Tag Archive: purpose


wordsI enjoy words, but there are just some that stand tall above the rest.

And I’m not just talking simply about nice sounding words here like ‘cactus’, ‘gesticulate’ or ‘epiphany’, but words  with meanings attached that as a concept are particularly attractive.

The first one, that i declared as my ‘word of the year’ about 5 years ago was the word ‘Intentional’ which i continue to love as a word and as a concept.

It stands in the face of that old saying, ‘If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always gotten.’

Or the other well-known one that ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.’

I find it to be such an important word for anyone who calls themself a ‘Christian’ or as i prefer ‘Christ follower’ – in fact i use the term ‘Christ follower’ personally because it is more intentional – it suggest that there is following happening, movement.

And that is what I like about the word ‘Intentional’ – it implies action, forward momentum, focus and moving towards a clear vision.

If you are not intentional in life then it is very easy and quick for things like apathy, procrastination and boredom to creep in.

Intentionality builds on questions such as ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What am I about?’ as well as ‘What is important to me in life?’ and even more personally ‘Who is important to me in life?’ and others. Intentionality leads you towards the life to the full that Jesus spoke about to His followers. It is about ‘being’ more than it is about simply ‘existing’ which is empty, cold and to an extent dead.

So ‘Intentional’ is a word i really like. What is a word you really like?

[To read about another word i really like – Interdependence – click here]

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So I’ve been putting off writing this for a while ever since Brett asked a few weeks…ok maybe months ago now. For many reasons I didn’t feel ready to write this and to be honest it’s still something I don’t feel quite equipped to write. Not because I know nothing about singleness…ha! But because the emotions and stages and experience changes daily and is sometimes hard to pin down and describe.

I have been single most of my life and I’ve just turned 40 early this year. I have never been married and do not have any children of my own. I live on my own with 2 cats that I feel quite comfortable with posting pictures of on Facebook as often as some people post pictures of their kids…well maybe not that often! But I can quite easily be described as the archetypal old maid cat lady.

But that is not who I am. I am not defined by my marital status. I refuse to be. It annoys me when the first thing people ask when they meet me is “so are you married? Kids?” as if that is a woman’s only purpose in life. And then proceed to tell me that I shouldn’t worry about it as they know so and so and they recently got married after being single for a few years and now they have 2 beautiful children and you never know, anything can happen and lots of people are having kids now in their 40’s…ho hum. Do I sound a little jaded or cynical? I don’t mean to.

I appreciate my friends who care about my happiness enough to know that I would love to meet the right person and share my life with someone. Because that is a truth I will not deny. Even harder than being a single woman in your 40’s is being a single woman in your 40’s when you don’t want to be.
A friend was telling me recently about an article that described how a non-event in someone’s life can have as much impact if not more than an event. For example a person gets married and that is a defining event. From then on you are married and you learn to process and grow in that relationship status. However someone who doesn’t get married doesn’t experience that “event” and so it’s not something that you can pin point to a date on a calendar. It just slowly develops until you realize that relationship status.

Most of us don’t consciously make a decision to be single. But over time and through relationships that don’t work out as hoped for or choosing at different stages to prioritize work or studies we find ourselves on our own doing life slightly differently to our married friends.
In this journey we have to slowly let go of some of our hopes and dreams. We let go of the dream of being a young mother. We let go of the hope of falling pregnant easily without the help of medical technology. And finally we let go of the hope of having children at all. We start to hope that we’ll maybe meet someone who already has kids. Or maybe we’ll adopt.

For me the question of children has been a difficult one since I was 24 and told I would most likely not be able to have children due to severe Endometriosis. So those dreams and hopes were let go of a long time ago. And then resurrected after having related surgery in my early 30’s and being given hope by my doctors only to have to go through the process of letting go of that hope again when life didn’t quite turn out the way I had hoped.
During the last two years I had to let go of the dream most daughters have of dancing with my father at my wedding and seeing him holding my children because he lost his battle with cancer before I met the right person.

And then you start to let go of the hope of meeting anyone at all.

It is a slow process of letting go of your dreams and your hope.

And in the process there is hurt, pain, loneliness, anger, disappointment and if you nurture it even resentment, bitterness and envy. In the process it’s easy to get drawn into unhealthy friendships and damaging relationships, and when these don’t work out we start to protect our hearts to the point that we may stop letting people in if we are not careful.

There is a very clear message in the Bible that tells us that neither singleness nor marriage is more desirable; that the one is not better than the other. It is our society that has exalted being married and having kids above singleness. We design our church programs around families. It is subtly implied when we as singles are not included in “couple” events or disenfranchised from church leadership because we don’t have a spouse.

We teach our children through fairy tales about the handsome prince who will rescue the princess and everyone lives happily ever after and we all want to be the princess, but no one mentions that we may end up being the spinster Godmother or ugly Stepsister!

But life is not a fairytale and there are all types of families that make up the world. Mine includes my mother and brother, my two cats and a crazy group of friends, married and single who make my life fun, interesting and joyful.

There is a difference between the patronizing attitude of so many and the support and understanding of people who love you. And to the marrieds out there who have single friends my advice is simply:

Don’t treat my time as less valuable than yours. Don’t treat me like my life and attitude is selfish because I haven’t had children. Don’t expect me to always be available when it suits you. I have my own priorities, demands and responsibilities. They are no less important to me than yours are to you. They are just different. You don’t have to “fix” me or my life.

