22 Feb

Airplane Mask Rule: for the emotional woman who gives until there’s nothing left

airplane-oxygen-mask

On an airplane, we are told during the safety announcements to “put your mask on first before helping the person next to you”. This is because you will not be able to help others if you reach a point of low oxygen levels.

This theory has been playing about in my mind and I thought about how we as women give and give until we are empty. The demands carry on so we give from our emptiness until our physical and emotional balance is in the red. I have heard and read opinions that say we need to reverse this trend but I didn’t take it seriously until now.
Yesterday I started paying more attention to how I give to my household. I observed not as Toks, but as an unbiased third party having an aerial view of my life. This is what I saw. I saw this woman giving until there was nothing left. Then she convinced herself she could do more so she did. This happened over and over. I did not see her once stop to give to herself.
I am emotional. Most women are wired that way. I give out of instinct and I give from my emotions so this morning I pondered on how to address the issue, because when I give until there’s no more and more demands are made I fall into the irritable and drained zone. I wondered if God made us that way and if he did, is it actually right for us to reverse our natural disposition? Surely if we were crafted as  emotional beings with the instinct to give and deny ourselves, are we not meant to accept who we are and live like that?
My soul heard this:
“Life is about self discovery and navigation. We are handcrafted by the creator and there are kinks and knots in the intricacies of our emotions. Finding creative ways to undo the knots is part of the joy of living.”
This morning I surprised myself as I said ‘no’ to a demand that was made on my time. I noticed the slight disappointment that followed as they realised they’d have to do it themselves, I also noticed myself starting to backtrack and then I said “stop, Toks.” I allowed myself to feel the discomfort of disappointing a loved one, the emotion lasted all of 39 seconds. I heard a whoosh as exhilaration swiftly followed behind that emotion and then it settled in my belly. Yes, the result of saying ‘no’ was a sweet feeling of contentment, self respect and joy. One knot was unraveled and I not only enjoyed the experience but at the end of it was pure joy. In addition, the time was mine to feed my soul with so I was able to write this- writing for me is pure oxygen.
This is not the first time I have arrived at this bend in the road, I have been there many times but responded to the emotions of others. I didn’t know then that the discomfort was brief and joy was right behind it. Two years ago I learned not to live by my feelings; they are fleeting and are birthed in the soul. I choose to live from my spirit which is one with God. Maya Angelou said when you know better, you do better. I’m doing better.
How about you, what kinks have you had to unravel lately? Are you wearing your oxygen mask?
cake
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14 May

Inside out Living

If we are connected on social media, you may have seen some of my posts hashtagged #insideoutliving.

That’s my theme for this year. I have been learning all about living from the inside out. In November, I’ll be sharing my lessons at our final brunch for the year (we’re planning a summer brunch so stay tuned) but in the meantime, here’s a snippet of that hashtag.

Having answered the call in 2014/15 to live authentically, I went into 2016 with a desire to focus more on who I am on the inside, the real me, as opposed to my visible external self. Historically I have spent more time, money and energy on the physical than the soul despite knowing we are also made up of a soul and spirit and not a just body. The real you resides inside while the outside is just your physical representation. It follows then that if you desire transformation in your life, it makes sense to do it from the inside out.

Inside Out Living

I have enjoyed some truly profound lessons, some I have shared publicly, others I’ve shared with friends. It will be an honour to share these lessons with you as time goes on.

The results of living from the inside out- besides my healthy glow, (LOL) has been me living a much more meaningful life. My perspective on everything has changed and I’m enjoying a flow of calm and a contentment that in the past only showed up once in a while.  I don’t do anything I don’t want to because I owe it to my beautiful self to live authentically and be who God called me to be.

