Friday Favourite: Blog – A Beautiful Mess

Today’s Favourite needs no advertising because as they say, “the proof of the pudding, is in the eating”. Simply put, this blog is pretty awesome, you just actually have to check it for yourself!

Let me introduce to you:

A Beautiful Mess.

Warning:
If you are NOT interested in awesome things like – crafts, photography, recipes, DIY, decor, fashion and creative fun things – Please do not click on the above link.

For those interested in being inspired by a, and I quote “lifestyle blog focused on creating a beautiful life” then DO take a look, get inspired and ENJOY!

Happy Friday!

Pursuit of My Days

Every time I think I find my niche, that place where life makes sense and there is a rhythm that fuels the movement of my being, every time, it’s as if  something in my heart gets an automatic reset and reboot.

As a result, it somehow feels as if many changes and waves have washed over my life, many things I have sort out, many things I have found, and lost. However, through it all, I’ve realised one thing has remained a constant.

LOVE.
Particularly, God’s love for me demonstrated through Jesus Christ.

Sometimes I don’t know how to talk about His love without sounding cheesy and cliché, and sometimes I don’t even have words to describe what my experience of His love has actually been in my life. God has called me out of deep darkness that only He and I know. He has called me into a life of love and light that’s depths only He knows and only I know as He draws me unto Himself. How does one write about that? How does one begin describing something so tangible and real, yet so mysterious and deeply personal?

Maybe this is what faith is about though… The indescribable. Again, that just sounded too cliché.

I digress.

Needless to say that through every niche I thought I found, was the sure to follow, dare I say, unsatisfaction? Upon the realisation that my “niche” was somehow not working, I’d feel terribly inconsistent about life. However, upon realising that I did in fact have a consistent theme running through my life (the afore-mentioned love of God), I have finally stopped foolishly looking for a niche. I might finally have come to the point of giving up looking for a thing to be good at, or a life purpose here on earth that will drive my days. Because the truth be told, the only thing that makes sense to my heart is loving Him and learning everything He teaches me.

Oh boy, does He teach me!

I have days, when I feel special, and I feel like I have something to offer the world, like I can do something to make a difference. Perhaps this may even be true. But how noble a pursuit is it when the beginning of the previous sentence feels laced with pride. “I feel special”. I don’t think feeling special is bad or wrong, but do I honestly want that to be the pursuit of my days?

The pulling and nudging in my heart has always been to be real, genuine, true in this life. When I was younger, this was true, but the truth was laden with longing for recognition. So often I longed for THAT THING. The thing I could pursue, be good at and acknowledged for. My heart’s cry now is somewhat different. While I still seek truth and to live a genuine life, less of me feels the need to be recognised for anything other than the love of Christ.

It’s so simple, yet still somehow indescribable to me. The love of Christ is in fact where I find my “niche”.

The Non New Year’s Resolution: One word. One year.

I have never been the kind of person who makes new year’s resolutions, simply because I am the kind of person who likes to be realistic about everyday life. The truth be told, I am fallible and my feelings fickle, which then points to the obvious; I am bound to make a resolution, break a resolution and then feel super crap about myself. Now I, quite frankly, am not up for feeling failure over a broken new year’s resolution.

With that said, I question myself: “How then will you ensure that you continually pursue growth and change? How will you measure your year?” I don’t think I quite worked out an answer to those questions, but something popped up recently. This is not a new concept but for some reason it intrigued me: The one word a year concept.

I have noticed some people picking one word for the entire year and live out of the principle or whatever, linked to that one word.

My first question: How do people pick ONE word?
My second question: How well does this really work?

So, in light of my curiosity, I thought I’d do this little experiement. I thus went about trying to find a word for myself for 2014. This was a little harder than anticipated but none the less after going through many words, one seemingly random word popped out at me and I simply thought I’ll just see how it goes.

The word: Delight.

According to Free online dictionary:
Noun: Great Pleasure or Joy
Synonyms: Happiness, Joyfulness, Glee, Gladness, Gratification, Relish, Excitement
Verb: please (someone) greatly.
Synonyms: Charm, Enchant, Captivate, Entrance, Thrill, Excite, Take someone’s breath away

Could this be a real word to live by? Could delight underline the activities and heart attitude of my everyday? What value does delight add?

