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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.

Why I’ll Never Go Back To My Ex

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Relationships. Hard work, aren’t they? The (secret) reason why the majority of RomComs end with the first date or the wedding is because after the initial whirlwind romance, things get tough. Relationships are challenging paths walked together by two completely different people with beliefs, experiences and outlooks on life that they held prior to their meeting. No matter how similar you think you are, on that rocky, challenging road all will be revealed. Oh, of course at the beginning things are amazing – beautiful dates, late night calls and those warm, fuzzy feelings but unfortunately, that doesn’t last forever. Each person stops being the best version of themselves and slowly the cracks in the relationship begin to show and within these cracks lies the truth about how different you both really are.

And then it begins: the phone calls that end with someone dropping the phone abruptly instead of with an “I love you”, the tears on the phone because there are no words that adequately encapsulate the hurt that you feel and that awful moment where you are deciding whether to stay or leave. Ah, yes, relationships are tough which is why most do not survive. Most of us are too selfish (sorry) to really handle relationships and these days, more emphasis is placed on our individual wants, needs and goals than the necessity of compromise and therefore the likelihood of a relationship becoming and remaining a success decreases.

Ex is a term that is usually used to refer to a former sexual or romantic partner, especially a former spouse but it can also refer to a variety of former relationships i.e. an ex-friend (I stole this definition from Wikipedia, sorry God). Since each relationship is inherently different, the reasons for their dissolution also varies. Even though some reasons may be looked upon by outsiders as minuscule and easily worked through, to the parties involved the reasons usually justify the break-up. Anyone who has been through a break up knows how dark those first days/weeks/months can be, so dark that the need to pick up the phone and run straight back into the arms of the one you once loved can often become overwhelming.

I think during that dark time we so often forget that the said ‘ex’ is an ‘ex’ for a reason. Yes, we miss them and during that period we long for their presence again but does that mean that they should still be in our lives? Well, of course you’re saying ‘no’ at the moment but I’m sure you can easily recount moments where you’ve given into your emotional urges and gone back to the very person you once cried to be saved from. Some relationships are poisonous and yet we continue to consume them in the hope that one day our stomachs will accept them. The truth is, those relationships will never sit well with us because they are not meant for us.

I was reminded of this when I was reading my Bible last week and I was astounded to see that the Israelites wanted to go back to their exes too. The Egyptians had enslaved the Israelites and during this time of pain and agony, the Israelites cried out to God to save them. Eventually God heard their cries and sent a man named Moses to deliver them. Eventually, the Israelites were set free and ran outta there so fast (in the most dramatic exit known to man), happy, rejoicing, praising God and finally able to walk with their heads held high (Leviticus 26:13). Unfortunately it didn’t take long before the grumbling began; suddenly it dawned on them that they had no idea where they were going. Feelings of uncertainty and fear settled within them and they began to question the God that had set them free and the man that was leading them.

What’s the point in the LORD bringing us to this land? To die by the sword so our wives and children would become war victims? Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?

Numbers 14:3

During their dark time (post break-up), they began to long for a time that they were in chains and in pain; fear of the unknown made them look back and idolise a time they once cried out to be saved from.

The pain of missing someone does not mean you are meant to be with them, it simply means that they once held a special place in your heart, and that in itself is not a good enough reason to walk back to them. People don’t say this often but the truth is, pain can be good for you. Pain shows you exactly what you can live through. As humans we search and crave for happiness but it is in the moments of profound pain that we grow the most. It is when there is no certainty but God and we are literally clinging to his every word that we begin to find who we are meant to become. That is when we realise that there is a call on our lives, that is when he becomes our light in the tunnel and at the end of it, and that is when he shows us glimpses of the greatness he has placed within us and the glory he intends to reveal in us one day (Romans 8:18).

