It’s complicated.

DISCLAIMER. You can skip the lengthy disclaimer part if you just want to get to the part where I speak about burning bras. But I would read the disclaimer. For context.

Let me just say this: I am not scared to challenge my own opinions. Because where there really is Truth, it won’t budge. I will.

My first priority in exploring topics like the minefield I am about to approach is to humbly acknowledge that my mind is still very much in the process of being renewed. I desire a Biblical worldview. Biblical, however, also implies dismantling religious or cultural or personal preference notions that have been accepted as immovable truth, but are not.

So, before you church-peeps assume that I am implying that all the presuppositions of liberal feminism are worthy of consideration, can I just say that my deepest personal allegiance is to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Submission and sanctification is an ongoing process of dying to self, as you would hopefully know. Selah.

And before you not-so-church peeps write me off as a religious zealot, can I just say that I am also committed to using my emotional intelligence, brain and common sense to make sure that what I believe and how I act is the honest-before-God-truth of what I profess to be a living reality. If you don’t see love and reasonableness in me, you don’t have to listen to one more word from me about Jesus. Because then I’m not representing Him right. Selah.

So, can we sort of hear each other out, and then not judge, either way …

I believe that the Spirit of Christ who dwells in a born-again Christian enables us to know Truth, ie Himself. He has given us His living truth in written form in the Bible. He also gives us His living Truth through the gifts of His Spirit. Wisdom, for example, is one of the gifts where we are given insight into what God thinks about stuff, so that we can align with that, and walk in the delight and freedom of obedience.

So, yes, I do believe in Truth. And I do believe humans can know Truth through revelation. By grace. I desire wisdom.

That is why I dive into my own worldview foundations, to test if how I act in particular situations is not perhaps the result of wrong thinking, often based on wrong theology. Or plain untruth. Or being stupid.

The math is simple.

Truth = freedom. Peace.

Untruth = not freedom. Striving.

This is what has lead me to venture into the topic of power dynamics in gender relationships.

I approach it from the most obvious area of “figuring stuff out” context in my life. It applies to numerous other (probably more important) contexts too.

END OF DISCLAIMER.

I sort of don’t want to write another word.

But that would not be very brave of me.

So, here goes.

I have always believed that it is a guy’s honour to decide to pursue a woman he thinks he might like. Then she get’s to decide if she likes being pursued, or not.

That’s sort of the order of things that has been taught to, and by me.

Baseline: If he likes you, he will find a way to show you, somehow. You don’t have to like him back. You just need to be nice and truthful in the process of figuring out whether or not you do.

Now, that’s a very sanitized way of going about it if he likes you first. It sort of derails the theory if you like him first.

Us decent church girls don’t actually know what we’re allowed to do with that second scenario. Seduction and manipulation aren’t really open to us as options in this game … anyway.

So, we’re sitting with the following:

If he’s not that into you, there is pretty much nothing that you can do about it. The message we give girls is: Don’t embarrass yourself. If you’re not the one he makes an effort with, he’s not the one you should be spending your emotional energy on. Move on. Run for the hills. Delete his number. Boycott yourself from being that girl … We’ve all seen the movie. Ugh.

So, anyone who has heard any form of church-y type relationship teaching would know that gender roles are very much defined in that sense. In recent years, at least. I don’t really see it play out that way in Song of Songs. But anyway.

I am not contending that order. I prefer that order. It sort of feels safer for the feminine heart, somehow, to be pursued romantically than to pursue, initially.

I also know from experience that it “works” better that way. A man will do what is in his heart to do. If you’re not in there, you simply aren’t. And vice versa. I have the utmost respect for that freedom of will to desire and choose. Utmost. I show that respect, and I expect that respect.

But I realised recently that something within that acceptance of the “leave him alone to choose to act on what’s in his heart, and there’s nothing you can actually do about it …” way of thinking, actually bugs me.

Even if I’ve sort of picked up (from guys) that it’s just the way it is … deal with it … It simply doesn’t feel like freedom, if you are the girl in that situation.

Listen, I have sucked it up more than what you can imagine.

I believe I speak from the type of street cred that has recovered from a few heartbreaks by guys who never even knew I liked them. Because I chose to shut-up and back-off and let time show me what they feel for me. That mostly also involves rocking the friendzone, crying in my pillow, and then befriending their new girlfriends.

Others knew, because I told them. The ones I tell are the ones I need to get boundaries in place in order to preserve a friendship that I value more than a crush. They know who they are, obviously. Laughs all around.

On the other hand, some guys also hoped that I might reciprocate their feelings, and were brave in making their intentions known, and I had to be the one honest about what wasn’t in my heart. They also know who they are, and that I respect them immensely for acting on their convictions.

It’s not easy to be in either scenario of non-aligned affections.

So, this isn’t three years of waiting and honoring and choosing to let go, ladies and gentlemen. This is more like 20 years of figuring out how to live this stuff out for emotional freedom to be an experienced reality, regardless of what someone else feels or doesn’t feel.

And my recent unravellings has to do with me, not anyone else. I think I’m wrong in how I’ve thought about this, and how I have thought about myself in this. I need to change. I need to get a new perspective.

To some it might sound like feminism. Women’s lib. Burn the bra.

But I sort of like my bra. It’s practical. And pretty. So, it’s not really that. I think.

There’s the bra thing out of the way then …

Methinks this is probably actually just part of the process of being healed in my sense of self-worth.

So, here’s the fundamental problem I have with how I’ve personally been “waiting to be pursued”:

In this submission to my assigned gender role of being the one who has to wait to be pursued, I have learned to actually completely deny the legitimacy of my own desires.

I have never truly allowed myself to act overtly on what I feel for a guy. For some weird reason, I told myself that what I feel, doesn’t count.

My feelings are nullified. Made void. Declared invalid. By myself.

I think I have never valued myself enough to actually believe that what I want, as a woman, matters.

And that is obviously not Biblical. Even if you take ‘love does not seek it’s own’ into consideration.

I’m  obviously going to have to deal with this, on a deeper level. A Jesus heals level.

This is not the “fault” of any man. I’m not contending for anything. You will never find me in in a “fight” for equality. You will find me grappling in the spaces where people’s worldviews are being liberated to simply live as equals. There is a fundamental difference. That applies to race as much as to gender.

So, in a sudden turn of events, from the girl who tells other girls to “wait for his move, and get on with your life”… I begin to wonder if what I have been practicing as relational truth, especially in the area of romantic initiating, reflects the truth of the liberty I profess to have in Christ.

Am I allowed to like a guy, and do something (pure and sincere) about it?

Experience and instinct says: No. Wait. You will be sought-after and pursued when it’s right.
Experience also says: You’ve been living under the fruitless tyranny of self-denial for years.

Can you see why this is a freaking minefield …

I’m sort of going to pull the pin, and then tap out there. For now.

Like I said in the beginning. My mind is being renewed. Terms and conditions apply.

May we have many more meaning, respectful and fruitful conversations that lead to liberty …

Freedom of choice is a basic human right, right?

Selah.

Being oneself, unapologetically

I recently received a fantastic compliment from someone who told me how they appreciate that I am what they perceive to be, unapologetically myself.

It was meant in a positive and encouraging way, and that is how I received it, but I also thought it might be worth exploring the dynamics of this state of being unapologetically oneself.

Being unapologetically yourself can be a very liberating space to live from.