Living Inside Out has even affected my business positively and for that I am thankful. I am particularly excited because I believe that we do not need gurus to instruct us on how to live, we just need to be true to ourselves. But how can you be true to yourself if you don’t know who you are? Regular practice of introspection is one of the most needed practices today. We live such reactionary lives, we react to the media, we react to public opinion, we react to celebrities and social media trends. This is living on the outside or surface living. Living on the surface denies you the joy of discovering the unique path for your life. It stops you from reaching deep down to get a hold of your gift. Inside out living means taking the road less-travelled. It means not being afraid to be different, but being confident to use your unique gift, walk your purpose and impact those that are destined to cross your life.

Beneath everything happening, beneath the surface is the real thing. We are made up of Spirit (the part that is alive and connected to God), Soul (emotions, will, imagination, desire) and Body (the physical world, your flesh). Beyond the physical, beyond the flesh is the real thing. Your spirit is connected to God, it receives instructions from The Lord. The instruction is passed on to your soul which is where the believing and the planning & imagination happens and finally, the package is given to the body to carry out the action.

Here’s what I do daily, I make every effort to live on the inside so I receive guidance from my spirit which is one with God. I try not to make emotional decisions from the soul. Emotions are fleeting and are not reliable. As for the body, it is only interested in the image perceived from the outside. Decisions led by the flesh will make you look good and feel good but it has no real substance or direction. Such decisions are not linked to your purpose.

More on that as time goes on! If you haven’t signed up to receive the Let’s Brunch newsletter, please do so by clicking the Email icon at the bottom of this post. You can also find me on Facebook, twitter & Instagram as @toksaruoture.

Thank you for reading & I look forward to connecting!

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27 Apr

Pedestals

Each week I respond to the call from The Teacher to learn a new lesson. I believe we are surrounded by lessons. However, we are not always ready or willing to learn them, Consequently, the call to learn may be made several times for days or even weeks until we respond. I happen to fall into the camp of those who need to be called out to a few times before responding.

imageLast week’s lesson was on Pedestals. Specifically placing people on pedestals. A bit random if you ask me as most lessons tend to have a related theme and one leads to the other. For example, one week I may be learning about fear and the following week the lesson will be about self-worth. Then I’ll understand that my fear of man is borne out of not having sufficient regard for my own value.

Back to Pedestals.

Nuff said.
God on a Pedestal.
“O LORD, there is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you! What other nation on earth is like your people Israel? What other nation, O God, have you redeemed from slavery to be your own people? You made a great name for yourself when you redeemed your people from Egypt. You performed awesome miracles and drove out the nations that stood in their way.”
‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭17:20-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

So there you have it, my thoughts on pedestals. I’d love to hear yours!

 

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28 Feb

Slaying the Dragon: Analysis Paralysis

img_0734.jpgThis weekend found me doing some soul searching which extended from the pages of my journal to Facebook. I asked a question- rather I shared a status update:

“I have a tendency to overthink & over plan on a new idea until I over analyse myself out of it and it never takes off. Does anyone else do this? #insideoutliving”

Thankfully it turned out I’m not alone and have some wonderful friends who shared their thoughts too. Saturday was spent thinking about and analysing the subject and by the end of the day I had clarity. I understood the process that led to my being overwhelmed in this manner, but it wasn’t until this morning I discovered the ‘why.’

I ‘compare up’ and it kills my motivation. I read a blog post by Valorie Burton that explained three motivation killers. The first one was comparing oneself to others who you perceive to be more successful. Now, I rarely compare myself to others because I have a sound understanding that we are all unique and different, we do things differently which yields varying results; rather I tend to spend time finding out why I do the things I do and that is what helps me make progress. So while this point did not directly apply to my problem, it shed some light on it. I compare up. I compare the start of my dream or goal to the end product. A bit like taking a piece of metal and planning to build a Ferari. Then you become paralysed because you cannot possibly imagine how your piece of metal will one day become one of the world’s fastest cars. I shared in my last post about perfect being the enemy of good. This still shows up for me from time to time. For instance, I read a very good novel written by a friend. I enjoyed it thoroughly and was to take a selfie and post a review. I decided that wasn’t good enough. I would blog about it instead. 3 weeks later I have no selfie, no review & no blog- because I feel a blog does it more justice. Now as I iterated, everyone is different so these solutions are based on my personality as I know it, but like my Facebook friends, you may find it applies to you too.
Here’s my way forward:

