Tag Archives: love

How I Swapped Anxiety For Patience


So we have made it to 2017, a year that sounded pretty futuristic when we were still in the early 2000’s and boy has a lot changed since then. We are now living in a time where a man with no political experience has been elected and inaugurated as president of the United States. I think 2016 there was a secret memo sent out telling people to say what they really mean, be public about how they truly feel, and now we are bearing the aftermath of that.

Somehow Britain has agreed to leave the EU and Americans have elected Trump while The rest of us have watched in a place somewhere between bemusement and horror. Has the world gone mad? Trump’s policies have clearly taken a veer down the alley of ‘what on Earth are you thinking’ and what has been truly surprising is the attitude of Christians to this pubic discrimination of muslims. I see Christian celebrities sharing stats of Christians that have been persecuted in predominantly Muslim countries which begs the question: Are we now in a holy war that justifies all this? I think not.

As an onlooker anxious about the future of planet Earth which I love so much, I have come to accept that this madness won’t be fixed in a day. This year, we, the church need to be prepared for action and to exhibit patience. 

How can we be patient when today is piling on anxiety for tomorrow?

Two questions that have plagued my mind this week. Where am I going and why am I I in such a rush to get there? Maybe it’s just me that has this problem but I’m always dodging in an out of people dragging their feet so I can commute in record time. I see the bus is over 10 minutes away so I’m ordering an Uber home. My most frequent destinations are home and work and at neither of those places will arriving 3 minutes earlier make a real difference. So why the rush?

We live in an instant world. Instant messaging, instant information and instant noodles. We therefore live in a state of constant impatience. The adverts have come on during a programme we’re watching so we switch the channel in search of a distraction while we wait for those gruelling 4 minutes until the show comes back from the break. We are constantly in search of something to fill any absences of entertainment with the biggest distraction being the mobile phone on which I type this post. If we aren’t scrolling through Instagram, twitter, Facebook, snapchat, what are we doing? We are constantly bored and constantly preoccupied usually with nothing of substance and definitely nothing life changing.

So what happens when we encounter a God who’s working off his own time scales where one day is like a thousand years and Donald Trump’s presidency seems to already have dragged on too long? How do we fit in the schedule of God who believes there’s a lesson to be learned in waiting. I think back to the Israelites in search of their God promised land on a journey that stretched from 40 days to 40 years. I think to Abraham that waited for his God promised child till he was 100 years old. Can you imagine that, waiting for a child when your wife is 90 and is far past child-bearing age? Biblical characters are real people like you and I, wondering when God is going to come through, trying to exert patience over their frustration.

I guess everyone has thrown patience to the wind in search of short cuts to getting rich, losing weight, finding the love of their lives, it has to be now because if not now when? The thought of that uncertain future where we have no control of ‘when’ is so alarming everyone is on a fast tracked route to happiness.

Unfortunately for us, God hasn’t jumped on our bandwagon. He isn’t a God of quick fixes and lessons skimmed. God is fully aware that the journey is just as important as the destination and likes to take the scenic route. So what does that mean for us? A process of him moulding us to be in his image, a process of learning what the Bible has to say and using God’s standard as our benchmark. Change is a p r o c e s s. We submit to Christ daily and we slowly become the new creation we have been promised when we give our lives to God. Leaders come and go but we need to show the love of Christ regardless of who is in power. That means loving your Muslim neighbour, continuing to send aid to war torn countries regardless of the religion of citizens and taking everything to God in prayer.

God is love, we need to be active in our pursuit of spreading love.

Love Dani x

23, Married, And Looking For Love


From very early on in our lives we are taught not to look for love in the wrong places. As girls we are told that our self worth shouldn’t be attached from what a man thinks of us and we are encouraged to love ourselves before we go looking for love. It’s funny because concepts like ‘loving yourself’ are never really explained and so people internalise this very differently.

Does it mean treating myself to that Mulberry bag that I’ve wanted for years?( I’ve literally wanted this £800 bag for so long I’m not even sure why I really want it but I just can’t justify spending that much on a bag, (no judgement if you can))

Does it mean putting yourself first? This one is really a yes and a no, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t depending on if you’re listening to camp “you deserve it,” or team “the world doesn’t revolve around you”

Maybe it means doing the things your future self would approve of? The health fanatics would justify their gulping of kale-filled green smoothies as loving themselves and so could those burning the midnight oil in the library for that qualification that might just change their lives.

Either way, I am none the wiser as to how best to ‘love myself’ and by the time we reach our twenties, the concept seems to become less and less important as we focus on finding someone else to be loved by. So much so that people are willingly volunteering in their thousands to take part in the social experiment ‘Married at first sight.’ I have been glued to the screen watching the USA version of this show and every episode I am in utter disbelief by the idealistic views of marriage and that people can feel so ‘ready’ for marriage without having ‘fallen in love’ or connected with someone, in the hope that marriage will bring them the love and unbreakable connection they strongly desire.

