Tag Archives: a blog for young christians

Chance: The Evangelist

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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.

The Art Of Running From God

The ability to run without actually moving is an art few have mastered. I, my friend, are one of those few. It doesn’t happen overnight – it is a skill that you must work at but before you know it, you’ll be so good, you’ll be in my position – you know, in a place where you can teach others to do the same.

It’s crazy how much time we spend running – without actually moving, that is. I’ve done my fair share of jogging (gah, I almost vommed at the memory) and there was nothing I hated more than feeling my knees cracking as my feet hit the ground. Although I gave it up pretty soon after I began, in a sense, I’ve never stopped. At every point in my life, I’ve been on the run from something.

I’ve come to conclude that I’m not alone. The majority of us are on the run too: from ourselves, from our jobs, from our friends, families, spouses, God – I think the list goes on. Most of us running, especially those have mastered the art, have made it so that the things and people we are running from probably have no idea that we are running away. We have managed to run while being present, slowly detracting and disconnecting with each passing day.

I think running and fear are positively correlated. By this, I mean, that there is a relationship between fear and running; the more fear we feel, the more likely it is that we will run. If we are used to being alone, having complete autonomy over ourselves and our emotions, and somebody comes along and tries to be close to us: we run. If the purpose for our lives, the things we know were born to do feel too grand; beyond us and out of reach: we run. If the activity we are trying to complete feels too intense or difficult, we can find ourselves running to social media for a quick (or lengthy) escape from our current situation.

I spent last week on the run from God. I committed a heinous crime (I joke, I joke) (kinda) and I just didn’t know what to do with the guilt – I wasn’t sure where to place and yet I was unable to put it down. I told gave a friend a vague synopsis of what had happened and she said, ‘Do not run from God. He knew what you were going to do long before you did and He continued to love you.’ She spoke profound and timely words that were still incapable for stopping me from packing up my bags and running as far as possible from the one who loves me most.

Let me be clear, as I said at the very beginning, I did not actually move. No bags were packed. No doors were opened or closed. From the outside, nothing had changed. Yet, when I looked at my life, a few days ago, I realised that I was struggling to see God, struggling to feel comforted by His love because I’d had gone so many days without letting it wash over me.

My return to God has been as anti-climactic as my departure. There were no tears, no promises of ‘never doing it again’ because experience has taught me that I am fallible; sinning comes (frighteningly) naturally and running will always be easier than staying put and dealing with my fear, guilt and shame.

Instead of the theatrics, instead of making promises that I may break in a few days’ time, I just opened my heart to Him again. I sought to connect: I listened to a sermon, I read a devotional, I prayed; my actions an attempt to be consistent with Him which is, presently, my deepest hope and desire. I can’t commit to never sinning again, but I can commit to trying every single day to be closer to Him.

All my love,

Joy

10 Signs That You’re Addicted To Online TV

 

tv

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

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

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

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

me

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

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

claire and frank

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

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

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

breaking

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

nick and jess

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

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

breakout

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

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

excited

Cancelled plans = pure joy

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

never see

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

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

FullSizeRender

This is a real conversation that I had yesterday.

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

greys

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

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

the good wife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To my fellow addicts, will you join me?

Lots of love,

Joy xxxxxxx

Is It Ever Okay To Cheat?

 

iggy

Whilst reading about Iggy Azalea’s guy trouble and learning that her fiancée’s friend filmed and released a video of him basically admitting that he cheated on her (crazy), my mind floated back to a conversation that occurred within my group of friends last week, centred around the following question that I also want to pose to you:

If you’re best friend found out that your boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife was cheating/had cheated on you and didn’t tell you until a year later, could you still be friends with them?

