Category Archives: Life Lessons

New Year, New Me?

 

 

 

Image result for 2016  2017

 

 

So we’ve arrived in 2017 – the most futuristic sounding year to date. A lot of people got so fed up with 2016 that they desperately awaited the new beginning that 2017 would bring. Here we finally are. Now what?

I have spent a lot of my (relatively short) life waiting for life to just hurry up and for the next phase to come already.

Starting out

I remember being in year 6 in primary school, looking forward to secondary school but half wishing I could fast forward taking the 11+ exam and waiting to see if my results were high enough to get me in to my first choice school. It’s funny because as soon as I arrived at secondary school all that hopeful expectation was replaced with the overwhelming pressure to make friends and find my place, and with all the older years telling me just how cute I looked. All that time wishing I could just ‘be here already’ and when the time finally came, I couldn’t wait to no longer be amongst the youngest. The wish to fast forward time and move up through the school had reared its head again.

Growing up

We leave school, then, there’s that weird in-between stage of College that feels like the longest and most character-defining two years of life. Before you know it, uni applications come and go, as do A level results. Suddenly, you’ve arrived at the pinnacle of your educational journey.

I don’t think a day went by in university when I didn’t wish I could just be in the world of work. If this has also been your journey, you’ll appreciate just how silly it was to think work would be an escape for university. I think back to those dreary days spent in the library and remember that they were wedged in between long breaks of 4 weeks at Christmas and up to 12 at summer. How could I have wanted to fast forward from a place in life where I had 12 hours a week contact time?!?! It’s beyond me.

Full on adult

So what’s next? There are no more educational milestones set out for me to reach, so have I just been content with enjoying the present day? Of course not. Suddenly the focus becomes life milestones-  good jobs, marriage, babies, maternity, deciding when to go back to work and retirement.

Like it or not there will always be a next phase to look forward to; it’s our decision whether or not we enjoy what the present day has to offer us. Alternatively, you can spend all of your life wishing you could fast-forward to the next stage and, before you know it, you’ll have completely wished your life away.

I don’t know what you’re looking forward to for this year. Whilst you’re praying for your goals for the year to come to fruition, don’t forget to enjoy wherever you are right in this moment. This year I commit to caring less about the destination and enjoying the journey.

Love lots,

Dani

 

For Those Who Took An L in 2016


I am a Twitter addict (don’t worry, I’m working on it, I’ll get clean – I promise) and there are few things I enjoy more (how sad!) than scrolling through my TL, viewing the opinions of others. 

With 2016 packing up its bags, the most reoccurring opinion, shared by thousands around the world, has been the acceptance that 2016 has been an L – a loss, a low; a year that needs to be buried and forgotten as soon as possible.

As with all things that become trendy, I’m sure there are some people who had an amazing year were just keen to stay with the crowd. I had to ask the question:

Did we all really have the worst year; have we all been taking Ls? 

I honestly couldn’t relate. The year, up until that point, had been great. There were the things I had longed, and sought, to accomplish; I had been successful. As the year drew to a close, if anything, I had begun to feel restless because I needed new goals. 

And then November came, right at the end – so close to the finish line. My best friend told me he had a confession to make and I remember looking at my phone, confused. What could he possibly have to confess? I felt as though I knew him – I was wrong.

My world, as a I knew it, crumbled slowly. Suddenly 2016 wasn’t the best year, a good year or a year worth remembering; it was the year that I realised that the reality I had been existing in had been false. I had taken the ultimate L. 

Most importantly, I realised, once again, that those closest to us have the power to hurt us the most; people lie and lie again – the need to be transparent does not always exist in others, I was broken. I desperately, and quickly, climbed into myself, looking for a safe haven. 

At this point, I began to write. In hindsight, my writing saved me. My writing continues to save me. I’ve written more freely and consistently than ever before. Every day, I write something new. I am liberating myself, becoming my own hero, picking up the pieces and rebuilding.

I clung to the Most High on the darkest of days, the days where getting out of bed seemed too hard, where I would cry on my way to work, unsure as to how I would get through the day. No one else could hold me together because I couldn’t find the words to explain what had happened. 

