Tag Archives: change

How I Got A Criminal Record

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I commit crimes all the time.

I have always fancied myself as a criminal. Obviously, I am not actually a criminal; the thought of spending more than two months in jail cell makes me internally freak out. Despite my fear of prison (every time I drop the soap in the shower, I shudder slightly) I’ve spent my whole life considering the different crimes I would commit if I wasn’t a Christian.. There are quite a few. Fortunately, Jesus saves and as long as I follow Him, I shouldn’t find myself on the inside any time soon.

Despite not being on the inside in reality, there are moments where I commit crimes. None of them are particularly heinous; they are mostly petty crimes, but they all look to the same to my judge. Let’s call these crimes sins. God is my judge and He can see every single thing that I do; He is privy to the good things, the bad things, and the things that I am too ashamed to tell even my closest friends. It’s quite unfortunate that the being I love most sees the worst things that I do and takes them very personally because this means that at some point in every week, I am filled with mild to intense feelings of guilt.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:8

I understand why Adam hid from God. Although Adam knew the solution to his problems resided in God, he hid anyway. It was the shame, the guilt, the knowledge that he had done the very thing he had sworn he would never do that made him hide. I understand why Adam hid because I’ve hidden too; I have experienced the Adam moment. I have experienced that moment where God expresses (through His word) that he requires me to live a certain way. I have experienced that moment where I realise that what I want to do and what God requires from me are in constant conflict. I have experienced that moment where I choose the thing God hates in order to satisfy whatever whim or desire I have. Oh, and I despise it. I hate the fact when I am given the choice between choosing God or choosing myself, 40% 60% of the time, I choose myself. It’s not just the disappointing God factor that annoys me; it’s the fact that I lose. I say I won’t do something, I declare that I am free from whatever potential crime I am being tempted by and then the next moment, I’m committing the crime, wondering if God still loves me.

I hate to lose. I am winner. I am competitive and this Christian walk often feels like a battle I can’t win. I am tired of falling at the first, second, third and fourth hurdle. Last week I decided that I wasn’t cut out for this Christian life. I told Jesus that although I loved him dearly, I was never going to be able to be who He wanted me to be, no matter how hard I tried. I said I was sorry for wasting his time but our love story was to come to an end because I was tired of always being the one in the relationship that always messed up.

Just as I was throwing in the towel, I realised:

1) God knows that I’m going to get it wrong.

This journey isn’t about being perfect, it is about striving for perfection, striding towards God and having a heart that longs to do right by Him. That guilt you feel is awful but at least you feel it, you are not so far away from God that you do not react when you fall out of line. Instead you are contrite, you are disappointed and you want to do better. This is good. It means you care; it means there is hope.

2) I cannot do this alone.

I was right when I said to God I couldn’t do it. I can’t.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26

His power is made perfect in my weakness and when I am at the end of myself, that is when God can truly begin. I am not alone in this, Jesus is praying for me (John 17:9) and standing in the gaps, interceding for me (Hebrews 7:25).

3) God does not dwell my past crimes.

I–yes, I alone–will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again

Isaiah 43:25

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:12

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Isaiah 44:22

No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

Jeremiah 31:34

I don’t usually include this many verses but I really want to reinforce and evidence my final point. I don’t have a criminal record because of the grace of God and because of the greatest act of love known to man: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. After you’ve apologised, let that thing go; it is in the past. Don’t dwell on it, don’t ruminate and don’t let it stop you from getting back again and running with Jesus.

All my love beautiful people,

Joy xxxxxxxxxx

12 Struggles Only People In Their Early Twenties Will Understand

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I went to visit my friend yesterday. I thought I was in Kent but I was really in Uxbridge (new lows of ignorance for me). It was so refreshing to get away from my world for the day; this week has been a challenging one in many ways. I haven’t been on a campus in almost two years so it felt strange being around students again. You know how students are just ‘up’ until the early hours of the morning without any real concern for the next day? Yeah, there’s a lecture but attendance is still a choice and there are no real consequences if the lecture is missed. I dare not sleep after 12pm these days (even that is living life on the edge) because my alarm is going off at 6.45am and my train is leaving at 7.40am and I need to be on it.