When thrown out there, an immediate outpouring of “hell naw!” “ah but that’s my boy though…” “I get why they wouldn’t want to tell me!” “what kind of friend does that?” etc. ensued. The discussion went back and forth, up and down, round and round, with most people sternly voting for or against the maintained friendship, leaving a few stragglers flicking to and fro between both extremes. The responses that were shared can be grouped under the three categories below:

  1. Yes
  2. Absolutely not!
  3. It would take some time, but I think we could be friends in the future

Now, you probably already had your mind made up milliseconds after reading the question (as did the majority of us when first hearing it). But, in the rare event that you haven’t, or just in case you’d like to check whether or not you may be swayed by other approaches, I’d like to give you a (hopefully) well-balanced, quick summary of the three angles from which you can select your final answer. So, here goes…

1. The “Yes” argument (or as I like to think of it, the “forgive and forget”)

Few responses will fall into this category. You are someone who understands how difficult it is to break such news to someone about the person they love and you understand the consideration of repercussions. To you, your friend neglecting to inform you does not equal disloyalty but shows that they really care about how you would feel, so much so that they waited and waited for the right time to bring it up which unfortunately never came. You are quick to forgive due to the fact that in that situation, you’re not entirely sure of what you would do and you understand that love and relationships are complex things that if possible, should not be interfered with.

2. The “Absolutely not!” side (the “bye Felicia”)

This is where the majority of responses will lie. Both people – your partner and your friend, hurt you. They’ve been looking at you for the past year knowing what was going on but pretending that everything was okay. You feel betrayed by both. You feel embarrassed and like the butt of a sick, twisted joke. You say, “if you were my real friend, you would never leave me to be oblivious and to be disrespected in such a way. Your loyalties lie with me.” You understand the notion of forgiveness and in time, you believe that you could forgive your friend but to you, forgiveness does not mean that you have to rekindle what once was. Forgiveness to you simply means, not seeing red every time you cross paths with or even think about them and being able to have a nice, healthy, cordial conversation. Ultimately, the trust has been eternally broken.

3. The “It would take some time, but I think we could be friends in the future” stance (the “balanced” view)

This is a close second and as expected, lies somewhere between the previous two. You are initially taken aback by what you perceive to be complete disloyalty but you also understand how difficult it can be to deliver bad news to someone you love. You are able to rebuild the friendship after a period of time because you don’t believe a situation like this should ruin years of deep-rooted friendship. Bros over… you get it right?

 Me? I’m B. 

I completely get all that stuff around it being difficult to tell a loved one something as hurtful as this etc., but I also know that lots of the things in life that we should do, are difficult. I personally cannot stand the thought of being taken for a mug, unknowingly, for a WHOLE YEAR. Are you kidding me?! The embarrassment would overflow within and I would be looking back on all those times myself, my ex best friend and my cheating partner were all in a room together, imagining what was going through both of their heads, cringing at the thought of it being the cheatation in question.

 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Harbouring ill feelings and adopting an eternal side-eye towards your friend who probably didn’t mean to bring you any intentional harm is unhealthy and can develop into something much greater. As we all know, forgiveness is essential in order to truly heal and to be able to move on, not to mention that it’s simply a requirement of us from God. Of course, forgiving is easier said than done, however it is absolutely essential that we try our best. You may not be the friend who omitted to disclose information in this hypothetical scenario, but inevitably we all find ourselves in situations where we desperately need forgiveness at some point in our lives. How can we expect that from others and more importantly, God, if we are not prepared to offer that ourselves?

“You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14

 Now, the whole topic of cheating and getting back with someone who betrays you etc. is a WHOLE different thing and I won’t get into my views on that now because it’s not the point of this post, but I’d just like to leave this here if I may…

 “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.” Proverbs 6:32

Adultery is destructive for everyone involved – you may think that you’re only hurting your loved one but ultimately, you are also destroying yourself.

Back to the topic though: which category do your views fall under – A, B or C? Let me know!

Love, Stella xoxo

When You Feel Like A Side Chick

mellie

 

4 minutes in and I’m still struggling to think of the best opening for this post. I’ve got a severe case of writer’s block at the moment and a million and one things on my mind. I’ve toyed with the idea(s) of being dramatic, opening with a joke, taking a trip down memory lane and starting with a question, but… I’ve decided to go with the latter. 

Why doesn’t God speak to you?