But I guess it can also be a rather selfish space to live from.

What would make the difference?

Let us ponder together … well, I’m pondering. You’re reading. Let’s get on with it.

One of the theoretical marketing topics I enjoy unpacking is something called Positioning.

It’s a marketing term that has to to with how brands portray themselves to their desired target markets to be known for something distinctive. Think Volvo and safety, Coke and fun, Cape Union Mart and outdoor adventures… that’s essentially their positioning. It’s how they want to be thought of. To hopefully become part of someones life (read: brand loyalty) because the brand resonates in a meaningful way with how the person sees themselves. It can also just be purely functional (ie well-designed technology or sports gear), and actually rather helpful for brands to serve their customers in this way.

Sometimes, the brand becomes a way for the person to show the world who they are … or is it the other way around? Who is using who …?

That’s the strategy behind branding, ladies and gentlemen. Major consumer psychology research involved, in case you didn’t know.

You can draw your own relational parallels if you like.

It takes an intentional, strategically curated marketing communication effort to consistently associate brands with lifestyles to the point of those brands and those lifestyles to be synonymous. It takes years of consistent marketing communication, together with synchronized product, price and distribution efforts, to get people to “know a brand” for what it wants to be known for.

I guess having this knowledge of how perceptions are created and communicated has been both helpful and tricky for me personally.

In a weird world where social media gives us the platforms to portray whatever we want to portray about our lives, it really does take vulnerability (read: guts) to be authentic, without being narcissistic. We probably need more wisdom. I know I do.

As with the case of brands choosing how they want to position, we choose what we want to highlight, and what we want to downplay. We subconsciously (or sometimes strategically and intentionally) curate our social media content to portray our desired positioning to our desired target markets.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It’s actually Personal Branding 101.

If you choose to play in the social media space, on whichever level, it’s a good thing to decide what you want to put out there, and what stays private. People have every right to choose what they “want to be known for” publically.

Or to not be so serious about it. Whatever.

I just find it peculiar to every now and again meet a version of myself that someone else created based on the perceptions they form from what they see on social media, or read on this blog.

Sometimes I want to be that person.

But often, I am not only that person.

In branding, the theoretical term is “narrow positioning” … which basically means to be known for something too specific that does not represent the full value offering of the brand.

Granted, it often is the brand’s own fault.

It doesn’t just happen to brands, or just online to people, though.

It also happens in spaces where, over time, people associate you with something specific, and basically disengage from or gradually ignore the rest of you.

Methinks that might be the current life space challenge for yours truly.

It was highlighted once for me in an unexpected situation, where I had an opportunity to speak to a group of people about what I felt to be a significant experience (that had nothing to do with my marital status). When I was introduced though, a comment was made about how I am available to be taken out for coffee afterwards, because I am single. Laughs all around, but I felt how that unintentionally sabotaged the significance of the message I had to deliver. I essentially felt demoted from “prophet to the nations” to “single girl desperate for a date”.

In that specific context, “narrow positioning” caused me to feel like the value of my contribution will always be undermined until my marital state changes.

It’s a spiritual principle. Honour allows a gift to flourish and have impact. The opposite applies too.

It can also happen when you are positioned as a specialist in a field that is actually only one of the sub-fields that you have learned to navigate well through exposure and experience.

It’s difficult to decide what to do when you sense this happening.

What do you want to be known for, when you are unapologetically yourself?

I guess I’m still figuring it out.

What I do know is this:

You can be anything you choose to be, especially if you have a natural talent for it. There is very little that cannot be accomplished through grace, opportunity, choice, resource allocation, focus and discipline. Story for another day.

Fact of the matter is however this:

My life as a born-again believer, wherever it is encountered, should actually be increasingly reflecting Someone way more interesting than me.

I’m not sure that this is is always the case with my life.

And perhaps that’s the point of pausing to reflect. Which is what selah means, by the way.

To be more like Jesus is the point of personal transformation (and “self”-actualisation) for a Christian. That is a definition of being a disciple. To be and do as the One you profess to follow.

When we are unapologetically ourselves, we reveal sin-scarred hearts, healed by God’s love.

We still fight with flesh pride, and the vanity that wants to make itself seem important, or significant.

Being unapologetically myself actually means also coming to the place where who I am is seen as being completely insufficient, to be able to reveal how fully defined I am by the grace of God.

Anyway.

In all of this knowing and desiring to be known, my hope is to occasionally be unapologetically myself enough to actually look like the only One who I am supposed to look like …

The only One worth being seen, forever.

We become what we behold.

May that beholding increasingly be His glory.

In a very real, unreligious, liberating-to-ourselves-and-others way.

Selah.

Rekindling romance

Rule one of news journalism … hook them with the heading. Gotcha.

So no, this is not a blogpost about surviving another February without roses. A shout-out to all my peeps, though … keep the faith :).

No publishable news on that front. I know you’re all waiting with baited breath. I’ve sort of let my breath out. Resting in surrender. When the desire comes, it will be a tree of life. I shall keep you posted, promise.

This isn’t about that, though.

This is, however, about rekindling romance.

Not necessarily the kind that gets highlighted by what single people affectionately refer to as In-your-face Day … jokes. But seriously.

The longer I walk on this journey of life, the more I realise how crucially important a sense of the romantic is. And by romantic I actually am referring to all the beautiful and exciting things that make life worth the effort …

So, here goes.

It’s not that I’m unhappy. On the contrary, I’m actually rather content, for once in my life. I have a sense of being rooted, and I am living in that healthy space of peaceful thankfulness for where I am and what I have. It’s a place that I have disciplined myself with diligence to remain in. It is a good place.

It’s just …

I’m not really bursting at the seams with passionate excitement about life.

It’s called adulting, I guess.

Sometimes, you just gotta put your big girl pants on and deal with your responsibilities. I get that. I do that.

Effective time management and functional efficiency. All for it.

Diving into a fruitful routine on a Monday morning, surfacing again on a Friday afternoon. Up at 4am. Prep, gym, work, people, prep … Living the good life. Free from many of the responsibilities connected to marriage and family. I get that it is a blessing to be single, from that perspective.

It’s all good. I’m keen to max out the opportunities, time, energy and health at my disposal.

Challenge is, I have one of those souls …

It’s the songbird in me.

She needs to breathe in beauty. Oceans and mountains and movies and music. Inspiration and adventure.

Purpose and vision and future hopes.

Romance.

She needs soulfood. Otherwise the song fades, and even good days become dull.

She also knows by now that she cannot expect this sense of being delighted about life to be restored to her heart by the choices and actions of a male of her species.

She has to rekindle the romance of her own heart.

To be in awe, once again.

There is only One Source for the soulfood she needs.

She needs to be found in the River, where no good thing is withheld.

Selah.

You have to be really intentional about nurturing your own spirit and your own soul.

Find the things you need to do for the simple sake of having fun. Being you. With or without someone else.

Tending to your garden, so to speak.

Guarding your heart, with all diligence.

Against being disappointed by the limited definition of romance that the world has to offer.

To keep your soul burning with true passion.

Selah.

Hope prevails and delivers, despite …

I am weary of bandwagon prophecy. Let’s just put that out there.