When did life become more than eating last night’s take-away before 10am and talking about the latest episode of Scandal?

This post isn’t for recent graduates…you guys live a different struggle. This post is for the those of you who have lived the graduate life for about a year now; you’ve settled back into your hometown and you still can’t quite believe how old you feel despite knowing how young you really are.

12 Struggles Only People In Their Early Twenties Will Understand

1) Everyone around you is getting married/in a relationship

What is going on? Seriously? I can’t scroll through my newsfeed without seeing a man on his knees proposing to the love of his life or declarations of love in the form relationship status changes. Can everyone just chill?

2) You start to worry about your parents

It crept up on you – suddenly you became intimately aware of their mortality and the fact that if you are getting older that means that they are getting older too. Now spending time with them is more appealing than it was before because you realise that moments with them are precious; it’s time that we can never get back.

3) You feel like you’re acting at work

You wear the right clothes, paint on a facial expression that you’re convinced says ‘I know what I’m doing’ but you spend meetings thinking “what the heck am I doing here?” You still can’t believe that your employers trust you to care about things and listen during their meetings.

4) You have fewer friends so God inevitably takes on a really important role

Your friends no longer live 5 minutes away and you don’t ‘bump’ into them on the street. Unless there is an intense planning session and a laborious process of trying to squeeze each other into diaries, meet ups are few and far between. On top of this, because work is a real thing now, there just isn’t enough time to be in constant contact with anyone but Jesus.

5) Doing things alone becomes easier than calling on the many two friends you usually hang out with

Before a ‘+1’ was essential. Now you’re so used to doing things solo that you forget to contact your friends to see if they’re interested in going somewhere; you just go alone.

6) You prefer sleeping to socialising

Friend: Let’s go for drinks after work!

You: But when will I sleep?

7) There isn’t any time to watch all the shows you started watching during University

Once upon time, life was:

Uni.

Library.

Watching 6 different shows in bed (in the dark)

These days, I can just about keep up with Scandal. Where is the time going?

8) You are thinking about ‘real’ things

For most of our lives, our focus has been getting through the academic year without failing. Now that’s all over, concepts like ‘career progression’, ‘marriage’, ‘children’ and ‘savings’ are being thrown at us left, right and centre. The worst thing is, we’ve started thinking about them without being prompted.

9) Despite these adult concepts slowly consuming your mind, you still secretly fantasise about quitting your job, travelling the world and eventually settling down in Spain and becoming a bartender

There are always moments during my working week where I wanna throw my notebook and pen in the air, run home, pack a bag and leave on the next flight out of town.

10) You feel bad when you haven’t attended Church or read your bible in a while

During my Uni days I could easily go three months without attending a church service. Fast forward four years and missing two weeks of Church and Bible reading can leave me feeling vulnerable and lost. My faith has stopped being a choice – it is really the thing that holds me together.

11) Being hungover just isn’t fun anymore

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve finally started paying more attention to the scriptures about drunkenness or maybe you’ve just realised that your body can’t handle alcohol in the way it could four years ago. Either way, going to work hanging is N E V E R worth it.

12) Life just feels like it’s moving too quickly and there is nothing you can do to slow it down

We frequently experience moments of crippling fear where we suddenly freak out and wonder whether life is ever going to work out.

Don’t worry, it will. God has a plan and everything is going to be OK (Jeremiah 29:11).

Happy Friday y’allll!!!

Joyxxxxxx

P.S: The picture of today’s blog is of Ms Olivia Pope simply because I mentioned Scandal twice and I can’t wait for this week’s episode.