I wrote this to myself on a dark day and I still remember how it healed me. These were the words I needed to hear but no one else could say. I thought I’d share them with you.

This year ended pretty horrifically for you; your best friend betrayed you and you feel lost as a consequence.
Even though you are in immense pain, remember what you have gained through this loss. You will regain your sense of worth, self and purpose. You
will see that you are worthy of love. That you do not have to work to make someone care for you and those who are meant to see you won’t have to be forced to look.

 You will laugh again, robustly, freely, fully, without restraint and ultimately, with joy. You will feel butterflies in your stomach and anticipate an embrace. You will entwine your fingers with one who loves you relentlessly and persistently – because that is how you love. There will be no convincing. You will not feel insecure because you will be affirmed daily, validated by the safety of presence. 

You will not cry in the way you have, as your tears have fallen harder than you have. The sun will shine again. You cannot see it now as most days you’d rather die than breathe, but this won’t be the thing that destroys you. It has tried. It has almost been successful. But you have always been stronger than you’ve felt and it is only through this that you will see that there is more to you; that although you feel broken, that is not how you will remain. This is only part of your story – there are chapters that you are yet to wander through, work through and discover. 

Don’t stop here because although you feel like giving up, there are people, some you are even yet to meet, that need you to live. So live. 

Live. 

Live.

I welcome 2017, with alert eyes. I have written down what I demand of myself- 5 words that I will insist upon and I will go out of my way to behold. Despite these plans, I know that ultimately we are in the hands of the Creator. As we look to Him, as the one that has already saved the day, I know that we will be okay.

All my love,

x

Chance: The Evangelist

chance1

From an early age, I was told that secular music was wrong: if it didn’t glorify God then it glorified the devil. Even as a child, I struggled with this dichotomy. I wanted to be holy, I wanted to be set apart, but I still loved R & B and couldn’t quite understand why it was considered to be untouchable. Why couldn’t I sing along to a Destiny’s Child song? My young mind struggled to internalise the words of my parents and my youth leaders, aware, even at a young age, that their personal conviction wasn’t my own. As I grew, I realised why: the idea that there was ‘secular’ music was, in hindsight, quite peculiar.

Fast forward to the current day and I understand completely that we, as Christians, need to have a different perspective on the world. We are called to something more, I agree, but we do this wearing ‘secular’ clothes, eating ‘secular’ food and making our way to our ‘secular’ jobs. The separation between secular and religious is often applied arbitrarily. Yes, there is music that outwardly conflicts with the Word of God and you must be careful what you sing, speak and condone. For example, my favourite songs, when I was younger, included Pretty Ricky’s ‘Grind On Me’ and Tony Matterhorn’s ‘Dutty Wine’. As a Christian, should I have been brocking out to those songs? Well, no.

Yet, everyone is different; what works for you might not work for me. What you are able to listen to and what I feel I am able to listen to may be radically different because although we are all Christians, we experience our faith differently. Some people can’t listen to Slow Jams because it makes them call that girl/boy and…well, you get my drift. You know what you can handle. I enjoy all genres. I currently listen to classical more than anything else, as it calms my mind and doesn’t distract me while I work. Does it glorify God? Not overtly. Does it contradict the word of God? Of course not. To be quite honest, these days I roll my eyes at Christians who feel as though listening to secular music somehow indicates the validity of your salvation.

On the 22nd November, I went to the Chance the Rapper concert and I was pretty much blown away. Chance, by simply being himself, taught me that it is possible to transcend genre lines. Instead of classifying himself as a Gospel artist, he uses his platform to share his faith with people who would otherwise been kept away from the Truth. Chance breaks down the musical genre walls, effortlessly, strategically and authentically. Chance blurs lines and pushes against the boxes we, as people, want to every individual to fit into. We are obsessed with categories; racial, gender, cultural and religious, so a rapper like Chance can often confuse us. Where do we put him? Can he be called a Christian, despite using the word ‘shit’ and in the next breath saying ‘Glory be to God?’