For a long time, I’ve found myself dipping in and out of praying and speaking to God because of my frequent disappointment at the fact that I never seemed to get the response I was looking for, the direction I was asking for, or the sign I was waiting for. It felt as though I was sending my prayers up to Him and He was just blue-ticking me. He always seemed to be dealing with His ‘more important’ children first, those He had plans for, those He wanted to use, those who had an actual purpose here on this earth, before getting back to little old B who could wait until He came back online to respond with “lol”.

I was (and still am) surrounded by people who were (are) hearing from God left and right, receiving clear direction and confirmation on things they already believed to be true whilst I was there, twiddling my thumbs, still in the dark after having asked the same question for 3 years, feeling no closer to knowing the answer. I started to feel jealous. I felt jealous of other people and the fact that God seemingly held them closer to His heart and wanted to make sure they knew He was with them every step of the way.

A few weeks ago, on a day where I was particularly ‘over it’, I went to church with a friend and she, in that service, received direct confirmation from God about something she had heard repeatedly by family members, family friends etc. and as she was telling me, I could see the sheer joy spread across every inch of her face as her eyes lit up and her body trembled with excitement. It was as though a layer was removed from her eyes and she was closer to seeing what she was meant to be doing and was encouraged to keep pushing forward.  It was so beautiful to see.

When I got home and prayed, it started off as the usual, you know, “thank you God for xxx…” and then all of a sudden, I broke down. My prayer changed from simply giving thanks and praying for the week ahead to “why do you never speak to me?” and “if you don’t have anything to say to me, that’s fine, but you should at least tell me so I’m not aimlessly waiting.” It was in that moment that I realised what I had been carrying around. 

It was probably part of the reason why I wasn’t regular at church and didn’t care, why I would constantly daydream during service, why I wouldn’t fully participate in praise and worship; and why I was always looking at my watch, waiting for the time to pass so I could go home to another week of not reading my bible and not really praying, but demanding that God somehow speak to me. 

I became so angry and frustrated with God when, honestly, it was very cheeky of me to demand that He speak to me when I wasn’t even dedicated to my relationship with Him. I was content with our ‘Hi Bye’, thing. But, if I truly knew Him, I would not even dare to question whether or not I was important to Him and whether or not He cared enough about me to want to use me and thought only good things towards me. 

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

It was also very cheeky of me to say that He never spoke to me when He has spoken to me on multiple occasions where I simply dismissed it because it was not concerning whatever I was interested in at the time. I was basically saying “Lord show me a sign! Oh… no, not that one. You know the sign I mean” in a nutshell.

My doubts came from the fact that I was drifting rapidly away from Him and forgetting what made me give my life over to Him in the first place. I forgot what was truly important – Him. I became so selfish and self-absorbed in my pursuit (or lack thereof) of Him that in order to repair this, I needed to take it all the way back to basics. 

So, last Sunday, I walked into church and thought to myself, you haven’t been very grateful lately so maybe it’s time to give real thanks – let’s start there. I completely threw myself in and gave Him all I had (which was not even a hundredth of what He deserves by the way). It felt as though a weight was lifted and I was free to just enjoy being in His presence and hearing His Word. I even stopped doing the stiff side-to-side movement I became accustomed to. I felt as though I was home again. I was in that safe place where it was just me and Him and I had missed it so much. It’s so easy to forget what that feels like. Whilst we were praying, one of our leaders pulled me to the side and started to tell me what God was telling her I needed to know about hearing from Him – God was speaking to me through her. 

If you find that you are not hearing from God and don’t understand why, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you know Him well enough to recognise His voice? 
  • Have you prescribed the way in which you want Him to communicate with you?
  • Do you doubt that what you hear is Him?
  • Do you ignore what He says because it’s not what you want to hear?

When you find yourself frustrated at God and feel like you’re no closer to understanding anything, just remember who He is. Remember how much He loves you. Remember His character. Remember all He’s already done for you and He will reveal what He sees fit to reveal to you in His time. If you don’t remember who He is, it’s probably best you start there. And remember, if you haven’t heard anything in a while, open the Bible; He has spoken.

Jeremiah 29:13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Love, Stella

xoxo

Why February Is The New January

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So I was scrolling through Twitter (mindlessly feeding my addiction, gah) during the latter parts of January and I kept seeing tweets expressing that January had been a dress rehearsal of some sort, and that February would truly mark the beginning of 2016.

