Surviving the Terrible Twos: Money is a Big Deal

Money is a Big Deal

Creative Commons – Sean McMenemy

 

Here we are at week 3 and the final installment of Samantha and my 20s series, with the icky subject of Finances! I have loved discussing the awkward parts of  20s life with you all, so thank you for reading. Each week it has made me dig deep, think and look at my own life with a new eye.

Make sure you read Sam’s newest post HERE. Getting to know this girl better has been a privilege; she is funny, God fearing and true. I love that the internet has connected a Texan and Londoner to create this series. Two perspectives from two girls stumbling through their twenties. It’s been fun and I’m sad it’s over.

Week 1 – Careers
Week 2 – Dating 

Money is a big deal. You don’t realise it until you lose your wallet or debit card, and the simple things like buying your lunch become a problem. And if you’re like me, even though it’s a little out of your control, you still feel embarrassed or sheepish asking for someone to help you out until you can get some cash.

Which I think represents an awkward attitude that we have about money. I’m not sure what it’s like in other places, but in Britain it’s a fact that everyone has money and it’s no one’s business how much. The pay gap between rich and poor is a gaping chasm, even inside the walls of one office building, but no one talks about it. It’s a hush-hush subject and we’re all meant to keep up appearances, when often the reality is that a large amount of us are buried in debt.

My story is that I went from working full time at 18 without a financial care in the world and that being okay. To now at 23 with minimal savings and a permanent case of wanderlust, and it not being okay anymore. I used to think buying a house was for grown ups and I needn’t worry about such things for another ten years. I unconsciously put it in the “husband box” because responsibility comes with marriage, right? Then recently I had a brain wave; houses are expensive and I might not have a husband as soon as planned. Which means I would have to start saving a hefty amount each month now to buy a house by the time I am 30. Uh, which means, I need to be responsible now.

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Living According to Your Potential

potential

Every single day, we make decisions large and small. From what to eat for lunch (I take this one pretty seriously) to whether we should take a job offer and how to spend our money. Then there are hard ones. The ones where our wants and needs are scales apart, and when we ignore the rules of should and shouldn’t. 

At 23 years old, I’m arriving at a point where I can no longer make stupid decisions and get away with it. Well, technically I can, but it’s only affecting me. I’m still young, but my choices matter and I’m old enough to know right from wrong. I’m not 18 anymore and I actually need to take responsibility for myself.

These days I’m finding that when I stuff up, I know better and I know that I know better. Bad decisions usually come from my overpowering impulsive side instead of my wise and measured side. When I use my head, I’m smart.

But I’m human, so I have a heart which likes to pipe up every now and then (as it should). Then there’s sin which often gets the better of me, and the result is a situation where I let myself and maybe others down. So I make excuses to numb my conscience and soothe the condemning voice of my guilt. Recently as I was going through these same motions, a small and captivating whisper commanded my attention;

You are called to greatness,
and you need to make decisions as such.

There is no arrogance in that epiphany. I’m not going to save the world or become the next Prime Minister. Those words simply consist of faith, grace and hope, because I am indeed called to greatness and so are you.

There’s only a few things I am positively certain about in this life, but one of them is that you and I were both created by God to be kind, intelligent and successful human beings. All within our own individuality, none of us being exactly like another. While doing so, He knew full well it would be very hard for us to be as complete as He created us to be, for the fact that we live in a fallen world with sin on our doorstop from the moment we are born.

In a word, we all have great potential within us. I believe that in heaven we will fulfill that potential because that’s where we will flourish in all our God-given glory. No sickness or sadness or pain. Just the way God intended earth and humanity to be before the fall of Adam and Eve.

Now, I think I’m on my way to being the woman God created me to be, but I’m not there yet. I think I please God a lot of the time, but I know I’m not anywhere near fulfilling my potential. You know why? Because I continue to make choices, often in the moment, that are not leading me to fulfill my call of greatness. They stunt me, leaving me feeling unworthy to keep moving. But I am, because God says I am.

I don’t mean greatness like we are all going to be rich, famous and make a huge impact on the world. Let us not limit greatness to be only one thing. Greatness is reaching your potential, and that is not an easy feat, but it’s absolutely possible. We just need to make choices that align with this goal.