As I observed the drunken crowed around me crying out, ‘Glory to be God, yeah!’ I was challenged. How often do we create church events and then pride ourselves when they are well-attended, knowing full well that 98% of attendees were Christians? Church has become a place that is for Christians and run by Christians, instead of a hospital and a place of refuge for those who have been pushed out by society.

I believe seeds of faith were sown in people’s lives as Chance encouraged a crowd, most of which who weren’t believers, to ‘speak to Him’. In a world where declaring that there is one way and one truth is often found offensive, Chance manages to express his relentless faith and belief in Jesus Christ; not a higher power, not a vague spiritual presence, but the son of God, Jesus Christ, who Chance believes died and rose again.

As I stood in the midst of people worshipping, albeit unintentionally, I began to listen to Chance’s lyrics and found my mind wandering back to Jesus.

Never drownThe water may be deeper than it’s ever been, but you don’t have to let it overwhelm you

I speak to God in publicHow open am I with my faith?

You gotta talk to Him –I should pray more

Someone like Chance is liberating for Christians like myself. He stands imperfect, bold, showing that faith isn’t something that can only be lived out in the presence of believers, or timidly as you ‘shine your light’ amongst non-Christians, remaining silent on the issues that really matter. Chance demonstrates that you can be approachable, accessible (and so, so cool) even while expressing your love for your saviour. Chance speaks to God in public and we should too.

5 Worries You’ll Have In Your Early Twenties

1. Is my job making me happy? 

Life is hard. It can take us weeks, months, even years to finally get that first ‘real’ job out of university, and before you know it we are faced with the re-occurring thoughts:

“Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?” 

“Am I using my brain enough?”

“Does my job mean anything in the grand scheme of what’s actually important in the world?” 

You can go to work Monday to Friday and get so engrossed in work, go to church on a Sunday and after the service  nothing seems worth doing if it isn’t spreading the love of God and telling people just how great Jesus is. Suddenly work seems futile and time at your desk is weighed down with soul searching questions.

2. Are these my swan days because I really expected my blossom to be better than this?

I say this without even a hint of a chuckle. Those of you honest enough to admit you feel like this to, Kudos. I remember being in my early teens and dreaming of the days when I would be in my prime, the peak of my beauty, turning heads as one of those exquisitely dressed business women before living life to the fullest took its toll and the wrinkles set in. Now I’m in my early twenties, hurriedly dressed without the slightest hint of effort being put into my appearance thinking if not now, then when. It seems trivial but insecurities about our appearances plague us all from time to time and it comes to a point when we have to re-evaluate what we take comfort in, whether that be make-up, the words of affirmation we receive from others or the fantasy of beauty to come. 

3. When will the one find me?

I won’t labour this point further because even having to list it gives me a heavy heart, but alas the relationship centred conversations that crop up time and time again make it quite clear that this worry is rooted in fearful overthinking. If you read between the sarcasm and joke cracking you can hear that people are really saying 

“How long will I be lonely?”

 And 

“Will I find love before my body clock stops ticking?”

4. Am I achieving success at the right pace?

We all have milestones that we’d like to reach but it’s not only important that we reach them, when we do is crucial. You hear about child geniuses taking their GCSE’s aged 8 and teenage entrepreneurs becoming millionaires and you wonder just how they’ve managed it. If someone has achieved something then it’s clearly humanly possible and you have to wonder what makes the over-achievers get so far ahead. We plod through life thinking about how we measure up to others, relieved that some people are ‘further behind’ than we are and curious about all the people that are ahead. It’s a sad truth. Money is all relative and your house is only big in comparison to your neighbours. Stand alone achievements just aren’t enough if we can’t be seen as better than someone else.

5. Am I good enough?

Now you’re in your twenties you are old enough to know better but young enough to feel like a bad choice made every now again isn’t the worst thing in the world. Every so often I evaluate my recent actions and worry about whether I was nice enough, if I could have been more thoughtful in the way I said something, if I stuck up for myself enough, the list goes on. Christian or not, we want to be “good” people and then as Christian’s there’s the added pressure of ‘what would God expect me to do?’ This is usually followed by a major sigh because it often means we have to bite our tongues, lose the argument, let the grudge go, alas, be the person we feel way too young and carefree to be.