At first, I laughed. Of course I laughed. Twitter, my favourite app of all, is always making me chuckle because of the crazy things I see on there (if you find it boring, you’re following all the wrong people;  the key is to strike the balance between the righteous and rachet people you follow). 

As I continued to scroll, I realised that this feeling was shared by numerous people. Of course being the overthinker that I am, I began to evaluate my own experience of January. Had I been successful in accomplishing the goals I’d set for myself? Had I left behind all the things I said I would? Had I done all of the things I said I’d do?

I vowed to leave behind various things; comparing myself to people, food that would make me sick, being reduced to my mistakes, being inconsistent – the list goes on. Yet, as I sat with my thoughts, I realised that I had failed miserably.  

I once wrote a paper on why people fail to reach their goals (my degree is in Psychology) so I can pretty much sum up, with evidence, why I failed to reach my goals in the first month of 2016. Evidence aside though, it irks me – truly irks me- that I have failed so early on in the year. I have failed myself, and most importantly, I have failed God, who I am convinced looks upon my actions at times, and wants to throw a lightning bolt up my behind.

Last month marked the beginning of a fresh chapter in our lives, and like all new things, we loved January, embraced it and clung to it, enjoying its freshness and its clarity. But then it became dirty; we used to it and by using it, it began to lose its freshness and its shine. Soon, January spoke only of our mistakes, our failings, and our inability to execute the ideas birthed in our minds.

January was burdened, heavy with our hopes and dreams, weighted by our expectations, ones it could arguably not live up to. It struggled and eventually cracked under the pressure, and so like those on Twitter, we are looking to February, its younger, sweeter sister who has no wear and tear, no indelible  marking; she is shy, coy, new and promises to be better to us. But will she?

I think instead of placing unrealistic expectations on 29 days, or even 2016, we need look to each new day as an opportunity to begin again.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

Yesterday, I sinned. The day before, I sinned. The day before that, I sinned. I fail every single day at being the Christian I wish I could be. Usually, I take a few days to nurse my wounds, avoid God, pretend everything is okay, and then around the 3-day-mark, I crawl back to God and apologise for the latest indiscretion.

I’m trying this new thing where instead of running from God, I run to him – as soon as possible. Instead of pretending I didn’t completely mess up, I say, 

‘Hey, God, so you know that thing I did…that I keep doing…I’m sorry. Help me to be better – because you know that’s all I’d liked to be’. 

It doesn’t rid me of the guilt but it forces me to face myself, to face the God who I love but continuously let down in one way or another. I will never be perfect but I can strive for an open relationship with the Father, one where I lay all my ishhh bare (hoping) knowing that His grace is sufficient.

I welcome February, I welcome tomorrow, I welcome every day; instead of focusing on my failures, on my inability to execute my goals as I would like, I will do my best to focus on God. At the end of the day, when the lights go down and there’s no one around, He is all I have.

I hope you have a good day,

Joy xxx

How Working Out Changed My Body And My Faith

wokrout

 

I started working out when I was about 20 years old.

I’d tried the odd DVD before that nothing had really stuck due to my inconsistency and desire to never exert myself beyond what was necessary. Around that time, I decided to change my life (yes, dramatic) and (as usual) went to the extreme:  I began Insanity. True to its name, it was insane – the craziest thing I’ve ever done to my body. Although the intensity of that workout was like nothing I’d ever faced, I managed to get through 60 day plan.

During that time, I also decided to take up jogging. My older sister had just begun training for a marathon, and true to younger sister form, I became intrigued with the new thing my big sis had become obsessed with. She encouraged me, we set goals to run marathons together (big lol) and off I went, jogging for 2 miles, 3 times a week.

I must say (as this is a Christian blog) that I never, not even once, endeavoured to change my diet. Even though I wanted to change my body, to finally take off the fat suit that I had been wearing since the age of 7, I never once exchanged my hamburger for an apple.  In hindsight, if I had been serious about changing my life, I would have at least attempted to stop eating 6 pieces of fried chicken at a time, or would have made my once-a-week-pick-me-up a salad bar instead of the Chinese buffet down the road. Despite my shoddy diet, my weight loss was marginally successful: I ate what I wanted during the day and killed myself at night prancing about, being Insane, in the hopes of becoming the slimting I’d always dreamt of.

