Category Archives: Moments That Changed Everything

How I Swapped Anxiety For Patience


So we have made it to 2017, a year that sounded pretty futuristic when we were still in the early 2000’s and boy has a lot changed since then. We are now living in a time where a man with no political experience has been elected and inaugurated as president of the United States. I think 2016 there was a secret memo sent out telling people to say what they really mean, be public about how they truly feel, and now we are bearing the aftermath of that.

Somehow Britain has agreed to leave the EU and Americans have elected Trump while The rest of us have watched in a place somewhere between bemusement and horror. Has the world gone mad? Trump’s policies have clearly taken a veer down the alley of ‘what on Earth are you thinking’ and what has been truly surprising is the attitude of Christians to this pubic discrimination of muslims. I see Christian celebrities sharing stats of Christians that have been persecuted in predominantly Muslim countries which begs the question: Are we now in a holy war that justifies all this? I think not.

As an onlooker anxious about the future of planet Earth which I love so much, I have come to accept that this madness won’t be fixed in a day. This year, we, the church need to be prepared for action and to exhibit patience. 

How can we be patient when today is piling on anxiety for tomorrow?

Two questions that have plagued my mind this week. Where am I going and why am I I in such a rush to get there? Maybe it’s just me that has this problem but I’m always dodging in an out of people dragging their feet so I can commute in record time. I see the bus is over 10 minutes away so I’m ordering an Uber home. My most frequent destinations are home and work and at neither of those places will arriving 3 minutes earlier make a real difference. So why the rush?

We live in an instant world. Instant messaging, instant information and instant noodles. We therefore live in a state of constant impatience. The adverts have come on during a programme we’re watching so we switch the channel in search of a distraction while we wait for those gruelling 4 minutes until the show comes back from the break. We are constantly in search of something to fill any absences of entertainment with the biggest distraction being the mobile phone on which I type this post. If we aren’t scrolling through Instagram, twitter, Facebook, snapchat, what are we doing? We are constantly bored and constantly preoccupied usually with nothing of substance and definitely nothing life changing.

So what happens when we encounter a God who’s working off his own time scales where one day is like a thousand years and Donald Trump’s presidency seems to already have dragged on too long? How do we fit in the schedule of God who believes there’s a lesson to be learned in waiting. I think back to the Israelites in search of their God promised land on a journey that stretched from 40 days to 40 years. I think to Abraham that waited for his God promised child till he was 100 years old. Can you imagine that, waiting for a child when your wife is 90 and is far past child-bearing age? Biblical characters are real people like you and I, wondering when God is going to come through, trying to exert patience over their frustration.

I guess everyone has thrown patience to the wind in search of short cuts to getting rich, losing weight, finding the love of their lives, it has to be now because if not now when? The thought of that uncertain future where we have no control of ‘when’ is so alarming everyone is on a fast tracked route to happiness.

Unfortunately for us, God hasn’t jumped on our bandwagon. He isn’t a God of quick fixes and lessons skimmed. God is fully aware that the journey is just as important as the destination and likes to take the scenic route. So what does that mean for us? A process of him moulding us to be in his image, a process of learning what the Bible has to say and using God’s standard as our benchmark. Change is a p r o c e s s. We submit to Christ daily and we slowly become the new creation we have been promised when we give our lives to God. Leaders come and go but we need to show the love of Christ regardless of who is in power. That means loving your Muslim neighbour, continuing to send aid to war torn countries regardless of the religion of citizens and taking everything to God in prayer.

God is love, we need to be active in our pursuit of spreading love.

Love Dani x

Newly Married And Expecting


So I have a confession to make. I am expecting! 

Not a baby,(although I have been asked a lot lately if I am, FYI I AM JUST FAT) but 2017 is bringing new life experiences that are likely to change life as I’ve known it. I have big plans for the year to come, one of which is taking that first step onto the property ladder. As I sit in expectation I ponder on the thoughts that many people experience whilst expecting.

 

What if I’m not ready to look after what I’m giving birth to?