I often compare myself to other people, and think “X would never have done this”. But there’s no point in that, because other than comparisons being entirely discouraging and unhelpful, we should only be measuring against ourselves. Who we are and who we want to be. Where we are and where we want to be.

Imagine if we all made everyday, seemingly unimportant, choices with this framework in our mind. How great would we each become in our own individuality? I’m willing to put it to the test and find out.

Do you find it hard to make choices according to your potential too? What are could you make better choices? Do you believe that you are called to greatness? 

Dear 15-year-old Me

These letters are doing the rounds this week to celebrate the launch of Emily Freeman’s book Graceful, for teen girls. Check out her fantastic letter and some others here. Since it fit right in with my letter-writing-Friday, I wrote one too.

Hey young lady,

It’s me, your future self. Truth is that I’m not that much older than you but I’m a lot smarter. I want to reassure you of a few things to lighten the load that you burden yourself with. Your worrying keeps you up at night and it holds you back from enjoying these awesome and pain-in-the-arse teenage years, so I hope to allay some of your fears.

First things first, you will be relieved to know I’ve given up my endeavour to be perfect and I’m happier than ever. I’m kinder to myself and I laugh more. It’s so refreshing and I can’t wait for you to experience this. However you’ve got a few tough years ahead of you yet, which is how you will arrive to where I am now.

You have no idea what you are capable of. That frustration you feel with your seemingly talentless self? It will take years (sorry), but it will pass. You will grow, create and learn. You will discover your passions, flourish, and fall into your identity. The years to come of not knowing who you are, they are so important to your development. You will find your place eventually so don’t sweat it too much okay?

You are brave, smart and fun. Try to focus on these things instead of your faults. Like the attention seeking, which you will mostly grow out of. Though you will always be loud and that’s actually a good thing, so ignore the lies that whisper ‘you are too much to handle’. To some people you are too much, but they aren’t the right people for you. You are loved by your friends and people enjoy your energy. So quit wishing you were quiet and demure because that isn’t who you were born to be. And believe it or not, there are plenty of quiet girls that envy your social skills.

You think you’re fat but girrrrl, you ain’t. Enjoy those legs and that cute bum. Soon all that junk food you eat will take residence on your hot bod and you will miss what it is now. I have more confidence than you in my fuller and curvier figure, but you are way hotter.

You can be very melodramatic and self-involved, and it isn’t endearing in the slightest. Stop crying in the mirror for one second to gain some perspective. Your life isn’t that bad, and other people are facing hard times too. Look up and look out. While I’m taking you down a peg, I may as well also inform you that you don’t know everything. You could do with some humility. Wisdom and maturity come from experience, of which you have none. Yet.

The only thing that I deeply regret and wish you would do differently, is how you treat your sweet little sister. That kid adores you and asks you to play a board game with her most days. She is lonely and needs you, but you always say no. The age gap feels more of a chasm, but when she is still young you will go on the adventure of your life and be apart from her for too long. These days she and I are great friends from afar, and though she doesn’t hold it against me, I do. Your time with her is precious so play the damn games. Indulge her. If not for yourself, do it for me. I miss her.

On a final note, don’t take yourself so seriously for heavens sake! You think far too much and we both know how exhausting that is. You’ve had to grow up fast so cherish the naivety you still possess. Stop worrying. You will get your driving license, you will have enough money and you will do great things. You will see the world and find out where you fit into it. You will be happy and create a life that you love. I would know, I’m here waiting for you.

The Lord’s face is shining down on you, so look up and bask in His sunlight. Everything will be okay.

Love
The future you

Guest Post: In Line With Our Dreams…Or Not

There’s not a lot to say here other than I totally adore this girl. We met in our early London days and so much has changed in our lives since, but our friendship has only grown. Check out her words, coming from the girl living the good and bad days of her dream. You can read more about her at the end of the post. -Micaela

Here’s the way I like to think about myself in relation to my dreams, and about the line that connects me to them: Strong, solid, as though I’m in a boat and that line is a sturdy chain reaching down to the ocean floor.

With my dreams as an anchor at the end.

