Tag Archives: beyonce

When Life Gives You Lemons

lemonde

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

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

“I was given lemons and I made lemonade”.

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

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


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

Sally, 24

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

Jane, 24

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

Lucy, 24

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

Yvonne, 25

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

Luke, 27

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

Kady, 19

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

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

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

Proverbs 16:9 NKJV

Daniella, 21

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

Bella, 27

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

Michael, 24

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

Wendy, 33


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

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

Lots of love,

Joy

 

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

*All names and ages have been changed

Why I’ve Left Being Flawless For Beyoncé 

    

“You’re crazy” is all my friend had to say after I told him that I would choose a non-brand, affordable suitcase over a Louis Vuitton case. What he didn’t seem to understand was that I didn’t (and still don’t) have any interest in owning expensive luggage if it doesn’t match the pieces I currently have or if I can’t buy the matching set. We’d been talking about luggage (as you do when you’re working hard at work…) and I was trying to explain how much I love matching suitcases. I’ve ended up travelling a lot in the last three years, and I like to look like my life is together. Maybe it’s an attempt to avoid those embarrassing scenes of overweight bags and the repacking it brings at the airport *shudder* but in my mind having matching suitcases is a testament to organisation and a preclude to a smooth journey. They don’t have to match in colour, but there has to be some kind of linking theme and I’m conscious of that whenever I buy a new piece. So no thanks, to the LV bag, if it doesn’t come in a set or go with whatever I have at the moment. Yeah, I’m kind of crazy, whatever – I like it.

It doesn’t just stop with my luggage though: my nails are always done, or at the very least filed and tidy. It annoys me when they’re not. I like for my underwear to match (at least here I know I’m not the only one) and for the two twisted crowns I put my hair into to be even on both sides. I am just filled with an incredible sense of satisfaction and achievement when everything is organised and in place and going according to plan.

So perhaps you can imagine my intense frustration when my. life. is. not. to.get.her.

A couple of months ago I blogged about being a terrible christian and not much has changed since then. Or at least, I feel like not much has changed since then. If I am completely honest with myself and objective, I know I’m not everyday-fail-as-a-christian but I tend to focus on the bad days more than the good. Because I HATE not being everyday-amazing-christian. I am annoyed with myself when I make the same mistakes over and over and over again. It upsets me that I don’t love God as much as I should, that I don’t walk in the light and purpose which He’s called me to consistently. I’m frustrated – by myself!- when I know if I would just readmybibleprayeveryday that my life would be closer to what I want it to be, but I still don’t do anything about it.

And so I haven’t blogged much this year because it has been the above struggle. I know what my life is like and where I am lacking spiritually, and writing about anything else feels hypocritical. The truth is – much as it annoys me – I don’t have my life together and I haven’t been very successful in doing my part and picking up the pieces of my life; yet I don’t want to constantly write about it and be that blogger who is always “woe is me”. That’s just depressing.

However.

I don’t think I’m the only one who is in this space and I do think there’s value in battling oneself like this and being transparent about it. Maybe writing about it will help us get better about admitting our faults and weaknesses to one another. Maybe not playing down the ugly parts of ourselves will actually help us in spreading the truth of the gospel. Maybe acknowledging that the answers are there but it’s a lot easier said than done will mean something to someone. I don’t know. But in the spirit of being transparent, here is some evidence that my life is not as together as it may seem:

  1. My closet is a complete mess. It has been for a while now. So much so that I have piles of clothes everywhere and the laundry I managed to do last week has nowhere to go so it’s just sitting in a basket. Also, I don’t think I care enough to do this week’s laundry. TMI? Ah well. 1.b) Inside my bag is worse. It gives me a headache just looking at it. I’m going out later today and I’m going to take a different bag instead of cleaning my main one out. 
  2.  I’d rather spend all my time in bed. Not even sleeping. Just in or on my bed. I’m young, single and crazy clever different enough to do amazing things with all this time I have; but instead of writing one of the many books in my head or volunteering or tidying my closet or whatever, I just sleep.
  3. My eyebrow game is not on fleek.
  4. I haven’t memorised as much of the Bible as I should have. Especially after that blog post I wrote about doing so.
  5. I’m constantly sinning. Sometimes new sins. Mostly the same ones. It’s a vicious cycle and I hate that I don’t trust that Jesus has the power to set us free from sin. Okay I believe it but I almost always give into temptation so I don’t really know what that means.