…You are not to go back that way again

Deuteronomy 17:16

I’m talking about that job you hated but offers security, friends who say they you love but attack your character and ex-spouses that have no idea how special you are and therefore treat you kinda badly. You are not to return to the things that you once asked to be saved from because you do not belong there anymore; you are not to walk that way again. You do not fit there and if you try to make yourself smaller to resume a position that was not actually created for you, you will hurt yourself. The relationship may have worked before but there is a reason it stopped working: you changed. And that’s okay. You grew. And that’s even better.

There are many people that I miss, so many relationships that I wish I could still hold with both hands instead of reminiscing about them during solitary moments but if I was meant to be holding them, I would be. If I was still meant to be walking with them, they would be here and our lives wouldn’t be taking such different paths. Every time I get that desire to run back to those people and paths, I remind myself that what God has for me will always eventually be mine and I continue to walk forward on the path he has destined for me.

Lots of my love,

Joy xxxx

My Dad Was A Pastor…I Was An Atheist

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My Dad was ordained as a Pastor the year I was born so my earliest memories are of him preaching to hundreds of people about the grace of God and the love of Jesus Christ. I have grown up watching him teach, preach and do his best to share the love of Jesus with everyone he comes into contact with. I could honestly write this whole post about how great my Dad is because he is my hero; he was the first person who showed me what Jesus could potentially look like and through his love and instantaneous forgiveness no matter what I did (and I’ve done some pretty bad things) I grew up having a firm understanding of the love of Jesus Christ.  Love you Dad! (He doesn’t read my blog so won’t even see this mushy introduction – awkward.)

Despite his consistency, relentless pursuit of God and being a model Christian, my questions regarding our faith in God began around the age of 13. “Daddy, how do you know Jesus is real?” “Daddy, are you sure?” were questions I would ask him regularly. I was in church every week and I was half listening to the preaching and although at times it made sense, there was one underlying obstacle that I kept encountering: How do we know that this is real? How do we know that God even exists? This could all be a lie! I would look around my church while everyone else was worshipping and often feel isolated and lost because everyone was ‘in the spirit’ but me. If I kept missing this spirit, how could it really exist?

My questions continued to grow and the fear that I was believing a really amazing fairytale became greater than my faith. I asked those around me what their thoughts were on Jesus and I got unhelpful and opaque answers:

Me: how do you know Jesus is real?

Friend: He just is!

Me: I’m sorry, what? How does that help me?

Friend: You just have to believe

Me: SORRY, CAN’T YOU HEAR ME? THAT IS THE PART I’M HAVING TROUBLE WITH

My heart grew cold, I switched off during the service and my life stopped reflecting the Christ that I once believed to be true. It was as though this belief in Christ was a club that I just couldn’t join. I wanted so desperately to believe but I couldn’t believe in something I couldn’t see so I simply stopped believing all together.

I don’t know when exactly my belief in God returned. I didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly have all the answers I had searched for during my teenage years. All I remember having were pockets of faith here and there, prayers now and again and life shaking events that brought me to my knees and caused me to run back my default setting – belief in a higher power. There was a need to believe that my pain would one day make sense and that it could not last forever; that need kept me searching. Although I actively sought all the answers to the questions I once had, one day I had to accept that I would never obtain the answers that I longed for.

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them,“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

Mark 10:15

Children aren’t cynical, they ask questions to gain knowledge and to increase their understanding, not to disprove your argument. This scripture says that we have to become like them. Children ask questions but more easily accept the response; there is no pride, just innocence and a willingness to trust that what is being said is true. When they are told that the answer may be beyond them or the answer is yet to be discovered, they accept that too. I had placed my own limitations on God – he couldn’t do the things the Bible said he had done simply because I couldn’t imagine them happening and because I could not conceive them in my own mind, they simply couldn’t be true. But to be honest there are many things I cannot imagine that happen all around the world every single day and my disbelief or ignorance doesn’t make these occurrences any less real.

The honest answer to the question “how do you know that God exists?” is that I will never truly know. I will never be 100% sure that God exists because I have never met him face-to-face in the way that I’ve met other humans. I have, however, had very real, life-changing encounters with him and I can only point you to the broken person I used to be and show you who I have become in the hope that you will see and believe in him also. People from my past don’t recognise who I am now and at times, I don’t either. I am different because of him.

