Saturday, February 22, 2020
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Eden Myrrh Toohey

Healing hurts

The fact that we could have died – or rather, were supposed to be dead – kept playing in my head over and over in the days following the accident on the 30th of December, 2015.

These words were accompanied by flashbacks of me accelerating so as not to fall down the gravel bank and then afterwards reaching to feel if my sisters were okay whilst we rolled over, three times – our car bouncing like it was a toy – and landed in the middle of the highway.

We’re alive with no bones broken, and the worst injury was a tar burn on my elbow from when the windscreen glass shattered while we were rolling and I blocked my face with my arms.

“Time’s the best healer, embeds deep in us the memories as scars are left to map out the truth…” – Eden Myrrh, Time

 SOME LESSONS I LEARNT FROM THE HEALING PROCESS

  1. Pain increased my ability for compassion:

The small spot of burn on my elbow was very awkward and painful, and during a cleaning-with-antiseptic-and-burn session I started wondering how it must be for people who have burns all over their limbs or faces. I can’t even imagine how painful that must be. The pain elicited a vulnerability (humility!) and compassion for others in worse situations than me and even bred a deep thankfulness that this was all that I had to endure.

Compassion increases our ability to see the need and address it (like Jesus did countless times with the crowds that came to him). Sometimes compassion only comes once we have gone through the pain – because before then, our pride or self-righteousness blinded us to the pain of others.

“Since you are all set apart by God, made holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a holy way of life: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act in kind. But above all these, put on love! Love is the perfect tie to bind these together. Let your hearts fall under the rule of the Anointed’s peace (the peace you were called to as one body), and be thankful” Colossians 3:12-15 (The Voice)

  1. Healing can be awkward:

The burn was very sensitive for many days and because it was situated in an awkward place (on my elbow) the skin was stretching constantly and so took longer to heal. We’re human and we are living on this planet called earth, with other people. That means that things are bound to happen – good and bad. Sometimes, it’s just when you feel you’re getting over that heartbreak or that friendship splitting that something else happens that stretches your wound a little bit.

Things are never straightforward and we don’t have the luxury of going to hide in a closet, unseen, until we get better emotionally, physically, and psychologically – even though it would be nice. The trick is to continually ask God for a soft heart or else we end up rrrrrrrreal jaded.

“Help me hear joy and happiness as my accompaniment, so my bones, which You have broken, will dance in delight instead.” Psalm 51:8 (The Voice)

  1. Don’t allow your wounds to get infected – go to the doctor:

After a few days I started to feel dizzy and weak, and a thick soggy yellow skin developed over my wound. I went to the doctor, who told me that the yellow skin was keeping an infection in. In order for the wound to heal properly I had to either peel off the skin myself after I cleaned it each night,  or I had to come back to them in three days and they would scrape it off. I was determined that the later would not happen and so, I set off (after a nice tetanus injection and some antibiotics) to soak my wound in salt water and get that thing off.

After I did get it off, I found two pieces of red paint (the colour of the car I was driving) lodged comfortably in the middle there – obviously the cause of the infection. If I had stayed at home and never went to see anyone for help I would have most probably gotten very sick. The right medication and direction left me in a position to better care for my wound.

Your pastors and leaders in your local church are just like doctors. They’ve been through a ton of this stuff and have a ton more wisdom; they also know what to prescribe to you and will always point you to Jesus. I am an independent person, in every sense of the word. I like to do things for myself – suck it up and get over it, but I’ve had to learn to approach the “doctors” that Jesus has put in place for me. I’ve had to learn that staying away from my local church community is not healthy. Often, I’ve allowed my wounds to fester when I’ve not kept myself accountable to someone who could see the problem, address it and quickly help me with a solution – even if it was something I did not like.

“A leader of good judgment gives stability” Proverbs 29:4 (The Message)

  1. Scars Make Us Stronger?

For some reason my skin doesn’t heal very easily and my battle scars are all very clear on my arms and hands – I’ve tried all the oils and ointments that I know of, or that are normally recommended, and nothing has worked. It makes a person slightly self-conscious, and for me, the thought of yet another scar on my arm was the worst thing ever. 

Just as much as I cringe at the thought of another physical scar I also cringe at the thought of ever having to have yet another emotional or mental scar. Then, I heard about Kintsugi, which is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer, dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats the breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something that one must disguise. It says that broken is better than new.

You see, while we would all like to walk around brand new, life is about the breaking. It wouldn’t be if man hadn’t sinned, but man did. To me, my whole life is a “Kintsugi fest”. Jesus is the potter and I am the clay. He molds me how he pleases, and when I get wounded or break, I go to him, the Master Potter, to repair me. In order for me to be better than I was new, I have to go through the uncomfortable process (don’t underrate the process!) of being pieced back together.  It’s interesting that only the best materials are used for the mending of the pottery in the Kintsugi art form, and I’d like to liken that to each of our lives. Jesus, however, is worth more than gold, silver or platinum will ever be, and repair by anything else, and any other way will ruin us and leave us breaking again.