The Day I Fell Off A Cliff

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On the 13th June I took my last ever undergraduate exam and simultaneously made the transition from student to graduate. For those who can relate to the seemingly upward hill struggle that encapsulates undergoing a degree, what comes next is only comparable to free fall. It’s somewhat surreal and yet exhilarating, a rush of excitement as you realise that you never have to take an exam again and a gulp of fear at the thought of having to plan your own future and shape your own destiny. The world is (to some extent) your oyster. As I look back on uni, the highs, the lows, and the in-between series watching and procrastination I am stunned at where God has brought me, and quite frankly who I’ve become.
I’ll give you some back story. When I started Uni I was an aspiring actress with my eyes set on the prize. After years of part-time training and auditions, getting through Uni was the final hurdle that once overcome, would allow me to push for an acting career with full force. Now, as I look towards the expanse of summer months, I’m waiting with baited breath for my banking grad scheme to start in September. Daniela doing a 9-5?! Who would have thought it? Definitely not me! The girl who enrolled in LSE in October 2011 is definitely not the same girl staring back at me in the mirror. Below are the bits and bobs that clumped together and resulted in the woman that writes this post. (Yuck I just called myself a woman, since when did I stop being a little girl who thought there was nothing she couldn’t achieve?!)

I learnt sooooooo much whilst at uni: here are the 3 things my degree didn’t teach me.

1) No man is an island
If you have any preconceptions about the kind of people that go to Russell Group Universities you can rest assure that I had the same ones. I’ve never considered myself to be extremely academic, and matched with my complete disinterest with current affairs, I took it for granted that I’d actually have anything to say to my classmates. I was so wrong. I had convinced myself that I could go through the whole 3 years without making any friends but looking back I don’t know what I’d have done without them. I’m so blessed to have been surrounded with people who hungered after God also, and the bible studies we shared and prayer sessions we conducted carried me through University. I can’t tell you the benefits of being able to tell someone about your problem and their first solution is prayer, but believe me they are plentiful. So often in our walks with Christ we don’t feel like we can completely be ourselves, but having people around you to reaffirm your faith is priceless. Some people think the fact that Jesus jammed (jammed=hung out) with sinners means it’s not necessary to have  Christian friends but don’t forget that the first thing Jesus did was choose his 12 disciples. I’m not saying Christians make better friends but having Christian friends can help you to become a better Christian.

As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens his friend

Proverbs 27:17

2) You have to lean to deal with disappointment
First year was a struggle. Most of the pain was self-induced and stemmed from my lack of motivation for the discipline I was studying, but revision season was by far the biggest mountain of the bunch. I don’t think I’ve ever revised as hard in my life as I did in those 10 weeks before exams started. ‘Night shift, day shift, and every hour under the sun shift’ is the best descriptor of my revision timetable. I sacrificed my long-time lover (sleep) in exchange for hours on end with my nose deep in a book from the never-ending reading list. All that work only to scrape a pass. I remember opening my results and being hit with an overwhelming sense of disappointment as it sunk it that I wasn’t the high achieving student I’d always been.

Too often, when things don’t go the way we planned and we’re ready to give up on God in a heartbeat. Even if God promised you the very thing you haven’t received, you have no excuse to turn your back on your Saviour. Your journey with Christ isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. If you’re going to give up every time things don’t go your way, you aren’t going to get very far.

3) God orders your steps
When I was 18 I decided I was going to get ‘plans are made but our steps are ordered’ tattooed on my ribcage. I’m yet to get said tattoo but I can’t profess how much truth is in the scripture that my tatt is based upon. If anyone had told me that I’d give up acting I would have told them to stop cursing me with their negativity and block out the rest of their spiel. Now when people hear that I’m going to work in a bank they think ‘typical lse-er’ or ‘you’re one of those money-hungry types’ but they couldn’t have gotten me more wrong. I’ll tell you more about giving up the dream in a future post, but what I will say now is that, unless God has said it, it isn’t certain, and even when he has spoken, he can change his mind. I’m not saying that God randomly gives us instructions then completely redirects the courses of our lives, just for fun, but that lots of things last only for a season. Don’t ever get so set on something that when God is saying something new, you don’t want to listen.

