Our Ancestors Wildest Dreams: Intro

We can’t afford to wait for the world to be equal to start feeling seen.

Michelle Obama

In a system built to destroy you, joy is rebellion! My family arrived in a post-apartheid South Africa from a war torn Democratic Republic of Congo and the one thing I can always remember from those early years is never feeling as though I could fit in anywhere. I spent a lot of my primary school career trying not to be noticed. Whenever people asked where I was from, I was quick to shutdown anything that linked back to my heritage and answer Belgium. Which is true as my place of birth, but I remember very early on, learning to be ashamed of my blackness. I remember one girl calling me a ‘makwerekwere’, a derogatory term used in South African for foreigners. On the other side of the spectrum, my white schoolmates were being raised by parents who enforced the old apartheid regime. Black was bad, black was dirty, black was wrong. In a few peoples eyes it felt as though I was the ‘dirty black’ who dared to be in the same space that they were in. I was lucky enough to find a group of friends that made surviving high school , and a system that was so against me, much easier!

In my thirty years of being a black woman, I have gone through a plethora of emotions. At times I would wish I was the right type of black to fit in with everyone else, and on the other side I wished I was a more acceptable type of African…whatever that means. Other times I wished my nose was straighter, less bulbous and indicative of my blackness. It took going to study in London to help me find my true identity and to stand boldly in who I was as a black woman divinely crafted in the image of a breathtaking God. My first year in the U.K. was marvellous. I grew up in a tight-laced conservative Christian family. I had my first sip of alcohol at 17 and the lightweight that I am, I passed out (still happens 😂) but somehow I still had enough sense in me to remember to tell my friend to tell my mum that I’d fallen asleep if she came into the room and found me passed out. Such is the fear that having African parents can instil in you 😂. In London, away from my parents’ rule and away from being in the shadow of my siblings, I was my own person. For the first time in my life, I found myself surrounded by people who were from different cultures, but they carried their culture and blackness with pride. The black women I met weren’t ashamed of being black, my goodness they were stunning. I started to wear my hair in its natural texture, I experimented with colour contact lenses (black girl rite of passage…), I embraced not only my features but my skin colour as well. This is gonna sound a touch shallow, but it did boost my ego a lot that people…and by people I mean the hotties on campus, had a bit of jungle fever for the girl from Africa 🤷🏾‍♀️ very much a ‘Mean Girls’ moment! And while 2020 Aurélie has grown so much (praise be to Jesus,) and no longer needs male validation to thrive, I was 18 and very silly at the time.

In those years living in London, I truly believed and embodied a phrase made popular by Dark n Lovely: ‘my black is beautiful.’ Fast forward to when I met my husband. I was a bit jaded by romance and had no strong feelings about getting married. I knew if I wanted to have children, I could do that by myself. My mom was quite horrified by that, which humoured me a lot more than it should have. Hubby is the most refreshing part of my life. The bonus & most importantly: he did not fetishise back women like SOOO many other creeps I encountered before him. Neither of us have ever applied the phrase ‘I don’t see colour’ to our relationship. In fact we’ve always been transparent about the differences in our upbringing, and the lives we have so far led. There are so many things that make being married to Sam wonderful. I’ll gush about that in another post…

Hubby and I had some marvellous plans for the future, and then 2020 hit. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, black people were reminded of an enemy they have always had to face…racism.

The passing of Big Floyd reminded us all of how far we haven’t come since Martin Luther King marched at Selma, and Nelson Mandela become South Africa’s first black president in post-apartheid South Africa. I remember waking up on Saturday morning going for a run in an attempt to forget the emotional and mental trauma of realising once again that to some, black lives don’t matter. I recall coming back from my run the morning after the video of his passing circulated, and started to feel so ill that at some stage I asked myself ‘covid is that you?’ I woke up the next day feeling physically better largely due to a sleeping tablet, and as I continue in my attempts to heal from the collective trauma that the black community is dealing with, I am grateful for the sweet Holy Spirit that continues to remind me of something:

I am my ancestors wildest dreams

As a black woman, I should not be where I am. Free, educated, alive. And sometimes I forget that. I am notoriously bad at slowing down and smelling the roses. It truly takes ALL of heaven’s armies to stop me. This is one of those moments. The realisation that who I am today is what my parents, and grandparents (on my mothers side cause Lord knows our fathers always have messy family dynamics) prayed for.

