The past 6 weeks have been completely exhausting for me. Work has been a non-stop rollercoaster, the start of the new school year for our kids have been hectic and getting our business set up for the new year has also been extremely demanding. It’s definitely taken a physical and mental toll on me. I’ve been feeling fragile, emotional, my body aches everywhere and I just feel so overwhelmed. But God is good.
This morning as my husband drove me to work; we were listening to worship music in the car.
The lyrics are so simple yet so powerful. It speaks not of what God does for us but it glorifies Him simply because He is God. I found myself lifting my hands up in worship during the car ride, singing along and I felt God’s Spirit strengthen me. I felt so happy and joyful and strong when I got out of the car. Despite my physical self not being in line with my spirit; I still felt like I can tackle another day of work and get through it because the joy of the Lord strengthens me.
I want to encourage you today; if you are feeling broken, exhausted, if you are struggling mentally and emotionally and you feel like you have nowhere to turn, turn to Jesus. He is ever present, He is always available to you. You don’t need to make an appointment; pray where you are. Seek Him where you are. I feel so much joy that I can’t keep it to myself.
Joshua 1 v 9
“Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
I want to leave you with a few scriptures that encourage me and help me to remember that I am never alone and when I feel hopeless, helpless and just worn down, that God will lift me up.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
To the woman sitting alone in her empty house Full of memories and mementos, wondering where it all went wrong, I was you. To the young girl crying her eyes out in the office bathroom, staring at herself In the mirror, not recognizing the person staring back at her With bloodshot eyes and tear-stained cheeks, I understand. To the tired mother, using her last strength to dress and feed and play with her kids When she hasn’t eaten or had a decent shower in days, I have been there. To the friend that needs comforting and can’t control the tears from flowing, Feeling as if everything is falling apart, You will be okay. It doesn’t matter how strong you feel you need to be or how tired you are and How many times you need to start over, I want you to know that This too shall pass.
“Haggai encourages those who have just returned from exile to remain faithful, obedient, and hopeful for God’s promise of a new Jerusalem. Haggai challenges returned exiles to remain faithful and rebuild the temple.” – The Bible Project
The other night when I was ready to get into bed, I felt the Holy Spirit move me to open my Bible. I’ve been wanting to start reading the stories about all the women in the Bible and I was looking for the book of Ruth but instead I was led to the book of Haggai.
I have never read the book of Haggai, in fact I probably missed it before because its only one page in my Bible.
At the top of the page, it gives some context of the book of Haggai. I’ll summarise it but the very first sentence read as follows:
“Do you have trouble finishing the projects you start? “
Already, I felt convicted by that one sentence. If you have been following me and my blog, you know I want to become a published author. I just haven’t come as far as actually finishing any of the multiple stories I’ve started, over twenty stories to be exact.
Anyway, back to Haggai.
Haggai lived in Jerusalem after many Jews returned from exile in Babylonia. Those who returned started rebuilding the temple but eventually they just stopped and the temple was left half finished.
Haggai, who is a prophet, begins a campaign with Zechariah to continue to work and finish the temple and this is where the story begins.
HAGGAI 1 VS 3-6
‘Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai, “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes’
The above verse to me speaks about society today. We are always wanting more; more money, more clothes, more possessions and even when we get what we want, we still want more. We look around us, comparing ourselves to everyone we come across. Feelings of jealousy, envy and sometimes even rage rear its ugly head and we end up losing sight of who we are and what we have.
Our focus is on us and what we want and what we can get. We end up forgetting that God placed us here for a reason, that we are part of God’s plan and purpose for this earth. As children of God, we are on a mission that is greater than anything we could ever want or think we need. Our mission is to save souls and serve and build the house of the Lord.
HAGGAI 1 VS 8
‘Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house’
A clear command given by God. He gives direction, he provides resources and gives clear instructions on what needs to be done. All we have to do is listen and obey.