Plan. No, I’m not a natural born planner. I tend to dive in and enjoy the thrill of not knowing what comes next. One of several reasons why planning is important is that you become aware of what lies ahead- the many steps, so you are under no illusions of how it will play out.  I started to implement planning in some areas of my life last year and one way to do so is to schedule time to do the planning. It’s not enough to plan while driving or while doing the dishes or watching TV. We tend to accord more importance to some things than others, for instance we’ll plan our holiday but we won’t take time to plan what a hairstyle we want to have. It then plays like a tennis game at the back of your mind- braid or weave, braid or weave?

Throw in the obstacles Of course it would be ideal if everything was smooth sailing, but we don’t live in an ideal world. We need to brainstorm obstacles and add a work around should they occur. That way there are no nasty surprises that’ll cause us to jump ship halfway into the project.

Celebrate your Milestones. I’ve heard this often but until you know where the milestones are you will not have much to celebrate. Picture the journey as a long drive on the motorway with service stations. The service stations are your milestones where you get refreshed. If you never even planned your journey you’ll not get there. You’ll be busy driving around in circles in town, busy and apparently working towards something- just not your goals.

Be Present in the Moment. Another expression of our time that only started to mean much to me recently. My tendency stemmed from being so obsessed with the end that I saw the middle as a chore. I was in a race with only one thing in mind- to finish. I did not care about the steps, I enjoy starting, I love finishing, but that middle bit is a drag. Being present in the moment requires us to change our thinking, that each step is meaningful and just as important as the first and the final. We are to accord the same honour to each of our steps, and not call one more important than theother. At the beginning of the project make a pact to celebrate every single step; to treat each one as wholly important, because without it you can’t get to the end.

Be Kind to Yourself. Someone said we treat others better than we treat ourselves. We don’t yell and berate people who make a mistake but we do it to ourselves. My theme this year is inside out living, I’ll share more on that soon. In a nutshell my focus is more on my inside than my outside. I believe that if the inside, the soul is thriving, so will the body. Being kind to ourselves mean being patient, forgiving, loving and nurturing of oneself.

I hope this has shed some light on a similar issue you may be having, do share your thoughts on how you’ve slayed this dragon! Thank you for reading.

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27 Dec

Lessons 2015 Taught Me

IMG_0603.JPG2015 has come to an end, it has been an amazing year! Not that I achieved all I hoped for, I didn’t, rather it is because of the fabulous lessons I learned which have opened my eyes to limitless possibilities. The last 2 years had me all gung ho about authenticity, it was even the subject of the last brunch. Going deeper into that lesson I uncovered some traits that restrict my progress on that journey.

1) Perfectionism is the Enemy of Good.

I discovered it was this trait that held me back from unpublished posts and many unattempted or unfinished tasks. It told me what I wanted to share or speak about wasn’t quite ready, it could be better. It suggested I hold on until an undefined time which really was, never. Perfectionism is linked to inauthenticity. It is the fear that a part of you will be rejected because it is less than perfect. Oftentimes the lesson is in the message and it speaks loud and clear; it really doesn’t require flowery words or embellishments for its meaning to be heard. As a creative person, I cannot afford to be hindered by that. Creativity hasn’t got a scale as the only one who knows when it’s ready is you. So any inner voices claiming it isn’t good enough when you know you’ve done your best are simply misleading you.

2) We Don’t Need Permission

I discovered this trait while journaling. It showed up again when my oldest son and I were preparing the turkey for roasting. Last year we stuffed oranges into the cavity after marinating as we came across a recipe that called for that. The citrus juices burst into the turkey and adds another mouthwatering layer of flavour. This year I forgot to buy oranges but we had apples yet when Aaron suggested we put whole apples in, I felt the need to confer with Google and check if it is the ‘done thing’. At times when writing or designing I stall because what I’m about to present is uncommon, hasn’t been done or said before and I feel it’s too lonely a road to throw it out there and walk by myself. I learned this year that we are uniquely created and we all have original ideas and creative expressions. It is a sign of inauthenticity if you try to make your creativity appeal to everyone, rather than simply letting the truth of what it is flow out naturally.