As a black woman, I have often found myself in deep need of a pouring into my spirit that I am loved, valued and beautiful. I am grateful that I have very dear and lovely people who have seen this in me when I have not. As black people the world often times wants us to forget that we are loved, valued, and beautiful. This is a world that crushes so much of our spirits that we forget the beauty that being black is. What the enemy wants to do through racism is to break us. He wants to keep knocking us down until we get to a place where the trauma becomes a part of us, a part of our DNA that we continue to pass to our children, and their children, and their children. To get to a point where we grow so tired of fighting the microaggressions that we face on a daily basis that we retreat on the inside and start to feel the years of trauma breaking us down mentally, physically and emotionally. I refuse to be broken. The revolution WILL be televised and I will be part of it. This is where our ancestors wildest dreams comes in. An online space to remind black people of the beauty and magic that lies in their melanin. Some of them I have the privilege of knowing personally, and others I admire from afar. The magic embedded in the DNA of all black people will not be stopped. Our stories of success and overcoming in spite of the odds so heavily stacked against us, will not be erased. I look forward to sharing more from a community who are EVERYTHING that their ancestors dreamt of!

Arvo at Selfridges

I was 17 when I first stepped into Selfridges. Fresh faced and not as wise as I am now, I was a couple of weeks into my degree in London when I walked into the most magical place on Earth.

My first purchase was a paid of £80 thigh highs boots that I definitely did not need but they fulfilled every ‘Pretty Woman’ fantasy that I’d had about thigh high boots completing an outfit.

Selfridges was where I discovered French luxury makeup brand NARS. My love for NARS has remained along with other brands such as Charlotte Tilbury, Dior and Chanel. All of which I discovered at Selfridges. It’s my favourite place to do a spot of shopping when I really want to treat myself and I can’t wait for one day in the future, to have a girl that will love shopping at Selfridges as much as I do.

2020, Let’s Do This!

Hello beautiful people. It’s the start of a new year. I’m still on holiday so I am in a great mood. It’s not that I hate my job, in fact I consider myself extremely lucky to have such a healthy work environment, however more time with the love of my life is always welcome. I’ve had time to think about what I want from 2020 and each time I keep coming to one word: joy.

joy: ‘ a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. ‘

The past two years have been challenging for my family and I, ever since we lost my sister. However we have somehow learnt to live with the grief. We’ve learnt to function and find happiness in the midst of the pain. Last year was a great one for me. I have felt myself slipping further and further away from the cloud of despair that at one point felt permanent. Depression is like that, you forget what it’s like to be happy and while I credit my walk with God towards helping, I cannot deny or diminish the role that my wonderful husband played in the person I became last year. My goals for this year are simple: find joy in God and work tirelessly at being the best wife, and human to everyone in my life. I want to truly find joy in God, in life, fully being present in all aspects of life, taking pleasure in all that it has to offer, without feeling guilty about it.

2020 is the year of being unapologetically joyful!

Pregnant or Fat?

I’m going through a crappy period with my weight and it’s hard not to get down on myself, especially when everyone keeps asking if I’m pregnant 🤰🏽 I’m not, I’ve just gained weight. I’m on a solid reset plan that involves zero sugar and mostly veg. So far so good, BUT it’s tough. I looked at my body today and I wasn’t happy with what I saw. There’s the quiet voice from my bulimic days that sometimes taunts me. My plan is to see a nutritionist and find out how I can potentially do plant based eating alongside long distance running and CrossFit. Right now I am being as gentle as I can be with myself while on this new journey of bettering myself and shedding a few kilos. Choosing to go on a health kick during the festive season is probably not the best idea 🤦🏾‍♀️.

Mind The Gap…Long Distance Relationships

Soul mates are not here solely to fulfill your rom-com fantasies. Most are here as teachers. And to help you see where you have given your power away or where you are not being authentic.

Maryam Hasnaa

After spending some time with my bestie, instead of crying on the journey back to South Africa, I used some of that time to write down some thoughts I had swirling around on long distance relationships.

My human and I have been together for 2 years now. There is no other human who is as magical as he is. He is the sweetest part of my life and I love him deeply. The only thing that I would change about our relationship is the fact that we live in different countries. The love of my life lives in the United Kingdom, and I live in South Africa. We see each other every two or so months and while it is hard…harder than hard, there’s no one else for me but him! The past two weeks with my fiancé were nothing short of magical (I promise it’s the last time I use this word…) it was better than I could have imagined.

