Tag Archives: lessons

What To Do When You’re Falling Apart

falling

At the moment, I’m getting into the Old Testament (OT) – the part of the Bible most young Christians tend to avoid – not because we don’t want to read it, of course, but because it just feels a bit intense and at times, confusing. The New Testament (NT) feels a lot easier to get through, right? It can at times feel like an action movie with the star of the film being our main man Jesus Christ who just keeps doing and saying amazing things.

 Boom! Born in a manger

Boom! Doing Miracles

Boom! Dying on a cross

BOOM! RISING FROM THE DEAD

Such a page turner, right? And of course, once you become a Christian, you’re given the little red NT Bible so most of us just sit with the last 27 books and neglect all the other books. After years of being content with the NT alone, I decided to begin right at the beginning of the Bible. I have just finished reading Joshua and let’s just say it’s been quite the journey.

God delivered  the Israelites out of the Egypt but instead of allowing them to enter the Promise Land instantaneously, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because of their disobedience and distrust. The Israelites had no real idea where they were going; there had been ups and downs, disappointments and frustrations. The very thing they hoped would come to pass had been severely delayed.

Eventually, the Israelites reached the land God promised them and in Joshua 22, Joshua their new leader, gave some of the tribes some sound advice:

But be very careful to obey all the commands and the instructions that Moses gave to you. Love the Lord your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, hold fast to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.

Joshua 22:5

On the day I read this, I was having trouble holding onto God because I had so many other things in my hands. It had been a whirlwind week, full of moments where things had failed to come together in the way I hoped they would. I wanted to throw myself into my emotions and hibernate under my quilt. Thankfully, this scripture caught me as I was falling apart and caused me to question my response to what most would consider one of the usual setbacks of life.

When we are falling apart that is when we should hold tighter onto God – we shouldn’t let him go because of our emotions.

When everything is going wrong – fall apart hold fast

When things aren’t going your way – fall apart hold fast

When you’re not sure what to do next – fall apart hold fast

When you put all your hope into something and it doesn’t come together –fall apart hold fast

Hold fast to God, He is all we have.

Joy xx

Why I’ll Never Go Back To My Ex

breaks

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

The Day I Fell Off A Cliff

cliff

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

What I Learnt: Hallowed Be Thy Names

hallowed-be-thy-names-david-wilkerson

 

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

 

Why Instagram Is Ruining Your Life

obama

 

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

Okay, let’s get started.


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Welcome.

 

You have been living in the Comparison Zone

 

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

Rule #1: Look around instead of looking ahead

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

1 Samuel 18:6-8

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

My main gripes with the Comparison Zone are as follows:

1. We started differently

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

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

2. No two destinies are the same

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

 

 

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

Philippians 3:14

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

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

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

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

Joyyyy xxxxxx

How To Stop Being A Pushover

o-STOP-BEING-A-PUSHOVER-STAND-UP-FOR-YOURSELF-facebook

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

Why You’ll Never Have The Perfect Body

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Summer is fast approaching which means summer bodies are on the horizon, y’aaaall. It’s soon about to be that time of the year where everyone can shamelessly unveil all the hours they have been putting in the gym since January (OH, is it just me planning to do this??). I am the queen of fitness regimes, the starting them- not necessarily the completion of them. I regularly ask my little sister to take ‘before’ pictures of me but because I never actually complete the fitness regime, I can never take an ‘after’ picture to post on Instagram which means no one can ‘like’ my progress and validate my weight loss (I joke, I joke) (okay, I’m not really joking, I have hundreds of ‘before’ pictures). I have bought Davina’s fitness DVD, Coleen Rooney’s fitness DVD, I even tried ‘Insanity’ with the almighty Shaun T. At the moment I’m trying out different gym classes. I kinda die every session, my screams are often drowned out by the blaring techno music and I usually spend most of my sessions wondering why I came, telling God that I am going to die and him responding that I’m not going to die just yet; I think it’s become our thing.

I used to run. I used to jog twice a week, every single week, one mile there, one mile back, in the rain (yes, some black women are unafraid to get their hair wet..…okay, it was a weave) in the wind, and even in the dark. I was simultaneously losing weight and self-medicating. Feeling both stressed and powerless, running allowed me to establish a sense of control; I could control my speed, my route and my level of determination. Outside of those minutes spent running, my life was out of my control as my health continued to spiral downward with no medical explanation. After a while, I could barely walk to the bus stop and running soon became a thing of the past, a favourite thing and a thing that I sorely missed. As soon as I felt well enough, I went back out there and I began to run again. After about the third run, I realised something:

 

I hated running.