A person plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

Many times God won’t force his will on you, but when disobedience has landed people in the belly of whales, I think letting God lead the way seems like the wise option.


I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have made it. There were times where I thought I wasn’t capable and other times when I didn’t even want to try but God has had his way. To my everlasting father, I just want to say: thank you. You can learn a lot from your degree but nothing is worth learning without Christ.

Hugs and kisses,

Dani xxxxxxx

That Time I Wore An Invisibility Cloak To A House Party

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I loved Harry Potter growing up. Despite Mum telling me that witchcraft was real and I was frolicking with darkness, I devoured those books in secret, loving the places that the author allowed me to go. In my heart, I became Harriet Potty, Harry’s black adopted sister who was facing a similar fate to Harry. I waited for my letter of invitation to Hogwarts for many years; I waited, hoped and hoped some more but nothing ever came. I was devastated. For some reason I wasn’t eligible for this amazing school of witchcraft and wizardry (in hindsight, I thank God that I wasn’t) and I was forced to live life as a muggle with no special powers. If someone had told me back then that one day I would have the opportunity to wear an invisibility cloak (like the one Harry had), I would have cried tears of joy. Yeah, I’m not the coolest person. 

The first time I wore Harry’s invisibility cloak I was 18 years old, walking around Fresher’s Fair, hungover from the night before. The room was loud and obnoxious to my fragile ears and eyes and it was then, as I walked around the room crossing the paths of hundreds of people, that I felt like no one could see me. The noise and the loneliness finally overwhelmed me and I ran back to the safety of my room, where the loneliness could feel more like a choice than a bullish reality. From that day, the invisibility cloak was no longer Harry’s, it was mine and it became part of my being; not a part I loved but a part that I accepted. I never willingly put it on but after a few attempts of trying and failing to be seen, I stopped trying to take it off and let it merge with my being. I became smaller, fragile and timid.

University, for me, was the biggest hype of LIFE, the biggest hype known to man, known to beast, known to every single living thing. Adults and recent graduates told me all sort of folk tales about their university experience:

You will LOVE it, they said.

You will meet your lifelong friends, they said.

You will meet the love your life, they said.

You will never want to leave, they said.

I experienced none of the above.

University was a trying experience, a time of painful growth and acknowledgment of my flaws. Although it was necessary, I did not enjoy it. You see, in that very first year of university, I wanted to be seen because at that time in my life, being seen would have meant feeling alive, and this was a feeling that often eluded me during this time.

One night I was at a house party (it was really just a boring gathering in a house which was located in the middle of nowhere – I really wish people would label their events correctly: rave is different from house party which is different from gathering; I am too tired of this false promotion), insecure, sad, lonely, and once again wearing my invisibility cloak. I couldn’t seem to take it off, people just kept walking past me. I spent the night in the corner of the room on a chair, with my friend (who had friends there) every so often remembering that I was her +1 and asking me if I was okay. Every time I lied and said I was; I was lonely and on the brink of tears, but I still had my pride! Needless to say, that night goes down as one of the worst house parties I have ever attended.

Later that night, my friend and I got lost (yes, the night got worse) and we wandered around Manchester at 3.am (don’t tell my mum!), looking for a cab, a bus stop or a friendly stranger who could point us in the right direction, which was of course unlikely given the time. With nothing left to do but walk and talk, we began to share our problems and fears with each other in a way that we had not done before. We both fought back tears that night as we told each other how miserable, invisible and alone we felt every single day. Despite knowing deep down that we had so much to give and so much to offer the world, we only felt small and insignificant.