3) Stop Seeking Approval

Similar to the above, this happens after you’ve shared your thoughts or creation. You wait holding your breath, praying you are celebrated and recognised. A sign that you don’t have confidence in the uniqueness of your own gift. A common way this shows up is in judging your work by how many likes on Facebook or retweets on Twitter you get.

4) Feed your Soul

I recognised and honoured my soul’s yearning to be contained in a beautiful space. Not only do I need to look after my body so it is healthy and beautiful, I also need to make sure my environment feeds my soul. I need to live in a beautiful and inspiring space. Anything that does not serve that purpose is being tossed out as I come across them. I have some interior design projects lined up for my home For some that may extend to unhealthy relationships that drain, TV programs you watch or even your place of work.

5) Practice Alignment

Another huge lesson I learned (still very much in progress) is alignment. I’ll be sharing that in due course, but for now I’ll say this; for there to be order in my life, my spirit must be connected to God, where it receives the desires of the Holy Spirit, my soul is then given those desires which is where the believing and the feeling and the imagination goes on, as well as the exercising of the will, the soul then tells the body to carry out the required action. We face internal and external conflict when all three are misaligned, working towards different goals or when the hierarchy is disturbed. A very simplistic example is this. You have been gifted with a heart that cares about social injustice. But you harbour hatred towards other races or classes.

6) Renew your mind

I learned to change the way I think. Having battled with unsavoury thoughts like we all do, from fear and anxiety to discouragement and mental exhaustion, I found out that it is futile to address each individual thought. We process millions of thoughts daily from a myriad of sources, it is impossible to sit with each one to dissect and throw out the bad and embrace the good. Since the mind is the seat of our thoughts, how about we work on it instead? A scripture verse says renew your minds. That’s what I’ve been doing. Regular cleansing and renewing of the mind makes it harder for unsavoury thoughts to sneak in unnoticed.

I’ll share more lessons over the coming months as I learn them. The posts are divided into Spirit, Soul & Body and I tend to share lessons I have learned personally, not through books I have read- unless specified.

I hope your year has been fabulous- the fact that you’re alive reading this means that it was, for if we have no life there is no hope of things ever changing or getting better. If 2015 was your annus horibbilis, you are alive to learn lessons the pain brought with it, and use them as guiding principles in the coming year.

This year, I plan on staying open to lessons of life hidden in our day to day experiences. I won’t have resolutions per se, rather I’ll be sticking with guiding principles to help me navigate my way. I send you lots of love and encouragement to finish this year resolving to unearth your own traits and tools as opposed to searching everywhere else but inside you.

How about you? What lessons did you learn this year? Do you set resolutions or just go with the flow?

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08 Nov

The Overfed Mind

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The Cluttered Mind

Cancer occurs when a group of cells begins to multiply at an abnormally fast rate. In our world of bigger is better along with the constant persuasion to go for more, it would make sense if cancer actually increased our capacity to live a longer or more fulfilling life as far as physical abilities go. Of course, that’s not the case. Instead it destroys the body sometimes aggressively, at other times slowly but cancer is one disease no one wants to be diagnosed with. Saying the word is even a taboo, it is often called the ‘C’ word or ‘the big C’.

There’s an illness that seems to have pervaded our lives today which affects the mind in what appears to be the same way. It’s the force-feeding of our minds with an alarming amount of information. The medium is social media. If you don’t go looking for it, it will find you. This is when you feed your mind with excessive knowledge just because the information is present. If it was all healthy it wouldn’t be too bad- still bad but possibly not as dire as the deadly cocktails that are out there. I remember my mum telling my brothers and I, “too much of anything is bad,” this gem of wisdom was usually forced in us when we asked for another bottle of Coke, more cake or we wanted to spend all day riding our bikes. She always said it in relation to something we enjoyed and I learned that just because you enjoy something doesn’t mean it’s ok to overdose on it.