Im all about asking questions, clearly.

Warning: Side track ahead.

Ps. 18:19
“He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.”
Wait, God delivered me, because He delighted to do so?
Hold up.
I know that we are intended to (Psalm 37:4Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.)
and that (Psalm 16:11You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.)
Being delighted in God makes sense, but the mere thought that God the Creator, would be delighted by fallible creation – me – is such a bizarre thought!
 
Side track end.

Needless to say, my curiosity got the better of me.
So for the rest of this year, underlining everything, my word for 2014 will be “delight”. It is something unexpected, challenging enough but not unreachable while adding a positive yet mysterious glow to life. I hope.

I will seek to live with delight in my heart, in my relationship to Christ and to people, delight in His kingdom and pursuing a life that would be utterly delightful to Him.

Im not sure where Im going with this, but I am willing to find out.

May 2014 be a delightful year!

Friday (and Forever) Favourite: SA Artist – Matthew Mole

Today’s Friday Favourite is literally any Matthew Mole song – but I picked “Take Yours, I’ll Take Mine” just for the sake of picking one.

I’m not one of those cool kids who give a break down of all amazing Matthew Mole facts… but I do LOVE listening to his music and recently got his CD as a gift! (thanks Dad and sis). *does a happy dance*.

Go ahead and give his awesome sauce a listen!

Happy Friday! 🙂

Greetings 2014

It’s been a long while since I have written something “blog worthy” and I’m tempted to feel slightly bad. In all honestly however, I have long past the point of beating myself up over imaginary standards. Let’s get real; I am in no way a famous blogger with loyal followers who care about my regular posting. I love writing and blogging is a space to do so, so yes I haven’t blogged in a while, but that’s ok.

Needless to say, this break has done me good.

Over the last while, I spent copious amounts of time, doing fun things with special people and over all I was sincerely able to be refreshed from a long hard year.

While I’m not the type to make New Year’s resolutions, there are a couple of arb things I thought about doing this year. Let’s see:

•    Read (complete) 3 of my already started books.
•    Start and finish a new book.
•    Be on time for work… at least 3 out of each 5 days of the week. (Don’t judge me, public transport in SA is not the greatest, yes that’s the real reason.)
•    Learn another language (beginner level).
•    Learn a surfing trick.
•    Spend more time with my grandparents. Like at least once a month.
•    Teach someone something.
•    Cry in front of someone.
•    Try hiking. Again. And not hate it.
•    2 more paintings.
•    Buy a car.
•    Morning pages (at least 4 mornings out of a 7 day week).
•    Write a new poem.
•    Give clothes away.
•    Make something.
•    Hug people.
•    Volunteer.
•    Memorise a scripture a month.
•    Be able to do 10 or more push ups.
•    Visit somewhere outside of Cape Town.
•     Learn and cook a new dish.

Thus far I have managed some hugs, 2 push ups and how to say “Molo sisi, unjani” (Xhosa for “Morning sister, how are you?”). Pretty good start if you ask me.
Cheers to 2014!

Unbecoming a Writer

InkBlots and IceBergs

There was a time, not too long ago, when I couldn’t have imagined calling myself a writer—and by “writer,” I mean the kind that gets paid to do work that’s actually published in print and credited through a byline. During that time, I did write, but I only wrote either for personal reasons (in a private journal or this blog), or for the ghostwriting assignments I took as a freelance web content writer.

During that time, I was but a girl who wrote and loved writing, but nothing more than that. And I was quite happy with how things were—I loved my craft, and it loved me back.

 

Image

 

And then the unthinkable happened.

The opportunity came for me to get published in this month’s issue of a national teen girls magazine, the glossy kind I liked to feel with my fingers, the smell of which I was addicted…

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A Non-Parent, A 10-Year-Old And An Awkward Question.

