One of the lessons I’ll never forget growing up was getting into an argument with a girl who had a quick, nasty, tongue.
She, for no reason, spewed out some nonsense statement about me and I was SO dumb as to answer her back.
She didn’t know me- I didn’t know her.
There were people around and I remember thinking, “I’m not going to let her insult me like that!” So I answered her back. Needless to say she crushed me with another retort- because, obviously, she was accustomed to that kind of nasty talk. It came easy to her.
As I walked away, feeling like a complete idiot, a friend I was with said, “Hannah, don’t ever get into arguments with fools. Because when you do you end up looking like one too!”
I remember feeling silly yet recognising that had I just let that girl talk and continued walking tall and proud she would’ve looked like the idiot- and I wouldn’t have ended up looking like a complete dud!
Even now, as a grown woman, I’ve encountered really mean spirited people who’ve said words that have really really hurt- mostly because some of these people are close to me. Few things hurt more than a person who’s supposed to love you crushing you with their words.
But putting all that aside- what I felt like saying was that the enemy is always trying to lure us into an argument with him about who we are.
I’ve realised it’s silly to get into those arguments because- yep! You got it! We end up looking like fools too!
The Scriptures tell us to “resist the devil” not to enter into arguments with him.
I’m finding that the most effective way to “resist” him is to focus on God’s truth about You and who You are in Him.
But instead, many of us hear a lie from the enemy and we toy with it. We analyse it. We call friends about it and seek the counsel of Dr Google.
We question the Truth we know and entertain the enemy’s lies.
No! That’s getting into an argument with the devil!
And because he’s mean spirited and has millenia of experience in being downright nasty, chances are you will lose in an exchange with him.
When he comes with a lie- recognise it’s him- stand on God’s Word and kick him out of your head with It!
Because the moment you start arguing and reasoning- he’s in- then it’s not so easy to get him out.
Guard your heart. Guard your head! Fill every part of you with God’s truth.
When Jesus was faced with the devil he didn’t get into long philosophical arguments with him- the devil said something- Jesus instantly responded with The Word. Finished.
And I bet you TONS of people would click on such a link to take a test that would tell them whether they were “phenomenal” or not. And that’s sad.
I know I’ve taken countless such tests- in various ways.
“How smart are you…” “Are you cut out to be an entrepreneur” “5 ways to know you’re on the right path” Those tests are endless!
They come to us in the form of “fun” online quizzes. They come in the form of others measuring us up and subtly telling us we don’t quite measure up. The worst tests though are those we set for ourselves: “Am I good enough?” “Am I worthy?” “Am I still beautiful?”
Worse still, we score ourselves without even taking the tests with damning statements such as: “I’m SUCH a loser!” “Why can’t I be more like…” “When will I ever learn!” “Why am I such a failure!”
I’ve been asked to speak at an event themed Phenomenal Womenlater this month. (August 29 to be exact 🙂 ).
As I pondered about what I’d speak on I thought I’d give a talk on ‘What makes a phenomenal Woman’. Then I thought- What an arrogant talk that would be!
Who on earth has the authority to speak on what defines a phenomenal woman?
Each of us describes phenomenal according to the way we experience life.
For one person phenomenal might be a woman who beats all the odds and becomes an astrophysicist who makes some tremendous breakthrough that changes life as we know it- and wins a Nobel Peace Prize!
For others phenomenal could be a parent who sacrificed all they could to raise their children the best way they knew how.
Who’s to say one is less than the other?
2015 has been a year I believe God’s called me out on the tests I keep submitting myself to. And as is the nature of these ‘self’tests’ I kept falling short.
I work as branding coach and have the privilege of working from home.
When my journey as a mom started man was I in my element!
I made drastic changes that included leaving my job and reinventing how I wanted to brand myself.
But as time passed I took my eyes off my own goal and instead begun measuring myself against other women.
I wanted to be like one of my mentors who’d built a multi-million dollar business while homeschooling all three of her children.
I wanted to be like some of my friends who had robust, full-time, careers yet somehow managed to still be hugely present in their children’s lives.