Later that year, I fell ill. My nightly Insanity workouts and jogs around the block became a distant memory. Instead, I was bed bound, barely able to move, stand or breathe.

I still remember the first the time I was able to run again after I’d accepted that my life, as I’d previously known it, was over. I remember the strain on my calves and the pain as my feet adjusted to being hit by concrete after weeks of dormancy. I remember the wind and the rain, tears sliding down my cheeks as I realised that God had healed me and that I really would be okay. It was all very dramatic for a morning run.

To be honest, gratitude had clouded my judgement. I was so happy to be able to use my legs properly that it took me a few months to realise that while my sister loved running, I did not. In fact, I hated it. I hated running. I hated the metal taste in my mouth, the way my eyes would water excessively, the wind slicing through me and my unsupportive sports bra, and the weird men that would slow down and call out to me. Yes, running had done wonders for my mental health and overall (despite having a questionable diet) was having an impact but I did not enjoy it. Did I even like working out? I wasn’t so sure anymore;  I’d near killed myself with Insanity, I’d punished myself with those painful, arduous jogs and I’d shamed my body to the point that I could barely look in the mirror. I was a mess.

Fast forward to January 2014. I joined a gym, began to attend every class under the sun and realised that working out didn’t have to another form of self-harm. Instead, it could be positively challenging, therapeutic and invigorating.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learnt while running on the treadmill or squatting with weights.

Keep going

I used to run at night so I often couldn’t see my destination (or where I was going).

We won’t always know what lies ahead of us, or what the next season in our life will hold. Knowledge of the next step can even be harmful, causing us to feel as though the task is too big for us and the goal insurmountable. During those dark nights, I learnt that while the goal is important, the next step is more important because if it isn’t taken, we remain in the same place.

It’s all in the mind

Every battle is won and lost in the mind. A lot of the time I don’t feel as though I’ll be able to put on my gym clothes, let alone complete an hour’s workout. I’ve noticed that once I have made up in my mind that I am going to work out, nothing on earth has the power to stop me, not even my own body.

You won’t always feel like reading your Bible, praying, going to Church but if you make the decision to in your mind, you’ll get there.

Be consistent

If you exercise once a week/bi-weekly, it is incredibly unlikely that you’ll see any results. In order for results to be achieved, you must be consistent (at least 3 times a week) (oh, and change your diet!).

In the same vein, reading your Bible once a week isn’t going to do anything for your growth as a Christian. You must be relentless in your pursuit of Christ (if He is what you desire, of course) and that includes reading the Bible daily, watching sermons, and picking up little devotional books that can help you along the way.

Comparison

Every time I step into the gym, I am reminded that we are all on different journeys.

There’s a man who attends my gym who is over 300 pounds, can barely see and has to be assisted upon entry until the time leaves. Another woman runs on the incline at 15mph, jumps off, squat jumps at an astounding pace, then jumps back on and runs again. Is she more successful than the man who is overweight and walks at 3mph? Of course not. Success is showing up, doing your best and completing the task. We all have such different goals and destines, comparison (as Precious so rightly said last week) is dangerous. We are all different.

The gym taught me that everybody begins in a different place; it’s not about where or how you start, it’s about where you end.

Have a beautiful weekend,

Joy xx

Why I’ve Stopped Comparing Myself To People

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God is teaching me a lot much about life, and so much about myself…daily, hourly and by the minute. No one but Him can say they know all there is to life, or that they know everything that will come in their own lifetime.  There are things I know today that I did not know or didn’t think applied to myself just a week ago! But thankfully I know now. One of these things is that…..

Comparison is draining. 

And I’m learning that gradually.

The thing is, I thought I knew this before, especially during my academic years. I knew that we were all individual students and we all had our subjects we would be good at and others wouldn’t. However, this isn’t a concept that should only be applied in academic cases, but one that is also relevant to all aspects of life. God is teaching me to stop comparing myself to others. Period.