All I wanted that night was to be seen, to be spoken to and to be acknowledged. To this day I can still remember that painful feeling of loneliness and literally counting down the hours until I could be at home in my bed, crying to my then boyfriend about how horrible my life was (notice I wasn’t crying to God about this invisibility problem – this was definitely part of the problem). I’m sure some of you reading this are thinking “look at these first world problems, girl you should have just spoken to someone!” To be honest, I wish I had been brave enough to. But then, if I had, I wouldn’t be sharing this story.

Some of you are wondering whether this post will tell you if I finally took off my invisibility cloak; it does, keep reading!

The next year I gave my life to Christ and began my pursuit of him. God began to break me apart in order to build me back up again. He had to break me apart first because there were deep-rooted lies I believed about my worth and my significance and those lies couldn’t co-exist with his love and belief in me. One day I was reading my Bible and I came across this verse:

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

John 1:48

Before Philip called Nathanael, before Nathanael knew who Jesus was, Jesus saw him. Jesus had his eye on him, Jesus was interested in him and Jesus had already chosen him. Jesus saw him. As I read this scripture, the penny dropped: Jesus sees me too.

When everyone in the room is talking and I’m being ignored, Jesus sees me.

On the days where I don’t feel good enough, Jesus sees me.

On the days when I do not feel as though I can compete, Jesus sees me.

On the days where I only feel anxious and unsure of myself, Jesus sees me.

I am seen.

The good, the bad, and the things I hide from other people because I fear I will be judged are all seen by Jesus and yet he still wants to know me. This truth helped me to take off my invisibility cloak. It wasn’t some great big reveal, it was a slow and painful process where Jesus took it the cloak apart piece by piece until suddenly, I could see myself the way he did.

So to you, reader, the one that feels invisible, as though you don’t matter. You do.

To you, feeling overlooked, you are seen.

To you, in pain, you are seen.

To you, overwhelmed, you are seen.

To you, invisible, you are seen.

To you, insecure, you are seen.

Jesus thinks you’re enough. He loves you. He sees you.

All my love,

Joy x

P.s: I have included a song which I used to sing  and wish could be my reality. Now it is and I thank God. Hope it helps you too xx

How To Stop Being A Pushover

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If you’re anything like me, you probably struggle to keep your mouth shut.

How can you be a pushover if you’ve got a big mouth, you say? Keep reading!

I am honest to a fault; I say what I think, as I’m thinking it because I just have this deep desire to express myself. I say what’s on my mind without really considering the aftermath, which often has…unusual consequences.  Although I’m not intentionally malicious, my lack of tact means I often come across as callous (sad face) and there have been (many) times (probably still happening) where my words have been insensitive and have hurt people.

As a result of past experiences I have learnt to carefully consider my words before I say them; these days I speak so slowly you’ll sometimes catch my face and hands frozen in agony as I try to find the best way to articulate a contentious point without hurting your feelings. It is tiresome and I savour the moments I’m around people who just get me and never get offended. It has become easier to stay silent, even about the things that matter. These days, when people offend/hurt me, I tend to swallow my hurt or more recently, tell the person how I feel about the situation… in my head. I tell them how hurt and angry I am and they apologise; we have the confrontation, we fight it out and everything is okay…in my head. In real life, I never actually say how I feel.

The problem with not speaking as much/having mental confrontations is that people are always going to do things that hurt and offend us – it’s a part of life. I can mentally confront them all I want, if I do not speak out,the person will never know what they’ve done and is therefore more likely to repeat the offence. Furthermore, the longer our emotions are allowed to fester in our minds, the more dire the offence feels, increasing the likelihood that we will explode (like I did this week).

Did someone say ‘conundrum’!?!

This week, I wrote a step-by-step guide to having healthy and happy confrontations. This was written after a few (real and dreadful) arguments that took place this week due to my lack of communication and inability to articulate my feelings. After apologising to everyone I had exploded upon, I thought to myself, “enough is enough Joy, you need to find a way to confront people without being a meanie”.  So here it is!