After all, isn’t that what Paul says in Hebrews? “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

Now here’s the way I more often feel in relation to my dreams: Weak, wavering, as though I’m ten years old again and that line is attached to a capricious kite. The kite being my dreams.

There’s hardly any wind to lift the dumb thing off the ground, and when a breeze does pick up, the kite dips and dives and drops away from me, forever uncontrollable. Up when things go right and I hear back from editors (as a freelance writer, this isn’t always the case); down when things don’t and my inbox is empty.

But a little while ago, I came across a verse, another classic from Paul, that began to change my perspective: “The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.” (Colossians 1:5, MSG).

There were a lot of words in there I didn’t recognise, not when it comes to feeling secure in my dreams, at least: Never slack, tightly tied, taut.

Each phrase paints a picture of a kite filled to the max with wind, soaring so high it’s actually pulling at the spindle of string in your hand. Certainly not the measly, homemade kite I often feel stuck with, especially when another round of doubts and questions kick up:

Am I really a writer? Will my book ever be published? What am I doing with my life?

Sound familiar?

But Paul’s verse was a revelation – that no matter how far away I sometimes feel from realizing my dreams, if I stay grounded in a perspective of heaven and continually acknowledge my true purpose here on earth, then I’m closer to my dreams than I think.

Pursuing your dreams isn’t easy. Keeping the faith often feels more like a roller coaster of emotions. But that’s where things like belief and hope come into play.

Because ultimately, the spool of kite string isn’t in our hands. It’s in God’s.

——-

Candace Rose Rardon is a writer and photographer with a passion for travel and adventure. After finishing her Masters in Travel Writing from London’s Kingston University, she celebrated by driving an auto-rickshaw 3,000 kilometers across India. Thankfully she lived to write about it and can’t wait to see where her dreams take her next. Read about her travels at The Great Affair and on Twitter.

Image credit

Fear vs. Hope

With a passion, I truly despise fear. Fear steals joy, kills hope and destroys dreams.

Fear has the ability to break your spirit and stunt your growth. It can darken any mood, any room, any mind or heart. When we listen to fear, everything that could possibly go wrong suddenly seems real. But it’s not.

Fear is convincing and cruel, and so very subtle. Everything it says is a lie because fear is buried in darkness. It slinks away from any form of light, because in the light there is truth. Fear doesn’t want you to know the truth.

The truth is that fear is a liar that labels you as a failure before you’ve even tried. Fear is irrational and people ruled by fear aren’t truly living, they are prisoners. Fear is a dead-end.

However, it doesn’t end with fear.

Hope gives life, she is a breath of fresh air. She’s hard to trust, but she’s a heck of a lot of fun. Hope is a risk taker, she is exciting. She brings perspective and joy. She can’t fix the ‘now’ of your situation, but she offers an alternative for your future, if you choose her.

Hope is the tiny flower in a vast desert and she’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is the oxygen to my lungs when fear is threatening to take over.

Hope is my friend, fear is not. Hope is life, fear is death.

I choose life. I choose hope. How about you? 

Do you ever struggle to choose hope over fear? Does fear control you? What are you afraid of? Leave a comment.

Image Credit

Fear vs. Hope

With a passion, I truly despise fear. Fear steals joy, kills hope and destroys dreams.

Fear has the ability to break your spirit and stunt your growth. It can darken any mood, any room, any mind or heart. When we listen to fear, everything that could possibly go wrong suddenly seems real. But it’s not.

Fear is convincing and cruel, and so very subtle. Everything it says is a lie because fear is buried in darkness. It slinks away from any form of light, because in the light there is truth. Fear doesn’t want you to know the truth.

The truth is that fear is a liar that labels you as a failure before you’ve even tried. Fear is irrational and people ruled by fear aren’t truly living, they are prisoners. Fear is a dead-end.

However, it doesn’t end with fear.

Hope gives life, she is a breath of fresh air. She’s hard to trust, but she’s a heck of a lot of fun. Hope is a risk taker, she is exciting. She brings perspective and joy. She can’t fix the ‘now’ of your situation, but she offers an alternative for your future, if you choose her.

Hope is the tiny flower in a vast desert and she’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is the oxygen to my lungs when fear is threatening to take over.