I wanted to be like the remarkable stay-at-home moms whose lives seemed like the definition of amazing on Pinterest.
I wanted to be like all those women- at the same time! Having it all! And boy did I try to be them. And boy did I crash and burn! Like completely.
I ended up in a pit of utter paralysis.
I’d failed the test.
Every morning I’d wake up with this statement banging hard against my skull: “I’m a loser and I’ll never amount to anything!”
Yes that was me. Super inspired and inspiring me.
I’d reached the bottom of bottom and I didn’t know how to get out. Because in all that “testing”… I’d lost myself. Who I was. And what I believed- for me.
In all of this what have I learned? That every woman walking this earth is phenomenal.
It’s how we’re designed. Nothing we do can take away or add to our phenomenalness. The only difference is that some women manifest the phenomenal in them and others don’t.
I believe that those that don’t- don’t because of certain things that may have happened to break their spirit. That breaking made them believe the lie that they weren’t much- let alone phenomenal.
I could write an entire book on just that.
So for my Phenomenal Women talk on August 29, I wont’ dare be so arrogant as to suggest that there are certain criteria to qualify us as ‘phenomenal women’. No such criteria exist! Those that believe they do- please! Stop taking those darned tests!
What I will be speaking on come August 29 is Releasing the phenomenal we are.
I can’t wait to share some of what I’ve learned and experienced on my journey.
I know that what I’ll be sharing will be liberating for many.
It’ll shine a light on who we truly are and how we can manifest that in our every day… and ultimately our lives.
It’s an honour that Events by M.E. (the POW, all-female, company that’s hosting the Phenomenal Women occasion) thought to invite me as one of their speakers. They’re releasing their inner phenomenal in connecting women like this.
I know it’s going to be an event that goes beyond motivational. It’ll draw out of us the kind of women who trash those silly tests that cause us to question how incredible we truly are.
Love, relationships & marriage are among the hottest topics for discussion.
Most of us seem to have an opinion on this.
We have an ideal of what it should like- even offer advice as though we have the handbook on the subject.
There are few things I’ve gone through harder than marriage.
It. Is. Hard.
For some it may be super easy but for me the first year was hard. The second was harder. The third- oh by then I couldn’t believe we’d made it to three years!
We teach our children many things but I don’t think we invest nearly enough in teaching and showing them what a love relationship between a man and a woman should be like. God and God alone is the Standard and ultimate authority on this.
We’ve somehow made light of marriage- we think it’s OK to “try it out”… dating has come to mean: “Do everything you would as a married couple with the “upside” that you don’t have the “bondage” of marriage”. It’s sad.
When I was getting married I was lost
My parents were splitting up. I felt my family was falling apart!
I didn’t believe in marriage anymore! I was angry and hurt.
I lashed out at God- I lashed out at myself- I lashed out at anyone who tried to remind me what marriage was supposed to be: Centred on God.
I carried such offence in my heart that it led to me getting married with mad bitterness and expectation of failure.
What young people need to know is that God is the Standard
They need to understand that there must be a willingness to submit to His will no matter the cost- They need to know that utter surrender to Him is the only way- God doesn’t ask of this for His sake- He asks it for ours. Because a marriage that is not surrendered to God will fail- if not it will be miserable- that’s a certainty.
And people, both young and old need to have the courage to walk away if the person they so madly love isn’t willing to submit and surrender to Jesus.
Love for another human being should never block out God’s voice
I know this for sure because there were times I believed with all my heart I’d heard God about men I’d loved but truth was I hadn’t heard God- it was the sound of my own desires beating so loud I couldn’t hear God’s truth. And warnings. And my heart got broken. And shattered. It wouldn’t have been that way had I chosen God’s voice and His love for me over my “in-love feelings”.
I got married believing that if my guy and I didn’t work out we could just split and go our separate ways. Don’t believe that lie. It is never ever that easy.
I’ll never forget one of my friends sitting with me, hearing my exit plan and saying, “If this is how you’re getting into this marriage then you guys shouldn’t be getting married at all!” Truer words were never spoken.