I included some hyperlinks. Click them, they are so fun. Sorry, I’m being geeky (again)


1. Think carefully first

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

James 1:19

An old friend used to say ‘Joy, that’s how you feel but that’s not what’s real’. It used to annoy me and at the time I felt as though he was dismissing my feelings but in hindsight, his words were quite profound. You can feel deeply about something, you can be angry and upset about it, but it is just a feeling. The same thing could happen next year and because you don’t ‘feel’ the same way about it, you may not even react. (<<<My last sentence should put into perspective how transitory our emotions can be). We can’t always act on our feelings because although our feelings are valid, meaningful and in some way linked to a real incident, they are in no way objective measures and therefore cannot be relied upon fully when making decisions. Think rationally before you purse a discussion and try to separate what you know to be true from how you feel. Sleep on it, you might feel differently in the morning.

 

2. Submit the problem to God

This step is key. Sometimes we are offended because our ego has been bruised, not necessarily because we have been wronged. More often than not, we need God to settle our spirits, help us to see where we could have done things differently and give us a fresh perspective on the situation. Imagine if we are actually the ones in the wrong (which is usually the case with me) and we are going in with guns, guns, guns only to have the person take the guns we brought to the scene and shoot us? After talking to God about the problem you may not even need to move on it; that conversation may be enough as he may give you peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Sidebar: I’ve used this step in isolation quite a few times – I’ve prayed about it and ‘forgiven’ the person without actually confronting them. The first time I did it I thought I was so Christian, so cool and so saved  until the person sent me a text to find out how I was (obviously oblivious to the argument we had been having in my head) and I started remembering how grieved I was. This was not true forgiveness. Forgiveness means we no longer dwell on the wrong and it no longer has the capacity to move our emotions – it should be as though it never happened.

 

3. Pray for the person who hurt you

Yeah, I know, sounds a bit random and rather difficult given that you’re annoyed at them but I think we often avoid confronting people because we are afraid of what their reactions could be: what if they shout at us? What if they stop talking to us? What if they think we are weak?

I think we should begin to pray ahead of tough conversations and ask God to soften the recipient’s heart and make them open to our words. As we pray for them we should also pray that God would give us words that which will cause minimal damage but also allow us to honestly say how we feel.

 

4. Don’t text about it

Texts weren’t created for long and emotional conversations (which is why the creation of emojis was so revolutionary – people could ‘hear’ us better). We have no voice when texting and the person can only hear what you’re saying in the way that they believe you’re saying it, which often has disastrous consequences. For example:

I’m tired of this (angry, fed up, ready to move on)

I’m tired of this (exhausted, sad, willing to move forward)

Text distortion is real; the same words can be received very differently depending on how the recipient feels.

I have had countless (stupid) arguments over text because it was easier than calling the person and discussing how I felt. Never again. I am now in the business of building bridges, not burning them, thus emotional discussions are  given the appropriate time and setting. If you can’t meet, use Skype or FaceTime for my fellow iPhone users; if you have no Wi-Fi, just call. I know it’s easier to hide behind text and not let the other person see how hurt you are and hear your voice crack with emotion when you say certain words, but this may be the difference between moving back and moving forward.

 

5. Speak in the way you’d like to be spoken to

God knows how hypocritical I feel writing that step as I’m still practising how to implement it; I am the queen of speaking in anger and regretting it two minutes later. My childhood nickname was ‘time bomb’ coz no one knew when I’d explode. Realising that anger is usually just sadness and disappointment in disguise helps to change the way you address someone who has hurt you. Instead of speaking in rage, you can speak honestly about the hurt you’re experiencing because of what they have done. Be sure to taste your words before you say them. When I knew I couldn’t be trusted to consider another’s feelings during a confrontation I would write down my thoughts, read them over and build it into something I could say to them face-to-face. It helped massively.

