Friday, 26 August 2011

Are you really living?

Some stuff's been on my mind recently and I need to share it with you guys. It's this; LIVE YOUR LIFE. Yes, live your life. This life is way too short to spend it pleasing people. It doesn't matter who it is (apart from God obviously). But seriously, it doesn't matter- friends, family, colleagues, bosses, church folk...the list is endless. Just live your life. Do what you want to do. Seriously. You'll regret less things if you do. Even if you make mistakes, at least, YOU made the decision. I don't know about you, but I tend to handle mistakes better if I know that I made the decision myself, than if I did it because someone else wanted me to. 

Now, the reason I'm writing this is because I've finally come to the point in my life (better late than never I guess) where I'm beginning to realise that my life really is mine to live, and no one else's. Don't get it twisted though, I'm not saying do whatever, not caring for anyone's feelings. I'm not saying don't listen to advice. I'm saying your future is in your hands. Your life is what you make of it. I'm beginning to understand that when Jesus talks about abundant life in John 10v10, He means a lot of things, but for me He also means living a life free of stress, worry and anxiety. He means living the life you were called/made to live, not the life other people want you to live. He means LIVING life, and not just existing. If you're living to please people, you're not really living. 

This is not about being selfish, but sometimes we need to ask ourselves certain questions. Here are some examples;

'This course I'm applying to university for, do I really want to do it, or am I applying for it just because my parents want me to?'
'That job I'm taking, do I really want it or am I just going for it because my spouse thinks it's best for me (or us)?'
'This woman I want to marry, do I really love her or am I going for her because my parents think she is suitable 'wife material'?'
'Am I always trying to make people happy at the expense of my own happiness?'

Sometimes we need to put ourselves first. I know this might sound contrary to what the Bible says about putting other people's needs before our own, but recently I'm beginning to realise that I can't keep putting other people first if it's only going to make me unhappy. We can show love to people in other ways that aren't always about doing what they want us to do. Sometimes saying NO when people expect us to say yes is the best thing we can do for them and for ourselves. Sometimes disagreeing with someone when they expect you to be a 'yes man' is the only way you'll gain that respect you deserve. Sometimes making a decision that goes against the mentality of the majority is the only way people will start taking you seriously. When you can do these things, with a clear conscience before God, you'll begin to get a taste of what it means to live. Really live.

Now, go here and give me some tips for my birthday!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

27 things to do before I'm 27...

So, it's out there in the open. I'll be 27 in a couple of months (ish) and yeah I know, I can't believe I'm that young either. Anyway, I was in the shower the other day, doing some thinking (my best place to think by the way, which is why I spend so long in there!) and I realised that I needed to do something for my birthday. I could go ahead and do the whole partying thing, or going out for a meal thing, but to be honest, all that does get a bit boring after a while. And I always feel kinda bad making people pay to come out for my birthday. So I thought maybe I could do something different. Then the idea came to me- 27 things, counting down 27 days before my birthday, all the way to the 19th (of October). Genius. Ok, not really, I know people do this sort of thing all the time, but just not anyone I know. 

Anyhoo, I got really excited as I started to think about the numerous things that I could do, but then I thought, wouldn't it be fab if I could get other people involved as well? So, I've come up with a little list for now, and I would love for you to give me some more ideas, so that I can add to the list. I have a few rules though, which I will share. But please put out as many ideas as you want out there, and I will decide which to go for around a couple of days before the countdown begins. Also, I'm thinking I could blog everyday (during the countdown) to keep you guys updated on what I did. And I may put up some pictures as well, depending on how generous I'm feeling!

Now to the rules;
1. Cost- Whatever I do cannot be too expensive. It would be great if it didn't cost me anything, or if it costs as little as possible (unless it's something absolutely amazing that I wouldn't mind paying for), for obvious reasons- I don't want to be bankrupt by the time my birthday comes!

2. It can't be anything rude or illegal. Hint: I'm a Christian, so whilst I'm up for having fun, I'm not up for compromising.

3. It would be good if it's something I can do either on my way to work in the morning, at work (during my half-hour lunch break of course), or after work. Yes, I spend most of my time at work. But weekends should be fine.

4. It can't be anything too crazy, like bungee jumping, or anything that would involve me risking my life, because I won't do it. Sorry, I do want to see my 27th birthday.