To the Christian having trouble explaining to people why you believe in a God that you cannot see but can only feel, I implore you to connect people with your experiences with God, not just your faith in him. Sometimes as Christians we want to show people the finished product but we don’t want them to see  the wounds that lie underneath our clothes which speak of the battles we had to face in order to become the person the world now sees. Our scars are important and our stories make our faith make sense to someone who simply cannot fathom the depths of our belief. My story speaks of car crashes, heartbreak and hours in A&E wondering if I was going to live or die -and that’s only the last four years! You may not believe that your story is dramatic or glamorous enough, and it may not be the rags-to-riches story-stand-up-on-the pulpit-and-everyone-cries-because-you’re-such-an-overcomer type of story but it is yours. Your story is the reason you have faith so be brave enough to share it and be strong enough to keep believing despite the questions you may still have. We will always have questions but the beauty of God is that he can handle them.

Have a beautiful weekend,

Joy xxxxx

What I Learnt: Hallowed Be Thy Names

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Why I chose this book

I was quite excited to read this book because I hoped that it would positively impact my prayer life. There are times where I just want to praise God for who he is and remind him of all his amazing attributes and…well, I can’t, simply because I don’t know enough of them. Does anyone else ever run out of things to say?

I also think it is important to remind God of who he is (not because he forgets) but because it increases our faith and belief, especially in times of great difficulty.

5 things I learnt 

1. Know God

We can know someone’s name and have very little knowledge about who they are. Some of us claim to be Christians but know God on a very basic level and are yet to explore what the Bible says about his nature, his characteristics and his personality. I think a lack of understanding concerning the character of God can have harmful consequences such as stunted growth and limited expectations of him.

If we do not know that God is Jehovah Jireh, our provider, what will we do when we are in times of financial difficulty? Will we call upon God and remind of who he is or will we crumble under the financial weight? If we do not know that God is El Shaddai (all-sufficient), how we will ever shift our focus from our own weakness, powerlessness and failures, to his ability to keep us, teach us and make a way for us in the wilderness?

I think this book once again highlighted the necessity of reading the Bible every single day and being in relentless pursuit of God. At the beginning of my relationship with God, a prayer a day was absolutely fine but that is no longer sufficient given the time that has passed. If you are still where you were when you first started your journey with God, I think it is perhaps time to reflect on what you actually desire from your relationship with him and what he desires from you. Every day is an opportunity for growth and we shouldn’t let these opportunities pass us by.

2. Problems can be good for you

It is only in the past year that I have come to appreciate the problems and trials that I face. Being a Christian doesn’t excuse me from life’s pains but it does give me access to an amazing pain-reliever. When we look back on our lives in years to come, our most remembered moments will be the ones of pain, the moments where we felt like we had nothing more to give but managed to somehow survive. Hallowed Be Thy Names continuously reminds the reader that it is in the most difficult and trying times of our lives that God gives us a revelation about who he is and a fresh view of his character and power towards us. In order to overcome the challenges we face in our lives, we have to have a deep-rooted belief that our steps are ordered, leaving no room for accidents, good/bad luck and coincidences; everything happens for a reason and ultimately for our good.

3. Are you angry with God?

Some of you are angry with God in this very moment and this anger is linked to moment in your past where you feel God failed you.

God, you said you were going to help me but all I felt was loneliness

God, you said you keep my loved ones safe, but the person I loved the most died

God, you said no weapon formed against me would prosper and yet every single day I wake up sick

You wanted God to come through for you but he didn’t. He let those bad things happen to you and knowledge of this constantly overrides your love for him and your desire to seek him. Whenever you begin to get comfortable with God you remind yourself of that intense pain he failed to shield you from, retract and question his existence all over again. All you can think is “well you let THIS happen” and “where were YOU when I felt like this”.