When you’re about to take a step forward, whether that be a promotion at work, a new side-hustle project or a new business venture, you can’t help but evaluate how well you have managed with less responsibility. It’s a small indicator that you aren’t ready to take the next step if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed in your present situation. God, however never moves us up when we feel completely comfortable and ready for the next step. God says ‘you definitely can’t achieve what I have planned for you without relying on me for your every need.‘ And that’s ok. It’s ok to need God completely and trust him implicitly. If God is moving you forward you probably aren’t ready, but God is ready to carry you through.

What about the pain? Delivery could be difficult 

Once you are on the expectant train it’s hard to avoid the inevitable… when the thing you are expecting comes to pass. That first day of your new job, the day that has been set for completing on the house, ultimately that transition into newness that we are oh so aware is not always smooth. We have heard the horror stories, and when it’s us expecting, it’s only the horror stories we remember. I don’t know what you’re transitioning through but in as much as there are people with terrible tales of their journey, there are people with positive stories and if God has done it for them he can do it for you.

I don’t want my body to change. What if I don’t like this phase of my life?

I don’t know any pregnant woman that doesn’t at some stage think that they’re fat. As they grumble about feeling the size of a house your friend duty kicks in to tell them just how great they look, to emphasise how clearly pregnant they look and to highlight that being this size is a passing phase they don’t need to let get them down. Anyone who doesn’t give up their seat for said friend on the train is explained away as having no manners rather than mistaking her for fat and even the lasting stretch marks you encourage should be viewed with an element of pride. You remind her that at the end of this process she will have brought new life into the world and that every stretch mark is a battle scar that should bring pride when the victory that they were part of is considered. 

Are you facing a transition that you fear might leave scars ? We can look at change negatively but each scar leaves a reminder of what it takes to arrive at the promised destination God is leading us to. Your season of uncomfortable change is just a passing season.

To everyone reading expecting a baby congratulations, God is going to bring you the strength for each day of your pregnancy. To everyone else, whatever you are expecting, remember that you can’t exclude God from the process. Life isn’t a test of what we can do on our own but of what we can achieve when we surrender all to God and except that we need him for all of life’s changes.

Love lots,

Dani

The 2016 Rise From The Dead


Hi there! Hola! Bonjour!

Long time no post.” I hear you say

Yes, five months to be precise:/

….

Ah I see you want an explanation

*Very very awkward silence*

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

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

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

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

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

So what did I do…

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

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

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

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

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

Truths we have to face:

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

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

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

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

Cannot tell you how much I’ve missed you.

Love Lots

Dani 
 

Why Jesus Is The Greatest Superhero Of All Time

 

superhero

This time two thousand and sixteen years ago, Jesus rose from the dead.

Let’s imagine this story we’re all so familiar with is a tale in a comic series. You know the one: good and evil are engaged in a long, vicious fight that has lasted centuries. Finally, in a bid to bring the War of Never Ending to a, well…end, good casts its lot and a Saviour is born. *Cue angels singing hallelujah* The Saviour is widely recognised by Team Good, they know He’s the one who will save the day. He proves this by winning a couple of battles and possessing the requisite superhero powers. But in a low, unexpected blow, Team Evil manage to capture and kill the Saviour and all is lost. Evil wins, Good goes home. The End.

…Said no good screenwriter ever! EVERYONE knows that Good always wins, even when it seems as though Evil has won. Let’s see (potential spoiler alert), Iron Man makes it back through that ridiculously tiny hole in Avengers and Optimus Prime manages to make a comeback. But two thousand and sixteen years ago, no one thought that Team Good had won. Actually, they were all used to Greek mythology in which even heroes like Hercules rarely had the perfect ending – so they did NOT see this one coming, at all. Satan too thought he had gotten rid of the Saviour, Jesus, forever. He thought his dastardly plan to thwart God and bring about a reign of terror and darkness had actually worked (mwahahahahaha). But then Jesus came back to life and in doing so, He neutered Satan’s evil powers. Just imagine, you’re the evil genius, you think you’ve won and then your arch nemesis comes back FROM THE DEAD stronger than before and has taken your powers! Can somebody say plot twist?!