For those of you that don’t watch the show I shall explain. Thousands of applicants apply to the show in the hope that they will be found a partner that is their ‘perfect match’ by a series of experts, to be precise- a clinical psychologist, a sociologist, sexologist and spiritual adviser. Once they are matched (there’s 3 couples per series) they get planning for their wedding, first meeting their mystery other half at the alter. The couples are given 6 weeks to make their story a happily ever after as the nation watches in wonder. Madness. I know. More interesting than the concept #shoutout to the producer for such an intriguing show are the hopeful contestants and their ideologies about marriage. Frequently used lines:

‘I’ve achieved everything I want to in my career, the only thing missing is marriage’

‘I see the marriage of [insert parents or grandparents or friends] and I want that for myself’

‘I have so much love, I just want to share that with someone’

I’m not against marriage (quite obviously) I just find it interesting that people assume it will solve their issues of loneliness and help them find an outlet for all this love they have to give. You can be lying next to your husband and feel lonely and you will not always be in the mood to show them love and affection, because like all humans, your spouse will make you laugh and cry and sometimes you’ll feel like hugging them and other times giving them the silent treatment because they’ve upset you. Such are relationships.

If you’ve read a post before you’ll know where I’m going with this… there isn’t a marriage shaped hole in your life and it just isn’t wise to assume that the beautiful institution we call marriage will ‘complete’ you, because like all things, once married you will find something else in your life that needs fixing, and desire that. 

I love my husband probably more than I love myself but I can be simultaneously head over heels in love with him and completely empty on love for myself because like it or not, no-one can love me like Jesus can. There is nothing my husband can do to give me that reassuring completeness that Christ does and I hope that you will not fall into the trap that so many do of thinking that your spouse can.

Falling in love is lovely and marriage is a beautiful symbol of that, but the love of God…that’s sublime, incomparable to anything humans have to offer, and a relationship with God is quite frankly the only relationship that we should desire with every ember of our being. I may be married but I will always be seeking God’s love and affection.

Love you loads

Dani xx

The Problem I Had With My Marriage

  

One of my favourite parts of A level sociology was learning of the changing attitudes of women from the 60’s to present day and the affect this had on every aspect of society. With a movement that promoted equality of opportunity, women started to believe there was a career after childbearing and slowly began to see themselves in roles previously reserved for their male counterparts. Before you knew it women were running countries (Margaret Thatcher) running unions (Angela Merkel) and setting world records (Dame Kelly Holmes). You look at a world in which women’s aspirations are not curbed by their gender, well at least not to the extent that existed in the time of our grandmothers and mothers, and you can’t deny that there have been huge change. What hasn’t changed is the representation of women in the Bible and the roles that God’s word promotes we adopt.

The bible states some brow-raising statements that feminists would shun and many Christians struggle to find a modern day interpretation that fits into their understanding of equality between genders.

To list but a few…

‘Women submit to your husbands as you submit to God’
‘A man is the head of his wife’
‘Women are bound to their husbands as long as he lives’

So what is a women to do? You’re Christian and want your marriage to exemplify the teachings of the Bible, but have been brought up believing that women can do just what men can(and sometimes better). How are we supposed to look at our husbands like our bosses and still love them?

Going to marriage counselling caused the inner feminist in me to explode and I had to revisit what I understood God’s overall message to be and the kind of wife I wanted to be. Here are the two conclusions I came to…

Submission doesn’t mean slavery

In God telling us women to submit, he isn’t sentencing us to a life slavery. God is letting us know whilst all opinions are important, when push comes to shove, someone has to have the deciding vote. I know that has made every mild feminist squirm.

Why does that vote have to lay with the husband? 

Why not a mutual vote?

Why ? 

Why? 

Why?!

I want to give you an answer palatable with modern day feminism but the truth of the matter is that, that is the way God intended it to be. And besides, a good leader never assumes their own opinion to be superior to that of others, marrying a man that understands this should mean in essence a mutual vote or a vote that takes into consideration both opinions.

Men have an unequally difficult responsibility 

We read scriptures on submission and fail to consider the mother of all tasks that husbands have been given:

‘Husbands love your wife as Christ loves the church’

Reading that scripture made every seemingly sexist statement click and quietened my inner frustrations. Husbands have to love their wives unconditionally, following the example that Christ sets. God is trying to use marriage as a microcosm of his relationship with us his children. If anyone has had even the shortest of flings with Christ, you will know that we as God’s children have definitely not pulled the short straw, despite the seemingly unbalanced nature of the relationship we have with God which means we live a life not according to our own desires but God’s.

When I think of my own relationship with God, the infrequent effort I put into it, the times I’ve neglected him completely and when I’ve kept committing the same sins because I knew God would forgive me, I can’t believe that God would ever want a relationship with me, let alone tell my husband to stick it out. Loving someone unconditionally is a mammoth task that husbands are burdened with.

So to all my ladies reading

God isn’t subjecting you to a marriage of inequality. 

Marriage is a sacrifice, that women and men have to keep making

If you’re going to have to submit, it doesn’t make sense to marry someone that isn’t submitted to your God- (this deserves a whole other blog post which will land soon)

God loves you unconditionally and doesn’t view you as a second class citizen 

The word husband cannot be exchanged for all men- in the workplace, in your dreams and ambitions, in your friendships, God is your only master

Would love to hear any thoughts you have about gender equality in the Bible
Love you all lots and lots,

Dani xxxxxx

To All My Single Ladies: 5 Steps To Catching A Man 

  
As I decided on this blog title, I thought about all the single men that might be put off having a read, but then my mind wandered to the wise single man who would use this as an opportunity to discover how to get caught, and so the title stuck. 