By bandwagon prophecy, I mean people latching on to what they heard other cool people saying, and declaring that to be their own personal revelation. It sometimes feels (slightly skeptical vibe, sorry …) like many peeps be repeating prophetic hear-say, and not necessarily what they honestly sense the Spirit “say to the churches” … #justsaying.

I’m not talking about confirmations. I’m talking about piggy-backing.

That being said, I’m also cautious to not “despise prophecy”, because Scripture tells us to not do that. It also, however, teaches us to test the spirits.

And that is basically what I normally default to whenever I set my ears to “picking up” what the general prophetic sense is at any given time.

Test the spirits. But in order to test the spirits accurately, you need to have your mind renewed.  Otherwise, you just gonna be a mouthpiece for accusations, projecting your own issues and revealing the state of your heart. True story. This “discerning spirits” stuff can mess you up big time if you do not have the helmet of salvation in place.

Will get back to that.

Basics first: If the “prophetic sense” is mainly about ultimately glorifying Jesus as Messiah, I’m generally open to it.

Yes, we are blessed in the process of Him being glorified in and through us. But blessed is defined by the One who blesses in Matthew 5. Go read that for perspective on being blessed.

So, before we even start to talk about receiving the promises of 2017 (or 5777, if you like), let’s just say that ultimately, the fulfillment of all prophecy is already in the Promised One. Selah.

Back to what we want to hear.

I am first in line to want good news. I want to hear that things are looking up, all my longsuffering longings will be fulfilled, all my dreams will come true, and all my tears were not in vain … believe you me, I honestly do want to believe that.

2017: Victory. Answered prayers. Fulfilled hopes. You are coming into your fullness vibes. Some nice things about money. Breakthrough. Etc.

Those are some of the themes I have picked up from most of the “influential” prophetically vibed things that have been released globally via platforms like Elijah’s List. Arise and shine … Isaiah 61. Despite the increasing darkness in the world (ie horrendous politics, dismal economics etc … pretty obvious to all), God’s light shines on His people, and His glory will be revealed (not always so obvious to all, unfortunately). His glory is not revealed to make you look shiny, by the way … His glory revealed … also meaning that there is grace for arch-enemies to forgive one another, for reconciliation between races to happen, and for widows, orphans and refugees to be cared for by His people etc.

2017: Hope prevails and delivers, despite …

It’s the sense I got too, in all honesty. In my bleh’ish mental space.

Arise. Shine.

Let’s be real. To my flesh-ears, the temptation was to make it sound like I am thus finally getting what I’ve been nagging God for for years …

Do you get why I, in that sense, struggled to receive the general 2017 prophetic words of victory and breakthrough?

When I made it about me “finally getting what I’ve alway wanted”, immediately my past disappointments from “standing in faith for years” loomed large …

Because if these personal expectations (longsuffering answered prayers, fulfilled hopes etc) aren’t fulfilled in the natural (as in physically and tangibly, in reality, according to how I think they should be …) this year especially, it seems like it can only mean one of two things:

1) God’s answer to those long-suffering prayers (an answer He took His time at giving) is no (which is, in fact, a legitimate answer to prayer if Jesus is your Lord), or
2) the global prophetic sense was inaccurately interpreted by flawed humans who want to say nice things to make weary people feel a bit better after a difficult 2016 …

Either way, it seems like a pretty definitive year of “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. If I may be so bold.

OK, with the slight cynicism out the way … (before it sounds like I’m testing God or sneering at the prophetic. Which would just be stupid, counter-productive and essentially, self-destructive).

Let’s just say that I have learned that sometimes being ready to receive a prophetic promise (which seems to be the prophetic promise of 2017), includes going through confusing seasons where the opposite of what you were expecting seems to be the reality. Think Joseph, bra. Point made.

So, let’s keep it real.

I had to wrestle with a few stubborn mental blocks to get into the right headspace to even just be hopeful for the year ahead.

First mental block is to actually think that God’s sensed personal promises to you, are just about you. Read Esther to get that out of the way.

Secondly, to wait for a long time for something that one feels is actually just supposed to happen as part of normal human existence, tends to make one weary.

Truth be told, I surrendered many of my heart desires. Or actually, I just let go.

I probably just took a few too many shots to the heart. Or stabs to the back. Bleeding without knowing. Blah, blah, blah … woe is me … etc. :).

Seriously, though. I reached a point where childlike optimism for “the best is yet to come” (normally my default setting) seeped away, and a lukewarm resolve to just do what needs to be done to survive alone (the ultimate betrayal to my soul’s hope) settled in.

Tired.

And that basically sums up the (hidden) headspace I was in when these words of victory and breakthrough etc. started to be released.

Truthfully, my inner reaction was: Seriously? You really want me to rally up some form of sense of “faith” … again … to be able to be “positioned to receive” … again?!

Because that seemed like the pre-requisite. Without faith, you won’t “access” any of this … disqualified by your evil unbelief, you backsliding heathen.

OK. No one said that last bit. But the dramatic effect highlights the crapness of the mindset I was stuck in.

I simply didn’t feel like I had a mustard seed.

But.

You know what?

I really actually don’t know how to explain it.

My real relationship with God simply does not resonate with what so many people say you need to do to receive from Him. Sometimes people make “stand in faith” sound like you need to muster up all your courage to stand as tall as you possibly can to impress God with your level of zeal and determination to believe Him for His goodness to be shown towards you. Pick me, Lord. I’ve proven myself. I’m still standing, after all this time. You gotta bless me now. Newsflash: That’s karma, not grace.

And it is just so far from my reality. The anointing breaks the yoke. Not the determination. Rest, weary one.

So many times the relational reality I have with God is to simply bring my harsh honestly and dramatic brokenness for Him to do with what only He can.

And you know what I found in that process?

He does not despise a broken heart. He does not despise a crushed soul. He does not despise a weary spirit.

He is not intimidated by tantrums, or deterred by false accusations slung at Him from a human heart in anguish.

I think He knows that we don’t know what’s really going on. We cannot see what He sees, so we accuse Him from our lack of perspective.

I have learned to voice those nagging accusations in honest prayer. “Lord, You forgot.” It makes them sound stupid. “Your name is engraved in the palms of My hands …”.

It’s not bipolarity. It’s just loneliness.

None of the hurtful things I have slung at Abba over the past few weeks of being frustrated with myself, have seemed to put Him off loving me. The fact that I trust Him enough to voice my doubts, is also received by Him as faith, it seems.

I find that I still receive from God, despite my lack of sanctimonious behaviour, because of His faithfulness to His covenant.

He is love. He is good. He is faithful.

And I am simply a beneficiary of His goodwill towards man, in Christ.

That is it.

You are welcome to argue that with theology. I’ll just keep breaking my alabaster pots at His feet. You’ll still benefit from the fragrance of broken worship, even in your inability to even recognise the existence of the ministry. Sorry, still a bit feisty … Selah.

Somewhere in a really truthful prayer time two weeks ago week, I realised that I had allowed a lie to bind my mind to despair, and that this was a root of the hopelessness (all is vanity …) and depression (nothing has meaning …) I had been fighting with.

The lie was blatant attack on my hope for the future, and an attack on destiny: You are a has-been that never really made it.

I identified the lie, through what I sense to be the revelation of the Holy Spirit, and replaced it with the truth of God’s Word: I have plans to prosper you … to give you a hope and a future.

That is essentially what it means to take up the sword of the Word, put on the helmet of salvation, and to be transformed through the renewal your mind, to be able to know the good and pleasing and perfect will of God.