I’ve had to look at pictures and videos stored on my phone to remind myself that it wasn’t a dream. I can’t explain the pain in my heart that seems to only disappear when I am with him. Each time we part it feels as though the band aid over my heart is ripped off and the days that follow require me to fully immerse myself in busy activity to prevent an extraordinary amount of moping…and maybe some crying!

Growing up in church I recall a group of women I encountered in my twenties who had a prayer group with their sole focus being to find a husband. While I appreciated and understood why they formed the group, I knew that for me the focus needed to be internal. In fact a lot of the time in my relationship with the most magical man ever, I find that I often have to search inwardly before looking to him for anything. I wanted God to change me and I firmly believed that when I was ready, the man for me would be too. The most important thing to do when single is to work on yourself. The work doesn’t end when you get in a relationship. I want to be the best partner for my darling fiancé and we’re all our best when we’re content and at home in our skin.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have hiccups, I like to think I’m perfect but I’m not. However we’ve learnt and are still learning to communicate with each other in better ways for the other person to understand. I am absolutely besotted with this man and that I believe is the key to making a long distance relationship work…matching as often as you can is also key 😂

Don’t look at the negatives 🎞 they will eventually develop to discontent and dissatisfaction in your relationship. Believe that you are with the best person for you, that is true for anything in life. If you believe that you’ve got it good, you’re less likely to nitpick and find things to be unhappy about.

My love, you have been the best gift God has thus far given me. You have taught me so much about myself that I didn’t know. You light a fire in me that gives me the courage to pursue my passions and stand in my truth and convictions on unashamed and courageously, you have managed to pour water and quell the wildfires of insecurity and immaturity. There is no one I love more than you. I will always fight for us and never against you. I will always protect your reputation and your character. I fall in love with you more and more each day. The fact that I get to do life with you is a gift I will always be grateful for.

Yummy!!!

New year, new you. Do YOU boo!

I’m 4 days late BUT I think I’ve just made it just in time for a ‘new year, new me’ post. If you need a new year for it to be a ‘new you’ then take it. In the words of popular blogger Maya Washington, ‘do you boo!’ A new year is often times the best time to make a change. I’ve seen quite a few posts do the rounds on social media, most notably this one by Pearl Thusi berating people who adopt this ‘new year, new me’ attitude.

I am of the opinion that you don’t need a new year or month to make a change, however, there is some significance to it.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

A new year is a fresh chance to achieve goals that you had forgotten about. It brings with it a fresh offering to start a routine whether it’s a new one that you want to stick to, or an old one that you had forgotten about and become the better you that you envision. If someone wants to be vocal about the changes they want to make in their life, let them be vocal. There’s a meme that’s been doing the rounds on social media that if you stay hydrated then you won’t have the time to be bothered about other peoples business. Unless a goal is yours and the person who wants to achieve the goal has asked you to hold them accountable, you have no business being bothered about what someone else wants to achieve in their life. Let people live the life they want and mind your business.

If you’re using the start of a new year to catapult you to your true potential; here’s a quote by Iyanla Vanzant as a firm reminder to take responsibility for all the changes you wish to make in your life.

Loving yourself means that you accept responsibility for your own development, growth and happiness.

Accept the responsibility that is yours for your growth and happiness. In most cases, we get to decide where life takes us and this year I’m expectant. There will be more exciting travels, (I’ve been speaking about the Philippines for a long time, it’s time to make it happen) a deepening of love in my relationship with my man and more growth, productivity and health in all aspects of my life.

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Mismatched socks, leggings & pyjama top indicative of a morning where this happened: I set (& snoozed) 3 different alarms 🚨 put my leggings on & off twice. Talked myself into running, talked myself out of running & then talked myself into running again. All of this before 7 😅 there’s nothing worse than a run first thing in the morning when you’ve had pretty rotten quality sleep. . . The thing or should I say person that got me out the door 🚪 was God. Standing there in my pyjama top & undies already MEGA grumpy because of the lack of sleep, I asked God ‘okay what do I do God? Run or romwod?’ Going back to sleep wasn’t even an option 🐒 Of course because God is pretty big on discipline (especially spiritual discipline,) & maintaining it regardless of how you feel: the directive from the Spirit was to get on the road. Not the longest run by time or distance but a lesson learnt on doing what you say you’re going to do regardless of how you feel physically, mentally or emotionally. A quick & spicy 🥵 10 minute run in the books & I don’t regret it. . . . #positivity #Runners #fitness #fitspo #fitspiration #healthfirst #healthylifestyle #fitnessblogger #bloggingcommunity #RunningCommunity #blog #igdaily #community #inspiration #Running #beastmode #fitnessblog #encouragement #motivation #loveRunning #hwpo #bebetter #faith #strong #bloggers #instadaily #girlswithmuscles