 

Not a cute hate i.e. I hated the thought of running but as soon as I was out there, I loved every moment. No, I hated the thought of running AND the moments I spent outside. I hated pounding my heavy feet against the unforgiving pavement, I hated the way my calves felt like they were going to expand and split in two, I hated the taste of blood in my mouth and the stares I received from strange men who looked like they were imagining I was running towards them…

 

I hated running.

 

So why did I keep running after I realised I loathed it? My rocky weight loss path is a blog post in itself, which I hope to share one day but in short, I wasn’t enough. Every time I became satisfied with one aspect of my body, another flaw would rear its ugly head, my low self-esteem would magnify it and off I would go trying to change myself in order to become the perfect version of myself I so desperately longed to be. Before you start feeling sorry for me and  (virtually) begin to pat my arm, let’s be clear – this isn’t a sob story. I am pretty sure every single one of us has had a moment where we’ve looked in the mirror and thought ‘ugh, what is that?!’ It’s weird how hard we workout in the gym and push our bodies to the limit in order to achieve an unattainable standard of beauty.

Whether we actively jog or not,  we all spend a lot of our time running. We devote the majority of our lives to running from our fears and chasing the things we hope will fill the voids in our lives. We chase degrees because we hope that they will, in some way, validate our intelligence. We chase the opposite sex because we believe in them we will achieve the completion our souls were built to crave. We chase particular jobs because we crave status and we are tired of sitting on the floor whilst watching our counterparts rise to the top.

I quit jogging months ago but I’m still running. This week I asked myself when I would stop running. I asked myself when I would take a minute, look around and realise that God had given me everything I needed to survive? I asked myself if what I had would ever be enough or whether I would spend the rest of my life desiring and wishing for more. You see the pursuit of the above isn’t futile or negative but these things will never truly satisfy us. That body you crave? Yeah, you’ll find a fault with it. That job you so desperately desire? Your boss will probably end up being a sadistic dictator. That person you feel will complete you? Yeah, love is beautiful but love also hurts and no amount of love can heal you if you don’t take the time to nurse your own wounds.

So why do we keep running? What are we running towards? Is it Him or the earthly treasures that are so easily destroyed (Matthew 6:19)? I think we need to get to a place where we can say God, if you are all I ever have, you are enough. The car, the dream house, that amazing job and even that marriage and kids thing, those are all luxuries when compared to the joy and fulfilment I have in you. If my life consisted of you and I on a desert island, that’s cool coz you are everything I’ll ever need; you are all I need to get by. You are it for me and I will run towards you only, remembering Matthew 6:33:

 

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

 

 

All my love and have a beautiful weekend,

Joy xxxx

5 Things I learnt From ‘Your Beautiful Purpose’

your-beautiful-purpose

 

Why I chose ‘Your Beautiful Purpose’

I literally googled “good books for Christian women” and loved the front cover. I obviously checked ratings and reviews too!

My decision to read more Christian books was inspired by a few of the young women I follow on Twitter who are always reading and stretching themselves via Christian literary. I loved reading as a child (I would read while walking on the street and in the dark with my phone as a flashlight lol) but as I got older, it got easier to watch online series than engage my mind with the words others had written. This year I decided that I needed to learn more about my faith and I began to read again.

Initial Reactions

From the outset I was like ‘WOAH’. I read the first couple of lines and I knew it was a book that was going to speak to my heart and challenge my perspectives. Admittedly I got lazy and didn’t read it as regularly as I should have but when I did pick it up, this book brought me to my knees. It felt like every sentence was anointed and needed to be remembered, and so I went about highlighting every profound sentence (which is basically half the book). I’ve got notes on the pages like ‘THIS’ and ‘FAM!’ and it looks more like a colouring book which means I probably won’t be able to lend it anyone without feeling like they’re reading my diary.

5 Things I learnt

1. God Lets Bad Things Happen

I know it’s a tough realisation to come to terms with but it is the truth. I’m sorry if you thought God was going to ensure that your life was filled with only happy moments. Sorry, wrong God. God will let the storms rage but he will hold the umbrella! He will let people come into our lives that seek to destroy you but he will provide you with boxing gloves! That’s the kinda God we are dealing with.

God uses difficult times to help us grow and I have learnt that if we don’t go through tough times, we stay the same. My sister sent me an amazing article about the times in life we grow the most (sorry, I haven’t got the link!) and it is when our backs are against the wall and we are truly broken – that is when we begin to grow again. We are forced to dig deeper and as a result, uncover a new floor of ourselves. God uses the storms in our lives to reveal to us the depths of our character.

Romans 5:3-4

And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness.

2. The Power Of The Cross For Me… And Them

It’s so great this whole forgiveness thing, isn’t it? We do bad things, we say sorry to God and then boom, it’s gone (Romans 8:1) . I love it. But what about the wrong others inflict upon us?