“Still, Eternal One, You are our Father. We are just clay and you are the Potter. We are the product of Your creative action, shaped and formed into something of worth!” Isaiah 64:8 (The Voice)

Friend, if you would like to know more about Jesus, the only one who can put you back together again better than you ever were before, please click the banner below!

An Inferno!

“Yes, people will die, a lot of them – but the crisis will be averted…”

“Killing billions to save lives? That’s the logic of tyrants!”

“It’s for the greater good!”

“Genius does not come with extra rights!”

“No, it comes with the responsibility to take action when others won’t!”

“If you want to do something, fine – then scream at the top of your lungs! Vent, and LEAVE!”

“If you loved this planet, you’d do anything to save it…”

“Some of the biggest sins in human history have been committed in the name of love. No one will look on this act and call it love!”

“They’ll be alive! What does it matter what they say about us?”

– Inferno (2016)

The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons and now, Inferno. All mystery thriller films based on the books of the same name by the infamous author Dan Brown.

The films, directed by Ron Howard and all staring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, a famous symbologist who, time and time again, has to follow and figure out the clues to great mysteries that have to do with saving the world.

Anything Dan Brown related was seen as sort of  scandalous amongst the worldwide church in 2013, causing months of speculation. We didn’t hear the end of it, and so, it was at least a year after the Da Vinci code was released that I ended up watching it. Soon afterwards I found myself watching Angels and Demons, and quite enjoying it, understanding the film’s perspective and place as art and self-expression.

This being said I quite looked forward to seeing what would come out of the latest release. In keeping with my personal tradition, I decided not to read reviews (good thing I didn’t – they were mostly bad despite the film grossing really well!), and just watch it – I mean, what could go wrong with Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones (who plays Sienna Brooks), the new Star Wars girl?!

URRRGH! Lets just have a moment for STAR WARSSSSS!

Anyway, back to the story. This time the world is about to end at the hand of a billionaire, who is about to release a dangerous virus that would wipe out half of the world’s population. The only one who can help is Dr. Robert Langdon who himself needs help from Sienna Brooks, a doctor, that he meets when he wakes up in a hospital with amnesia.

The biggest theme in the film is one of moral questioning.

It always happens this way in films. The bad guys are always good guys who are convinced that in order to do more good – many people (the same one’s that they are trying to save) have to die!

Boy, am I glad that the Gospel story is one that tells of a God who saw that we were doomed – and instead of killing us all, loved us enough to instead, send his son in our place.

The start of this year has been great for me, but I’ve found the need to give up a lot of what I was holding close to me before! So, much so that just watching the movie, left me more floored than ever before. Undone by the “otherworldly” kindness that God and his son Jesus showed to us – while we were all still sinners, by the way. INSANE! How do you tear yourself away from someone or something that you love so much?

I’ve sensed the need to have to give up more and more this year in order for me to walk forward in what God has planned for my life. In fact, I don’t think that the fire that burns in my heart for God will be able to burn and turn into an INFERNO until I do.

Inferno – A fire burning dangerously out of control.

Without an intense fire, there can never be new life, and without you and I accepting what God has already done for us through Jesus, we’ll always be sacrificing more than we should or holding on to burdens that we shouldn’t.

If you want to know a little more about what I’ve started to talk about, why don’t you click on the banner below?

Tima Reece Back After 9 Years, With “9”!

Seasoned.

The first word that comes to my mind when I think about Tima Reece, South Africa’s very own number one Pop and R&B princess, who literally has the industry eating out of her hands; because those same hands have played an integral part in nurturing so many, as well as lifting the bar where international standards are concerned.

The veteran recording artist has been part of the South African music industry since the age of 16, recorded her debut album in New York City and London at 18. She was nominated for SAMA’s in the Best Dance Single and Beat R&B Album categories for her single, “Crazy About You,” and album, “My Body’s Crying” respectively, and has been a coach for both Idols SA (plus backing vocalist for the last 8 years) and The Voice SA.

Tima says that if she had to choose to recall one moment where ‘she knew that she knew’ that music was what she wanted most, it would be the moment where her mum entered her into The Shell Road To Fame National Singing Competition at the tender age of … wait for it… 9! It was in front of those couple hundred people when she sang Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” that she had what she describes as a “lightbulb moment” – she knew that this is what she wanted to do for the rest of her life!

I had the immense privilege of working with Tima during my stint on The Voice as my vocal coach. I was touched by the beauty of her soul and sincerity of heart, and am so excited that I’ve gotten the chance to now ask her some questions with regards to the launch and release of her much anticipated album, 9.

Eden Myrrh: Tima, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule for this! Really! You were a part of a unique group of emerging South African musicians not so long ago that really made waves. What do you think sets you apart from your contemporaries/what makes you unique (other than the obvious fact that you’re a female musician)?

Tima Reece: What makes me unique is my ability to successfully merge Pop & R&B without it sounding like two different genres on one album. I have always had a love for Pop music and being exposed to R&B since a very young age, it’s only natural that my sound gravitates both ways.

