Blueprints

 

 

Damn.

Those words you said to me that became our last,

Did you know they knocked the breath right out of me?

You used to take my breath away but that day you left me breathless.

 

In that moment I knew it was over

I knew it because I was done.

I knew we had taken our last knock,

That everything we had so carefully,

                                                        constructively,

                                                                               built.

All the love, all the miles, the thousand upon a thousand miles

we had traversed. Wasn’t enough, they were not enough,

(were they ever enough?) to withstand that final blow.

 

Death by a thousand cuts, death by a thousand miles,

a thousand upon a thousand miles. And more than that

Death by a thousand wishes for each other that we could not fulfil

in this lifetime. In our timeframe.

 

I do wonder, if we had met each other in another moment

would we have lasted?

Would we have built the empire together that we dreamt of building,

or would it still be ruin.

A crane over the sky of this vast, desolate construction site.

Unfulfilled potential is something I hate.

 

I can still see the blueprints

I return to them sometimes in the witching hour,

When I’ve had a glass too much red wine.

Worse, much worse though

Is when they strike me between the eyes

in the midst of experiencing. Falling in soaring in,

scaling the heights of, testing the breadth of—

Something new. And I accidentally compare it to you.

The blueprints of your restaurant, of our holiday home,

of our children, of our marriage.

 

My heart still aches.

 

I sketched the foundation, make it visceral and real

Spread out on the drawing board

In depth and in detail, in granular discussion,

The expert way you rendered them in 3D,

Conjurings, alive and ephemeralteamwork.

 

But what is living in the land of the dead?

 

We light the match and watch it burn.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

 

There is but one pillar left standing:

Mutual Respect.

 

I’ve heard it’s less romantic,

but a lot more solid.

 

—Jennifer McGeever

 

Feature image: Some life drawing sketches, hanging on one of my bedroom walls, taken a few moons back ♥

Let’s Talk About Love

 

 

Below is an adapted version of what I spoke on at the inaugural ‘A Conversation About Womanhood’ event, envisioned and founded by my best friend and visionary Seun Awolowo. To respect privacy (some stories are not just mine to be told), some details have been edited and condensed. After I finished speaking, one of the beautiful women in attendance suggested I write-up the speech on my blog, so here it is, a typed-up version of my notes:

“I want to start with a disclaimer: obviously I am a student of life just like everyone else hearing these words, I am no professed ‘expert’ on love or relationships (lol), so these words are very much delivered in a ‘if my journey could teach you anything’ spirit. This word Seun entrusted me with and asked me to speak on, love, is huge, and therefore in the next few minutes it’s impossible to say everything I would want to on the topic, so instead I’m distilling what has been put on my heart to share as pertinent in this specific environment.

 

What I realised when contemplating this word was that really, at our cores, we are motivated by two things as human beings—love or fear. There are nuances to each of these motivators, but if we strip back the layers, revealed will be one of the two in every decision we make and every choice that we have. To frame everything I’m about to say, I wanted to share words from scripture that Seun actually shared with some of us girls before we attended Colour Conference last year, they seem apt as a preface:

 

To Start All Over Again

 

“And now, here’s what I’m going to do:

I’m going to start all over again.

I’m taking her back out into the wilderness

where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.

I’ll give her bouquets of roses.

I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.

She’ll respond like she did as a young girl,

those days when she was fresh out of Egypt. ~

Hosea 2:14-15 (emphasis added)

 

What I love about these verses is that they show that God always intends love to be romantic, romance is not solely reserved for the realm of ‘significant-other’ relationships, you can have romance in your friendships, your familial relationships, in your relationship with God. He intended romance for us: the giving of reverent attention, extra care, taking us somewhere out of the ordinary to revive our relationship, so that we can start all over again.

 

First dates, I love that reference, I’m going to draw more on that later on; to return to the place where we first met, and the feeling of newness, anticipation and a blank slate that accompanies that. I also want to briefly touch upon the fact that God gets what it is like to be in ‘Heartbreak Valley’ and he will meet us there, in fact, as Psalm 34:18 promises, he will be closer to us than ever before, as he is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. I can testify to this first hand. Anyway, all this to say, let’s reframe what we think of as romantic love and not separate it from any relationship we have.