I use the main social media platforms for both business and personal purposes, and I started writing this post after I found myself scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. I asked myself, “Toks, what exactly are you looking for?” And I had no answer to that question. I don’t know what I was looking for but I kept looking, and as I scrolled I came across a number of quotes, storylines, links, videos and pictures that had absolutely no bearing on my present circumstance or my future. I noticed the way businesses and media outlets trick you into clicking through. It’s phrases like ‘you won’t believe what this person did after they woke up this morning‘ Or, ‘10 celebrity homes that would make you doubt your reason for existence‘ or another ‘cuteness alert’ cat video. These target our own curiosity and address the issue of ‘am I having the best life or is someone else doing better than me?’ Is there a way I can improve my life so I don’t finish last? ‘What’s missing from my life?’

This morning I saw an advert for coaching where the coach offered to ‘help you clean out your mind’. I have no issues with coaches, I have friends who are good coaches and I have even engaged the services of one in the past. But my instant reaction was, all one needs is a pen and paper to declutter one’s mind. Wouldn’t I  be just the laziest person ever if I couldn’t even empty my own damn* mind?

There was another post where the business owner suggested that people are in search of a formidable leader who will help make their path clear. On the contrary, people do not need a leader, people want to be responsible for their own success and don’t want to attribute it to others. People want to have clarity, gain understanding and derive joy from seeing their own damn dreams come to life.

And my pet peeve- ‘Let me teach you to be successful,’ a generous offer from someone who clearly doesn’t understand the word success. These ones only ever attribute success to making money and constantly make irritating references to John Maxwell, 7 figure sums, and Tony Robbins. They are the curators of the ‘10 things you must do each day at noon to be successful’ and the ‘5 reasons you are not yet married, we love number 3′ type lists. These types don’t realise that to the woman in war-torn Sudan, a woman on minimum wage in the western world is very successful.

Rant over. I am not suggesting that you throw out OPI, other people’s opinion, but rather that you guard your mind. Just because you’re a John Maxwell follower doesn’t mean you should overdose on every book, phrase, or seminar that he offers- he’s a great guy with sensible information but if you only ever fill your mind with his own ideas, there’ll be no room for any of your’s to materialize. Have your own definition of success, trust it and live by it, not some other person’s idea. For some, success is losing weight but if I haven’t got a weight issue how exactly will their 12-day miracle diet plan help me? We are all unique individuals charting our own individual paths. We do not need to compare it with others’ to determine just how well we are doing.

*I couldn’t find a synonym for damn that would appropriately express my grievance with the issue. Please share when you find one?

Thank you for reading, do share your honest thoughts or rant!

 

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23 Sep

Extrospection

God is faithful to His own promises. If our lives fail to live out the promises of God, we cannot be angry at God.

Could it be that you failed to plan properly because you were in a haste and therefore made mistakes?

Or were you so filled with enthusiasm you did not stop to gain the required knowledge?

Maybe it wasn’t even your idea in the first place, it was someone else’s. But you since admire them so much, you thought it would work for you.

 

Enthusiasm-without-knowledge

Either way, God is not to blame, we must be since His word is infallible.

Introspection is a useful tool that aids personal growth. Our world today focuses so much on extrospection- or other people’s viewpoints and we take on the opinions of others. We copy routines that work for other people. We adopt business ideas that are not ours, and we wonder why it works for them and not for us. We think there must be a secret key and when someone shares their Three Keys to Success on social media, we click through and try to adopt that- along with about ten other sets of ‘keys’.

The result is a cluttered mind and a life marked by frustration.

Perhaps we stop and look within we might be able to retrace our steps and find out where we made the wrong turn.

One way to do that is to stop the inner and external chatter, we can’t listen while we speak, and we can only listen to one voice at the same time, let’s stop to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.

Have a blessed day!

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30 Mar

The Spirit is Willing But The Flesh is Stronger

What if the ‘trial’ is a sweet one?