I would go as far as to say the original plot twist and I would also say that every Good vs. Evil story has applied the biblical principle of good always winning to its plot. Disney, hello?! But that’s a debate for another time…the comments below maybe? Because now you and I have a chance at this thing called life. We don’t have to be held captive to the darkest parts of our lives anymore and we don’t have to live under the heavy guilt that is the consequence of our sinful nature. We don’t even have to have a sinful nature anymore. By dying and then rising from the dead, Jesus took part in the single most important event in history (so important that our calendars are based on this event) and changed the rules of the game. He restored our relationship with God and gave us a chance to be adopted into His royal family. Now we get to live forever. You may have just taken a mental step back like, “woah Deborah, I don’t remember that being part of the Easter story”, but it is. Before Jesus, we were all doomed to certain death and that reign of terror and darkness but now, because of a move of love and power, we’re entitled to a light filled life that we get to live forever. Checkmate.

I, for one, am so grateful. As I look back and play the “this-time-two-thousand-and-sixteen-years-ago” game, I am so glad that God was clever enough to think of the game changer and that Jesus was humble and obedient enough to take one for the team. I am so thankful that the cross is now a place that I can look to and see the greatest declaration of love, a place to which I can take my shame, insecurities and addictions and leave whole and truly alive.

Happy Easter friends,

Deborah

The Day I Got Burgled In My Sleep

  
Waking up, still half asleep I was 50% sure I’d heard a sound and 50% too tired to worry. Some time passed it could have been a minute, it could have been 20 (you know how sleep works) and whilst being too timid to investigate, I was 100% on the verge of wetting the bed so I dragged myself up and headed to the bathroom, only to be stopped in my tracks by a definite sound…one not being made by an inanimate object or being made by the only two other people that should have been in the apartment as they were fast asleep. Looking through the bedroom door that was ajar I could see the front door to the apartment that we had locked before bed was also ajar. That was probably one of the most scary moments I’ve ever been faced with. I woke up my friends and headed to the bathroom, with the single thought that if I was going to be killed it would be with the dignity that didn’t involve wee running down my legs. 

After my friends went to check the coast was clear we discovered whoever had entered had thankfully left, leaving the backdoor wide open. Hours later we realised we were an iPad and all of my holiday money down. All the plans I had for that money stolen and replaced with the prospect of spending more money than I’d budgeted on the break that, up until this point, had been amazing. I will backtrack a little so you can have a better picture of the events.

My last holiday was full of the unexpected, in every single sense, with a mix of good and bad surprises. I booked a flight to see my maid of honour who decided to exchange the gloomy grey of London for the concrete jungle that is New York for the year, and prepared myself for 5 days of sleeping, a spot of sightseeing and some regular exercising. What I received was a surprise that my other best friend had also arrived in New York and news that we were headed to Miami for part 1 of 3 of my hen do. Yes I have the best friends ever and yes I’m on the edge of my seat for parts 2 and 3. We had three days of sun, never-ending portions of seafood and celeb spotting as we found ourselves in VIP lounges. The flight to Miami I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be going to Miami with everything organised behind my back and the flight to New York was spent not believing I had been robbed right under my nose, but apart from cash loss had left unscathed. Getting over the anger of being robbed, the gratitude that I still had all 10 fingers and toes and hadn’t had the near death experience that are known to come with break-ins. 

Imagine I’d awoken whilst the intruder had been in the bedroom and they’d decided killing me would stop them getting caught

Imagine they were after more than just monetary goods and had decided to take us hostage with hope of a ransom fee

Imagine they didn’t want to steal at all but commit a heinous sex attack

In that moment I praised God that I had been robbed, alive to tell the tale, and not too traumatised by the events. 

Is anyone a fan of the comedian Eddie Izzard? I personally don’t really tune in to his comedy, but he said something recently at the Apollo that had me squirming in the inside, cracking my brain as to how to change his opinion that undoubtedly many people all over the world share.

In the words of a true sceptic he asked the audience ‘when has God ever done anything to interfere with all the natural disasters and crappy things this world has suffered?’ (I’m paraphrasing here) but you get the gist. If you studied Religious Studies at school you’ll recognise this as as the anti-God triangle argument against Christ, which basically says the existence of evil and suffering in the world isn’t compatible with the existing of a God that is all-knowing, all-powerful and ever-present. After hearing Eddie I had the same thoughts and feelings I’d had sitting in my RS lesson wondering what I was going to have for dinner.