To everyone who clicked this link in sheer anguish at my audacity in assuming you need a man or even want one, I neither claim to be an expert and nor am I a sexpert, so sorry to everyone who thought they were going to get that kind of advice. 

With Valentine’s Day approaching I can’t help but think back to my oh, so recent single years and the awkward emphasis that this time of year would put on my aloneness. Now as a woman on the verge of diving into the biggest commitment love (or stability, financial security, and fear of being alone) can cause you to make in deciding to marry, I think it’s only fair I comment on my view from the other side. 

They say the grass is always greener but to everyone unconvinced who would really like to be one half of soppy couple number one eating fancy dinners this weekend, or the instigator in couple number two that couldn’t think of anywhere better to spend Valentine’s Day than Paris, please read on. This post is for you.
1. Stop acting like you need one

It is quite hard when you have a life plan that involves marriage and babies to not conclude that if not now, then at some point in the not so distant future, you will need a man. I hear you, and quite frankly I do think marriage and babies would be rather unachievable without one, however like all of our life plans of career success and comfortable lifestyles and all the rest, we need not stress about the how or the when. You don’t need me to tell you that desperation is low down on the attractive scale. Act like you’re completely comfortable as you are-in a long term relationship with God, and over time you’ll start feeling that way. Marriage and babies are nice but nothing can complete you in the way that God can, and so as appealing as another half may seem he will always be a want, not a need.

2.Be the man you want to meet

I know you read that the thought ‘What on earth is Dani talking about?’ I am not suggesting going under the knife to change your gender, but I am encouraging a good hard look in the mirror of your soul to see if you possess the qualities you are looking for in your other half. 

Desiring a man after God’s own heart that’s as caring as he is ambitious is a bit cheeky if you can’t say you emulate your own wish list. So many of us are looking for our better half, we’ve ignored what we could bring to the table in bettering our man. If you want a God-fearing man that’s driven to succeed and loves others with the same passion in which he loves himself, it’s important that you are actively pursuing a close relationship with God, asking him to show you how you can love others better and direct the steps of your career. If you can emulate your wish list when your man comes along you won’t need completing but complementing. What’s more inspiring than two great individuals coming together that are equally great for each other?

3. Start by being in the right place at the right time 

There are countless reasons for not entering into a relationship that I implore you to consider which can usually be routed back to not being in the right headspace to enter into a life-changing relationship. 

Whilst couples post their enviable Instagram pictures of them sipping Piña Coladas on beaches and of their fancy anniversary dinners what they don’t write in the caption below is of the continuous battle to not let their partner creep above God into first place in their hearts, and they don’t have enough space to describe the work it took to keep a smile on their other half’s face. 

Long story short, relationships are hard work and only really make sense to enter when there is an end goal beginning with M and rhyming with carriage. If you’re just after someone to go to the cinema with and to receive the odd bunch of flowers from, you aren’t after a man, just in need of some good friends. When you are ready to enter into long term commitment and are aware of the dragged out battle of resisting sexual sin coupled with the energy it will take for you to have a successful relationship, only then should you make yourself available for Mr Right. He’s not just the right guy for you, he comes at the right time too.

4. Pray for him

It might sound strange to pray for a man you can’t see but we pray for people we haven’t met all the time. Just like the children across seas in need that say a prayer for, your man is alive and kicking, navigating his way through life. 

As his wife you will be his main supporter, (even when you’re not his biggest fan) so why not start as you mean to continue? Once you’re together, you’ll have a long list of things you’d like God to change about him so you can be happy, why not start be praying for God to change the things about him that don’t make God pleased? 

The more prayer you put in now, the less struggle you’ll contend with once he shows up.
5. Let God become your king 

If you cannot submit to an all living caring God, you are going to struggle to submit to a man that is as flawed as you are and is just trying to feel out life, same as you. 

Practise serving your King and and when your earthly king arrives,half of the submission battle will have been won. (I’m aware that the submission topic is a whole post on it’s own, so I won’t say anything more before the feminists with their pitchforks attack!)

To every single gal reading, I hope this post has reminded you that don’t need no man, lol, but on a serious note, you don’t. You are completely complete in Christ and whilst a relationship is a nice addition to one’s life, a life without one is by no means less fulfilling.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a depressing season of mourning, why not spend the day with your first love, that way you are guaranteed a good time? 

 Let’s spread the love (of Christ) this weekend and show the world, single, married, in a complicated neither here nor their relationship, that above all Jesus loves them. 
Speak soon,
Dani

P.S. Please feel free to leave a comment and agree/disagree with anything I have to say here to your hearts content. Would genuinely love to hear from you. Xxxx

7 Things Being Married Has Taught Me

 

1. Letting yourself go is not a wise move

I took a lot of pride in my appearance when I was single – partly because you feel attractive when you look attractive, and you feel good when you look good. When my pay check came in, I’d make sure that my hair and nails were on fleek, I worked out religiously because I was trying to keep this body tight. A few months after getting married, looking good (for my husband) was not one of my priorities. I’d make an effort when I went out, of course, because the world deserved to see me at my best; my husband saw me first thing in the morning so I felt he wouldn’t mind what I looked like, right? Wrong.

Men like pretty things and they like their women looking good too.

2. Perfection is a myth 
Real life is not a fairy tale and no marriage is perfect. Marriage is a lot of work and romance takes effort. It’s really easy to take your spouse for granted because you are always with them. Simple things like “I love you” can go unsaid for days because… well, you married them, didn’t you? Oh, obviously you love them.