I recently got delivered from a situation that I can only describe as a reverse-trial. And by that I don’t mean the opposite of a trial, or a blessing.. This was a reverse trial because it was not good for me, it was potentially destructive yet I wasn’t exactly fighting to get out of it. It wasn’t the usual fear, discouragement, sickness or lack, still it was a battle that I needed to win without a desire to fight it. I have always read scriptures like, you delivered me from evil, or you set my feet on solid ground as pertaining to deliverance from painful, unpleasant situations. What do you do if the situation is not unpleasant but it can lead to destruction? What if the scripture the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak feels more like the reverse- the spirit is willing but the flesh is stronger?
The flesh has its own strong desires that can overwhelm anything your spirit wants. It is strong and roots for gluttony, lust, laziness. The flesh enjoys these things and much as you want to get out of it, you are enjoying it so its even harder. Compare that to battling against fear, poverty, sickness etc. These things both our spirit and our flesh hate them and we can’t wait to be rid of it. How then do you deal with pleasurable trials?I learned some hard lessons during my trial.
1) Never underestimate the power of the mind, or the strength of the flesh.During a trial your mind and your flesh are going in an opposite direction to your spirit. The scripture says the flesh is at war with the spirit and wants the opposite of what the spirit wants. You are in an actual warfare and you need to pray and fight. You need to respect what your spirit wants as the truth and choose to go with it instead, even that takes an effort.

Gal 5:17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

2)Get off your high horse.

Christians need to get off their high horses by not being quick to judge others. The scripture Galatians 5;7 talks about the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. Verse 21 Ends with those who practice such will not enter the kingdom of God. So what we do is immediately label any of the preceding acts as pertaining to ‘those in the world’. It doesn’t apply to us since we are not lustful, gluttons or lazy. The truth is that is a deceptive thought because that scripture was written in a letter to the church- you. Not to the world. It does apply to us. If Christians did not engage in such behaviour we wouldn’t have been warned against it. So next time you read that verse don’t skip down to the fruit of the spirit section.

Ecc 7:20 Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.

1 John 1:8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.

3)Your spirit is one with God.

This means you are not fighting on your own. God wants what’s best for you so he does not stand afar pointing an accusing finger at you. Ps 139 :8 Even though I make my bed in hell, you are there. No matter where our flesh leads us to, our father pursues us with his love. He goes with us, helping us, telling us to be strong. During that season I came across scriptures to do with what I was going through; devotionals were delivered to my inbox and sometimes even in conversation I was instructed or reminded of God’s presence in the situation. Only God saw the true picture yet not once did I feel He had left or condemned me.

Psalm 139:7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? vs 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there…vs 11:I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night– vs 12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

4) Create the right environment.

Is your battle with drugs or alcohol? Yes Christians have these battles too. Then create a safe environment for yourself by staying away from direct contact or triggers. If depression or loneliness triggers a return to a bad habit, recognise it and the minute you see it coming from afar, fight the depression and not the alcohol. Don’t allow yourself to fall and then attempt to start fighting from a fallen state.
Fill your mind with scripture, the word of God is life and would reignite the power and passion to fight along with the Lord. Play some praise and worship songs to lead you into God’s presence, for sin cannot stay where the presence of God is.

Prov 22:3 A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

5) Ask for help!
If this trial is bigger than you can handle, enlist the help of a trusted friend. These days you can even engage with good Christians virtually via blogs and forums if you have no one you can confide in.
Prov 27:10 10 Don’t leave your friends or your parents’ friends and run home to your family when things get rough; Better a nearby friend than a distant family. (The Message)

6) Use wisdom

Finally, never, ever underestimate the power of the flesh, in the same way never, ever underestimate the power of God’s love.

Gen 4:7 You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it.

Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. 32 But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up your brothers

Our trials always have a purpose and ultimately God is glorified through it. Jesus told Peter he would go through a time of testing or temptation, and even turn away (briefly) from God. But when he was done and had repented and turned back to God, he was to strengthen his brothers, perhaps because of the renewed strength that comes with repentance and also maybe by sharing his experiences.