EM: Everything we’ve spoken about until now took place quite a long time ago, and since then you’ve been slightly hidden – until now, when you’re relaunching yourself as an artist, which is something that you’ve not focused on since the release of your debut album a whole 9 years ago. What have been some of the greatest challenges that you’ve had re-entering into the industry in this specific capacity?

TR: The most challenging thing that I’ve had to face this time around is re-introducing myself, Tima Reece. I was pretty well known in the early 2000’s and most of those fans still remember my music and me. However, because of the long break from the industry as solo artist, there is a whole generation of people who don’t know who I am. I’m now facing having to introduce myself as if I am a new artist – because to most, I am.

EM: That being said, what have been some of your victories? Is it too early to say?

TR: My latest victory is the release of my album “9” and debuting at #10 on the Album chart and #4 on the Pop chart on iTunes.

EM: How important is community or family to you as a creative? How important is it that you do what you’re doing with your husband, Kurt Herman alongside you?

TR: I could never have done this album without Kurt. He is the backbone & support structure of our family and is invaluable to me. He pushed me through the last 9 years, always encouraging me and believing in me to make this come back. I am who I am because of his love and support – he’s my biggest fan and toughest critic. A strong, loving family is the most important element of success in this business. We all need a reason to do what we do. Mine is definitely for my family and the legacy that I want to leave for my children.

EM: Do you consider multiple streams of income important and if so, how do you implement that in your life as a creative?

TR: Because the music industry in South Africa is quite a small one, I’ve had to delve into more than just singing to sustain a comfortable lifestyle and provide for my family. I do everything from write; sing; produce; vocal coach; sing backing vocals; do vocal sessions etc. I have found that the more you’re able to do, the better chance you have of sustaining a lifestyle you can live off.

EM: I really love that answer! Because I sincerely agree! What are your views on “fame” or rather, being considered “famous”?

TR: Being famous means to be well-known. The more known you are, the higher your level of influence – especially of you’re using that fame to do something good and lasting. As a singer, fame is a useful tool to promote not only your art but also your character: morals; beliefs and your personal passions. You really can influence and change the mindsets of those who need encouragement: help; a positive word or even just a smile with the power of fame. It’s how you use it that counts.

EM: The sound of “9” is quite different to your first project, and I almost want to name influences, but I would prefer that you tell me. What were your influences throughout the duration of this project? What were you listening to? Does what you listen to influence your writing much?

TR: The main influence for “9” was the future of my children. I didn’t want my kids to use me as their poster girl for failure so I had to get up out of the background and step forward with bravery and courage to teach them that it doesn’t matter how many times we fail, what matters is how many times we keep pushing forward and try again.

I listen to a whole lot of music, from Aaliyah to Tinashe; Blackstreet to Justin Bieber; Michael Buble to Barry Manilow. However, when I’m working on my own music. I try not to listen to other artists so that I keep my music original. I find that when I’m listening to too many artists, their sound starts to creep into mine so I prefer not to.

I write from my heart and from what I’m experiencing at the time, either my own personal experiences or those around me. My songs have to be real to me, not someone else’s songs put into my own words. I try not to allow other music to influence my songwriting process.

EM: Can you let us into your writing journey?

TR: I sit with Kurt and Llewellyn, my producers, while they’re coming up with music and arrangement. I then take the raw skeleton of their production and sit by myself in the studio coming up with melodies first. Lyrics come after that. Once I’m happy with what I’ve come up with, I let them hear it – they give me the nod or the shrug and then it’s back to the drawing board. I write until it feels right.

EM: What specific message, if any, did you want to put out through this offering – to new and old fans alike?

TR: The message of “9” is one of love. Every song’s essence is love – whether love lost or gained; love betrayed or love reciprocated; love wasted or love shared. It’s a love story painted with the brushes of melodies and lyrics.

EM: Thank you so much for your time!

When I asked Tima, what her end game was, she said that there was never one, just the desire to get better, and do better than the last!

Why don’t you find out more about here and her music by clicking on the link to her website, where you can hover over different details on the page to see some more, very interesting, facts about her life as a recording artist!

No Excuses, No “Ragrets”!

It’s the age of the Internet. Meme’s make their rounds faster than you can say “poppy-sprinkle, do-winkle,” and so before I knew it, I was seeing the meme of a guy – chest bare, with a tattoo across his chest that said, “No Ragrets” EVERYWHERE. Poor man. Everyone who reads it knows what is wrong immediately. It’s supposed to be, “NO REGRETS!”

The meme obviously became a running joke between sisters, my friends, and me and has been for more than a year. It also became something that we say when we really mean that we regret something.

For example, like the day I found the Charles & Keith factory store and bought shoes without even thinking because the price was so low and this was a miracle. I couldn’t stop saying “No Ragrets” all the way to the car, while I walked around my house in the new shoes, and in my head when I wore them even though knew that I was going to be broke for the next two weeks because of them.

regret |rɪˈgrɛt|

verb (regrets, regretting, regretted) [ with obj. ]

feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do): she immediately regretted her words | [ with clause ] : I always regretted that I never trained.

