Category Archives: Currently Affairing

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

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

Why Christian Reality TV Isn’t That Bad

 preachers
Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about these “Preachers of…” series. If you haven’t heard of it, you’re bound to find it online somewhere: there’s been ‘Preachers of LA’, ‘Preachers of Detroit’ and most recently, ‘Preachers of Atlanta’.
Some might think it’s weird. What’s the point? Why would Christians even want their own reality show? If you HAVE watched them, the idea probably seems even more absurd.
Even Gospel Singer/Minister Donnie McClurkin has been known to speak out about how appalled he is about these types of shows, stating that it highlights Christians in a negative light as the shows are “entertaining for the wrong reasons”. Although he makes some good points, I mean, I can’t agree with all of the points he made anymore.
It’s just a shame that because of the wrong one or two people do it makes the whole thing look bad. I think it ultimately depends on the intentions behind the show, whether it was to make Christians look like clowns or to really highlight some of the good things Christians are doing for God and the kingdom.
Here are my two cents as to why it isn’t ALL 100% bad; there are some hidden good things about shows like these. Here are a few:
1. The good behinds the scenes
I can’t deny there’s a lot of craziness, a lot of drama that occurs possibly for the purpose of entertainment. But despite some of the craziness that happens, arguments between the pastors, and family issues, it’s interesting to get a sneak peak into these well-known people’s lives (for the good stuff). Some of the background, behind the scenes things these Pastors are doing,  are amazing! Not all of them partake in the arguing and the drama. Others are just all about their ‘Father’s business’ and increasing the kingdom whether through music, outreach or innovative evangelism and I think it’s all quite inspiring and encouraging really.
2. Follow Jesus!
Although sometimes the shows makes Christians look as though we are all a bunch of fakes, shows like this help you know that Pastors and Preachers are human!
Some people blindly follow the ways of their favourite pastor or preacher without checking what they’re actually saying, or lining it up with God’s word. However, seeing into these people’s lives reminds us the only person we ought to follow is Jesus. We are all human. No matter what pedestal you’ve put Christian leaders on, we are all human & fall short daily. We mess up and make mistakes all the time, no matter who we are.
3. You get to hear about the WHY
If you’re nosey like me you’ll get to understand each of these people’s stories and the reasons why they do what they do and where they have come from. I think in order to really understand why people, it’s important to have an understanding of their history. People go on to make remarkable changes to the world we live in because of what they’ve been through. For example, one pastor, who is also a police officer, stated he had become a police officer because of what he saw growing up in a rough neighbourhood. He just wanted to make a change saving and impacting people’s lives, both spiritually and physically. How awesome!
So yeah, there are definitely bad things to say about shows like these, especially when they show people within the Christian circle in a negative light. However, I just wanted to highlight some of the good that can be taken from shows like these because, surely, there had to be some good. None of us are perfect but we have to do our best at highlighting God in our lives on a daily basis. We can’t try to be something we are not and neither can we hide the person He has made us to be.
Love,
Precious x

 

10 Rules To Follow If You Want To Survive The London Underground

 

london-underground-tube

Whenever I’ve told people that I live in London, especially those living up North, I’ve usually been met with the same disdain and horror.

“London?!” they cry, “How do you cope living there?!”

Cope? What’s there to cope with?

Well, if you didn’t know, it’s ‘smoggy, dirty, dingy and overpriced’, full of ‘rude’ inhabitants that walk with such strength it’s though they’re trying to shatter the earth beneath their feet, and with such pace, one could assume that there’s a devastating hurricane in the not-too-far-distance. 

I love LDN. I’m not a die-hard Londoner who can’t imagine living anywhere else – I imagine myself in different countries all the time. However, I think I am privileged to have found my place in such a vibrant city, with each ‘end’ having its own culture, even cultures that exist within cultures. I’ve learnt how to whine like a Jamaican, doba’le like a Nigerian, sing along to a few Bangra tunes, drop a couple words of Twi – I’m sure you get my drift.