HAGGAI 1 VS 9-11
‘You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord. While all of you are busy building your own fine houses. It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. I have called you for a drought on your fields and hills – a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olive trees and all your other crops, a drought to starve you and your livestock and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get. ‘
Wow, that verse is so hard to read and, in many ways, very convicting. It forces you to take a very hard look at yourself and where your priorities lie.
The first part that really stands out for me, ‘I blew it away’. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away (Job 1 vs 21) It is in the Lord’s authority and power to give and take away as He sees fit and we need to remember that we can do nothing without Him. It is both a blessing and also something to be respected.
The above scripture then goes on to say, the Lord’s house lies in ruins while we continue to build our own fine houses. You can take that literally or figuratively. This is how I interpreted it.
In the literal sense, it means looking out only for your own needs and wants, while we know God’s people are suffering and we see opportunities where we can help, but we don’t because we are too busy building our own homes. I understand it as chasing my own dreams, goals and visions and forgetting that there are people I can help in my backyard.
Then it goes on to say‘It’s because of you that the rain withholds its dew and the earth produces no crops’. In simple English, we end up blocking our own blessings and plans God has for us because we are so busy being selfish and self-centred and we are worried about our own needs.
This portion of the verse spoke so vividly to me because all of us want the harvest but hardly any of us want to put in the work. Humans are impatient, myself included and we don’t always understand why we are going through difficult times of hardships. We question everything; why are others successful and I am not? Why are things progressing for others but not for me? I believe this scripture says simply;
It is not yet your time.
It is your time for a drought.
What we must remember is the following;
HAGGAI 1 vs 13
‘I am with you, says the Lord’
We are never alone in our time of drought, God is always with us.
HAGGAI 2 vs 4:
And now, get to work, for I am with you. My Spirit remains among you…do not be afraid’
How beautiful and encouraging is that promise from God. Even when we go through a drought, God is with us. He encourages to be strong, reminds us that Hs Spirit is among us always. He will never forsake us or forget about us. We must simply continue the work He has called us for and continue to work, even during the most trying times and circumstances. God’s promises are clear.
HAGGAI 2 VS 19
‘I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates and olive trees have not yet produced their crops but from this day onward, I will bless you’
Nothing to explain there, simply take it in and understand God will bless you.
I’ll leave you with this to end off.
HAGGAI 2 VS 21
‘I am about to shake the heavens and the earth’
HAGGAI 2 VS 23
‘I have chosen you’
You are not random. God has a plan for your life. He only asks that you give Him room to work in you so that you can also be a part in building his house and his Kingdom. The Lord has chosen you for a time such as this.
Writing is a release for me. Almost like therapy but without the talking.
When I write down my feelings and thoughts that have kept me hostage or that have made me feel sad or heartbroken or angry and I stare at it on the page before me, I feel a sense of freedom. Almost as if I let go of something. I feel as if I can breath easier, as if I’ve made space in my heart and my spirit for better and more beautiful things.
It’s a healing process. I never want to stop experiencing this when I write. I never want to stop writing.
Even if I never become a best-selling author and no one ever reads anything I write, I’d like to know I’ve left a trail of breadcrumbs to feed someone’s soul.
Okay, this book was difficult to read. As a mother and as a woman, I found myself gasping, cringing, feeling sad and heartbroken, feeling angry and frustrated. I experienced disbelief and a whole lot of other emotions that caught me by surprise. I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up this book but what I found was definitely not it.
Without giving too much away, I’ll provide a short summary.
Frida Liu is a young mother accused of neglecting and abandoning her young child. She is then sent to a school which is meant to retrain ‘bad mothers’ into becoming the best and most attentive mothers in human existence. (I’m being a bit sarcastic here and once you read the book, especially if you are a mother, I’m sure you will understand why.)
The training and exercises these mothers at the school go through are something else; I found myself frowning and saying “huh?” on many occasions while reading.
‘I am a bad mother but I am learning to be good’
There is so much I can say and want to say about how this book made me feel; when I got to the last chapter, I was in tears.