Just because you don’t know the things God has done, don’t assume he hasn’t done anything at all

This very morning a man gave up his seat before an elderly lady got on the bus. She offered no thank you because she didn’t know that he was standing just so she could have seat, and the man felt no need to tell her, simply happy that he had done something nice for her. If mere mortals can offer altruism with no desire for gratitude how much more can God happily stand in the gap for us, happy to know that we are better off than we could have been without writing in the clouds to say all the near misses with misfortune we had that day.

I thank God for the things I know he’s done and the things that I’m completely unaware of.

To my God who watches out for me, regardless of my gratitude, I love you!
Love Dani
X

How I Survived Multiple Car Crashes And Still Took My Driving Test

 

I am incredibly private person. One of my best friends called me an ‘enigma’ last week because there are many happenings that occur in my life that I just don’t speak about. It’s not so much that I don’t want to share the information; there are various factors have resulted in my silence about the things that matter, but perhaps they can be summarised into two words:

I’m awkward

Have you ever wanted to say something, but just not felt able to? The words are on the verge of tumbling out of your mouth, but a barrier prevents them from doing so? That’s how I feel whenever I have something to share. Usually I buckle under the pressure of the occasion and promise myself that I’ll share another time. This time rarely ever comes around. Today is different. It is D-day. I am finally ‘sharing’ and true to form, I feel incredibly awkward and exposed.

Once I decided to write this post, I immediately wondered how much detail to divulge; was I to include the part where I crawled out of a car that was on the verge of flipping over? Would I describe, moment by moment, the time I was a victim of a ‘hit and run’ accident? Could I leave out the part where I emerged from a smashed vehicle, saw that my sister was bleeding, and began to scream at the sky, “WHY, GOD? WHY?”

The stories of my various car accidents are dramatic and painful. I rarely speak about them because of the emotion that rises within me when forced to retell the narrative. Also, the stories do not belong to be alone; others were there. For this reason, I must be careful how much I reveal.

There are no scars on my body that could indicate that I’ve been in multiple car accidents. I still have all my major faculties; I can see, feel, walk, run and think. I know that this, in itself, is a miracle. All things considered, I shouldn’t be alive right now. But, as with all traumatic events in one’s life, there are wounds that aren’t visible to the human eye that remain.

The most pervasive impact of my accidents was that I was deeply afraid of cars/crossing the road. Fast-moving objects, loud noises, enclosed spaces etc were all deeply frightening to me. I didn’t know it was strange to associate cars with death until I started driving. Alas, it was all I’d known. Most people think car accidents are some vague, impossible outcome of reckless drink driving, yet I was keenly aware, by the age of 13 (the age of my ‘hit and run’ accident) , that this was not the case: cars were dangerous, drivers generally couldn’t be trusted and I was always one car ride away from death or decapitation. As you can imagine, these thoughts made crossing roads quite the ordeal.

The decision to drive was not one I’ve taken lightly and even within my time learning, I was in a further two (minor) accidents (I must say, at this point, that I’ve never been the one driving when I’ve been in a car accident!) My life is such that I’m always on the go and being unable to drive had become frustrating. I had to decide whether to let me fear of the road hold me back, or allow it to push me forward. After months of thought (and procrastination), I booked my first lesson and got behind the wheel.

During this process, learnt a few lessons:

Be fearless

You can’t live in fear – you must conquer that which scares you. It won’t be easy but you’ll never know how strong you are and your capacity to overcome unless you put on your big girl pants and do it.

You must keep going

I knew that regardless of the outcome of my test, I was going to keep trying until I passed. Failure was not a set back – it would be a step forward. A failure could only take me closer to my success.

You don’t need an audience to set and achieve your goals

I told 3 people when I started driving – those who knew the depths of my fear, could appreciate the step I was taking and would only encourage me. I was weary of sharing my decision with anyone, just in case they derailed me or made me feel small. I protected my goal. Not everyone needs to know when you’re making a major life decision. It’s okay to execute personal goals without the watchful eye of social media.