Tell us your story: what does this word mean to you?

 

I remember learning that before the age of 7, science has proven that we, as children, have developed a blueprint for how we will think about the world and relationships which we will view through for the rest of our lives. I dug deeper into this and discovered UNICEF’s study which shows that our brain at the age of 3 years old is actually twice as active as it will ever be when we are adults, that blew my mind. The architecture of our thinking and the blueprint for how we understand relationships and love is formed at such an early stage of our lives, our earthly pattern can be perverted, and though I firmly believe in the promise of Romans 12:2that we can be transformed by the daily renewing of our mindsthat takes active and conscious work, otherwise we can remain in the patterns of our formative years for the rest of our lives, and sometimes those patterns are extremely negative.

I want you to think quietly for a moment, close your eyes if you need to, and think back to your first experiences of love. When did you first feel loved, when did you initially comprehend what love was? What it felt like to give it? What it felt like to receive? When I did this, I quickly realised that love was not verbalised in my household growing up, it’s a pretty common cultural thread in Chinese upbringings—you don’t tell your children “I love you”—you show them. Love was enacted for me, it was felt and shown through food, pride, acts of service. It was also not particularly physical in my household, we weren’t super tactile with our parents. My early truths about love were therefore: love is enactment, love is sacrifice, love is so much more than a feeling, love is unconditional and beyond mere emotion. I am grateful to have had this as my initial blueprint for love.

It’s interesting to me as well, that though I love words, the gravity of love felt, love enacted, was beyond them. In fact, speaking of language, one thing I’ve realised in the years since my mother’s passing, which, perhaps by virtue of being mixed race, seems to come up in even the most innocuous conversations on almost a daily basis: “where are you from?”, “where do your parents live?” etc. I always find it slightly awkward to answer these questions (for the listener, not for myself, as people often find it difficult to talk about death, particularly in a small-talk context) as it is revealing of bigger truths through the use of different tenses for both parents, present for one and past for the other. Sometimes the listener picks up on this, sometimes they don’t, but even my mouth forming those ‘was’ versus ‘is’ still feels subtly telling of a much deeper truth than the average stranger is prepared for. The one verb I have realised I never have to say in the past tense in reference to my mother though, is love. I love her, she loves me, love is the only thing that outlasts us, it is the only verb that we can always say in the present.

 

Of course, I couldn’t speak on this topic without talking about romantic love. It is the area of love which vastly impacts our everyday lives and changes who we are as people.  One of my most hated phrases in regards to romantic love is “we fell out of love”. No, no, NO— that’s fake news right there— there is no such thing as falling out of love, it is an active choice. Lust and infatuation can be fleeting and they can be hella powerful, but real love is not something we merely fall into and therefore we cannot haphazardly ‘fall out’ of it. It is a choice, there is a moment, conscious or subconscious when we decide to love a person, the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of gaining intimacy and deep knowledge of a person can follow that and your momentary feelings of affection towards someone can waver, but when you choose to love someone for who they are, their inherent being, it goes beyond that to enacting love on the daily, weekly, monthly, year in and year out.

 

I currently have one close friend who is married, and having spoken to her before I spoke on this subject, her insights crystallised everything for me. She verbalised why romantic love is so important and so incredibly powerful and significant in our lives. It’s probably the only type of relationship in your life where the conjoining of all three aspects of our being are fully engaged: the physical, the emotional and the spiritual. Most other relationships in our life will have two of the three, some of them maybe only one, but it’s only really in an S.O context that all three are fully realised, or on their way to being so. But what I want to make clear is that my realisation over time has been that love is not different in different contexts, it is expressed in different ways but the core values of what love is and its essence are very much the same.

 

What has your journey of discovering your feminine power in relation to this word been like?

Funnily enough I’ve always had a lot more male energy in my home life than female, I grew up with three brothers and a father, so my mum and I were the only feminine forces in our home. I have definitely found in the years since her passing that I became more of an emotional conduit for the men in my life, it is something that is partially conditioned by society’s perception of masculinity (which is definitely shifting for the better but still very much in-progress) but I think as much as this can be a burden and I have learnt in recent years to draw my emotional, mental and psychological boundaries when it comes to pouring out of myself (to the point of being empty)—we can encourage the ultimate strength of vulnerability in the men in our lives in a positive and productive way, we can encourage them to talk to each other about real and deep and necessary things rather than just to women. Emotional labour is not just ours to carry, but maybe in this moment of cultural change, ours is still the model they are following for now.

