Hamster Wheel

hamster wheel sale

I haven’t really had a Saturday off in almost nine years. Next year I will have been in the retail industry for a decade. Starting when I was 16 at an independently owned business in my hometown, I changed companies a few times and progressed to management.

About a year ago, the weekends at work really started to bug me. I always say that on a Monday, my RDO as a manager, everyone is tired, angry and broke (because all the fun happens on a Saturday). I got tired of missing out on things and tallying up the amount of parties, beach trips, baby showers and engagement parties that I had missed over the years. I couldn’t stop.

As many times as I tried to push it aside and focus on the good of my job (amazing company culture, great co-workers and bosses, free clothes…) I would break down about once a month, or once every two weeks—overwhelmed by the feeling that, despite my best efforts, my career didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Let me set the scene… On top of working full time hours I was also writing for a stationery company on the side, doing an enormous amount of work for a local TV station, going to church, home group and prayer meeting, leading the youth group, being part of the music team and learning keyboard, trying to maintain a long distance relationship, applying and saving for a visa, keeping a workout schedule at the gym, and trying to have a social life.

Rest? you might ask. When did I do that? My answer: I didn’t. When I would answer my dad’s question of ‘how are you?’ with ‘busy and tired’ he would say, ‘I’m hearing that a lot lately.’ My fiancé Jacques continually asked me if for some reason I hated sleep (believe it or not, I don’t).

As a single girl, out of all the things that I thought might be an issue in my relationship when I finally found an amazing guy to spend my life with (and thank you Jesus I did), the inability to rest was not it. Not even close. I had considered a lot of other things popping up as potential roadblocks, but this one totally blindsided me. When you’re single and living away from home you can get away with a lot more self-destructive behaviour (I’ll sleep when I’m dead, right?).

So I felt stuck in my career—like I absolutely couldn’t move on. I had complete a three year bachelor degree, applied for writing jobs for three years after that and gotten two interviews. In both situations they gave the job to someone with more experience.

Ever been faced with that old catch-22 of needing experience to get a job but then no one giving you a job, so you’re unable to gain said experience? It’s infuriating.

I felt constantly at the end of my tether, I had lost my love for my customers and some things were starting to slip. My boss came to me one day—she has got to be one of the most amazing ladies I’ve ever worked for—and sat me down as a friend to tell me that I was overloaded and burning out. “Something’s gotta give,” she said. As she spoke it suddenly dawned on me why I’d gotten sick more times this year than the last five years combined. Duh, you’re probably thinking, but it wasn’t obvious to me until that moment.

What I realised is that every time I rest I feel guilty, like I’m being lazy. I once heard laziness described as a rest you haven’t earned. But here I was getting sick because I’d worked myself down to the bone. At what point do we stop feeling selfish for taking care of our bodies? For me it took a significant other coming into my life to show me that I needed to slow down and listen to my body, but it doesn’t have to for you.

Six weeks ago I made the decision to step down from my full-time store manager role and drop back to casual.

Oh, I forgot to tell you the good news! The luxury stationery company that I’ve been working for on the side offered me two days a week with them, making it financially possible to free up my schedule and take on a casual role.

And guess what?

I feel the happiest I’ve felt in ages.

Everyone keeps commenting on how happy and relaxed I am. The other day I said to Jacques, “Lil’s back!” If he wasn’t sure what his hyped up fiancée meant, it means that suddenly now when customers walk in I feel a smile automatically burst onto my face—I want to go the extra mile for them. I’m suddenly starting to think about all the messages I haven’t replied to on Facebook, and wondering how are my friends in America going? I feel my creativity starting to come back, now that I have some brain space. Last weekend I was able to go visit my hometown. I drove down on Saturday morning and called up a bunch of friends. Guess what? They were all free. Of course they were. People are free on Saturdays. I felt a freedom and a joy again that had crept away so slowly and so silently that I hadn’t even noticed them leave the room.

I feel like me, and I like it.