The fact that I desire to grow in my faith has to count for something. The fact that I get up each time I fall has to mean something.

I’m not perfect but I’m not ready to give up on this Christian thing. It’s me and Jesus, forever and always, and even if things don’t happen as quickly as I’d like them to, we’ll get there eventually.

Love Deborah

The Day I Got Over My Break Up

beyonce-best-thing-i-never-had-4

Although I wrote the piece below entitled ‘just.light’ late last year, every time I read it I remember the profound moment of clarity I felt as the Light finally overshadowed everything that I had been through.

God doesn’t always take away our pain, He often allows us to live through in it in order to reveal part of ourselves – hidden strengths, unspoken weaknesses, unresolved issues. He also uses painful experiences to reveal aspects of His person that we may not have experienced before – His peace, His faithfulness, His heart.

You may be going through a dark season at the moment, praying every day for God to take your pain away. Remember that every day you are being made stronger and a greater plan is at work which will one day make this process make sense; better days are ahead.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5

just.light.

Today I drove around a foreign land, I took in the landscapes and the beauty I had the opportunity to behold blew me away. I was in awe and mentally brought to my knees as I once again realised the beauty life had to offer. There is beauty all around us. In every moment of every day, I feel there is something beautiful to be found. Sometimes we have to look a little harder and push ourselves deeper in order to find the beauty, but it is there. In the silence, in the tapping of rain, in the roar of the wind, in the moving clouds, there lies beauty. Despite beauty being ever-present, what lies within us can act sometimes act as a mist and cloud our vision. For me, heartache did just that.

Although the words heartbreak and heartache are used interchangeably, they have come to mean different things to me. While I experienced heartbreak the moment that my relationship finally ended, heartache is what I experienced in the months that followed. The what ifs, the whys, the why nots made my heart burn and yearn for a time where my emotions didn’t suffocate me. The moments I would often replay in my mind had the capacity to make my heart swell until it felt too big for my body; the hurt would go as rapidly as it came but the overwhelming sense of sadness would stay. You see, there is no future in the heartache season, there is only here, now and then. The future ceases to have any real meaning, hope no longer exists and every day tasks such as getting out of bed become insurmountable.

heart. ache.

Then one day, that hollow feeling I had become accustomed to faded. The darkness that overshadowed every moment of light the previous months had offered me finally lifted. I woke up and the heartache had passed. And I finally began to breathe. I wasn’t numb anymore; I could feel. People don’t tell you enough how hard breakups are. They are horrible. You feel like you’re going to die. But then you don’t. You feel as though you are suffocating for most of the day and drowning at night and yet you still wake up the next morning. You wonder if you’re ever going feel to peace and have joy in your heart again.

And then it comes. He stops crossing your mind. You stop replaying the moments you shared. And you breathe.

In. Out. In. Out.

You try to capture every moment by inhaling them because you never thought you would be able to feel again. You want to capture everything because you’ve felt so much pain that even the way you appreciate beautiful moments has been transformed. You breathe them in because there were times you couldn’t breathe at all without crying.

Today I drove around a foreign land. I saw Cyprus. I saw the beauty. No mist, no clouds, no darkness. Just light.

just. light.

Why Women Are Evil

mean girls

I didn’t know ‘all women were evil’ until my twenties. Likewise, I didn’t know ‘all men were evil’ either. Although these are generalisations thrown around based on an individuals encounters with 0.000000000000000000001% percent of the world (that figure is in no way accurate, I just typed as many zeros as I saw fit) they continue to spread like wildfire causing people who haven’t had negative experiences with the opposite gender to have unnecessary prejudices, reservations and biases. That’s the problem with generalisations though – they envelop and hide individuals under a blanket that may not representative of them at all; it leaves no room for their individual differences.

Let’s address some generalisations:

1) All women are after your money

What about the women funding their spouses’ lifestyles?

 2) All women want to be mothers

What about the women who have decided not to have children because they simply do not want them?