It wasn’t until I read this that I realised that I also had some issues with God. I had to admit those issues God and ask him where he had been during some of the hardest times in my life. I can’t tell you where He was during your storm but as I looked back on those hard and dark years, I realised that God was there. Even though I felt isolated and alone during those years, the fact that I am still standing today, free from the issues that once held me captive, is evidence of God’s love and presence. He didn’t leave then and come back a few years later; he was always there.

4. It is not enough to just acknowledge your sins

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Romans 3:23

I sin. You sin. We sin.

But are we still moved by our sins? Have we become desensitised to the magnitude of our actions? Yes, we cry out to God and repent but the very next day, we are back to the very thing we asked God to save us from. How genuine is our cry of repentance if we return to the sin? The more we engage with the sin, the less convicted we will feel and eventually it will feel as though the sin isn’t even ‘that bad’. If we hold onto our sin we will eventually forsake God and be given over to our lusts. God will send warnings but eventually we will move so far away that we will no longer be able to hear his voice. We need to daily cut sin away from our lives and fight the desire to do that which we know is wrong.

5. Grace over wrath

The wrath of God isn’t as fun to talk about as the love of God, is it? As Christians, when we fail to speak about the wrath of God, it’s like giving the listener the best ice cream in the world but not warning them about brain freeze. We want to sell them his love but not warn them of his wrath; in doing so we fail to fully encapsulate the nature of God.

God is merciful, kind, patient, compassionate, full of love and grace

BUT

God is also holy, just, pure, severe, unchangeable, a despiser of sin and no respecter of persons.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them

Romans 1:18-19

 

Would I read the book again?

To be honest, I wouldn’t. I do love how much I am learning as Dani and I go through books and write about them and I am finding that each book has something to offer. This book I felt had too much opinion and I found the author quite conservative.  Despite this, it increased my desire to learn more about the nature of God and I will be reading more about this subject in the weeks ahead.

Lots of loving,

J xxxx

 

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

 

How To Stop Feeling Lonely

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The saying “no man is an island” is a phrase I’ve often heard and one that is usually used to evidence our need for human interaction. As a society, we have accepted that to be alone is to be lonely, making it taboo to go the cinema alone or eat alone in a restaurant. For some, the very thought of engaging in social activities alone is enough to make them sweat, while others do it as an act of defiance, determined to prove that they cannot be moulded by society.  If you’re one of those “I can eat alone, don’t need nobody” types, that’s cool – more power to you. But if you go to a restaurant alone and speak to your friends on Whatsapp while you eat and tweet about amazing your dining experience as it is happening then….

The truth is, we like to have people around us, physically, or more recently via mediums such as BBM, Whatsapp and Twitter, which can give the illusion of company if even we are alone. We speak on the phone during short walks from the station; our eyes are glued to our iPhone screens as we cross busy roads, and we engage in frivolous conversation without realising how much time we are actually expending. It is as though our generation are unable to enjoy a moment without feeling the need to share it with people who aren’t there. Unfortunately, we spend more time trying to capture moments than we do experiencing them.

I think the problem with being constantly connected is that when there is no one around, we begin to feel lonely. Not the cute lonely like “aw, I wish Jeff was here” (there is no Jeff, just a random name I thought of lol) but a nagging, irritating, almost painful lonely which makes us uncomfortable and causes us to reach out to people unnecessarily so that they can protect us from the loneliness that we feel. As a result, we are never forced to address the underlying cause of our loneliness.

Loneliness is such a hard feeling to face. I quite like my own company, hate Whatsapp and tend to spend a lot of time alone. Usually it’s fine. Other days, the feeling of loneliness can creep in which makes me question myself. Why are moments of solitude so uncomfortable? Why aren’t they met with jubilation? Why don’t I use those moments to wrestle with the parts of my being that I know need to be fixed instead of reaching out for people who will only move my attention away from the internal work that needs to be done?

I once read that the feeling of loneliness is God trying to remind us that he’s still around; that feeling is God beckoning us to his side. That hollow feeling? That need for company? Apparently, that’s him knocking. Do I believe this to be true? To be quite honest, it sounds nice but I’m not convinced  – if it’s not literally written in scripture and is being inferred, I’m always tentative in taking it as truth. However, I do know that God is always close to us.