Eventually the burden of perfection begins to take it’s toll: the focus is no longer about ensuring that your marriage mirrors the love and commitment between Christ and his bride (the Church), instead the marriage becomes centre stage, where acts of love and service become a performance. Being consumed with your marriage, your home and your spouse being perfect only robs you of the blessings and joy which can be found in the contentment and gratitude of today.

3. Sex is not like it is in the movies

– In other words, Hollywood stays selling us dreams!
Check in your expectations at the door. Like every good thing in life, sex takes time to perfect. No one is an expert, even if you’ve had multiple sexual partners in the past. The bond of love and level of intimacy that takes place between a man and his wife during their sexual union is light years away from what Hollywood would have us believe. It’s easy to feel immense pressure to perform well in the bedroom and incredibly defeated if you don’t.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in this area, it’s that great sex comes with paying attention to your spouse and communicating effectively with them.

4. Your spouse is not God
So you’ve gotten your man, you’ve fallen in love, he’s put a ring on your finger so now you’ve stopped praying and your quiet time is virtually non-existent. You now bow down and worship at the altar of your husband, and God is still fiercely jealous for you.

Eventually you find that your husband makes a terrible God; he can’t complete you, not in the way God can.

5. One size does not fit all 
When I got married everyone, and their mama, had an idea concerning the way we were to run our home. Some people told me that because I was the wife, it was my duty to cook and clean; some told me that my first year married would be the hardest year, others even went as far to tell me what my husband would be like.

Your marriage is unique to you and finding a fit that works for you is very important. How your parents ran their home might not work for you. How your girlfriend treats her husband might not work for yours. The longer you stay married the more you understand just how your spouse wants to be loved and served by you and the better you get at loving and serving.

6. There is no place to hide 
I honestly believe that one of the key ingredients that every marriage needs is transparency. If you’re not ready to be completely open and vulnerable about who you are, flaws and all, do not rush into marriage. Marriage has a way of exposing your insecurities, your fears and your heart. Despite this, it’s comforting to know that your spouse will be there to love, support and pray with you regardless.

7.Love never fails. 
1 Corinthians 13 v 4-7 is the go-to scripture on LOVE – that four letter word that is thrown around so much that has almost lost it’s meaning. Before getting married, I thought I understood what it meant to love deeply and passionately. Once I got married, it became clear that I had completely misunderstood the essence of true, biblical love. This has been my biggest lesson and one which I continue to learn. Everyday, by the help of the Holy Spirit, I resolve to love as best as I can. I strive to be more patient and kinder; to put my husband first, forgive him quickly and occasionally bite my tongue when the words I wish to express are best left in my mind.

Love ,

Grace Labeodan

What To Do While You’re Waiting For The One


I for one, hate waiting. I hate waiting for the bus, waiting for people to finish their sentences and waiting for people to arrive at the time we’ve both agreed to. Call it contradictory but I wouldn’t call myself impatient; I don’t believe in get rich schemes and I’ve given up on fad diets, my only issue is waiting for things that don’t have to take a long time to come. I have downloaded the bus app for a reason so why am I still waiting for buses when technology is so advanced it can predict exactly when they should be arriving?! Waiting for people to turn up comes a close second in the amount of frustration it causes. It would come first but with my track record of lateness, it would by quite hypocritical to put it first. The reason waiting for people grinds my gears is not because their train was delayed or that there was a lot of traffic, but because they didn’t leave their house with enough leeway time to account for all these delays. In other words, it could be avoided, in the same way thinking before we start our sentences would avoid long pauses thinking of words that the other person (usually me) feels the need to interject.

Ok, rant over!

It’s fair to say that sometimes we are in control of our waiting time: the longer we put off taking action, the further away our goal becomes. You may be trying to get organised but buying a diary keeps slipping your mind. The same applies to getting fit and attending the gym class you keep signing up to. Occasionally, there is a very easy fix on our behalf and suddenly that thing we’ve been waiting for no longer remains out of reach. But what about everything else that we are wondering when the arrival time is, the things that no amount of effort can bring about sooner? The most frustrating thing to wait for, because you maintain hope that it will come, but have no clue when or how, is no, not the wait for the partner of your dreams to arrive in your life,but the wait for everything God has promised you to happen.

Waiting for God can take its toll on a girl like me who is adversed to waiting for buses. Do you struggle as well? You are 100% sure you heard God on a matter, at least you were when you first heard it, but now that’s it’s taking so much longer than you anticipated to arrive, you are not so sure whether it really was God. We’ve heard it all before “good things happen to those who wait,” and “you’re delay is not your denial” but that doesn’t help you deal with how it feels to wait in anticipation for something you can see no signs of happening.

Do you know when God told Abraham he was going to have a child? Do you know when Sarah conceived?

What about when God first told the Jews he would send the Messiah? Do you know how many years later Jesus was actually born?

Some of us have lost all faith in God because that thing he said he would do still hasn’t appeared, and instead of making progress towards the end result he promised, it seems you are moving further away. What can I say?! God doesn’t work in mysterious ways (and that phrase isn’t actually anyway in the Bible). God does things in his own time and in his own way. The order of events you have imagined need to happen in order for the words God has spoken to you to become true, probably won’t happen how you thought.
So what to do?

