse, go? The answer that I’ve heard my whole life is that they should attend such events so that they can prepare themselves for the one that is inevitably coming.

But what if he doesn’t come? 

I know this is a somewhat morbid thought for some of you, and I do apologise if I am ruining your lifelong parade. But what if you waiting for the coming of man who has no intention of finding you? If he doesn’t show up, are you somehow lesser? Incomplete? A failure?

No, you are not. 

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

My interpretation of this verse, on that dark and dreary Tuesday morning, when I felt as though I had nothing more to give (because work is crazy at the moment!), was that I still have an amazing journey to embark upon, one that can stand outside of other people, outside of work, full of hope, with a glorious end where I meet the one who died for me, the one who loves me unconditionally, the one who wants nothing but good for me, the one who wants to mould me and bring about His will in my life – whatever that may look like.

My advice to all my singletons out there is to keep your gaze fixed on Jesus: there is no love greater than the one he bestows on you daily and there is no other man that can carry the weight of your expectations. God who knows your heart’s desires and desires for you to know His also. I truly believe that once that becomes enough for you, all that you long for will be given to you.

All my love (and please forgive us for our writing hiatus),

Joy

P.S: Before I forget, I celebrated National Boyfriend Day by not celebrating it at all. Sorry if you’re disappointed.

The 2016 Rise From The Dead


Hi there! Hola! Bonjour!

Long time no post.” I hear you say

Yes, five months to be precise:/

….

Ah I see you want an explanation

*Very very awkward silence*

I want to tell you there’s a large pile of reasons why we haven’t written since May but to be totally frank all I can say is that life got in the way and blogging became more and more of a memory. I got married in June and Joy put on a pretty amazing play in September- just so you know we aren’t complete bums, but hand on heart, when you’re having such a good time on the holiday you’ve given yourself it’s easy to drown out the voice telling you it really is time to get back to life.

For any of you reading who are writers you will know what it’s like to lose momentum, for writers block to set in, and before you know it you’re questioning whether you’re actually that good of a writer and telling yourself that you have nothing to say worth reading.

As I head back to my keyboard for the first time in a long while, trying to get myself re-acquainted with this writing lark, I am surprised by the overwhelming feeling of relief. All this time spent scared and guilty, you know that anxious feeling that rests in the pit of your stomach, and this is the first day of breathing easily. I’m thinking back to Jonah in the Bible and how he must have felt when he finally got spewed out of the whale. Prior to whale entry doing what God had told him to do and preaching to the people of Nineva seemed like the scariest thing he could have done. However, post whale Jonah realised that what’s really scary is not knowing if you’re going to be digested (lol) and the guilt that comes with knowing you should be obeying God.

Whilst in my self created whale I’ve been feeling fearful because besides the writers block and the ‘not having time to write’ I couldn’t override the re-occurring thought that in my silence I was disobeying God. Two years ago when he told me to write and I told him it didn’t make sense because I’m not a writer and I’m not consistent and I’d have nothing to say, but still ended up obeying anyway, I didn’t really have a leg to stand on with deciding not to obey now.

This summer was an uncomfortable one consisting of soul searching and dissatisfaction. I felt like work wasn’t giving me what I needed so I scrolled through job sites to find the perfect job, but as I scrolled I couldn’t shake the feeling that the emptiness would not be solved by a new 9-5 (or in my case 8:30-6…I know…ouch.) I started to think if it wasn’t a new job maybe it was a new hobby I needed, so much so I, for one whole second considered getting back into acting. As a last resort, I even turned to fitness in the hope of a purpose, with the idea that I could make getting fit my raison dêtre and lose the stone I gained on honeymoon (yes a whole stone, yes it is physically possible to gain that much weight in two weeks.) But if you know me and you know how much I like food then you know fitness was never going to cut it as the focus of my life.

So what did I do…

I remembered there was something God had already told me to do that I had dismissed doing in the hope of finding a shiny new purpose to pre-occupy myself. And here I am, imploring you to not make the same mistakes.

Do you feel like you’re stuck on a rut?

Are you sure there’s more to life but not sure where to find it?

Have you forgotten why you set out on the journey you’re on?

When things get complicated I always think back to a happier time and grapple with why exactly that time is different to my present. I absolutely always feel better when I’m doing what God has told me to. Not really surprising right? And yet so many of us are running in the complete opposite directions to Gods voice and then are questioning what’s brought the cloud of doom and gloom over our lives.