Hope is my friend, fear is not. Hope is life, fear is death.

I choose life. I choose hope. How about you? 

Do you ever struggle to choose hope over fear? Does fear control you? What are you afraid of? Leave a comment.

Image Credit

Looking for Purpose & Writing About It

It’s raining, again, and I am rushing, as usual, through the City to catch a train (it’s all we ever do in London!). I’m struggling to balance my umbrella, my swimming bag and my handbag, while stomping my way to the station. And all I really want to do is yell into the empty rain what I’m thinking:

‘GOD, I WANT TO DO EPIC SHIT! Where is my epic purpose hiding?’

I’m pretty much a broken record with this, and have been since I left school. His response was frustrating, to say the least. ‘You should write about that.’

Clearly the only thing He wants me to understand right now, is that I should write about it. The funny thing is, I don’t even know why I have this blog. I never wanted to be a writer! I don’t have dreams of writing a book, like many other bloggers, and I haven’t been writing stories since I was a kid. I’ve just been talking too much since I was a kid. I don’t have a category, niche or target audience. I’m not a well versed Christian with loads of knowledge.

I’m just a 20-something girl figuring it out and writing about it honestly, in this little corner of the web. I don’t know why I write it and have no idea why you read it, alas, it’s working. (Seriously, thank you!)

What I’m learning is that it doesn’t matter that I don’t know what I’m doing, or why I’m doing it. All that matters is that I’m doing. I’m moving, albeit in an unknown direction, it’s still progressive. God is weaving busily in the background, and even if I never write again in the future, my efforts here won’t be wasted. In the process, I am finding my voice. Not just as a writer, but as a sister, friend, twenty-something, and daughter of Christ.

Lauren Dubinsky, one of my favourite bloggers and creator of Good Women Project, says it perfectly.

Go, do, make, create. Keep experimenting and taking risks until you find what makes your heart swell. Oh, and make sure your passions aren’t birthed from a place of proving yourself to others, but rather as a result of God giving you the freedom to play.

With all my whining, crying and pleading, I think God gets it. I want to do ‘epic shit’. However, perspective is important. I can bloom where I’m planted and recognise the awesome position I am in currently. Blessed job, travelling often, incredible friends, living abroad. It’s not so bad!

Truth be told, I’ve felt frustrated and stagnant recently. But in the mundane of daily life, God is preparing me and using me. The last year has been the hardest of my life, but it’s also been the making of me. Every piece of the mosaic has a purpose.

Whether it’s a fancy career, or writing, or speaking, or having a family, or solving world poverty forever, or traveling across the world on a donkey. God knows what it is, and I know that it’s good.

As of today, God can do what He does best: work everything out for good. My failures, my successes, my fears, and my dreams. All I need to do is live in the day by prioritising my relationship with God, my character and integrity, and the people around me. To believe in myself and take opportunities that come my way. That’s my responsibility. Everything else (i.e. the ‘epic shit’) will fall into place.

In the meantime, I’ll write about it.

Have you found your purpose or are you still looking? Does your life look how you thought it would? Leave a comment.

Don’t Live in the Moment

‘Let’s go all the way tonight,
No regrets, just love’

Many of us know the Katy Perry song, Teenage Dream, these lyrics are derived from. I was listening to this song as I ran last night, it was just the fast beat I needed to keep going. But all of a sudden each step I took became heavier and more purposeful as I really thought about what I was listening to.

I hate those lyrics. I hate that there are teenagers listening to songs like these and subconsciously digesting them as truth. Living for the moment, in whatever context, is not the teenage dream. There isn’t a dream, because we live in the real world with real consequences. I know, I’m such a fun sucker! (Feel free to quit reading now and go back to living in the moment, because it only gets worse from here).

Teenage life is a circus act of juggling identity, friendships, hormones and more. As a Christian it was a whole different ball game for me but better than it could have been. Without God, highschool would have been a much greater struggle. I definitely would have made worse choices, and there are multiples times where I am thankful I didn’t ‘live in the moment’ (among the ones where I foolishly did). There is one particular moment that I chose wisdom over emotions, and I believe it set me up for harder years to come.