Over the last while, I have been feeling busy, with my thoughts seemingly in a million different places. This generally leads me to be involved in more brainless activity than usual. To put it simply, while I’d usually opt for a book, over the last couple of weeks, I found myself watching more YouTube videos than anything. I watched anything from comedy, to pranks, to serious, to emotional videos, and then as it so happened, a random documentary on a morbidly obese woman accused of murder.

Chilling on my bed with my cousin’s tablet, totally engrossed in the documentary, my 10-year-old cousin walks in the room, looks at the screen and asks me what I was watching. With the video not on full screen mode, she sat next me looking at the contents on the screen. I began explaining the documentary, as per her question, when she suddenly but innocently spits out:

“Toni, what’s an orgasm?”

Everything in time froze and I was stuck in my head. In that lengthy split second I was utterly confused and dumbfounded. All I could hear was myself saying, “uhm… uhmmm… its er… er… uhm…” I was trying to figure out why she just blurted out such an arbitrary question. I then noticed that among the suggested videos on the screen was one labeled something like, “woman suffers with 100 orgasms a day”.

*cringe*

Needless to say, I was completely freaked out! I began explaining all kinds of confusing metaphors about climbing a mountain and reaching the top, going “whoo hoo”, while crumbling on the inside with a million questions running through my head.

At 10 years old, is it appropriate for her to understand this?
What is the child friendly way of explaining this ridiculous question?
Should I explain?
Should her parents explain?
How do I not make her embarrassed?
How do I not be awkward about this?
OMW!? Where am I?
What do I say, what do I say, what do I say?
Lord have mercy on my soul!?

Clearly this caught me off guard, as one of THEE MOST awkward moments I can remember in my whole entire life!

After rambling about everything and nothing that actually made sense, I was left with a visibly confused 10-year-old.

At this point her older sister (14) then walks into the room.

In another foolish moment, I blindly dig myself into a deeper awkward hole by thinking the older one might have a clue. Another confused response, “orgasm? No. what’s that?”

*Cringe. Again*

I now had to attempt explaining again.

(Can I just say how much respect I have for parents who actually teach their kids these things?!!)

In the middle of my inner embarrassing panic meltdown thing happening, the 10-year-old suddenly says, “Toni, maybe you should explain to me in more grown up terms, maybe I’ll understand better.”

*another cringe*

The earth clearly was not going to swallow me in, so I did the only thing I could do. I took a deep breath and rationlised the following with myself:

1) Someone needs to explain in a non embarrassing way. Why not me?
2) This is only as awkward as I make it.

So with that, I went ahead and plainly (almost clinically) explained in simple understandable terms. I followed with “If you still don’t understand, you can ask your parents… but I’m pretty sure it’ll make more sense when you’re older.”

And that was it.

They were un-awkward, satisfied with the explanation and we all moved on to the next topic as if nothing happened. My inner turmoil suddenly seemed dumb.

Perhaps some things in life really are only as awkward as we make it?

 
END NOTE:
(A bit of a shout)
To all parents – Thumbs up and a big salute! It seems like a ridiculous (i.e. incredible and incredibly challenging) journey from a non-parent’s point of view. To all parents who are open and honest with their kids, intentionally teaching them at every opportunity, loving with ridiculous love – You are changing the world!

Random Sign-Ups and Seven Everyday Acts of Bravery

I have this weird thing where I sometimes sign up for random blogs or newsletters. The two sides to this is that sometimes the content I get sent feels like spam, but then sometimes… no, many times, my random sign up feels worthwhile.

A recent example of this would be an email I got sent this morning.

The article titled “Why You Must Be Brave” listed 7 everyday acts the author, Todd Henry, found to be key in living a brave life.

This is literally me copy/pasting his list and take no credit for it. I do suggest that you check out some of his awesome vibes at www.accidentalcreative.com. He’s all about creativity, inspiration, and living life awesomely. Actually, just check it and make up your own mind.