 

What do you know now about this word and yourself that you didn’t know in your teens?

 

A few words to my younger self on love: love isn’t tortuous baby girl, it isn’t melodramatic (it may be beautifully dramatic at times, but there’s a clear difference), love isn’t toxic. If what you’re experiencing is any of the above, it most definitely isn’t love, PSA for both parties: get out while you can! Also, though love is self-sacrificial, it is NOT self-obliteration. I really hope you see the difference and know where to draw the line. Love is synonymous with respect, and a good relationship is the ultimate collaboration. Not only are the best relationships built on mutual respect, but they are corner-stoned by self-respect. Don’t leave your self-respect at the door, again, there’s a key difference between self-respect and pride. One is still loving, the other is putting your ego above your own needs and what you actually want to ascertain in a situation. Sometimes you need to step back and self-evaluate, or do so with someone who knows you better than you know yourself. I came to realise that in relationships we too often place so much value on love and not an equal or greater amount on respect. It takes love and respect in equal measures to have a successful, healthy relationship. Toxicity breeds when respect leaves the room and one is clinging to your notion of love sole. A significant relationship in my early twenties helped me to realise the beauty and the key of having respect and friendship as an integral foundation for love. Even if circumstances lead to the breakdown of a romantic relationship, mutual respect always remains and will allow you to hold love for that person despite a change in your relationship status.

 

What scriptures have encouraged you or brought light to your sense of self in relation to this word?

 

I can’t speak about love without interpolating what the Bible has to say on it, what is commonly referred to, even in secular society, as “the golden rule” is a direct quote of what Jesus said and a clear definition of love as enactment:

““Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it, “you shall love your neighbour as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others].’ The whole Law and the [writings of the] Prophets depend on these two commandments.”” Matthew 22:37-40 Amplified translation

These verses honestly floor me. They answer every question about legalism, judgment and condemnation that is often associated with religion, when Jesus says that the law and the writings of the prophets (essentially everything within the Old Testament, which he directly quotes from Deuteronomy, also a part of the Torah) hangs upon the commandment he gives, and ties the New Testament with the Old by associating the first commandment issued to the Israelites with the final one he issues during his time on earth. The explanation of love given here is so counterintuitive, the unselfish seeking of the best or higher good for others above ourselves, but not forgetting that we are supposed to love ourselves in this way as well, as this is how God loves us. I love that though self-love can seem very new age, as can vision boards and manifestation, these concepts are all within the ancient scriptures and texts, nothing is new under the sun. e.g. ‘A Course In Miracles’ is actually based on biblical scriptures.

Following on from the above, this verse sums up what I believe to be the definition and embodiment true love: ‘Love makes it impossible to harm another, so love fulfills all that the law requires.’ Romans 13:10-12 The Passion Translation. Obviously, oft-quoted 1 Corinthians 13 defines love in terms of actions and is such a beautiful and definitive map of how to love and what love looks like in its tangibility. I’ve included it below for those who would like to read it afresh:

‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

 

What is a healthy truth we need to remember about this word?

 

To finish, I just want to leave you with the lessons I have learnt about love through personal experience and revelation: it is mysterious but it isn’t illusory, elusive or intangible. Mystery has to do with allure and the ongoing sense of revelation that you have in discovering the many layers of someone’s depth and breadth, that continues to change over time. Love is most definitely tangible and in reality it can be seen. It is not fickle, it is not insecure. Everyone has love languages, and if you take the time to learn those of your friends, family et al. your relationships with them will become infinitely easier to navigate in both how they express and how you show love to them, e.g if theirs is words the way they talk to you (not just in what they say but tone, method and consistency) is an expression of lack thereof of love, if it’s time, they will prioritise and make time for you.

