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He Makes All Things New

But when you ask you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” James1:6

So much has happened in the world this year and yet we’re only half way through. It’s so easy to believe and expect the worst in the midst of all the negativity. I began this entire blog as a part of my healing journey from the trauma I have experienced in my life. This season I feel that God is making all things new.

I have quite a few disappointments in my life. We all go through disappointments. It used to feel as though failure and disappointment was my second name. I made the mistake of choosing to allow all these disappointments to define who I was. With the series of disappointments and setbacks that I experienced for most of my twenties, eventually I stopped dreaming. I had big dreams in my younger years however, reality came down on me like a tonne of bricks.

My first Disappointment

When I was around 6 years old I lost my very first tooth. I remember my excitement at the potential visit from the tooth fairy! Without telling anyone I took my tooth and placed it under my bed in a shoe excitedly awaiting the tooth fairy. My hopes were dashed however when I woke up the next morning to find that my bloodied tooth was still sitting in my shoe under my bed. At that moment I realised that the idea of the tooth fairy was a fabricate lie told to me by my teachers at school. You see my parents never bought into the ideas of the tooth fairy and Father Christmas but they also never told me that it wasn’t true. I feel this might be true for some African families. I have always still struggled with telling my kids the tooth fairy folklore because I dread they will feel lied to the way I felt all those years ago!

As I grew up I began to experience real-life disappointments- teenage heartbreak, career disappointments, etc. Throughout all of these setbacks I learned to stop dreaming about all the things I had planned to achieve in life. Since I was a little girl I wanted to become a writer. Writing was something I wanted to do all the time. It was one of those things that fit quite naturally with me. I loved books and reading although at school, writing as a career was never something that teachers nor our parents presented as an option so as a naive child, I grew up not ever believing that I could become whatever I wanted to be in life. I try to teach my kids to wake up to a job that they truly enjoy because in my time, career paths seemed to always point academics – engineering, law, finance. Although these are great careers with lucrative money these choices either didn’t interest me at all or simply just didn’t fit my character or enjoyment. I struggled with maths and science and quite honestly, my brain uses its creative side quite a bit more than my academic side so therefore a career in law just wasn’t on the cards for me. I eventually became a mum during my mid-20’s and life got busy. I had to take care of 2 small children while my husband worked long hours. There wasn’t a lot of ‘me-time‘ in those early days and eventually I forgot about the goals and dreams God had planted in me as a child.

Learning to Dream Again

I went back to school in my early 30’s and pursued my current career. Even though I was able to start a career in HR, God began to remind me about my real passions and dreams and He began to encourage me to go after them. Dreams that I left behind years ago – dreams of travelling and seeing the world, experiencing new cultures, meeting new people and exploring different types of food, and most of all my childhood dream to write. All of these which eventually at some point in life would bring me a sense of freedom which I consistently crave. You see, I am a free spirit and I struggle with the 9-5. It makes anxious and I feel constricted. The idea of freedom fills me with joy. At least then, I can use my time in this world in a way that brings me joy and fulfillment.

Jerememiah 29:11 – For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to give you a future and a hope.

Unlike before, life is full of hopes and dreams and it’s time I that I started to dream again. In the last few years life I have had a new lease on life. Life is exciting and I have so many things I want to achieve that I believe God will make happen. I am constantly reminded that “He makes all things new” and He is re-writing my story . Whatever disappointments I’ve had in the past are in the past. Even in the times where it seems I may be experiencing setback, I am no longer defined by the world’s expectations because I am a new creature in Him and He makes a way where there is no way.

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Fearlessness

I feel as though I’ve been going through a phase of attempting to silence the fears of my children. There seems to be quite a bit of anxiety going on in our house at the moment. The truth is it’s easier to reassure them that they are safe and sound but just how much of these re-assuring words do I manage to put into practice on a daily basis? Probably not a huge chunk to be quite honest.

“I lie down and sleep. I wake again because the Lord sustains me” Psalm 3:5. This verse holds more than one meaning for me. Each and everyday day becomes a fresh start and a new beginning. I have to use every new day and live it the best way I know how with a new grace. Also, I can wake up in the morning and know that I am sustained by his mercy.

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I developed some nasty fears over the 36 years of my life. I constantly feared death, sickness, a car accident that would leave me either paralysed or worse, even dead. An inherent fear that something awful would happen to my family, oh the list goes on! This type of fear and panic would grip me each and every single day. It took the joy out of my life and eventually I learnt to always expect the worst from life.