1) Keep thanking God in advance for everything he has promised
(Have a read of Romans 4:13-25, literally mind blowing)

2) Stop trying to figure out the how and wait for God to reveal the next piece of the puzzle

God said:

My ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8

(Read verses 9-13 to be mind-blown some more)

3) Think about what can you actively do to help someone else in their walk with God

We get so focused on the ‘I’ we easily forget about each other , and our brothers and sisters in Christ should be at the forefront of our minds. Stand in prayer for someone else to see the things God has for them!

If God said it, he’s going to do it. I can promise you that!

Happy Monday!

Dani xxx

5 Reasons Why Having A Boyfriend Won’t Complete You


When you are single there is something distastefully sickening about public displays of affection. I’m not just referring to the couples who seem to be trying to fit their partners entire face into their mouths whilst kissing, or even the couples that have kisses so sloppy you can literally see the exchange of saliva between them- we all feel ill watching those couples, and if you know you are in a relationship and are likely to be a perpetrator of the aforementioned crimes then I urge you to stop! I’m referring to when boy whispers something into girl’s ear and she blushes or playfully punches his arm or finds whatever was said so funny tears stream as she struggles to speak through fits of giggles. Or what about those couples walking, arms interlinked, as they walk in silence, the mere fact that they are touching being enough “conversation” to make them content. Or even the lovebirds who stand at chilly bus tops looking eye to chin while boy firmly rubs shivering girl’s arms in an attempt to defrost her slightly. These are the moments that remind singletons of their lack of significant other and cause singles to crave the kind of relationship that makes onlookers coo and ahh. There is nothing intrinsically wrong about wanting to share your life with someone, but before you walk through a door that is harder to walk back out of, there are a few things you should know.

1.Double dates are only as fun as the couple you’re dating 

Don’t lie, you have, more than once, thought how much fun it would be if you could go out with ‘x’ and if your friend went out with x’s friend and you could go on all these double dates and hang out together! I have also has this thought. Don’t be fooled, just because you’re sitting next to someone you love, eating opposite people you love, does not mean you are going to have a good time. I have been on a number of dates where I have laughed, chatted and had thoroughly enjoyable evenings but some dates can be just as bad as that date you went on with that guy that you don’t want to talk about and wish you hadn’t gone on. Although sometimes fun, double dates can highlight what you’re missing in your own relationship and there can be points where the date’s tension is so intense, you’ll be racking your brain for any reason to leave early.

2. Boyfs  don’t make you feel any warmer in winter.

You may laugh, but if I had a pound for every time I have heard girls half-joke about needing a boyfriend to keep them warm in the winter nights, I would not be working 8:30-6pm. So many of the things that are idealised about relationships are just not true. Yes, having a man may keep you 5 degrees warmer while you’re lazing around or watching TV on the sofa, but for the rest of the 23 hours you have in a day where you are not physically touching your boyfriend, you will be just as cold as the single gals. You do not need a man, you need to turn up the heating, buy a coat, and stop looking for someone else to solve a problem you can fix yourself! People always mock the idea of being an independent woman, as if it’s linked to having an attitude or immature sass but being independent – you’re only dependency being on Jesus Christ – is something to be proud of. Even once you have a boyfriend, your dependency structure shouldn’t change. God isn’t there to do the things your boyfriend can’t do; continue to trust in Christ for all things because he will never disappoint.

3. You will still be lonely

If you’ve ever experienced loneliness, you will know that it is not contingent on the number of people that didn’t come to your birthday. Even being surrounded by a multitude of friends doesn’t necessarily make a difference to that feeling of loneliness. To everyone desiring a boyfriend because they feel alone, you are looking for belonging in the wrong place. Yes, you will have someone to go to lunch, dinners and to the cinema with; someone who will eventually agree to go to your Aunt’s 50th with you, even though it’s set to be a drag; someone who will answer your calls, just to say hello, at odd times, even in the early hours of the morning. That is all nice but you can find all of the above in really good friends. I hear your point that it is very unlikely to find one person willing to do all the above in the same week who isn’t madly in love with you, I’m merely highlighting that having a best friend with bells on, which in my opinion is a good definition of a boyfriend, doesn’t mean your lonely days are extinct. Even your boyfriend that ‘gets’ you like no-one else does will struggle to understand you at times, will not be completely supportive and will sometimes out rightly disagree. They will never be able to fill the lonely gap that we are all occasionally faced with , the desire for someone to understand our every fear, hope, and passion because unlike God they did not create you. That person you’re looking for that is there 24/7 and understands you in your entirety is closer to home than tinder, that looming blind date, and endless social gatherings.

4.They don’t have all the answers

It is refreshing to meet someone that makes you see things differently, who places the life that you’ve always known in front of a different lens, giving you a varied perspective, and that is the one thing I craved when I felt I needed a man. Some people are praying for a carbon copy of themselves, but I was on the lookout for someone different. I’m always eager to learn and discover nuances about life around me, and truly believed meeting that special someone would give me that. If you, like I was, are awaiting Mr ‘I bring something new to the table’ there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you don’t forget there is a fresh perspective at your fingertips in your Bible. It may not contain truths you always want to hear but Gods view is, oh-so-mind- blowingly different to ours, reading your Word will always keep you coming back to hear more of what God has to say. I can’t guarantee you’ll like God’s take on things, but you will be wowed, comforted, and convicted to live a life you are yet to realise you’re missing.