“As Christians, we must accept that the things done to us, along with the things we’ve done, are together on the cross”.

Susie Larson

If I truly believe in the power of the cross to cover my sins and my wrong doings, then it follows that the cross also covers the wrongs done to me. This means, that thing you’re doing where you’re not talking to someone and actively hating them every day because of something horrible they did to you last year? Yeah, that has no place here. If the cross covers you, then it covers them too. And I’m not saying you must go and make friends with every single person that has wronged you, I am saying that you should forgive them and let it go. The pain you experienced should no longer be the thing you think on day in and day out. Move on.

3. You Can Be Used

You don’t have to be strong, beautiful, freakishly intelligent or charming. You just have to be you. That is enough. I read yesterday “you can’t be anything you want to be, but you can be everything that you are meant to be.” You are enough. You haven’t got to be a spiritual worrier, speaking in tongues and healing the sick before God uses you; you just have to be available.

4. Comparing Yourself

Is deadly and shouldn’t be done. The grace and gifting upon each of our lives is so different, how can we begin to compare ourselves to one another? I want to do a separate post on this so I won’t rant and rave too much here but what this book taught me is that whenever we see someone with something we envy, we should convert that envy into a prayer. We should thank God for blessing them! Yeah, it’s no easy feat but it is very possible.

Comparison is dangerous. I try not to wish for what others have because I have no idea what they had to go through to get it; good things never come easy! This point is also linked to my previous point – you are enough. Stay in your lane. Fight your fight. What is yours will always be yours. Constantly looking to what others have will only cause you to look disdainfully at your own life and that is not a healthy road to walk down.

5. Engage With God (Daily!)

We have got to set time apart every day for God. Yesterday’s word is not enough especially since we can get a fresh word, enjoy new mercies and experience his grace all over again today. If we stop engaging with God, when people around us have problems, we will find ourselves giving bland, albeit true, advice.

‘God will pull you through’

‘God has a plan’

‘Jesus knows what you’re going through’

Your friend is in dire need of a fresh word from God – which God would have readily given to you if you had bothered to engage with him that day. We need to cultivate a living and breathing relationship with God if we are going to be wells that can be drawn from in times of need. We need to be open with our own struggles and the times God has helped us during similar situations so that our friends can begin to connect with our story and our God.

Sidebar: And yeah this whole ‘call me if you need me’ – that’s not a real thing anymore (this is me talking, not Susie Larson). I am so done with this ‘call me if you need me’ culture. If your friend is in need, YOU call THEM because they need YOU. Don’t shift the responsibility and say ‘well, I said they could call me and they didn’t so I guess everything is okay’. Everything is not okay, be present and take care of your friend.

God is inviting us to walk more intimately with him every day, to know him, to serve him, to trust him but how can we do that if we are relying on last year’s revelation and forgetting to incorporate him into our daily lives? We need to become dissatisfied with where we are and reach out for more.

 

Quotes I loved

“I can look the part of the Christ-follower and miss the heart of Christ amidst all of my action”

“Whatever God showed us last year, or even yesterday, He has something better, something deeper, and something more profound to show us today”

“It’s not enough to go through the motions”

“He’ll only work with us to the extent that we give Him access to our soul and permission to change us”

“Over time your choices either promote you or exposes you”

“What we do in secret from day to day seems of little consequence, but in due time those small hidden choices either reveal a life of discipline or sloth”

“Where’s my focus? What do I replay in my head? His promises or my problems?”

“We don’t have to be theologians to be mighty in God. We just need to be present with Him.”

“The more we spend time with Jesus, the more we’ll get to know His character and understand His ways”

“When spiritual coasting sounds like a wonderful option, we really need spiritual conditioning”

“Jesus cares about our eternal impact, because how we live or don’t live today resonates with us into eternity”

Would I read it again?

Yes, yes and yes. This is a book that you can read at different points in your life and each time, learn a new truth. Written with the deepest sincerity and love, I can only ask that God would bless Susie for being a vessel and writing such a beautiful book.

 

What did you learn?

 

Lots of loveeee,

JOY. xxxxx

Ruth 4: Is ‘Happily Ever After’ Possible?

happily-ever-after

 

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

 

Are You As Loyal As Chris Brown?

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So I’ve been really thinking about what to share this week given that today is a really exciting time in the Christian community – it is Good Friday! The Easter period is one that really fills my soul up with glee because of the life I have because of the death Jesus Christ. He rose again and through his life and sacrifice, I now have life in abundance. So what does the crucifixion of Jesus Christ have to do with Chris Brown’s ‘Loyal’, one of the hottest songs at the moment?

 

Keep reading!