We are not born with fear. Fear is learned through our experiences as children and we grow up and become adults. It somehow spreads quietly like a virus where you don’t realise its there or that there is even a problem. Eventually it begins to show up everyday and affects our inner beings and our relationships. It’s likely that we can miss this somehow, we miss this and continue on with our lives until something major happens and we’re suddenly forced to confront our childhood traumas. For me, growing up in South Africa, fear was an everyday feeling. Without realising it, fear became ingrained in my psychology from a very young age. I remember how I would suddenly wake up in the middle of the night and watch my dad peek through the curtains of the bedroom my sister and I shared. He was like a policeman marching through every room in the house peering through those curtains possibly looking for any kind of unusual movement in the garden making sure we had no unwelcome intruders. I remember the machete that stayed under his side of the bed ‘just in case’ he needed to make use of it. Even at the age of 6 or so I understood that we were not always completely safe in our home and like a virus, fear made itself at home.

God knew what my biggest struggles and insecurities would be even before I was born. He had a plan already in place to help me get through them all. He always has a plan. He knew his plan would mean my fears would work not only for my good but for His greater good. I’ve started to embrace the ‘bad’ experiences I go through because I can always be assured that he will always turn that whatever negative experiences I have into something good. I will have good seasons and bad seasons and maybe the bad makes me more resilient over time, perhaps the bad seasons mean one day I can help someone else? I have no idea but what I do know is that know that in God’s eyes NOTHING is ever wasted. No sadness or tears, no joy and no humiliation I go through experience will be wasted. I may have developed an unspeakable fear as a child but He has a plan. One which doesn’t include fear or timidity. He has called me to be a fearless warrior! Fearless in the decisions I make in my personal life, fearless in the way I parent my children, in my career, in my abilities as woman and an individual and most of all complete fearlessness and confidence in what the future holds. He knows the desires of my heart and He will not allow fear to dictate or rule out the wonderful plans He has laid out for me in this life.

Whenever I feel fear tries to grab hold of me I remember these words: “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

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How to start setting Goals

Proverbs 31:27 – “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness”

When I was younger I seemingly lacked motivation in a quite a few areas of my life. I just wasn’t as disciplined person I am today. Quite honestly I don’t really remember having much ambition or drive for just about anything on a whole. I somehow just existed and seemingly, I was okay with that. I remember how I used to struggle to start or complete small and simple tasks. I had a big problem with motivation. A small mundane task such as calling up the electricity company to sort out a small issue was a struggle. Getting daily jobs around the house was an issue and it all boiled down to a lack of motivation. I don’t exactly know why I struggled so much. It could have been down to a bout of depression at one point in my life and perhaps a host of other reasons which I will probably never know or understand.

Over the years I have grown to become quite the opposite. I am the ultimate writer of lists, I set goals – daily goals, weekly goals, short term goals, long-term goals, the list goes on. My children have in fact come to loathe my ‘lists’ simply because I have lists for everything! When its nearly half term I write a list of places we will visit while the kids are off school – the beach, museums, etc. I have shopping lists, meal plan lists, lists of what the children need for school and so forth. I try to enforce this habit on my family just because it helps me so much but I think my obsession may have put everyone off the idea!

I haven’t come to be the person I am all on my own. With the help of God, my mum-in-law, and a can-do attitude, the person I was just a few years ago has somehow grown into an organized, efficient, goal-driven individual. Setting small goals every day has shaped me over the years. Life is less chaotic and I have found my stress and anxiety levels are not half as bad as they used to be. I would become easily anxious at the overwhelming amount of ‘stuff’ that needed my attention at home and at work. Looking at a pile of ironing for example would set me off on a trail of anxiety.

Making a to-do-list de-clutters my mind. Instead of keeping everything I have to do in my head, I prioritize what need to get done and well, the rest waits until I eventually am able to get to it.

Lock-down has motivated me even more to set daily tasks for myself so that I have some kind of purpose to my day. I suppose I feel a sense of accomplishment when things get done. Once it’s done I don’t feel so guilty about sitting down all afternoon – gin and tonic in hand indulging in some of my favourite television shows.