As cliche as it sounds, there isn’t a city quite like LDN. Growing up here has resulted in a spillage of other cultures into mine; we live in dynamic city (and I’m pretty sure my ability to twerk dance to Rihanna’s Work would be overall mediocre if I’d grown up on the outskirts of Cumbria).

It’s not all good though, is it? Those who have the misfortune of travelling into Central London every day are well aware that LDN is indeed overcrowded. Between the commuters near punching you in the face in order to reach a seat before you, that awkward walk behind a slow moving buggy and that annoying person who keeps getting their clothing trapped in the door (how do we know? The driver keeps announcing it to the whole tube), I’m sure that we can all agree that the daily commute into LDN is a truly treacherous experience.

Here are a few rules to be aware of if you are new to the LDN underground and are appalled by what you’re experiencing.  

1) It’s okay if you haven’t showered, feel free to put your armpit in someone’s face. We accept that you’ve had to get up early everyday this week and haven’t showered since Sunday.

2) It’s perfectly acceptable to discuss your love/sex life in a full, yet silent, carriage. We are all dying to know that new thing Luke has been trying out.

3) When there’s no space, create space. Pushing people aside in order to fit you, your sweat, your rucksack and your desperation, on the already packed tube, is fine.

4) A couple that commutes together, stays together. If you want your relationship to be successful, travelling together everyday is essential.  And of course, we all want to observe your lengthy, saliva-filled goodbye before 7.30am. Approaching the stop at which one of them has to depart often feels like the dramatic ending of a scene from a romcom (“It’s time now…I have to go…I know, I know…But I’ll see you again…I won’t be long…”) so please, feel free to entertain us.

5) Hundreds of people queuing to access an underground station isn’t a safety hazard at all – do not be alarmed.

6) It’s okay to be pressed up against a man you don’t know. The lights are dim enough and the fact that we are all using headphones anyway (please see number 7) means that there’s already music playing in our ears (although it might not be the same song). Feel free to have a cheeky whine.

7) Headphones are essential because the silence is too loud.

8) Judge the ‘seek assistance’ people who definitely knew they didn’t have enough money on their oyster card to travel to work but were moving in faith, tapping away, hoping that the god of TFL would create a miracle.

9) You will feel an immense surge in panic as you realise that you’re approaching the stop you need to get off at and there are copious amounts of people blocking your pathway to the outside world. Don’t worry, they will part for you. Or you will push them aside whispering “sorry, sorry..I’m sorry” as you pass.

10) Someone will tell you about Jesus

How strange it is that we never use our daily commute as an opportunity to share God’s love with those around us. We don’t know what the person beside us is going through, whether they desperately need someone to listen to them for a short while or to hear 5 simple words: You’re going to be okay.

Sharing the love of Christ is hard at times – how do we share our faith without seeming fanatic or delusional? What’s more, how dare we share our faith with the person sitting beside us awkwardly on that awful commute to the job we sorta-really-maybe hate?

I’m not telling you to start shouting down the carriage about hell and repentance – I don’t think that’s the way to go about it. I do think you should share a smile with someone. I think you could say ‘Have a good day’ as the person beside you gets up to leave. Perhaps you could ask about the book they’re reading. Maybe they’ll ask about your devotional in response (or they’ll  look at you like you’re a crazy person and move across the carriage). Whatever the outcome, you’ll know in your heart that you are fulfilling God’s greatest call to us all: to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)

There are hundreds of ways to share Christ’s love and to embody his character. Let’s try some of them next week!

Lots of love and happy, glorious Friday to you all!

Joy xxx

Should We All Celebrate Our Abortions?