I won’t get into details, but there had been a situation at home. It was a traumatic day for me and I was taken back to my grandparents house. I was 16 and had a life of my own, so I didn’t have to stay with my grandparents that night. I had choices. It was a Saturday and there was a party starting in a few hours at my friend’s house.

All I wanted to do in that very moment is go to that party and get roaring drunk. Just to forget, even for a few short hours, that the day had ever happened. I had never been drunk before and never wanted to, until that day. I was very sheltered from alcohol and in my mind it was the root of all evils, so it wasn’t like me to think this way. But life was hard and alcohol was looking like a fitting saviour. To be perfectly honest my attitude was ‘fuck the world’.

Instead I called another friend who didn’t get me drunk, and to this day I’m glad I did. Had I chosen listen to my emotions that day and gone to the party, it probably wouldn’t have ended terribly. After definitely embarrassing myself, I would have spent the next day deservingly hungover, and that’s about it. However it could have gone another way, and we’ll never really know. It only takes a moment.

Just ask the young couple who got pregnant from one night without protection. Or the girl who cheated on her boyfriend in a moment of lust. What about the guy who reacted with violence in a moment of anger, and ended up in jail? Obviously these are extreme cases but they can also happen to anyone.

For me, I think that defining moment was a case of ‘until the next time…’. There were more moments to comes when I hated my reality, and would probably turn alcohol to numb the pain, again, and then again. Next it would be drugs and sex to help me through. I know myself and wouldn’t put it past me. I am naturally a very impulsive person. When I want something, I want it now.

These days my challenges are different but the goal is ever the same; choose wisdom. It always pays off, trust me. Just a few days ago I had to do it again, and at the time I wanted to kick and scream. Later I was so thankful that I didn’t give in to that moment of weakness, and I had a big glass of red wine to congratulate myself!

Our lives are made up of moments and decisions; some are life-changing, many are not. Yes, enjoy your life and all of the moments! Be present in the moment, just don’t be deceived by the convincing lies of some of those moments. Katy Perry is wrong, there are regrets! Choose wisdom, not the irrational demands of your emotions in the moment. It only takes one moment to change your life, for the better or worse.

Are there any defining moments in your life that came to mind when reading? What do you think about the cliche of living in the moment, do you think I’m being extreme? Leave a comment. 

Don’t Live in the Moment

‘Let’s go all the way tonight,
No regrets, just love’

Many of us know the Katy Perry song, Teenage Dream, these lyrics are derived from. I was listening to this song as I ran last night, it was just the fast beat I needed to keep going. But all of a sudden each step I took became heavier and more purposeful as I really thought about what I was listening to.

I hate those lyrics. I hate that there are teenagers listening to songs like these and subconsciously digesting them as truth. Living for the moment, in whatever context, is not the teenage dream. There isn’t a dream, because we live in the real world with real consequences. I know, I’m such a fun sucker! (Feel free to quit reading now and go back to living in the moment, because it only gets worse from here).

Teenage life is a circus act of juggling identity, friendships, hormones and more. As a Christian it was a whole different ball game for me but better than it could have been. Without God, highschool would have been a much greater struggle. I definitely would have made worse choices, and there are multiples times where I am thankful I didn’t ‘live in the moment’ (among the ones where I foolishly did). There is one particular moment that I chose wisdom over emotions, and I believe it set me up for harder years to come.

I won’t get into details, but there had been a situation at home. It was a traumatic day for me and I was taken back to my grandparents house. I was 16 and had a life of my own, so I didn’t have to stay with my grandparents that night. I had choices. It was a Saturday and there was a party starting in a few hours at my friend’s house.

All I wanted to do in that very moment is go to that party and get roaring drunk. Just to forget, even for a few short hours, that the day had ever happened. I had never been drunk before and never wanted to, until that day. I was very sheltered from alcohol and in my mind it was the root of all evils, so it wasn’t like me to think this way. But life was hard and alcohol was looking like a fitting saviour. To be perfectly honest my attitude was ‘fuck the world’.

Instead I called another friend who didn’t get me drunk, and to this day I’m glad I did. Had I chosen listen to my emotions that day and gone to the party, it probably wouldn’t have ended terribly. After definitely embarrassing myself, I would have spent the next day deservingly hungover, and that’s about it. However it could have gone another way, and we’ll never really know. It only takes a moment.