So where is the light in all of this? Here are some things we should all remember.

1. We aren’t all called to be missionaries, some of us are placed into the corporate jungle to bring light where there isn’t any.
You can think yourself beautiful. God thinks you’re a work of art so let’s take a leaf out of David’s book and praise God for our looks (Psalm 139:14). The sooner we start thinking it, the sooner we’ll start feeling it.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down oneʼs life for oneʼs friends.”‭‭John‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬. Your love story has already begun.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:” ‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬. Your time will come.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither do we one day just start living perfectly. You gave your life to Christ and began the journey but never forget it is a journey.

Love y’all

Dani

Xxxx

For Every Person Going Through A Hard Time

 

going

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

 

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 

The Book That Got Me Motivated: ‘You Can Get Through This’ by Anthony Lyrics

  

This month Joy and I are reading ‘You Can Get Through This’ by Anthony Lyrics and have decided to share the poetry love and give you a sneak peak of the pros that have got us feeling like mountains are there to be conquered. Reading this collection of poems brought my thoughts to a mantra that my youth pastor used to say: Garbage in garbage out. When we are in church and spending time with God we feed our spirits with a spiritual meal but what of the other 23 hours of every day? If the rest of our time is filled with trashy TV and sin-inspired music it’s no wonder we don’t always think the most ‘Christian‘ of thoughts. We have control over what we feed our souls and its so important to analyse what exactly we are filling them with. If we’re only feasting on profanity it will be an uphill struggle to overcome the daily temptation to give up on becoming all God has called us to be. This book is the encouragement you need when you’re depressed on the tube on the way into work, and is a great read before bed when you’ve been rained on with the woes of the day.

Here’s 5 things I’ve learned:

1. The road to success has never been straightforward 

‘While travelling towards success, expect struggle and stress’ 

I think we are all distantly aware that everything isn’t just going to magically fall into place as we chase our dreams, but most of us are shocked by the brutal difficulty getting to where we want to be can be. Anthony highlights that we need to expect the struggles and in that we’ll be more determined when the lows keep getting lower. Someone once said the richest place is the graveyard because people die with their dreams. There has to come a time when we decide that we will live out our most wildest of dreams, because what is the alternative? Will you die with your dreams because it all turned out to be harder than you imagined it would be? I’m determined not to.

2. We are all travelling at different speeds to different destinations 

The biggest distraction known to man is the one caused by watching other people live their lives. We get results back from exams and all we want to do is find out how the rest of the class scored. We finish university and the race to be not be the last one without a job begins. Then, once you have a job the salary competition is offset by how many hours you have to spend at your desk each day. We don’t just want a life we enjoy, but one that fares well in comparison to the lives of those surrounding us. We have to accept that we are all hurling towards are destinies at different speeds on different trajectories and there is nothing wrong with that.

‘Patience will prove hard to master watching others in your lane go faster’ 

Like real athletes we’ve got to focus on the finish line, because every glance to check out the competition is just a delay.

3. Things might not be falling into place but…

‘One day it will all make sense’.

That is just something you have to accept. 

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭

If the answer to you loving God is yes then the worried question you keep replaying in your head that questions whether God has things under control, is also yes. 

It’s as simple as that.

4. No-one can be you like you can 

Most people think they are unique in some way but daring to be different in a world that encourages uniformity, takes courage. It’s easy to see how other people have made it and try to model ourselves according to their winning attributes, only to get frustrated that it’s not bringing the same kind of success. That is where we’re going wrong. In changing to be like everyone else you are robbing yourself of your own winning attribute. We are used to hearing motivational messages about ‘loving the skin you’re in’ and accepting what we see in the mirror, but we fail to preach with the same conviction about loving your personality. Your view on the world and how you choose to move through it, adds the colour we crave to a world that has become grey with the blandness of uniformity.