We each have completely different lives and the way things work out for one person is not necessarily how it will happen for another. What someone has achieved by a certain age is not what everyone else should also have achieved by then!

We all have different walks, experiences, testimonies. God uses us in various ways which aren’t identical, but are  specific to our individual destinies.

Comparing ourselves to other people is an incredibly draining process and eventually steals our joy.

Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!

2 Corinthians 10:12
This is EXACTLY what the world does! It uses itself as the standard of measurement which leads us to think that we need to live according to a specific standard in terms of accomplishments; that by 21 we need to be a graduate, by 25 we should be well into our careers, engaged and living our first homes and by 30, married with 3 kids! But this isn’t the standard we need to go by, neither are the achievements of people anything to go by! We all have different lives and callings and nobody can tell us what we should have accomplished by a certain timeframe. But GOD!
  • Comparison is a thief of joy because it takes our eyes off of what God has for our lives and causes us to look at our faults and highlights everything we don’t have. We become discontent and joy and focus what we are lacking which opens doors for sadness.
  • Comparison can lead to competition; this is harmful because God requires us to move at our own individual pace. Being inspired by others is definitely a good thing and having goals set for yourself is also beneficial, but envying someone else’s life hardly brings any good.

God sees our lives on such a large scale – He sees it from beginning to end and there is an appointed time for everything. Don’t feel pressurised by what other people are doing or saying. If anything use other people’s lives as an inspiration for yourself. Never envy what someone else has or try to live up to a false timeline because the truth is, we don’t know how they feel about their lives; they may ‘have it all’ but still be deeply unhappy.


Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. (Galatians 6:4)

Love,

Precious

5 Signs He’s Not Into You

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Before two people decide to embark on a relationship together, there are a few questions that are usually asked. I wish I could be bothered to list some of these all-important questions, but it’s been a long weekend so I’m just going to jump straight into the most frequently and universally asked question:

Does he like me?

I unintentionally cringed while typing the above question. It’s a needy one, right? One you never really ask the object of your affections but instead have endless conversations with your bestie about. Hours, guys, we spend hours thinking about this question, trying to assess your behaviour, reading between the lines in order to figure out what you really mean.  Imagine how quickly things would come together (or fall apart) if we just asked him the question? Ah, but where’s the fun in that? Never mind, let’s just keep overthinking.

In all seriousness, it is a hard question to ask. The moment one asks, “Do you like me?” a host of conclusions can be erroneously drawn. Suddenly, you’re eager, needy, insecure and clingy, and nobody wants to be seen as anything other than strong and in control. Most of us fear vulnerability, often overlooking the power that can be experienced in our most vulnerable moments.

I can’t, in good faith, encourage you to ask your love interest this formidable question. Why? Because I wouldn’t. It would be wrong of me to encourage you, beautiful lady, to ask a man a question I wouldn’t dream of asking (even though it has its benefits).  What I can do is point you in the direction of various signs that he may not like you much at all. He might think you’re cool, he might even think you’re beautiful, but if he’s ticking the boxes below, start running in the opposite direction, knowing that you’re saving yourself from potential heartache.

Disclaimer: I thought of these signs at 6am this morning, so feel free to throw them out of the window. I, however, would encourage you to take note as they as based on years of research (okay, not really).

  • He never calls you.

I mean, never. He rarely texts you first and in the event that he does, his replies are inconsistent and vague. Also if he does call, it’s always after hours (because we all know what that means), or if he hollers, he’s always on his way home from somewhere else. Girl……

  • You never see each other

If plans aren’t initiated by you, they don’t happen. This is a warning sign because all the guys I know are pro-active. They want something, they go and get I t. They don’t want something, they make excuses. If he’s never asked “So when can we meet up?” or rarely tries to make plans with you, then girl…….