H8MIaOt

The first time I was exposed to the word ‘abortion’, I was 11 years old. My Church instilled in me that all forms of killing were wrong and that an abortion, the termination of an unwanted pregnancy, was also wrong. (How this works in tandem with God telling King David to exterminate an entire group of people, women and children included, I do not know – perhaps when God sanctions killings, it’s okay? I don’t know). In theory, I understood what the term meant. I vaguely remember watching a video in Year 9 about abortion at school and a few girls leaving the room in tears. Still, I only understood it in theory. It was only when I was 12 years old that I was faced with the reality of what it really meant to ‘terminate a pregnancy’ and it was then that I realised it wasn’t as clear cut as my Church leaders had said. A friend of mine had an impossible decision to make and suddenly all of my Church advice seemed unrealistic and out of place. There were no options. We were 12. What else could she do? I told her what I believed but that I understood her decision and respected her choice.

I encountered the term a few years later, this time in a Politics lesson. I was 16 years old, learning about the historical 1973 Roe vs Wade ruling, a ruling that reverberated all over the world. Growing in my feminism, my agency and my autonomy, I completely agreed with the ruling. Here, the tension between what I knew to be true (God had a purpose for every life even before conception) and the belief that a woman should have the power to decide what grew and lived inside of her, was born. This tension has changed in shape, size and intensity, but has existed ever since. I simply did not think it was right for any government or religious group to make such a personal decision – even if I did think it was morally right.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.

Jeremiah 1:5

I didn’t realise that I was ultimately pro-life until earlier this year; suddenly, the murky grey I’d been living in became a clear-cut black…or white – whichever colour takes your fancy. I was standing outside of my friend’s house this summer and my eyes fell upon a pregnant woman who happened to be smoking. A. Pregnant. Woman. Smoking.  Now, maybe this is something that quite a few pregnant women do, but I’d always imagined that whenever you learnt of the bundle of joy growing inside of you, all addictions were put to the side. How naive of me. I was outraged. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“What are you doing?! You’re harming your baby!!”, I screamed.

I wish I had been brave enough to utter the words above.

Instead I stood silently, angrily, my eyes boring into her but my mouth firmly closed. How could I confront her? It was none of my business. It was in that moment that I realised that I cared about babies. I cared about their lives. I didn’t want anything or anyone to harm them.  “Well, they’re not actually babies” you say; I argue that they are. They might not be fully grown, able to think or feel, but they are alive; life has begun. Despite my beliefs, I do not for one moment think that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is as clear cut as some of us Christians believe. To think that these women view it as a ‘Should I?/Should I Not?’ toss up is far too simplistic. When those in my life have decided to have an abortion, it has boiled down to one question: what can I give this baby? These women have answered honestly by saying, “Nothing at all right now…but one day…maybe things will be different.’

Recently, the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion was born and the purpose of this social media campaign was to destigmatise abortion. It went viral as women all over the world have shared their experiences of abortion online, most without regrets, convinced that they made the right decision. A hashtag such as #ShoutYourAbortion humanises the thousands of women who have made this tough decision. It finally puts names and faces to the act we hear so much about. This hashtag has shown us that these women are not monsters, inhumane, selfish or reckless; they are our friends, our sisters, our peers and even our own mothers. We need a better dialogue surrounding the issue, one where the women are not demonised but are able to speak about their experiences and share their stories. The issue is far too prevalent to be ignored, diminished or dismissed.

However, my belief is that you can you can be pro-choice without being celebratory, without making abortions appear trendy, as an act to be admired or respected. 140 characters is not enough to describe such a complex experience and I don’t think the taking of a life is anything to celebrate, or ‘shout’ about. I believe that life is precious, sacred and should be salvaged and protected. It is not my place to decide what you do with your body but it makes me uncomfortable that we have moved from revering life to celebrating the termination of many.

What do you think? Have I missed the point of the hashtag completely? Should we celebrate choice as much as we celebrate life?

Comment below!

Joy

Why People Hate Christians

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We live in a progressive, post-modern society. Technology continues to thrive and our scientists are constantly discovering things previous generations had no idea about. Information is at our fingertips and we have more knowledge about the world we live in than ever before. In spite of our progression, society remains fractured by our perceived differences.  Communities have broken down over the years and our neighbours have become strangers.  It no longer takes a village to raise a child but one man and one women (or two men and two women as the case may be) who will make decisions concerning the child that best fits their ideals. None of us want to seem as though we are overstepping the invisible boundary between our own personal moral code and the actions of others, so even if we disagree with the actions of others, we keep our mouths firmly shut, telling ourselves that they are free to live out their ‘truth’.