Truths we have to face:

God will not give you a new destiny because you don’t like the one you have

Your God given destiny will not necessarily make you rich and/or popular

You will never be able to complete your destiny without God. You will need him every step of the way. 

If you, like me, are tired of the rut and ready to accept that going it alone is not as empowering as you thought it was going to be, the only way forward is Christ, and he is patiently waiting for you to say ‘yes Lord”

Cannot tell you how much I’ve missed you.

Love Lots

Dani 
 

The Problem I Had With My Marriage

  

One of my favourite parts of A level sociology was learning of the changing attitudes of women from the 60’s to present day and the affect this had on every aspect of society. With a movement that promoted equality of opportunity, women started to believe there was a career after childbearing and slowly began to see themselves in roles previously reserved for their male counterparts. Before you knew it women were running countries (Margaret Thatcher) running unions (Angela Merkel) and setting world records (Dame Kelly Holmes). You look at a world in which women’s aspirations are not curbed by their gender, well at least not to the extent that existed in the time of our grandmothers and mothers, and you can’t deny that there have been huge change. What hasn’t changed is the representation of women in the Bible and the roles that God’s word promotes we adopt.

The bible states some brow-raising statements that feminists would shun and many Christians struggle to find a modern day interpretation that fits into their understanding of equality between genders.

To list but a few…

‘Women submit to your husbands as you submit to God’
‘A man is the head of his wife’
‘Women are bound to their husbands as long as he lives’

So what is a women to do? You’re Christian and want your marriage to exemplify the teachings of the Bible, but have been brought up believing that women can do just what men can(and sometimes better). How are we supposed to look at our husbands like our bosses and still love them?

Going to marriage counselling caused the inner feminist in me to explode and I had to revisit what I understood God’s overall message to be and the kind of wife I wanted to be. Here are the two conclusions I came to…

Submission doesn’t mean slavery

In God telling us women to submit, he isn’t sentencing us to a life slavery. God is letting us know whilst all opinions are important, when push comes to shove, someone has to have the deciding vote. I know that has made every mild feminist squirm.

Why does that vote have to lay with the husband? 

Why not a mutual vote?

Why ? 

Why? 

Why?!

I want to give you an answer palatable with modern day feminism but the truth of the matter is that, that is the way God intended it to be. And besides, a good leader never assumes their own opinion to be superior to that of others, marrying a man that understands this should mean in essence a mutual vote or a vote that takes into consideration both opinions.

Men have an unequally difficult responsibility 

We read scriptures on submission and fail to consider the mother of all tasks that husbands have been given:

‘Husbands love your wife as Christ loves the church’

Reading that scripture made every seemingly sexist statement click and quietened my inner frustrations. Husbands have to love their wives unconditionally, following the example that Christ sets. God is trying to use marriage as a microcosm of his relationship with us his children. If anyone has had even the shortest of flings with Christ, you will know that we as God’s children have definitely not pulled the short straw, despite the seemingly unbalanced nature of the relationship we have with God which means we live a life not according to our own desires but God’s.

When I think of my own relationship with God, the infrequent effort I put into it, the times I’ve neglected him completely and when I’ve kept committing the same sins because I knew God would forgive me, I can’t believe that God would ever want a relationship with me, let alone tell my husband to stick it out. Loving someone unconditionally is a mammoth task that husbands are burdened with.

So to all my ladies reading

God isn’t subjecting you to a marriage of inequality. 

Marriage is a sacrifice, that women and men have to keep making

If you’re going to have to submit, it doesn’t make sense to marry someone that isn’t submitted to your God- (this deserves a whole other blog post which will land soon)

God loves you unconditionally and doesn’t view you as a second class citizen 

The word husband cannot be exchanged for all men- in the workplace, in your dreams and ambitions, in your friendships, God is your only master

Would love to hear any thoughts you have about gender equality in the Bible
Love you all lots and lots,

Dani xxxxxx

How Do You Solve a Problem like Donald Trump?