I no longer feel that sense of striving, that nagging feeling of failure riding on my back, whispering in my ear in my weakest moments. I feel like my career is finally moving forward. The fact that it’s baby steps doesn’t bother me one tiny bit.

ferris bueller life moves fast

So how is your schedule looking? If you’d have to turn sideways to fit between the gaps, maybe you should do some rearranging. Or blow some big holes in that thing. Resting should not just be a concept. Friends should not just be those people you forgot to reply to. And your hometown (filled with dear friends and family) shouldn’t just be a place that you used to visit.

“He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because he delighted in me.” – 2 Samuel 22:20 (NIV)

Create some space for your soul. Because without it, it withers. And the world does not need more withered souls, believe you me.

 

Sincerely,
Lil

 

Sources:
Image 1: https://www.thestartupsessions.com/blog/jumping-off-the-hamster-wheel-and-finding-your-sweet-spot/, accessed 20 March 2018.

Image 2: https://ahora3jradio.com/35667/ferris-bueller-life-moves-pretty-fast-quote/ferris-bueller-life-moves-pretty-fast-quote-adorable-download-ferris-bueller-life-moves-pretty-fast-quote-homean-quotes/, accessed 20 March 2018.

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Are you using technology … or is it using you? Part 1

Meet and Tweet Crop

“Has social media really made us more connected? A sight I see often today is a family sitting at a café: dog barking, baby crying and everyone else . . .  glued to their screens. If this isn’t ringing any bells, what’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? If it’s not checking some social media platform on your phone or tablet I will be surprised…”

To read the full article on Teen Talk Production’s page by blogger Lil Williams, follow the link below…

http://www.teentalkproduction.com.au/are-you-using-technology-or-is-it-using-you/

Giving God Permission

humility _ CS Lewis.jpg

 

“For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.”
Psalm 149:4

I’ve been meditating on humility lately, and the amount of control we want over our lives, or think that we have. As I was praying the other day, my aim was to humble myself and submit to God’s will in a certain situation.

My boyfriend Jacques and I are currently waiting on a visa that enables him to move to Australia and us to marry. It would come as no surprise that I have been praying for it to get approved quickly. I want to get married and I’m not being very patient about it (although I am trying). I was submitting it to God and was about to pray, “Lord, even if it takes a year, that’s all right” but I stopped.

A year? Almost like I didn’t want to pray the prayer out loud and give God ideas about some super human test of endurance. I realised that when I say things like that to God, I think that I am giving him ‘permission’ to bring a trial my way, like we somehow have any kind of authority over him.

Submitting yourself to God’s timing is not giving him permission to dawdle or give you the longest wait time possible. We cannot twist God’s arm, and we don’t have the right to tell him what to do. He doesn’t need anyone’s permission, least of all mine. But I do have a choice as to whether I am content with his choices or I fight against them and become impatient, angry and bitter.

The circumstances may not change when we submit ourselves to him and his plan, but we will change if we humble ourselves and choose to have a good attitude, and ask God to change our heart. Your experience of a situation will transform. You can choose to thank God that he is working things out for your good, even if it doesn’t feel good in the moment.

One day God told me that if I could see with his eagle eye, his 20/20 vision, I would choose the same timing as him every single time. What a comfort. We just have to trust that his ways are perfect and that things will happen on the exact day, the exact hour that they need to.

He does the choosing.

“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust … Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Psalm 25:1, 4-5

 

Sincerely
Lil

 

Image: https://mirayagroot.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/quote-of-the-month-april/, sourced 12 November 2017.

 

What’s in a choice?

 

“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
– Charles R. Swindoll

I see this quote pop up on the TV screen every time I go to the gym and it gets me thinking. There are a million things in this world that I can’t control, but one that I always can: my attitude. In management we always say that the one thing we are not equipped to change is attitude. If you bring the will, we can train the skill.

Human nature says that it is easier to cast blame than to take responsibility. It is easier to blame our past, our circumstance, our lack of resources or time, or even the people around us for our lack of happiness or success.

In this video about white privilege, we see how two people can come from the same tough background and end up with two very different lives years later, because of the way they chose to react.