  • used in polite formulas to express apology for or sadness over something undesirable: any inconvenience to readers is regretted | [ with clause ] : we regret that no tickets may be exchanged.

  • archaic feel sorrow for the loss or absence of (something pleasant): my home, when shall I cease to regret you!

What a horrible way to live – disappointed over something that you’ve done or that you have failed to do – and yet, that is how many of us live our lives.

Although the year has just started it’s too easy to already start making excuses for why we can’t achieve the goals that we’ve set out to achieve. And, boy do we need those goals! One of the distinctive qualities of becoming successful in any aspect of life is having goals.

One of my friends told me that he was being trained by a very great businessman, and on the first day they met, the man told my friend to tell him what his goals were. My friend fumbled around a little bit and the man saw that, immediately going on to say that without goals, he would be able to predict to the cent what his bank account balance is in five years. He had been right about this before.

People with goals instantly add value to their life. Goals are VISION! And vision enables us to see! You know this if you have eyes.

Not so long ago, my dad, a local pastor got a call at 11pm from one of our cell leaders to say that one of the young adult’s in our church had been stabbed in his face and lost one of his eyes in the process! How horrible! All I couldn’t think about was his lost vision! 

“Any enterprise is built by wise planning, and becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts…”

Proverbs 24:3-4 (Living Translation)

Where there is no vision from God, the people run wild, but those who adhere to God’s instruction know genuine happiness.

Proverbs 29:18 (THE VOICE)

That’s it, having vision – God’s vision: God’s sight, his way of doing things, his rollout for your life – gives you GENUINE HAPPINESS and doesn’t leave you with regrets!

Therefore, all you need to do is to eradicate excuses from your life!

You can start by eradicating any excuse you might have made before that stopped you from having a relationship with God. If you need some help with that, why don’t you click on the banner below?

If you click on it, I can promise that you’ll have “No Ragrets.”

 

Try Something New, Share Your Faith

A New Year means trying new things right?

Well, at least I’d like it to mean that.

2016 was a crazy year full of protestin, and crazy global atrocities. It was the year that everyone proclaimed that they could do whatever they like without accepting any form of truth except their own and calling everyone else a bigot.

A friend of mine, who doesn’t have faith in Jesus asked if, in the light of all that has happened this year, with the enlightenment of many of what white privilege is and so on, whether there was such a thing as spiritual privilege? That is people who believing in spiritual things exercise their ‘privilege’ on other people.

History tells us  that evil people have exercised religious privilege (using spiritual concepts religiously to alienate a group or create havoc – this is my own definition), as in Hitler, or what is happening with ISIS, all which has happened in Syria and more – in the name of Islam and Christianity alike throughout the ages.

With that being said, how does one, in today’s climate even begin to share think of sharing their faith? I’d like to put it to you that having faith in Christ is, in a way Spiritual Privilege!

It is interesting that the Greek word for salvation can be translated as ‘safety,’ or ‘soundness.’

Being ‘born again’ and becoming a child of God, makes us whole, or safe and sound.

Therefore, when you speak to others about the salvation available in Jesus, you are revealing to them how they, too, can become whole and safe.

There are two different aspects to this view of salvation:

  1. Reconciliation to God, which is made possible through Jesus’ death;
  2. And regeneration to new life, which is made possible because of Jesus’ resurrection.

It’s so important you and I realize that we don’t need to wait until we are perfect to make disciples (or followers) of Jesus! We must carry on fulfilling the Great Commission, while at the same time allowing God to continue to make the adjustments that are necessary in our lives – and I feel that he will be making adjustments forever!

None of us should allow laziness, complacency, unbelief, or a lack of love to stop you from doing what Jesus has asked his disciples to do.

Here are Three Helpful Points adapted from Russell Toohey’s Three Main Forces That Enable You To Make Disciples:

  1. There are three main forces that will enable you to make disciples. In 2 Corinthians 5:14, the Bible says, “For the love of Christ compels us…” (emphasis added). The word compel is a forceful word, implying strength and power. It indicates a compulsion beyond your natural self, so great is its power. When this type of love is burning in your heart, you yearn for everyone else to share in the wonderful experience of Christ and His love. You can hardly stand to keep the Good News to yourself. The Spirit of God will enable you to share your faith. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NKJV).  Apart from the Spirit, you can do nothing; full of the Spirit, you become a bold witness of what Christ has done for you and what He can do for others.        “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11). A healthy, reverential respect for God and humble awareness of His omnipotence will cause you to want to share Him with others. When you know their eternal destiny apart from Christ, the fear of the Lord on their behalf will propel you to action.
  2. Prepare yourself to be a witness. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and anoint you to lift up Jesus Christ, and to empower you for His service! Ask the Holy Spirit to flow out from you to touch other people’s lives and to minister through you to other people. Ask the Holy Spirit to put His words in your mouth and to anoint your lips to speak in the way that He desires. Ask Him to give you words of power, authority, challenge, conviction, life, liberty, love, and compassion! Then, lift up Jesus with your life, actions, and words. Your life is your most powerful tool in influencing friends, relatives, and other people and in leading them to Jesus. It has often been said that your life may be the only Bible some people will ever read.  How can people tell whether you have Christ in you and are filled with the Holy Spirit?