  
So, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of months, you know that America will be taking to the polls to vote for a new President in November. Okay, maybe you didn’t know that but I’m sure you are completely aware that Donald Trump is running for President. This election cycle has brought a couple of issues to the forefront of political debate. We have Bernie Sanders staging a revolution, Hillary Clinton making women across America define feminism and some questionable soundbites from the Republican candidates. I have always been interested in Politics (minor understatement – my degree was in Politics) but this is the first presidential election I’ve witnessed firsthand as I now live in America. All I have to say about the American political system is that it’s crazy challenging. At least it is when you’re a Christian and you are trying to decide who to vote for/if you should vote at all. I can’t vote in America so it’s actually been really interesting to observe the campaigning from an objective (and non-scholarly, thank God!) point of view. Here’s my take so far:

  1. I don’t understand why Americans are still debating health care. Why on earth should you need insurance to see a doctor? Americans seem to think that it’s “socialist” (that’s a dirty word out here) to give everyone free healthcare. Um. That’s normal in almost all developed countries around the world America and we haven’t sunk into communism, so I’m still baffled. #FixIt
  2. Campaigns run on all types of issues, which is great! It’s a real attempt at democracy and allowing the people to have their say on how they should be governed. Only. There’s not much choice. If you’re pro-life, for example but you believe in more liberal economic policies, there’s no one to represent you in either parties. You have to choose between your beliefs and economic reforms that could positively affect your life.
  3. American Christians be getting mad, bruh (yeah, I’ve lived here for two years I can NoCal quite well, thank you very much) and I don’t understand why! This is not a theocracy people! America is not a Christian nation. Don’t stone me for saying the truth, please – I’m just calling it as I see it. Yeah it would be great to have a true, authentic believer in the White House as a President and who knows? Maybe it will happen one day (last election cycle a black man was voted in so miracles do happen, can I get an amen?) BUT as it is, this county does not run on biblical principles. The American government is under no obligation to do as the Bible says. So don’t get butt hurt when un-biblical laws are passed. Expect them and know that the church should exemplify God’s standard not the legislative (1 Cor 5:12-13). Simples.
  4. Similarly, if you’re a Christian and you’re trusting in the government for change or to make the world a better place, your trust has been misplaced, my friend. As a good friend of mine told me, “Our hope should lie in the person of Jesus Christ, and everything we do to change society should flow from a place of abiding with Him. There’s no doubt the government will let us down.” No one would say that the government is a perfect institution and given that it serves the interests of many, there’s no way it can serve Jesus’ alone. Although we can use governmental processes to further the cause of the gospel, our hope cannot be in it.
  5. Finally, if you’re really engaged in this election process but, in retrospection, you find that you haven’t spent much time praying about what gives you concern then it may be time to get on your knees. 

I found myself in this position last week. There are a couple of social issues and injustices that I can get worked up over (gender equality, #blacklivesmatter) but I realised I haven’t been praying about these issues even though prayer is our greatest weapon. If we really want to see change, we should take it to Jesus in prayer. Same goes for the election. You don’t like Donald Trump? Pray about it.

Love Deborah xxxx

When Life Gives You Lemons

lemonde

Last week, Beyoncé dropped Lemonade and according to Forbes.com, Lemonade has begun its charting life in the top spot with the biggest first-week sales count thus far in 2016. Am I surprised? Of course not. (King) Beyoncé is a force to be reckoned with, undoubtedly chasing the iconic status of the likes of Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson. I could have written a think piece about the issues the album so flawlessly unravelled (infidelity, race, womanhood, stereotypes, family issues – the list goes on) but it’s just not that kind of blog and I’m doing my best, these days, to stay in my lane. Just know, as a proud Beyoncé fan, I have my views on the album and I’m just awaiting her call to give her the feedback she’s been longing for.

There were a few instances during my personal viewing of the visual album (which is dope, by the way) that made me scream a little, I must admit.  However, the moment that resonated with me most was a line from the speech given by Jay Z’s grandmother, Hattie, at her 90th birthday:

“I was given lemons and I made lemonade”.

I was speaking to my best friend just yesterday about the way that life works. Life is full of various seasons that we are forced to run, trudge, cry and fly through. Life overflows with turns, peaks, troughs, valleys and mountains, throwing whatever it wants at us. We are given lemons. In a second, life changes its rhythm and we are coerced into learning a new dance, one that changes the course of our lives forever. We make lemonade.

The original plan was to list all the moments life had given me lemons – where I thought life was going one way and then suddenly, I was on my back, knocked out by the blow life had dealt. Instead of reeling off a list of my own personal setbacks, I reached out to my people and the people over on Facebook, asking them about the times life had given them lemons. The responses I received were amazing. Enjoy the lemonade below.