Working in female-dominated retail environments for the past 8 years, I’ve definitely heard kids and husbands blamed for a thing or two. We can blame our other halves for why we don’t do the things we dream of, then 10+ years down the track hate them for it, even though they didn’t necessarily stop us. We can blame our kids for the fact that we have no money, or energy, or aren’t able to travel. We can blame our teachers for our bad marks, the fact that we can’t afford a gym membership for our lack of fitness. Our kids for our body. The list is endless.

We can say that we just don’t have time for ____*insert dream here*____. As one of my friends pointed out recently, “Who doesn’t have five minutes a day to spend pursuing their dream?” That was so profound to me because yes, maybe you don’t have six hours a day to devote to your goal, but it’s a lie to say that you don’t have five minutes.

Life is all about choices. Every day we make plenty of them, and those choices make us who we are. The choice between right or wrong, hard work or laziness, negativity or positivity, love or hate, the choice to pursue or just give up, to grow or stagnate.

Take exercise as an example. Although it has obvious physical elements, it is at its core a mental game. You don’t find the mentally weak at the Olympics. Well, at least not competing. Training to be a professional athlete is waking up every morning and choosing to exercise and eat and rest the way you need in order to reach your goal. Fitness is so difficult to build up and so quick and easy to lose. If we’re not moving forward we usually start moving backwards.

A lot of people seem to be discontent but not doing anything about it. One of my friends always says, “Don’t like your life? Change it.” While there are some things we can’t change, there are a lot that we can.

Pursuing a dream takes discipline—a word that’s not very popular these days. It has been replaced by the word convenience, a god with a widespread following in the Western world. If it’s not easy, why even bother?

However, consider this statement: nothing truly worthwhile in life comes instantly or without effort. Getting a degree, having a satisfying career, maintaining a vibrant marriage, building healthy friendships, raising kind and considerate children, discovering a cure for a disease. These things are hard; they require time, commitment, focus and perseverance. But who could say that they have no value?

So like I’ve been saying this whole time, it comes down to a choice. Do you want to accomplish something easy, or valuable?

Sincerely
Lil

Sources (accessed 5 September 2017):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sz27XVrPi_I
Image: http://allsystemsgrow.co/blog/P136020598

Then Comes Marriage

When someone begins the phrase “marriage is…” do you think they are more likely to end with “great” or “hard”? Does some version of, “Enjoy it now, because once that ring’s on the finger it’s all downhill from there” sound familiar?

Now you probably think I’m referring to non-Christians. Although I have heard this phrase many times from non-Christians, I am also speaking about Christians. Shouldn’t we sound different, especially when describing a relationship that models Christ and the church?

Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

It makes me truly grieved to hear only the bad things about something that God intended for so much good. It was God who thought it was not good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18), so what did he create for him? A lifesaver beside him (ezer kenegdo), an equal loving companion, a desperately needed helper. Woman. How wonderful. And what a privilege to be able to reflect Christ’s devotion to his bride, and vice versa. But how are we talking about it to young people?

Same story with having kids.

What I don’t hear quoted often enough is that children are a reward from God and “like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth” (Psalm 127:3-4). Not that you have to quote it verbatim, but quite frankly I’d rather hear that than someone ranting about how kids have ruined your body, used up all your money and sucked dry all the passion in your marriage.

To a young single person that is pretty depressing—and doesn’t sound much like those verses from Genesis and Psalms when God is talking about marriage and kids.

We’ve been given the impression sometimes that marriage is a hard slog requiring lots of gruelling hard work and sacrifice—that you have to fight, fight, fight to survive—that we’d be lucky to make it out of there alive. Then tacking on at the end “but it’s worth it though.”

Hmm . . . sounds like it.

Now a lot of this probably sounds really harsh, and there are some marriages that I’m sure have been worthy of the description “gruelling struggle” and I don’t mean to dismiss anyone’s pain, but how do you think it sounds to unmarried people at times? They’re scarred before they even begin.