Consider this example: Think of yourself as an unmarked tube. When the pressures of life squeeze you, what comes out? Is it impatience, tension, anger and frustration, or is it love, joy, peace, and patience? Others will look to see what comes out of your life, particularly when you face difficulty, because they will want to know if you live what you preach.

  1. Pray for the lost. I’ve made this a huge part of my life, and have also written a list which contains that names of the friends and family that I am praying for. Some of them have been on there for years, but I keep praying. Ask God to draw them to Himself (John 6:44) – Lost people cannot make themselves want to get saved. God must draw them to Him. Pray that they will seek to know God (Acts 17:27; Deut. 4:29).  Pray that they will believe in Christ as Saviour (John 1:12; 5:24) – They must believe in Jesus’ saving, atonement work. Pray that they will confess Christ as Lord (Rom. 10:9-10) – This is your ultimate goal for them: that they would receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour. Pray that they will yield all to follow Christ (2 Cor. 5:15; Phil. 3:7-8) – Pray that they will have a heavenly perspective and will not be entrapped by worldly pleasures and desires. Pray that they will take root and grow in Christ (Col. 2:6-7) so that their salvation would be real stable, and permanent!!

Sharing your faith, no matter how ‘uncomfortable’, is a natural  part of ones’ Christian journey. Sharing Jesus is motivated by the love of God for the lost and is accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit.

You do not have to be perfect in order for God to use you in sharing your faith. You only need to be willing and obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Willing to, if you’ve never done this before, DO SOMETHING NEW!

He will lead you to those who are waiting for someone to invite them to join the journey of following Jesus!

It’s A New Year – And You’re Ready To Date!

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I remember having a conversation with my mum where I was trying to get her to give me some good advice on whether it would be a good idea to date my best friend at the time. We’d been friends for four/five years and I literally couldn’t imagine that dating him, when he plucked up the courage to ask me, was a bad idea.

“No,” she said.

“You’re leaving this town soon. Don’t rush into anything. Wait a bit, and you’ll find yourself someone there.”

I didn’t date my best friend, because I followed my gut sense (and mother’s advice) that something small was wrong. Turns out it was. Good for me. Yay! But it’s two years later….

… And I haven’t found someone “here.”

I normally spend a lot of time praying about my new year and the amount of focus I’m supposed to have during the year for what I feel God has asked me to do.

At the beginning of last year, I realized that out of fear (because I had been hurt so much), I said to myself that God must have been saying that I’m supposed to be single for the year. I couldn’t foresee anything happening, and there were too many things that I needed to get done with as little distraction as possible.

I wasn’t wrong.

I really needed to be ‘focused like a locust,’ but I couldn’t help wondering if maybe my fear and strong-headed assumptions stopped me from receiving a gift from God that I might have received if I was otherwise ‘relaxed’ about the situation.

‘Relaxed’ as in not trying to suss out what God is doing in my life every minute of the day. As opposed to ‘relaxed’ as in I’m just gonna say yes to any and everybody for everything because I actually really want someone to complete me – WHOOHOO! No. Not that type of relaxed.

Here are some common sense points adapted from the article that Samantha Matt wrote for Huffington Post called 12 Things I Wish I Knew About Love And Dating In My Early 20s:

  1. You’re not ‘wasting your time’ if you don’t know whether or not you want to end up with the person you’re dating? If we’re too scared, and never try, we’ll never know. Even though some people tell us they knew from the first smell. Nice when it happens but each case is different.
  2. But, you might be ‘wasting your time’ if you know that the person has no intention of staying with you forever. It’s not your job to convince them.
  3. If you have a gut feeling that your significant other isn’t the one. Listen to it. And that is that.
  4. Don’t stay if all you do is fight. (This is before you’re married, okay)
  5. It’s not worth your tears.
  6. Date someone who is your friend, but don’t hook up with or date your friends. It’s nice if it goes well, but it sucks when there are a whole lot of mutual friends involved. Who do you rant to when it goes south (even though this is never our expectation)?
  7. Lay out your expectations at the beginning – be honest but be realistic. Tell them what you want in life, and ask them the same.
  8. If they want to be with you, they will be with you. Again, we are not on this earth to convince people to love us!
  9. Don’t compare your life, your journey in love or your story to anyone else’s. It’s not about whether ‘everyone is single,’ or ‘everyone is in a relationship.’ Walk your own path. Don’t rush. Life is different for everyone – go with the flow.
  10. Don’t base your journey in love on a timeline that you created years ago of the exact times when you wanted to be married and started having kids. Don’t do it. No. Stop. Things will happen when they happen. You learn from every decision.

Now, all you can do is leave the rest up to God. If dating or the lack thereof is a real worry for you why don’t you do as the bible says, and, “…let Him carry all your burdens and worries,” because he (that’s God) CARES for YOU! 

If you find this hard to do, or seek to know more about how to do this, why don’t you click on the banner below?