3) Beautiful women lack intelligenceshakira

 Shakira has an IQ of 140 which makes her a genius

 4) Smart women aren’t beautiful42-21828752

Meet Michelle Obama. 

5) Women can’t have it all (the husband, successful career, family, ADORING FANS)

beyonce 

Hey there, Bey.

6) These h*es ain’t loyal!

What about the women supporting their families, friends, communities, continuing to go above and beyond what is expected of them?

The generalisation I despise the most is the one that says that all women are evil, conniving, deceitful, underhand creatures who will lead to your demise. Unfortunately, as I was reading my Bible this week I stumbled across the famous story of Samson and Delilah which in some ways substantiated this generalisation. For those who haven’t read it before, I’m going to do my best to summarise (the story can be found in Judges 13-16).

Samson was set apart by God from birth to begin the deliverance of the Israelites from oppressive Philistines through the Spirit of the Lord which gave him supernatural strength. However there were conditions placed upon his strength; Samson could not drink wine, he could not eat anything unclean and he could never cut his hair.

Although Samson was strong physically, he had a weakness for women. His first wife was a Philistine. After the Philistines killed his wife because one of Samson’s violent attacks, he fell in love with another Philistine woman named Delilah.

Their relationship was one of deception from the onset as Delilah was asked by the rulers of the Philistines to find out the secret behind Samson’s strength so that they could attack and subdue him. Delilah plainly asked Samson what the secret behind his power was and Samson gave her false answers (so on some level, he must have know she could not be trusted) and each time, Delilah used the information to try and have him captured. Despite this, Samson continued to stay with her.

Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it. So he told her everything.

Judges 16:15-17

As he slept in her lap, she had his hair cut off. When he awoke he tried to fight off his attackers, unaware that the Lord has left him. The Philistines gouged out his eyes and put him in shackles and the once mighty man worked in a prison cell. While he had the potential to deliver his people from the Philistines, his story ended tragically.

Delilah is the perfect example of why women are evil; she betrayed him in exchange money, slept with him for personal gain, told his secrets and his involvement with her lead to his death. So are all women evil?

1) All women are aren’t evil

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

We all have hearts which means none of us are not above this scripture. We all have a dark side; thoughts that lie beneath that we dare not express and (thank God) cannot be heard, and we have all done very questionable things. Being evil is not determined by our gender alone, it is impacted by a multitude of different factors, the greatest of them being the decision to do evil things repeatedly. Some women are evil, some men are evil, that’s just life but all women aren’t evil, neither are all men evil.

 2) Learn the lesson once

When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.

Maya Angelou

How many times stab wounds do we need until we walk away from those who are stabbing us in the back? I’m all for loving people and being good to those who hurt me but I’m not for toxic relationships and maltreatment. Some relationships work best when there is distance involved. Samson should have distanced himself Delilah after she proved to be disloyal and deceitful but instead he continued to stick around. If he had adjusted the relationship in accordance with her behaviour after she had revealed her intentions, she would not have led to his demise.

3) God is first, second and third

 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.

Matthew 22: 37-38

Samson lost sight of the source of his strength and began to love Delilah more than he loved and revered God. When God is first, everything falls into place (Matthew 6:33). Don’t let things or people cause you to turn away from God and lead you to sin because at the end of the day, he is all we have.

4) There is always a second chance

But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

Judges 16:22

This part of the story brought me to my knees.

Why?

Because it perfectly illustrates the love and the mercy of God.

Samson had lost everything; he was broken, powerless and literally unable to see. He had abused the call of God and given into temptation time and time again. And yet, even in this state, God still gave him another chance. His hair growing again is symbolic of the second chance God gives us every time we let go of him in order to hold onto something else. He gives us another chance to get it right; he allows our strength to return and helps us to stand again.

For this, I am eternally grateful.

 

All my love on this not-so-sunny-Friday!

Joy xxx

P:S HAPPY 16TH BIRTHDAY TO MY LITTLE SISTER! You never read the blog so you won’t see this but I love you always!