Acts 17: 27

God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

God wants us to speak to him, he wants to be close to us and he is a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5) –  he wants to be first in our lives ALL the time. He wants to be the one we run to when we feel overwhelmed or unsafe as he longs to be the one that saves us. As Christians, we shouldn’t ever feel lonely because we have unlimited access to an unlimited God who always wants to sit with us and talk through whatever! I talk to God about my insatiable need for chicken, boy drama, whether squats will actually work (THEY DO!!), whether the dreams he has laid on my heart will ever come to pass…the list goes on because there is just SO much to say. The best part is I don’t have to hold back, I can be myself because he already knows everything about me. There is no pride, no discretion and no need to appear as though I have everything figured out.

The next time you feel lonely, maybe reach for the Bible (app) before you reach for Whatsapp. If you don’t feel like reading the bible but you want to have a conversation with someone, just speak to him; he’s always listening.

Love and all that other mushy stuff,

Joy xxx

Boy Meets Girl: Ruth 2

 

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I think it’s true when they say that our generation like things to be handed to us. We have this sense of entitlement, believing that we should all be millionaires and yet some of us aren’t willing to sit down and create ideas worth buying.

Ruth 2:2

One day Ruth the foreign woman who returned with Naomi from Moab approached Naomi with a request. Ruth: Let me go out into the field and pick up whatever grain is left behind the harvesters. Maybe someone will be merciful to me. Naomi: Go ahead, my daughter.

It’s crazy the amount of times I have sat down and thought “Joy, WHY didn’t you think of YouTube? Why didn’t you create Facebook? What have you been doing?!” In truth, there is no shortage of ideas but I have to ask myself if I am willing  to pour myself into a new project.  I ask myself how prepared I am to take the steps after the idea has been birthed and how faithful I will be when following through.

The answers to these questions usually stop me from thinking up the next social networking site. What I love about this passage is that it shows us what we should do when we have new ideas. Ruth didn’t wait for someone to have mercy on her and hand her success (or food lol),  she had an idea, followed through and positioned herself for the next phase of her life. Ruth took initiative and worked hard, bringing what was just an idea into being.

 

Let me go out into field and pick up whatever grain is left behind by the harvesters.

 

How humble of Ruthie, taking the ‘leftovers’. How many of us would be willing for others to know when we  desperately need help? How many of us would even be willing to toil in the fields?  We are so concerned by the opinions of others that we could be starving and yet still refuse to place ourselves appropriately in the field to receive the help we need. People can only help us if we show them that we need help. I used to get so angry because I would give so much time and advice to others, but find myself alone when I was battling an issue, because I just expected those around me to just know that I was going through a rough patch. I’ve learnt that after kneeling before God in times of trouble, we must dust off our knees and seek help from those that God has placed around us. This might mean going out into the field and hoping someone leaves the scraps behind or it might mean telling a trusted friend that we need to borrow some money because we cannot afford food that week.  As my sister often says, there is no dignity in poverty – we have to reach out!

 

Ruth 2:7

She came and asked my permission to pick up the grain our harvesters leave behind and gather it all into sheaves for herself. Except for one small break she has been here all day, working in the field from the morning until now.

 

Good old Ruthie, once again showing us there is a better way to live. I love that Ruth was hardworking. She only took a small break and worked from the morning until whenever Boaz made his grand entrance.

How many of us take pre-breaks? Oh, you’ve never heard of a pre-break? During my lazier years I would take a break BEFORE the work had even started just to prepare myself mentally for the work that was ahead. Of course, I know now that a pre-break is simply procrastination – which is a “thief of time and a killer of destiny”. I honestly just hated doing any form of work during those years. The question is how much more would we all achieve in our day-to-day lives if we pushed ourselves to the limit and stopped taking excessive food/toilet breaks that when tallied up probably last longer than the time we’ve spent working?