In the week therafter, I received a personal prophetic word of how a God the Creator breathes into dust, and creates life where there literally is nothing.

Spot on. Personal. Accurate and encouraging.

Let’s just say, I think I might be out of the woods.

I might even be able to muster up a mustard seed. Imagine what He can do with that …

Heads-up, peeps. Be transformed through the renewal of your mind.

5777 might just be the best year after-all :).

I’m asking God for the promised normal, as painted in poetry.

He knows what I mean.

Selah.

Internasionale belange – ‘n belaglike vlak kortverhaal poging :)

Disclosure: No rock stars were harmed in the writing of this completely fictional ridiculously shallow short-story that apparently is too risque for the magazine I sent it too for publication consideration … So now, you get to read it for free, and judge all you like ;). 

Dis nie nou die tyd om second thoughts te kry nie.

Sy ignoreer die rooi liggie op die foon se skerm wat op haar hart skree.

Sy kan nie nou ingee nie.

As sy die boodskap oopmaak gaan Whatsapp se twee blou regmerkies weggee dat sy weet hy het probeer om haar stilswye te breek. Dat hy probeer het om te verstaan hoekom sy teruggetrek het.

Dat hy dalk regtig wil weet.

Sy kan nie. Nie nou nie. Daar is te veel in die weegskaal.

Die paspoort ry beweeg stadig. Mense is almal doenig op hulle fone. Praat vir oulaas met hulle geliefdes. Sommiges opgewonde om uiteindelik op die langverwagte oorsese vakansie te gaan. Ander reeds moeg van die vooruitsig om vir besigheid van die huis af weg te wees.

International Departures.

Die twee weke wat voor haar strek het nie hierdie keer die normale uitwerking van opwinding en afwagting nie. Sy lewe vir die kere wat hulle spesifiek vra dat sy moet kom. Internsionale lughawens se doolhowe is vir haar tweede natuur. Dubai. Ben Gurion. Attaturk. Zurich. New York. Maar hierdie keer moet sy erken dat sy bang is. Die wêreld waarin sy verdwyn wanneer hulle haar oproep is onvoorspelbaar, en daar was nog nooit so baie om te verloor nie.

Dis nie die tipe ding wat jy met ’n voicenote op iemand laat val nie. Veral nie op iemand soos hy nie. Daar moet non-disclosure kontrakte opgetrek word, en sy moes hom sien om dit te bespreek, maar daar was net nie tyd nie. Hy moes weer vertrek op ‘n wereldtoer.

Sy het nie geweet hulle gaan haar weer stuur nie. Nog minder het sy geweet hoe moeilik dit sou wees om hierdie keer te gaan nie.

Sy agent het uit Nashville uit laat weet dat die toer met nog twee weke verleng is, en dat hy nie betyds terug sou kon wees om haar te sien voor sy moes vertrek op haar “vakansie” nie. “You know how it is when they’re big in Japan, doll.

Sy het geweet. As hy maar net geweet het.

Sy het vrede gemaak met die realiteit van planne wat verander soos wat konsertdatums rondskuif.

Aanvanklik was dit opwindend. Voorblaaie. Onderhoude. ’n Skielike toename in sosiale media belangstelling.

Dit het die agentskap aanvanklik op high alert gehad, tot hulle agtergekom het hoe goeie dekmantel dit vir haar regte werk kon wees.

Sy was verbaas hoe gemaklik sy in die rol van famous-by-association geval val. Die Suid Afrikaanse pers was nie naastenby so behep met haar van soos van die ander lande se media nie, en die plaaslike aandag het baie vinnig weer verskuif na politieke katestrofes toe.

Elke nou en dan het iemand haar erken van sy sosiale media fotos af, maar wanneer hulle besef dat hy nie by haar is nie het hulle vinnig belangstelling verloor. Dit is goed so.

Sy kon wel nie vat kry aan hoe vreemdelinge maak of hulle haar al vir jare ken nie. Tannies wat haar uit die bloute uit DM om te hoor of sy ok is elke keer as hy saam met ‘n ander meisie op ’n foto verskyn. Sy het gou besef hoe vinnig dit oud om die hele tyd op datum te probeer bly met die nuutste skindernuus oor jouself.

Sy het nog nooit verstaan hoekom mense so mal gaan oor celebrities nie. Dis net ’n mens, magtag, het sy altyd gedink. Dis net dat hulle werk in die publieke oog gebeur. Hoekom maak ons nie so bohaai oor dokters of onderwysers nie? Dalk het sy net al te veel gesien van wat aan die ander kant van geld en roem met mense se karakters gebeur.

Dis nie dat sy nie geweet het wie hy is nie. ’n Mens sou onder ’n klip moes bly om die reklameborde en sosiale media hype te mis. Dis net dat sy nie noodwendig deur ’n publieke beeld beindruk word nie. Dis alles smoke en mirrors. Daarvan weet sy baie goed.

Almal was op hol oor die groot ster wat die dag by die agentskap sou aankom. Asof hulle nie met die wêreld se presidente werk nie. Gewoonlik stuur die kunstenaars net hulle bestuurders om sekuriteit te bespreek, maar hy het daarop aangedring om hulle te kom ontmoet. Hy het opgedaag met sy hele entourage, in jeans en leer plakkies. Die sweempie van ‘n Amerikaanse aksent het haar herinner dat hy vyf jaar terug te groot geraak het vir die Suid Afrikaanse musiek industrie. Op sy gemak, soos net iemand wat al voor miljoene oë sy hart uitgesing het, kan wees. Hy het doodluiters daar gesit, en gemaak of hy nie agterkom dat selfs die kaptein so bietjie oor sy woorde gestruikel het met die bekendstellings nie.

Sy het langs hom gesit in daardie vergadering. Soos die noodlot soms dinge bepaal.

Dis sy hande wat haar oog gevang het.

Sy (en die res van die wereld) weet hulle kan kitaar speel, maar sulke hande moet sag kan vasvat ook. Die gedagte was onwillekeurig. Die res van die tyd moes sy baie hard probeer konsentreer op die strategie van die veligheid wat benodig sou word vir sy grootste konsert nog in Kaapstad. Groenpunt stadion. Dit sou hulle grootste projek wees vir die jaar.

Sy het nie gedink dat hy haar enigsens opgemerk het daardie dag nie. Hy is mos gewoond aan super modelle en baie gewillige aanhangers, as sy die skindernuus kan glo.

Dit was mos net ’n roetine vergadering om seker te maak die veligheidsmaatreëls is in plek.

Sy was verkeerd.

Daardie aand was daar ’n boodskap op haar foon. Die aksent was onmiskenbaar. Hoe het hy haar nommer gekry? Epos signature, besef sy later.

I’m still in town tonight, and I would like to make it count. Meet you at 9?”.

Sy het geweet dis ’n risiko. Maar sy was gewoond daaraan. Haar hele lewe is ’n risiko.

Vir een keer het sy ’n kans gevat op haar eie geluk.

Sy was reg oor sy hande.

Die foon ping weer. Haar maag fladder, soos altyd as dit hy is.

Sy weet sy kan hom nie langer ignoreer nie. Sy wil ook nie meer nie.

Die paspoort ry voor haar raak al korter.

Sy sit haar oorfone in, en luister na die voicenote.

