The Baby House

“Get it out of your head that being a mother is having a baby. Being a mother in the Christian sense of the word is passing along a message. It’s much more than physical. It’s spiritual, emotional and total impact process. It’s my giving of everything that I’ve got to the next generation because that’s the way God intended it.” (Jeanne Hendricks)

Sometimes I feel like the words above ring true for me and yet I still have days when I look at the world through grieving eyes and struggle to lift my head. On those days I battle to be around little ones but there are many days when all I want to do is love and nurture a child. Volunteering at children’s homes is something I have done quietly for years. I don’t want the pressure to have to answer questions or explain my actions to others, hence I have kept this to myself and I won’t be sharing much about it going forward.

However, the home I am currently involved with has been such a blessing, allowing me to come and go freely as I need and this environment has been ideal for my head and heart. They are always in need of assistance, which is why I am using my writing to bring awareness to this very worthy organization and putting my need to be private aside, by sharing my poem and their plight with you:

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THE BABY HOUSE

The Baby House is a safe place for abandoned babies to be,

While they wait for new families to love them unconditionally.

Some of the little ones had a rough start and fought to survive,

Now they receive physical and emotional care and are able to thrive.

When you meet them for the first time face to face,

Your heart will be warmed by their affection and loving embrace.

A little focused, individual attention goes a long way,

And just when you need to leave, you wish you could stay.

The House Mothers ensure it is a place ‘where love grows’,

Their days are busy and often filled with both highs and lows.

However, these amazing ladies are never without a smile,

They work very hard and are always willing to go the extra mile.

The home survives on donations from people like you and me,

What a great opportunity to come together as a loving community.

Consumables like formula, nappies, purity or even your time (come play!)

Anything will be appreciated and make a big difference to their day.

 

Debbie Ivins, Volunteer

Needle In A Haystack, Part 2

“Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. Let this be a sign that you’ve got a big heart and aren’t afraid to let others see it. Showing your emotions is a sign of strength.” (Brigitte Nicole)

I was hesitant about going ahead with “part two” of my post, as I felt vulnerable after last time and the responses I received left me overwhelmed. When I was told my blog played a role in helping a reader recognize a destructive pattern in their own life, prompting them to make a positive change, it encouraged me to not be afraid and keep talking about these things. I am a work in progress when it comes to learning to express myself and although writing has given me an outlet, I have to regularly fight the urge to return to my safe place of being quiet and invisible.

A few weeks ago I felt like I had lost my joy and nothing would satisfy the ache inside. No amount of positive thinking, pep talks or peanut butter could make it better. (I eat peanut butter on a daily basis because I absolutely love it and recently upgraded my humble jar to a 900g bucket instead.) It does require self-control and when I am having a tough day it is tempting to let the regular couple of teaspoons turn into one too many! Thankfully I recognize I have a choice about how I am going to feed my pain and a short-term fix, like giving in to my craving for example, will not solve the deeper problem.

Healthy appetites or hobbies, like food, work, shopping or relationships can become destructive if we let them get out of control. If we look around there is plenty evidence that this kind of behaviour if rife in our world today. Often we don’t need to look further than ourselves to realize many of us have activities and habits that we use as buffers, instead of expressing our emotions appropriately. I used my peanut butter as a light-hearted example because ‘cravings’ often mask some negative emotion, be it depression, anger or loneliness that we’d rather not experience. Always ask yourself what you are feeling before indulging in a craving and don’t shy away from facing that emotion.

We are never going to be perfect and our lives are always under construction (and that’s okay!) Spending time with God is essential to helping you stand firm against temptation as only He can provide the lasting fulfilment you seek. Remember what was said in the beginning too…don’t be afraid to show your emotions and let us be a community that supports each other and opens our hearts to those that are struggling.

Needle In A Haystack

It has been one of those weeks where I feel like a fraud and although I do my best to ‘choose joy’ and win the battle in my mind on a daily basis, sometimes I let circumstances get the better of me and I want to quit and simply sulk. Often when I write and tackle topics, I am the one in need of the greatest help and meeting others like me through this journey has filled me with humility and gratitude. I have learnt that we all have a deep desire to know God and find fulfilment, but we let our appetite for feelings, experiences, material possessions and so on, get out of balance and take priority.

Finding peace and happiness this week, has been like searching for a needle in a haystack and instead of being still and asking God for help and strength, I end up seeking comfort by indulging in behaviours that are not good for me. Perhaps you can relate. Whether you switch off in front of the television for hours, max out the credit card or eat the whole tub of ice cream, these are merely short-term fixes that don’t satisfy for long.

When we end up giving in to excessive indulgence, it is usually followed by guilt and so the cycle begins again, only this time the void is deeper and it takes more to fill it. We use these quick fixes as buffers instead of asking ourselves what is the driving force behind these compulsive behaviours. What is the pain we are trying so hard to mask? I know for me a big trigger is my infertility struggle and with four pregnancies announced on social media this week, it set my already vulnerable soul into panic mode and all I wanted to do was numb the heartache, quickly.