The Lie Drake Told Me

no-new-friends-Story2

Although women generally speak candidly about their trust issues due to their interactions with our beloved male species, all my heartache (okay, most) have come in form of women I once called friends. As time goes on I will fully divulge all the…interesting friendships I have had -the ones I broke and the ones that broke me. To be quite honest, I think I’m the problem. Once I have decided that you and I are on the same team and once the walls I built come tumbling down, I am prone to riding for you, kicking down trees and people for you, praying for you, calling you (everyone that read the call anxiety post knows that this is a big deal) and ultimately trying to make sure that you are living the best life possible.

I am intense (can you tell?) which means until I (recently) learnt how to control the intensity of my friendships a lot of them weren’t very healthy. Over time, I had to learn that if a friendship wasn’t healthy it was okay to walk away;  I had to stop giving myself to people who would never truly appreciate what I was giving them. Walking away doesn’t mean that there has to be an intense burning of the bridge we once walked together, and it doesn’t mean that we don’t love each other anymore, it just means that the nature of the relationship adjusts in accordance with the new expectations both parties have.

So what does Drake have to do with all this?

In 2011 Drake taught me that because of the sheer fact that I would only ever live once, I should do whatever I pleased (I think YOLO is the ghetto version of carpe diem). Since then I have listened avidly to all new Drake songs hoping for a new life lesson.

I was in my room on January 1st 2014, spring-cleaning and suddenly Drake’s ‘No New Friends’ came on. It dawned on me how profound the statement was; Drake had done it again, he had managed to encapsulate a phenomenon in a catchy and sexy way, which would once again tell the masses how to think, how to feel and how to treat people.

 

….Okay, let me be honest…

 

I didn’t clean my room on January 1st and I think I only heard this Drake song in passing coz my sisters are way cooler than me and keep me in the loop.

 

Although Drake’s involvement in my decision-making wasn’t as high as the title suggests, this year I did decide that it was time to pick a team carefully which would involve NO new additions. I looked across all my social ties and picked a few people who had shown themselves to be supportive and reliable for a substantial amount of time, and were therefore less likely to let me down. For these chosen ones, I would give my time, my resources and my heart. Everyone else? Well, if we crossed paths, we could cook it up and chill, but really, it wasn’t going to go any deeper than that anymore.

I was done, bruised in many ways and screaming NO NEW FRIENDS, NO NEW FRIENDS, NO NEW FRIENDS NO, NO, NO.

It went well at first. I was supported, loved, no longer giving myself to people who could potentially hurt me and I had successfully decreased the probability of being wounded. To be quite honest, I was loving life. (I’m not sure if I was actually. Let’s just say I was.) Due to the horrifically beautiful 2013, I was prepared for 2014’s first major hurdle. What I wasn’t prepared for was the team I had so carefully chosen at the start of the year having their own life hurdles to contend with while I was struggling to jump over mine. Where there were once uplifting conversations and text messages telling me that everything was going to be okay, there was only silence. In the silence, I found myself trying to find the balance between understanding the hurdles they were facing and feeling indignant that no one was around to help me get over mine.

SO in this season of self-absorption, anger, hurt and fear I learnt a couple of lessons which I’ll share now, and a few more I’ll share after the smoke clears and I’m running the home stretch.

 

1) Choose your number One

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Psalm 20:7

Could you do something for me?

Exchange the words ‘chariots’ and ‘horses’ with the names of your two closest friends.

Now read the Psalm again.

Yes, to some degree you can trust in these people to pull you through your storms but at the end of the day, the only friend who will die for you is Jesus. It is that real. We can’t place mere mortals on pedestals and expect them to be there all the time – it is not their job to tend to our needs and ultimately, humans are concerned primarily with their own self-preservation. We are all battling our demons and it is unfair for us to have irrational expectations of those who love us the most and expect them to drop their own issues and come running just because we’ve slightly bruised our knees.

Thankfully, God can handle the weight of our expectations and will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Who do regard as your team? It’s okay to have a team, just as long as God is the most important person on it – everyone else will eventually let you down.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5

 

2) God will bring new friends – whether you like it or not

You can scream ‘no new friends’ as much as you like, God is going to bring new people into your life that you are required to change through your perspectives and your love. I know you have trust issues, I know people have hurt you in the past – they’ve hurt me too – but in hiding from new people, we do ourselves a disservice.