 

When someone shows you who they are, believe them. It can be tough to swallow this truth, as sometimes we have vision for who someone can be/see their potential, but it isn’t our place to necessarily be with them on that journey. Remember, love is sacrificial, but it’s not self-obliterating.

 

Two last slices of learned wisdom to leave you with, firstly a quote from my fave, Bobbie Houston:

 

May love be the last great act to shock the world”.

 

And finally, these words from a previous blog post:

Love isn’t blind. Love is intelligent, love is considered. Love is so much more than a feeling. Love is synonymous with respect. Love is an enactment. Love is tenacious. Love is a moment-by-moment choice. Love is in the doing as much as it is in the being.”

 

Always in love,

 

J x

 

Feature image: Wefie snapped in the English countryside, July 2018 (spot the sibling)

Women of Style & Substance: Jessica Lee

Jessica Season Lee, a name as beautiful and unique as the girl herself. I would say what first bonded us was art. We’ve both always loved to paint and draw naked people (formally known as life-drawing) and although we went to the same school, we were in different forms throughout our time there. If it wasn’t for our love to create, we may never have bonded the way that we did. We are both a little whimsical, and away with the fairies at times (disclaimer: we may both still believe in fairies). Our artistic tendencies brought us on art department trips together to Paris and New York (which was a school trip for the history books on the scale of hilarity and sheer number of things that went wrong) and solidified our bond.

J Lee
Jess snapped by me in Jaipur, India. Candidly beautiful

She is one of my absolute favourite women in the world, my travel buddy (adventures include burns from bad boys on motorbikes in Langkawi and getting trapped in a bear-roaming National Park after-dark), confidante and someone I can be 100% myself with without fear of judgement. She is my go-to gal for matters of the heart; I remember after one particularly bad break-up I got a handwritten card in the post from Jess with a Seneca greeting on the front: ‘Thank you for being’ it read. So beautiful and so quintessentially Jess (I still have that card on my wall today, it will forever be the right word at the right time in the right place). One facet of her character which I don’t think she even fully realises is her inner resilience and quiet strength; she is living testimony to the reality that kindness isn’t weak and that living with whimsy isn’t congruous with not understanding pain, she inspires me with her unassuming tenacity in both personal and professional spheres more than she will ever know. Soul twin, oriental sister, partner in trying to make voice notes cool (seriously y’all should try it), without further ado here’s Jessica Season Lee and a little insight into her captivating and oh-so-beautiful mind…

A post shared by Jennifer McGeever (@j_wenghan) on Mar 26, 2015 at 8:20am PDT

 

SS: What did you last Google? 

JL: I last googled ‘Sustainable Fashion Academy’. I want to enrol in a Sustainability Fundamentals course which will give me more of an insight into the sustainability challenges and opportunities we face within the fashion industry, and identify how I can improve processes within my own job. Working at a company that promotes fast fashion has really highlighted the importance of being environmentally and ecologically mindful – I feel somewhat responsible to ensure I am doing all I can to help and educate myself.

SS: Name one app you love that we might not know about: 

JL: I share a food blog called Galstronomy with two of my best friends so I’m on the hunt for good editing apps. I’ve recently discovered Foodie which specialises in filters catered to photos of all my food snaps.

 

SS: What is your happy place?

JL: My ultimate happy place is enjoying good food with good company – for me, it’s definitely the case that the way to my heart is through my stomach.

SS: What book are you currently reading or did you most recently finish? 

JL: I’ve just finished reading The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett which follows two people and three different versions of their future – both together and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations. I would highly recommend this book – I love how it illuminates themes of fate, relationships and how impactful the choices we make can affect our lives and the lives of those around us [Ed note: This has just gone on my reading list.]

Image result for the versions of us laura barnett

SS: Who embodies style with substance for you?

JL: It won’t be a surprise to many that I think my mother is the ultimate embodiment of style with substance [Yes! Yvonne is the epitome of chic and all of our woman crushes ❤ ). She is chic, elegant and artistic with a distinct sense of style – her love for fashion has definitely filtered down to me. She is generous, brave, strong, a dreamy mother and completely beautiful inside and out – I’m so lucky to know her.

Jess
Actual twins no? The Lee ladies ❤ #TheUltimate, blessed to know you both

 

SS: What is one lesson that you’ve learnt in the past year?