5. Perspective is everything 

Realism doesn’t have to be pessimism. If your glass has been half empty for too long it’s time to decide to look at it differently or pour some more water into the glass. Anthony writes a poem that has two completely different meanings depending on which way you read it and I was inspired to see that the first way of looking at something is not necessarily the best way. We can put a positive spin on a desperate situation just by looking at it differently. More often than not we see things through earthly eyes which stops us from seeing the Godly vision God has for whatever it is we are going through.

Anthony brings creativity to the subject that is getting forgotten- loving yourself, not because of what you have, and not holding back because of what you don’t. Pick up an online copy today! You can get one Here!

Love lots,

Dani

6 Things I’m Grateful For

green-andre-3000-hey-ya-outkasts

Every now and again, I take a moment to reflect on how far I’ve come. Now, I’m not an ancient flower, looking down the various roads I’ve travelled because a meeting with my creator is looming in the not-too-far-distance, rather, I think I (too) often become almost obsessed with all that I don’t have, steadily becoming disgruntled, afraid and anxious as I compare where I am with where I’d like to be.

As I sat preparing to write a post today, I realised that I didn’t want to write about my ex (maybe another time) or the weird Israel Houghton scandal (I use the word weird because it reminded me that Christians can be the most judgemental people on the planet). After texting Dani to tell her I wouldn’t be writing today, I thought about writing a gratitude post and lo and behold, here I am, posting!

Here are some of the things I am grateful for:

My job

My job is literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This is probably an exaggeration. It is emotionally draining, challenging and every single day it feels as though I’ve fallen short (a bit like my Christian walk, gahhh), but here, I am growing. It’s not easy feeling inadequate and completely out of my depth, but I feel blessed to be in an environment where I am forced to grow. As the saying goes, ‘the comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there’. 

My sanity

I often take for granted how blessed I am to be in control (to some extent) of my emotional state. I do not have persistent voices telling me what to do or hallucinations that cause me to speak to people who aren’t there. When we throw around the word ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’, we undermine and belittle the excruciating existence of those who have mental health issues and are unable to conquer them. I think too often we don’t stand up for those who can’t speak for themselves because we aren’t directly affected by the issue. I’m looking forward to getting more involved with organisations who seek to break down the stigma surrounding mental health.

My best friend

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, I’m not the most forthcoming with how I feel (unless you’re bae and then…well…it’s a different story). Despite not having persistent voices in my head, the past few months haven’t been the easiest. I honestly didn’t realise how bad I’d been, until last week. It’s as though a dark cloud had settled and I had become so accustomed to its numbing power that became unaware of its effects. I thank God the cloud has finally passed. I have to thank God for my best friend, Rachel, who continues to carry me when I’m not strong enough to walk, who doesn’t require words to understand my pain, who is empathetic, willing and ready to love me back to life – even when she isn’t in a position to. I love you, gurl! Thank you for teaching me what it means to be a friend.

My mentors

Both have been wonderful during this transitional year, supportive, kind, ready to go to war for me when necessary! They could have easily have been the type to break my spirit but they have so readily encouraged me and uplifted me. I am truly grateful to God for their support.

My health

It seems strange to be grateful for my health when I’ve spent the past week throwing up, nursing flare ups etc but as I’m reflecting on the journey thus far, it feels appropriate to mention it. There was a time where I didn’t think I’d be able to walk again without limping, or eat without throwing up so even though the flare ups can be intense, anxiety-inducing experiences, I am grateful that I am not where I used to be. I am finding ways to handle my condition and that, in itself, is a reason to give thanks.

The cross

I know you didn’t think I’d finish a gratitude post, on Good Friday, without mentioning the greatest day in history (or maybe the second greatest day? Resurrection Sunday is around the corner, woo!!!) Today I am grateful for an indescribable love. Words fail me; I literally do not possess the words that will encapsulate what this love has done for me. It has healed me. It has challenged me. It has lifted me

Today, I celebrate this love with millions around the world who look to the cross, the work of Jesus Christ, the greatest act of love the world has ever seen as we remember where we were when we found Jesus.  Thank you Jesus for the cross!

All my love,

J x

ps: Andre 3000 is my mood all day today, I just wish my hair was as laid as his 😦