A post shared by Aurélie Ariel Stevenson 🇨🇩 🇧🇪 (@aurelie_ariel) on

Everything, Everything

I’ve been itching to write this post from the minute I left Cape Town. If ever there was a time I wish time machines were real, this trip is it! There isn’t a single moment of this trip that wasn’t perfect and filled with so many beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.

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This trip was the first to the Mother City that didn’t involve work. Previously I worked as the product and brand trainer for Lush SA, and my trips to the Cape involved lovely store visits but sadly very minimal beach time. So when my SO* and I planned this holiday about 3 months in advance, to say I was excited is a massive understatement. There isn’t much that can rival uninterrupted time with my heart’s best friend. I will gladly follow this man anywhere and luckily for me, he asked me to follow him to Cape Town. My dreamy man got there two days before I did which gave him time to do a little bit of exploring on his own, although I think he had heaps more fun when I got there.

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For accommodation, high up on my list of priorities was cleanliness. This was my/our first time using AirBnb and I was nervous as to whether what was advertised would be what was given to us.  The first apartment we stayed in was clean but bare in terms of how it had been decorated. We had to leave after a series of unfortunate, and maybe just unlucky incidents. The remainder of our stay was spent at a quirky studio at Holyrood, a bubblegum pink building that was built in 1939. I wish I had taken more pictures of the building but I was too busy staring at the boy. One thing that did make the boyfie and I chuckle was the description on the AirBnb page;Loved by travelers from United Kingdom · 100% of guests from United Kingdom who stayed here recently gave this home a 5-star rating.’ And as luck would have it, the boy (who is from the UK,) really loved it. 

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The apartment though quaint, quirky and with a few questionable paintings which we temporarily took down, was clean, cosy, and had ridiculously beautiful views of Table Mountain. The view (and the company,) made it worth it. It was also positioned not too far away from Long Street which is famous for its restaurants and cafés. Across the street was the Company Garden’s which again just added to the magic of this holiday.

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I am a simple girl; give me food, love, water and I’m okay. During this holiday, the boy gave me all of this and more. Being together is probably what has made Cape Town our favorite city. We did a lot of eating and while we had both planned to do some running while on holiday, only one of us managed a 4k run…SPOILER ALERT!!! It wasn’t him. The lack of exercise aside, this was thee most perfect holiday I have ever had and I’d gladly do it again. I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m going to be a soppy, corny mess for the rest of my life because I’ve truly found the one that makes my heart happiest. There wasn’t a single day that I didn’t wake up feeling like I’d won the jackpot…#blessed! I’ve never laughed as much as I did on this trip, smiled wholeheartedly and have been so relaxed. I don’t take it for granted that I’ve found the mirror image of my soul. He’s perfect for me in every single way.

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The boy and I had a great time in Cape Town getting to know each other and yes, as I mentioned before, a lot of eating! As much as we tried to keep our choice of restaurants varied, we kept going back to one place: Stacked Diner. This place is in my opinion Cape Town’s best kept secret. I’m giving myself full credit for having discovered it but I’m almost certain that it was the boy who found it. He has a knack for finding gems 😉 The only thing I was interested in was that they serve breakfast all day, what could be better than that?

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The first time we went, the boy ordered waffles with maple syrup and bananas, along with French toast. I ordered their buttermilk flapjacks with bananas and caramel sauce. Nine times out of ten, I much preferred what the boy had ordered. In fact, throughout this trip, everything that he ordered was way better than mine…except for the night that he had loads of garlic on his pizza. We went back to Stacked not once, not twice but three times. We definitely would have gone back if we had more time.

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The saddest part of this trip was of course the end of it. SO lives in the UK and to go from seeing him everyday to not being able to hold his hand sucks. The reason why long distance relationships are hard is because you’re so far away from the person your heart enjoys and loves best. It’s a bittersweet feeling to be so happy to have found the person I’m going to spend forever with, yet in the interim not being able to physically be with him is painful. The Uber ride to the airport was painful and while there’s the knowing that this isn’t the last time you’ll see each other, there’s also the pain of separation that taints that moment. I spent a good chunk of my time before flying back to Jo’burg crying like a baby. A couple of days later, I’m still not getting much sleep and I miss him terribly.