If you’re going through a time of testing, and your flesh appears to be gaining ground, know that it is God’s will for you to come out victorious, and He is on your side.

I feel the need to share this song…

 

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08 Sep

God don’t like ugly

Ugly. Even the word evokes feelings of discomfort, like something isn’t quite right, isn’t the way it should be, or that it should look better. Recently the lord showed me the ugliness that lay within me. It wasn’t pretty. I didn’t even realise that I had lived with such emotions for goodness knows how long! I hope you don’t mind me sharing the ugliness with you, just in case some of it has managed to sneak into your life unnoticed. I warn you this post might well have e a part 2, 3 or even 10 as God is still working on me!

Condemnation

This is the feeling of either being condemned or me condemning someone. And there have been lots of incidents of both in my life.

The scripture (Rom 8:1) says there is therefore now no condemnation for us because we are in Christ Jesus. The message translation says

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here for us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud.

I came to understand that condemning thoughts- fear, failure, doubt, unbelief, sorrow, were all black clouds which we must not live under. My black clouds showed up in the form of poor business sales, feelings of despondency when I felt I hadn’t done well as a mother, or when I yielded to the temptation to dwell in the past. What are your dark clouds?

The flip side of living under condemnation is condemning others. To look at someone and declare them unfit for good use. God didn’t give up on us so we shouldn’t give up on others.

The second ugliness is having a Critical spirit.

Matt 7: 1(The MESSAGE) “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. 2 That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. 3 It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbour’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. 4 Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? 5 It’s this whole travelling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a wash-cloth to your neighbor.

A critical spirit is always ready to judge. Fault-finding. The word of God tells us to work on ourselves and not on others. Again here’s a call to examine yourself. What faults do you exhibit when measured against the word of God?  Gossip, Laziness, Procrastination, greed, selfishness, outbursts of anger?  I think we can all agree that there is so much within us that we really shouldn’t have time to criticize others.  When tempted to criticize lets stop and look at ourselves first, we just might find that we need work done too.

The 3rd is Cynicism

Cynic is a person who believes that people are selfish and are only interested in helping themselves.

When  offered help, the cynic believes the other person has a hidden agenda. A cynic cannot simply receive a blessing; he believes there must be a catch somewhere. A cynic believes all pastors are out to get their money. A cynic believes all Christians are hypocrites. The reason the Lord told me about cynicism was because I was one. Still am sometimes- I warned you God’s still working on me! I have missed business opportunities because of my cynicism. I have missed some of God’s blessings because I was too cynical to recognise them as coming from Him. I’m not saying do not bless or give, but search yourself and your motive behind your actions.

Next is Competitiveness; A contest between rivals

This notion that life is one big race is wrong. Life is a journey. On that journey like any other there are sights and experiences.  When the Lord told me competition was an area to work on, it was because I was competitive with some friends. Specifically- a friend. I initially thought the Lord meant she was competitive and yes she was, but I in turn competed with her. I’m not sure if guys deal with this but it is quite common with women. It’s just the way we are.  I remember  it being all over the news how two celebrities wore the same dress- unknowingly to the Oscars, or some other big award night. It was sacrilege. All over the papers headlines read; “How could this have happened” Others compared and contrasted, who looked better than the other in the dress. I daresay one or both women went into hiding for a while after this disgraceful event.

Competition seeks to outdo the other person, and you can only compete if there is someone else in the race with you. It doesn’t matter if your husband was clearly wrong, let it go. . There’s no need to “win” an argument- you are not Ussain Bolt.

The last ugliness so far is Comparing myself to others.

Comparing yourself to others is of little advantage to you, regardless of whether it is done favourably or not.