Marriage doesn’t fix what’s broken- God does that
But only if He’s given free reign to do so.
God compares marriage to His relationship with us.
Where would any of us be if Jesus had an exit plan?
Women- especially women! We sell ourselves short!
A guy gives us a bit of attention and we’re ready to give everything to him. How about giving everything to Jesus first- then see who He brings about?
It’s not just about “mutual respect”
Or having the same values or whatever else we’ve read in books and seen on Oprah.
Eat, Pray Love? Give me a massive break!
I’ve seen women bookmark that story to death- some have even called it their Bible!
Marriage is: Jesus. His Word. His Love.
It’s about Jesus. He and He alone is the authority on Marriage.
When it comes to our marriages- especially before we say ‘I do’, we need to ask: Is He the Foundation of our relationship? Is He the one breathing into this new Oneness we’re going into? Is He the Centre? Is His vision your vision- for both of You?
I grew up around brokenness
Because just about every family I ever came across as a child didn’t show me what marriage was supposed to be.
I’ve seen homes shattered and children damaged because folks put their own desires before God’s heart for them and their families.
It takes courage and faith to walk away when God says “He’s not the one.”
It takes courage and faith to walk away when God says, “Son, that’s not the woman I have for you.”
A heart surrendered to God allows His guidance when choosing the most vital human relationship we will ever have!
Often we choose for ourselves then blame God for not saving a marriage we didn’t allow Him to have a say in when we were getting into it.
A marriage that has God at the centre won’t be perfect
Because as much as we look to Jesus we still have flaws- But 2 years ago my husband and I began drinking in the ministry of Grace.
That year we both listened to Joseph Prince, every morning, and as he taught us to look to Jesus, without even looking at each other, without hours of therapy and counselling, things we’d battled with in our marriage- for years- begun to heal and resolve.
Because of that experience it’s with absolute certainty I can say There is power in the Gospel.
There is power in Jesus
And a marriage that misses this will surely miss out on the splendour we were meant to enjoy in this incredible relationship made up of a man and his wife.
Marriage was never meant to be about “sticking out”.
To me that notion speaks only of loooooong suffering.
Marriage was meant to be a POW union between a man and woman. An unstoppable force powered by the fuel of Heaven- conquering all- serving the Kingdom in massive strides and showing the children it produces that God is good. So good!
Marriage is meant to be an expression of our worship to Him
It’s meant to preach the gospel without saying a word.
It’s meant to propel in us the destinies and dreams God had in mind when He created us. That’s marriage. Not long suffering and “sticking it out”. And we all fall short. All of us. That’s why we need Jesus up in here!
Marriage counselling shouldn’t begin when young people decide to marry- it should be ingrained in our children as they grow.
I’ve seen single Mommies who couldn’t show their kids what marriage was about because they didn’t have husbands- the men had ducked!
But those Mommies went on their knees and asked Jesus to help them raise their babies- I’ve seen the testimony of children who grow up in such homes and it’s powerful. Far more powerful than folks who “stick it out” “for the children” and yet there’s no love, surrender or worship in their marriage.
Watching single Mommies, surrendered to God raise incredible Godly children who love and serve Jesus- who despite the brokenness of divorce believe in God’s plan for their lives and trust in Him for their marriages – that’s amazing! And it proves what God can do when we surrender to Him. Even when the marriages we worked so hard to keep going fail.
If the teaching and testimony we got from our own families was wrong and defunct- Jesus can still be our Standard
He will show us how to treat our husbands or wives.
Even when we fail to emulate Him as we should to our children- He will emulate Himself to our children if we’ll surrender them to Him.
Marriage is Jesus
Anything else is less than and not God’s best or His heart for us.
May we not be quick to give “politically correct” advice to friends and family that tickles their ears and justifies their choices because it “feels” right.
It’s not meant to just “feel” right.
Jesus going to the Cross had Nothing to do with how He “felt”. It had everything to do with His surrender and utter commitment to His Dad, our Father.