5. Try and incorporate the number 27 into it if you can, but it's not a must.

6. Similar to rule number 4, it can't be too physically tasking. I am a young soon-to-be 27 year old woman. I'm not that strong physically.

7. It doesn't have to be all about me. Something that could bring a smile to the face of someone else would  be good too.

I think that's it. But I may add more rules if I remember any. Here's the list I've come up with for now.

27 things to do before I'm 27:

In no particular order;

1. Buy 27 dresses (literally, or the movie dvd - to be decided before the countdown begins)
2. Hug 27 strangers
3. Tell 27 people about Jesus
4. Visit 'Restaurant 27' and dine there for free (hopefully!). I actually googled this restaurant and was pleasantly surprised to find that it existed! And it's in the UK! What are the chances eh?!
5. Get that coat.
6. Give away 27 personal items
7. Go speed dating (ha! I put this in for fun, but if someone can convince me...)

Right, the rest are for you guys to complete. Let me know your thoughts, and if I get enough responses, who knows, this could be the bestest birthday present ever!

Friday, 5 August 2011

How I learnt to honour my parents...

Those words 'honor your father and your mother, that it may be well with you' from the Ten Commandments have always haunted me. For a long time I wasn't quite sure exactly what they meant, and even though my dad, like most parents always translated them to mean 'do as I say at all times', from a very young age I knew this was not the true meaning. If it was, it didn't make sense because in church they told us that we should only obey our parents if their instructions were right according to the Bible. So for example if your mum told you 'if Mrs so and so calls to ask for me, tell her I'm out' when she was actually home, you were supposed to say 'no mummy, that would be lying. You tell her yourself'. Or words to that effect. Obviously if you have the kind of parents I have, that was not even an option.

So I was reading a book a few months ago called 'Smart girls think twice' by Jan Silvious. Good book. In one of the earlier chapters, she basically broke down the ten commandments and related them to everyday life and it was here that I think I first got a good enough explanation of the whole honoring parents thing. I was pleased,  not because she said what I wanted to hear (far from it) but because it made sense, and it confirmed my suspicions that honoring your parents wasn't about obeying them in everything, it was about not being disrespectful to them and also about helping them out in their old age.

The first part has never been a problem for me, thanks to my parents' disciplining skills. But I must say I struggled with the second part. First of all, my parents are not that old. In fact, compared to some of my friends' parents, they're not old at all. So, helping them out financially is not something I really thought about doing when I left university and started my first job. But my parents are quite traditional. Sometimes too traditional for my liking. For example,  my mum told me that when she got her first salary, she took the lot and presented to her father as a gift. I guess that's the way things were done then, so my dad kinda expected me to do the same, or at least something similar. I was like, 'In your dreams!' Ok, I didn't quite say that but I was thinking it in my head. Come on, how am I supposed to pay for my rent and upkeep and everything else if I present my salary to my parents to do whatever they wish with? If you're reading this and you did something similar, good on you by the way.

I must say I'm not stingy (OK I'm working on being more generous with my money) but when my parents realised they were not going to see my salary (at least not all of it), they started hinting at other stuff like, 'you should help out with this, and you should help out with that' (I won't go into all the details but trust me, some of the expectations were mind-blowing!) I wasn't sure what to do, or where to start, because part of me was like 'allow me to enjoy my hard-earned money a bit first before giving me a list of what you expect me to do with it!'

Anyway, after I stressed out a lot about it, I decided to ask God for some help. Because I do appreciate my parents. My mum is an amazing woman, and I know she would do anything for me. My dad, well, if not for him I wouldn't be where I am today because he provided the tuition fees that meant I could get a degree and hence a good job. I realised that really, it was all to do with my heart. Yes, my parents don't need my money (they're both still working) but like Tesco says, 'Every little helps'. I decided that I would do my bit. No matter how small. I won't worry about the fact that I can't buy my dad a brand new car (yet) or put my younger ones through university (like my dad did with his). I'll only worry about the things I can do. Actually I won't worry at all. I believe that there's a blessing that comes with blessing our parents in cash and kind, and who couldn't do with some blessings in their life? For me, things started to change when I shifted my focus from my parents (and whether they really needed my money right now) to God, who asked me to honor them in the first place. My life is about pleasing Him, and even though I won't obey my parents in everything, my desire is to obey Him in everything.

p.s. I feel the need to clarify that I still need some work in this area. Anyone with some helpful advice should please share!