Look at all the beautiful friends you have –they were once ‘new friends’. We are changed most by people, the experiences we share with them and the worlds they birth within us, to shield ourselves from these  new friendships is to live a life that is lesser than the one God intended for us to live.

 

3) What about your old(er) friends?

I sat with a friend this week. Although time and distance had passed between us, I thought everything was fine. They weren’t. Her words broke my heart and I sat in the middle of the shopping centre with tears streaming down my face as she revealed to me the depths of her current situation. In that moment, I realised that I had missed the point (once again). You may not need any more new friends but there are people out there that still need you. Your job is to give yourself to old and new friends believing that God is able to fill you up again if you are left empty and heal the parts of you that may be broken during the giving process.


 

I could have written this post about how sad I was that my team had let me down but I think we need to shift our focus from viewing people as sources to viewing ourselves as resources that can be drawn from in times of need. We should seek to lay the trust issues we have accumulated over time aside if we want to become the light that shines for those in the darkness.

 

Lots of light on this dreary day,

Joy

(Can we all take a moment today to pray that it will stop raining? Many thanks.)

xxxxxx

 

 

 

Why Instagram Is Ruining Your Life

obama

 

Before I start can we all take a look at Michelle Obama’s face?! Her face be like “I’LL DEAL WITH YOU WHEN WE GET HOME, BARACK”

Okay, let’s get started.


 

Does anyone else wake up in the morning, roll over and check their phone before their eyes have opened properly? The brightness of my phone can almost be painful but I persevere and force them to adjust.  Why? Because I need to check my phone, I NEED to see who has messaged me.

Oh you’re not in phone-first-camp? You reach for your Bible first?

Sidebar: please excuse my sarcasm, a part of me is applauding sincerely

To be honest, reaching for my bible before I reach for my phone is a daily battle – one I often lose. I so want to reach for God before I reach for people, I tell myself that I’m only going to check the time but before I know it, I’m scrolling through Instagram, updating myself on the previous 8 hours because I am so interested in how you’ve been living, eating, drinking and the sunsets you’ve seen in the time I’ve been asleep.  Our generation (you included, sorry) are obsessed with what we have missed because we fear that we are missing out.  We want to constantly be part of the party and attached to what’s ‘cool’ and ‘happening’, so much so, that even in the presence of company, we will check Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine.. to ensure that we remain in the loop.

We see other people having fun and living out lives that seem flawless and then we take look around the room that we are sitting in and conclude that our lives do not measure up. They’re out drinking champagne; we are at home drinking hot chocolate. Their boyfriend gives them flowers and a life size teddy bear for Valentine’s day and  yet the only Valentine’s message we receive is from Dominos informing us that they have a special offer for our non-existent partners to enjoy (who else loves being single?!) We look at our phones, we look around and we become dissatisfied.

Unfortunately this obsession and comparison with what other people are doing is not limited to Instagram; we walk along the streets looking at other people’s clothes, hairstyles, cars etc and wish that we had the same things. We stare at them and then stare in the mirror and decide that we just aren’t enough. Sometimes it runs even deeper than staring at strangers and wishing for their possessions– sometimes we look at those closest to us and although we love them, we also begin to hate them because we feel that they too possess attributes that should have been bestowed upon us. If you are nodding your head or looking around guiltily as you read this…

 

Welcome.

 

You have been living in the Comparison Zone

 

Here are the rules (which I made up this morning):

Rule #1: Look around instead of looking ahead

Rule #2: Look behind only to make sure you that you are ahead of everyone else

Rule #3: What everyone else is doing is more important than what you are currently doing

Rule #4: What you have done only matters if no one else has managed to do it

Rule #5: Your worth hinges upon what you see around you, not what you know to be true about yourself


 

Once the silent competition between you and a close one begins, there’s no going back. Everything he/she does, you have to do better. You are secretly angry when they achieve greatness yet you force yourself to smile and congratulate them. Every time they win, a small part of you dies and you can’t help but think ‘why not me? Why always them?’ 

This negative comparison, jealousy and envy isn’t limited to Instagram or our generation; we see it in the Bible with Saul and David:

1 Samuel 18:6-8

When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals. This was their song:

“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands!”