JL: You have to go for what you want unashamedly. I have never been good at shouting about my achievements, nor am I vocal enough about telling people what I feel I deserve. Being new to the working world has been a huge learning curve for me where I haven’t always backed myself with conviction when it comes to things like promotions. I think women in general need to be better at this, and being brave and bold is something I’m trying to focus on – let’s close this gender pay gap! [Floored by all the wisdom here, amen, amen, amen! We are both huge fans of Lean In, the recent ’20 Percent Counts’ campaign they ran has loads of practical insight and wisdom on negotiating pay and the bottom line benefits for businesses in closing the gap, see more here.]

SS: Do you have a favourite podcast?

JL: There are so many good podcasts out there, but my favourites would probably be Desert Island Discs and Strangers. I am known as someone who asks endless questions because I want to know all the little things about the people I meet [lol YES this is such a J Lee trait that we all know and love, the most eternally inquisitive girl I know]. These podcasts provide unique insights into individuals and their stories which I find so interesting.

Image result for strangers podcast
‘Each episode is an empathy shot in your arm, featuring true stories about the people we meet, the connections we make, the heartbreaks we suffer, the kindnesses we encounter, and those frightful moments when we discover that WE aren’t even who we thought we were.’


SS: The first thing I do when I wake up is:

JL: I’ll hit the snooze button about three times and then check Instagram before getting up. In my dreams I’m the ultimate morning person who does sun salutations when I wake, has time to eat my breakfast at the dining room table and goes to the gym before work – sadly I’m more of a night owl than a lark.

SS: What is your guilty pleasure?

JL: Word play, cheese jokes, emojis and memes – they’re things that brings me so much joy but annoy the people around me endlessly… [Jess has a meme for every situation and will send them accordingly – classic example below – it’s a talent].

 

SS: If you could travel the world in a day, what pitstops would make and why?

JL: I would start the day with breakfast in the company of giraffes at the Giraffe Manor in Kenya [Omg this looks insanely magical], pop over to Japan for my favourite sushi and ramen with friends for lunch, and then visit my family in Singapore for dinner. Time in between would be spent sunbathing in the Maldives. Dreamy times.  

giraffe manor kenya 5
Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, image by Travel For Senses

SS: Any final words of wisdom?

JL: Roald Dahl once wrote ‘watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’. Where we live in a world of so much sadness and uncertainty, and where many of us end up stuck in the same old routine life, I think it’s really important to look out for the magic that surrounds us and take note of even the little things that bring joy.


Wow, couldn’t think of more perfect and adept words to end this interview with than the above. A lot of people don’t believe in miracles, but there is actually miraculous in the everyday, we are just too often distracted to see it. Thank you Jess, for reminding us to unravel the mysterious and the beautiful in the moments of each day.

Follow Jess @instagramjessica and Galstronomy @Galstronomy 

No Fear In Love

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks

nasa
Image: Nasa, This supernova remnant is located 160,000 light-years from Earth.

I went to sleep last night with such a disquiet in my spirit and when I woke this morning the heaviness on my heart just continued to grow. I am sure many of you reading this feel similarly, I live in London, and have a close friend who lives on the doorstep of the attacks that occurred here last night (he is thankfully safe and well) and so these events are particularly upsetting for me on a personal note. However, across the world just this weekend alone, 37 fellow brothers and sisters died in a human-led disaster wrought on a casino in Manila, reportedly due to debt and addiction, Al Jazeera is reporting that civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq by US-led coalition attacks are horrifically higher than official numbers have suggested (not forgetting that each of these ‘numbers’ is a life with a story and interwoven with so many others’), these three cases are deeply depressing and disheartening and yet they still barely scratch the surface of human suffering caused by other humans in this very moment.

 

As my phone lit up and buzzed last night with messages from some of my closest girlfriends speaking of fear, deep sadness and empathy for the situation happening in our city and I woke this morning feeling anxiety about even leaving my house and going to church in central London, something I do every week, I realised I had to arrest my thinking: “We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 Amplified). Take your thoughts captive.

