Tag Archives: life

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 Stopped Talking To God

Lonely woman

It’s not very ‘Christian’ to admit that you stopped talking to God, is it? I wonder if any of you will admit the times you’ve had to just walk away from God for a minute because you just couldn’t understand why life kept dropping bombs on you. There are situations that occur that bring our worlds to a standstill and while we’re trying to hold ourselves together, other parts of our lives begin to fall apart.

Have you ever asked God “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?” We don’t often talk about those moments that occur during our Christian Walk, (the questions, the angst and the fear) because they’re not as attractive as the relentless faith we are supposed to exhibit and the lifting of hands in worship, but life throws too many unexpected events my way to not have asked God why he is allowing certain things to happen to me. It has be a crazy year, an expect-the-unexpected-kinda-year and I have done my best to ‘keep the faith’ and ‘pray no matter how I feel’ but I think this week it all became too much and I didn’t connect to my Source. Despite knowing that in the moments where I feel most hurt and angry, I should run back to God, not run away, this time my feet wouldn’t move, my hands refused to turn the pages of His word and my heart stopped beating for him.

 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!”

“Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.

Judges 6:12-13

When I read the response from Gideon this morning, I thought, “finally, someone asking the questions that I’ve been asking God!” His question was respectful, genuine but completely honest– if the Lord was truly on their side, why were they oppressed, abandoned and homeless?

I’m sure some of you have been in a tough season and asked God some real questions:

 Why?

How?

Where are you?

What are you doing?

Why me?

What have I done to deserve this?

I sat with the above questions longer than I sat with God this week because I couldn’t bring myself to admit how disappointed I was in Him. I also knew in my heart I knew I had no right to be disappointed. This was the same God that had allowed me to walk through beautiful seasons that I was also undeserving of so what right did I have to be disappointed?

Although walking away was illogical, I had more questions than I had answers and I needed time. In hindsight, the distance I put between God and I was a mistake because He was the only person that could have healed me, saved me and kept my irrational thoughts at bay.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

I think I forgot that being a Christian didn’t mean that my life was going to be flowers, sunsets, giant teddy bears and ‘happily ever afters’. My belief in God did not excuse me from the pains of life. The only difference between those with faith in God and those that do not believe is that when we face our problems we have God on our side; our faith alone does not exempt us from pain and sorrow. Through the trials and tribulations that we face, we are able to experience something new of God, a side of Him that we otherwise may not have encountered. It takes being poor to see God as our provider, it takes being sick to see Him as our healer and it takes heartbreak for Him to be revealed as our comforter. It has never been said that this journey would be easy, but it does say that His grace is sufficient for me and that His power works best when I am weak (2 Corinthians 12:9). I shouldn’t be afraid when I reach the end of myself because that is where God can begin.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

I’m still here with my questions, my disappointment and my pain; faith in my strongest moments and fear in my weaker ones. But I am also here accepting that God knows what is best for me (Isaiah 55:9) and He will always bring things together for my good (Romans 8:28).

I am learning what it means to be dependent on God. He is my security, He is my everything, He is my source. There is no walking away.

I am learning what I meant when I surrendered my will and asked him to take control of my life.

Learning that just because I want something to happen doesn’t mean it will and just because I don’t want something to happen doesn’t mean it won’t.

Learning how important it is to trust God.

Learning that I need to read my bible even when I don’t want to. I need to pray even when I don’t have the words.

Learning that I can run away from my problems or run through them with God.

Learning that even though I’m not as strong as I’d like to be, I’m not as weak as I thought I was.

Learning how to speak again. To connect with Him. Apologising for my absence. Admitting how lost I am without Him. Asking for forgiveness. Learning how to pray in hope and faith once more.

I am learning.

Joy x

How To Stop Being A Pushover

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

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

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

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

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

Did someone say ‘conundrum’!?!

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

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


1. Think carefully first

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

James 1:19

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

 

2. Submit the problem to God

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

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

 

3. Pray for the person who hurt you

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

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

 

4. Don’t text about it

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

6. Let it go

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

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

I Repeat: Hardest Step


 

 

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

All my love!

Joy x

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’

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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

My Battle With Phone Anxiety Disorder

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Signs that you may have Phone Anxiety Disorder (PAD)

Before and after calls do you…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calling you to begin a relationship with him

Calling you to recommit

Calling you to give him more of your time

Calling you to forgive someone

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

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

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

Ephesians 4:1

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

Love,

Joy xxx

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

 

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

Ruth 3: The Art Of Marriage Requests

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Dani said

Some background info for y’all:

Boaz was Ruth’s guardian redeemer. That meant that it was his responsibility to protect the interests of needy family members, redeem land that poor relatives had sold, and amongst other duties, the closest male relative was supposed to marry the widow. What stands out here is that Ruth asks for more than she (by law) deserves. When Ruth requests marriage by carrying out the instructions as given by Naomi, Ruth asks Boaz for more than he is obligated to do. We learn this when Boaz says v12-13 that there is another more closely related to her than he is and that he will first ask him first if he wants to carry out his guardian-redeemer duties.