With that out-of-the-way, here are the seven points I enjoyed being reminded of this morning:

Seven Everyday Acts of Bravery by Todd Henry

  • Define Your Battles. You will ultimately be remembered for, and your body of work will be built upon, the battles you choose to spend your time fighting.
  • Be Fiercely Curious. You must ask questions, even when you are afraid of the implications of the answers. Stay with the problem and refuse to settle for surface knowledge.
  • Step Away From Comfort. You cannot pursue comfort and great work simultaneously. At some point you will have to bravely choose to do the right thing, even when it’s the uncomfortable thing.
  • Know Yourself. No one wins when you are operating from a place of self-deception. You must strive to know yourself and your aptitudes and bring them to your work each day.
  • Be Confidently Adaptable. Leave the ego at the door and refuse to put yourself ahead of the work. Instead, express confidence while being willing to listen to disconfirming information. Also, refuse to play the victim.
  • Find Your Voice. Take small, strategic risks every day to try to add unique value. Don’t settle for imitating what others are doing.
  • Stay Connected. Don’t become isolated and closed off from others. Be willing to open your life, and to speak your mind boldly within the context of relationships. Also, listen to feedback from others.

Each of these seven acts require bravery, because they demand that you be a bit vulnerable and step into uncertainty. However, if you hover within your comfort zone, you will never know what you are capable of.” – Todd Henry

I thought I’d ask Google for an appropriate picture for Todd’s post:

ImageThanks Google.

My personal cure for writer’s block: Ramble.

These days I have felt somewhat unable to write. Whether it due to fear or being “busy”, feeling “uninspired” or just sheer laziness, I simply haven’t been able to get any words out.

With all the things I have mulling through my mind, one would think I’d have a vast array of topics I could choose to write on, which could be true, except I still somehow am unable to put anything down to make sense.

This, I then suppose, is me attempting to approach my so-called “bloggers block” head on.

Even now I struggle.

I struggle to formulate my own thoughts in a logical way and I struggle to find the motivation to translate my thoughts into readable language. This is a rambling zone. It feels a bit like I’m casting a fishing rod into an open ocean hoping one of my thoughts would bite.

I want to write.

However, more than having the desire to write is the silent pressure I feel having a blog and feeling the NEED to write.

I enjoy the accountability of a blog, but I also on some days despise the accountability of a blog.

I love that I have a platform to share and yet struggle when pondering on how relevant or influential my writing and sharing could (or could not) be.

I love writing. I also love sharing.

Yet I find myself asking, “Should all writing be shared?”

This in fact is similar to a recent discussion I have had with a good friend – The topic of boundaries and discernment.

In a society with social media playing such a huge role in the sharing of every king of information, it begs the question of “where does one draw the line?”

How do we decide the boundaries of what is sacred and what is meant for sharing with others?

Perhaps the better question is why we feel the need to share with others.
Perhaps motive, is key.

Are we all just looking for attention in a love deprived world? Or are we making genuine contributions?

I sincerely believe each of us have a unique and powerful voice. Our stories are filled with potential. Sharing creates an even greater opportunity because in sharing, there is the possibility for connecting and building unity. Unity is key to building anything great. I honestly believe writing and even social media, are very powerful tools.

So I then am forced to ask,

How are we using our voice?
How are we using the potential we each have?

And more personally,

How am I Toni, utilizing the tools and platform I have been given? What genuinely is my motive for writing?

Perhaps writer’s block/bloggers block is just a myth.

Perhaps sometimes, it’s just an excuse to avoid valuable thoughts and questions from becoming tangible. Because once thoughts and questions which lead to seeking truth become undeniable, change needs to happen.

And while change largely is uncomfortable, change is also necessary.

This is how we grow.

I grow by rambling.

I am the resurrection and the life

 

 

 

citylights

My life changed 6 weeks ago. It felt like I was going to lose my wife and son on the same day. As I sat by my three-day old son’s side in the Neonatal Intensive Care, I noticed an inscription on the wall by that great philosopher, Winnie the Pooh: ‘Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart’. The unintended irony of that statement dawned on me. I want my son and my wife to live. More than anything. Honestly, I wanted it even more than I wanted to see God’s glory through our suffering.

My wife had pre-eclampsia and stood the risk of getting fatal seizures during labour. We had no choice but to induce. Later the same day she was in labour but her blood pressure was rising so much that baby’s heart flat lined. I can’t describe the fear. Her blood pressure normalised moments…

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