Tag Archives: thankful

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

What I Learnt On My **th Lap Around The Block.

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Why do we associate joy with youth? I remember at school, coming in with a smile on my face (yes I was one of those neeks that quite enjoyed education) and teachers used to comment on how good it must feel to be young. Having never been 45 with a spouse, children and mortgage, I had no real defence for the suggestion that I could only be jovial because I was still a teen. It was the same when I had my first taste of the world of work. People would come in everyday and complain about the very same problems they grumbled about yesterday, whilst I struggled to add to the conversation. When it came to my turn they’d look at me in half wonder and tell me that I should enjoy these days because it really doesn’t get better than this.

What does that even mean?!

How can you tell me life doesn’t get any better than education?!

I’ve heard so many people say that being in Uni are the best days of life. If that’s the case, having recently graduated then I think I might just throw in the towel now. So why do we get so grumpy as life goes on? We start nursery missing our mums but overall happy to be there, primary school isn’t a chore because it’s pretty much always play time, and by the time we get to secondary school we’re so obsessed with the opposite sex and finding out what group of friends we want to belong to, the monogamy of going to school everyday doesn’t get a chance to drag you down. Then what happens, we leave the education system and suddenly our cups transform from half full to half empty??

I for one refuse for that to be the case. I guess ‘life hasn’t ‘hit’ me yet at the tender age of 22, but I think a big influence of our mood comes with the perspective we choose. And yes I said choose! You don’t have to think about starving children in Africa to realise that you have so much to be grateful for.

Give thanks to the Lord , for he is good and his loyal love endures! Psalms 118:29

Sometimes I find myself swimming in a pool of complaints and then all the guilt floods in. This week I’m trying something new!

I’ve become so fat that you could roll me down a hill I thank you God that I’ve gained enough wait to probably save a small fortune on my heating bill this month

I don’t have enough money to feed my eating out addiction thanks Lord for the opportunity to become a wizz in the kitchen

I’m too busy to spend time with all my friends I’m so grateful that I have a job that I enjoy spending time at

We could all find reasons to complain but that shouldn’t stop us from giving thanks to God.

I’m so grateful that God’s love endures forever. No matter how many times I disappoint or neglect my Heavenly Father, he’s always awaiting my return with open arms. There’s nothing you can do to separate yourself from the love of God, no matter how bad the weather gets, how annoying your family can be, and how tired work makes you feel, you can always give thanks for that.

Love lots

Dani xxxxxxx

Why Faking It Isn’t a Long-Term Solution

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If there’s anything we have all( me, you, and the entire population that walk the Earth) have perfected, it’s faking how we feel.  Whether it’s to save someone’s feelings, or too protect your own, faking, doesn’t seem to be going out of fashion.

Disclaimer: I am the queen of faking it

I don’t care how good you think your poker face is, I am the best at  hiding how I really feel. (Mainly because I’m saved now, and if I haven’t mastered thinking godly thoughts, I can at least begin with exhibiting godly actions.) I’m forever listening to people’s story and inwardly rolling my eyes or thinking of ways to hide my shock and slight judgement at the outrageous piece of information they’ve just given me. Side-note: I’m being honest; God’s still working on me. Other times the thought of letting you in to see my heart, just brings a whole new fear to the pile I am struggling with.

FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT has become so ingrained in our psyches that we don’t even attempt an honest way of living. Of course common courtesy is important, you don’t need to go around telling people exactly what you think if your thoughts aren’t going to be beneficial, but why do we have to lie? Why must we put on a persona that is at odds with how we really feel and tricks people into thinking that we are some kind of Superhuman, always happy, always interesting, never facing any real-life drama?

Don’t believe you’re part of the faking crew? I bet you (obviously not money-I’m a student) that you can count on one hand the amount of times you’ve answered honestly to the question: “How are you?” We say, ‘fine’, we smile, ‘great’, and some of us even enthusiastically nod, ‘really good thanks’,  when really we mean ‘exhausted,’ ‘broken,’ and fed-up.’ If you live in Britain then you know the rule of having a stiff upper lip, that we’re all obliged to obey. Is it not just a bit crazy to think people feel the need to apologise at the funerals of their dead family and friends, because they’ve shed a tear. Someone close to you has died, if you want to cry, scream, or sit silently in your grief, then you are FULLY within your rights to do so.

Maybe you’re not tired of faking it, but I sure am.

So what next? Should we all cry at bus stops and allow ourselves to break down in front of strangers that simply asked us how we were out of politeness? (I hear you hoping there’s another way). Luckily for everyone there is.

Be Joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12

Once you get past the fact that this scripture is so eloquently encouraging and perfect to be made into a meme that would definitely drum up a good amount of shares and Retweets, you can see how powerful it is. In one line we have instructions for all of our feelings and the need to fake it evaporates. You don’t have to conceal your emotions when you’re dealing with them. Why not have a re-read. Not only are we told how to feel, we are given advice on what do. Instead of faking it, when you’re faced with affliction be patient and faithful in prayer. Don’t just take on board the joy and the patience and forget to pray. It’s a bit worrying the lack of interest people seem to have in praying, maybe more of us would attend prayer meeting if we acknowledged that prayer  is literally the only thing that saves you. I’ve said it before but I shall re-iterate: Life and death is in the power of the tongue, so whatever you’re saying is UBER important. Pray because you feel sad, pray because you need the strength to persist. When in doubt pray and when you’re weak pray. Have you noticed the pattern yet? When you stop communicating with God it’s easy to start believing that He has forsaken you, when really you’ve just distanced yourself from him. Especially when you’re in the midst of the storm: communication is key. Ignoring God when you’re battling for your life is literally like swimming away from your life jacket. Nonsensical, right?!

Last week I told you that I was full of sorrow, and I thank God that I have a new attitude , but I should let you know that the situation hasn’t changed. I seek God daily and speak to my Heavenly Father constantly because communicating with Him is the ONLY, and when I say only, I mean ONLY thing that gives me the strength for each new day.

Let me quickly clarify. I know I’ve told you to stop feeling like you have to fake how you feel, but I’m not supporting walking around with Sadface 24/7.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my saviour. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Sometimes life chucks things at you that are slightly more serious than breaking a nail or having to wait for hours to sit in your barber’s chair. When there’s nothing obvious to be thankful for you still have to CHOOSE to rejoice.

Dear God, I’m struggling to find a reason to be thankful but I choose to praise you because you are my God. I cast my burdens onto you, because you care for me and I let go of sorrow and choose to walk in your Joy. Because the Joy of the Lord is my strength, I thank you for the strength for each new day. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Luff Dani xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

The Day I Lost My iPad

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

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

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

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

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

What?

Yeah, it had gone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I HAVE SHORT HAIR AND I LOOK WORRIED”

“Ok, see you!”

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

We embraced.

Yes, I hugged TWO strangers yesterday.

He apologised to me.

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

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

Joy xxxxxx