I have always found it helpful to pursue challenging sporting goals as a way to cope with this pain. Recently I have been struggling to stick to a plan and am conflicted as to what I want to do going forward. Having this negative mind-set makes me feel more fatigued physically and it sets me on a downward spiral. I don’t want to force my training or have negative thoughts, so I need to nip them in the bud and not lose hope, despite the uncertainty I am facing.

I think there will have to be a ‘part two’ to this post, as it is going to take some time to let things settle and find my joy again. I challenge you to do the same if this is an area you are struggling with. Get to know yourself better and ask yourself what you are feeling before you indulge in a craving that will do you more harm than good. Rather feed your spirit and strengthen yourself from the inside out. This journey won’t be quick or easy but we need to persevere if we want to see change.

Take Responsibility (Part Two)

In the last blog post I mentioned how we can easily slip into the habit of doing everything in our power to avoid taking personal responsibility. A lesson we need to learn is that we need to start putting the blame where it belongs, on ourselves, if we ever want to have any hope of healing.

I think one of the best ways to use our pain, is by comforting someone else who is going through the same thing. In doing so, we can find a sense of purpose in contributing to society and making a difference in someone’s life. This creates a sense of belonging, as we all realize there is no need to face life’s problems on our own. I have found this satisfies me on the inside more than anything else. It is easy to become obsessed with ourselves and our wants and needs. By having others around it helps us avoid this trap of self-absorption.

Nurturing healthy relationships is important and often helps to satisfy our basic human need to be loved and accepted just as we are. I think this unmet need is often the root cause of so many of our struggles. Healthy companionship can also provide us with encouragement and accountability. We often use addictive behaviours (associated with food, work, shopping and so on) to medicate the pain we are experiencing, but again, we need to take responsibility, stop making excuses and commit to change.

It is so easy to be disappointed by our circumstances, upset by dreams that haven’t come to pass or frustrated by missed opportunities and goals we didn’t achieve. But we need to realize the work that God is doing within us every day and no experience is ever wasted. Change happens little by little, so don’t be discouraged. Be patient with yourself and keep moving forward.

Repetition

After several months of training and competing, I stepped on stage for the final time this year, at the Amateur Olympia Africa two weeks ago. It was an incredible experience and an amazing way to conclude this journey. The last few days have been filled with confusion as I wonder “what next?!” For someone who thrives on routine , I have been feeling lost and confused. I remember experiencing the same mixed emotions this time last year, when I was contemplating entering the bodybuilding world, because the idea didn’t seem logical.

I knew in my spirit that the time had come for me to step out my comfort zone and onto that stage, yet my mind didn’t want to accept the idea. I focused on the discomfort and sacrifice it would require and dwelt on all the obstacles that I would have to overcome. When something doesn’t seem logical, we are tempted to dismiss it. I feel more secure when I have things figured out and am addicted to reasoning, which is an area I need work on, as this only leads to confusion and fatigue! In the end I didn’t let those negative thoughts form a stronghold in my mind and I began to train, believing that someday I would step on stage and compete as a fitness athlete. And I did.

We will never go beyond the barriers that we set in our own minds. You have to let go of past hurts or failure and move on. If you want to do bigger and better things, you can’t keep going in circles, doing the same thing year after year. As I sit here and start to contemplate my goals for 2015, I haven’t come to any conclusions yet, but one thing I do know is that I need to stay positive and keep moving my mind in the right direction. I refuse to sit back and be passive and have a victim mentality. On a personal note, I have huge hormonal complications, which have made me prone to having weak muscles and bone structure, not ideal for an aspiring fitness athlete like myself. However, I am not spending my days sipping tea at my pity party. No ways! I refuse to adopt an attitude of failure and rather do my best with what I have. Don’t become satisfied with where you are. Develop a fresh vision and don’t let your past determine your future.

Don’t Be A Slave To The Crave

Last week I watched two programs on drug addiction. It was quite unusual that on different days, when I happened to sit down in front of the television, I came across people talking about their struggles with drugs. I felt instant compassion for them, as they described being trapped in this prison, trying to desperately fulfill unmet needs with a temporary high. The images shown and the conversations exchanged between the addicts have remained with me since and although I have never personally struggled with drugs, I could relate to a lot of what was being shared by this group of young adults.

I could relate to them because below the surface of these harmful behaviours (in this case drug abuse, but there are many other examples) is often a single trait that all of us share: we are all searching to experience fulfillment. We may look for it in different ways and in different places, be it drugs, alcohol, food, work, relationships, but the fact remains we are all on the same journey.

We are searching for meaning and purpose. We want to love and be loved. We want to be satisfied with who we are. We spend a lot of time trying to meet our longing for fulfillment, often in our own strength, but we need to surrender our problem to God, as He is the one who made us with these appetites and ultimately is the only one who can help us satisfy them in the right way. We often don’t fill our appetites with what we really need and instead try put something else in their place. The one young man on the program mentioned he felt he lacked his father’s approval and affection and drugs became the substitute for this need of love and acceptance he craved from his dad.

We need to be aware and carefully examine the real story behind our choices to fulfill our appetites and do our best not to give in to our fleeting desires quite so easily by making the wrong choice. There is no simple solution and I am skimming the surface of a much deeper issue here, but I wanted to share my thoughts as these stories impacted me this week, and got me thinking. I hope it has given you something to think about too.