Truth, in our society, is no longer a fixed concept; your truth and my truth can be different yet exist simultaneously. It doesn’t really matter what you or I do as long as we can sleep at night and live with ourselves during the day. The opinions of others has ceased to have the same impact it once had, as those who speak out against our actions are often deemed as ‘haters’ or lacking in understanding.

The idea that truth is relative cannot exist within the Christian paradigm simply because the concept of truth is the cornerstone of our faith.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:32

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

Our truth doesn’t change, it doesn’t adapt in an ever-evolving world; it is a fixed concept. We believe there is truth and everything else is a lie. Not only do we believe this, we want others to believe also so we share our faith with those around us in the hopes that they will see the truth and experience liberation as a result.

Now, this attitude, in an era where every lifestyle is tolerated, accepted and celebrated, causes many problems. We are painted as bigots, as intolerant and rigid. We are accused of being narrow-minded and ignorant. And don’t get me wrong, there are hundreds of thousands of Christians who are all of these things, but not necessarily because of their faith. Most of the Christians that I know (I said ‘most’) are loving, caring individuals who continue to wrestle with their faith, accepting that there are things that they will never understand but holding onto Jesus all the same. They are merely imperfect people who believe in a perfect God, who get things wrong and are going through their process.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine last week. I am her first Christian friend and she is my first Atheist friend so our conversations are always very interesting. One of the questions I asked her was why when I say that I am a Christian, people become hostile and defensive.  My faith raises alarm bells for others because they expect me to be prejudiced and judgmental. If I express my personal opinions concerning various social issues, I am judged or even mocked. But why is that? Why am I no longer allowed to hold fast to what I consider to be true? I am allowed to be spiritual, to believe in some vague higher power or even attribute the world’s happenings to the workings of the ‘universe’, but if I say that believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, I am immediately met with hostility.

Perhaps it’s because Christianity certifies a standard that is in conflict with the lifestyles of many. Perhaps it’s because religion has been used as a weapon, as a tool that has sought to oppress people instead of liberating them. I’m not sure but I am interested.  What is your truth? Where does Christianity fit in? Does it fit in at all? If you are a Christian, do you believe that there is only one truth? How does this affect the way that you engage with the world? And when people ask you your opinion about social issues such as abortion, gay marriage and the likes, in environments outside of your church, what is your response?

Lots of love, happy Monday and God bless you,

Joy xxxxxxxxxxxxx

The Problem I Had With Jesus

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This year, I have had major issues with Jesus.

This is usually the part where I start spewing some wild and outrageous tale of heartbreak, a job loss or an incurable disease. If you read the blog regularly, you will have noticed that (as with most people) when ish hits the fan, my faith is also impacted (until I put my big girl knickers on and fight the good fight). Sorry to disappoint you, there is no headline here, no major event, just a host of concerns and questions that I didn’t have the answer to. I woke up one morning and felt 2,000 years was far too recent for the Messiah to have come (via immaculate conception), died (by crucifixion) and risen again.

*cue laughter*

Yeah, I know those of you with unshakeable faith have no idea what I’m on about, but those who have wondered a similar thing, walk with me for a minute.

I wanted to believe, I did believe (kind of) but it was all too much for my small mind to comprehend. God had come in human form, died and risen in order to save my sins. It sounded like a fairy tale, a Disney classic, where the hero had saved the day and rescued us all. Except, the day hadn’t really been saved. A few weeks ago, a White terrorist thought it was acceptable to enter a Church and shoot its members. Last week, a handful of extremist Muslims went on a beach and shot 21 people to death.  People continue to die of Cancer, thousands of people are trafficked every year and Black lives still don’t matter. I wondered why the coming of the Messiah hadn’t brought about the happy ending that we needed.