Movie Review: Kubo And The Two Strings

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“Before you started on your heroic journey, what were you like?” asked Beetle. Kubo looked down and replied, “ “I told stories, about warriors, and monsters, and heroic quests…. I was good at starting them,” he paused and then carried on, “Not so good at ending them…”

I don’t believe that I’ve watched a better animation this year than LAIKA production studio’s Kubo And The Two Strings. Yes, there were others as thought provoking (like Zootopia – maybe), but none as mesmerizing with regards to the beauty of the actual animation; or as intriguing when it comes to the employment of traditional storytelling as chosen by first time director, Travis Knight.

It is an American 3D Stop-Motion Fantasy Action Adventure film set in ancient Japan and written by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler. The voices of Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Matthew McConaughey, George Takei and Rooney Mara bring it to life. They tell the tale of Kubo, a young boy who is a gifted storyteller. Kubo has mysterious powers and has to fight against The Sisters, as well as Raiden, The Moon King and his army of evil monsters in order not only find out why his left eye was stolen from him, but also to learn some important lessons about where he comes from, family and humanity.

His journey is perilous; but luckily he is not alone, and his new friends, Monkey and Beetle, accompany him. I wouldn’t recommend this film for young kids, and would recommend parental guidance for kids from 11 up as the film’s monsters are done so well that it can sometimes get a bit scary (more than the regular).

I started watching the film out of curiosity but, then became increasingly aware of the very important messages and things that I myself needed to take to heart!

SIDENOTE: (Some backstory so you can understand what is to come)…Now, I come from a family who prepares for the year to come, by reflecting, and thanking God for the year we are in for the whole month of December. It is also tradition that we write down our dreams after that reflection and come back together to pray for and with each other before the New Year starts!

LESSONS FOR THE NEW YEAR, ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT…

LESSON 1: Throw away perfectionism. Decide that you will always finish what you start. It doesn’t matter how big your dreams are if you don’t complete them.

I’d like to call myself a professional dreamer. I dream a lot. But dreaming is nothing if there is no action. At the beginning of this article, I quoted the following from the film: “Before you started on your heroic journey, what were you like?” asked Beetle. Kubo looked down and replied, “ “I told stories, about warriors, and monsters, and heroic quests…. I was good at starting them,” he paused and then carried on, “Not so good at ending them…” … all Kubo needed to complete his stories was action. Before he was set into action, he retold his stories everyday, adding more and more to them – but never finishing them. It is very tempting – as dreamers – to do that; to always improve, always touch up, always changing your product – never finishing. Next year, I plan to finish. And, finish a whole lot.

LESSON 2: Throw away self-reliance. Anytime you get too pleased with your own capacity and capability, and you allow too much room for your pride – you fall soon after…

“You’re growing stronger, you might not want to look quite so pleased about that. We grow stronger; the world grows more dangerous. Life has a funny way of keeping things balanced… I encourage you not to die…Heroes come and go… ” – Monkey

HAHA! I swear that this is an annual goal for me. I have to continually come back to the drawing board, because there are times when I get too confident in my own capabilities. I love this quote by the great Christian preacher and theologian, Charles Spurgeon, “Oh, you great saints, if you have outgrown the need of a sinner’s trust in the Lord Jesus, you have outgrown your sins, but you have also outgrown your grace, and your saintship has ruined you!”

LESSON 3: If you’ve read any of my writing then you’ll see me saying this very often, SERVE OTHERS MORE, forget the pressing need to spend more time on your dreams and visions!

“I have found the son of my master… Whatever brings you to these lands – whatever quest brings you here – I will join you; and I will give my life for you if necessary. I know how these quests go, people die all the time – they drop like flies, but that doesn’t matter. Cos’ I have a feeling that this is my destiny…” – Beetle (Kubo and The Two Strings). HOW PROFOUND IS THIS?  Beetle was a mighty warrior, and was quite able to fight his own battles, but, he was a warrior without a cause, and he knew that he would go crazy if he did not submit to a mission and a goal greater than his own.

I was super convicted by seeing this; the biblical principle of submission is huge! I love the story of the Roman Centurion who went to Jesus to heal his servant, and showed that he had great faith by instantly believing that when Jesus said the word, his servant would be healed. The Bible says that Jesus was “stunned by the depth of the officer’s faith.”

Handing over all control and submitting your plans and dreams to purpose of serving the true master (Jesus and whomever he has put in leadership in your life) shows your level of faith. It is no use asking God to do what he wills in your life, when you’re unwilling to give him control through your service. Winkie Pratney said, “God does not guide those who want to run their own life. He only guides those who admit their need of His direction and rely on His wisdom.”

There could be so many other points, but I’m going to stop there, because just these three will have me working throughout the year. If you feel like me, but need a little bit of a kick-start getting your journey to improvement started, why don’t you click on the banner below?

The BFG Taught Me How To Be Assertive

When I was a kid my family lived in an old Victorian town house that was on the corner of two roads. The room I shared with my sister was light plant green and on the wall closest to the door, opposite our tall oak built-in cupboards, there were two rectangular posters’ that my parent’s had stuck on our wall. One was about the alphabet and another was about birds. A huge owl was in the middle of the bird poster, and in the night, when it was exceptionally dark all except for the street light that shone through our huge bay-like window, I felt like the owl would come alive, and stare at me.