People won’t always understand your method (and that’s okay)

I had been driving for just two months when I bought my car. I hadn’t even passed my theory at the time. I did things in a different order and members of my extended family laughed at me and thought I was insane. However, I knew that I needed to feel comfortable and confident on the roads and the only way to do that was to drive. I knew what I was on (apologies for the colloquialism), I knew I would achieve my goal and I didn’t let the disbelief/laughter deter me.

NB: I would encourage all learners, if it is possible, to buy a car and practise with your loved ones. It will save you money and increase the likelihood of passing!

Trust God

I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34:4

The above Psalm sums up my experience. Every single time I took a step, I sought God. I depended on God, exclusively, fully, trusting that I would be whole – that what I had been through would no longer hold me back.

Despite being a private person, I really wanted to share this part of my story with you, just so you could know where God has taken me from. I’ve gone from having panic attacks while crossing the road, to passing my test (first time!) It is a miracle that I am alive.

I have survived car accidents – the same car accidents that kill hundreds of people each day. I often wonder why I’ve gone through what I have, and I’m sure if you’ve lived through any traumatic event, there are times where you question a God that could allow for such.  I don’t know the answer, but I do know there is someone reading this that needs to know that they can overcome their fears. That what has gone before does not predict where you will end up. That God can take away your fear. That you will be okay.

And to those who have stories of pain and triumph that are afraid to share (it’s taken 3 weeks to find the courage to post this) remember that your story matters – your story may be the difference and there is someone, somewhere, that needs to hear it.

All my love,

 

Joy

Why My Relationship Had Me Hiding From Social Media

  

I like to think I have never been an over-sharer. I’ve never really felt the need to broadcast every little detail about my rather uneventful life, but I had some kind of presence on the social media platforms. As you may have gathered, I love to talk so once we all had created Twitter accounts I set up camp on the timeline and would share many a random thought or a rant about everything that was wrong with the world. Soon after, Snapchat arrived and I was in my element. I would snap all the exciting things that happened and all the strange ‘who are these people we share the Earth with’ moments too. I’d even go as far to say, I was a good person to have on Snapchat. There’d be the occasional ‘hi snapchat I’m in bed and I’m bored snaps’ but I classify those more as a cry for help than a way to judge the quality of my videos.

Oh how things have changed. Now I probably snap quarterly and only get those weird accounts that have cartoons for profile pictures following me on Twitter. Long story short I entered a relationship and as that door opened, the door of sharing moments on social media almost closed, and it’s only recently I’ve realised the driving thoughts behind my social deadness. 

1. Some things you just don’t need to know about me.

I think it’s slightly hypocritical to say this considering I force you into reading about my life, here on this blog, but hopefully you read and feel like you only read the necessary key events. Reality TV has fooled us into thinking its normal to know what people had for breakfast and why they’ve made their outfit choices for the day and who they’ve gone to the cinema with after work, but am I the only one that misses having to talk to people to find out what’s going on with them? I’m not ashamed of the evenings in I’ve spent falling asleep to ‘How to get away with murder’ I just would rather you called to find out what I’m up to.

2. The flaunt what you have mentality isn’t really for me

What really ended my Snapchat career was the internal battle that came down to ‘will sharing this moment with people make it any more special to me.’ Yes I’ve just been on a lovely date and I really do think the flowers I’ve received are beautiful but will sharing the moment  make it wen more memorable than it is?  Once I realised the answer was no, I found it really difficult to justify the snap. It’s lovely that we now have the ability to share important moments with friends and family as they happen, I think we just have to be careful of our motives behind this. If we’re wearing our ‘come and see what the Lord has done faces’ then by all means share away but if we’re just stunting then it may be time to have a re-think. 

 
3. Whether or not people see what you have doesn’t take away from you having it 

Have you ever watched The Secret Millionaire? It’s not that entertaining so don’t rush to download the series if you haven’t ever tuned it. What’s interesting about the show is watching people treat the millionaire in disguise as an ordinary citizen (which truly they are) not knowing just how much that person could change their lives. One thing I’ve always admired about the semi-rich is the understated look they have which doesn’t give off any, ‘hello, can’t you see I’m rich’ warning signs. I wouldn’t say be ashamed of the things you’ve been blessed with but there’s no need to flaunt. I can be in love but if every person walking down the street doesn’t know about it, that’s ok. It’s similar to  Christianity, you can wear your faith on your sleeve, with crosses on your neck, Bible on hand getting on your soap box so the world can see your a Christian or you can live it out and let people realise what you believe as they get to know you .