As we get older, our childlike innocence fades and in its place remains questions, logic and cynicism to all the things we once accepted as true. Our belief in the tooth fairy and Santa disappear and for some of us, so does our belief in Jesus. They say that without faith it is impossible to please God (well, they don’t say, Hebrews 11:16 says) and it’s true. If you can’t even believe that God can truly do anything in and of Himself, how can you expect Him to do the seemingly impossible for you? Why would you give your all or try and stay on the straight and narrow when His mere existence is met with cynicism and rejection? How can we seek the One when we struggle to accept that there is One at all?

I often wonder how I’m still a Christian with my liberal views and my growing heap of questions. Want to know how I’m still here, in faith, striving towards Jesus? Ok, here are my secrets:

I never stop reading my Bible. I don’t close my Bible or turn away from God when I have questions, I delve deeper and I take my questions to Him (and Google). Neither has failed me yet. The scripture that reignited my faith this time around was:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

John 1:1-3

In other words, Jesus was always there.

I don’t expect for things to make sense any more. I think the moment you accept that a virgin had a baby without having sex, whose life you know very little about from the age of 0-30, who died and rose again, and dwells in you today through the presence of the Holy Spirit, you kinda have to stop using logic to navigate your Christianity; you have to use faith. And that’s not to say that faith is illogical or that you should cease to question elements of your Christianity that would be stupid. What I am saying is that every detail making sense to your human, limited mind shouldn’t be the highest thing on your agenda because you will never have all the answers. You weren’t there; you missed it, you will never have an eye-witness account concerning the life of Jesus. What you do have is that conviction in your heart and all those times where you were down to nothing and he came through for you.

I try to have childlike faith. I worked in a Primary school two weeks ago. While my Jesus crisis was at an all-time high, a 10-year old turned around, looked at me and exclaimed “Jesus ain’t real.” I responded, “Get behind me, Satan!” I joke, I joke. I put on my politically correct hat and asked him why he felt that way.  As he was about to tell me, his friend quipped “Jesus is real, ‘e was ‘ung up on a tree!” I highly doubt that this boy was actually a Christian; it’s more likely that he had heard the story and simply accepted it as truth. His belief made me smile, it challenged me and I felt something shift within me once again.

Of course Jesus was real. Of course Jesus is real. ‘E was ‘ung up on a tree, after all.

Lots of love,

Joy xx

Why I Joined The War On Terror 

  Today marks 7 days since innocent holiday makers were shot and killed as part of yet another ISIS attack.

I woke up this morning and the air was thick with distinct rage and an overwhelming sense of despair due to the blood that was spilled on a Sousse beach in Tunisia. As the injured lose the battle for their lives in Tunisian hospitals, and the briefly missing are identified, we have watched the death toll rise, and with it, our outrage at the injustice of the attack. Most of us are caught between a rock and a hard place, as we desire to do something, anything, that will ‘help’ but there doesn’t seem to be a way for our wills to become reality. There’s no collection to donate to that will bring back lost lives, no clock that can be turned back to stop this all from happening, and no consolation we can give to those who have lost their loved ones.

Today, we will have a minute’s silence for all those who fall victim to the ongoing war on terror. 

I won’t deny my dissatisfaction! Yes, I will say a prayer for all the victims’ loved ones, that regardless of their faith, the Holy Spirit will be their comforter, but I can’t shake the feeling that I am not doing enough. I have never believed in purgatory (I can’t find evidence of it in my Bible) so I have struggled to come to finally accept that there is nothing I can do for the dead. Nothing. Since hearing breaking news on Thailand, I have spent my time pondering the shocking reminder of the transient nature of life, not paying attention to the fact that all those who have left us will either be resting in perfect peace with Christ or not, and now, from Earth, there is no way to influence where there souls will spend eternity.