 

So in Chris Brown’s cool, edgy and derogatory song, he basically calls out all women and says that as soon as we find another man who has more money than the man we are currently with, we will leave because…well, we’re just not loyal. It doesn’t matter how much we love our current man – Brown fails to factor in contributing factors such as love, children and individual differences – as soon as we see a man with money and he wants us, we will drop everything we once held dear and be on our merry way towards millionairedome.

While this message is true for some women, it is obviously not true of all women and contradicts the other stereotype that women will stay and fund the lifestyle of a ‘broke man’.  But hey, whatever, stereotypes and generalisations will always exist and gone are the days where I shout about how wrong they are and attempt to right every wrong in the world.

Chris Brown’s song is one that speaks of loyalty. Loyalty is one of the most sought after traits in any person, irrespective of the nature of the relationship, our employees, spouses, friends and churches all want us to be loyal to them. Similarly, we all want to be surrounded by loyal people because with that trait also comes stability, consistency and the assurance that we will not deserted in our time of need.

Unfortunately, most of us have had a Chris Brown moment. Not the beat-up-your-girlfriend type of moment (sorry to bring that up again, Chris) but the realisation that despite loyalty being the cornerstone of any functioning relationship, there are a few humans who walk our earth that haven’t quite grasped the meaning of the word and how it should be played out in real life settings. This results in a world full of friends who spend every weekend together but speak viciously about each other, husbands who appear to be picture perfect but have spent their wives’ savings, women who are in love with multiple men, MPs who exploit the people who voted for them, *please feel free to insert any scandalous situation here*

So what do we do when we find out the person we loved and trusted ‘ain’t loyal’?

 

ENTER JESUS CHRIST.

 

I think it can be argued that Jesus suffered one of the greatest acts of disloyalty known to man. Jesus had twelve disciples who walked with him during his time on earth, learnt from him, who he nurtured and loved. One of these men, a man named Judas, betrayed him and this betrayal resulted in his death. Fortunately, we know that this death was not the end of his story but I don’t think Judas cared too much for the resurrection when he was selling out his best friend for thirty pieces of silver. Rather, Judas’ desire for money clouded his judgement and revealed who he really was – money and power have the capacity to do that. What amazed me when reading the account of the crucifixion in Matthew was Jesus’ treatment of Judas.

From the very beginning, even when recruiting Judas into his posse, Jesus knew that Judas would be the one to betray him yet he did not treat Judas differently to the others disciples. Jesus still washed Judas’ feet. Jesus let him sit at the table of his last supper. And even as Judas approached Jesus, kissing him in order to identify Jesus to captors, Jesus still called him ‘friend’. I was blown away by these acts of love because I know what it feels like to be betrayed. While some acts have been insignificant and were easily forgotten, other acts of betrayal cut right to my core and still continue to heal. Unfortunately, when I was betrayed, I didn’t treat those that betrayed me the way that Jesus treated Judas.

When people hurt us, we have to somehow make sense of what happened. We try and piece together the shock, the anger and the hurt we feel and in doing so we create a narrative that is quickly shared with those around us. We think on it, let the betrayal fester within us and we seek to pinpoint the moment we should have known that the said person was not who they had claimed to be. I think in these moments we have the capacity to become our worst selves as we paint our Judas in the worst possible light and speak only negatively about a person who once held a piece of our heart.

We must accept that people are going to hurt us because as Chris Brown so profoundly put it, ‘these h*es ain’t loyal’. Hurt, pain and betrayal are a part of life but if we are to live liberated lives, we cannot shield our hearts from this reality. Instead we have to continue give our hearts to people, love without restraints and in doing so, give people the opportunity to hurt us all over again. Although some of them will, we have a choice in that moment of profound hurt. How we deal with the betrayal will shape and change the way we view the act in the years that lie ahead of us. If we can rise above the act, love first and then forgive as soon as we can, I truly believe that when we look back on the betrayal, we won’t be filled with rage, hurt and bitterness. I truly believe that an act of love has the capacity to bring light and life to every broken moment we will ever experience.

On this day, I am reminded of a love that covers my shame, my brokenness and that fixed the parts of my being that I did not believe could be salvaged. A love that transformed my being, my heart, my mind and my life. I want to love like that; I want to love like Jesus did. I want to be able to love those who hurt me in the way that Jesus loved Judas. I want to be able to love people who aren’t loyal just as much as I love those that are. It’s not easy, but it is possible.

Although this day is about death, it is also about love and loyalty. Jesus could have decided not to die for us, but he did. He kept his promise just as any loyal friend would and died just so that we could live. Today I am thanking him for his loyalty and his love, because even though some people aren’t loyal, he always is.

Lots of my love on this beautiful day,

Joy