For that reason, plus the fact that one night, someone walking down the street pushed his hand through our window (and a few other’s), I really, really battled with recurring nightmares for years.

That’s why I could so relate to Roald Dahl’s 1982 book, The BFG, and anything else that I could get my hands on that told an interesting tale where I could use my imagination to the fullest. The Dahl book was originally illustrated by Quentin Blake and by 2009 (27 years since it’s inception), the novel had sold over 37 million copies in the UK alone. The story itself is set in England and about a young girl called Sophie (what a proper English name!), who befriends a giant. Together they set out on an adventure to capture other man-eating giants who “have been invading the human world” – they do this with the help of the Queen of England, no less.

Directed by the master storyteller, Steven Spielberg, who mixes live-action, green screen, CG and motion-capture techniques in the most remarkable way. This film is shot with a mélange of colours that come together to form a soft and friendly picture, reminiscent of everything we think the good dreams we’ve had look like. A lot like E.T (also directed by Spielberg), The BFG covers themes of fear loneliness and battling against the malicious forces of the “Boogey Man”.

Although, I’ve long since stopped having nightmares for the most part, I, since entering adulthood have at times found myself fighting against the Boogey Man that is reality. Reality, that demands assertiveness in the same vein as Sophie exercised.

The BFG lived in a bad and uncomfortable, almost abusive situation that he allowed to carry on even though it was hurting him. When Sophie came onto the scene everything changed. It changed because she knew that in order to be happy and move on in life one often has to take drastic action. She was assertive. What a champ!

Even though I think I am quite Emotionally Intelligent, greater assertiveness has been one of my major lessons this year – especially when I’ve found myself in adult situations that were “less-than.” Sometimes being assertive was QUITE PAINFUL – but it could never have been more painful than taking charge of my life rather than ducking my head in the sand.

Here are 5 Tips for Communicating Assertively Without Being Passive-Aggressive by Margarite Tartakovsky, M.S.:

  1. Allow yourself to feel anger.

Anger is not bad; it’s what you do with it that matters…

  1. Make clear, assertive requests.

Be straightforward and don’t depreciate the other person or the situation or else you might just end up with not being heard at all and being more frustrated than you were in the beginning.

  1. Validate the other person’s feelings.

Understand their feelings and “where they’re coming from” even if you don’t agree. For example, “Lisa, I understand that you’re upset because you have to switch work days in order to get this project done; however, it is very important to me and I appreciate your doing it.”

  1. Be a good listener.

This means maintaining a “very respectful and open nonverbal attitude and posture while listening to the person.” WOW! Sometimes the hardest to do… try and manage your own emotions and thoughts!

  1. Be collaborative.

WORK Together! Constructive and collaborative – which means trying to look for ways that the situation can play out with both people being happy!

If these things are a bit hard for you to do (especially when emotion is involved), it’s worth remember this:

I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength.” – Philippians 4:13

Make it your New Years Resolution to walk in assertive strength that builds people up, not breaks them down, just like Jesus (The Anointed One) did.

If you want to know more about learning how to do that, why don’t you click on the banner below?

Dealing With “Family Beef” Over Christmas!

Family conflict during the holidays is a real thing. And, look, I may come from one of the most peaceful families ever, but recently; some things happened that put a whole lot of people on edge – including myself.

So, much so, that we had to have an immediate family “sit-down” to decide how we were going to deal with the matter. Forgiveness was step number one (always is!), but sometimes, even sorry doesn’t seem to cut it when trust is lost, and the other party continues to act without any trace of changed behaviour.

Because of all of this, I went out to look for some helpful tips that we can all use when having to deal with family conflict over the Christmas Holidays. Here are some that I have adapted from Alexandria Skinner’s article relating to the same:

  1. CHANGE YOUR OWN THINKING! This could involve lowering your expectations and assessing the stage of the conflict and then responding appropriately.

    Look, every family has its issues, and it’s not helpful to expect more from family gatherings than they can deliver in reality. I don’t see this as pessimistic as much as it is realistic (sensible, a practical idea of what can be achieved or expected, accurate, true to life). When assessing the stages of the conflict whether at the mildest level, always keep an open mind, listen to the other party, and ask open-ended questions that aid listening and communication. You can choose to change the subject of conversation at moderate levels and at severe levels, make sure that you pay attention to personal safety and mental health. Stay away from alcohol – which increases the potential for violence in a situation (NB!), and don’t engage or retaliate!

  2. SEPARATE THE PEOPLE FROM THE PROBLEM!

    Pause before you respond to crazy, outlandish comments and try to refrain from attacking back. Then change the topic of the conversation and give the problem person a task to do for exapmle be in charge of seating, making placement cards for the table and so on.