 

6. Let it go

This is the hardest step. After you’ve said your piece, that’s it, it is over. Mentally replaying the conversation over and over won’t change what was said. At this point it is important ask God to heal whatever was broken during the process (from the time of offence to the end of the last conversation) and to close your wounds fully so that they can never be reopened.

It’s over. Forgive them. I repeat: this is the hardest step. Forgiveness is not lording their transgression over their head and reminding them at every opportunity that they are the reason for your pain, forgiveness is accepting an apology you may not have gotten and moving forward, with or without them.

I Repeat: Hardest Step


 

 

And there you have it, my step-by-step guide to confronting people. What do you think? Is there anything you would do differently? Let me know in the comments section!

All my love!

Joy x

Ruth 4: Is ‘Happily Ever After’ Possible?

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Dani said

First of all we can see that Boaz is honouring his word. He told Ruth that he would ask the other relative if he wanted to redeem what belonged to Elimelech, and that’s exactly what he did. Some people go as far to say that your word is everything you have but what the Bible says is that life and death is in the power of the tongue. Words are so powerful and we can all follow in Boaz’s example and commit to being accountable to the words that come out of our mouths.

Mathew 5:37

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’

The second thing I learnt was that just because things seem like they’re going wrong, doesn’t mean it’s not going to be a happy ending. God works all things out for the good of those that love him (Romans 8:28). When the relative Boaz asked said ‘YES’, my reaction was ‘WHAT?!?! What do you mean yes??? This isn’t how the story is meant to go!’ It’s crazy when you know how something ends but you still get worried at the bumps in the road and twists and turns of the plot.

News flash: God said he was going to give you everlasting life. You already know how your life ends up, so why are you getting scared by the things that don’t go as planned?

Finally, I learnt not to dismiss the things that others label irrelevant. In verse 15, Naomi was told by the village women that Ruth was better for her than 6 sons. For the comment to be made just goes to show that women were dismissed in terms of their ability to provide. The fact that God uses Naomi is testament to the fact that dismissal is unwise. God can use anyone and anything to bring about your breakthrough. Stop dismissing the answer to your prayers because it’s not packaged the way you thought it would be.

 Joy said

Ruth 4: 3-6

And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech.  I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.”

The man replied, “All right, I’ll redeem it.”

Then Boaz told him, “Of course, your purchase of the land from Naomi also requires that you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow. That way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family.”

“Then I can’t redeem it,” the family redeemer replied, “because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it.”

Can you hear the change in tone too?

At first, our dear, old, nameless friend is more than happy to redeem the land and enlarge his estate, but once it becomes clear that it will endanger his own inheritance, he backs away so quickly, he might as well have disappeared off the page. Although that was meant to be a joke (I’m pretty sure none of you laughed) I would like to highlight that this man was not named in the text; he was merely the hurdle that Boaz had to jump over to get to Ruth. This man almost falls through the cracks of history, his role becoming insignificant and in many ways, forgotten by many.

Similar to (I’ve even forgotten her name..) P…P…(I’m going to have to google her name – oh the IRONY!) Orpah… (That’s her name -woops) who we explored in Ruth 1, they both had an opportunity to become an integral part of biblical history and but they both failed to take hold of the blessing with both hands because they couldn’t see it – they lacked foresight. Had this man known how God’s hand was upon Ruth, working things out for her good and ordering her steps, he would have surely looked upon his inheritance and realised that it paled in comparison to the blessings of God. This is a lesson to us all. Let us not become obsessed with what was is currently in our hands because God always has more for his people. We never know how one choice will change the course of our lives so we must make decisions in light of the God that we serve, his desire to bless us and the way he uses the most unlikely situations to do so.

Ruth: the love story

The story of Ruth is beautiful love story. Although it doesn’t have the singing in the rain, the candles, the bed of roses and the great declaration of love Disney films have taught us to long for, this story speaks of true love, a love that transcends time and gender. May God bless us with people like Ruth who will be willing to walk with us when life backs us into a corner and threatens to take the very things we have held closest to our hearts.