In a way this book highlights the unrealistic expectations society has when it comes to mothers. Don’t get me wrong, motherhood and children are a gift for women who want it, but it’s a very difficult journey to be on.
In the book, mothers are expected to always be aware of everything around them, never turn their eyes away from their children for a second, be able to soothe their babies by using the correct language and words and physical affection, be able to effectively comfort their children and provide quick, healthy meals and stimulate their minds all the while not losing their own heads.
In a nutshell; it’s a lot.
The thing is, mothers can do all the above but unlike the children in the book, we are not robots. We need a break and we are not always emotionally available for our children or spouses or partners. We won’t always cook healthy dinners and sometimes we want to shut down and be left alone and that is perfectly normal and should be acceptable.
Our own kids are 6 and 8 years old now; they have an abundance of energy which I don’t. There is always something that needs to be done. Laundry needs to be washed and folded and packed away, school lunches need to be made, shopping needs to be done, toys have to be picked up and put away, children need to be disciplined. All the while you are trying to think of the 20 things you need to remember, you are thinking about work, you are checking the time, you are trying to engage in conversations, you are trying to be a good wife and then you need to remember to take care of yourself; have a bath, drink your coffee, fall asleep.
You will fall short somewhere.
We were never made to be perfect.
The guilt and pressure mothers are put under is also a prominent theme in this book; not only by society but by family and surprisingly other mothers too. The pressure can become so crippling, that it becomes life-threatening.
As a mom myself, I’ve been judged, criticized, told what I’m doing wrong, what I should be doing and how I should be doing it. I’ve also compared myself to other moms and it made me feel like the worst person in the world. I’ve been told to plan ahead, prepare dinners, clothing, activities, grocery lists, an endless number of things that I am meant to remember and take care off. Being a parent is difficult but there’s a different kind of hardship that comes with motherhood. Sometimes it’s unrealistic and you have homes where there are two parents and both contribute equally but I think as women, we tend to put ourselves under pressure and that pressure is amplified when you become a mom. Especially when you have a full-time job, a side hustle, a marriage, children. When you do catch your breath long enough to tick something off your to-do list, it feels like a miracle, that’s if you remembered to write your to-do list!
Yes, I know. It sounds like I am venting and maybe I am a little. Reading this book might unlock feelings on the inside of you, that you never even thought you had. Some of those feelings you might not be ready to face.
Something else which stands out for me in this novel is how different the ‘bad fathers’ are treated at the school, which I will call, ‘parenting rehab facility’
The differences are like night and day, which again angered me a little because moms are not always extended the grace which they deserve.
I think the overwhelming message in this book is how one small mistake can change your entire life. The book is about a mother who needs to make decisions which are painful and difficult but she makes them and she doesn’t always make the right ones.
It’s also about regret and how it can hold you back but its also about forgiveness; forgiving others but also forgiving yourself for mistakes you made when you didn’t know better.
All in all, it was an amazing read. I could probably write pages and pages of analysis but I want you to experience this book and make sense of it on your own.
we are shaped by our experiences but we can choose how to live out those experiences. We choose how to live, we choose whether we give up or go on. We choose to forgive.
life demands of you to be intentional; intentional about your actions, your energy, your focus, your thoughts and emotions.
It hasn’t been easy but it has been fulfilling
love is one of the most if not the most powerful source of hope we have on this earth
Its not just okay to live as your authentic self, its absolutely necessary.
do not fear. do not tremble. do not question or second guess
These hard, tiring and busy days won’t last.
Your ability to nurture, love, care and encourage is God-given.
break out of the mould you created for yourself with all the things you thought you knew
I hope you relinquish all expectations you had of yourself for this next season and simply enjoy being alive.
Even if it fails, at least you know that you tried.
We all have a place in our minds where we wish to go, things we want to do and places we want to see but if I’ve learned anything, these last few years, is that you won’t get there if you don’t get moving.