Ruth was in a desperate place – if she had not worked, she would not have eaten and at this point in their lives there was no one else to ensure that this happened. Some of you reading this feel just as desperate as Ruth did and are still not working as hard you should be. Listen, faith without works is DEAD (James 2:17). You can pray as much as you want but if you don’t set that alarm, wake up on time and send out those job applications, you’re still gonna be praying for a job 5 years from now. We have got to work hard – we have to be great! I am so passionate about being excellent in every aspect of my life and doing everything with my heart turned towards Christ, knowing that I should only offer my best because ultimately I work for Christ, not myself or anyone else (Colossians 3:23-24). Work hard, work tirelessly, work relentlessly and work with everything within you. Yes, take small breaks but then go again, harder than you did before.

 

Ruth 2:9 Watch the harvesters, and see which field they are working in. Follow along behind these servants of mine. I have warned the young men not to touch you. If you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars my young men have filled for the harvesters. 

 

Now onto Mr. Boaz, our knight in shining…sandals?  I know some women are praying for their Boaz to arrive and until reading this I didn’t really understand why.  Oh, but now I see! Boaz was great. Boaz was rich. Boaz was perceptive and intuitive. Boaz was a believer. Boaz was respectful. Boaz found a way to both protect and provide for Ruth in their first interaction. What a GUY! I can definitely see why some women are asking God to send a Boaz their way.

 

Ruth 2:11 Boaz: I have heard your story. I know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since your own husband died. I know you left your own mother and father, your home and your country, and you have come to live in a culture that must seem strange to you. 

 

The reason I loved Boaz was because he saw Ruth’s heart before anything else. He was drawn to her heart before he was drawn to her body, beauty or intelligence. Some of us women are building our lives around a man we haven’t even met yet by doing thisnot doing that or by trying to attain attributes we believe he will desire in us. I feel it is important to note that Boaz helped Ruth because of what Ruth did long before they met, not because she manipulated or changed herself to suit his (potential) needs prior to their meeting.

Oh. I am giving you all kinds of truths in this post!

ANOTHER key point: Ruth’s reputation went before her; Boaz had heard her story before they met. Listen! I am not here to tell you how to carry yourself as a man or woman but I will say that people will always talk and your actions, good and bad, will often determine what is said about you when you are not around. That may not necessarily be a reason to act differently but it is certainly something to think about.

And I’m DONE.

LOTS OF LOVE JOY.

What I Learnt After I Got My Heartbroken

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I think it’s strange that we only associate heartbreak with ex-boyfriends and girlfriends. I’m sure you clicked this link to read all the gory details about a relationship you probably didn’t even know I was in. The truth is heartbreak doesn’t just happen after the dissolution of a relationship. The first time I experienced heartbreak, I was 17 and I’m pretty sure I was still invisible to the male species. It was during that period of my life, which was shrouded in darkness, that I realised that heartbreak doesn’t just occur after the love of your life leaves you. It happens when your Mum dies unexpectedly. When you find out your best friend has been sleeping with your husband. When the friend you relied on for everything stops talking to you without explaining why. When your Dad leaves you and your mum and starts a new family. When Shonda Rhimes kills your favourite Grey’s Anatomy characters.

Heartbreak reminds us that we are only human. Our hearts stop being that organ keeping us alive and morphs into that pain in our chest that has the capacity to overwhelm us every time we mentally relive the moment everything changed. Our hearts suddenly have the power to cause our eyes to sting, water to fall and to make us feel as though we can’t breathe.

 

And then it passes.

 

 

Well, sometimes.

 

The pain can be momentary but during the heartbreak season, the line between psychological pain and physiological pain can become blurred as both your body and your mind fight to tell their side of the story and let you know how awful things really are. I’m talking about the depression, the anxiety attacks, the trouble sleeping, the disinterest in everything that once made you feel alive and the tears, oh the tears…the real ish we keep to ourselves because it’s not as easy to talk about our pain as it is to discuss clothes, shoes, bags and the weather.