People die every day. That is a fact. They are snatched from us by people claiming to be fighting ‘holy wars’, ill health, old age and by a heap of natural disasters. We can spend our time focusing on the lives that have been cut short, the opportunity withdrawn for some, to marry, have kids, or even celebrate their 18th birthdays, but we are ignoring the pressing reminder that in their passing, their fate for heaven/h… not-Heaven (just typing it gives me chills), has been finalised, and no amount of praying can change that.

Today, I will do something.

There’s a chilling finality to death, but death brings whole new opportunities if we come into contact with Christ before we pass. A lot of us Christians are shocked because the increasing death toll is the alarm bell ringing we don’t have the time to be ineffectual and lukewarm in our faith. Death is snatching lives all the time; will you fight for another life getting to see God when they pass? How much do we believe that God loves all, and simultaneously God hates sin? How much do we care that judgement is inescapable. No, we cannot prevent deaths, but there is a war to be had and souls are in need of being won.

Today I am ready for battle

What stands out amidst the terror that has been painstakingly revealed as victims recant their stories, is the courage shown by some, the determination to live and to protect the lives of loved ones. Sarea Wilson told of how her husband-to-be stood between her and three bullets so she could have the chance to escape. The lengths he went to to save her life are astounding.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

 I’m not suggesting you need to lay down your life for people to find Christ, but what are you willing to do differently? Oh, the plethora of cop-out excuses for why we can’t evangelise, which the thought of sends shudders down many a spine, but is simply sharing the  love of Christ. Evangelism has almost become a dated aspect of our faith that we’re ignoring until someone comes up with a full-proof method for minimal embarrassment, but, until then,  aren’t we just wasting time? 

When I speak to Christians about evangelism, they’re always emphasising that by living a Christlike life, they are evangelising, so they shouldn’t need to hit the streets with flyers and a soapbox. What did Jesus do? Yes, he developed relationships with people and evangelised through his lifestyle, but that didn’t stop him from speaking out in public, and gathering crowds of thousands of people to hear the good news. We use ‘actions speak louder than words’ to get out of speaking to people about Christ but our inaction of speaking up, has left the message of Christ’s love that we are trying to live out, almost inaudible.

What is stopping us from taking evangelism seriously?

If we say we love Christ, we must have a love for our others. How long will we stay mute because we don’t want to offend or because we don’t want to seem strange? If we don’t care to see the world come to Christ, or aren’t actively involved in spreading the Good News, the world can only question how great this God really is, that we claim to serve. Maybe it’s that we’ve strayed so far from God, telling someone about him is the last thing on our minds. Yes we attend church, we might even serve in a ministery, but have we lost that life-changing connection with Christ, that we once had? That connection that causes you to wake up excited to pray and makes you want to savour every second you spend in God’s presence. After all, how can you see the lack of Christ in someone’s life when you don’t notice the lack of his presence in your own? I can personally connect with that reason. Of course I’ve forgotten that the world needs Christ when I’ve forgotten that I need him too.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

 Today I will use every opportunity I can get

We become so self-centred in our Christianity, rating our growth in Christ by whether we can prophecy to our congregations and heal the sick, but the love we have for God has got to cause us to want to see the souls around us saved. Acceptance of others’ lifestyle choices has become silently watching, with the justification that everyone has their own belief, and we don’t have a right to make them feel like ours hold more truth than theirs. We cannot live this way anymore. Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the light, no-one can come to the father except through me.” You might be surrounded with really lovely and kind atheists, but let’s not belittle their need for Christ based on our judgement that they are ‘good’ people.

Today, I am ready to fight for someone else’s life

I hereby declare that I will wear my Christianity loud and proud, fighting the war that has been waged with love and prayer, actively seeking opportunities to tell somebody about my King, my best friend, my main squeeze, the one who has kept me sane and loved me when I didn’t love myself.

Love Dani xxxxx

I’m A Christian And I Love Caitlyn Jenner

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I am indifferent about most things that don’t concern or affect me directly, particularly celebrity culture. Sometimes I want to care and I try to, but I am more content in my sphere, where my biggest concerns are my on-going dramas, and whatever my friends are going through. I am trying to do something about this. I think in order for me to be an effective Christian, I have to care about the world around me. How can I care about issues I know nothing about? How can I pray about wars I don’t even know are happening? Given my nature, you shouldn’t be surprised that I was indifferent when I first heard that Jenner was becoming a woman.