I spent 3 months working as a massage therapist on a cruise ship. I hated it at first, but then I made friends –  heck, I even got myself a tall Jamaican ship bae. The money wasn’t great but I was feeling great: partying, making memories, travelling the Caribbean. Everything was working for me, and then then literally over night my Hemoglobin checked out on me; my anaemia got so bad I had an emergency debark. Basically, they shipped my butt home. A week before Christmas, I made a 24-hour journey back to the UK from Puerto Rico. I didn’t even have a jacket! I was unemployed, a couple hundred dollars to my name in my sea account, no confidence, no energy and, sadly, fewer friends. I literally had to cling to my cousins and one in particular who was in church so by default, I was in church. As a consequence, my faith grew! I became happy, unmoved by external factors. Eventually, I got a job and it was a 5K increase per year compared to what I’d previously earned. I’m sharing my experiences via YouTube. No, I don’t wake up on a different island every day and I didn’t get to complete that journey, but its worked out for the best, and my opportunities are endless!

Sally, 24

I went through domestic abuse throughout my entire pregnancy. It was a horrific time and I often wondered if I’d made the right choice. My son is here now and he is the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. He’s shown me what real love is. I’ve learnt in life there are always better days ahead and life is for living, despite the ups, downs and hurdles we encounter along the way. Most importantly, I am now sure that God gives us only what we can handle and nothing more or nothing less.

Jane, 24

I think running a marathon is something on everyone’s bucket list. Just something you should do, an achievement. When Marathon day arrived, I had everything packed and ready; I wrote the names of all my family and friends who were no longer with us on my arms so that if I hit a wall, I could look down and remember that they couldn’t run a marathon. The marathon was a struggle: at times, I couldn’t walk, tears streamed down my face as I hobbled down the paths. When I finally reached mile 25, something just clicked. All of the sudden crowds were screaming my name and I was running, actually running. I looked behind to check my hip hadn’t fallen off, phew, I was still intact and I was still running. I could see the finish line. I ran as fast as I could and finished in 6 hours, 21 minutes and 26 seconds. The best way to describe the feelings I felt was likening the feelings to a rainbow. Red was anger that my beautiful Dad got taken away from me, why him? Why not someone else? Yellow was sunshine, happiness because I knew he would be proud. Blue was tears and lots of them. Pink was love and I had never loved my dad as much as I did then. I had to thank him for leaving me, because if he hasn’t, I’d have never been running a marathon in the first place.

Lucy, 24

I was working for a TV station. I had my own show, I was a presenter and producer, had ratings of 40,000 for 2 years. Then I lost my job. It was heartbreaking and emotionally draining because for those two years, I thought my purpose was in that job. My value and worth came from having a job but losing it was actually the best thing that happened to me because then began the journey of finding where my worth, value and really came from. It’s not from a job.

Yvonne, 25

I had to repeat my first year of university and it was embarrassing, such a dark time. Initially, I decided to appeal. I was praying and fasting so much. I put so much faith in God, believing that he was going to come through. When they got back to me and told me that I still had to repeat, it made me question how God actually worked. I felt that God had failed me. I felt so low walking into the New Year: I was lonelier than I’d ever felt before, I hadn’t achieved much and the girl I thought I’d spend my life with was in a new relationship. However, through this bad event, so much good came to me: I formed a relationship with God. The extra year was refreshing, spiritually and mentally. When I was ready to leave university, I walked straight into a graduate job – something I am sure would not have happened if I had graduated the year before.  I can honestly say that everything fell into place.

Luke, 27

Whilst in secondary school I was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a boy in my year. I didn’t tell my family for a year and when I eventually did, my parents decided I needed to move schools. I was distraught and distressed at the thought of leaving all of my friends behind. Having been with them for 3 years, and some since primary school, I felt I was really taking an L. Leaving at the time seemed like the worst thing in the world, however it was the best. I was given the opportunity to go to an excellent school, meet incredible friends and I realised my full academic potential. The new environment was needed, refreshing and allowed me to flourish in every way. I realised how fickle people are and not to be consumed with my relationships. Often the sexual assault makes me sad, very sad and I am still dealing with a plethora of issues but I am getting better. The assault was an incredible loss and I often felt that God had left me and didn’t love me, but that was not the case. Even in the darkest of clouds, there is a silver lining. Moving schools, changing, learning and growing – these were all my silver linings. Perhaps if it hadn’t occurred I wouldn’t be what I am not where I am today. From my experience I realised God can turn any tragedy into triumph.