I think it is only as I began rise out of the heartbreak season that I began to grasp the transient nature of seasons and storms; although I had fallen (hard), there would come a time when I would rise again. With every passing day I became harder, better, faster, stronger (omg, a Kanye reference on the blog, FINALLY) and my perspective on life changed forever. I realised that there would always be good in every bad situation and bad in every good situation because no season can ever be completely bad or good – just as I was able to see light on my darkest days, on the best days, the darkness could sometimes still be felt. Once I understood this truth I began to see the season differently which gave me the strength to crawl on the days where I did not feel as though I could walk. On those days I would say to myself ‘this too, shall pass’.

Since then, I have come to know that all I see around me shall pass. The places that feel like home, the people I find home in and all the things that give me that sense of belonging I can’t help but crave, shall eventually pass. New things will replace them. This has caused me to have a deeper appreciation of moments; whenever I feel happiness, joy, peace or contentment, I inhale the moment. I breathe them in. I make them last for as long as I can, knowing that as that breath passes, so will the moment. It doesn’t diminish the feelings or the moment; rather it reminds me to hold every beautiful moment as best I can because it will pass and within hours become a memory.

If you are in the storm, this post is probably as source of comfort. However, if you are enjoying your life, living well and breathing easily, reading this may be a bit depressing as you realise that this season will inevitably end because no season can ever last forever.

 2 Corinthians 4:17

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

When things are amazing I look to God. When things are bad and I feel like I can’t breathe because my problems and fears are suffocating me, I look to God. The author and finisher of my faith, the one who knew every moment I would ever hold and the one who knows which moments I will cling to until I learn how to let go. I look to the One who does not pass.

Lots of love,

Joyboy xxx

 

The Day I Lost My iPad

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Yesterday was a weird day. Fantastic, horrible, amazing.

I was on the train, on my way home from work (which is three hours away) and I was hungry. Not your, ‘oh, I’m slightly peckish’ type of hungry, no I’m talking ‘I feel like there is hole in my stomach which will never be filled no matter what I put in my mouth’ sorta hungry. I hadn’t eaten properly all week (long story) and that was probably the root of my frustration. I was also feeling quite nothing. Have you ever felt ‘nothing’ before? I didn’t feel like nothing (we thank God for working out my confidence levels!) but I just felt as though what I had to offer, my potential and my gifts were not being utilised. This frustration coupled with the hole in my stomach led me to wanting to smash my phone against the train window and scream.

A few months ago I learnt a lesson about gratitude, which I will carry with me forever. In the moments where I feel most frustrated, overwhelmed and powerless, I start to list the things I am most grateful for. I shift my focus from my problems to my blessings. It usually helps. I also decided to quietly sing some songs of worship which caused people to look at me but I figured it was better that they looked at me because I was singing than they looked at me because I smashed my phone against the train window.

The train finally pulled into the station and by this point I was feeling quite perky. I’d switched from my gospel to a bit of Beyonce and I was feeling myself a little. I had already planned to order pizza as soon as I got home and in my head, I was already in my room, chilling, eating and watching ‘Friends’.

I walked over to where I had left my suitcase and it had gone.

What?

Yeah, it had gone.

I started to think about what I had left in it. My iPad. My beautiful iPad, April, which held the contents of every blogpost I’d ever written, moments I had shared with Jesus, scriptures I loved and lessons that I was learning. My baby was gone. I could buy another iPad but I knew I would never get those words back.

I ran down the train aisle and pushed past everyone to see if I had left my suitcase on the other side of the train. It wasn’t there.

Fam. I was panicked. My heart was beating. A woman asked me what was wrong. I responded that my suitcase had been stolen and I didn’t know what I was going to do. It had my iPad in it. She seemed concerned and she began to ask me questions. See me, I’m not into strangers at ALL. I watch too many TV dramas about serial killers to engage with people I don’t know. Even in my anxious state, I was still aware that she was a stranger and could kill me at any moment.

I noticed that another suitcase was still there, which looked like mine but wasn’t. I realised that the person must have mistakenly taken my suitcase. I grabbed the suitcase. I still didn’t know what I was going to do. Meanwhile, the woman was still there, trying to tell the train assistants what had happened, walking with me and trying to reassure me. The assistants told me to report it to the police and walked on by. They didn’t care. I must forgive them for that.