It’s a beautiful day. The dog dreams. I breathe
Better to have a moment of awkwardness than to have a lifetime of regret.
The 11th of October. That’s the last time I wrote a blog post and in all honesty, I didn’t write it from scratch, it was a recycled post from years ago but still, that was the last time you saw anything from Words In Verse. I’ve been battling to write; I’m not sure if the battle stems from laziness, tiredness, busyness or a lack of creativity and ideas but I haven’t written in a long time. The problem is I want to write. I need to write. There are many times I find myself seeing something or hearing something and I want to turn it into a story or I want to write about it and explore it from my own perspective but I don’t. I let it slip away from me and disappear. And if you’re a writer, you know that once you have an idea, you better write it down because once it disappears, you won’t get it back.
So here I am, writing about not being able to write. Funny thing is, I love writing. I love reading as well but I haven’t done much of that either lately. Writing and reading go hand in hand; if you’re not reading, its almost impossible to write. I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things. I also want to reevaluate what I write about. I remember about two years ago when I had my very first WIV blog (which is now gone) the blog posts I wrote were raw and honest and relatable to many people. I felt fearless when I wrote and published my posts and I felt fulfilled when someone would tell me how they felt reading what I wrote. I knew I was fulfilling my purpose, my calling and my ministry.
My husband will tell you I have a ton of unfinished stories that I started writing (one or two are done) but which I either stopped working on and refuse to touch again. He has been my biggest supporter; always telling me to finish my books and get it published and telling me what a great writer I am and there are moments when I believe him; when I read some of the stuff I’ve written and I think ‘Woah, okay, I’m pretty good at this’ in a non- arrogant way of course, but then there are those moments, which come more often than the former, whereimposter syndromecreeps in and destroys all the confidence and belief I had in myself. Once that is destroyed, it’s really difficult to get it back.
Another reason I think I’ve been afraid to write is because of the content I want to publish. I want to be that brave person again that tells honest stories; I write from experience and we all know experiences are not always comfortable; for yourself or for others to share in or experience and I know when I write certain things, a lot of people might frown upon it and I think that has also been a huge block for me.
But I don’t want it to be anymore. I want to write. I need to write and I need to share. I always say to my husband or to people I interact with, you never know who needs hear your story and who will be inspired, encouraged or motivated by it. We all go through difficult experiences and I believe that if we choose to share our experiences, in whichever way we choose to do so, it will help someone else. I’m not suggesting we save the whole world but touching one person, might save another.
So here I am, putting my struggles out there ; of being a writer who has been unable to write and I’m hoping that by doing this and by sharing this, that it will help me be brave enough to start writing again and to start sharing again; despite the fear of being judged or criticized or not believing in myself.
The truth is, I need to see for myself where this journey will take me; this journey of writing and sharing and exposing myself to a world I have yet to discover. In the end, we will never know we are good at something and we will never know the impact we have, if we don’t at least give it our best shot.
You have been surrounded by beautiful women all your life and you will continue to be for the rest of it.
Be sure to treat every girl or woman you ever come across with the highest level of esteem and admiration because at the end of the day if it wasn’t for the fighting and equally loving spirit of all the women in your life, you would not be who you are today.
Be an example to the many men who will follow you throughout your life and be part of a generation of men that will never again take a woman by force, break her spirit or leave her blue-eyed and crying.
I beg of you baby, be different.
Be secure in your faith.
Be loving and compassionate.
But most importantly, be forgiving.
Do not let the hardships in life stop you from finding the beauty and romance that there surely is and sharing it with everyone you meet.
I hold you to these standards because I know and I believe you have it in you.
Female nurses healed you back to health when you were too weak to stand on your own two feet.
A female pastor dedicated you to the church.
Female doctors delivered you from my womb.
You are not above a woman.
She stands next to you, not under your feet.
I can only give you these guidelines but it is up to you to decide what kind of man you are going to be and maybe someday, what kind of man you are going to raise.
I know you are young now but someday you will understand this.