Kady, 19

I didn’t get my first choice of university. I was disappointed because I thought I was supposed to be in Manchester. It was a Russell Group university, well respected, and the course sounded great! Waking up on results day I discovered that it wasn’t meant to be. To rub salt in the wound when I collected my results it turned out that I had literally only just missed the grades for Manchester; a couple marks in one subject, four in another. 

Almost three years later and nearing the end of my university journey I can honestly say that coming to Canterbury has been the best thing for me. From church, to the people I’ve met, and my actual course content it’s been so good! I remember when I was choosing where to go I purposely avoided London, I wasn’t sure that a busy city was the place for me. Can someone please tell me why choosing Manchester instead made sense!? I can only laugh and thank God for His ability to see what I couldn’t. 

“A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 NKJV

Daniella, 21

It was my birthday and I had decided to buy a car. The first two cars that a friend & I went to view were not to our liking, but the third seemed just right. My friend was driving the car around the neighbourhood and checking certain things…”boys and their toys” I thought to myself. As he was driving, he was revving the engine and suddenly it completely conked out! “I knew it!” he said. I however, was in shock and very disappointed that I wasn’t able to purchase a car for my birthday. I wanted to cry. On the way back I was praying about what had happened and God showed me a vision in which I was in the newly purchased car on the motorway and the engine cut out with loads of drivers headed my way at full speed. It lifted my spirit to know that in what seemed like an awful start to my birthday was actually one in which God reminded me how much He loved me.

Bella, 27

Some years back I believed I’d “heard” from GOD who I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with. In fact, there was seemingly a mutual “hearing from GOD” by both parties and from there a relationship with marriage as the eventual goal began. The years that passed consisted of a number of good times, a hell of a lot of bad and a world of struggle to be each other’s reality of a perfect spouse. After what seemed like endless fighting, butting of heads and the never-ending pouring out of one’s heart and soul, it came to a dramatic end with symbols and drums. And boy, might I say that hindsight is 2020. I’ve come to the revelation that at that time of my life, I was a girl who was incomplete. Still in desperate need to know who I was and to whom I belonged to and to that end, that lack of knowledge and lack of wisdom sent me down a path I was never meant to embark on. I haven’t reached the end of my journey yet but today as a Woman of GOD I stand so clear and so confident about what’s to come for me. He said that He will make all things work together for my good. He’s doing just that.

Michael, 24

A life full of ups and downs, along with every person who walks this planet. One of my stories… I met the ‘love’ of my life… I had never in all my years felt the way I felt about her. It was, as cliché would have it; “love at first sight”.  The most magical time of my life, it was indescribable, and 6 years on, I still can’t find the words to describe ‘that’ feeling and ‘that’ time. I made a huge decision to move my life across the country ‘with’ her. Two years into the Yorkshire adventure I was betrayed by her. I was, despite my inner strength, broken.  I didn’t want to be that person who ran home at the first hurdle, no matter how much I was hurting. So I stayed… And continued to live my life to the fullest, I grafted, I grew, I found my self, I became content with my own self. It wasn’t without struggle. I continued to grow professionally and achieved things I didn’t think I was capable of. I travelled the world, met fabulous people, indulged in the cultures and lifestyles of these beautiful places.  Now I had this time for me, I made a conscious decision to continue my journey, taking on the path I now know, was and always has been my calling.  It took the hurt, the fixing and the adventures, but I have succeeded. Say hello to a newly qualified teacher that hopes to inspire, support and challenge young adults to believe that greatness comes in all shapes and sizes and strength comes from within; this and a little bit of faith is what has got me to this point in my life. 

Wendy, 33


If you’re going through a tough time, surrounded by lemons, full of confusion and disbelief, be encouraged: lemonade can always be made.

Have you got any Lemonade stories? Do share them in the comments section, if you can!

Lots of love,

Joy

 

Thanks to all the contributors to this piece – thank you for sharing your stories so honestly with me!