5. Love means sacrifice

There is a honeymoon period in every relationship where you both cant believe  how lucky you are to have each other, every moment spent together is bliss, and you can’t believe you had lived [insert number of years] without the other. This time is great. Everything in life seems to be finally falling into place and every possible bubble buster is clouded in the high you are currently existing in. This time is short lived. After a while, you slowly float back to Earth and realise you are going to have to make an effort for your relationship to succeed. Gone are the days where you are aware of your faults yet can’t be bothered to take any action. Your significant other is going to expect you to lay away the old personality  imbalances you’ve previously  expected people to put up with, and with time, become a person that others actually enjoy being around; because they love you, they will tell you as they see it, and because you love them, you will change. What change requires is that dreaded sacrifice you still fear making as you realise staying the same is not an option. Relationships require persistence and perseverance as you make the sacrifices required of you, and pray you’ve found someone willing to make these same sacrifices for you. You can see how much a person loves you by the extent they go to to put you first. While you’re patiently waiting for the one, remember that one guy already thought you were worth all he had as he gave up his life on the cross.
Love lots,
Dani xxx

The Day I Got Engaged

  From the day we are born, we are automatically enrolled into competing in a long list of races that we haven’t decided are worth winning yet. You probably don’t remember the first ones to hit you but I’m sure your parents still treasure and bring up at family soirées. There’s the race to taking your first steps, growing your first tooth, losing your milk teeth and making room for all your adult gnashers, learning to ride the bike you’ve been given for Christmas…, the list is endless. As we cross the various finish lines, most of us remain indifferent to the milestones are parents are intent on sharing with their friends, colleagues, and the rest of the family, who seem to be in some sort of mini-competition. This is all fun and games, but the stakes get so much higher for the races we begin once we’re finished with education, and suddenly, we as individuals are invested into reaching the milestone at the end of the track. We have swapped mastering our potties and being able to recite the alphabet for the races to get married, have babies, and the one to step up onto the property ladder. So many of us leave university ready to take a few strides down each of those lanes but feel incapable of making any achievement because we have not yet found ‘the one‘ (or they haven’t found us, depending on how you want to look at the dating scene). Just over a week ago, I took a huge step into a race I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to participate in.

On Sunday 19th July the one, for me, proposed under my favourite bridge and I said yes! *Squeals* I still can’t believe I’m actually getting married! I’m running towards one of the hugest milestones of my life, and a year and a half ago, I didn’t even want to speak to a single guy. Cray. Since Sunday I have been hit with a plethora of questions that have not been as easy to respond to as the one I was asked on Sunday. There’s been a mixed reaction but I figured where better place to answer everything than here?!

How can you marry someone you haven’t lived with?

I used to answer this question with the “I’m a Christian, we don’t really do co-habitation” and hoped that would suffice but this response has been met with, “but we’re in the 21st century” and “but Sally, and Jane and Jill and *insert long list of other Christian friends* live with their partners.” Then I’d have to go into a tentative, “I can’t really comment on Sally’s faith, but I don’t feel comfortable with co-habitation.” Now I save myself the trouble and give an honest answer: living with my fiancé is not conducive to the ‘no sex before marriage’ mission that I’m on. The questioner is always shocked at this point, but at least they kind of get it.

You are 22, how can you be getting married?

I can’t count the number of people that have highlighted how much you change as you grow older and questioned how wise it is to make a decision this young. I too am surprised that I’m getting married so young but that’s alongside the excitement and eagerness to cement the relationship I began just over a year ago. We will never stop evolving as we grow up, I just think it’s exciting to find someone you can’t wait to grow with.

Then the questions get a little trickier…

What do you do while you’re waiting for the one?

I think firstly I have to address my unbelief in the idea that there is one person out there that you’re supposed to be with and until you meet them there’s no-one worth speaking to. There’s a lot of prayers being said, asking for God to highlight that ‘oh-so special’ person that they’re supposed to marry, but I think a more useful prayer would be for God to show you the things about yourself that need to change in order for you to be ready to marry. If you’re a 20-something-year-old-girl, you’ve probably entered into number of conversations about the absence of males in your life, and how depressing singleness is, and what age you need to be married in order to keep to your schedule of when you want to have your first child. These conversations used to always make me anxious and my childhood fears that I would never get married would start niggling at me again. Last year, I decided to change how I thought about my single status and started praying for God to make me content with the situation. I’m clearly not anti-marriage, and the Bible does say ‘He who finds a wife, finds a good thing’ but I don’t think that means we should spend all our free time dwelling on the when and worrying over the ifs and the buts, when we consider our prospects of meeting someone. Before I met my fiancé I would pray ‘God, if I never get married that’s ok, you are enough for me,’ and I found so much peace genuinely believing that. It is lovely and life changing to meet someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, but in the absence of that, nothing compares to that awesome and incomparable relationship you have with Christ.

And then the questions got a bit ugly.

Why you and not me?