A typical example of my set goals for the day (during quarantine) looks a bit like the this…

-Wake up and grab my book on mey bedside table next to me. I ask God what he thinks I need to get done for the day and jot it down in my book. It usually looks something like this:

  • Write a meal plan for upcoming week
  • Write the shopping list
  • Hoover downstairs
  • Bake with the kids
  • Clean toilets (uuugh!..it’s become a daily task with this quarantine)
  • Go for a run/do a workout

Now on some days nothing on the list gets done. On other other days I’m able to cross off a few tasks I’ve managed to complete but nonetheless the simple act of writing it all down means I’m more likely to get it done than not.

I’ve noticed the difference when I set goals and the days I can’t be bothered. There seems to be more structure in my home. I know what needs to be done on that particular day and in some ways it means the children have some idea of what’s happening each day especially while we are not on regular work/school schedule. I place the list on my fridge door just so that I can see it throughout my day and have the satisfaction of being being able to cross the tasks I’ve managed to do in-between the demands of family life.

I feel God seems to be growing me into the person He wants me to become and I take notice in those few times where I step at look at what I’ve become- almost a shadow of who I used to be. I’m slowly becoming a confident individual, who is more than capable. I remember how I used to not believe how much I was capable of however my mindset is changing and I am on a journey of discovering not only who God is but who I am within Him. ‘His mercies are new every morning’…I try to think of this every morning when I start my day. It’s always a new day, a day where I can start afresh and forget about the failures of yesterday.

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The burden of Anxiety…


On a bad day, my anxiety would manifest my biggest fears, it would make me feel alone, scared and somewhat irritable for lack of a better word. That irritable feeling I would feel was more of an intense feeling that wouldn’t allow me to focus on anything. It could last for a day at the least or a couple of days at the most. I’m not sure how my anxiety started manifesting itself but when I look back I remember it probably started when I became a mother for the first time. Before motherhood, I was carefree and relaxed. Not having too many worries in my younger years was indeed a gift. A precious momentary gift until the burdens of life began to take their toll on me.

When my daughter was first born she had colic. Many newborns have battle with colic which usually disappears within a few weeks or months. I was an anxious new mother without a clue. When my daughter was diagnosed colic I immediately blamed myself. Babies are born with colic, they get colds, fevers, the list goes on. This is all part and parcel of their growth and development. The initial ‘innocent’ feelings of blame and guilt eventually grew to years of irrational fear and panic that something ‘bad’ and awful would happen to my kids or my family. As a second-time mum my anxieties only grew as I became anxious about going to sleep at night because I dreaded the interrupted sleep each night which comes with having newborn. Over an extended period, my anxieties about the little things began to grow, constant anxiety that one day my husband would leave the house and never return because something horrible would happen to him, anxiety that my daughter would drown in our pool, and so on and so forth the list was endless. It became a festering wound that would get bigger and slowly sift its way into various other areas of my life unbeknownst to me. Anxiety stopped me from experiencing true joy and caused a constant panic and fear in me that I came to believe was normal mostly because I never spoke them out loud-to anyone.

What does God says about anxiety?

The Bible mentions anxiety and thankfully we have a God who already knew all the answers to life’s problems. “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you”. ( 1 Peter 5:7) God is interested in the smallest things in our lives and especially every worry and fear that keeps us awake at night. Luke 12:7 says “He knows the very hairs on your head are numbered so do not be afraid, you are worth than many sparrows”. These precious words of comfort are a source of healing. We may not see immediate changes to our everyday fears or struggles. Over time, God opened my eyes and I slowly began to realise that what I was feeling had a name – ANXIETY and it most certainly was not a normal feeling. The devil wants us to believe that what we are feeling is completely normal and by doing so we continue along a negative spiral. One that causes us to miss out on what God has planned for us. I was able to start dealing with the root of those feelings and eventually over time the feelings of worry, panic, fear and anxiety became less intense and infrequent. At times I may feel like anxiety is right at my door but the difference is that I know now that God has me in the palm of His hand.

God wants us all to live a life an abundant life. His plan for me doesn’t involve feelings of anxiety, panic or fear. He sees me as a courageous, fearless and powerful woman. Sometimes I need a reminder of who I am because on some days I may I forget or I allow the worries of life to overwhelm me. On the days where I feel anxiety trying to re-establish itself back into my life I turn to God for assurance because He has the last say. I don’t need to be anxious over the future, over the well-being of my family or anything else that might want to steal my focus or distract me from looking up to the one who has the final say.

