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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23 Nov

Trying Temperaments 

In boarding house I probably met every species of girl God created. Even though we were young, there were personalities of every kind. There were the happy go lucky ones, the malice keepers, the ones who didn’t care, the class clowns, the miserable ones, the anxious ones, the people pleasers- every temperament was represented. 
I remember some difficult to please characters, no matter what you did they had something to complain about. I also had a good friend in my clique who had a habit of saying ‘ignore her, this one cannot be pleased.’ Or, ‘I don’t care what she thinks, I do what I please.’ Often we left such people out when we had exciting plans for fear that they would spoil things for us.

Of course as an adult I now know some of them were dealing with difficult situations at home and of course we are all just made differently.  
This scripture tells us we must be considerate to all- not just the happy go lucky ones, but the super sensitive ones too. Granted, it is speaking specifically about eating meat, worshiping on certain days and the likes but we can apply it to other lifestyle choices too.
Do you have a miserable, anxious or difficult to please person in your circle? Don’t toss them aside and be satisfied with pleasing only yourself. Christ didn’t live to please Himself even though much of the personalities around Him were challenging ones. 
We who are of a particular personality must be considerate and tolerant if those who are of a different temperament. That’s how we build people up in the Lord, it’s how we let our light shine so others can see the way to Christ.
“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.””

‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/rom.15.1-3.nlt

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29 Aug

Business Lesson: Building Materials

This lesson was inspired by the scripture below, which is referring to our lives as Christians and building on the foundation that is Christ. As I read, I found myself drawing parralels with how l am to run my business.

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”
1 Corinthians‬ ‭3:11-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am going through a season of implementing processes in my business. As I do this, I’m coming across holes of inefficiencies and a lack of excellence in the way the business has been run. The foundation of your business is the idea that God gave to you in the first instance. Going forward it becomes your responsibility to choose the best materials with which to build it.

Straw and wood are cheap and easy to come by. It is easier working with these sort of materials as straw can be bent into shape with little effort, wood can be carved or sawn easily too. It isn’t expensive to obtain either.
Silver and gold on the other hand are costly and difficult to work with. It requires the skill of a metalworker or blacksmith, it requires fire and hours bent over a furnace. If a mistake is made using such a material it requires painstakingly starting all over.

Which materials will you use for your building?

The cheap ones can still make a beautiful building, it isn’t so hard to paint over wood with high shine gloss or create a bells and whistles website. What matters is the quality of your work. It is when faced with the fire, challenges in the business that the truth is revealed.  

Creating a quality product or service requires investment and not just cash, but hours of learning to become an expert. You can if you have the funds hire an expert where needed so long as quality, excellence is what is being produced. Where God is concerned we should do all things excellently. With each creation of the component of the world, God ‘saw that it was good’ when he completed it. He didn’t do a shabby job and say “this will do, it’ll work itself out”. He stopped only when it was excellent.

If your business gets burned up because the materials used were cheap and flammable, we have a merciful God. You will suffer the loss, it is painful but you will survive it. You can begin again, His grace is sufficient for you.

Finally, note that having a sound foundation or a great business idea does not absolve you of the physical and emotional investment required. Just because you were inspired by the Holy Spirit does not mean it will be a roaring success. You have to choose the right materials and invest time and energy into it while following the leading of the Holy Spirit. And after you’ve done all you can, stand. 

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25 Jun

Reputation vs Money

“Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.”‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A reputation is what others think or say about you, not what you think say about yourself. We don’t choose a good reputation by carving out an enviable image for others to adore. We don’t make claims of being an expert in an area were our knowledge is floundering. We don’t promote ourselves to the masses, selling what people don’t need in the name of running a business. 

Many people today choose making money by any means necessary over having a good reputation in business. There are charlatans that masquerade as ‘helping people to live their dream’ when they themselves don’t believe that they are capable of moving from their current nightmare into actually living a dream life; they have no real experience or even knowledge to share, they simply regurgitate old information that’s freely available yet pleasing to the ears of the unsuspecting. A good reputation is earned, not created. It cannot be purchased and it is not identified by how many followers you have on social media. A good reputation is what people say about you based on their experience with you. Don’t chase after riches, work towards earning a good reputation instead. 

“Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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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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24 Mar

If you’re going through hell…

The beseeching not to worry. To trust God, He is delivering you. To just wait while this season comes to an end.

  

 I read one of such exhortations today and My mind formed a picture of stagnancy, waiting on God to change the terrain we have found ourselves in. Don’t we have to walk, to move if we no longer want to remain on the same spot or be in that environment? Too often we pray for God to change the world around us instead of simply picking ourselves up and walking.

Sir Winston Churchill said of you are going through hell, don’t stand still, keep walking.

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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?

2015-02-17-08.49.37.jpg

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27 Nov

Are you the Tail and not the Head?

“The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.”‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭28:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It’s no secret that what happens in the physical is simply a reflection of what has already occurred spiritually. Your mind plays an important role in bringing it to manifestation. If you believe it you shall receive it. 

Often however we don’t believe it, at least our actions say we don’t. For example if you own a business and you’re always looking up at larger competitors and seeing yourself as beneath them, it means you believe you’re the tail and not the head. Therefore you’d always be their tail. 

I used to shadow a larger competitor and follow their every move. Everything they did, I felt I must do as well in order to be successful. I didn’t realize it at the time out I had put them up there as the head, and me, the tail. The follower. I looked up to them and never imagined the possibility of growing to that size or even bigger.

Last year I had the opportunity to work with a top British brand. I got to see behind the scenes of this multi-million pound company. I discovered they were just as human as us, when you strip away the branding, the revenue and all the layers that define them. Yes they are successful, and we acknowledge and recognize that, but it is important not to label others the head when God has said you’re the head and not the tail. Believe and act like the head. The head leads. The head follows boldly its own ideas. The head does not need permission from anyone to carry out its plan.

The moment you start to act like the tail, you will remain the tail.

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11 Oct

The Voice

“The voice of the LORD echoes above the sea. The God of glory thunders. The LORD thunders over the mighty sea. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD splits the mighty cedars; the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf; he makes Mount Hermon leap like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD strikes with bolts of lightning. The voice of the LORD makes the barren wilderness quake; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD twists mighty oaks and strips the forests bare. In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!””
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭29:3-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬
The voice of the Lord is over many waters
I recently lost a bunch of keys. The last I remembered was picking it up from the sofa, with the intention of placing it in my bag. What happened immediately after picking it up will remain a mystery to me. I searched everywhere and even called my local grocery store. Then I stopped and prayed. Still nothing.
This morning right after my quiet time I felt a strong urge, and the quiet voice of God telling me to look between the cushions on the sofa- the one I rarely sit on. We all have our favorites spots right? Well, I looked and there it was!
The reason I am in awe is this. In my head, there are many voices, the voices of my children, my husband my friends. There are instructions and reminders of tasks that I give myself. There are memories and regrets and plans and long to do lists. Yet I heard God. This is not a testament to my ability to hear from the Lord, rather it is about the power in the voice of God to cut through the sounds of my everyday life, His voice, so powerful it thunders above the mighty sea, so majestic it splits the cedars of Lebanon. The voice that strikes with bolts of lightning and makes the barren wilderness quake- it even strips the forests bare. That voice can cut through and speak to us, and we can hear. Because of His voice, not because of our ears.
Today too many people rely purely on pastors and preachers to hear from God for them. Perhaps it’s because they don’t think they can hear by themselves. There is no mediator between God and man except the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are blood washed and saved, you can hear from God. Please take time to cultivate and listen for yourself, God speaks through His word, through our circumstances, through man and directly to our spirit. Listen. If your path is ordered by God, how will you know which way to go if you can’t clearly hear the directions?
I haven’t posted in a while as I’ve been writing on YouVersion and haven’t got around to transferring my thoughts here. YouVersion is an excellent Bible app for reading and making notes and we can connect there.
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