Die stem wat duisende mense na konserte toe trek. Die stem wat die mooiste woorde in haar hart ingefluister het die aand toe sy uiteindelik ingestem het.

Die stem waarteen sy haarself nou moet staal, omdat lewens daarvan afhang.

As sy nou een woord te veel sê is alles in gedrang. As hulle uitvind, trek hulle haar dadelik uit die veld uit. Sy weet sy kan nie hierdie assignment aan iemand anders oorlaat nie. Dis te gevaarlik.

Sy boodskap sê nie juis veel nie. Jammer hy het haar gemis. Sy moet lekker vlieg. Sien haar in April as hy weer terug is. Hy het iets geskryf waarvan sy sal hou. Hy mis haar.

Hy weet nie dat sy dalk nie gaan terugkom nie.

Daar was weer ’n terreur aanval. Hoë profiel teikens.

Sy weet wat sy gewoonlik gestuur word om te doen.

Dis net dat sy nog nooit die dood moes konfronteer met ’n nuwe lewe wat in haar eie lyf groei nie.

Al wat sy terugstuur, is die sonar foto wat vroeër die dag haar vermoede bevestig het.

Sy weet nie eers of hy ’n pa wil wees nie.

Voor sy haar foon afsit vee sy al die boodskappe, fotos en adreslys af.

Vir sy beskerming. Vir ingeval hulle haar hierdie keer vang.

Die skerm gaan dood. Hy was nog besig om iets te tik.

Dis te laat.

Dis haar beurt om deur paspoort kontrole te gaan.

Angles of aiming: #2017

I think it is pretty obvious by now that I am not exactly a status quo kind of girl.

I just think that there are always more options to explore when it comes to deciding on how you want to approach this vulnerable life on earth. I try to not accept humanly constructed / societally defined obstacles to what my heart sees as possibilities. Obviously, within the vast boundaries that I shall just call Truth and Grace, for now.

In the light of that worldview, I’m taking a different approach to aiming at 2017.

I normally do quantitative and measurable. Ie get a masters degree (2015). Run a half-marathon, or three / Survive a major career transition (pretty much 2016).

This year, I don’t really feel the quantitative vibe.

It is fascinating how much you can learn about yourself if you make time to take a real look at your heart, to honestly disentangle the emotions that occupy the space.

I don’t take my emotions at face value these days. I sit with them, sometimes for a year, to figure out what they’re teaching me about the state of my heart, and in essence, the robustness of my faith.

So, in the past few days I’ve done that.

Looked as objectively as possible at many different emotions, and sort of figured out what my heart wants to set herself on in the new year. Angling my aim, so to speak.

I’m trying to be as practical as possible, but it would be unfair to not acknowledge the God-seeking aspect to this process of looking for new year’s direction. I believe He speaks, and I believe He wants to set our hearts on His agenda daily. So when I refer to “what my heart wants”, I actually also refer to what I believe He revealed about His desired focus for me.

This process included a solo day-trip through the Kruger National Park on New Year’s day. Where many prayers are prayed, declarations made, and revelations found, on an annual basis :).

So, here goes.

I’ve been pondering on Isaiah 58 for some time. The chapter basically speaks into how we need to  engage with the cause of justice for those who cannot fight for themselves. Being available and present where vulnerable people need protection. So, my first sort-of resolution is to get involved with a responsible ministry that does that. I’ve emailed a few NGOs about volunteering, positioning myself for obedience. Keen to wash dishes or weed gardens, if needs be. That’s the one area I want to grow in this year. Jesus 101.

The second, probably less religiously sounding thing, is to re-immerse myself in stories. Books, theater, movies … I love stories. To read them and to write them. A delight to my soul. So, I’m joining the library, as a step in that direction. Boom.

Thirdly, relationships. Man, I need people. So much. People to have real conversations with, and do significant things with. Like have fun. Climb mountains, have braai’s, drink good wine, and swim in the sea. I value friendship deeply. Sometimes you need to go through a season of feeling isolated to realize that. I value the amazing people in my life, and I need quality time with people that challenge my occasional independent stubbornness :). It’s a love language thing. So, to be intentional about the value of relationship and the communication it requires. Finding those mutually-valued friends, and sticking to them :).

Linking very deeply to that, is evaluating my commitment to a faith-community. Faith in Christ is inseparable from belonging in His church. We have to figure that stuff out if we call ourselves His followers. How do we do this love one another thing. As in, really. Our gifts are for one another.

I’ve been through many different seasons and expressions of charismatic Christianity. Through it all, I know that I believe in love. Spiritual family. I also am a watch(wo)man, which means I often see things that are not true to love and wisdom, and they perplex me, sometimes to the point of frustration and disengagement. (Read: A lack of maturity … :)).

I have struggled for a very long time to figure out where I actually and really fit in the Body. Some of the spiritual gifts I get to learn how to steward are not popular or easy to receive, because they confront, with the intention of warning, or healing. I have had to learn to shut up about what I sense, and just pray. Which has made for interesting times in my personal sense of connection to local congregations and global movements. I have made numerous mistakes that have caused people pain. I have also had to go through very interesting seasons of feeling completely misunderstood, displaced, and basically, unheard. Essentially, rejected. Even in being accurate and sincere :).

Those times are good too. For the sake of wrestling through heart-issues. Like deep-seated insecurity, fear of man, vanity, immaturity, lovelessness, pride, arrogance … you know. The usual.

However.

There is a new Psalm 40 song. The season for singing has come. Let’s see how, and where, that goes down :).

While we’re on music. It’s difficult to explain how much I need to sing. But it needs a very particular context for the sound to be true. So, I shall be searching for that context again this year, having taken a break from the choir that has been such a blessing to me in this regard. I would absolutely LOVE to be in a proper musical.

In terms of work, I’m keen to keep learning and growing. Thankful for a healthy and dynamic work environment with multiple opportunities, and a fantastic bunch of talented people. Just grateful, and keen to expand into the potential of the season.

I think I want to try out photography. I keep looking at breathtaking landscapes and scenery and wishing I had a wider lens. Will see where that goes.

Obviously, I still want to leave the door open for the possibility of falling in mutual love. It remains a desire of my heart to be bride, a wife and a mother. A valued helper, a number one fan, and an equal life-partner. A best friend. A lover. It is a very real, very deep desire that I have had to wrestle with and surrender for seemingly decades. True story.

But the cool thing is that I can actually, in all honesty say that I have learned how to have fun by myself. Finally. Which is a great skill to acquire on this journey of learning how not to wait for someone else to “make you happy”. Seriously people, from what I observe, I’m starting to get where Paul is coming from when he says that he thinks it’s simpler to be single :).

But, let’s just say that hope is still alive. My heart still keeps a special place reserved. Just for in case, you now. I cannot deny the promises that I have protected through many dangers, toils and snares … :). But alas, God’s time is not my time, and I shall just roll happily with that then. It seriously takes two to commit to the tango. So, whenever that happens, I’m ready to dance. Might step on a toe or two initially, but willing to learn to let go and be led. I’m very unique, I know. It will take a patient and determined groom to find delight in a rather wild garden :). But hey, it should be worth it :). Top tip, from a veteran in the Song of Songs 3:1 season: Gotta learn to love yourself before you can love someone as much as you long to. True story.

I think that might be it.