Being in love makes me so happy but  before I take to social media I really have to question if I’m sharing because I want to flaunt what I’ve been blessed with or just share a nice moment. All the self evaluation that comes with entering into a relationship really made me question the reason why I do things, including the smallest of actions. I had to ask why am I sharing this thought with the world who probably would rather not hear about just how great I think my life is, and think about how right it is to only show you my joy if you’ll never see my tears. I just can’t be that girl sharing all of the lovely things that being in a relationship brings when I wouldn’t dream of showing you the arguments, frustration and rage. So here I am, shying away from the relationship limelight living the life of ‘if you’d like to know, please ask’.

Relationship or no relationship, if you haven’t already given up something for lent I challenge you to boycott the overshare lifestyle we’ve all been dragged into, and pick up the phone and arrange to meet the friends you care about. Why not swap a snapchat story for hearing all about the crazy woman in the nail shop in person? I guarantee there’s nothing that beats laughing in real time and not having to record and re-record yourself laughing because you accidentally took your finger off your phone.

Love lots 

Dani

7 Things I left Behind In 2015

squad goals

Well, hello there! Happy New Year and all that good, good stuff.

I hope the beginning of the year has been eventful; a little strange, altogether wonderful and completely in line with how you intended it to be. If it hasn’t, don’t worry; you still have approximately 359 days (I think, my maths is dreadful) to turn it around and become all the things you said you wanted to be.

2015 was (tries to remember the year; they go so quickly these days) an interesting year. It was monumental for many reasons; a lot of ‘firsts’ took place in my life. I grew as a person and, in growing up, I realised that there was much more to do and much more to become. What a humbling experience it is to recognise your potential but also grasp the gulf between where you are, where you could be and where those around you are heading.

2015 wasn’t all roses, growth and the like; there were periods of darkness, of intense sadness, where my faith was tested, my heart was broken and life became a dull, spinning wheel which, to be quite frank, I wanted out of. That’s not to say I wanted to jump off of a bridge, but there were moments where I didn’t feel alive; where life had become a mundane activity, mediocre and (ironically) lifeless.

In these waves of darkness, the notion that life is full of peaks and troughs, rife with ups and downs, was crystallised. No season is permanent, so while there is sun, bask in it; when the rain comes, get out your umbrella and keep walking. If the umbrella breaks, use your hood and if you don’t have a coat, run through the rain as best you can. Whatever you do, don’t stop walking because there will be always be sun. I feel like bursting into a Glee song after writing this paragraph.

As the title suggests, there are some things that weren’t privileged enough to ride on with me into 2016. Here are a few:

  1. GOALS!

I bet you read that in that weird way people are saying it nowadays. If you didn’t, where have you been?! This weird phenomenon took place last year  where it became okay to share your heart’s desires (in the form of pictures) with your social networks. Pictures of couples, babies, holidays, outfits and the like were shared with the caption ‘GOALS!’

Abeg, make we stop that this year.

There is no problem with having goals but I think constantly comparing where I was with where the people in the pictures were  was harmful. Obviously, I think sharing the goals with EVERYBODY is weird too (I never did), but for me, the most important thing is being content with the progress I’ve made thus far in my life, but also taking steps to where I would like to be. Tweeting a picture of strangers without putting the work in makes the picture a wish, not a goal.

  1. Bad food

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on the blog before, but I am allergic to all the food most people enjoy. I am not exaggerating. The story of how I came to be this way is a blogpost in itself (one I will probably never write) but the conclusion of the story is that I should stay away from the food I love that hates me. Did I do that in 2015? Of course not. I’m hoping to have more self-control (generally, not just in this area) and stop eating the foods that make me sick.

  1. Ill-fitted clothes

No more buying a size 20/XL because my size isn’t in stock but I don’t feel as though I can live without the item.