In the midst of the struggles and journey of being single there is life. My life. And it is valuable, good and blessed. It has a purpose beyond marriage and children. A purpose that I’m constantly working at uncovering and developing and some days I “get” it and some days I don’t. And it’s still strangely hopeful.

[to read my friend and housemate Sueihn Lee’s story of singleness click here]

[For an inspirational post titled ‘I don’t wait anymore’ click here]

be where you are

at this present point in time my wife valerie [aka the beautiful val] and i are living and working and interning and ministering with the simple way community in philadelphia…

before this i was a youth slash student pastor [disclaimer: no youth or students were slashed during my time there] at a vineyard church in stellenbosch, outside cape town in south africa for 6 years. i remember the one staff meeting we had in the first year or so of my being there and my boss chris-the-boss asked me if i could be doing anything in the world what would it be? without skipping a beat i responded ‘i would be doing this’ and i meant it…

my second last year there i had a sense it was my last year at the church and told chris so but then during that year i met tbV and we were going to get married and she still had a year of study to do and so i ended up doing another year at the church because it seemed to make sense. and it was a very tough year in many respects – SO MUCH GOOD stuff happened and great relationships with people and so i don’t think i’d change it, but i definitely think that i would not have been able to answer that same question with as much conviction and really meant it or believed it. and looking back, i don’t know how i could have played it differently, because i don’t know where else i was meant to be, but maybe i should have been more focused in making sure i was in the right place.

i say all this in introduction because if my friend chris-the-boss flew over to philadelphia and took me out for coffee and sat across the table from me and asked me if i could be doing anything in the world what would it be? then the answer would be – living and working and interning and ministering with the simple way community in philadelphia – with absolute truth and conviction.

is it easy here? no. is it always comfortable? not a chance. are there times of being frustrated and wondering what we’re doing and what impact we’re making and could we be doing this a lot better? absolutely. but there is a knowledge deep within me that this is where val and i are meant to be at the moment, and that feels amazing.

i know too many people who are simply in a rut of doing the thing they’ve always been doing. a bunch of my friends feel pulled to something else and yet they continue on day in and day out going through the motions of what they’re doing. some of them will get to that new thing place, i have no doubt of that. but i worry about the ones who ten years from now will be sitting in the same place doing the same thing [nothing wrong with that if it’s the thing you’re meant to be doing, not talking change for change sake] and talking about the thing they should be doing.

which is why i get super stoked by my friend chris lindemann. and my friend bruce collins. and my friends kleinfrans [he’s not] and michelle. and my friend megan giggles. and my sister dawn and her husband glen who just moved back to south africa when the easier option i imagine would have been to stay in the uk. and my folks who continue to live life and not simply exist or settle.

what about you? if you could be anywhere in the world doing anything in the world, would it be that?

Oh.

Oh? As in really? You… you’re sure? Certain?

All-powerful. Oh?

Faithful. Oh?

All-loving. Unconditionally so.

Even me?

Even my stuff?

Me? Oh?

Oh really? As in ‘really really?’

Like real miracles? Actual miraculous occurances?

Blind seeing, deaf hearing, lame walking?

Dead being raised?

Oh. I get it. It’s a metaphoric death.

An inner blindness.

Deaf to the words of the Holy Scriptures speaking to my disobedient ears.

Able to walk tall in the knowledge that i’m ok.

That i’m going to make it.

Is that all?

Because if it is, then “oh!”

Oh.

Oh?

O

As in zero

As in no more response to that do i have.

IS that really all you’ve got?

If it’s only metaphorical

Some kind of greeting card sentiment

A cartooned caricature

Then “oh” is all i have.

Awe has turned to oh.

Owe.

As in You owe me.

All the time i put in

All the energy

All of that, believing…

Owe

For a life given

Lived

Dedicated

Surrendered? Well, where i could.

Oh.

O.

Owe.

Unless. One less. Own-less. Oh’ness.

Unless… there really was more.

Is more.

of You. to You. about… You?

Because if there was more, is more

Then it would be different

It would have to be different

I would have to be different

Oh so completely different

If you were shown to be so much more

Or maybe even just all i was told you were, are.

Not metaphoric, but real.

Not imaginary or fabled or wishfully thought up

But real. Alive. Involved.

Interested.

In me.

In us. In all this. In all that is and has been going on.

Oh?

Oh.

Oh!

And once more, the awe consumes the “oh?”

‘…and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ [Acts 2.47b]

what comes just before the ‘and’ of that passage that caused such huge growth in the early church? was it their amazing evangelism plans or ABC steps of getting people to follow Jesus?

none of the above! it was meeting together, eating together, loving God and loving people together – basically just being church – listening to preaching, seeing miracles happening, sharing of ‘their stuff’ so that no-one actually had stuff but certainly so that no-one had no stuff. celebrating God.

thru just being what church was meant to be – active, living, loving followers of Jesus – the church grew.

people were drawn to the church in Acts cos of love. these days, too often, one of the main reasons why people leave the church or avoid it is the lack of love.

that is a horrible thing. do better church! [and yes, i am part of that.]

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” [Jesus, book of John 13.34-35]

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