This question had never been phrased so harshly, but you can hear it in the undertone and selection of words in other questions like ‘but you’re x many years younger than me…*insert long silence followed by awkward half apologetic expression on my face. Or ‘You’re engaged?!… But I’ve been with my boyfriend for x amount of years…’ I never really know what to say to the why you question but I remember being a part of the clan asking it at various points in my life. When I look around and see people embarking on their grad schemes and I think back to being dropped from mine last year, there’s always a tiny voice whispering: Why you…? Or when I see people buying their dream houses and I wonder how I’m going to save for mine, I’ve thought: Why you…? Even when I see girls with thick hair that hair that has grown past their shoulders I can’t help but think, Why you…?

Well, why not me and and why not you?

We are all on our individuals paths, we can’t let the fact that we can see someone getting closer to achieve the milestone we are so focused on reaching that we get discouraged. The same person you were wishing you could swap successes with is wishing they could swap with you for something you’ve forgotten you achieved. I can’t guarantee that you’ll meet ‘the one’ this year, or buy that house you’ve seen on Zoopla in the year to come or that you’ll have the exact number of kids you’ve been dreaming of but I can confidently say that God has something great lined up for you. I wrote a post about the bitter sweet of 2014, losing a job and falling in love, who knew that I’d be engaged by 2015. We can long for someone else’s story and not realise that the very race we’re running is perfect for us.

Thank you God for allowing me to be so head over heels in love.

Thank you Jude for loving me despite my crazy.

Thank you all for for reading.

Love y’all,

Dani xxx

Why I Joined The War On Terror 

  Today marks 7 days since innocent holiday makers were shot and killed as part of yet another ISIS attack.

I woke up this morning and the air was thick with distinct rage and an overwhelming sense of despair due to the blood that was spilled on a Sousse beach in Tunisia. As the injured lose the battle for their lives in Tunisian hospitals, and the briefly missing are identified, we have watched the death toll rise, and with it, our outrage at the injustice of the attack. Most of us are caught between a rock and a hard place, as we desire to do something, anything, that will ‘help’ but there doesn’t seem to be a way for our wills to become reality. There’s no collection to donate to that will bring back lost lives, no clock that can be turned back to stop this all from happening, and no consolation we can give to those who have lost their loved ones.

Today, we will have a minute’s silence for all those who fall victim to the ongoing war on terror. 

I won’t deny my dissatisfaction! Yes, I will say a prayer for all the victims’ loved ones, that regardless of their faith, the Holy Spirit will be their comforter, but I can’t shake the feeling that I am not doing enough. I have never believed in purgatory (I can’t find evidence of it in my Bible) so I have struggled to come to finally accept that there is nothing I can do for the dead. Nothing. Since hearing breaking news on Thailand, I have spent my time pondering the shocking reminder of the transient nature of life, not paying attention to the fact that all those who have left us will either be resting in perfect peace with Christ or not, and now, from Earth, there is no way to influence where there souls will spend eternity.

People die every day. That is a fact. They are snatched from us by people claiming to be fighting ‘holy wars’, ill health, old age and by a heap of natural disasters. We can spend our time focusing on the lives that have been cut short, the opportunity withdrawn for some, to marry, have kids, or even celebrate their 18th birthdays, but we are ignoring the pressing reminder that in their passing, their fate for heaven/h… not-Heaven (just typing it gives me chills), has been finalised, and no amount of praying can change that.

Today, I will do something.

There’s a chilling finality to death, but death brings whole new opportunities if we come into contact with Christ before we pass. A lot of us Christians are shocked because the increasing death toll is the alarm bell ringing we don’t have the time to be ineffectual and lukewarm in our faith. Death is snatching lives all the time; will you fight for another life getting to see God when they pass? How much do we believe that God loves all, and simultaneously God hates sin? How much do we care that judgement is inescapable. No, we cannot prevent deaths, but there is a war to be had and souls are in need of being won.

Today I am ready for battle

What stands out amidst the terror that has been painstakingly revealed as victims recant their stories, is the courage shown by some, the determination to live and to protect the lives of loved ones. Sarea Wilson told of how her husband-to-be stood between her and three bullets so she could have the chance to escape. The lengths he went to to save her life are astounding.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

 I’m not suggesting you need to lay down your life for people to find Christ, but what are you willing to do differently? Oh, the plethora of cop-out excuses for why we can’t evangelise, which the thought of sends shudders down many a spine, but is simply sharing the  love of Christ. Evangelism has almost become a dated aspect of our faith that we’re ignoring until someone comes up with a full-proof method for minimal embarrassment, but, until then,  aren’t we just wasting time? 

When I speak to Christians about evangelism, they’re always emphasising that by living a Christlike life, they are evangelising, so they shouldn’t need to hit the streets with flyers and a soapbox. What did Jesus do? Yes, he developed relationships with people and evangelised through his lifestyle, but that didn’t stop him from speaking out in public, and gathering crowds of thousands of people to hear the good news. We use ‘actions speak louder than words’ to get out of speaking to people about Christ but our inaction of speaking up, has left the message of Christ’s love that we are trying to live out, almost inaudible.

What is stopping us from taking evangelism seriously?