Just ask the young couple who got pregnant from one night without protection. Or the girl who cheated on her boyfriend in a moment of lust. What about the guy who reacted with violence in a moment of anger, and ended up in jail? Obviously these are extreme cases but they can also happen to anyone.

For me, I think that defining moment was a case of ‘until the next time…’. There were more moments to comes when I hated my reality, and would probably turn alcohol to numb the pain, again, and then again. Next it would be drugs and sex to help me through. I know myself and wouldn’t put it past me. I am naturally a very impulsive person. When I want something, I want it now.

These days my challenges are different but the goal is ever the same; choose wisdom. It always pays off, trust me. Just a few days ago I had to do it again, and at the time I wanted to kick and scream. Later I was so thankful that I didn’t give in to that moment of weakness, and I had a big glass of red wine to congratulate myself!

Our lives are made up of moments and decisions; some are life-changing, many are not. Yes, enjoy your life and all of the moments! Be present in the moment, just don’t be deceived by the convincing lies of some of those moments. Katy Perry is wrong, there are regrets! Choose wisdom, not the irrational demands of your emotions in the moment. It only takes one moment to change your life, for the better or worse.

Are there any defining moments in your life that came to mind when reading? What do you think about the cliche of living in the moment, do you think I’m being extreme? Leave a comment. 

That Gut Feeling

When something is meant to be, you can’t go against it.

You know the feeling, where your heart burns because it’s the truest thing you’ve ever known? Maybe it’s also the riskiest thing you’ve ever thought, and it has the potential to go terribly wrong. That’s even better. And you can’t help but go and do it, because you just know. It’s the greatest and worst feeling in the world!

But you must listen to your instincts, even if you don’t want to. Because really, deep down, you do want to. You want to know why you feel this strongly and if there’s anything in it. Well, as the old cliché goes, you won’t know until you try. But usually those really strong feelings are right. They don’t come around often but it’s a pretty big deal when they do. From my experience, anyway…

It was end of 2007 and I had just finished high school in my hometown of Auckland, New Zealand. My heart was set on moving to London after I had been talking with a family about becoming their nanny in the new year. But (there’s always a but), I had no money, no visa or passport and I was meant to be starting work in the UK in a mere 4 weeks time. Plus, moving across the world seemed a little drastic, right? In circumstance, everything was going against me. But God had spoken and I listened, because I knew in my Spirit it was the right thing. In my eyes I had no other choice.

Everyone doubted and questioned that I had heard right, including my supportive mum who had always trusted me in the past. But He had said I would get the British passport that I was barely liable for, and I knew that I would. I just knew. Partly because God is faithful to His promises, and because there was a fire in my gut that couldn’t be extinguished. I simply had to go.

Then my future employer apologetically asked me if we could move my starting date back a few months, as things had changed for them in London. Little did she know that this was perfect for me! It meant I could save some money and it bought me more time to wait on that much coveted British passport I had been promised.

Yes I was scared of moving so far away to effectively no one. I had a one way flight and no back-up money. If it didn’t work out, I was screwed. But thankfully I did have a job to start and a house to live in. That was more than enough, because the ferocity of my desire to travel and my faith in my conviction outweighed all fear.

Obviously I got the passport, and moving to London is the best thing I’ve ever done. It will always be high on the list of my big life decisions, because it was purposed and the timing was absolutely perfect. God knew what was coming and he took me out of my home-town and my only known reality, so that I could flourish as a young woman.

These words do not justify what I went through before coming here, and this ‘knowing’ business may have been an experience unique to me, though I have a feeling it isn’t. I suspect you know this fire I speak of, either because you’ve been there or you’re there now.

I trusted God and I trusted myself. If there’s a fire in your belly to take a big step, probably with large repercussions (in either direction), I encourage you to trust in what your heart’s telling you. Only you can make these big changes in your life and only you really know what’s right. Don’t be told by anyone.

God is in you, He has given you free choice and He has given you those very real human instincts. Pray to him, submit to Him, trust Him with all your plans.

Then…. Listen to the fire.

Have you ever felt something really strongly and followed your instincts? Share your story in the comments!