 

I was talking to one of my best friends en route to church (via voice note lol that’s kind of our thing) and she was essentially asking me how I can believe and trust in a God that seems to protect some but not others (the victims of the attack). I am not saying I have all the answers at all and this is not about to turn into a preach or some apologetics argument, but I basically said to her that we as humans need to recognise our own agency and capacity for perpetrating love and evil towards and against each other. As a church we always pray for global events, over global leaders and of course on such a sombre morning over our own city where some of the congregation had friends in hospital who were injured last night. On a personal level, I have been praying fervently for a while now for interception in the hearts of the perpetrators, in no way diminishing prayer for the victims and their families, but the real solution we need is prevention, not cure. We do not live in a vacuum, who is to say what motivates people to commit such horrific acts against fellow humans who they do not know? Who have been dehumanised to a target in their minds and become happy to sacrifice their own lives for what is perceived to be a higher cause? I have seen with my own eyes systemic racism rob young people of hope for a better future in a society where they are already underprivileged in one of the cities I have lived in, I am not saying this justifies actions, but I am saying we need to look at and address the root cause of what incites us to act in every single area of our lives.

 

Wherever there is a void or a lack, as humans we will fill it with something. This works on a primal level with lust to a deeper spiritual level, there is a desire for ‘something more’ inherent in our design. This is why I pray and will continue to for the heart of those who are contemplating or in the midst of planning acts of terror against their fellow generation to turn (I say generation here in the sense of everyone alive right now, breathing in and out the same atmosphere on this planet, all 7 billion of us). As I was worshipping this morning, singing with my fellow lovers of God and humanity louder and more joyfully than we even do usually (which was so beautiful to witness) I was asking God for words, words directly from His Spirit to mine. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” is what I heard. I looked it up (thank you Google) and there I have lighting up my screen Jesus, the man himself (for this purpose any personal beliefs about who he is are not relevant) and he is PREACHING (said with hair flick) as only he could. He’s a funny guy, the things he said were equally profound and perplexing, sometimes he would explain them in more depth and other times leave us to still be pondering them some 2000 years later. He is there, in front of “a large crowd” of men and women, from all over, and one of the many things he said essentially translates to that phrase we love to toss about in our everyday [speak from the heart, write from the heart, say what’s on your heart]: A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45). In other translations from the Hebrew it reads: For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. So I’m taking this space to speak life into being, “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates” (Hebrews 4:12).

 

Whatever we are full of and allow to speak into our minds and hearts, whether it be your Twitter feed, your closest friend, your Instagram audience or even the most well-meaning relative, will be the place which we operate from, react and act from. As I write this new terror plots are being hatched (not to be dramatic but just to be real), bombs are being built, atrocities are taking place and hatred is sinking deeper in the hearts of some. All I know to be true and stand upon is that perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18) and that not one of us is called to act from a spirit of fear or timidity but that in actuality we have the choice to harness the real Spirit of power, love and self-control (or sound mind) that we have been given (2 Timothy 1:7). None of us know when our earthly lives, or those we love, will come to an end, but we all know that our days are numbered. It makes me so sad, it literally has made me weep to read of and see unfold the theft of life, attempts to spread fear, violence and heartbreak that we inflict upon each other. We cannot let fear cast out love in the face of such brutality. I don’t understand much to be honest, I think the older one gets the more you realise you really don’t know much about life you know (the real essence of it), but I do know that there is nothing new under the sun and that evil and human atrocity ain’t a new phenomenon. I grew up with my mum telling me stories that her mum had told her, about Chinese women and their unborn babies being killed, stomachs, uteruses and unborn children ripped out in the name of war, land and earthly “power”. My mum arrived in this country in the midst of fleeing from the terror that was perpetuating her home at the time. However, as darkness creeps closer in our neighbourhoods it is integral that we guard our hearts and incite those in our community to guard theirs.

 

Maybe these are just words to you, but hey, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, so here are my thoughts, broken and poured out as a living sacrifice, or as David once said: “My heart is stirred by a noble theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer (Psalm 45:1). I felt compelled to share a few things that had been impressed upon my spirit. Let’s not only care and remain vigilant, offering practical and spiritual assurance when it is on our doorstep, let’s pray without ceasing, intercepting where we can, and damn it, let’s be better human beings to one another in the little and large, full stop.