  3. FOCUS ON ‘INTERESTS’, not ‘POSITIONS’:

    When the person makes a crazy statement, try to understand the “motives, fears and needs that underlie the statement.” The use of open-ended questions not only deepens the conversation, but also show that you are willing to listen and deepen your relationship. For example, “tell me more about that,” “this sounds like it has upset you very much.” When you listen and don’t judge or interrupt you are displaying character that is neglected in today’s society. A lot of the time, the real issue, or the basis of that person’s belief is world’s different from the anxiety that was raised at first.

  4. INVEST OPTIONS FOR MUTUAL GAIN! It’s okay to agree to disagree!

    Here, both of you can enjoy talking about the non-adversarial aspects of your relationship. Both agree that you want to be healthy people. You could also team up ahead of time with a friend (or another family member) and mutually agree to “rescue” each other (via signal) if any situation escalates too quickly (I feel like this is something that I might want to do).

  5. MAKE OBJECTIVE CRITERIA FOR YOURSELF:

    Decide that you aren’t going to sweat the small stuff! “Your life is too short and your calling too great to be offended by something small.” – One of my friend’s put this up as his Facebook status the other day, and I completely agree. Allowing small things to take our peace can ruin a lot for us. Be objective, take deep breaths and relax.

Ultimately, the last step would be to spend a lot of time with Jesus before your family comes together. Honestly, spending time in prayer, listening to sermons, reading devotionals and listening to worship music are all ways that you can prepare yourself to RESPOND and not REACT when your family gets together!

If you feel like you need a bit of help with what I’ve just mentioned, and would like to know how, why don’t you click on the banner below?

It Really Is A Wonderful Life!

This year, just like last year, another one of our family friends lost a child to suicide. It’s a deep devastation that is hard to console. The parent(s) keep asking themselves what they did wrong and how they could have been better.

More and more often, I find myself thinking that suicide, finally a widely spoken about topic depending on where you come from in society/community, is one of the most selfish things that anyone could do to their families.

In 1946, a time when one would think that suicide would have been a taboo topic, Frank Capra produced and directed one of the best Christmas films of all time (in my and many other people’s books), called It’s a Wonderful Life! It tells the tale of a businessman, George Bailey, who delves deep into despair and frustration after a series of terrible events and decides that he wants to kill himself. Before that happens, an angel shows him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

The black and white drama is based on the short story called the “The Greatest Gift” which was written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1939, and later published privately in 1945. The motion picture was nominated for 5 Oscars and was an easy find for me about two years ago, when I was searching through a list of “The Best Christmas Movies” on YouTube.

In the mean time, before you go out and find that movie, why don’t you start planning ways that you can appreciate your life more? Assess yourself, and decide whether this year was generally a year of thankfulness, or whether you displayed a lack of gratitude for everything you had, in general.

Here are 5 Things That You Can Do This Christmas To Appreciate Your Life A Little More:

(Adapted from the Article 11 Ways To Appreciate Your Life A Little More by Fauzia Burke – www.mindbodygreeen.com)

  1. Starting This Christmas, Keep A Gratitude Journal

Take five minutes to list everything that you’re grateful for. The more you fill your gratitude tank, the more you’ll be content – the best gifts are free!

  1. Starting This Christmas, Create Gratitude Folders

Normally, you would start at the beginning of the year, and create a bulletin board where you have small reminders that make you feel grateful. For example, a letter from a friend, thank you note from a client and so on. At the end of the year, you can put all of those into a folder so that you can review it all and see how blessed you are.

  1. Starting This Christmas, Practice Gratitude With Your Family

Try practicing gratitude during mealtimes with the family where you can go around the table and talk about the best part of the day, what you may feel most grateful for, or, even personal “wins.” My parent’s started this in my family, and we’ve been doing this for years now.

  1. Starting This Christmas, Try & Send Out One Email Daily

Try to send out a thank-you email to someone everyday. It can be very short. This small act alone can change your life as well as your relationships. I started doing this by SMSing about 5 people every two weeks. It’s even better to start early when it comes to Christmas and New Years.

  1. Starting This Christmas, Be Present

Once you choose to consciously be present and live in the moment, you will automatically start living with gratitude because gratitude requires awareness – in other words it’s about noticing everything.

I love this Psalm written by King David! He obviously knew the importance of writing down (with great detail) the things that he was most thankful for in life, or the things that made his life wonderful, because of the fact that trials, hardships and depression were such a REAL THING for him!

“I waited a long time for the Eternal; He finally knelt down to hear me. He listened to my weak and whispered cry. He reached down and drew me from the deep, dark hole where I was stranded, mired in the muck and clay. With a gentle hand, He pulled me out to set me down safely on a warm rock; He held me until I was steady enough to continue the journey again.  As if that were not enough,Because of Him my mind is clearing up. Now I have a new song to sing—A song of praise to the One who saved me. Because of what He’s done, many people will see and come to trust in the Eternal. You have done so many wonderful things, had so many tender thoughts toward us, Eternal my God, that go on and on, ever increasing. Who can compare with You?”

Psalm 40:1-5 (THE VOICE)

If you feel that you want to be able to exercise the kind of gratitude that David displays in this verse, in your life, but have no idea how, or even where to start, why don’t you click on the banner below?

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