May we then point everyone who needs marital advice to Jesus
May we not be quick to rush to friends and family for their opinions on our own marriages but instead fall at Jesus’ feet and shout “help!”
And when all fails and the marriage we’d prayed and wept over still ends- may we remember that God still loves us utterly and completely and He will bring out good from our brokenness.
All things- ALL things work out for Good for them that Love the Lord
Our “for good” is never dependent on anyone else but God. When God is the Centre, When He is the foundation- no matter what storms come, Your house will stand. It’s not my promise- it’s God’s promise given to us by the Words of Jesus Himself.
May we raise children who are centred on Jesus. Children who will dwell in His presence- desire Him above all else and will have the faith and courage to walk away when Daddy tells them, “No, that’s not the one I have for you.”
May God be our Standard on Marriage.
Not the latest self-help guru, or some rad on TV or talk Radio- not our friends and family- not our past experiences- not opinions and surely not our feelings and emotions- may God be The Standard. Him and Him alone.
So much so that I can longer do work that doesn’t reflect my convictions.
I think many people are this way too.
It could be that living in an age where we are saturated with loads of information- it’s easy for us to find what it is we care about deeply. And pursue it.
For our TV Show Dream BIG, we’ve interviewed people ranging from under-resourced individuals making huge impact on entire communities to multi-millionaire entrepreneurs.
In meeting the varying individuals through Dream BIG I’ve realised that despite where we are in our journeys, we all need something to believe in.
Even outside of my work, there times I’ve spoken with people I deem super-successful- yet they’ll speak to me about a yearning in their hearts that goes beyond their every day business. A yearning that revolves around impacting the lives of others- not necessarily for financial gain but to fulfill a part of their lives they cannot ignore.
I believe that, as entrepreneurs, the every day work we do can be connected to a cause we believe in.
One of my favourite companies to watch is a clothing company called Sevenly.
I admire them because they embody what it means to work with purpose.
Their slogan is “People Matter.”
Part of their mission simply states: “Sevenly was founded… by four people who shared the mission of leading a generation toward generosity.”
Their story is: “We make lifestyle products that help fund charity projects across the globe. For every item purchased we give to the designated charity.”
If you visit Sevenly’s Facebook Page, you’re met with inspiration and conviction that this is a company that has turned love, care and passion into something tangible. I believe every good business can do that.
Within 2 years of being in business Sevenly was reported to have rapidly grown to 35 employees, producing revenue in the millions. And true to their word within their first year of operation Sevenly had made $1.3 million in charitable donations.
Sevenly is not everyone’s cup of tea. They don’t share their conviction with everyone. And here’s one of the secrets of their success: Sevenly exists to serve people who believe in their motto: People Matter.
Sometimes we worry that the people we’re targeting might not be enough. The truth though is as Marketing Guru Seth Godin puts it: “No niche is too small if it’s yours.”
“Niche” is no longer about focusing on who will buy from me!!!! Niche has become: who believes in what I do?
Our story doesn’t have to be that a portion of our profits go to charity- like Sevenly’s (even though that would be great!)- Our story can simply be a constant and consistent declaration of who we are. And then delivering that declaration with integrity.
I am convinced that businesses in their very nature serve. They create things that make our lives easier. They create jobs. Provide livelihoods for entire families. Businesses by their very existence do so much good. But I believe there’s more.
Entrepreneurs can fuel great impact by sharing what they believe and then roping in like-minded people to effect the change they yearn for.
We live in a world where each of us, whether we admit it or not, want to be a part of something we can be counted for.
As my friend Elungile Mzimba, founder of Educational Outreach Project MasQ says, It’s never a question of how many resources we have. The question always is: Are you available?
My question to you is what do You care about?
What is that thing that bothers you so much you wish it could change- right now! My belief is that it bothers you so much because maybe that thing needs you to raise your hand and bring about that change.
Start. No matter how small your start is, start.
Ask yourself: Who is waiting for Me to raise my hand?
And then answer this: for those people waiting and looking for you, Are you available?