I sent this to the boy because I was bored…

Aside from Jesus (that’s an obvious one right,) there isn’t another soul that knows me as well as the boy does. He is the kindest, most funniest and caring person I have ever known. I intended to write this post about my trip to Cape Town but I honestly can’t help myself from gushing about this human who seems to have been so perfectly made for me. The bonus is that he is also ridiculously good looking, I could stare at him all day…does that sound creepy? After my sister passed away I didn’t think I’d ever be happy again. My sister was my best friend and the thought of doing life without her is still a painful thought. My SO did the best he could do to lift my spirits and even when I was snappy, unreasonable, PMS-ey, he was always understanding. As much as I felt my faith in God dwindling, somehow by having this yummy man in my life, I feel a wholeness being restored in my soul. A peace and calm that I haven’t felt in a long time. A peace and calm I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel again.

And then he sent this in return, I love this man so much!

There are so many songs that make me think of him but lately there’s one by Lianne La Havas that has been on repeat every single day.

I love you so much baby, your eyes hold everything.

*SO = significant other

(Bathtime) Friends With Benefits

As I took the picture for this post, a few thoughts went through my mind:

1. I hope I don’t drop my book in the water. The cover kinda looks waterproof though 😂 should be fine.

2. I’ve already got a bath bomb in the water, can’t drop this one in! Plus it’s ‘Golden Wonder’ this only comes out once a year for Christmas. It’s not the special day that I’ve been saving it for.

3. I had better not drop my phone in the water. When was the last time I ran a back up 🤔 I’m gonna lose everything if I drop my phone…

Back to the intent of this post. In 2016, I started working as the regional product trainer for LUSH Cosmetics and I loved it. The best part for me was reading up on the ingredients, the buying stories behind how products are manufactured (hello!!! where else do you get a cosmetic company that has an ethical buying team?) and lastly, the beautiful videos that show you how their products are made!

When my sister passed away, I was a wreck, most days I still am. This led to me resigning, which I’ll write about one day, pinky promise! In the aftermath of my resignation, I think about just how supportive my parents, siblings and my oh soooo yummy man, have been. He probably bears the brunt of my 18.1 million mood variations, I don’t want to say that I’m like a grizzly 🐻 but I’m also not refuting that statement. He takes it all in his stride, I love that man 😍 But as wonderful as this dreamy man is, this post isn’t about him, it’s about my love for taking baths.

In prehistoric times, as far back as 3000BC, you’d be forgiven for indecent exposure because in those days, seas and rivers were nature’s version of a bathtub. Archaeologists have listed the Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro located in Sindh, Pakistan, as one of the earliest public baths. The Ancient Egyptians placed a lot of value in their bathing rituals and would wash themselves several times a day. I don’t know how credible the source to this fact is, but apparently they believed that the cleaner and more well-oiled you were (they too knew about the problem-solving powers of coconut 🥥 oil!) the closer you were to God, and I am all the way down for that!

I needed some convincing though. Baths weren’t quick enough, showers could be over in five minutes…okay maybe longer if you’re solving the worlds’ problems while you’re in there but my schedule was too busy to indulge in a bath. My alarm rang at 4am to get ready for CrossFit and then afterwards it would be getting in the right headspace for work. By the time I’d get home, it would be close to 19h. There was no room for indulgence. It was a race to make dinner, get cleaned up and pack my bag for the next day…all before 21h.

It was when I injured my back that I was forced to rethink laying in the bath. This was suggested by my physiotherapist to aid in alleviating the pain and insane level of discomfort that I felt. On severely painful days, it was a struggle to stand up. I got home that day and poured in half a packet (250g) of Epsom salts, known to detoxify and cleanse the body, into my bathtub and sat there for ten minutes. It was the longest ten minutes of my life.

From there I began to experiment with different bath products, mostly LUSH because I worked there. Those 10 minutes that I spent in the bathtub seemed to wash away the stress and grime of the day and replaced it with peace, a clearer mind and a very delectable smelling body.