This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!”  So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.

 

Now, why would Saul keep an eye on David? Why do we keep eyes on other people?

  •  The deep-rooted fear that we are not good enough
  • The feelings of inadequacy we accumulate as we pass through life
  • *insert reason here*

Saul could have congratulated David but instead he chose to watch him and let jealousy and hatred fester within. Saul isn’t alone. I’m sure some of you have experienced the same thoughts and feelings as Saul when someone has outdone you – I know that I have.

I think once we enter the Comparison Zone, we take our eyes off Jesus and we put ourselves in a vulnerable position. We should be looking to the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) but instead we are looking to see if our friend actually gets that job  or wondering whether her new boyfriend will be better than our current boyfriend.

 

My main gripes with the Comparison Zone are as follows:

1. We started differently

Your race could have started just minutes before mine – you could have even been born during the same year, on the same day, but that still wouldn’t make our starting positions equal. I’m talking about the differences in genetics, in the opportunities given to us, the different environments we are reared in and the choices our parents made long before we were thought of. All these things impact how we run our race.

How can we race each other when we’ve all begun at different times, received different aides and have run through completely different storms?

2. No two destinies are the same

God has made us uniquely different. We have differing goals, missions and tasks that we have been chosen to complete. Now how can we compare ourselves to people who have completely different tasks? The gifts God equipped your friends with in order to complete their tasks will be different to the gifts he has given you – not better, just different. It isn’t about looking at someone else’s light and feeling inferior, it is about recognising that the source of your light is one and the same.

 

 

We will never be satisfied with our lives if we continue to be consumed with the actions of others. I may never be on TV, I may never drive an expensive car and my hair will ALWAYS shrink when water touches it but I have to trust that every single facet of my being was designed perfectly by God so that I could complete my mission here on earth (even my unruly hair).

Philippians 3:14

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

God deserves our attention and our focus because he will run beside us, give us water when we are thirsty, give us strength when our legs are weak and cheer for us as we cross the finish line.

Make a decision to leave the Comparison Zone today; you can’t run anyone else’s race as well as you can run your own and life is better when you realise you’re running this race for God.

Hey now, have an amazing weekend! All my loving,

Joyyyy xxxxxx

Have You Ever Been Drunk In Love?

div3

EVERYBODY PAUSE! No, I do not want to know about activities that wouldn’t make it into a PG film.  Firstly, that would be awkward! Secondly, what you do in the comfort of your home with your spouse isn’t my business. Thirdly…EW!!!!

I shall re-phrase: Have you ever been so deeply in love, with a person of the opposite sex, that you think a small part of the reason your heart beats, is so you can be with them? Ok, maybe that’s too much, but you get the idea.  I’m not talking about the butterflies you get when good looking people cross your path. I don’t  mean the joy that washes over you when you realise that you’ve clicked with someone, and it could potentially turn into something that makes all the people who aren’t in relationships, (I’m a permanent member of this club), want to find ‘their other half’.

“Ever been in love?” Well, I for one can answer no. We don’t have enough time to talk about my boy issues (in a nutshell I’m awkward and probably have a slight complex). Pretty certain I’m not in this club alone. I’m even going to hedge a bet that most people reading will have answered no. (Congrats for all you who answered ‘yes’, if you still are in love, I hope it’s a long happy relationship that turns into marriage and produces beautiful babies). For those of who you answered no, just humour me while I briefly live out my dream of becoming a psychologist for the day. I’d like you to take a moment to ponder: ‘How do you feel about that?

I’ll go first.

Up until this year I was scared. Not scared enough to start joining Christian dating sites advertised on the tube (let me know if that works, anyone who’s tried). I was so mildly scared I didn’t even realise the fear. But it was there.Constantly. Since I first learned what marriage meant I’ve  had this niggling question that rears its head every now and again and gives me a fright:

What if I NEVER get married?

Growing up in a land where “I can’t believe your single” is woven in amongst the variety of chat up lines that don’t deserve reactions, eventually you start to wonder…

‘Why AM I single?’

‘Am I SUPPOSED to be in a relationship?’