It’s good to be open about the different aspects of relationships and various stages of life, and it is naïve for someone to get married and have kids thinking it’s all going to be sunshine and rainbows, but what about the parts (hopefully bigger and more important) that are filled with sunshine? I honestly hope that there is more good than bad about two of the most important things in a lot of our lives.

All I’m saying is that the other day when someone described marriage and kids as great (without a big BUT right after) it genuinely shocked me. And I don’t think it should have.

#speakhope #generationsofblessing

 

Sincerely
Lil

Images:
https://www.muslimmarriageguide.com/, sourced 27 July 2017.
http://www.salon.com/2015/01/04/6_things_i_wish_i_knew_about_marriage_when_i_got_married_partner/, sourced 27 July 2017.

Why we avoid the things we love the most

Do you remember that strange thing at school athletics day as a kid when you’d be about to line up for the sprint race and suddenly need to pee? Never mind the fact you’d already been to the bathroom twice in the last half hour. No, just me?

I remember being so nervous about the running races in Year 9 that I was genuinely hoping I would somehow break both legs before athletics day. There was a girl who had been bullying me a bit for the last few months and we were pretty much neck and neck in terms of fitness (9 periods of sport a week together left little ambiguity). I was pretty sure I had the edge on her but I knew that it would push me to my limit physically.

But the horror of coming second, or ‘first loser’, as some competitive people like to say, drove me on and I won every single running race in that athletics competition. The most memorable was the 400 metres, my least favourite event. Middle distance is horrible, in my opinion, because it pushes you to your limit for the longest period of time. There’s no slow and steady, and you can’t give it all in the first ten seconds. Shortly after the race my legs cramped up so badly that I was lying on the grass crying while my mother stretched out my hamstrings.

I often used to look forward to long distance more than sprinting, even though I found it less enjoyable, just because I found it less stressful. And last time I was with my boyfriend Jacques the last thing I wanted to do was sprint. Because I love it so much.

I am currently working on a novel. Writing stories makes me crazy happy and I love every amazing, difficult second of it, but I have to get my cousin to give me deadlines because otherwise I will ditch writing to do the washing, or clean the house, or reorganise my pantry. Why do I avoid the thing I know will make me come alive the most? The other things are mundane tasks, yes, but it is a lot harder to fail at them. And if I did, what’s the big deal? So, I’m not a domestic goddess after all (or am I really?).

But somehow if I fail at writing, or view myself as having failed, I feel that I have failed as a person. Every writer (who actually shows their work to others) knows that you have to develop a pretty thick skin, and I have gotten better at handling rejection over the years. However if someone were to give ‘destructive criticism’ (as opposed to the more commonly used constructive criticism) I would find it hard not to perceive it as a criticism of me as a person.

In some ways it’s easier to never try your hardest, because then your all, your absolute best, can never be rejected, or deemed ‘not good enough’.

We need to decide whether the risk is worth it. Would you rather succeed at rearranging your pantry or winning an Olympic gold medal for the 100 metre sprint? Fill in the blank with your passion, but don’t avoid using the gifts that God’s placed in you because, in some ways, it’s a slap in the face.

As a side note, of course Satan would want us to become distracted and do everything but the thing that is going to have the most impact. The thing that would make us really come alive.

Look into your own heart. What desires are in there so deep that you feel like to cut them out would to become someone else entirely? Maybe you already know.

Now ask God to help you pursue that, to his glory.

 

Sincerely
Lil

 

Image: https://en.fotolia.com/tag/%22sports%20race%22, sourced 21 June 2017

The Dishes Can Wait

Do you respect your man? If you asked most women (hopefully all) this, they would of course say yes. But lately I’ve realised an area that we can so easily disrespect our men in, without even meaning to.

We’re strong, independent women, right? A busy week, a head cold … doesn’t faze us. You want us to meet you for coffee or come help out with the charity event you’re running? No problem. I mean, we value relationship, and the event is for a good cause. We can handle it. We’ll sleep when we’re dead.

Before I was in a relationship I used to disregard the kind advice about resting from the guy who liked me. But when he became my boyfriend I realised that if I were to continue acting in that way, I would actually be damaging our relationship, slowly but surely, by disrespecting him.