For help managing anxiety please visit…

http://www.acc-uk.org

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Perfect vs Imperfect…


It’s been a good few weeks since the start of lock-down here in the UK. It’s Bank Holiday today which means a long weekend!.. A ‘public’ holiday as we would call it South Africa which thankfully for my family means we get do no absolutely NOTHING! This morning I asked my daughter what she would like to do and the above was her response so we’re definitely on the same page! Even though we are currently on lock-down our Mondays to Fridays as a family are full on. The kids have online school from 8.30am till 4pm and I have to home-school my younger son throughout the week. Some days he feels great about home schooling while other days he lies in a crumpled heap on the floor not wanting to do the work set out for him.

I’ve been feeling increasingly anxious about homeschooling my son with each day that passes, so much so that I have started dragging myself out of bed each morning. I am not a teacher and simply trying my best although not fully sure I’m even doing a great job. It has been trying playing both mum and teacher and trying to keep him motivated. I admit I have felt an intense pressure to be motivated every.single.day! There are honestly days where I would prefer to sit in front of the telly doing absolutely nothing and watching some of my favourite most shameful reality shows instead. So you can imagine how much I was looking forward to simply relaxing today but sadly I seem to have woken up with a somewhat less than positive attitude. This lock-down has me so confused in my feelings. This morning I immediately felt guilty about not feeling thankful or blessed that we are safe as a family during this awful pandemic. I mean, there are people suffering all over the world and therefore who am I to harbour these ‘unholy’ feelings? I do realise however that I for one need to constantly remind and re-assure myself that I am only human and it’s far better to acknowledge these feelings of restlessness and ask God to help me conquer the oncoming day. Some days I wake up feeling great and other days well…not so much. Its ok to not feel like ‘getting things done’ at times much like the way my son feels about his home schooling on some days. As a mum I need to allow him to express his feelings of frustration and acknowledge those feelings. God reminded me in that moment that I need to allow myself to acknowledge my frustration on this particular day instead of covering it up or worse..feeling guilty about feeling this way. It’s so much easier to talk to God and let him know ‘Hey, God today I am not so feeling great…’. When I choose to do this instead of wallowing in guilt and allowing these negative thoughts to define my day He somehow takes care of the rest. My day falls into place and by 4pm I’m left wondering how I managed to have moments of fun with my kids despite the stress of home schooling all day!

Our God is a God who is consistent and never changes (unlike like my moods). I can wake up each and every morning knowing that His grace is enough and If I happen to wake up tomorrow morning in an awful mood once again, I can rest assured that His face is smiling down on me and He is pleased with what he sees.

Proverbs 31:25 – “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future”

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Defined by Christ…


Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future..

I remember my earlier days of being a young mum and housewife whilst still living in South Africa. Oh those days were hard particularly as I had no other ‘mum’ friends around me. None of my friends had their own children and therefore it was hard for them to understand my plight. I certainly felt a distance from them and as we were on different paths at that point in time. I spent most most of my days with just my daughter. I enjoyed this but did long for companionship with other mothers. There is certainly a connection that exists between mothers. We sympathise with one another especially as first time mums. This understanding sometimes leads to life long friendships as well as temporary connections as we navigate the joy, confusion and exhaustion of motherhood together. I admit I didn’t always enjoy my days of being a housewife when I still lived in South Africa. I often felt judged by others for not being a full time working mum. Looking back I allowed the opinion of others to define who I was. At that time, I needed to be a full time mother to my daughter. I was lucky enough to have the support of my husband financially. I certainly felt displaced in a society where most women go out to work and the culture of staying at home with young children seems unusual to say the least.

When I moved to England I slowly felt that being a housewife fit in with my journey. I quickly met other stay at home mothers and felt a sense of belonging in some ways. Traditionally in England one parent will stay at home with the children while the other parent provides financially towards the household and this is a common theme amongst many families owing to the high cost of childcare in particular. I was able to make friends quickly and although settling into a new country was tough, I was glad to meet a community of mothers. I finally felt less guilty about being a stay at home mum because well, everybody else around me was a stay at home mum so of course this new country was the perfect place for me.

This had me thinking about how we allow others to define who we are in life. We try to live up to the standards of what the world tells us we should be. When you become a mum your’e expected to have a million other things going at the same time. Juggling careers, business ventures, various other ‘outside’ pursuits which we believe will define us or give us a place in society. The Bible honours mothers and places us in such high regard that we often forget how valuable we are. We are raising families and little humans. One friend always reminds me that what we do is more important than anything else in this world.

Proverbs 31:21

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come

She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tounge

She looks well to all the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also and he praises her

“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all”

Charm is decietful, and beauty is vain

But a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.