It was good for me to realise that I don’t need to have “get fit” as a new year’s resolution this year. The realization that I need to value being a good steward of my body was disciplined into lifestyle  choices over the past two years. I’m grateful for that. So, just keeping it up, in community, and figuring out if I can run 21km a bit faster …

In terms of what I sensed as Scriptures to guide my thinking about approaching this year, I basically had Proverbs 18:20 & 21 (With the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied; He will be satisfied with the product of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit) and Luke 6:45 (… For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of) as fragrances, mulling around in my mind as I drove into 2017, through the bush.

Basically, choose to habitually speak and declare life. But before we can speak life, our hearts need to by filled with His life. Psalm 45 (My heart is stirred by a noble theme …)

I can testify of a restored sense of this Life. This is a miracle I am deeply grateful for.

May our mouths bring forth good things from the good stored up in our hearts this year, and may the fruit of our mouths bring forth a harvest that satisfies. Not just ourselves, but the people, and a very desperate world around us, as well.

Here we go, 2017.

Laat wat jy doen aan die Here oor, en Hy sal jou die regte pad laat loop. Ken Hom in al jou weë, dan sy Hy jou paaie gelyk maak. Proverbs 3:6

Friendzone filters

“Meisie, jy is anders.”

Ons het op die stoep gesit van die rondawel. Randomste groep mense saam in die snikhete somer. Amper gevoel soos ’n ATKV-jeugberaad ruïnie van die vorige 15 jaar se hoërskool-hoofleiers.

Ek het net gaan daar aangekom, en my reeds-gebraaide tjops op die tafel gesit tussen almal anders se rou vleis. Vir ontdooi word op die vuur. Ek het regtig nie gedink dis vreemd nie. Dit is mos vleis, gebraai soos wat net my pa kon.

Die beskuit wat ek omgestuur het om te deel, het ook vir een of ander rede reaksie ontlok.

“Meisie, jy was maar net nog altyd anders.”

You mentioned that. I heard you the first time.

Die feit dat jy dit oplet, en hard-op sê, ontsenu my bietjie. En ek doen nie ontsenu nie. Ek hou oor die algemeen van center-stage aandag, maar nie noodwendig van so op die spot gesit word nie. Dit maak my onwillekeuring bloos.

En dan kan ek nie wegkruip agter my persoonlikheid nie, want my wange gee my weg. Dit skep ’n persepsie van iets wat ek nie noodwendig wou kommunikeer nie. Die hart wat gewoonlik op my mou te siene is, sê nie noodwendig altyd regtig dit wat mense aanneem nie. My mure is ook maar hoog, en die wagte is ook maar vigilant.

Ek let jou wel ook al jare op. Jy is ook anders. Dit hoef niks te beteken nie. Dis net iets wat ek opgelet het.

Later sit ons onder die grasdak saam met die bruid en bruidegom, en kyk diere wat wei in die river daar doer.

Na jy weg is kom praat die omie wat oorkant gesit en oplet het met my, en vra uit oor my man.

“Nee, oom, daai is nie my man nie. Ek ken hom skaars.”

“O, skies, ek het net opgelet …”

Wel oom, om eerlik te wees, ek moes seker ook erens op ’n stadium opgelet het. Almal het. Daar was ’n club.

Ek let glad nie meer so op nie. Die deur is lank-lank gelede duidelik bot-toe gemaak. Was nooit oop nie. Dit was nie die tipe anderse wat by mekaar gepas het nie. Paaie loop soms vir kort rukkies amper parrallel, al raak hulle nooit nie. Dit is goed.

Maar ek het wel iets geleer daai naweek van friendzone filters wat ek somehow nou weer aan dink.

Dat mens nie altyd weet hoe om woorde te gee aan wat jy oplet nie, en dat jy dit wat jy wel goeddink om te probeer sê opsom in woorde wat veilig is.

Anders.

Dankie. Ek dink? Jy ook.

Ek weet …

Wat weet jy?

Toemaar. Dis nie belangrik nie.

OK?

Los dit.

Dis al wat ek weet om te doen, so ek het.

Emoticon: Poef gesiggie.

Delete conversation.

Seriously? Kan ons nie maar net …

Nee. Ek kan nie. Nie weer nie.

Emoticon: Thumbs up.

Emoticon: Poef gesiggie.

Ek weet nie hoe om poef gesiggies profeties uit te lê nie …

Los dit.

Emoticon: Random kameel. En ‘n pynappel.

Presies.

Selah.

Being vulnerable about being vulnerable

As I sit here writing this, my back hurts. I pulled a muscle. I hope. Because a slipped disk would be less ideal. Either way, I am acutely aware of an unfamiliar tightness around my spine that has been causing me discomfort since yesterday afternoon.

But you wouldn’t notice, unless I told you.

Because it’s relatively easy to numb manageable muscle pain with nerve suppressant medication.

Selah.

My skin on the other hand, is a different story. You can’t hide your face. Well, technically, you can. But the hiding is more obvious to the discerning observer.

Somewhere during the year, I began to notice a type of acne-looking break-out high on my right cheekbone. I’ve never had skin issues, not even during puberty, and I thought it would just go away. But the break-out spread to the other cheek, and occasionally to my forehead. It’s not that hectic, but for someone who is used to issue-less skin, it feels a bit like a in-your-face mocking torment. Pun added for poignancy.

I eventually went to see a doctor, who didn’t really know what it was, and got prescribed a salve that didn’t really work. I know a misdiagnoses when I sense one. My dad died from flu. Which was in fact malaria. #GPTrustIssues.

I’ve been trying different natural products (aloe, rooibos, campher, kraalbos etc.) to counter whatever it might be that makes my face go red. Yes, I do drink the zink supplements prescribed. As a general rule, I try to eat as healthy as I know how to. It feels however like doing all the right things is managing the issue, but it doesn’t feel like it’s fixing it.

But you wouldn’t notice, unless you look closely.

Because it’s relatively easy to mask minor skin blemishes with concealer and base.

Selah.

The thing is, though: I’ve always been a slight nuisance about confronting and fixing stuff so that there can be healing, and not just managing something for it to be bearable.

Denial is never bearable. It is suffocating.

Emotional and spiritual pain is not meant to be managed at a level of “being bearable”. Numbing. Concealing. Those are NOT Gospel concepts. But they are easy to do.

We are supposed to have our souls healed in Christ. Healing requires the sometimes surgical laser of truth, and the consoling salve of grace. In community with Spirit people. Alive to God. Dead to sin.

I’ve come to appreciate that a large part of my life is prophetic. If you read about the actual prophets in the Old Testament, you would notice that they often experienced natural things to be able to have spiritual insight. So, I am aware of the fact that I sometimes go through natural stuff to be able to know an unseen reality.

So, I know my back is not necessarily just about learning to do squats properly, and my face is not primarily just about finding the right skin care products. It’s that too. I’m not going to tell you straight up what the spiritual insight of the two pains are, because I still need to act on the truth of the revelation, but you should be able to draw some lessons from the metaphors (alignment, core strength, aka submitting to Lordship … eating only what is good, aka the Word …) in the mean time.