I want to be a successful business woman, so I read a lot about women who have gone before me. I want to see how they did it so I can do the same too. I also want confirmation that it is quite normal to go weeks without a single order. The trouble starts when I start to compare myself unfavourably with them. I look at my little business and look at their big one. I realise they had a cash injection via inheritance, I have none.  They are white, I am black. They have a British accent with a name like Suzy, I have an African accent with a name like Tokunbo.  All that happens is me becoming discouraged and convinced that I can’t do what God has enabled me to do. My journey seems so hard compared to her’s, the challenges are different. Ever heard the saying the grass is always greener on the other side? That’s because you’re comparing your grass to theirs.

I urge you to ask the Lord to help you in unearthing the ugliness within you. If you are honest and truly desire God’s correction, the Holy Spirit our helper will help you to exhume all that is buried beneath, and be prepared, it might take a long while.

Thanks so much for reading, I promise not to be gone so long again!

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18 Dec

It’s all in the Mind

This was my mum’s response to us if we had a headache, leg-ache, any type of ache that resulted from climbing trees too quickly or riding our bikes too long. Very annoying at the time as she always said it with a smile (she does most things with a smile) but on hindsight it worked. The ailing child skipped away and forgot their pain. Following my last post I have taken things to another level and now completely expel any thoughts- rational or irrational that is negative from my mind. By that I mean doubt, fear, hate, anger, gossip, jesting, etc. It’s been hard! So often I catch myself dwelling on a negative thought that I didn’t even invite. It’s funny how we wake up in the morning and uninvited thoughts start filtering in ever so gradually, too often we let them stay there in the name of ignoring them. We need to be active and expel those thoughts.

I recently had a running with fear. That can be so gripping if you have dealt with anxiety before. It overwhelms you and clouds your every judgment. It becomes the bane of your very existence until the issue goes away. The Lord showed me that perfect love drives out all fear. And he who fears is not made perfect in Love 1John1v18.  That became my ammunition against fear. It didn’t go away immediately but eventually it did. Every time I felt fear come upon me -which by the way masquerades itself in many forms- worry, anxiety, uneasiness, dread, doubt. Sometimes the Lord will have you go through something you absolutely hate so you can learn to deal with it. Deal with it, not live with it. Fear was one of the issues the Lord led me to identify when I went through my soul- searching exercise and after He gave me that scripture, I began to meditate on it and speak it out loud. I turned it into a prayer of thanks (thank you that I am made perfect in love) I turned it into a prayer request (Lord help me feel your perfect love, wrap your  big, loving arms around me; cause me to know you love me perfectly and that I have your perfect love inside me), turned it into a praise song (God you are so perfect, even your love sef is perfect…). I did all that I could with this scripture and even alphabetized it (only kidding!) At that precise moment I was out of town and driving on the highway, and  missed my exit. And I needed gas. And I was praying. My worship song changed tones and sounded more like “Why would God let me miss my exit when I’m talking to him?” There was no service station in sight and the Lord led me to one. If I hadn’t missed my exit I would not have found the service station. That’s perfect love exemplified!

Convinced I was now “cured” of this issue, I was very surprised when I went on to experience two more typical situations where dread would rise up within me, I seriously couldn’t understand why having prayed and experienced God’s love I should be faced with it again and so soon after. I was certain praying against an issue meant never having to face the issue again, wrong! The Lord dropped me right in the middle of it and I had to deal with it. How do you know your strength if you don’t fight? So I had to come head on with this enemy and deal with it- and it is well and truly dealt with all glory to God.

When we go through trials we do ourselves a great disservice by allowing the trials to go by us, but standing by and not actually going through the fire. The word of  God says the fire will not burn you and the waters will not overflow over you- (Isaiah 43 vs 2). The Lord showed me that standing by for the trial to pass only invites it back at a later time. Unless you face it head-on and deal with and overcome it, you will not grow past that point.  Are you going through a tough time? I urge you to ask the Lord to teach you, show you the lesson. Trials are meant to be useful, remember God causes all things to work together for our good. If you don’t keep a journal I recommend keeping one. Writing your trials and the lessons learned helps to remind you that there is a purpose.

I LOVE this song by Marvin Sapp!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JXFg5KEoXg]

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