There’s only so long you can blame singleness on the lack of viable male candidates, before you start questioning your part to play in the issue.

I should probably say now that by the end of this post, you will not have gained a magic tip to securing the spouse. Sorry! What I want to address is the constant desire to be in a relationship. Before you start hurling scriptures at me I’m one step ahead of ya!

He that finds a wife, finds what is good and receives favour from the Lord. Proverbs 18:22

Despite contrary belief, this scripture justifies wanting to meet someone and do the whole love thing, it however, in NO way ,justifies an insatiable desire to have a ring put on it, at all costs. The Bible speaks of a plethora of blessings and great things that we should claim i.e wisdom, peace, provision. Why is it that we’ve placed such a high value on tying the knot that it consumes our thoughts and we won’t feel fulfilled if we stay single?

Disclaimer: I haven’t become so bitter about being alone that I want everyone to live a life of singledom and ready meals for one.

All I  want is for you to think about why it is, that you want the things you desire? My fear came from a place of wanting to be taken care of. Not in a gold-digger-esque fashion. I just wanted to be looked after, and made to feel special. I imagine it’s nice knowing that someone loves you.

Everything changed this year when I realised that I was scared about not getting married because I didn’t think there was any other way I could have these experiences.

Being taken care of, feeling special, knowing that I’m loved, didn’t seem quite within my reach if not attached to a six-footed, blessed with good teeth, man. Suddenly the penny dropped. I want all these things, but I have God. I lift my hands on a Sunday and open my mouth to sing that Christ is enough for me and yet do I really believe it?

I’ll admit, I do look forward to one day jumping on-board #Team Married, but that desire has stopped coming from a place of NEEDING completion. If I never get married then so what? (No babies, no white dress, but so?) I always tell God, if I’m never rich that’s ok. If I never get to work in my dream job, that’s ok. As long as I have you Lord, I am more than ok. If Christ is enough for you, you won’t need a mere human to feel loved and special and whole.

You will never be that person left on the shelf, because Christ chose you first. He loved you first and died for you before you could even say I love you too.

I might never get wed, but I’ll have lived having the best relationship known to mankind.

Love lots

(permanently sober) Dani X

My Battle With Phone Anxiety Disorder

phone

Signs that you may have Phone Anxiety Disorder (PAD)

Before and after calls do you…

  • feel extremely anxious when making or receiving calls?
  • delay making phone calls due to anxiety?
  • worry about bothering the other person?
  • worry about what you will say?
  • worry about embarrassing yourself?
  • avoid making calls or have others call for you?
  • obsess what was said after calls?

Do you want to know something almost-but-not-actually-funny? I thought I was being witty by creating the term ‘Phone Anxiety Disorder’ until I googled it and it came up and I could relate to ALL the symptoms! I’m sure if my Mother reads this she will roll her eyes, laugh and ask me ‘is there anything you are not afraid of?’ Truth be told, I had always been a bit nervous when making calls, even when I was much younger. I don’t know what it was about speaking to people over the phone that filled me with dread. Face-to-face interactions were a piece of cake but even having to telephone a doctor to book an appointment could easily cause me to break into a hot sweat. My heart would beat faster, I would stutter and I would feel embarrassed without (in hindsight) any real cause.

A few weeks ago I shared about what I learnt after I got my heartbroken and I mentioned that the first time I got my heart broken, I was 17. During that dark time, I stopped speaking to a lot of people – I had two friends who I spoke to every day and everyone else was unintentionally demoted to associate status. As aforementioned, I had always been uncomfortable on the phone but now there was a dark cloud lingering above me which made sure that all phone conversations were avoided. I could text you, that was fine! But a call? No, that was out of the question. I watched my phone ring day after day until eventually people stopped calling – which was a blessing. No longer did I have to dodge calls; it was as though there was an unspoken agreement between my friends and I that I just wasn’t a ‘phone person’ anymore. Yes, it caused problems with one of my two friends (lol) but it was something I was adamant about: I didn’t want to be called unless there was an emergency. Even when making new friends, I would let them know that calls would probably never be feature of our friendship, this was merely one of my quirks and that they needed to accept it if we were to function.