We reached the information desk and the woman told me to open up the suitcase to see if I could glean any information about the owner of the suitcase. I opened the suitcase; I saw boxers, an asthma pump, a charger but no personal details. I zipped it back up, deflated and resigned to the fact that I would never see April again. As I picked the suitcase off the floor, I realised that there was a piece of paper in one of the pockets at the back, I pulled it out and opened it.

There it was, the name, number and address of the person that had taken my suitcase. The woman and I rejoiced for about 30 seconds. The address was in Ireland and the number was foreign. My rejoicing ceased and I began to worry again. I called the number.

“Hello?”

“HI MY NAME IS JOY AND I THINK YOU HAVE MY SUITCASE!!!”

“Sorry? Oh my gosh! Yes I do. I am so sorry! How did this happen??”

“I THINK YOU TOOK IT MISTAKENLY. WHERE ARE YOU???”

“I’m in St Pancras, I’m just about to go into my hotel”

“OH MY GOSH, I’M STIL IN THE TRAIN STATION. I’M ON THE PLATFORM”

“I’m coming back! Wow, I can’t believe this has happened. You are so smart for noticing.”

“NO YOU ARE THE GENIUS BECAUSE YOU LEFT YOUR DETAILS IN THE BACK POCKET. YOU’RE GREAT. YOU’RE THE BEST OH MY GOSH.”

“Ok, I’m on my way! I am wearing a red jacket and I have no hair.”

“I HAVE SHORT HAIR AND I LOOK WORRIED”

“Ok, see you!”

The woman and I hugged, we were so happy! We thanked God, I thanked her for staying with me and being so kind. I was a stranger but she showed me such love and kindness. As we were praising God, a bald man, in a red jacket walked towards us.

We embraced.

Yes, I hugged TWO strangers yesterday.

He apologised to me.

I thanked him. Thanked him over and over again. We exchanged suitcases and then he left.

I began to thank God. I don’t know why yesterday occurred. I do know that I was struggling to count my blessings and then God gave me something to be grateful for. He taught me how important it was to be kind to strangers and extend love to every single person I encountered. Jackie helped me so much, she was such a calming presence and I know that if she hadn’t told me to look in that suitcase I wouldn’t have done so. She gave me her time and she gave me her love. I am so grateful for her! Oh and to God, my best friend, thank you. April is safe and sound. My beautiful queen is sitting next to me as I type this. GRATEFUL!

Joy xxxxxx

Why Lie?

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James 1:22

But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves.

I look around me at the, what seems like, sudden influx of people defining themselves as Christians and my heart is genuinely warmed. Heaven rejoices each time just one gives their life to Christ, and all of you that are bold in your faith and following of Jesus Christ really do encourage me to pursue my own walk with our saviour.

What we all must remember is that church attendance, re-tweeting a bible verse and liking a scriptural meme is not the be all and end all our faith. There are several things that come with a pursuit of Jesus Christ, and merely proclaiming Jesus from time to time, will not suffice. We have received a God who IS love into our lives to be our Lord and saviour. Being a Christian is about being an extension of that love in the world.

Christ tells the story of what will happen when he returns to the Earth in Mathew 25:31-46. I don’t know about you but I intend on being in the group of the righteous. Imagine thinking you’ve lived a Christian life, retweeting at every opportunity and not letting a Sunday go past where the congregation don’t see your face and Christ comes and makes v41-43 your reality. God forbid. Christianity is more than doing a good deed for the day, not breaking the law, and only mumbling the insults you think under your breath instead of saying them at an audible decibel.

God wants you to treat all those in need (that includes strangers) with the same love he showed you when he died on the cross for your sins. Love is about action. Don’t let the words of Sunday become so ineffectual that they merely become catchy phrases or beautiful literature.

Live out the message. The devil is the biggest deceiver, no need to deceive yourself.

Love,

Dani xx