Bath Benefits Laying in the bath is beneficial to your mental and physical psyche due to the fact that it can ease strain and tension that you might be feeling. Warm water stimulates blood circulation which means that your body is getting oxygen rich blood carried to areas that might need it the most. This came in super handy for me in my first few weeks back at training after my sister passed away. I felt like I might as well have been crawling, that’s how sore I was. Jeepers I had forgotten how painful training can be 😅

If you’re struggling to sleep, taking a bath at least half an hour or right before bedtime, can aid in better sleep and if you’ve caught some of what’s going around, a bath can improve cold/flu symptoms through the steam inhalation that occurs.

What you’ll notice is that all my favourite products are from LUSH 🤷🏾‍♀️ can’t help it, I worked there and I’m OBSESSED!!!! It’s the only brand I love to use in my bath and on my body. #LushSnob

Bathtime friends with benefits

Lavender: Whether you get the oil, or pick fresh leaves from your garden, this herb has been around for centuries due to the balancing and calming effect that it has on the nervous system. This positively affects your wellbeing and is great for relaxing trouble minds. It can enhance blood circulation, relieve pain and in some cases has been used to treat respiratory problems. Insomniacs you’ll love this herb because while it isn’t a cure to insomnia, it does help in alleviating it and getting you one step closer to that peaceful night of sleep.

Products I swear by: lavender essential oil (I add 4 drops in my bath water,) fresh lavender!!!! So worth getting a plant, nothing beats a sprig of this on your pillow, Twilight bath bomb by LUSH Cosmetics, Sex Bomb bath bomb by LUSH Cosmetics, and Sleepy body lotion by LUSH Cosmetics

Peppermint: In my injured state, I needed something that would ease the tension I felt in my lower back. Luckily the type of back injury that I have is one that I was born with…don’t actually know if that’s lucky? The ridiculously popular bath bomb by LUSH called ‘Intergalactic.’ is great for easing tension. It boasts fun and environmentally friendly. ingredients such as popping candy, biodegradable glitter and peppermint oil. This bath bomb is out of this world and the best for warming and soothing those achy muscles. It stimulates blood circulation to that area, delivering fresh oxygenated blood and in turn easing the tension and pain in that area.

Products I swear by: Intergalactic bath bomb by LUSH Cosmetics, Pink Peppermint foot lotion by LUSH Cosmetics, peppermint essential oil.

Geranium: This is an essential oil that shares similar aromatic properties to that of rose oil. The first thing I noticed when I opened my bottle of geranium essential oil was how beautiful floral it smelt. I could not get enough of it!!! The smell instantly perked my mood up and while I am not opposed to using medication to alleviate mood swings, I like using homeopathic remedies too. Geranium oil is also helpful in fading of scars, promoting an even skin tone, minimising inflammation, balancing hormones (I need ALL of that,) and also helpful in treating stress and depression. I’m particularly fond of the Dis-Chem and SoiL brand for all my essential oils.

Products I swear by: Rose Jam bubbleroon 😍😍😍 by LUSH Cosmetics, Ro’s Argan body conditioner by LUSH Cosmetics and Pearl massage bar by LUSH Cosmetics

I hope you enjoyed this post, feel free to share what you love to add to your bathtime ritual and how you make it special! I’m always open to suggestions…even if it’s not LUSH 😉

So Will I

One of my dear friends Eunice, sent me the link to the song ‘So Will I,’ by Hillsong worship. I had seen this on social media, a lot of my friends go to Hillsong so the title was not a surprise to me. I was standing in front of my workplace, waiting for the video to load, and even before the song started playing, I had already decided that I wasn’t going to be moved. I’ve shared in previous posts about the passing of my sister, and everyday has been a wave of emotions that range mostly from sadness, despair, disbelief, anger and then whatever other mix of emotions that are floating around in the atmosphere.

Today was my day to be numb. No crying, no internal angry outbursts, no reaction to anything.

For about a minute…maybe even less, I was okay. I’m watching the video, listening to the words, my heart silently agreeing and as with all things heavenly anointed, my spirit moved by His spirit, tears start to well up in my eyes at this line ‘if creation still obeys You, so will I.’

This past month, I have found it incredibly difficult to sing to the LORD. I have found it hard to declare the good things because right now, I feel enveloped by the pain that grief so abundantly brings. What has been interesting for me is that while I have been sad and angry in regards to the way that my sister lost her life, I haven’t in my heart of hearts felt angry at Jesus. I’ve been battling dark thoughts in my head, biting my tongue from what it truly wants to say to well meaning friends who say that it’ll get better.