This chapter is really all about entitlement and we can learn a lot from Ruth.

1. If you don’t know what you’re entitled to, you won’t be able to request it. V9 she says: ‘Spread the corner of your garment over me since you are a guardian redeemer of our family.’

If more of us knew what God had already promised us, we wouldn’t be comfortable accepting the hardships and ‘realities’ of life. I’m not saying that being a child of God will mean a life without suffering, I am saying that when there’s no food left in the fridge and the cupboards are looking bare, it’s time to remind God that his name is Jehovah Jireh and therefore is your provider. Life and death is in the power of the tongue, so we have to start speaking life into all our seemingly dead situations. Even something as frequent as the common cold, at the first sign of a blocked nose I’m there confessing scriptures and demanding my healing-ain’t nobody got time to be sick! He said his grace is sufficient to supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19), so stop accepting the situation and start claiming what you deserve. If you can’t ask for what you’re entitled to, how will you have the courage to believe for your heart’s desires?

2. Don’t be ashamed to ask for more.

Watching Oliver Twist puts most children off of being cheeky and encourages us to just accept what we’ve been given.(I think I was part of the minority because I have memories of a LOT of second helpings as a child #ChubbyCheeksDontMakeThemselve.) For all those who are part of the majority; NEWSFLASH: you serve a God who says he will do exceedingly above all that you could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). If that’s not encouragement to ask for the outlandish then I don’t know what is. Those who don’t ask don’t get, and miracles don’t just fall into people’s laps. Before Christ healed people he asked them what it was they actually wanted. The woman with the issue of blood actively reached out to touch the hem of Christ’s garment. You can be sweet and polite and manage what you have or you can be bold and call forth the things that be not as though they were (Romans 4:17). If you want it, go get it.

 3. Fake it till you make it.

When Naomi was telling Ruth to dress up and smell good v3, it wasn’t to make Boaz lust after her, but because that’s the preparation that brides underwent. Ruth was seeking after marriage so she prepared herself as a bride. I think a lot of us are just waiting to receive what we’re praying for. Try something new and act like you already have it. If you want a job, stop leaving the house dressed like you’re unemployed and hopeless. You may not ‘feel’ like it but when did going with our feelings ever seem like the best motto to live by. God knows I rarely ‘feel’ like going to Uni, but missing all my lectures and classes does seem like a sure path to failure, if not a waste of £3.5 thousand a year.

So, in a nutshell Ruth shows us to; know what you’re allowed, ask for what you want, and act like you’ve already got it.

Joy said

Ruth 3:1 One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for.

Naomi did not take what Ruth has done for granted. Ruth stayed with her, and worked to provide for the both of them. Others may have kept Ruth a prisoner and exploited her loyalty and kindness, however Nai wishes to find Ruth a home so that she will be provided for. I guess this taught me that there is a way to treat those that have been merciful to you. Do not forget who carried you through your storm and do your best to bless them when the opportunity arises.

Ruth 3:5 “I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied.

Don’t get me wrong, this is great response. Ruth is a listener and she trusts Naomi to the point that she takes whatever Naomi says and does it with her whole heart. This works out for her in the end and God blesses Ruth abundantly.

 HOWEVER.

Should you do everything an elder tells you to do? Imagine if Naomi had said “go and sleep with Boaz tonight and secure your man properly”, I’m pretty sure Ruth would have said “sure thing Mama Nai Nai, your wish is my command”. Not in those words, of course, but you get my drift (well I hope you do). It is so important to seek the counsel of women and men of God who are rich in experience because they can inform and better the choices that we make. However, in this modern age, we have access to God through prayer. We don’t have to make elaborate sacrifices and kill a goat, cow or young dove before we approach him with our thoughts, concerns and questions; that time has passed. We don’t have to rely on the Christian elder for everything because we have access!

I’m not saying every little thing you must get on your knees and consult God about i.e. your mum says go and shower and you decide to seek God first about it. No, that’s a little extreme and my belief is that God wants us to think for ourselves otherwise he would have made us robots without the ability to make choices. But I do believe that God wants us to seek his face, his will and his counsel before we seek advise from those around us. If someone tells us to go lay at a man’s feet or I guess now it would be “go and tell Barry that you two are destined to be together” it is your job to seek your Father in heaven first before you act. Obeying every elderly person you trust can be a dangerous path to walk because while their intentions may be pure and their experience priceless, they won’t always know what is best for you. The Bible says “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” and I honestly think that is the best thing to do – always.

Piece xx

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