I’m quite a ‘liberal’ Christian in that I can, and often do, accept the lifestyles of those who do not hold my religious beliefs. Acceptance does not necessitate agreement. This is a very important point to make. I do not agree with Jenner’s change. In saying that, I also don’t think it is my place to agree or disagree; Jenner is not my friend or my father.  Jenner is a stranger, a public figure who made a decision. While I do not agree with his decision, I do think what he did, openly declaring his perceived gender publicly, was brave. It took immense courage. I know that if I were in his position, I would have kept silent about the matter and taken the secret to my grave. What if people laughed at me? What if my family rejected me? These fears alone would have kept me silent.

When Jenner decided to make this change, he put everything on the line, including his family. Now, just from a rational perspective, I cannot flippantly dismiss this change as whimsical. No, there was much thought, agony and fear surrounding this decision. We almost lost Jenner to suicide and that would have been an even greater tragedy. The opening words of his documentary were ‘I am still here’. Having battled various mental illnesses, I know what those words meant. They meant ‘I made it, I didn’t die, I didn’t give up, I kept going’ and anyone reading this, who knows how it feels to be overwhelmed by the darkness, would have been moved by these words.

I must admit that I don’t get it. I do not understand their experience simply because I haven’t lived it. I don’t know what it means to wake up in the morning and feel as though I am in a body that does not represent who I am. I am privileged not to have experienced this, and I think if more of us were more emphatic, and considered the psychological impact of their experience, we would be filled with greater compassion. Transgendered individuals are at risk of suicide and are often assaulted and discriminated against; they are usually also rejected by their loved ones and the fear that they will be rejected by society keeps them living in the shadows, marginalised, tortured and lonely.

I hate that. I hate there are people who feel alone, who are scared to live for fear of rejection. I hate that they are ridiculed, attacked, murdered and stoned. A study posited that there may be a death of a transgendered individual every three days. Do you know how harrowing that is? Surely we, as Christians, should be seeking ways to protect these individuals? Or do we only love people as long as their lifestyles reflect our values? Is it that once they step outside of what we consider to be normal, we stop loving them? I’m sorry but I cannot prescribe to that variant of Christianity.

I despise the way that some of us Christians, the people who are supposed to revere love above all else, have used God as a way of justifying our hatred for Jenner. Our cries have been loud and bold, yet we are far quieter on issues that we battle with – you know, gossiping, abstaining from sex and trying to stay sober at the raves we aren’t even sure we are meant to be at.

“Those sins aren’t as bad” you say.

Well, yes. They are.

I wonder if we will ever be as intolerant of drunkenness, gossip and premarital sex as we are of homosexuality and transgenderism. I wonder if we will condemn our friends and family members, whose lifestyles are equally despicable in the sight of God, in the same manner that we have condemned Jenner.

I do not believe that God hates Jenner. I think God loves Jenner regardless of how he presents himself. If what I read in my Bible is true, then there’s nothing that can separate him from God’s love (Jenner identifies as a Christian and is religious). I do not think my opinion is very popular one amongst Christians. I’m sure other Christians will question the depth of my Christianity as result of this article. I probably should have included scriptures in this post to substantiate my views but I don’t want to abuse or manipulate scripture – these are just my views.

I love Caitlyn Jenner; I love her because she is human, because she is flawed, just as I am. I love her because I’d rather a living Caitlyn than a dead Bruce. I pray for her, that she finds the peace that eluded her as Bruce, and that she continues to connect with Jesus, someone who loved her as Bruce and continues to love her as Caitlyn. I know that he can heal whatever she feels is broken and give her the love and acceptance she needs.

I love Caitlyn Jenner – why wouldn’t I?

Thanks for reading,

Joy xxxxxxx