In a way, my heart is like a thermometer. When I’m living in the Spirit, and not in my flesh, I am able to sort of tell what the “spiritual temperature” is, because the Holy Spirit allows me to sometimes feel it. Primarily through the gifts of prophecy and wisdom, with the aid of the gift of discernment. Or dreams. I know stuff so that I can pray about it. That is the ministry of prophetic intersession. It does however mean that I am most of the times either aware of or trying to figure out what the nature of different “winds” are. They’re not always mild breezes. If you don’t recognize and resist a deceptive side-wind, you are in danger of blowing along with it, instead of bearing forward against it.

I’ve made that mistake. It often happens where false accusation is involved. The enemy sets us up against one another, and what is intended as a watchman cry to warn, gets twisted into a harsh judgement that tempts people into offense. Offense is a wall. Break it down asap.

Selah.

These days, I take a bit longer before I just blurt out what I sense. More often than not, sharing an observation of especially something that I sense to be a ploy of the enemy, requires me to first wrestle internally with whatever I’m observing externally (the splinter / log in the eye scenario). I deal with my personal motives, heart issues and demonic lies, to be able to be as real as possible about the lessons I needed to learn to get to truth. Because a teacher first needs to learn to be able to teach. So many times I am hurt in the ways that I know I have hurt others. So, I receive and extend forgiveness in the same breath. Then I share what I’ve learned.

But that is a vulnerable, and sometimes even (wrongly) a self-depreciating way to teach. And I’m sort of learning the balance between keeping the former (vulnerability) and avoiding the latter (self-depreciation, always second-guessing my own motives).

Most of what you read in this blog has undergone or is undergoing a process like that. Mind renewal 101. Truth seeking, grace clinging. Throw in a bit of spiritual warfare, and you’ve covered a few of the main themes of my journey of faith in Christ.

Now, that sounds pretty intense and unapproachably mystic, when in actual fact I’m a rather chilled flower child who loves organic shampoo because it smells nice. Anointing is what it is. If there is any real ministry at all, it is not by my doing.

I sort of hide in grace, because it requires real brave humility to accept truth, and allow it to change your behavior.

I find that truth is a scalpel. It cuts with precision. And I’m not always excited about being cut.

But the cutting of pure truth is always a cutting away of sinful nature. Grace is the only clean atmosphere within which the cutting of truth can be done. Love is the motivation for the operation. Looking like Jesus is the point.

I don’t always love when truth cuts me.

But I do love truth. I am drawn to it whenever I see it someone. I will test it to make sure it’s not religion. But when I sense that it is Jesus-fragranced truth, I will commit to wrestle with whatever in me has not aligned to it.

There is simply no other way to live. Seek truth. Act on the instruction.

I must confess (there’s it, see …:)): I think I became a bit weary of feeling like I always have to be the one that is vulnerable with my weaknesses so that others can relate and feel better about their struggles. Be open about your wounds so that others find the courage to show theirs too, and receive healing. That has been the game plan.

To be honest, at some stage I started to feel like the decoy that gets sent behind enemy lines to draw the first fire. I voluntarily took spiritual shots for people who didn’t even know that they were being ministered to by vulnerability. Such is the nature of love, I guess.

It all started to feel very un-reciprocal. Unnoticed. Ovelooked. Redundant.

This love does not seek its own business is hard. It’s not a public ministry.

It takes humility to keep acknowledging that you still struggle with stuff that you should have had down by now. Love thy neighbor, for example. Refrain from sexual sin, for example. Be generous, for example.

Listen, I’ve been through many seasons of Western Christian culture. I have been with the programme for a while. Someone gave me a microphone and put me in front of 5 000 people at the age of 17. I’ve been on different stages ever since, stepping in and being rescued from basically all of the snares that you inevitably find when you seek to offer an anointed talent as a gift. From conceitedness to rejection. The spectrum in-between is vast.

I only knew this: Ignore the lights, and bring everything. Which meant: Be embarrassingly honest. Mary with the alabaster flask as my role model. Extravagant worship often meant expressing my zealous love for Jesus in ways that many people, spiritual leaders even, didn’t understand, because they didn’t necessarily see Him laughing, or throttling a snake, or waiting on the dance floor. I had those times. I miss them. I led cell groups, leadership groups, intersession ministries and worship. By the age of 24. I’ve been disillusioned and ministered to by Church. I’ve fallen back. I’ve been restored. I’ve been jaded. I lost the light of my First Love, and I have had it renewed.

10 000 reasons for my heart to find …

Love.

Through it all, I’ve been brutally honest, especially with God.

Often at the expense of being completely misunderstood by people, and still trying to figure out how to honor and love them.

My actual worship is hidden in the pages of tear-stained truth-wrestling journals.

To be vulnerable, is to share some of those pages in the hope of encouraging you to pour your heart out to God.

The singing is NOT the worship. The committing to disciple 50 people or flying around the world to attend mission conference is NOT the ministry.

The surrendered heart in love that precedes (or follows) the singing, is the worship.

Love is the ministry.

Vulnerability is the key.

I’ve always know this as truth. Fought religion and racism for it.

Love.

Then I got hit, again. Same shots, hitting the same target. And for some reason the arrow went in deep. With it’s poison.

I was done with allowing my heart to love to the point of being vulnerable.

It felt like it only brought me humiliation.

So, I tried to be more calculated. Less transparent. Less obvious with what I sense, and how I desire to give of what I have been given so abundantly. Grace, love, wisdom …

In a nutshell, less spontaneously myself. Because maybe, somehow. that would make me more receivable as a gift.

But that’s just it.

When I shut up … I clog up. I simply cannot afford to not be vulnerable. To not be me.

So I am sorry for confronting you with the things that you wanted to keep concealed because they hurt too much to deal with.

Such is the nature of the anointing that breaks yokes.

Submit to truth. Receive grace.

We’re all in this together.

Remain vulnerable about how vulnerable it is to remain vulnerable.

My back feels better now. Prayer does work. I’ll strengthen my core even more. The skin thing is probably a diet thing. I’ll seek proper council for that.

I will also act on the truth that has cut to the chase of what I’m not spelling out.

This is my Psalm 32.

Confess your sins (aka be vulnerable about how much you need God’s grace and truth, which is glory of His Son), and pray for one another (aka be vulnerable about how much you need others to speak truth and comfort to your heart).

So that you may be healed.

Selah.

The break-up

Feeling silly about the butterflies
I held hidden in my heart,
put many of our conversations
to an awkward start.

I wrestled with a human rule
that put you out of bounds,
when somewhere on the inside
I recognized the sounds

of fighting fear of failure –
cautious, but brave enough to still dare.
Not giving in to pain’s allure
that tempts people to not care.

I fought the recognition
of not being pursued,
but things are how they are for reasons
and they work out for the good.

I did however need to find
the reason for the shame
that connected to affection
when no one was to blame.

So, I took it to the Cross,
where all surrender starts,
and found the root of an ancient lie
that still endangers hearts …

Fear can never be allowed
to co-abide with love,
so I broke that association
in the Name of Christ above.

The freedom was immediate,
and gone also the affliction,
that bound my mind to dwell
on feeling stupid about affection.

There is no fear in love perfected –
where desire is being made pure.
We are free to give and receive, upon invitation,
within boundaries that secure.

Breaking up the butterflies and the blushing
put my soul at rest.
My feelings are free to be on this vulnerable journey
so that I may one day recognize His best.

🙂

Selah.

She always gets what she …

So, about dreams, desires. And interruptions.