 

Let’s love harder, hold faith above the storm and: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life”, everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).

 

Another key Proverb to remember and allow to take root: Words kill, words give life; they’re poison or fruit–you choose (18:21).

 

All in love, always.

Jenn x

Negative Spaces, Magic Shapes

26th December 2016

I was just sitting and being this morning.

For me that involves praying (talking and listening to God), drinking in all that’s around me and remembering to be consciously grateful. The skies today in London are gloriously clear. The light and the air are ringing in clarity and freshness.

I felt prompted to share something I wrote a while back, perhaps in 2015, that I came across in a Word doc more recently. I hope it blesses you today and going forward.

As a point of reference for those who may not know, the ‘negative spaces’ I refer to below are an artistic term. They signify the background spaces (as opposed to the subject/foreground) in a traditional method of painting; I was taught to mark out the negative spaces in a composition before painting anything else in greater detail. They are as important as the main subject, as the work and use of colour in those negative spaces can make the difference between a study and a full-blown masterpiece. Beautifully and aptly, those shapes are called “magic shapes” in artistic terminology. In the spirit of this beautiful day, I extend new hope, love and prayers to you all:

Let us live our lives in the negative spaces, let us feel and breathe in the magic that comes with the potential in the unknown. Before you reach that next milestone, that next full bodied line, exhale and inhale the in-between, the unknown, the unseen. Those character building, spiritually-refining moments which allow us to be who we are when the spotlight comes on. Don’t be afraid of the dark, step into it, step into a place of separation, walk on water, believe in the unknown. Live your faith – faith is after all believing that what is unseen and intangible is not only possible but has already been done, that it far exceeds our expectations and is not dependent or conditional on our verification of its eventual tangibility.  

 

Almost eight years ago, I experienced the most painful and poignant Christmas of my life so far. My mother was in a hospice, where cancer had spread to her brain and mentally she was no longer fully with us. She was, as we would soon discover, in the last week of her life. I share this extremely personal note as a means to say that hope is real. Love is real. Sometimes we may become tired and weary of hearing sentiments and reading positive #quotesoftheday on Instagram, I feel you. Words do have power, but they can also bear ritual.

When I think about my reality eight Christmases ago and my reality today, they are extremely different, but there is one constant. “The passage of time can heal” is something often said, but the passage of time can also destroy, allowing for decay and deterioration is a harsh reality that we must be equally aware of. Over the years since her death, close friends and acquaintances have sometimes said to me “you are so strong” which I guess is shared with a mixture of admiration and empathy. Really, I am so blessed.

I was so blessed to have my mother’s love, which is still so real even after her physical prescence is gone. Over the last eight years I have been beyond blessed with family, friends, the love of significant others, confidantes, kind strangers and more. Matthew 5:3-4 reads in The Message translation: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” Quite honestly, it doesn’t matter what your spiritual affiliation is, or even if you don’t have one, there is deep wisdom in those words. Where you turn and what you’re surrounded by when you’re at the end of your rope, in a place where there is a deep void in whatever capacity, will define you, it will make or break you.

I was having a conversation with a great friend the other night and she told me how a young mother who attends her classes had told her that in the midst of suffering post-natal depression, my friend’s smile had brought her hope and joy. That struck a chord with me, we really don’t know what that person sitting opposite us on the tube is going through, or even in this case, those within our direct sphere of influence. If we are attuned to those around us, a smile, a simple gesture of welcome and kindness, can be something they are grateful for that day. Please, extend that smile today with an added dimension of warmth, bear joy in your heart; you don’t know what the fruit of those small seeds will be. There is so much darkness out in our very neighbourhoods that we must be responsible for carrying light within us. It can outpour and overflow from you.

I’ll leave you with this today, said by the all-out amazing Bobbie Houston:

“May love be the last great act to shock the world”.

Love is intelligent, love is considered. Love is so much more than a feeling. Love is synonymous with respect. Love is an enactment. Love is tenacious. Love is a moment-by-moment choice. Love is in the doing as much as it is in the being.

Happy (almost) new year dear readers!

Jenn x

 

Feature image: Snapped in Monaco