Since we started going out, there hasn’t been one time that me ignoring his advice about my health or rest that has gone over well. This man loves me. He is trying to the best of his ability to lead me well and prioritise my wellbeing. And I am continuing like I haven’t even heard him. We can’t expect him to not be hurt or upset by that.

Ladies I’ve realised that if we want him to feel respected in this area we need to listen to him. His words of, “Come sit down with me” or “You need to get some rest” are never with bad intentions, and are going to stop us burning out in the long run. Sound familiar? The way we listen is by actually taking his advice. Actually sitting down and watching TV with him or reading a book, without doing three other things at the same time or feeling guilty for taking a break. Sometimes we women feel guilty like it’s our profession. It is not healthy, and I am speaking from experience.

So while, yes, we go through busy seasons in our lives, we should never think we’re too busy to rest. And if we think that, we don’t actually always know what’s best for us. Also, taking a break is not being lazy. I once heard someone describe being lazy as taking a break you haven’t earned yet. So yes, work hard. But also rest, because God did after he created the world. And next time you hear your man suggesting some R&R, don’t just reach for the nearest excuse.

The dishes can wait.

 

Sincerely,
Lil

 

Image: http://www.thebusinesswomanmedia.com/distracted-multitasking-woman-risking-success/, sourced 26 April 2017.

Book recommendation: Captivating

Do you ever feel that you are “too much” and “not what you should be”?

The non-fiction book that has probably impacted me the most is this book Captivating, written by a Christian married couple, John and Stasi Eldredge. The introduction alone had me in tears.

It began to answer the question: “What does it mean to be a woman?” As someone with identity issues, this text spoke to me in a way that I had never experienced before.

This book, written from the perspective of both husband and wife, is not mainly a book about marriage. It is a book about being a woman – and for me has been anointed. The best way to describe it is that it tore me down and then built me back up, from the very foundations.

Captivating has brought me to tears (eye-swelling, gut-wrenching, soul tears) where wounds so deep—some I didn’t even know existed—got brought into the spotlight. Reading it was very painful at times but I finished the last page a different woman because God used these words to minister to my soul.

I don’t like sounding so dramatic, because people often say about books and movies, “This will change your life!” And I promise I am receiving no money to promote this book. But the fact that I have bought or recommended it for close to 10 people already shows how relevant I find it. If you’ve talked to me about self-esteem or identity issues you’ve probably already heard me mention it.

I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I’ve ever met feels it—something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is.  I am not enough, and I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough … But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong … The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone.
– Stasi Eldredge, pp. 230-131 (Wild at Heart and Captivating, 2005)

Why does this get to us? Because we have believed some lies in our lives, some at a very young age. And they have poisoned our hearts. Jesus wants to draw the poison out of us, the things that paralyse us, and bring us out into his glorious freedom. Because we were created for wide open spaces, for beauty and intimacy, not for shame, and self-loathing and fear.

Trust me I have lived on the one side, and am learning to live on the other. And I am so thankful to a couple who were obedient to God when he surely said, “I want to bring some freedom to some of my precious daughters through you.”

What is at the core of a woman’s heart? What are her desires? What did we long for as little girls? What do we still long for as women? And, how does a woman begin to be healed from the wounds and tragedies of her life?
– Stasi Eldredge, p. 224 (Wild at Heart and Captivating, 2005)

John and Stasi don’t claim to answer every question, but they have grasped something true and powerful in the heart of a woman that has often been lost, hidden or crushed. And it is something that the world desperately needs.

~~~

From a man’s perspective:
Q: Would you say it’s beneficial at all to read Captivating as a man? If yes, how so?
A: I’d say yes. Captivating reassured me of a lot of things I had been told about women – growing up with two women in the house, I had never fully noticed things that Captivating spoke about. I think it’s beneficial because it helps you understand just how important a man’s role is, and how it is in a woman’s core to be loved and desired.
– Jacques

Where to buy . . .

Sincerely,
Lil and Jacques

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Image: http://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1442893930i/11413._UY500_SS500_.jpg