Life will not be easy – there are still moments of pain and joy (awkward pun) that we are yet to experience and these moments cannot be avoided. My prayer is that I will be like Ruth and stick around when things are going badly for those around me. I will not leave; instead, I will carry those that I love until they are in a place where their hearts are once again filled with love and laughter. My prayer is that we will also find our Boaz, not just in love, but also in ministry, in our workplaces, in our friendships. Not everyone will see and appreciate who we are and what we can offer but our Boaz will see past the physical and look at our hearts; they will see our intentions and seek to protect us.

It took me a long time to grasp the overwhelming and unfailing love of God because it goes beyond everything I know to be true of the concept of love. For the most part, love exists upon conditions and requirements – once we fail to meet those requirements, the love is snatched away or given in lesser proportions. The love of God does not exist in this way; it is unconditional, unchanged by my actions. There is nothing I can do to make God love me any more and there is nothing I can do to make God love me any less. This love manifests itself in many ways and here I believe we see a perfect example of God’s perfect love. When we met Ruth, all that surrounded her was death, poverty and long-suffering and yet by of chapter 4, Ruth is married with a child and Naomi is a grandmother, something she initially thought was impossible.

I believe that love has the power to bring life to seemingly dead situations and this is exactly what we witness here. Where there was once death, there is only life and Ruth’s love for Naomi carries them to the end of their story together.

Thank you so much for reading with us, we hope you learnt as much as we did!

All our love,

Dani & Joy xxxx

 

Along Came 2014

2014

During the latter parts of December, everyone becomes excited about the New Year. Usually, I’m the same! I promise! Despite my naturally moody disposition, I love what a new year represents; an opportunity to begin again, to live differently and to do things I was scared to do the previous year. It is as though we are reborn; we have a clean sheet, a fresh start.

It’s cliché, I know.

I am also aware that most people don’t actually utilise the year we are gifted with; people fall into old patterns– they binge eat instead attending the gym, chain smoke instead of wearing nicotine patches and sleep in on Sundays instead of making it to the 10am service. I’d say the ‘change!’ train probably dies around January 18th. My gut tells me that December 31st 2014 will roll around and people will write the same resolutions in different ways, hoping to do things differently but will still be unwilling to do what is necessary to create the change they wish to see.

Alas, despite both my sentimental and cynical nature, I used to love a New Year. But you know what, last year was different. I was apprehensive.

Wait.

I’m lying.

Let me be honest.  I was scared.

During my holiday to Cyprus, I looked back on 2013. I knew 2013 was going to be a madness, I could literally feel it within me on January 1st, but I was in no way prepared for what lay ahead of little old me. On my darkest days, I was on the battlefield fighting for my life, my health and my sanity, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel – on some days, there was no light.

As I looked back, it became clear that the days of light far outnumbered the days of darkness but that only became known to me through the gift of hindsight. There were many times last year where I could only see darkness and feel pain. I know I’m not the only one; 2013 wasn’t easy for a lot of us. Despite our planning and our pronouncement that it was ‘our year’, life inevitably got in the way. We experienced problems, depression, bereavement; bouts of anxiety, abandonment and the kind of fear that stopped us from achieving the things our hearts cried for us to do. As a result, some of us are moving through 2014 scared, fearful and apprehensive, unwilling to take meaningful steps, terrified that we may fall and have to spend the better part of 2014 learning how to walk again.

The reality is that we have no idea what lies ahead; we can recount the past and observe the present but no one, with complete certainty, can predict what the future will bring. So I’ll leave with you the scriptures that help me to walk through 2014.

Do not be afraid; just believe (Mark 5: 36)

We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty (Zechariah 4:6)

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Remember there is no battle you have to fight alone now that you have Jesus in your life. Whatever life throws at you, he can handle it.

So glad you’re here and reading this!

Joy xxxxx