*All names and ages have been changed

5 Fears You’re Probably Facing

   
I woke up this morning and was going to write about the five things I’m currently grateful for, but seeing as I’ve spent the last week feeling more fearful than thankful, I thought that might be a little unrepresentative of the truth. I often get told off by friends and family for making everything seem like it’s going swimmingly well when really I’m onboard a ship that feels more like it’s sinking than sailing. As Christians we hang onto the scripture: 

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”‭‭II Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

But that doesn’t mean all of our problems immediately melt away, so here are five of my fears, from the littlest to the largest of problems.

1. My phone battery dying

Don’t laugh, I know you worry too. I think this is the most prevalent fear I have, and there doesn’t seem much I can do about it. I live in one of those awkward locations that doesn’t have a tube station but three semi close national rail train stations with semi-regular buses that I can get home from. Because of this, every journey home is made in sync with whatever live travel app is telling me makes sense. A journey home with a battery under 20% is never enjoyable as I sit on airplane mode praying it makes it home.
If this is you too, we both have to face facts. Taking a little longer to get home because you couldn’t use the bus app to decide which stop you need to get off the train at is not the biggest issue in the world. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, is it worth the worry? Most times the answer is no, in which case you can exhale

2. That the hidden calories in all my food will one day come and bite me on the abs, legs, and everywhere else I am trying to loose weight.

I want to tell you that this is a silly fear and the chances are, an extra banana won’t make you fat, but I think it’s more important to know that being fatter than you’d like is not the end of the world. There’s a hard truth that we should all just accept and that is: you will probably never be 100% happy with your body. 

Sorry for the tough love, on a happier note, God made you in his image, God said you’re fearfully and wonderfully made, God’s opinion trumps societies image of beauty. Simples. 

3. That I’m not really good at the short list of things I think I am

Every time I come to write a blog post, a small knot forms in my stomach and it doesn’t unravel until I’ve clicked share and decided that there’s nothing more I can do to make it better. It’s not just writing though, every time I have to challenge myself to meet my own expectations and am under the scrutiny of others my forehead starts to sweat and my hands get clammy. The usual thoughts are:

What if I’m not good enough?

What if I fail?

What will people think?

I’m not going to lie and say you’ll be brilliant at all things you put your mind to but I have relaxed in accepting that I may not be able to do things in my own strength but in Christ I can do all things. Yes, that means I’m completely dependent on God, and I am learning to be cool with that.

4. That I’ll never have the lifestyle I’ve always dreamed of

There was an article in the Evening Standard that said graduates from my university were the highest paid in the UK and after 10 years, 10% of us earn 100k. Going to a university where everyone wants to be an investment banker/ corporate lawyer that figure is not a surprise, it has however added another stress to the thought ‘where will I be in 10 years time and what will I earn…’ It’s very easy to say that we’re not money motivated people and that we’re driven by less materialistic ambitions, but at the end of the day, the seniority we’ve been able to reach and the pay package that comes along with that will always be a point of comparison. 

So what to do?

Sorry to say but having money is quite similar to having a great body. You will set goals and reach them, but you will always want something outside of your budget and you will always want more money to meet all of your needs. That doesn’t mean stop striving because you’ll never be happy, but let the desire to achieve financially fall into place with a tameable level of importance. Learning to be satisfied with being dissatisfied works the best here.

5. That my looming wedding won’t be Vogue worthy

When you go to weddings you internalise all the things you think were nice and everything that wasn’t no nice and vow to learn from the couples mistakes. Then, when it’s time for your own wedding you create a fantastical vision of what you want it to be like before taking into consideration that you don’t have celebrity money and your parents and in-laws will weigh in with their opinion and expect to be heard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I want extravagance to the nth degree, I’m just chasing after a wedding that’s close to the vision my imagination has conjured up, and as everyone who has been married will tell you, weddings are pricey. I am so used to being self-sufficient that having to trust God to provide the funds has made me uncomfortable, and hence the battle to combat fearfulness with being faithful commences.

For everyone who is also wondering where the money is going to come from to pay off their next big expense, there is a scripture we can find peace in:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

God’s got a plan, even if you are yet to think of one. Don’t rely on yourself one iota, but trust in him wholly and he will give you the direction you need, bring you into contact with the right people, open up the doors for your needs to be met.

We are so keen to share what we are grateful for, we create an imbalanced picture of greener grass and happier days to the onlookers of our lives. I hope that you’ll be encouraged to shout your fears as well as showcase your faith and that together we can encourage each other through our storms.

Happy Friday!