Yet in this season that hurts like hell, there is a hallelujah (הללויה) in me. The word ‘hallelujah’ is the amalgamation of two Hebrew words ‘hallelu’ (הללו) which is an exhortation to praise someone, and ‘Yah’ (יה) which is a version of Yahweh (יהוה) the English transliteration of the covenant name of God. Hallelujah therefore means praise Yahweh. My hallelujah song is not the strongest right now. I can barely get it out, and on the days that I manage to sing, those rare days that my voice somehow finds its way out of my mouth, my singing sounds off-key. The pain masking the beautiful melody that should be there, making me feel as though I’m singing along to a song that I wasn’t given the lyrics to.

In these moments, there is an awkwardness and stumbling in His presence, but I think what God wants me to learn, what God wants us to learn is that there are no pre-written lyrics to my/our hallelujah song. If there was, then it would mean that the individual and personal relationship we have with God is not unique, and is simply a copy and paste of what previous generations experienced with Him. Sometimes the melody to your hallelujah song will sound off-key. Sometimes the melody to your hallelujah song won’t be beautiful because the season you’re going through, is anything but beautiful. These are the highs and lows of life. These are the highs and lows of our walk with God. I am starting to realise that this season of pain is all the same lovely and dare I say a very scandalous thing! Precious, because in this I now get to experience a different facet of this loving God who remains kind, gentle and true even when life does not seem kind, gentle and true.

As I go through this season of a weak hallelujah song, this is what I have to tell myself, this is what you have to tell yourself if you’re going through a season of indescribable pain. It will not last forever.

Do I believe it? No

But do I believe in God, that He is able to turn this season of being covered in ashes into one of beauty*? Yes

This is the God who created the universe from nothing. This is the God who turned water into wine. This is the God who could not be defeated by death.

There are more days to come where I will feel utter confusion at what has happened, and circumstances in the future will probably bring me to a point where the strength of my hallelujah song will be tested again. It’ll happen to you too, and each time though it might not seem like it, though it might not feel like it, your hallelujah song will be strengthened. That is the nugget to hold onto, that Jesus who sustains you, is also able to strengthen you.

I am reminded of a resolve that I made 10 years ago, to follow Jesus. Some seasons are easier to follow and understand than others, but I won’t stop following. If the stars were made to worship, SO WILL I.

If the stars were made to worship so will I

If the mountains bow in reverence so will I

If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I

For if everything exists to lift You high so will I

If the wind goes where You send it so will I

If the rocks cry out in silence so will I

If the sum of all our praises still falls shy

Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

*’to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.’

Isaiah 61:3 (ESV)

Other songs getting me by:

‘Even when it hurts.’ Hillsong Worship

‘God I look to You.’ Bethel Music

‘Holding my world.’ Kristian Stanfill

‘He’s been good.’ Ron Kenoly

‘Desert song.’ Hillsong

In pursuit of happiness. ..

Happiness. If I had to ask you what it means to be happy or what happiness is, what would you define it as? Is happiness a dress size, a new job or even a new partner?

The dictionary defines happiness as ‘prosperity or a state of well-being and contentment.’

For a long time my definition of happiness was based on how I looked. I would change my hair 3 times in the space of a month (not good for the bank account,) because I was never satisfied with what I saw in the mirror. I never felt as though I was enough. My butt was too big, my chest was too flat, my nose too wide…the list was endless. I felt as though I needed to get to a certain size before I could find true contentment in who I was. My happiness and state of mind was heavily linked to how much I weighed that particular day and if I felt fat on that day then I couldn’t find any happiness in being alive and robbed me of the joy present in so many experiences that God had allowed me to partake in.

Now I have come to realise that happiness should not be what I pursue.  If my soul is set on pursuing happiness then it will be set on pursuing a list of things that I believe will make me happy. Things like new shoes, a new job, a new partner etc. All those things are good but the happiness those things bring is fleeting. In the Bible God tells us what we should be in pursuit of:

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. Matthew 6:33 (AMP)

Another definition for the word ‘seek’ is  the word pursue.

Pursue first, strive after God first, His ways, His spirit and then all these things (whatever it is that you need,) God will add unto you.

When we run after God, He adds happiness to our lives regardless of whatever we are facing and He teaches us what it means to have joy. Joy is an emotion more stable and constant than happiness because it is not based on what you have or don’t have and remains even when you’re going through a difficult period. This week seek God, seek His ways and watch how He changes you from the inside out, and teaches you what it means to be happy.