If we say we love Christ, we must have a love for our others. How long will we stay mute because we don’t want to offend or because we don’t want to seem strange? If we don’t care to see the world come to Christ, or aren’t actively involved in spreading the Good News, the world can only question how great this God really is, that we claim to serve. Maybe it’s that we’ve strayed so far from God, telling someone about him is the last thing on our minds. Yes we attend church, we might even serve in a ministery, but have we lost that life-changing connection with Christ, that we once had? That connection that causes you to wake up excited to pray and makes you want to savour every second you spend in God’s presence. After all, how can you see the lack of Christ in someone’s life when you don’t notice the lack of his presence in your own? I can personally connect with that reason. Of course I’ve forgotten that the world needs Christ when I’ve forgotten that I need him too.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

 Today I will use every opportunity I can get

We become so self-centred in our Christianity, rating our growth in Christ by whether we can prophecy to our congregations and heal the sick, but the love we have for God has got to cause us to want to see the souls around us saved. Acceptance of others’ lifestyle choices has become silently watching, with the justification that everyone has their own belief, and we don’t have a right to make them feel like ours hold more truth than theirs. We cannot live this way anymore. Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the light, no-one can come to the father except through me.” You might be surrounded with really lovely and kind atheists, but let’s not belittle their need for Christ based on our judgement that they are ‘good’ people.

Today, I am ready to fight for someone else’s life

I hereby declare that I will wear my Christianity loud and proud, fighting the war that has been waged with love and prayer, actively seeking opportunities to tell somebody about my King, my best friend, my main squeeze, the one who has kept me sane and loved me when I didn’t love myself.

Love Dani xxxxx

What 2014 Gave Me

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I used to love sitting in English classes growing up, and learning what all the different literary terms meant. Does that make me kind of neeky? Who cares ?! If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’ll know that I’ve come to be at one with the neekiness I exude. Anyway, back to my point, as any true literary neek, I had a few favourites (yes words, I’m not a ashamed to say that I have favourite words) that made me feel super smart just knowing. I’d get a bonus warm fuzzy feeling inside if I could identify them in people’s writing, and then I really hit the jackpot when I managed to use them in mine. I’m sort of drifting off and making this post about my love for English but I promise that it eventually becomes about what 2014 gave me. I would say my top 3 were onomatopoeia, just being able to spell it was a triumph in itself, all the different types of alliteration, and the coolest one of all…oxymoron.

Using moron in a serious piece of work was quite comical but once you get passed the immaturity of a year 7 (is that when you learn these words or have I just revealed the immaturity I tried to suppress?) you realise that oxymorons are just pretty cool all by themselves. How can you be describing a situation or an object as being polar opposite things at the same time and that be the perfect description? The wonder will never leave me on that one, I don’t even think I truly captured just how accurate oxymorons could be until I lived out 2014, which I can only describe as the most famous oxymoron of all time: bittersweet.

I’ll start with the bitter, but I have two disclaimers

1) I have never been a woe is me kind of person and 2014 did not turn me into one

2) This isn’t meant to sound like a moan, it’s merely part of the synopsis of my year.

I think back to who I was at the beginning of this year and the girl that stares back at me in the mirror is not the same. Partly because she’s gained a stone but anyway, new year-new me-better food choices-intense gym workouts… I digress. The girl that started 2014 was confident in her abilities, pretty much had a 5 year plan in place, and was for the first time enjoying university. I had a conditional graduate job in the pipeline, was finally on track to getting those grades that the conditions depended on, and I felt like I’d finally let Jesus sit in the front seat of my life. Then March came and housing issues were forcing me to make decisions that I didn’t want to make.

Every turn seemed scary or selfish and the stability I stood on slipped away from underneath me with a single rose letter. The next blow came a few months later and in the summer the punches came fast and forceful. Grades weren’t met, job offer was revoked and rent and bills reached out their hands while I had nothing in my pockets to fill them with. 2014 was painful, some days I smiled through it and others left me weepy, with my time with Jesus giving me the morsel of joy I used to get through the day. This year there were points when I didn’t think things could get any worse, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about God, he will turn your situation around in a matter of moments.

The sweet came in the latter half of the year, just in the nick of time. I apologise in advance for the vomit you may feel as you read this paragraph. Four days after I found out that I hadn’t achieved the grades I’d been praying for and I could only hold my breath as life hung in the balance, I met the guy that became my best friend and my boyfriend all in the next month. Whirlwind romance much?! Waiting for a job and wondering how I would afford to live was coupled with falling in love and wondering how I could be so lucky. There’s a paradox if there ever was one. The good times kept on rolling, when a few weeks later I got a job that would pay me enough of a salary before rent was due. It hasn’t all been hugs and butterflies but the job I started in September taught me so much about what I’d like to do with myself, I can only chuckle at the career plan I started the year with.

So there you have it, the good, the bad, and at points the very ugly. Despite how bad it got, I’m so glad for the things I get to walk into 2015 gaining.

Resilience

But those who wait for the Lord ‘s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired. Isaiah 40:31

Patience

A person plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Hope

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, Romans 8:28

A fresh perspective

Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but he was born blind so that the acts of God may be revealed through what happens to him. John 9:3

Sometimes crappy things happen, the going gets tough and we search for God in the midst of our madness. I know it’s corny but it’s true when they say that without a test you won’t have a testimony. This year I learnt that we live to bring glory to God. It might not be fun, and sometimes it might be we well and truly painful, but the whole essence of our beings has a purpose rooted in bringing God the glory. I just wanna give a shalla to the people that were there for me this year, the friends that gave me a shoulder to cry on, the boyf that gave me his hand to hold, the God that promised this year wouldn’t defeat me. I love you all and I’m so grateful for the gifts that 2014 gave me.

Happy New Year in advance

Dani xxxxx