Dani

Why The Man Of My Dreams Left Me In The Friend-Zone

  
Firstly let me clarify some things. 

1. I don’t have my eye on a potential bae

2. I haven’t been friend-zoned… well not recently anyway *insert awkward sympathetic stare* 

What I am about to share is all a little bit awkward but hopefully this post will help you to avoid the same predicaments I found myself in numerous times in the past. I was stupidly doing the same thing while wondering why I was getting the same results. 

 At the age of 16-21 I was the go-getter type who went after what I wanted, determined to get exactly that in a variety of areas in my life- my career, my education – oh! And guys. I wanted what I wanted and sometimes I got just that, but other times it didn’t quite work out how I imagined. 

This is how the journey of living in the friend zone began …. 

I remember in one case I was 16 and I bought this guy I liked in school a rose, a box of chocolates and wrote him a note for Valentine’s Day. I spent money I didn’t have to let this guy know I liked him, you would have thought we were in a relationship because of the immense thought and effort I put into it. We were friends but not really. I was simply crushing over a guy and wasn’t afraid to let him or other people know. The verdict though – Friend zone. 

Then there was another guy about 2 years later who I really liked from school and was convinced he was bae and I made the effort of getting myself noticed by everyday. Making sure I knew his timetable at school so I could ‘accidentally’ bump into him and say hi. This wasn’t enough however, I felt like it wasn’t getting me anywhere, so I went to the extent of getting his phone number from a friend of a friend of a friend, called him repeatedly and asked him to the cinema. Verdict – Friend zone

Despite my failure, I wasn’t going to give up my go-getter attitude. Soon enough I found myself in a similar situation as I got slightly older when I met a guy who I was totally convinced was MINE! We were close friends at the time and I expressed to him my true, inner, deep-down feelings because I felt like if I didn’t, I might just explode. This time the knock back wasn’t so bad, he even respected my honesty, but the verdict was the same – FRIEND ZONE!!! 

They say third time’s a charm, and in a way I consider myself lucky enough not to be caught up in that situation since I reached twenty. Having had the chance to reflect I can see there was a pattern to my behaviour which was causing me to be dwell in the friend zone. I was too PUSHY. If I liked a guy I’d semi-stalk him around school, track down his number, call him all the time, buy him gifts and tell him how I felt. 

I didn’t really consider whether the feelings were mutual because in my world, as long as I told him, he would realise his feelings for me and we would live happily ever after because I was going to get exactly what I wanted, right?!

Oh, so wrong

Unsurprisingly, using these methods never worked out. If like me you are finding yourself constantly being put in the Friend zone. Here are 3 potential reasons why: 

1. You’re too pushy

Fine you like them… but give them some space! Don’t bombard them with phone calls or text messages if its still early days + you’re still trying to figure it all out. 
People need space, they need time to think, show your interest but don’t be suffocating. Who wants to feel suffocated in their relationship anyway? If anything this will call for an immediate friend-zoning 

2. Don’t be a weird crazy stalker

 This could work for some people, in some strange town, some might find it quite attractive or flattering to know a girl is after them, but in most situations, you’re going to end up either scaring the man in question or receiving a court order in the post. Don’t be that person that has to scare them into having an interest in you because chances are you’d be lucky if you ended up in a place as friendly as the Friendzone. 

3. You’re waaaaay too fast

I found that in the past a key mistake I made was being too quick to pour out my feelings/ not really getting a feel of the other persons potential interest. I always went straight in for the kill without thinking of the potential consequences.
Get a feel of the other person vibe because you’ll get an idea of when it’s right to let your intentions or feeling be known or whether you should forever hold your peace. 
 

I’m not a relationship guru, all of these tips can/should be applied to how we approach life. You can want something so bad that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get it but have you considered that you’re banging against a door that God has purposely shut? We live in a world that encourages being a go getter, but as Christians if we aren’t going after what God has got in store for us are mission is futile. Finally, that thing that we’re chafing after might be exactly God’s plan for us, but can we honestly say we have the patience for it all to happen in God’s timing. They say throw caution to the wind but I say live as you plan to fall, with all the confidence and caution in the world, not running ahead of yourself and not assuming you will get what you want just because you want it.

Im no expert, I’m just a girl who has made quite a few crazy mistakes in the past willing to share what I’ve learned. Someone out there might like the pushy, stalker, moving too fast type, but for me, it has just never worked. 