Also, to all my beautiful ladies/men out there who buy bigger clothes in order to feel more comfortable and to walk past the mirror without cringing as I once did: push back against the unattainable standard of beauty that exists. You may not feel as though your body is perfect but it is yours. If you need to work out, start. If you want to eat clean, do that! But please stop shaming your body; you’re worth so much more that.

  1. Spending time with people that I don’t want to spend time with

I will no longer spend money meeting up with people I’m indifferent about seeing. It is unfair to you, me, my time and my bank account.

  1. Saying yes when I really want to say no.

I found myself doing 384793467 at once last year because I instinctively say ‘yes’ when I am asked to do something. I want to help everyone but in helping everyone do everything, I found myself burnt out and unable to stand due to exhaustion. My best friend taught me last year that is okay to say ‘no’ and it is okay to admit that ‘I can’t’. What a wonderful lesson.

  1. Being reduced to my mistakes

No longer will I allow others to make my mistakes representative of my character and no longer will I do the same to others.

  1. Inconsistency

Although this is last on my list, it is the most important. Last year, my faith was up, down, all around, fluctuating from week to week. I don’t want that this year.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Matthew 6:33

This verse is my mantra. I am seeking in the hope of finding and reading in the hope of learning. I want to be more. I want my relationship with God to be more.

What did you leave behind in 2015?

Let me know!

Joy

3 Ways To Avoid A Mid-Life Crises

  
I love birthdays. They’re one of the few times in the year that all of your friends gather together and express just how much they love you. It’s always humbling to hear the difference your friendship has made to someone’s life, and heartwarming to see that you mean as much to your closest friends, as they mean to you. I love the cake, I love the cards, and there’s a special place in my heart for the influx of Rosé that birthdays seem to bring.

On Tuesday I turned 23 and alongside the usual excitement of the lovely day I was about to experience, was an overwhelming anxiety about what I had done with my life so far. I remember when birthdays were all about sparkly birthday outfits and choosing an activity that your friends would enjoy to celebrate with you doing. 23 has brought me face to face with the feeling that I can no longer use ‘being young’ as an excuse or as a testament to how ahead I am in life. With 23 comes great expectations and this year, I have felt the weight that growing older had brought. As I have fretted over what turning 23 would mean for me, I have been rightfully ignored by people over 25 and helpfully consoled by the under 25’s who are still close enough to my age to sympathise. 

I am under no delusions about my age. I know I haven’t suddenly become decrepit, and past it, and ancient. However, I cannot ignore that I have reached an age that makes me a ‘real’ adult. I’m in the age bracket of climbing the employment ladder, and house buying, and marriage and not-far-off babies, and the pressure of that makes my heart race. As I have worried that I have not come far enough for a girl of my age and background I think back to the things I learned at 22 and have no choice but to snap out of it!

1.Your education does not define you

I was knocked off my ‘smarter than thou’ pedestal when my degree results came out, and for a while struggled with who I was, if I was no longer the clever girl teachers had been writing in my reports over the years. I battled with self-confidence as I questioned all the things I thought I was good at, until I left my skills and talents at the door and developed a confidence in God. When you lose the very thing that defines you, you realise that you need to find a definition that is stable enough to last your lifetime. God is the only god that can do that. You might be smart and you might be skilled at x, y, and z, but what you can do or can’t do, cannot dictate who you are. Rest in the peace that you are a child of God and trust that you will become the things that God says you are.

2. Your salary is not your source of provision.

I learnt the hard way that jobs can be lost while the things you have to pay for remain. Having to trust God to provide for my needs, completely changed my perspective on my salary. No job is a sure thing and you have no guarantee that you’ll get to leave every place you work on your own terms, with your next job is already in place. Last year God came through for me right when I needed him and showed me that he is my ultimate provider.

3.Your career does not encompass your entire purpose 

God has called you to do something bigger than your job. You may not feel like you’re career is where you need/want it to be, but don’t let that make you feel like you’re failing on all fronts. Now is the time to seek what God has called you to do and make sure, in spite of where your career is at, you’re focused on fulfilling your purpose. What good is it to become CEO and make no steps towards the mission God has for you?