Sometimes songwriters just seem like they’re able to take the essence of whatever people are feeling or thinking, and turn it into lyrical poetry that makes us feel like they stole a sneak peak into our diaries to find inspiration. Wait … maybe … ? Story for another day.

She always gets what she wants … she always moves to the rhythm she’s making …

Towards the end of last year, those words were challenged in my life though.

I had a plan. That plan had a strategy. The strategy had a budget. And the budget had a timeline.

I had been working towards something.

It was all basically mapped out. Business plan written. Thesis and industry connections to back it up. Rate cards designed. Website launched. Excitement high.

Part-time lecturing, part-time consulting. Strong focus on freelance writing. Arts industry niche. Masters degree fresh in the bag.

But #contractsmustfall_if_feesmustfall. If you read between the lines of newspaper headings.

An interruption. To the nation. Much to say about that … but let’s make it personal.

Loosing a job you loved is not supposed to unsettle someone with faith. But let’s be real. It does.

So, some people found out in November 2015 that they would not have the imagined financial stability they thought they were going to have for the year ahead. They found out by getting to their office one morning and seeing their name removed from the door they called theirs for four years. Which turned out to be admin efficiency and unintentional miscommunication. But the emotional repercussions were, for all involved, to say the least, slightly traumatic.

The air has been cleared fully since. We laugh now. We cried then. Throwing toys out the cot … left, right and center … sympathizing with causes and standing for justice in rallies whilst feeling the personal repercussions sting of the flip-side to a complicated coin …

The metaphor of being unceremoniously toppled out of the boat you thought you were going to be on for a while still, through no fault of your own, and left to fend for yourself in a stormy ocean with a small life-jacket does come to mind when I think about the end of 2015.

I felt grossly wronged. Scorned, actually. Unfairly treated … etc. It is quite a thing to keep ones heart free from bitterness when what you perceive to be bureaucracy disregards what you thought you had done well to prove your value … my student feedback was consistently in the high eighties and nineties. I completed a masters degree in nine months, with a 73,5% average (seriously, people … ?!). I did everything that I was supposed to do, and I did it well. There were actually students who cried when I told them it seemed like I wouldn’t be back. It was traumatic. Dramatic. Hell hath no fury …

So I packed my stuff, dumped it in my new house (yes, there was also a house move involved at the end of 2015 … another long story), and went to Lesotho on a mission. Never to return … drama, drama, drama.

Anyway. Point made.

Lesotho was good for me … Miracles, God saving people, and us co-laboring to serve His inheritance in the nations … by planting potatoes. Perspective restored and all that.

It did however bring about a few other emotional complications … we laugh now. I cried then. Writing it down to subconsciously looking for stability. No harm done :).

I know these things are perceptions more than reality.

I literally had no idea what I would do in 2016. I was simply not brave enough yet to just make Creative Capacity work. I don’t cope well when I have to charge people for projects that I would actually want to be able to do for free. I simply did not have the guts to launch a new company on my own with no financial or emotional backing. It is as simple as that. It would fail. There is wisdom in not doing something sometimes. I do have radical faith and a crazy imagination. But I also have a surprisingly pragmatic brain.

I’m not telling the full story. Let’s just say that it was sort of an internal boycott as well. I was not going to do this by myself. So, I put the dream that I planned for and invested emotional energy and money in, back on the shelf.

For a few weeks, I felt really lost. And hurt. Went for a few interviews that would take me back to Pretoria, or to Durban. I was going to work for an engineering company. Can you imagine. I just wanted to get out of Stellenbosch. For more reasons than just work.

So, long story short(ish) … returning from Lesotho, I clicked on a Facebook ad, got an interview, and was offered a great agency PR job that I never thought I would enjoy as much as I do now.

You see, I had a plan.

And that plan had me in the center.

But I guess God doesn’t always allow us to get what we want if what we want is just about us …

I was welcomed into a new work community that has been one of the biggest blessings in my life thus far. More into a family that just a work. People who celebrate one another, and leadership that really wants the best for everyone. A nurturing and challenging environment. A space to grow. A healthy space. And I realized, a lifeboat, to me. Still in Stellenbosch. For reasons beyond my knowledge.

I’m learning about teamwork. Accountability. Accuracy. Being a nice human when under pressure. Open plan office focus. I have made the most wonderful friends. Learning so much from people who care deeply for their clients and their colleagues. Interesting opportunities and amazing exposure to cutting edge creative thinking and strategy implementation.

It literally is one of the best things that could have happened to me. Even if I initially did have to fight hard with my stubborn independence to be able to receive the blessing. Ok, let’s be honest. I had to kill my stubborn independence. With a hammer. Nail it down. Often. Still. A bit of a rough diamond, me. Needing some chiselling and character formation …

I’m however not going to reflect too long on the beginning of 2016. I still had a six-month lecturing contract commitment with the varsity, and I worked full-time. Thankful for the grace given from both sides. But assisting with among other things a national launch campaign whilst teaching eight first year groups during the day and a post-grad class every night in one week, is madness. I remember walking out of a lecture (third one on a row on Monday morning), as the phone rings with a crises from the media to be sorted out in the next 10 minutes … driving like a crazy person to-and-fro between two offices, and wondering if I was going to make it out of this season with my sanity in tact. Putting pressure on systems, and being accommodated in amazing ways.

I know people have hectic jobs with crushing pressures from many sides.

I had three.

And a disillusioned heart.

Anyway.

Grace is real. People are awesome. Friends and family are gold.

Let’s just say, 2016 has been interesting. Throw in two intense trips to literally the opposite sides of the globe in the space of two months. Seven races, three of them half-marathons. And another house move. Still single, and not wanting to be.

Some pressures are by choice, some are not. Either way, we often simply need to grow a pair … or put our big girl pants on. Suck it up. Surrender. Whatever works for you.

Ironically, its been a capacity building year. Which in essence was a spot-on prophetic word I received earlier this year from the pulpit, in the midst of the storm.

About a week ago, I sat on my bed with my journal (as I am in the habit of doing) and took some time to look at the state of my heart, a few months down the line of what felt like an unexpected hurricane passing through.

Somewhere, something shifted. I moved again, physically. To a happy place. And with the move came a new season.

Of simply being content.

For the first time in years I don’t feel like I want to shove my measly earthly possessions in my car to move somewhere new and start over.

It’s a big thing for me.

A commitment.

I want to stay.

Be here.

Plant roses.

And smell them often.

2016 taught me that she doesn’t always get what she wants.

But she does get what she needs, and more.

Surrendering to God’s processes is a major key to contentment.

I’m not saying we don’t have choice. I believe we do, and I believe we can get up and chase dreams. Even ones that have been buried or forgotten. I knock on Heaven’s door to put what I have on my heart on the agenda … Frequently. Persistently. I take Him up on His invitation to come boldly before the throne of grace. He is, after all, my dad.

I am a big fan of desire, dream, decide, do.

But the timing thing … I’m still working on that …

For God knows the plans He has for us. And He also knows the environments we need to be in for our characters and skill-sets to be formed for those plans. If you’re still here, you still have a purpose. I actually believe that.

I am super grateful for the environment I am in now. 2016 has been good. Not easy. But good.

Don’t stop believing, and know what you’re feeling …

He does make all things work for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to HIS purpose.

Storms will come.

But the Rock is stable. His love never fails.

I actually believe this. Because He is true to His covenant.

Maranatha.

Selah, peeps.