Love Precious 

10 Signs That You’re Addicted To Online TV

 

tv

I am an online TV junkie. A crackhead. A fiend. I’ll put my hands up and admit my problems. I’m not sure when this became an addiction, but I’m ready to come clean to those around me as the voices in my head continue to stage daily interventions. If you’re an addict, you’ll know which voices I’m talking about. You know, the ones that urge you to sleep instead of watching another episode or suggest interacting with real people instead of fictional characters.

As a writer, you can imagine the allure of online TV: immediate and unlimited access to a plethora of stories that I can immerse myself in. When I was younger, I used to find myself in various worlds (Narnia, Hogwarts, Dystopias) through the countless novels I would read. Now, I’m older. I am a ‘millennial’ and few of us read for pleasure. In fact, I can count the times I’ve seen conversations online about the latest bestseller; yet, the dialogue surrounding Love and Hip Hop (and the AMAZING Cardi B – yeah, I said it) is as vast as it is complex.

How did I figure out I was addicted? How do you know if you need to join me at a HFO meeting (Help For Onliners) meeting? The answers can be found below

1) You watch online TV before you sleep – every night.

me

Having a favourite show that you watch before bed every now and again is absolutely fine, but if you find it difficult to sleep without the glare of the laptop, my friend, you might just have a problem.

2) Sometimes you feel like you haven’t spoken to a friend in a long time but then you realise you’re just awaiting the new series of your (third) favourite show.

claire and frank

I miss Frank and Claire  – then I remind myself they are not real people.

3) You use fictitious situations as a foundation of the advice you give to your friends

“I totally understand why you feel you need to become a drug Lord so that you can provide for your family, but there was this one time that things didn’t end too well…”

breaking

4) During your day, you wonder whether your favourite individuals will eventually get their act together and become a couple.

nick and jess

Remember how frustrating it was when Jess and Nick (New Girl) were fighting the chemistry between them? Remember when they got together and the show became awful as a result? Big Lol.

5) You are constantly looking for a new show (or as I like to call the, ‘new friends’)

breakout

Last week was Dexter, this week was Breakout Kings (which was surprisingly enjoyable). I’m forever on the hunt for some new buddies.

6) The thought of watching shows at home makes you feel more excited than the prospect of socialising with friends

excited

Cancelled plans = pure joy

7) Netflix asks you if you want to ‘continue watching’ all the damn time.

never see

Yes, Netflix, I’m here. I haven’t slept. My eyes are burning but I’m here until the very end so don’t ask me silly questions.

8) You and your friends (who are crackheads too, because birds of a feather and all that jazz) discuss the characters in depth and analyse their personal growth

FullSizeRender

This is a real conversation that I had yesterday.

9) You secretly believe that the Grey’s Anatomy cast are your family

greys

You know that when you need them, they’ll be there; Callie will fix your broken legs, Kerev will deliver your baby and Bailey is there if you ever need that good, good talking to.

10) You watch so many shows that you often forget which shows you’re watching, miss too many episodes, but because you’re unsure of how things might have changed, you never return.

the good wife

10 is a really whole number so I will stop there, but trust me, I could go on!

Although I’m treating my addiction as a (semi) joke, I am in the process of analysing my obsession with online TV. Why do I watch indulge to the point that my eyes literally hurt? I am literally letting life pass me by as I watch shows. I could be socialising, reading, or creating my own stories that other people could watch. Instead, like most, I use Online TV as a form as escapism – as an opportunity to forget the crazy that is often happening around me.

More and more I’m challenging myself to spend as much time with God as I do with my beloved shows – I’m not always successful. We used to sing a song in Sunday School:

‘Read your Bible everyday pray everyday, and you grow, grow, grow,

Close your Bible, refuse to pray and you shrink, shrink, shrink.’

In hindsight, it was not only a very aff song, it was arguably profound. If you invest in your relationship with God, you will grow, you will see how amazing God is, you will find your purpose and you will feel secure. If you’re constantly watching shows (as I am), God often gets lost in the mix and…it might even impact the growth you’re experiencing as a Christian.

So my goal, this week, (*gulps*) is not to watch any shows. Even typing the sentence fills me with dread. I’m really interested to see what I’ll fill my time with when I’m not swimming with my fun, fantastic, fictitious friends.

To my fellow addicts, will you join me?

Lots of love,

Joy xxxxxxx