Calls made me fearful. Calls made me nervous. Calls made me uncomfortable and to be quite frank, I just wanted to be left alone. 

I want to say that as soon as the heartache season passed, I suddenly became phone-friendly and confident, able to speak on the phone at will. Unfortunately, even though my depression passed, the fear of calls stayed. Obviously as the years passed, it was more of a preference than a fear but it was still a niggling obstacle that needed to be conquered. Thankfully, life managed to forced me out of my comfort zone and even though I still roll my eyes at calls, I am no longer filled with fear, only curiosity. If I don’t pick up, it’s because I genuinely have no desire to speak to you.

Earlier this week I received a call from a number that wasn’t stored on my phone and in times past, I would have intentionally missed the call because of my PAD. This time, I picked up and engaged with the person (WIN, WIN, WIN). After the call, I began to think about the way that God calls us and how these are the most important calls we will ever receive. It doesn’t just come once, it comes over and over again until we sit and listen; he calls until we pick up. That’s what I love about God, he’s not a whoops-soz-you- missed-the-call-therefore-you-missed-me-and-your-blessing- kinda-God, he is an I-love-you-so-much-I-am-going-to-keep calling-you and keep putting you in situations where you have to do that Thing you do so effortlessly until you realise that this is your gift to your world.

I know it’s not cool to say God ‘calls’ us in the day and age. It’s totally cool and quirky to believe in a ‘higher power’, ‘the universe’ and different types of ‘energy’, but belief that there is a God that can call each and every one of us is often met with raised eyebrows and suggestions of a psychiatrist. But I do believe that God has tasks for each of us to complete during our time on earth which he makes known to us through various moments which are all linked to an overarching purpose that he has for our lives.

Before your insecurities and disbelief (boredom?) make you click the X on the top right hand corner, let me give you some truths:

You are important. You are significant. You matter.  No, you weren’t an accident. You make up piece of the puzzle that has been in the works since the beginning of time. Life can make us feel like we don’t have a place, like we don’t fit but that couldn’t be further from the truth. People will also attempt to diminish our bright light that shines from within – don’t let them. You have an incredible part to play. You can be used. And I know being used has negative connotations in our world, but what an honour it is to be used by the Most High God. When I am used by God to do his work, I am never cast aside or left empty and broken because he has taken everything and left me to recover on my own. Instead of the brokenness that is often felt after humans have used me, there is an overwhelming sense of peace and purpose as I begin to see more and more the power that lies within me to achieve greatness.

Unlike some of my fellow Christians, I do not think there will always be disastrous consequences when we miss a call from God. It’s like if we missed the call of friend who had a spare ticket to the Beyonce concert (God forbid I ever miss such a call). It could have been amazing; we could have met her, sang into her microphone and sat up in V.I.P drinking that sweet juice all night but what ‘could have been’ will always be a mystery. I think it’s a bit like that with God. He wants to use you; he is always calling you to do great and marvellous things but if you don’t pick and respond, he’s not going to make a car hit you on your way home from the place you chose to go to instead. You just won’t have experienced one of the amazing moments God has for you. Yes, there will be others. But that one? That moment with Beyonce on stage? Yeah, it’s gone.

I want to experience every single moment God has for me. The Bible says that we can taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). I want to taste! I want to see the goodness of the Lord while I am alive (Psalm 27:13). So often it gets hard seeing other people walk in their calling while we are barely managing to stand in ours but God could be calling you in this very moment:

Calling you to begin a relationship with him

Calling you to recommit

Calling you to give him more of your time

Calling you to forgive someone

Calling you to write, to sing, to help, to serve, to lead

The call may seem bigger than you and anything you could ever accomplish on your own but that’s okay – it isn’t bigger than God. You have to pick up. Don’t be crazy like me and ignore calls because you are full of anxiety and don’t cover your light with that blanket called Fear. Step up to the call and be bold knowing that God will only call you to a place where he already is.

I still don’t like calls. I don’t like texts and these days I even forget that I have Whatsapp but I’ve stopped ignoring God’s calls. Those are calls I cannot afford to miss.

Ephesians 4:1

Live a life that is worthy of the calling He has graciously extended to you.

Love,

Joy xxx