If getting older has knocked the steam out of you, I hope this post encourages you to view your birthday with less disappointment and more excitement about what God has in store for you this year. Your CV will not get you into heaven and your salary cannot pay the debt of sin. Let’s thank God for the grace we have found in Jesus, who gives us every reason to be grateful for our lives. You may not know what you have to live for, but you can take comfort in who you live for everyday.
Peace and love and birthday cake
Dani xxxx

What I Learnt When The Syrians Risked It All

  
I have wanted to write about the Syrian refugees for the longest time, but until now, words have escaped me. I have experienced a roller-coaster of emotions as the media decided their story was worth daily front page coverage. My heart wept as children’s bodies were washed up on the shore. and my blood boiled as UK politicians failed to act, before enraging many further, with statements that seemed to disregard the turmoil Syrian civilians have lived through for years, as they tried to justify their political inaction. Situations like ‘Europe’s migrant crisis’, force me to re-evaluate my faith and the things I am living for. I don’t know if you felt the same way I did, but I had a fresh realisation that most of my problems are first world problems, which on any scale, are not really problems at all. Some people wake up wondering how they will find enough food to sustain their children for that day, where they will find shelter when it gets dark, in fear that their relatives will get caught in a crossfire. No mater how you look at it, my problems do not compare.
As I’ve watched as thousands more Syrians have crossed country to seek safety, I have felt pretty helpless beyond journeying to Calais with supplies and making donations for the crisis appeal. It’s not that both of those actions are too small or insignificant, I just felt as though I could do more to constantly have people that are living in situations like those in Syria, at the forefront of my mind.

Love your neighbour as you love yourself. Mark 12:31

I had to ask myself some serious questions:
Do I have love for others? Yes



Do I give to charity? Yes



Do I pray for people that are less fortunate then myself? Yes



But have I given people around me and people the kind of love I give myself? No



Have I made the sacrifices for others to succeed in the way that I have made personal success efforts? No



Do I remember the extreme living situations of my neighbours around the world, and have a serious mission to change them? No…Well yes, in the long term sense. I’d like to ultimately work for a charity and put my career expertise to good use, but what good is the long term for people dying every day, glad if they live to see the rest of the year, let alone the 25 years future in which I feel I’m settled enough in my own life to help others.
As Christians we have instruction to feed the poor, clothe those in need and pray for the sick. We cannot wait for the next charity appeal or our next mission trip to acknowledge the stark difference in the quality of life between us and so many around the world. We need to make an effort to change it.
This isn’t about making the largest donation, or giving all your salary to charity. The influx of Syrian refugees has reminded me that I live a life focused on my own development and I don’t give nearly enough thought to ‘the other’ my fellow earthly citizens, as Christ has encouraged I do.
So people struggle everyday, what can we actually do about it?
Pray 

For some reason prayer is seen as a cop-out, as if calling on God isn’t the most powerful action you could take. I agree that you shouldn’t pray in isolation of actions, but praying is the most important activity you can engage in. Through your prayer God can empower people in close proximity to those you are praying for to help, and can give you the wisdom you need to be effective.
Give what you can

We are encouraged to give what we can when there is an urgent crisis but why don’t we commit to giving what we can persistently. Let’s not allow ourselves to forget the importance of our giving and the difference that our money can make to someone else. I don’t know if you’ve ever participated in the shoebox appeal in which you wrap a shoe box filled with presents that’s sent to children in need worldwide, but recently I watched a promo video for the cause, and was reminded that it is so appreciated by all those that receive a box. Sometimes we can take for granted just how much of a difference our efforts can make. Let’s not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9), and never forget the hope we could be bringing to someone’s life.
Don’t settle for the way things are 

We are so used to the fact that whilst a small minority of people live in 10 bedroom mansions, a large population of people live below the poverty line, we have become desensitised to it. Looking at ourselves in comparison to those who have so much more to spend than us, it is easy to feel as though we are in need ourselves and in our strife for financial success, we forget that the difference between those living in poverty and us is equally vast. If we would just consider how gracious God has been to us, we would never lose perspective on the money we feel we have to be earning and the houses we feel we need to be buying. 
I say all this, not to make you feel guilty for being fortunate or to pressure you to give everything you have away. I merely want to encourage you to live with your neighbour in mind, not just the one living three streets away with the black Ferrari, also the one 3000 miles away struggling to survive.
Love you lots,
Dani