  • You’ve never met his friends

This isn’t too problematic, but I still consider it to be a warning sign. If you’ve been ‘talking’ for a while and he hasn’t brought you around his people, it’s time to throw him the side-eye. I’m a bit of a lone ranger, but there are times when my friends meet each other. Important people in my life tend to cross paths. Those that aren’t important aren’t mentioned and are rarely brought around the inner circle. Also, if you are brought around his friends and they look at you vaguely/don’t seem to have even heard your name before, then girl……

  • He talks to other girls

I’m literally rolling my eyes as I type this, but my experience with guys has taught me that most have an insatiable desire to speak to multiple women at once. Is it ego? Is it insecurity? I’m not sure. All I know is that some married men even struggle to show loyalty to one woman. How annoying. If you are in the ‘getting-to-know-you’/’I-think-we-are-a-thing-but-it-might-still-be-in-my-head’ stage and he’s talking to multiple girls unapologetically, even going so far as to mention them to you, then girl…..

  • He’s told you

I’m rolling my eyes again, but this time, it’s at our actions as women. Why don’t we listen sometimes? A man will tell us what he doesn’t want, it might even be crystal clear, but we linger in the background, hoping and waiting for the tide to turn. Isn’t this insanity? If he’s told you he doesn’t want you, leave. No questions asked. No crying (in front of him). Wish him well and delete his number; you should never, ever have to convince someone to love you.

 

The thing that struck me most when writing/thinking about this article was the hours I’ve spent obsessing over crushes, sometimes in very (very) hopeless circumstances. The love and admiration wasn’t mutual but the overthinking created a moment in time where things would suddenly come together. Imagine if I’d spent that time doing something productive?

As the year draws to a close, I’m forced to face the good and bad decisions I’ve made and the consequences these decisions have had. Imagine if I’d spent more time with the One who is completely and utterly ‘into’ me instead of thinking on those who, in reality, were not?

Last Sunday, in Church, I apologised to God for my lack commitment and faithfulness; for wavering, for being inconsistent; for being hung up on things and people who made me question my worth instead of clinging to Him, the One who continuously affirms me. It was a humbling moment.

I can’t tell you to approach your crush and ask him about his feelings , but I can remind you that you are loved; that you are wanted and longed for. I can encourage you to ask Him questions and I promise you that the answers, in whichever form they come in, have the power to change the course of your life.

All my love,

Joy xxxx

Why I’ve Stopped Burning Bridges

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As the end of the year approaches, we begin to reflect on the old and make plans for the new; perhaps a new diet plan, a new mind-set or even a new image. Oftentimes, we enter the new academic year with the desire to leave behind bad habits, bad diets and bad people! On our quest to success, we post phrases such as ‘No new friends’, ‘I prayed for God to protect me from my enemies and I started losing friends’ all over social media in an attempt to set the tone for the coming year.  In a society where ‘cutting people off’ has become a trend, I fear that this mentality may be beginning to infect the Church.

By ‘Church’, I do not mean the building you should go to on Sundays to worship God by learning from his word and singing songs of adoration on to him. I’m talking about the entire body of Christ, the community of the children of God; the citizens of Heaven. Why do we find it so easy to cut each other off? Why is it that when somebody has wronged us, our first reaction is to abandon them?

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32

I imagine that in the past year, some of you reading this has had an argument with somebody. Furthermore, not one of us can say that we did not play a part in that fall-out; that we were loving, forgiving and tender-hearted towards the individual (at all times). Odds are, even if the issue did not fully rest our shoulders, because of our imperfect nature, we failed to show the kind of love and grace that has been showed to us by God.

Over the past few days, I’ve spent time amending broken relationships; sending out apologies to those that I’ve wronged and letting those that have wronged me know that I’ve forgiven them. The peace granted by God whilst doing this has been so immense that I had no choice but to share it with you. So I implore you, instead of thinking about who to cut off next, or who is dispensable en route to your ‘success’, think about those that you’ve previously left behind. Think about the people who may be harnessing hatred towards you. Think of the people whom you’re harnessing hatred towards.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18

We know that not every relationship can be mended to the point of reconciliation but all Paul is asking in this verse is that you do your part. Day by day, we sin and fall short of the glory of God, yet through Christ, our perfect God forgives us and loves us. So who are we to hold grudges against those that have wronged us? Better yet, who are we to sin against another person and fail to take responsibility for it? So I plead with you, let us get rid of this ‘cutting people off’ culture and adopt a godly culture of love, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Thanks for reading,

Rupert